Ripple’s community-owned wind turbines and California’s petrol car ban: The sustainability success stories of the week

Published every week, this series charts how businesses and sustainability professionals are working to achieve their ‘Mission Possible’ across the campaign’s five key pillars – energy, resources, infrastructure, mobility and leadership.

Across the UK and the world, leading businesses, cities, states and regions are turning environmental ambitions into action. Here, we round up five positive sustainability stories from this week.

ENERGY: Ripple sees 140% increase in interest in community-owned wind farm

Five months after energizing its first community-owned wind turbine, in the Graig Fatha wind farm near Cardiff, Ripple Energy has announced that it has seen interest in its next project more than double since the start of June. The firm has seen a 140% increase in reservations for its project in the Kirk Hill wind farm in Ayrshire. h

The trend points to more Brits seeing community-owned renewable energy as a viable low-carbon solution and a way to lower bills. 905 customers are part-owners of Ripple’s first turbine and, on average, saw their bills for Q2 reduced by around £86 as a result. Members receive credit on their energy bills.

“While we were expecting the price rise, it increases the urgency to give consumers greater control over their electricity bills,” said Ripple founder Sarah Merrick. “Enabling people to own their own energy generation as part of co-operatives is a powerful approach that we need to see replicated and scaled urgently.”

The Government has stated that it will not announce further interventions on energy bills before the next Conservative Party leader is elected on 5 September.

RESOURCES: Pandora reveals lab-made diamonds manufactured using renewable energy

Pandora, the world’s largest jewellery brand, caused a stir last year with its plans to stop sourcing mined diamonds and to switch to only lab-grown alternatives. The decision was taken to help drive progress on supply chain transparency and human rights, as well as decarbonising the value chain.

The brand has this month confirmed the launch of its “Brilliance” range across the US and Canada, featuring 100% recycled metals and lab-crafted diamonds. The manufacturing process for this range is powered using 100% renewable electricity. Pandora has calculated that manufactured diamonds generate just 5% of the environmental impact of mined diamonds.

“The future of luxury is here today,” Pandora’s chief executive Alexander Lacik said. “Lab-created diamonds are just as beautiful as mined diamonds, but available to more people and with lower carbon emissions. We are proud to broaden the diamond market and offer innovative jewellery that sets a new standard for how the industry can reduce its impact on the planet.”

MOBILITY: California to ban new petrol and diesel car sales from 2035

On Wednesday (24 August), the California Air Resources Board (CARB) issued a new ruling that all new cars sold in the state will need to be zero-emission by 2035. This is an effective ban on petrol and diesel cars.

The move was first proposed by California’s Governor Newsom in late 2020 but discussions had been ongoing about likely timelines and supporting measures. Among these measures are interim targets. Carmakers will need to make sure that at least 35% of the cars they sell in California, the US’s most populous state, are hybrid or fully electric by 2026. This increases to 68% in 2030.

At present, it looks like plug-in hybrids will still be permitted to be sold in and beyond 2035.

CARB chair Laine Randolph said the move was “an historic moment for California, for our partner states and for the world as we set forth a path toward a zero-emission future”. However, the Board is being urged to put forward plans to support manufacturers’ transitions and to improve the State’s charging infrastructure.

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: CISL’s new HQ achieves EnerPHit Classic certification

Last year, the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) confirmed a move to a new HQ – a retrofitted telephone exchange building in the city centre called Entopia. Now, the Institute has confirmed that the development has achieved a major green certification it was targeting, namely EnerPhit Classic from the Passive House Institute.

The certification is granted to extremely energy-efficient buildings. CISL claims that the building will require around 80% less energy each year than a typical building on the Cambridge University Estate, due to built-in features such as wall insulation, triple glazing and ultra-efficient heating and ventilation. Central heating will be, CISL has stated, “almost eliminated” – even during the coldest parts of winter. The building should use just 15% of the energy it did during its previous, pre-retrofit life.

CISL fellow Professor John French, who has acted as advisor on the project, said: “The team has delivered a world class deep retrofit, true to the original vision and intent that has achieved the impressive standards of Enerphit and they have done this as a connected and collaborative team that has overcome difficult challenges that you would not encounter in a new build project.

“This team has demonstrated that there is a positive path in retrofitting our old building stock as part of the climate challenge.”

SUSTAINABILITY LEADERSHIP: France to ban fossil fuel advertisement

Image: Greenpeace Fr

The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) net-zero by 2050 pathway includes the extraction of no new fossil fuels, beyond what had already been planned by the end of 2021. Climate campaigners have repeatedly raised this fact when questioning the energy plans of Governments with net-zero targets, yet plans to continue oil, gas and/or coal extraction and combustion.

In a move that has made headlines across the world this week, the French Government has banned advertisements of any format for products relating to fossil fuels. This includes road fuels, coal-fired electricity, grey hydrogen and oil. Adverts for natural gas are allowed for now but will have restrictions, or perhaps an outright ban, applied from June 2023.

Companies which breach the law can face fines of a maximum of €100,000 for a single offence. Repeat offenders could see fines of up to €200,000 imposed.

It bears noting that, for now, fossil fuel companies can still advertise through certain sponsorship packages – for example, they could sponsor a football team and place their logo on the team’s kit and at their stadium, or sponsor an exhibit at a gallery.

Comments (2)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    May we have some constructive comment on the nature of replacement energy sources. Banning fossil fuel is all very well, but the corollary has to be addressed!!!!
    Our energy has to generated somehow. Renewables are not under our command, nature has the last word.
    Nuclear energy, fission has a finite lifespan, and fusion is certainly not here yet, but given time, will be. There is an interim!
    Good science is needed, good administration helps enormously, but this is, ultimately, a practical matter.
    Richard Phillips

  2. Ken Pollock says:

    I have a feeling that none of the fossil fuel protesters has the slightest idea of how society can continue without fossil fuels – and their extensive by-products. There is no easy alternative, even in France with its huge reliance on nuclear fission. It will take decades to build up a renewable network and then we will need a storage system for the still nights. And Blyth’s battery factory has just been delayed by 2 years…

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