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EGEB: Berkeley bans natural gas, Africa’s largest wind farm, offshore solar, and more

In today’s EGEB:

  • Berkeley, California becomes the first US city to ban natural gas in new homes.
  • Africa’s largest wind farm launches in Kenya.
  • A new consortium looks into high-wave offshore solar technology.
  • Melbourne’s trams to run on 100% solar power.

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Berkeley, California is the first US city to ban the installation of natural gas lines in new homes. The city council unanimously voted to pass the ban, which will start next Jan. 1, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

All new single-family homes, townhomes, and small apartment buildings in the city of 120,000 people must have electric infrastructure from that point on. The ordinance was introduced by councilwoman Kate Harrison, who told the Chronicle:

“It’s an enormous issue. We need to really tackle this. When we think about pollution and climate-change issues, we tend to think about factories and cars, but all buildings are producing greenhouse gas.”

Berkeley already has its own Climate Action Plan that seeks to reduce emissions 80% by 2050. The plan also calls for 100% renewable electricity by 2035.

Natural gas is generally seen as a bigger threat to renewable energy than coal at this point, which is why you’ll see more movement in this direction as time goes on. It’s also why Michael Bloomberg expanded Beyond Coal to Beyond Carbon.

African Winds

The largest wind farm in Africa launched last week, as AfricaNews reports. The 310-megawatt, 365-turbine wind farm is located in Kenya, and it will provide the country with nearly a fifth of its total energy needs.

Kenya is a world leader in clean energy, as the country looks to reach 100% renewable energy as soon as next year, with most coming from hydroelectric, geothermal, or wind power.

The Lake Turkana Wind Project represents the largest private investment in the history of Kenya. A $680 million project, the wind farm received a $200 million loan from the European Union, in addition to funding from a consortium of European and African companies. “Today, we again raise the bar for the continent as we unveil Africa’s single largest wind farm, the Lake Turkana Wind Project,” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said.

But even as the country’s 100% target arrives in 2020, some activists have reportedly “accused the government of betrayal with a coal-fired power plant project on the Lamu County coast.” That plant has been suspended by the courts — we’re wondering how Kenya would plan to reach its goal with a new coal plant.

Offshore Solar

A consortium of DEME, Tractebel, Jan De Nul Group, Soltech and Ghent University have launched a new project in marine floating solar technology:

The partners strongly believe that solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in offshore waters are one of the essential future green energy sources. Combined in the same location with aquaculture and offshore wind power, this innovative technology allows for a more efficient use of available space.

This project does not involve floating solar panels that one would see on lakes and other similar bodies of water. These installations would be in rough, offshore areas, and the consortium recognizes the need to adapt the panels to resist saltwater, strong currents, and waves.

Solar and salt do not get along, but the consortium believes the potential is worth confronting the challenges.

Green Trams

The trams in Melbourne, Australia will soon be running on 100% solar power, according to Energy Matters. A 128 MW solar farm in Victoria will produce enough green power for the full fleet of 450 trams. Another solar park will also contribute energy to the trams.

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