Green Tech

COP21: Shows The End Of Fossil Fuels Is Near

The wheel of climate action turns slowly, but in Paris it has turned. There’s much in this deal that frustrates and disappoints me, but it still puts the fossil fuel industry squarely on the wrong side of history.

Parts of this deal have been diluted and polluted by the people who despoil our planet, but it contains a new temperature limit of 1.5 degrees. That single number, and the new goal of net zero emissions by the second half of this century, will cause consternation in the boardrooms of coal companies and the palaces of oil-exporting states and that is a very good thing. The transition away from fossil fuels is inevitable.

Now comes our great task of this century. How do we meet this new goal? The measures outlined simply do not get us there. When it comes to forcing real, meaningful action, Paris fails to meet the moment. We have a 1.5 degree wall to climb, but the ladder isn’t long enough. The emissions targets outlined in this agreement are simply not big enough to get us to where we need to be.

There is also not enough in this deal for the nations and people on the frontlines of climate change. It contains an inherent, ingrained injustice. The nations which caused this problem have promised too little to help the people on the frontlines of this crisis who are already losing their lives and livelihoods for problems they did not create.

This deal won’t dig us out the hole we’re in, but it makes the sides less steep. To pull us free of fossil fuels we are going to need to mobilise in ever greater numbers. This year the climate movement beat the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, we kicked coal into terminal decline and put coal into terminal decline. We stand for a future powered by renewable energy, and it is a future we will win.

This is why our efforts have never been confined to these conference halls. Just as we've carried our messages of justice, equity, and environmental protection into the venues of the climate negotiations, and echoed the collective demand to speed the end of fossil fuels to the faces of our leaders, we will continue to raise our voices long after these talks are over.

We came to the COP with hope. Not a hope based on the commitments we wished our leaders would make, but a hope built on a movements that we have built together with many others. Together we are challenging the fossil fuel oligarchy, we are ushering in the era of solutions, and we are moving the political benchmark of what is possible.


While our political leaders walk, our movements run, and we must keep running.


From the High Arctic to Brazil, from the Alberta tar sands to Indonesia’s peatlands, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Mediterranean we will stand against those faceless corporations and regressive governments that would risk our childrens' future.

We will push our beautifully simple solution to climate change - 100% renewable energy for all - and make sure it is heard and embraced. From schoolyards in Greece, to the streetlights of India, to small Arctic communities like Clyde River in Canada, we will showcase the clean, renewable solutions that are already here, and pressure our governments to make them available for everyone, fast.

Finally, we will stand with those communities on the front lines of this struggle. They are the leaders of this movement. They are the ones facing the rising seas, the superstorms, and the direct effects of our governments’ collective inaction. We will amplify their voices so the world is forced to hear our call for change.

In 2016 we - the entire climate movement - will escalate the fight. Together we will show the world that if our governments won’t act to stop the carbon bullies, then we will.

History is waiting in the wings, and we’re standing on the right side of it.

Useful Tips For Greening Your Home This Summer

As part of its commitment to being a sustainable bank, Nedbank supports its clients as they take steps to reduce their impact on the environment.

In following this philosophy, Nedbank has released the Carbon Footprinting Guide and the Nedbank Green Living Guide, to enable both businesses and individuals to participate in reducing carbon emissions and committing to sustainable living. Even the smallest change can make a difference, when enough people make that change and greening the home is an effective place to start.


How Do I Green My Home?

Did you know that around 29% of the average energy consumption by middle-to-upper-income households is used to heat water in an electric geyser? There are several solutions to this, which will see electricity savings and, of course, more money in your pocket. Start by looking at water heating options that offer immediate savings:

  • Solar Heating – Solar water heaters can save you between 25% and 40% of the electricity used by conventional geysers. There are various options for homeowners to choose from to take advantage of Africa’s abundant sunshine.
  • Heat Pumps – These use between 50% and 70% less energy than a traditional electric geyser, and do not require roof space of direct sunlight.
  • Geyser Settings, Timers and Insulation – For homes with geysers, reducing the temperature at which the geyser is set can save you around 10% for every 1℃ you reduce -. Installing a geyser timer means you won’t have to pay the costs of your geyser maintaining a high temperature all day, but will enjoy hot water when it’s needed. You could also turn your geyser off manually and back on again an hour before you need it. Whichever method you choose to save on electricity, a geyser blanket is an ideal way to save electricity and cash, as the insulation keeps the geyser hotter longer.



Space Heating And Cooling

With temperatures dropping drastically during winter nights and rising considerably in summertime, using electric heaters and air conditioners is commonplace – and costly. There are ways of heating and cooling living spaces without overdoing electricity usage. Here are some of them:

  • Ceiling insulation – In 2011 it became compulsory for new homes to have ceiling insulation, but adding insulation to older homes is a simple job and can save you a lot of money. Call in a reputable company for a quote and ensure they offer you sustainable options.
  • Draft proofing – Gaps in your doorways and windows allow cold air in and heat inside to escape. Sealing tape is easy to use, inexpensive and effective at keeping drafts out.
  • Window dressings – Thicker curtains in winter can help to keep the cold out and leaving them open for the sunlight to enter during the day warms up a home – providing you close them as soon as the sun goes down to retain the heat.
  • Air conditioners – Electric air conditioners are massive electricity hogs and should be used sparingly, if at all. Use a floor fan when necessary – they use about 100 watts on the highest speed, where an air conditioner can use up to 1 500 watts. If you must use an air conditioner, set it to no more than 10℃ lower than the outside air temperature.
  • Use the breeze it’s free – Open windows and doors at night to let hot air out and make sure they’re open on both sides of your home to encourage a good through-draft. During the hot summer days, blinds and shutters can help to keep direct sunlight out of your living space; and light coloured curtains won’t absorb as much heat as dark ones.

There are many simple ways to use less electricity – which means a cost saving to you while also lessening your impact on the environment. Share these easy-to-implement tips with your family, and have all family members play their part.



For more tips on how you can save energy and costs every day,




Going Green: 4 Appliance Tips

Washing Machine:

Set your washing machine to 30°. Go and have a look at your washing machine. No rush, I’ll wait … Any idea what all those dials and settings mean? No, me neither. If you’re anyone other than an R&D specialist for one of the big washing machine companies, I’m prepared to bet that apart from some early fiddling when you first got the thing, you just leave your machine on one setting and be done with it. So if you’re going to leave it on one setting, it may as well be a green one. Modern washing powders are such that you can get away with washing clothes at much lower temperatures than was needed in the past. A whole movement has sprung up in Europe encouraging people to set their machines to wash at 30°. This simple act should save around 40% of the energy used to wash your clothes.


Only run dishwashers when full. Your dishwasher is actually an energy- and water-saving device provided you only run it when it’s full. Then you’re deriving maximum benefit as it uses the same amount of water and energy whether you’re cleaning the detritus from a debauched dinner party or just one tea cup. And limit the amount of rinsing you do before you pack the dishwasher (you can see a husband is writing this, huh?). I’ve seen plenty of very sweet, well-meaning little old ladies who insist on just about polishing plates until they glow before popping them in the washer. If you’re going to do that, you may as well cut the washer out entirely and do your dishes by hand. Dishwashers are actually pretty good at what they do, provided you pack the stuff properly. Let them do their work.


Don’t overload your fridge The more stuff in your fridge, the harder it has to work at keeping everything cold. Don’t pack your fridge with bottles and jars that haven’t been opened yet or scraps of food and leftovers that you know you aren’t going to eat. Rather than waste the energy required to keep it cold, be honest with yourself about the stuff that you know is going to land up as compost and direct it straight to the earthwormery without storing it lovingly for four days first. On that note, allow food to have cooled naturally first before refrigerating it. All you’re achieving by putting warm food into the fridge is forcing it to work a bit harder and running the risk of cracking any glass panels, as the shelves try to expand from the heat and contract from the cold at the same time. Also, leave space between items in your fridge to allow efficient cooling. The more spread out everything in your fridge is, the more efficiently it’s cooled, thus saving you power. This is also true of leftovers. Rather than keeping food in a narrow pot that will be difficult to cool, decant food into a thinner flatter Tupperware, which will retain less heat and probably be easier to store too.

Small Appliances vs. Your Stove

Use small appliances rather than your stove whenever possible. If your recipe calls for boiling water, it is much more efficient to boil the water in your kettle and then transfer it into your pot on the stove rather than to boil water from scratch on the hot plate. Using smaller appliances rather than larger ones will save you energy. Boiling using a kettle, reheating small amounts in the microwave and blending or liquidising using a hand-held mixer are all better than using large appliances for the same functions.

Introducing Google's Project Sunroof

Project Sunroof uses information that’s in Google Maps to figure out how much sun falls on a roof and takes into account stuff like the angle of the roof, the weather, and obstructions like trees and chimneys. Then it uses those measurements to figure out how many panels you’d probably need and how much you could save on your electric bill, including solar incentives in your area. You can see how buying or leasing panels affects your savings, and then send your estimate to installers in your area, instantly.

*MUST WATCH* Elon Musk: The Mind Behind Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity...

Entrepreneur Elon Musk is a man with many plans. The founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX sits down with TED curator Chris Anderson to share details about his visionary projects, which include a mass-marketed electric car, a solar energy leasing company and a fully reusable rocket.


image: tedconference

Green Living: Laundry

Washing Machines:

Many will be relieved to know that using a washing machine is far more water- and energy-efficient than washing clothes by hand. When you buy a new machine, choose the correct size for your needs and the most efficient one you can afford, bearing in mind the electricity and water costs you will save years into the future.

The average top-loader uses around 180 litres of water per load, while a front-loader uses half or less. The most efficient washing machines are front-loaders, have an energy rating of A+ under the European labelling system or an ‘Energy Star’ mark of approval, and use a maximum of 90 litres of water or less per load. A label of AAA means that three different functions of the machine (such as energy consumption, wash quality and spin-drying) are each rated ‘A’.

Only run your washing machine when it is full (not overloaded), set it to a cold wash and spin-dry on your lowest setting (if at all). Use only the minimum amount of washing powder and softener necessary. To protect human and ecosystem health you should ensure that these products are non-toxic and biodegradable and do not contain phosphates (see our article on Cleaning Products), and never release dirty washing water into the stormwater system.




Clothes Drying:

As far as possible, use the free energy of the sun and wind to dry your clothes outside. In winter this means you will need to plan your washing according to the weather report. You could also benefit from your home’s trapped heat by setting up a drying rack inside. If you absolutely have to use a tumble dryer, choose the most energy-efficient one you can afford.

Prior to using the dryer, remove as much of the water from the clothes as possible by wringing them out by hand or using a short spin cycle on the washing machine. To conserve energy you should always make sure that the lint filter is clean. There are also small, portable clothes dryers available that use less space and electricity – these can be used to dry essential items.


For more tips on how you can save energy and costs every day,



A Look At The Game-Changing Tesla Powerwall

Tesla Powerwall is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed to store energy at a residential level for load shifting, backup power and self-consumption of solar power generation. Powerwall consists of Tesla’s lithium-ion battery pack, liquid thermal control system and software that receives dispatch commands from a solar inverter. The unit mounts seamlessly on a wall and is integrated with the local grid to harness excess power and give customers the flexibility to draw energy from their own reserve.

The battery can provide a number of different benefits to the customer including:

Load shifting – The battery can provide financial savings to its owner by charging during low rate periods when demand for electricity is lower and discharging during more expensive rate periods when electricity demand is higher

Increasing self-consumption of solar power generation – The battery can store surplus solar energy not used at the time it is generated and use that energy later when the sun is not shining

Back-up power – Assures power in the event of an outage

Powerwall increases the capacity for a household’s solar consumption, while also offering backup functionality during grid outages.

Powerwall is available in 10kWh, optimized for backup applications or 7kWh optimized for daily use applications. Both can be connected with solar or grid and both can provide backup power. The 10kWh Powerwall is optimized to provide backup when the grid goes down, providing power for your home when you need it most. When paired with solar power, the 7kWh Powerwall can be used in daily cycling to extend the environmental and cost benefits of solar into the night when sunlight is unavailable.

Powerwall specs:

  • Mounting: Wall Mounted Indoor/Outdoor
  • Inverter: Pairs with growing list of inverters
  • Energy: 7 kWh or 10 kWh
  • Continuous Power: 2 kW
  • Peak Power: 3.3 kW
  • Round Trip Efficiency: >92%
  • Operating Temperature Range: -20C (-4F) to 43C (110F)
  • Warranty: 10 years
  • Dimensions: H: 1300mm W: 860mm D:180mm

The Tesla Powerwall will be available in South Africa by the end of 2016 (Times Live)

Water And Energy Saving Bathing Tips

Water is essential for keeping clean, but small changes can help to reduce your use of hot water, saving both water and electricity:

  • A five-minute shower uses 38 to 60 litres of water (depending on the efficiency of the shower head), while a conventional bath can use 150 to 200 litres of water. To save water you could have a short shower (five minutes or less) instead of a bath.
  • If you are wasting water waiting for the shower or bath water to heat up, collect it in a bucket or similar container for use in the garden or for toilet flushing rather than letting it run down the drain.
  • Turn taps off properly to ensure that they do not drip and replace the washer on any taps that continue dripping. A leaking tap can waste around one litre of water per hour.
  • Ensure that everyone in your home knows where your master water shutoff valve is located. This could save litres of water and prevent damage to your home should a pipe burst.
  • If you have a solar water heater, ensure that you shower at the end of the day when the water is still hot from the sun rather than in the morning, when additional electricity may be required to increase the water temperature.




For more tips on how you can save energy and costs every day,



Hydroponic Systems - Part 1

Deep Water Culture (DWC)

The deep water culture method, also known as the reservoir method, is one of the easiest of all the true hydroponics grow systems. A container holds the nutrient solution with several net pots above the nutrient solution. An aquarium air pump constantly feeds bubbles into the nutrient solution, keeping the plants roots from drowning. A water delivery system can be added to this for growers who like to grow from seed instead of germinating the seeds first.

The roots will grow out of the net pots and into the nutrient solution. An effort should be made to keep light from entering the nutrient solution as wherever there is light and nutrients, algae will grow. Algae is a problem because it will eat the nutrients you are trying to feed to your plants, and when pieces of algae die they attract fungus gnats. Fungus gnats lead to many other problems.

Because of its simple design and simple function, the Deep Water Culture method is a good choice for beginners to hydroponics. Since there are no drip or spray emitters to clog, it is also a good choice for organic hydroponics grow systems.

The Flood and Drain Method (a.k.a. Ebb and Flow)

In the flood and drain method, the plants sit in their own container separate from the nutrient reservoir. From time to time, a pump will kick on. The nutrient solution from the reservoir floods the upper container until the drainage system is reached, soaking the plant roots and the grow medium. The pumps than turn off, and the solution drains back into the reservoir.

Your choice of grow media determines how often and how long you flood the container for. Fast draining, clay pellets may be flooded for a half hour 4 times a day, while the slower draining rockwool can be watered less. This grow system is also well suited for growing in straight perlite or various soilless mixes.

The parts and function of this hydroponics grow system are pretty basic. With a good water pump, you can also use this method for organic hydroponics. It is always a good idea to have a filter before the pump in any grow system.

Of course, you will make any hydroponics grow system work its best with the right hydroponics feeding tips.

The Drip System

With the drip hydroponics grow system, the plants are usually in their own tray, separate from the nutrient reservoir. A pump pushes nutrient solution through many small tubes, which feed each plant from the top. Different emitters can be placed on the end of each tube to make the drip slower or faster.

Once again, a faster draining medium (like clay pellets) will need faster dripping emitters (or more of them per plant). Slower draining media (like rockwool) would use slower dripping emitters.

The standard media for drip systems is rockwool, although clay pellets and lava chips are also sometimes used.

The flow rate is difficult to control on a drip system, and the emitters are famous for clogging. These problems are even worse when you try to make your own drip system. You can end up spending a lot of money to have a poorly working grow system if you try to build a homemade drip grow system.

Furthermore, organic nutrients are full of small particles that ALWAYS seem to mess up the drip emitter. If you are trying to do organic hydroponics, this is not the grow system for you.

The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

In this hydroponics grow system, plants are placed in a tray or gutter separate from the nutrient reservoir. One end of the tray is lower than the other, to encourage the flow of water.

A pump delivers a steady flow of water at one end, creating a constant stream of nutrient solution in the bottom of the tray. In order to make sure the water flowing through the bottom of the tray is nice and even, a layer of absorbant material (called capillary mat) is sometimes placed in the bottom.

NFT is another method that is both easy for the homemade hydroponics do-it-yourselfer and also a good choice for organic hydroponics grow systems. Once again the parts, the design, and the function are all simple, there are no drip or spray emitters to clog.

There is one thing to consider, however. You must start with plants that have a root system large enough to hang down into the flowing nutrient solution. Your other option would be to top feed the plants with a drip system until their roots are large enough.

It doesn't matter what type of media you start your plants in. Once they are in place in the grow system, the roots will be growing right in the water! This grow system, when the proper hydroponics feeding tips are followed, works very well.


image: Anthony Pranata


South African Born Elon Musk's Tesla Model S

The American-built Tesla Model S has been winning the motor world over for the last two years. Many leading publications have previously hailed it as their car of the year as it has set new standards for premium performance. At the heart of the vehicle is the proven Tesla powertrain motor, delivering both unprecedented range and a thrilling drive experience. We take a look at what exactly this electric, luxury sedan has to offer.

With a rigid body structure, nearly 50/50 weight distribution and a remarkably low centre of gravity, the Tesla Model S offers the responsiveness and agility expected from the world's best sports cars while providing the ride quality of a sedan. Their advanced electric powertrain delivers exhilarating performance that, unlike the internal combustion engine with hundreds of moving pieces that spark, pump, belch, and groan, has only one moving piece: the rotor. As a result, this car's acceleration is like flipping a switch. The car proved that in 5.4 seconds it has already reached speeds up to 100km/h, without hesitation and without using a drop of gasoline.

The car's suspension system was developed for the unique architecture of Model S. It works in harmony with the rigid and light Tesla platform to provide precision handling and optimum comfort. Unencumbered by an engine, the lightweight front suspension optimises wheel control, while the rear multi-link suspension is designed to seamlessly integrate with the powertrain.

Strong, Rigid & Light

The Model S body is a state-of-the-art, aluminum-intensive design. Weight-saving benefits make aluminium a natural choice. Extrusions, stampings, and castings are expertly joined for rigidity and strength. This structure not only protects the driver and passengers, but also contributes to overall control behind the wheel.

Unhindered by an internal combustion engine, the front of the car is optimised for occupant safety. Perfectly straight double-octagonal rails run along the bottom of the structure and are designed to absorb the energy of impact should one occur. High-strength steel is used in key areas to enhance occupant safety.

Model S Traction Control is designed to ensure maximum contact between the road and the tyres. Whether you are accelerating off the line, zooming along winding mountain roads or in a heavy rainstorm, the traction control feature prevents loss of traction and maintains control. The car's stability control reacts in moments of under-steer or over-steer by reducing torque and applying the brakes to individual wheels for enhanced control when cornering.

With no tailpipe to spew harmful emissions, Tesla vehicles liberate their owners from the petroleum-burning paradigm. At the moment, they are the only cars to get more efficient from the moment they're first driven. Gasoline-powered vehicles and hybrids mostly burn refined petroleum. Tesla vehicles can use electricity however it is produced, be it from coal, solar, hydro, geothermal, or wind power. As the grid shifts to increasingly efficient technologies, Tesla owners reap the efficiency benefits – and so does the environment.

Go Further

The Model S has certainly set the bar for electric driving with its three battery options, each delivering unprecedented range. All three batteries are contained within the same enclosure, integrating with the vehicle in the same way, providing structural, aerodynamic and handling advantages. All three batteries use automotive-grade lithium-ion cells arranged for optimum energy density, thermal management, and safety. The car comes standard with everything you need to plug into the most common 240V outlets. Using a high-amperage 240V outlet, the Model S can be recharged at the rate of a 100km range per hour. A 50% charge in 30 minutes can be achieved with a Tesla Supercharger.

If you were to ask Tesla owners how long it takes to charge, they'll probably say 'just a few moments'. Like one would do with a cell phone, Tesla owners simply plug in and leave the car charging overnight, and by morning their battery is completely recharged.

The battery is a rigid, high-performance structure in its own right, but when married to the state-of-the-art body structure, Model S achieves even higher torsional rigidity and a lower centre of gravity. Liquid-cooled, the battery itself is designed for safety and maintains consistent temperatures to prevent cells from overheating. In the event of a crash, the battery structure protects cells from impact and automatically disconnects the power supply. The battery not only protects its contents, but its position augments the overall strength of the passenger cabin.

Built To The Driver

It can be said that, without a doubt, the Model S is a driver's car. Behind the wheel, you'll notice that Tesla has combined meticulous noise engineering with their uniquely quiet powertrain motor to obtain the sound dynamics of a recording studio.

The gem of the interior is the 17" touchscreen that puts rich content at your fingertips and provides mobile and web connectivity, as well as music and maps. The touchscreen, digital instrument cluster, and steering wheel controls seamlessly integrate media, navigation, communications, cabin controls and vehicle data. From the moment you open the door, the high-resolution Model S touchscreen powers on and returns to its last function. The most commonly-used controls line the bottom of the screen for easy access any time and connectivity keeps you connected while on the go.

Whether you'd like to carry large water bottles or just need a place to rest your phone, the drop-in centre console is a stylish storage solution and features a non-slip phone deck with cord pass-through, a leather sliding cover and removable curved dividers. There are also USB ports for you to charge your phone while on the move.

The rear-facing child seat option provides seating for seven and is optimised for safety and equipped with 5-point seatbelts, and, when not in use, the jump seats fold completely flat.

The unique architecture of Model S creates unprecedented storage space that can pack a mountain bike, surfboard and flat-screen TV, all at once. Fold the seats flat and you have more than 1.64 cubic metres of storage in the cabin alone, with an additional 0.15 cubic metres available under the hood.

About Tesla

Tesla Motors' goal is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable transport with a full range of increasingly affordable electric cars. California-based Tesla designs and manufactures EVs, as well as EV powertrain components for partners such as Toyota and Mercedes. Tesla has delivered over 15 000 electric vehicles to customers in 31 countries.

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