Solar sidewalks, bank cuts off coal, doubledecker e-buses

The Guardian: RBS cuts lending to new coal and Arctic oil projects

May 29, 2018

The World Bank is shutting of £60B in coal investments, insurance companies like Generali, Allianz and other major insurance companies are cutting their investments (and risk). Now Royal Bank of Scotland is the latest to pile on – or off – as The Guardian reports the day before the RBS AGM (Royal Bank of Scotland Annual General Meeting for non-acronymmers.)

Royal Bank of Scotland will no longer fund Arctic oil projects and has pledged to cut lending to firms profiting largely from coal as part of an updated energy policy.

The changes cover the mining, power and oil and gas sectors and are aimed at taking a tougher line on climate change. They mean the bank will not provide “project-specific finance” to new coal-fired power stations, new thermal coal mines, oil sands or Arctic oil projects, or those involved in “unsustainable” vegetation or peatland clearing.

RBS will also tighten restrictions on general lending to mining firms that source more than 40% of their revenues from thermal coal, and power companies that generate over 40% of their electricity from coal.

»» Read the full article at The Guardian

The Oxford Times: Doubledeckerlectric buses coming to England

May 29, 2018

Double decker bus

In other news from the UK, the famous doubledecker buses in England – specifically Oxford – are going electric. The electrification of buses is gaining momentum every day in North America and China, but these seem to be the first doubledeckers anywhere.

According The Oxford Times, “A £1.7M PLAN that will deliver the first fully electric double-decker buses in Oxford and cut choking fumes will take a giant leap forward next week.

Oxford City Council is in charge of a new project that will see 78 buses retrofitted to make them less polluting, while another five will be made fully electric.


India Today: How is the world’s first solar powered airport doing?

May 28, 2018

The Conchin International Airport in Kerala opened in 2015 as the first in the world to be totally solar powered.  With Erik Solheim, the Executive Director of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) visiting there on the weekend, it seemed as good a time as any to check up on how it’s doing, which is…great:

  • It generates 29.1 MegaWatts of electricity
  • It has reduced the carbon footprint of the airport by over 3 lakh (300,000) metric tonnes –  equivalent to planting 3 million trees
  • It also runs organic farms in the campus and has grown around 80 tonnes of organic vegetable in a year

The UNEP did this video about the airport when it opened.

Solar sidewalks around the world

We’ve covered China’s stretch of solar highway (and the disappearance of solar cells from it) and Sweden’s electrified road before, but you won’t believe how many companies are working on solar sidewalks.

When we saw a headline about solar sidewalks being tested for the Dubai World Cup, it kind of intrigued us, so we Googled ‘solar sidewalks’. Here, we’ll save you the effort, there are at least four companies doing something along these lines.

They all seem to work on similar principles, in which the solar cells are embedded in some tough material that resists scuffing and scratching.

Dubai: Glasgow Caledonian University is behind the Dubai concept.

The BBC reports: “Solar panels are nothing new but these tiles are designed to lock together in their hundreds to create a solar pavement.

They are coated in a tough epoxy resin and will have a scuff and slip-proof finish in a range of colours.

The idea has won an award from the Qatar 2022 organising committee. They are backing the PVTopia project to create a prototype with the aim of demonstrating a full solar pavement during the tournament.

»» Read more at BBC

Hungary: A Hungarian company called Platio has installed their ‘paving elements in the sidewalk near Prologis Park Budapest-Harbor’s electric car charging station. In sunlight, the 720 Wp system provides the station with green energy; when the station is empty, the energy supplies a nearby office building.

Canada: In January 2017 a sidewalk was installed at Thompson Rivers University in Canada, in front of the Sustainability Office. Sixteen 80-watt modules in a series have been laid down to create a 1,280-watt array with the hope it can produce around 1,300 kilowatt-hours per year.Dr. Michael Mehta o fht eUniveristy, who led the project, said if things go according to plan, the short strip of sidewalk should be able to fully power the Sustainability Office year-round.

The sidewalk is a prototype for Dr. Mehta’s Solar Compass project, a compass-shaped path made of 64 solar modules.

»» Read more about it at University Affairs Canada

United States: And in the U.S., the city of Baltimore is giving the concept a test walk.

The hexagonal solar panels are provided by Solar Roadways and The Abell Foundation,  a local funding organization which “supports innovative efforts to solve systemic social, economic and environmental problems” embraced the concept with funding for 36 panels near the Baltimore Visitor’s Center in its popular Inner Harbour area.

»» Read more from the local Baltimore CBS affiliate

Images: Doubledecker bus – David Preston/Unsplash, Solar sidewalk tile: Glasgow Caledonian University,Icons: made by Freepik from

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