Tag: going green

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Converting carbon dioxide into baking soda using carbon capture

In Chennai, India, an interesting way to combat rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere is underway. Carbon is being captured using a new process in a coal-fired power plant. This process is being undertaken by a chemical manufacturer known as Tuticorin Alkali Chemicals and Fertilizers and they are using this process to produce soda ash.

In May 2016, a pilot project was carried out by Carbon Clean Solutions Limited (a London-based processing company). The project was successful in producing soda ash. Soda ash is better known as sodium carbonate and it is used for a number of purposes including the creation of sweeteners and the manufacturing of glass while it is also used during the fibreglass insulation process.

Another product of sodium carbonate is baking soda.

According to the CEO of Carbon Cleaning Solutions, their latest project is going to be a game changer especially since the project will not have to rely on any funding from the government, so it is a great model for businesses. And so far it is working well in India, one of the first countries to run this specific project.

Carbon Clean Solutions states that they are able to capture carbon dioxide at a rate of just $30 per metric ton. At that rate, they are able to capture carbon dioxide at a much lower price than what is usual. It is now estimated that each year the project will be able to capture around 60 000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, contributing to the efforts of reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Baking soda is the by-product of this interesting project.
Baking soda is the by-product of this interesting project.

Not a new concept but a more effective one

There were two notable projects that preceded this one:

  • A USA based start-up company was one of the first companies to build a plant that was designed to convert carbon released by a cement company in Texas. Some of the outputs from the factory included baking soda.
  • In 2015, a company based in Germany took the process a step further and used the emissions gathered from carbon capture in the processing of ceramics as well as in the production of plastics and rubber.

However, the project currently underway in India, differs in that it will be the first of its kind to produce baking soda as a by-product of carbon capture. At the Lawrence Livermore National Lab in California, they have developed a small sponge that will use baking soda to do the carbon capture. With this new method, they believe that the carbon capture process will not only be more efficient but will also be much cheaper. The CO2 that is collected through the capture process will be fed into the plant based in Chennai, India. And the plant itself produces no carbon emissions, making its operations and products 100% clean.

In a developing country like India, this is an excellent small business opportunity for the people making it a project that can be replicated in other poorer nations around the world.

Want to find out more about how you can Go Green? Why not get in touch with Green Leaf Alternative Solutions or browse through their website? Here you will find everything you need to make the process of Going Green simple and efficient.

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2017’s Interesting Energy Innovations

Just as 2016 was a landmark year for renewable energy, 2017 looks to be even more important for this growing industry. Innovation is going to be the renewable energy trend in 2017 and we are likely to see some very interesting developments that will have the power to change the way that we look at energy. Although change is happening slowly, the world is making a commitment to Going Green more than ever before. We are becoming more educated about the damage that has been inflicted on our planet and we are becoming more aware of the consequences of doing nothing.

One positive that we can take from Going Green is that we are being forced to be creative with our energy and this means that more exciting projects are being developed.

Today, there are plenty of great ideas floating around, waiting to be turned into real-life projects that have the ability to transform all of our lives. There are some ideas that are too risky to consider at the moment, too drastic to implement while there is still time to heal the earth.

But while some ideas are still just concepts and some that are many years away from being developed into a reality, other safer ideas are closer to being realised.

But 2017 is the year that revolutionary ideas that can be put into practice are likely to come to life.

Projects to look out for in 2017

Recycled water

Grey water systems are great for watering gardens and washing cars, but it is of course not safe to drink. Until now, the idea of generating purified water from sewerage sludge has not only been unfeasible but not wholly supported by communities and investors.

When Bill Gates drank the first glass of distilled water using the Omniprocessor, people were sceptical but when looking at the science behind the processor responsible for generating this water, the idea takes on a whole different shape.

Sewer sludge is boiled and the water vapour is removed from the solids. The solids are burned which turns to steam and in turn, helps to generate electricity. This electricity keeps the system functioning without taking power from the grid and any excess power created is sent back into the community. The water vapour is sent into a cleaning system which purifies it into the cleanest water your will ever drink!

This processor is ideal for developing countries that still lack access to clean running water and stable electricity. The small processor can also become an income generating project for developing nations!

Clean water for African communities is becoming a reality, especially with the advancements in 2017
Clean water for African communities is becoming a reality, especially with the advancements in 2017

Carbon capturing cement

The process of replacing the fossil fuels which are being used in infrastructure is a slow one and this is because fossil fuels have a devastatingly long lifespan.

Carbon capture is the process of removing carbon dioxide from the air and reducing the amount of carbon that is a big cause of global warming. This process is guaranteed to change the transitions that the planet is making towards reducing emissions.

While we have already found a way to remove carbon from the smoke release during manufacturing, as well as from the air, it is an expensive process and it needs to be done at a lower cost in order for it to be worthwhile. Then there is also the problem of where the carbon is sent once it has been extracted.

Right now, that place is within the ground. The carbon that is being placed underground is being done to stimulate oil production, which in a way defeats the purpose of removing the carbon in the first place.

But there is now a better idea on the way. CarbonCure is a company that is injecting carbon into cement where it will be isolated and become less harmful to the environment. The cement industry is responsible for around 5% of the global carbon dioxide emissions. While this does reduce the amount of carbon dioxide as a result of production, it does not completely eliminate all of it.

This process is currently being experimented with in an effort to make it profitable and more effective.

Imitation beef

What does meat free beef have to do with renewable energy you ask? Did you know that the beef industry is to blame for huge amounts of carbon emissions? While it might not be everyone’s favourite thing to eat, meat-free beef is a fantastic vegetarian replacement that is supposed to mimic the taste and texture of real meat. While the initial tests have proven this meat is popular in certain circles, it has not yet been introduced to the masses and so there is no proof that it will be competitive in the market.

Taste and price will ultimately be the deciding factor when it comes to whether or not this renewable food option stays relevant in the long run.

Pay as you go solar power

Pay as you go solar power is the next leap in solar energy and it is going to have a wonderfully positive effect on energy for communities without access to national electrical resources.
Pay as you go solar power is the next leap in solar energy and it is going to have a wonderfully positive effect on energy for communities without access to national electrical resources.

Again, 2017 will be the year in which solar power will take the centre stage in the ongoing struggle to ensure that renewable energy is effective. The people will always come first when it comes to renewable energy and it is more important that people and the environment benefit before there is a profit.

Azuri Technologies is a company that has worked out how to affordably provide solar power to homes that are off the grid in Africa, and they have come up with a way that is beneficial. Charging a small amount, a family can have a basic solar power unit that will be enough to power two lights and to charge a mobile device. To keep the unit functioning, the family will need to purchase credits although the price that they will pay will be far lower than they would normally spend on kerosene for lighting. The family will save on energy costs and 18 months after paying for their units, they will own their system.

And, this system has already been proven to work in 11 sub-Saharan Africa and has also won awards. This pay as you go system is bridging the gap between the grid and those who have no access to it, which means that people no longer have to wait for power to come to them. These households are skipping ahead, avoiding the conventional use of electricity and immediately benefitting from having solar energy.

Are you planning on Going Green in 2017? You can with Green Leaf Alternative Solutions. We have the systems that can transform the way that you both consider energy and use it. With solar systems, energy efficient air conditioners, grey water systems and solar geysers, you can be a part of the group revolutionising an industry reliant on fossil fuels.

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What to expect from solar systems in 2017

The past few years have been hugely successful for solar power. Homes and businesses alike have benefited from having solar systems installed, and the environment has benefited from the use of this clean energy. The industry itself has seen a massive drop in the price of solar panels, even though the community has not been completely supportive.

But what many people don’t know, is that in 2016 solar panels became cheaper to use than fossil fuels.

As with any renewable technology, there were bound to be a few setbacks when solar power first became a reality, but even with the few setbacks, solar power has soared ahead to remain one of the most popular sources of Green energy.

In more than 30 countries, solar and wind power became cheaper than fossil fuels in 2016, according to a report released by the World Economic Forum in 2017. And as prices for solar power continue to plummet, it is estimated that in 2017 more than two-thirds of nations on the planet will have “grid-parity” which means there will be a drop in the completely relying on fossil fuels.

“Renewable energy has reached a tipping point,” Michael Drexler, who leads infrastructure and development investing at the WEF, said in a statement. “It is not only a commercially viable option but an outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns.”

But while the support for solar power will continue to grow in 2017, investment from the rest of the globe is still not what it should be. This means that there are not enough investments coming in to avoid the looming global energy crisis. Only 25% of the investment amount decided upon at the Paris Climate Change Accord has been paid and because many of the barriers preventing the payments from being made are politically motivated, overcoming this barrier will take time and policy changes. Other factors preventing the money from being paid over include economic setbacks such as contracts not being standardised and the lack of a steady track record, drawn up by financial institutions, which needs to in place to reassure the investors.

Although this may be seen as a setback in 2017, the lowering of prices for solar power will triumph in the end, especially as solar power looks set to outperform all forms of fossil fuel energy within the next decade.

There are promising developments for solar systems in 2017
There are promising developments for solar systems in 2017

 

Solar power developments in 2017

The development of solar panels and their accompanying systems are set to go into overdrive in 2017, as we see the development of solar panels embrace technology in ways that it has not previously been seen. Solar panels are also set to become more energy efficient.

At Cambridge University, experimental physicist Sam Stranks has been trying to develop ways to make solar power less expensive to harvest and more efficient once it has been collected. His idea is to place a mineral layer of perovskite onto the solar cell which will be used to boost the efficiency of the cell.

According to Stranks, “We could take a silicon solar panel with a lab record efficiency of converting sunlight to electricity of 25 percent, add a perovskite layer, and boost the power generation by a fifth,” says the 31-year-old. “For a solar cell, the maximum efficiency is around 30 per cent – but with one of these perovskite ‘tandem’ layers it could go up to around 50 per cent.”

This is a wonderfully positive development and if it becomes successful and enjoys widespread popularity, it could become one of the important developments in solar power in 2017.

In 2017, the solar industry also hopes to see more commercial businesses transitioning towards renewable energy. There are many businesses who are serious about only using renewable energy. Take for instance Google. Just last year Google announced that they would be relying 100% on Green Energy and Green Energy initiatives in 2017. They are not the only corporate giant who is making this commitment to the planet.

2017 will be filled with new opportunities to change the way that you access and harness electricity. At Green Leaf Alternative Solutions, we can supply Green systems such as solar systems, grey water systems and LED lighting which will help you to make your own commitment towards a Greener future.

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2017 might be the year that solar power becomes cheaper than coal

2017 is already shaping up to be an interesting year, especially in the renewable energy industry. One of the reasons that this year is going to make a memorable impact is because it is predicted that in some countries, renewable energy, solar power, in particular, is set to become cheaper than burning coal.

This could be the biggest turning point in Green energy history!

In December 2016, the World Economic Forum announced that solar energy and wind energy have become the same price as coal and, in some instances, the price of renewable energy has dropped below that of coal.

“In an increasingly larger number of countries, it has become more economical to install solar and wind capacity than coal capacity,” the WEF report stated.

While South Africa is making great strides towards changing over to renewable energy, in 2016 it was countries like Chile and the United Arab Emirates, that broke new records.  These countries were able to generate electricity using solar power for less than 3 cents a kilowatt, which is half of the average global cost of energy generated from coal.

This year other nations are aiming to drop prices even lower, with Jordan and Mexico being just two of the countries that are using auctions and tenders to drop prices.  Companies in Europe, which have already proven that their techniques for dropping prices using renewable energy have worked, are reaching out to new markets in new countries in the hope of sharing their expertise.

Solar prices have been dropping since 2009, with more affordable materials and more effective techniques being used to generate electricity using sun energy.  In fact, since 2009, solar prices have dropped by up to 62%. This price lowering has had a far-reaching effect on other areas of the construction industry.

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, by 2025 we could very well see a global-scale drop in solar power, pushing coal prices higher than solar energy prices.

“These are game-changing numbers, and it’s becoming normal in more and more markets,” said Adnan Amin, International Renewable Energy Agency’s director general, an Abu Dhabi-based intergovernmental group. “Every time you double capacity, you reduce the price by 20 percent.”

The renewable energy industry is set to grow in 2017, with prices dropping around the world.
The renewable energy industry is set to grow in 2017, with prices dropping around the world.

Change is coming

While this is a fantastic development and a victory for renewable energy, the world will not be ready to completely break away from fossil fuels in 2017.  Even with lower prices infrastructure still needs to be put in place on a larger scale. The complete changeover is going to take many years to accomplish and in the meantime, the focus will be on reducing just how much we rely on non-renewable energy.

But technology is changing and developing all the time, so the change will come sooner rather than later. Scientists are always working on the next best techniques to shake up the bustling industry. Some examples of new technology being used to benefit the solar industry include using diamond wire saws that are more efficient to cut the wafers (exceptionally thin semiconductor material) and manufacturing cells that are able to store more energy from the sun.

Today, the Green energy is inching its way towards being an equal competitor in the energy industry. This comes after almost a decade of commercial solar energy and numerous advancements and developments.

2017 is going to be a remarkable year for solar power and this year will hopefully be a precursor year to more exceptional developments.

You can equip your home or business with solar technology from Green Leaf Alternative Solutions. We have a selection of solar systems including solar panels suitable for a variety of building structures. Contact us or browse our website to find out more about how you can Go Green.

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Make 2017 your Greenest year yet in 7 Simple steps

It just takes a few simple lifestyle changes to turn your world Green. While installing solar panels or energy efficient air conditioning in your home or business, you can make a remarkable difference in how much you spend each month, but there are also a few other things you can do.

7 Easy Ways to help the environment

  1. Walk or cycle

If you are lucky enough to live and/or work close to shops, you might want to consider cutting back on the amount of driving you do and instead opt to walk or cycle. In South Africa, we are not exactly living in cities that are planned in such a way that walking or cycling is always a viable option but if you can use your feet instead of your tyres, this simple method to Go Green is not only going to help the environment but it is also going to benefit your health!

  1. Use your reusable bags

When South African shops stopped providing plastic bags for free when purchasing products, many of us invested in reusable bags. But how many of us still remember to take them when we shop. Normally, we end up buying plastic bags, something that we could completely avoid. Instead of paying for a plastic bag every time you shop, make a habit of actually using your reusable bags. Not buying plastic bags is the environmentally friendly option.

  1. Drink water wisely

Buying bottled water is a trend that has truly exploded these last few years and with it has come millions of plastic bottles. If you want to help the planet and reduce your own carbon footprint, you might want to rethink buying that bottle of water. By not buying bottled water you will be helping to reduce the amount of plastic waste that can be found in landfills throughout the world. If you are still concerned about the purity of the water you are consuming, you can always install a water filtration system in your home and store purified water in glass bottles or environmentally safe reusable plastic water bottles.

Water can be stored and collected wisely
Water can be stored and collected wisely
  1. Stainless steel straws

Do you or your family use straws on a daily basis? The amount of plastic that is thrown away in the form of used straws is quite phenomenal but when you choose to use stainless steel straws you can reduce your carbon footprint. These straws can be carried around with you and they can be used for all of your favourite drinks. Stainless steel straws are safe to use and easy to keep clean.

  1. Plant a garden

Adding some greenery to your home is one of the best ways to create a calming atmosphere while contributing to a healthier environment. Unfortunately, not all homes have the space to have the kind of garden you’d like, but even a few plants on a window sill can make a difference in your home. You can buy low maintenance pot plants to absorb carbon dioxide and release clean oxygen. You will definitely notice the difference in your home with a few pot plants.

  1. Cut back on your shower time

If you are already showering instead of running a bath, you are saving water. But the size of the difference you make depends greatly on the amount of time that you spend in your shower. The average shower can use as much as 10 litres of water for every minute that you shower. So it makes sense that if you want to live a Greener life, you should spend a minimal amount of time in the shower. 5 minutes is the perfect amount of time, and by playing a 5-minute long song, you can start or end your day on a high!

  1. Commit to recycling

Making the decision to recycle is easy, committing to doing it is something else. Many of us want to help the planet by recycling, but few of us are able to fully commit to recycling everything that can be put through the various recycling processes. This year you can add one or two extra bins in your home or business, label them glass or plastic (or whatever you’d like to recycle) and then place your rubbish in the relevant bins.

With our Green solutions, you can make a difference in 2017
With our Green solutions, you can make a difference in 2017

You can Go Green in 2017 by using these really simple ideas. If you are building in 2017 or renovating, and you want to make a serious, long-term commitment to the environment, then you can always work with Green Leaf Alternative Solutions. We supply the best quality solar systems, LED lighting, energy efficient air conditioning and grey water systems in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

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Google will be 100% Green in 2017

2017 looks to be a big year for Going Green. Recently the internet’s biggest search engine announced that it had plans to go 100% Green in 2017. Using only Green energy, such as solar power provided through various solar solutions and wind power through the use of wind farms, Google is setting an example that others can follow.

Google already has a fantastic reputation for being one of the few tech giants committed to being a fully Green company. They are ahead of all of the other tech companies when it comes to relying on Green energy.

“Every year people search on Google trillions of times; every minute people upload more than 400 hours of YouTube videos. All of that takes an incredible amount of processing power — which means energy. Our engineers have spent years perfecting Google’s data centres, making them 50 percent more energy efficient than the industry average. But we still need a lot of energy to power the products and services that our users depend on. We began purchasing renewable energy to reduce our carbon footprint and address climate change — but it also makes business sense.” – Urs Hölzle Senior Vice President Technical Infrastructure

Google has become the biggest company to sign contracts with some of the world’s best known renewable energy companies, which will allow them to buy their renewable energy directly.  For years, Google has been relying on renewable energy to provide power to their operations; in fact, they are already the biggest corporation buying renewable energy.  In 2010, they signed a contract with a wind farming company in Iowa to buy all of the renewable energy produced. This was just the beginning of their Green goals.

Reaching new goals

The latest renewable energy goal set by Google is the final push towards Going Green in terms of their electricity. And Google, in turn, is supporting the companies that supply the energy by signing long-term contracts.

One of the motivators for Going Green has to do with the fact that in the past few years, the prices of renewable energy has dropped by up to 80% depending on the type of energy being bought.  Since Google uses immense amounts of electricity to keep their services going, finding a cheaper source is the best way to go. But Google also has an obligation to the environment; with so much energy used they know the importance of only using clean energy.

One of the slogans Google is known for is “Do no evil”, and they are truly living up to their motto.

Fully committed to the environment

Renewable energy is a global focus, and Google is leading the way forward by setting a great example for other companies to follow.
Renewable energy is a global focus, and Google is leading the way forward by setting a great example for other companies to follow.

While it is great news that Google is aiming for 100% Green Energy, Google is also running 20 renewable energy-focused projects all around the world. By purchasing energy from these renewable projects, they are helping renewable energy companies around the world to grow and to bring new innovations to life.

Google is all about new ideas, so it makes plenty of sense for them to also support companies that are similarly minded when it comes to being innovative.

Climate change is a very real threat to our planet.  Companies that can afford to set the example, and that can afford to support Green Energy initiatives are helping to reduce the prices associated with renewable energy.  Green Energy was once expensive, but thanks to more and more companies Going Green with their energy, the prices are dropping.

The efforts by Google will go a long way towards helping the progress of the Green revolution. South Africans can also choose to use renewable energy when they install solar solutions, energy efficient air conditioning and water management systems in their homes or businesses.

Are you inspired to Go Green? At Green Leaf Alternative Energy we can assist you to transform the way that you harness power while helping to reduce the effects that burning fossil fuels is having on the planet. Even the smallest efforts can go a long way in the fight against Global Warming. With energy efficient systems such as solar geysers, solar batteries, solar panels and other solar systems available, talk to us about the best way that you can use renewable energy.

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Should you buy a real Christmas tree or a fake one?

When the time comes to start decorating the home for Christmas, the tree is always the center of attention.  However, when you are committed to a Green lifestyle, it can be difficult to choose between buying a real Christmas tree or a fake. The dilemma of cutting down a tree can be just as difficult as choosing a faux plastic one that also might not be 100% great for the environment.

What is best for the planet?

Not all Christmas trees are festively environmentally friendly, and because Christmas is such a joyous time of the year, you want to be sure that the fun is not spoiled by having a tree that is not good for the planet.

If you prefer to have a real tree in your home, (and you are certainly not the only one who chooses a real tree), there are other factors that will come into play.  These factors include how far you will have to travel to get your tree as well as how you choose to dispose of it once it begins to wither and die.

When it comes to having a fake tree, then there is a whole new range of factors to consider, such as the quality of the tree and how long you will be using it.

Choosing your Christmas tree

As mentioned before, there are so many things to consider. Here are some of the factors that you need to think about:

  1. Your fake fur tree is going to have a longer lifespan.

You won’t have to worry about getting a new tree every year. If you buy a quality tree, you are going to get many years of use out of it. Because your tree can be used for many years, the fake Christmas tree can be a great option for when you are being environmentally conscious. These trees can last from between 5 to 10 years but depending on the quality. But there is also a downside. According to research, in order for the fake tree to be fully climate friendly, it will have to last for around 20 years.

Research done by a French Canadian consulting firm Ellipsos, fake Christmas trees have a far more damaging impact on the environment.

  1. Many fake Christmas trees are made from non-recyclable materials

This is one of the biggest factors against having a fake tree. Once the tree is no longer looking good, it will need to be disposed of. The problem comes in at this stage as the tree cannot be recycled, due to the toxic materials that are used to make the tree.

The upside is that advancements have been made towards making Christmas trees more environmentally friendly, which means that in future, these trees are more than likely going to be environmentally safe when it comes to breaking them down.

  1. Buy a “home grown” tree

To reduce the carbon impact of your fake Christmas tree, try to buy one that is locally produced, rather than buying one that is made overseas. They might be harder to track down, but because they are locally made they won’t have had to be imported. This contributes greatly to the impact that the tree will have on the environment as its carbon footprint will be minimal.

  1. The real deal are grown for a purpose

When buying a real Christmas tree, it is grown for the purpose of being a decoration. Not many places in South Africa offer the option of buying a real tree, but those who do are usually growing the tree for that purpose. Shop around, and do some online research, to find the right tree provider. You could also consider buying a potted Christmas tree that you tend to all year round and then bring into the home during the festive season. Finally, you can also consider having an indigenous tree as your Christmas tree.

  1. A real tree can be recycled

Biodegradable and not at all detrimental to the environment, when your real tree dies, you won’t have to worry about it damaging the environment.

The choice is yours, but if you are fully committed to Green Living, you might want to consider buying a real tree this Christmas. Although cutting down a tree might seem like the unlikely option, it is actually the best choice you can make!

Green Leaf Alternative Solutions is the contracting company supplying reliable solar solutions, water management systems and air conditioning in Pretoria and Johannesburg along with the rest of the Gauteng province.

 

 

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3 clever ideas every country can implement to combat climate change

This year has been a record one in terms of climate change. Many of the records broken have been a terrible example of how the climate is changing.  However, there have been many positive developments in the fight against climate change. In 2016, we have seen some of the highest investments made towards using clean energy.

Climate change is a very real and scary reality, and more and more people are being affected by it as the temperature changes across the globe.

We cannot escape climate change but we can change the way that we handle it and perhaps even reverse some of the damage already done and slow the process.

The shift to using clean, renewable energy has been phenomenal, even if it doesn’t make the headlines as often as it should.  In this year alone, over half a million solar panels have been installed every day, while China, one of the world’s biggest polluters, has focused on building wind farms as an alternative way to generate power.  Around the world, more countries have been building solar farms and wind farms to provide people with clean renewable energy.

Although the change has been slow, with previous years not showing as much progress as seen in 2016, the change is happening.  The world can and will truly benefit, by following the example of those who have come before them.  The effort has been put into creating a Greener, cleaner environment for every person.

We are not just changing the methods that we have depended on for the longest time to create and use electricity, we are attempting to change the very air itself.  Around the world, there have been a number of interesting initiatives to bring renewable energy to the people, at affordable prices. These are just a few of the ideas that have the ability to be replicated and used to benefit numerous communities.

Leading by example, these are the ideas that can be replicated

  1. Ban all fossil fuels

It might seem like an almost impossible task, but many European countries have been considering an outright ban on the use of fossil fuels. This is a harsh decision to make, seeing that there are numerous communities in countries throughout the world that rely heavily on the mining of fossil fuels as a source of income.

Coal was once an important and unavoidable necessity in the production of electricity and petrol. Coal was the force behind the industrial revolution. Today, however, there are numerous alternatives and these alternatives are designed to assist in correcting the damaged caused by climate change. Other countries have taken to reducing fossil fuels by changing the way that fuel is made. While this might be considered to be a small step towards banning all fossil fuels, it is a step that every country can make.

A complete ban of fossil fuels is one of the more drastic steps a country can make.
A complete ban of fossil fuels is one of the more drastic steps a country can make.

Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway have all voted to ban the use of fossil fuels in petrol within the next ten years.

The UK, the Netherlands, Canada and places in the USA have taken the ban on fossil fuels much further by creating plans that will see the coal industry take a drastic knock.

  1. More focus on efficiency

Often we rely on fossil fuels instead of making sure that we have created and built efficient buildings.  Insulation is a big factor in the colder nations around the world.  When the harsh and icy winter months arrive, more energy is used to keep places warm.  However, with better insulation and more efficient technology to keep spaces warm, energy can be saved.  Reinforcing and retrofitting buildings and homes can make a dramatic impact on the amount of energy used.  In 2014, the EU introduced measures to reinforce insulation and managed to save enough power, equivalent to keeping the whole of Finland powered.

  1. Introducing a carbon tax

Carbon tax is one of the ways that climate change can be tackled, and every country can use this method.  Carbon tax is a tax that is levied on the amount of carbon found in fuels.  Many countries are looking to introduce this tax as a way to combat climate change while many have already introduced such taxes.

Carbon is found in every type of fuel including petrol and coal, and once burned it pollutes the environment and contributes to the ongoing climate change.

Carbon tax has social as well as economic benefits and works well when a government is trying to enforce a climate policy.  In South Africa, we already pay an additional tax whenever we buy a new car.

Each of these three ideas is easy to do in countries around the world and each has already shown to have a remarkable impact on the amount of carbon let into the atmosphere.

Green Leaf Alternative Solutions is a Green energy company providing solar panels, solar geysers and other alternative energy options to those who are determined to Go Green. Based in Johannesburg, our solar systems, energy efficient air conditioning and water management systems can help in the struggle against climate change.

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These energy efficient communities are changing the world!

From the world’s biggest cities to the smallest villages, a wave of Green thinking is taking place. Not only is climate change real but it is also changing the way that we approach energy. By accessing your electricity through solar panels or by undertaking water harvesting, you will not only be helping the planet and your community, but you will also be helping yourself.

We often think that climate change is someone else’s battle, but the reality is that not one of us can escape climate change. It makes sense to be involved; to be a part of the efforts to turn around the effects of climate change while also ensuring that you are dependent on nothing other than your Green investments.

Small towns can set up their renewable energy systems far more efficiently than bigger cities, as there are fewer people to cater for. And smaller towns are taking advantage of their sizes to implement working energy strategies.

These are the ways that small towns have turned to renewable energy as the main way to generate energy.

  • The town that rebuilt itself (Greensburg, Kansas, United States)

The USA is known for some devastating weather patterns.  In central America, tornados are always a danger during the late summer months. In 2007, a tornado tore through Greensburg and leveled the buildings forcing residents to either give up their demolished homes and move to a new town or rebuild. True to the American spirit the town’s residents chose to rebuild their town.

And they did so by using 100% renewable electricity.

They became the second American town to go 100% Green with their electricity and they have been able to successfully start over. They have included LED street lights and wind technology as a means to keep energy costs low and renewable.

  • The solar powered oasis town in Egypt

Solar panels have a bad reputation in Egypt, not because there is any doubt about the efficiency of the technology, but rather because many people consider the solar panels to be a bit of an eyesore. That being said, an oasis on the outskirts of Cairo, where agriculture is prominent, has gone solar to power their seasonal farming.

Towns built around oasis', such as this one in Peru, rely on solar power which is abundant in Egypt.
Towns built around oasis’, such as this one in Peru, rely on solar power which is abundant in Egypt.

The buildings here have been constructed with solar panels and solar systems, so those living in the Tayebat Workers Village are Egypt’s first community relying fully on green energy.

Egypt is one of the ideal places to harvest sun energy, with an abundance of sun shining on the desert landscape each day.

  • Ashton Hayes, Great Britain

Solar power and the UK might not have the strongest relationship, but there are some towns in the United Kingdom that are actually light years ahead when it comes to going Green. Ashton Hayes is the perfect example of how people can change their whole lifestyle, becoming Greener even when they are not relying fully on solar power.

This community undertook the task of reducing the amount of carbon they release into the atmosphere. So they improved the insulation in their homes so that they relied less on heating, they took fewer flights and they reduced the amount of energy they used in their homes. Through a combination of their efforts, they managed to reduce their carbon footprint by up to 40%.

Their efforts have inspired up to 200 other towns around the world to replicate the simple ways in which they have managed to reduce their carbon.

  • The Island of Tristan da Cunha

Only 8 times a year can you undertake the week long sea crossing from Cape Town to get to this tiny, eco-efficient island. The island imports almost nothing, its residents depend on themselves to get things done and they are quickly working towards relying fully on the environment to provide them with the energy needed to live comfortably. Their goal is to have 30% – 40% of their energy supplied by nature within the next 5 years.

They plan to become more sustainable by relying on community farming projects, wind farming, and initiatives to turn waste into energy.

As more towns see the benefits of sustainable energy, we are sure to see more towns and cities becoming fully reliant on nature. Who knows what developments the future holds?

Looking to Go Green in your home or business? Contact Green Leaf Alternative Solutions.  Here at Green Leaf, advice is always free.  Don’t hesitate to call us with any questions you may have about your journey to sustainability!

 

Ground-water-pic-web-page-350x233

New Johannesburg Water Restrictions Enforced

South Africa is currently experiencing the worst drought that it has seen in decades. The ground is parched and the plants are shriveling, that is unless you have a grey water recycling system or a bore hole.  In early September 2016, under instruction from the Department of Water and Sanitation, Johannesburg water restrictions were implemented to cut back on the amount of water used in the city by 15%.

Water restrictions in Johannesburg are nothing new.  The city has been under a level 2 water restriction since November 2015.  This was created in an effort to conserve the amount of water used within the city. The water shortages in the city have had an effect on the various industries as well as on the residents.

But why these new, tighter restrictions?

Johannesburg depends on the Integrated Vaal River System to provide water to the immense population as well as its booming industries. But the intense, unyielding drought has caused heavy damage to the city’s supplies and now the system has fallen below 60% while the Vaal Dam is now at the critical level of 35%.

On the 24th of August, Rand Water informed Johannesburg Water that the supply to the city would be reduced as of the 6th of September 2016.

Water solutions need to be on every South African’s agenda, not just on the minds of those living in Johannesburg. All over the country measures are being taken to combat the effects of the persisting drought.

It is partly the result of the unseasonal heat this Spring which has forced the Department to introduce extra measures to save water by implementing item 6 (1) of Schedule 3 to the National Water Act. This section implements the limited usage of the Integrated Vaal River System. The limit will mean that urban water use will be cut by 15% while water used for irrigation will be cut by 20%. The limit was implemented immediately and remains in effect.

The bulk water system will be carefully managed as the cuts continue. This latest round of water restrictions will be implemented alongside the existing water restrictions.

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Watering gardens using automated sprinkling systems could result in a hefty fine while the newest water restrictions are in effect.
Watering gardens using automated sprinkling systems could result in a hefty fine while the newest water restrictions are in effect.

Not sure what the previous restrictions entailed? Here is what you need to know:

Prior to the 15% cut, Johannesburg was placed under a Level 2 restriction which means:

  • Gardens may not be watered/irrigated between 6h00am and 18h00pm;
  • No irrigation systems may be used during these hours. Only buckets, hand held hose pipes and water cans may be used to water the garden;
  • No swimming pool may be filled used municipal water; and
  • Cars and paved areas may not be washed using hose pipes.

In Gauteng, over 40% of all water use goes to watering gardens so the new water solutions implemented by the Department will easily save plenty of water should everyone comply. It is good to mention that the police have been asked to help the department in their effort to enforce these new water restrictions.

Change in the water tariffs

Along with the water restrictions, comes an expected change in the tariffs. Taken from a press release from the City of Johannesburg’s website, these are the changes that you can expect:

LEVEL 2 WATER RESTRICTION TARIFFS TO DOMESTIC CUSTOMERS

(Kilolitres per connection per month Normal Tariff. Note that 1 kilolitre = 1000 litres.)

% Increase R’ Increase (R/kl)

  • 0-6: Free 0% R 0.00 Free
  • 6-10: R 7.14 0% R 0.00 R 7.14
  • 10-15: R 12.07 0% R 0.00 R 12.07
  • 15-20: R 17.65 0% R 0.00 R 17.65
  • 20-30: R 24.03 10% R 2.40 R 26.43
  • 30-40: R 25.81 20% R 5.16 R 30.97
  • 40: R 32.27 30% R 9.68 R 41.95

To enforce these new water restrictions, those who do not comply might be facing hefty fines of up to R 1 500. This means that if the police pass your home or business and see the gardens being watered unlawfully, they have the right to give you a fine which will be added onto your water bill. But the water restrictions are not the only solution, as the city is doing other things to save water. For instance, they have a leak detection system in place and they have undertaken to control the flow of water in order to save.

How can you save even more by using water solutions?

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Water tanks are a great way to save during times of drought
Water tanks are a great way to save during times of drought

It certainly won’t hurt your pocket or the water situation if you were to start saving your own way. There are numerous things that you can do to start saving, whether it is something as small as making sure that you have dealt with any water leaks or something as big as setting up a grey water recycling system.

Grey water recycling systems, along with rainwater tanks, backup tanks, and water timers and bore holes, are all fantastic ways to save water. As mentioned before, watering gardens is often responsible for the most water use in Johannesburg so if you are able to collect grey water or rain water, or if you are able to draw your own water through a bore hole, you will be helping the water situation currently affecting Johannesburg.  Grey water recycling systems are growing in popularity and now is a fantastic time to think about installing one of your own.

What is grey water and how is it used?

Grey water usually consists of water used to wash dishes or to clean laundry. It is safe to use when watering the garden, for washing cars or for cleaning. The grey water can be treated beforehand.

This recycled water is also known as gently used water as it has not come into contact with anything that could dangerously contaminate it. When water restrictions are put in place, grey water can become an efficient way to save water while keeping the vegetation, including food producing plants, well watered. You can invest in a quality grey water recycling system that is easy to install and that will have you benefitting instantly.

Saving water is not just for Johannesburg residents, or even Gauteng residents, rather water solutions can be used all over South Africa. You need to practice water efficiency when you are looking to save. And now is as good a time as any for water recycling and other water solutions to become a priority.

Make the right investment by installing a water management system to help ease the drought by keeping you in line with the current water restrictions. Contact Green Leaf Alternative Solutions to find out more about which systems are the most effective for saving water.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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