German Wind Power Beats Hard Coal, Nuclear Power for First Time

Power generated this year by onshore and offshore wind in Germany exceeded the amount of electricity coming from hard coal and nuclear plants for the first time, the Fraunhofer ISE institute said on its website.

German coal plant operators choked generation from hard coal plants in favor of cheaper-to-run lignite units this year and nuclear power operators kept plants like Grundremmingen B, which were offline for extended periods, according to Bruno Burger, a professor at Freiburg-based Fraunhofer ISE.

Lignite generation rose 0.3 percent to about 117 terawatt-hours so far this year, highlighting the addiction of utilities to one of the cheapest and dirtiest forms of energy, said Burger. Hard coal generation dropped 14 percent to 69.3 terawatt-hours, he said.

Onshore and offshore wind power has an installed capacity of about 54 gigawatts — outstripping all other main sources of power capacity. About 46 percent of Germany’s generation came from wind farms on Thursday, according to Wind Power Europe.

Source: Bloomberg Technology

15 Celebrities Who Are Environmentally Making A Difference

There is a lot of hype these days about being eco-friendly in order to prevent global warming and we see so many individuals making efforts to save Mother Earth.

Now, there are some celebrities who go out of their way in this green activism. They are all about making the world a better place and they generously use their fame to make it happen.

What these stars have done is used their fame and wealth to raise awareness about the various ecological issues of their choosing; and more importantly, set an example – such that thanks to them (partially), support for environmental causes has never been as high as it is today.

Leonardo DiCaprio

As an environmentalist, DiCaprio is best known for having co-written, produced, and narrated the global warming film “The 11th Hour.” But long after the credits rolled, his own Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation continued to lobby hard for a variety of environmental and humanitarian issues, including forest preservation, healthy oceans, clean water access, and renewable energy.

DiCaprio actively serves on numerous environmental boards including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Global Green USA, World Wildlife Fund and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. On top of sizeable donations he’s committed over the years, the superstar actor has also pledged to forgo private jets and drives a Prius.

Gisele Bundchen

The mega-model was hailed the Best Green International Celebrity in December, winning the online poll by a large margin, thanks to her work in ecological conservation and education. Through her eco-friendly flip-flop line — Ipanema Gisele Bundchen — the supermodel has raised funds for conservation efforts in the Amazon and Atlantic Rainforest.

She also launched the Clean Water Project with her family, whose mission is to restore vegetation and the micro basins in her hometown of Horizontina, Brazil. In 2011, Harvard’s Center for Health and Global Environment named her the year’s Global Environmental Citizen, and in January this year, she made her first official visit to Africa as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program.

Cate Blanchett

As co-artistic directors of the Sydney Theater Company, the actress and her husband, Andrew Upton, were key proponents of Greening the Wharf, a project that oversaw 1,900 solar panels being installed in The Wharf Theatre at Sydney’s Walsh Bay. This now provides 70 percent of the theater’s electricity requirements and, together with a system for rainwater harvesting, will eventually turn it fully carbon neutral. Under her guidance, the theater also started reusing and recycling costumes and props.

Although the Oscar winner and face of Australia’s “Who on Earth Cares” program recently came under fire for appearing in the Australian government’s carbon tax ads, Blanchett says she will “not be deterred from spreading the message about climate change.”

Maroon 5

Another Grammy-winning band committed to green touring. Since 2008, the Environmental Media Awards of 2006 honoree has been using biodiesel-powered tour buses, promoting recycling at its concert venues, and donating a portion of ticket sales to Global Cool, an environmental charity that works with entertainers. Maroon 5 has also played at Live Earth and headlined the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo last year. The bestselling artists are also strong supporters of the Environmental Media Association, Kiva, and Teen Impact.

Al Gore

The former vice president needs no introduction when it comes to his green credentials, which include leading the first Congressional hearings on toxic waste and global warming; winning the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize (and donating the $1.5 million prize money); co-founding Live Earth, a series of benefit concerts that raise funds for sustainability projects.

His work on the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” however, earned both critical acclaim (an Oscar) and criticism. Still, the founder of the nonprofit group Alliance for Climate Protection soldiers on; these days, he’s mostly on the road, speaking about his most cherished cause and rallying volunteers—that is, when he’s not getting called back into politics to testify on environmental policies and regulation.

Pierce Brosnan

It’s all well and good to be nicknamed “Best-Dressed Environmentalist” by the Sustainable Style Foundation, but Brosnan takes his activist role very seriously.

Brosnan has dedicated a large part of his life to environmental causes, serving on the boards of numerous groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, California Coastal Protection Network and Sea Shepherd. Together with his wife, Keely Shaye Smith, Brosnan has been inducted into the Environmental Hall of Fame for his efforts in raising awareness about and campaigning against illegal whale hunting and wetlands protection.

The Bond star, who says he’s proud “fighting for the forests and the oceans,” also lent his voice and name to environmental films and documentaries such as “Oceans” and “Lethal Sounds”.

Jack Johnson

The surfer-turned-singer/songwriter popularized EnviroRiders (riders are the contractors bands use for specific functions while on tour), drafting a set of stipulations requiring venues and tour operators to purchase renewable energy for 100 percent of the amount used at his shows, recycle at least 50 percent of the total waste generated, change all lights to efficient compact fluorescents, and, of course, compost and recycle.

Once called the Jolly Green Giant of the music business by Billboard magazine, Johnson and his wife, Kim, started the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to environmental education in Hawaii.

Adrian Grenier

The 35-year-old actor recently picked up awards from Global Green USA and Opportunity Green for his work on SHFT, a website advocating green living through traditional and social media. A far cry from his role as large-living Vincent Chase in “Entourage,” Grenier hosts the show “Alter Eco” on the channel Planet Green, speaking out about the little changes people can make to be kinder to the environment.

He also drives a Prius and has a solar-powered home in Brooklyn, New York.

Ed Begley, Jr.

Known for sometimes turning up at Hollywood events on his bicycle, Begley has been long been considered an environmental leader in the Hollywood community. Today he continues to serve actively on the boards of various green groups, including the Environmental Media Association, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Tree People, and Friends of the Earth.

Begley and his wife, Rachelle Carson-Begley, star in their own reality TV show called “Living with Ed” on the Planet Green channel, which chronicles the couple’s quest to live with a small carbon footprint. Begley also raises funds through a line of eco-friendly cleaning products called Begley’s Best and uses the profits to assist other local green organizations.

Robert Redford

A pioneer among celebrity environmentalists and a former “Time” magazine “Hero of the Environment,” Redford founded Sundance Preserve, a non-profit organization working to protect the North Fork Canyon in Utah. He also produced “The Green,” an eco-themed TV program that tackles issues such as solar energy and wilderness preservation.

In 2009, the Sundance Kid was honored with Duke University’s lifetime environmental achievement in the fine arts, LEAF, award. More recently, he has written op-eds calling for President Obama to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline project, citing severe environmental damage from extracting crude oil from tar sands. “The environmental tipping point has been reached,” Redford told MSNBC in a recent interview.

Daryl Hannah

Hailed for her role as the menacing Elle Driver in “Kill Bill,” Hannah proved she can be just as fierce in real life when it comes to issues close to her heart. For one thing, she has been arrested no fewer than three times in the name of the environment: First for a 23-day tree sit-in in 2006; then again in 2009 for protesting against mountaintop mining in West Virginia; and finally, for joining demonstrations against the Keystone oil pipeline in front of the White House last year. When not running afoul of the law, Hannah also produces a weekly video blog on green lifestyles called DH Love Life, and runs an online business selling eco-friendly products. She also grows her own food.

Dave Matthews Band

Through their very own Bama Green Project, the Grammy-winning band continues to champion green touring. At every concert, generators are powered by biodiesel, and recycling and composting stations are ever-present backstage. Emissions from air flights and hotels are offset, with the proceeds going to tree plantings and wind turbine construction.

More recently, the band has commissioned logistics provider UPS to devise more efficient ways to transport their equipment. The band also founded Green Music Group, a large-scale coalition of musicians, fans and music industry leaders seeking to bring about lasting change in the industry. Members include Linkin Park, Sheryl Crow, and Willie Nelson.

Brad Pitt

Apart from his well-documented humanitarian efforts, the “Moneyball” star is also a longtime environmentalist. His Make It Right Foundation is on track to finish 150 homes in New Orleans, where all the new residences will not only sport environmentally sound features, but they will also use advanced engineering to withstand strong winds and floods. The U.S. Green Building Council lauded the star for his role in establishing “the largest and greenest single family community in the world.”

Pitt has donated more than $5 million to this project alone and, through the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, also helps oil the engine for various other natural resources and wildlife conservation campaigns.

Matt Damon

Matt Damon is passionate about water – which is why he founded, a nonprofit which works to transform communities in the developing world by providing access to safe water and sanitation. The organization backs cutting-edge water technology projects, looking for new solutions to create lasting change.

Damon also hosted a PBS series of environmental documentaries called Journey to Planet Earth, which explores the current and projected state of the planet.

Ian Somerhalder

Ian Somerhalder set up the ‘IS Foundation’ with the aim to empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures. The IS Foundation focuses on habitat, energy and animals, and seeks to make connections to strengthen the push for positive environmental change.

Somerhalder, who is United Nations Ambassador for World Environment Day (UNEP) is involved with a start-up called Go Green Mobile Power, which makes mobile solar, wind and bio-diesel generators and hopes to provide off-grid power for everything from the film industry to disaster relief overseas.

He is also involved with the group New Leash On Life, which takes in stray dogs and trains them to be service dogs.

How To Cultivate Energy-Saving Habits

Energy efficiency helps keep more resources on earth longer. Cultivating energy saving habits helps you do more with less energy. When you use less energy, you save precious natural resources and cut down on pollution. On the long run, being energy efficient safeguards the planet by decreasing the overall demand for energy.

Below are some tips on how to save energy:

Turn off all lights and electronics when not in use

Switch off all computers, televisions, telephones, air conditioning units, lights, and other electronics when you’re not using them. This can help reduce your energy consumption and save you some money on the long run. Unplug electronics or appliances that you rarely use like an air conditioner in the guest room or the washing machine.


Switch all bulbs to energy saving bulbs

Change all your incandescent light bulbs to LED bulbs which are now widely spread and affordable. LED bulbs use up to 75% less energy than incandescent light bulbs and come in a various designs and capacities.


Use appliances efficiently at all times

Get the settings right on all your appliances and choose the appropriate modes that are energy efficient. For instance, some appliances have a power-save switch, you can always make use of this function. You should also be diligently observant when using your electronics, like double checking to see that the refrigerator/oven door is tightly sealed to retain its temperature.

Educate those around you on energy efficiency

The attitude of those around you is a vital component in saving energy. Keep your family, neighbours and workmates informed about energy-efficiency and recognize them for their support in energy saving. The more informed and educated they are on energy saving tips, the better for everyone.

Switch large appliances for smaller ones that still meet your needs

Large appliances are known to consume more energy than smaller ones, so it is advisable to stick to the the small ones that meet your need. For instance, you can switch a really big refrigerator for a small one that is still able to house all your consumables. Energy is saved and everyone is happy.


Reduce your reliance on appliances

You can cut down on your energy use by adjusting your daily activities. Look at each appliance in your home to determine if you really need it and if you’re using it to its full potential. If you decide that you are not using it to its full potential, give it out to someone who really needs it. You can also try doing some chores manually to help save some energy.