Woodland walks save UK £185m a year in mental health costs, report finds

Researchers say conservative estimate shows importance of wooded areas to wellbeing, with street trees also beneficial

New research-based ad campaign aims to activate climate-conscious voters in Greater Minnesota

The post New research-based ad campaign aims to activate climate-conscious voters in Greater Minnesota appeared first on Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

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Ecuador’s High Court Affirms Constitutional Protections for the Rights of Nature in a Landmark Decision – Inside Climate News

Mining in a protected region of the Ecuadorian rainforest violates the rights of nature, Ecuador’s Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday, in a landmark decision interpreting the country’s constitutional provisions that grant rights and confer protections to ecosystems.  The decision means that Ecuador’s government will have to revoke mining permits granted to Enami, Ecuador’s state mining […]
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New research-based ad campaign aims to activate climate-conscious voters in Greater Minnesota

The post New research-based ad campaign aims to activate climate-conscious voters in Greater Minnesota appeared first on Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Shell Abandons Controversial UK Oilfield Exploration

Climate campaigners are celebrating a “death blow” to a controversial UK oil exploration project after Shell announced it would no longer participate.

The fossil-fuel giant was set to explore the Cambo oilfield to the west of Shetland, but pulled out Thursday night, The Press and Journal reported.

“This really should be the deathblow for Cambo,” Greenpeace UK oil campaigner Philip Evans told The Guardian. “With yet another key player turning its back on the scheme the government is cutting an increasingly lonely figure with their continued support for the oil field.”

The Cambo oilfield was first licensed for exploration in 2001, BBC News reported. It has the potential to produce hundreds of millions of barrels of oil. If drilling is approved by the UK’s Oil and Gas authority, it could start as soon as 2022 and go on for 25 years.

Green groups argue that drilling in the field will hamper the UK’s promise to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to The Guardian. Shell, however, said its reasons for abandoning the project were purely financial.

“[T]he economic case for investment in this project is not strong enough,” the oil giant, which held a 30 percent stake in the endeavor, told The Press and Journal. The company also said it was worried about delays.

That said, Uplift director Tessa Khan argued that public pressure had weakened the project.

“The widespread public and political pressure is what’s made Cambo untenable,” Khan said, as The Guardian reported. “There is now broad understanding that there can be no new oil and gas projects anywhere if we’re going to maintain a safe climate.”

The project’s leader, Siccar Point Energy, argued that exploring the field was still important for the UK’s economy.

“Whilst we are disappointed at Shell’s change of position, we remain confident about the qualities of a project,” the company’s CEO Jonathan Roger said, as BBC News reported. “It will not only create over 1,000 direct jobs as well as thousands more in the supply chain, but also help ease the UK’s transition to a low carbon future through responsibly produced domestic oil.”

The Stop Cambo campaign is urging the UK government to cancel the project. It argues that the International Energy Agency said limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels meant not starting any new oil and gas developments from this year on. They said the first phase of the proposed project would generate as much carbon pollution each year as 18 coal-fired power plants.

The controversial project isn’t the only oil field exploration the UK has planned for the North Sea. All told, the 18 new projects on the docket could generate more than 1.7 billion barrels of oil.

Despite climate concerns, UK ministers said in March that North Sea oil exploration could continue as long as each application passed a “climate compatibility checkpoint,” The Guardian reported at the time.

He lost his best friend in a mudslide. Now he’s using coconuts to fight deforestation in West Africa.

At 12 years old, Alhaji Siraj Bah was living on the streets. A decade later, his business in Sierra Leone employs nearly three dozen people as they work to create an alternative to wood-based charcoal.
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A rush to mine the deep ocean has environmentalists worried

Tiny Nauru is behind a push to fast-track talks on mining rules for the deep seabed, which could see fragile habitats opened to exploitation as early as 2023

The post A rush to mine the deep ocean has environmentalists worried appeared first on Climate Home News.

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Comet Leonard Does Rare Earth Flyby This Month, Here’s How to Spot It

A comet discovered on January 3 of this year by astronomer and senior researcher at the University of Arizona Gregory J. Leonard is visible from Earth this month. The comet was first observed at the Mount Lemmon Observatory just outside of Tucson, Arizona.

When Comet Leonard was first discovered it was near the orbit of Jupiter and extremely dim in the sky, but now that it’s closer to Earth it will be “the brightest comet this year,” Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society told USA TODAY.

“The comet is in the early morning sky right at the moment, and that means getting up very early, probably around 5:00 a.m. or so and looking more or less to the northeast,” astronomer and director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles Ed Krupp told NPR.

“The comet will just be about half the width of a clenched fist to the left” of Arcturus, Krupp said. “You might spot it with the unaided eye, but more likely, you’re going to need binoculars [or] a telescope.”

Peter Veres, an astronomer at the Minor Planet Center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told NPR that Leonard might be visible with the naked eye, but “you will need to be in a dark environment, far from the city.”

Tonight, the comet will pass by cluster NGC 5466, a.k.a. the Snowglobe Cluster, reported Space.com. And, for those who prefer to stay indoors to view the comet or cannot see the comet due to light pollution or weather, the Virtual Telescope Project, based in Rome, will be presenting a webcast of comet Leonard on Dec. 7. “That webcast will start at 11 p.m. EST (0400 GMT) when the Earth is close to the comet’s orbital plane or path through space, which should provide a relatively bright view, according to [project founder Gianluca] Masi,” reported Elizabeth Howell of Space.com.

A good time to view comet Leonard, or C/2021 A1, will be on Monday morning, when it will be visible low on the horizon near Arcturus, a star in the constellation Boötes, also known as the Herdsman, NPR reported. “There’s an easy way to find it: Follow the curve of the Big Dipper (in Ursa Major) out past the end of the handle. The next bright star you see will be Arcturus. A good memory aid is to remember that from the Dipper handle, you ‘arc to Arcturus,’” reported Scott Neuman of NPR.

Observers may get their last peek at Leonard steeped in morning twilight on December 12th — and near peak brightness — before it transitions into the evening sky. Fortunately, the Moon will be absent throughout the best part of its morning apparition,” reported Bob King of Sky & Telescope.

You’ll get another chance to view Leonard in the evening later this month if you miss the comet in the morning, Krupp told NPR. “The optimum time [in the evening] probably is from … Dec. 17 on,” he said. “This time, look for the planet Venus to the southwest. The planet is the brightest object in the sky after the sun and moon. The comet will be between Venus and the horizon,” Neuman of NPR reported.

“Masi told USA TODAY Leonard is a long-period comet, meaning it doesn’t come around often. In fact, the comet hasn’t passed by Earth in over 70,000 years, and after it passes by the sun, it will be ejected from our solar system, never to be seen on Earth again,” reported Jordan Mendoza of USA TODAY.

Cristen Hemingway Jaynes is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. She holds a JD and an Ocean & Coastal Law Certificate from University of Oregon School of Law and an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London.

As automakers go electric, Detroit group wants to ensure other modes aren’t forgotten

Megan Owens, executive director of Transit Riders United, at the showcase at Royal Oak’s transit center.

The future of Michigan mobility: autonomous rideshare vehicles, e-bikes, and propane-powered vehicles?

As automakers go electric, Detroit group wants to ensure other modes aren’t forgotten is an article from Energy News Network, a nonprofit news service covering the clean energy transition. If you would like to support us please make a donation.

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How to Install Solar Panels: 2022 Solar Panel Installation Guide

Interested in going solar, but not sure how to install solar panels? As you’ll read in this article, the process requires more than ordering panels online and watching a few YouTube videos on how to install them. Unless you have electrical contracting experience, you’ll need to hire a solar company to carry out the solar panel installation itself.

Luckily, there are a number of reputable top solar companies with decades of solar experience to choose from. In addition to finding the best company for your home’s energy needs, there are a few steps you’ll need to take to ensure your clean energy system is permitted and set up properly.

In this article, we’ll walk through the steps you’ll need to take when installing solar panels on your home or business. If you’re ready to start getting quotes from local installers near you, use this tool or fill out the form below.

5 Steps for Solar Panel Installation

By installing a home solar power system, you can reduce your dependence on traditional utility companies, offsetting the majority (or entirety) of your monthly energy bills. Plus, it offers a tangible method to curb your environmental footprint, making for cleaner, healthier communities.

Somewhat counterintuitively, the majority of what determines a successful solar project has little to do with the installation itself. Before getting into how to install solar panels, there are a couple of nuances to note off the bat.

First, installing solar panels requires thorough knowledge of solar technology, design and engineering. In other words, the average person will likely want to avoid a DIY solar panel installation and leave the process to professional local installers. A properly designed PV system will provide far more savings on the backend than most DIY installations will save on the front.

The second thing to consider is that solar panel installation won’t happen overnight. Even after you choose the best solar panels for the job, there are a few vital steps in the installation process essential for ensuring a reliable, effective and efficient renewable energy system.

Here are the basic steps of solar panel installation:

1) Complete a Site Survey With an Engineer

Once you choose the best solar installation company for your home and sign a contract, the company will send an engineer to your home to evaluate your current electrical system, ensuring everything is compatible with your intended solar panel system design. This engineer may be an employee of the solar company or an independent contractor.

Be aware that if you have an old and outdated electrical system, the engineer may tell you that it needs to be upgraded or replaced. This is generally an indication that your new solar energy system will require more amps than what your current electrical system can accommodate.

In addition to checking out your electrical system, the engineer will also want to inspect your roof. They’ll need to ensure it is structurally sound and able to support the weight of solar paneling. Also, the engineer will be able to tell you if you need a specialized mounting system, such as for a flat roof.

A solar energy system will only perform as well as it’s designed, so hiring a trustworthy solar engineer is one of the most important steps in the process. Still looking for an installation company? Click here to get connected with a solar installer in your area and receive a free quote.

2) Secure the Right Permits

Before your solar panel installation, you’ll have a few bureaucratic hoops to jump through. Specifically, you’ll need to obtain all the right permits and documentation to ensure your solar panel installation is legal, meeting all local safety and zoning requirements. You wouldn’t believe the headaches that can accompany an installation carried out before permits are issued.

This step may sound intimidating, but here’s the good news: While there is plenty of paperwork associated with installing solar panels, the majority of it is handled by your solar company. You may not have to do much at all beyond lending a signature here and there, but it’s still important to have some sense of what’s happening behind the scenes.

Here’s what your solar installer will file for:

  • Local electrical and/or building permits on your behalf
  • Interconnection agreement with your local utility (in other words, permission from your utility to install solar and enroll in net metering)
  • Applications for state or federal incentive programs that curb the upfront cost of solar panels

By completing this paperwork, you can potentially secure rebates, tax credits or other financial assistance to offset installation costs.

It will take your solar installer some time to submit all the paperwork, and even longer for governmental bodies to process all the information — sometimes several weeks or more. It’s not a bad idea to follow up and get updates every few days, just to make sure the process is still moving forward smoothly. Solar companies are busy with business, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

3) Order the Right Equipment

Once you have all the correct permits and paperwork in place, your solar installer will be ready to order your equipment.

Note that, by this point, you will already have picked out the types of solar panels you need and the best solar batteries and inverters for your home. These decisions are typically laid out in a solar proposal, sent well before you sign your contract.

Naturally, you’ll want to make sure you research how solar panels work and the different options available to you. Whether you want the most efficient solar panels or the most affordable, your solar installer can help you pick equipment that will help you achieve your solar energy goals.

Once your solar equipment is ordered, your name will be added to the installer’s queue. Basically, this means you’ll be put on the schedule for an installer to assemble your solar panels as soon as they arrive from the distributor.

4) Get Your Solar Panels Installed

Finally, the big day arrives. Your solar installer will show up and begin preparing your roof, specifically by verifying that all tiles or shingles are securely attached. Then, the installer will place the wiring that’s needed to connect your residential solar system to the electrical system.

After the wires are placed, your installer will place racking, which is used to hold the solar panels in position. The panels are placed into the racks, and the inverter (or several microinverters) is connected to the panels. If you have a battery bank, your installer will also set that up.

One of the most common questions about installing solar panels is how long the work will take. It all depends on the size of your home and the scope of the solar panel installation, but you can anticipate a timeline of one to three days in total.

If your solar system is properly designed and planned out, this step of the process should actually be the most straightforward.

5) Get your system approved and connected.

Once the system is in place, your installer will essentially “flip the switch” to turn it on. Before this happens, you’ll likely need a municipal government representative to assess and approve your residential solar system, issuing what’s called permission to operate (PTO). Basically, this is just a safety precaution, ensuring there’s a fresh set of eyes to validate the wiring and electrical work.

You’ll also need a representative from your local utility company to interconnect the system, which means hooking it up to the electrical grid. This allows you to keep drawing electricity when you need it, as well as safely feed any surplus energy back into the grid, which can result in credits from your utility company via net metering programs.

Questions About How to Install Solar Panels?

These five steps represent the basics of how to install solar panels. But of course, these are just general guidelines, and specific steps can vary from home to home and from installer to installer.

If you have additional questions about how to install solar panels, a good next step would be to seek out the top solar companies in your area and make an appointment for a consultation. You can ask more about specific solar panel installation processes and what you might expect if you decide to make the leap into solar power.

You can fill out the quick form below or use this tool to get a free quote and book a consultation with a certified solar energy installer in your area.

FAQ: How to Install Solar Panels

Can I install solar panels on my home myself?

Technically speaking, yes, you can install solar panels on your own home. However, we don’t recommend this unless you have experience as an electrician and advanced knowledge of solar energy.

Though we don’t doubt your ability to pull off a satisfying DIY home project, the modern technology solar companies use to design and plan solar installations can provide far more long-term benefits than the savings you might secure from installing solar panels yourself.

How many solar panels are needed to power a house?

The number of solar panels needed to power a house will vary depending on the amount of electricity your home consumes. As a minimum, however, we’d expect most homes will require at least 10 panels.

How do you install solar panels step by step?

Solar panels are installed roughly in the following order. Note that unless you have electrical contracting experience, we recommend homeowners hire professionals to carry this out.

Step 1: Install your racking or build a platform for the solar panels

Step 2: Mount and secure the solar panels on the racking

Step 3: Wire the solar panels

Step 4: Connect the wiring to your control panel

Step 5: Ground your system for safety purposes

Step 6: Connect your solar array to your home

Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.