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San Francisco train service plans to run solely on clean energy

Commuter trains are already somewhat eco-friendly by their nature (you’re less likely to need a car, after all), but the San Francisco Bay Area’s train system is taking things one step further. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) has unveiled a policy that will gradually move it to completely renewable energy. It starts off modestly by limiting CO2 emissions now through 2024, but the plans will be more aggressive after that. At least half of its energy will have to come from renewable sources by 2025, with 90 percent of it from low or zero-carbon sources. All of it will have to be zero-carbon by 2035, while complete reliance on renewable sources would come by 2045.

This isn’t exactly an overnight revolution, then. However, BART notes that it would actually outperform California’s plans for a standard of 50 percent renewable energy use by 2030. Also, any improvements will likely make a tangible impact on the state. BART uses more power than the entire city of Alameda (over 400,000MW/h per year) — even that 2025 target might help a lot. It’s also important to note that BART expects to run both trains and its infrastructure on green energy sources. The area’s Caltrain service has already made its own pledge to use renewable energy, but it’s still using diesel trains where BART’s vehicles are completely electric.

Only some of this will come through in-house energy generation (primarily through solar power), since BART just wouldn’t have the capacity to meet all its own demand. Most of it will come by purchasing energy from the grid. There will be a certain point at which you can ride the train largely guilt-free, however, and whatever BART accomplishes might help other transportation networks achieve their own renewable energy goals.

Via: Greentech Media

Source: BART

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UK drone rules will require you to take safety tests

UK drone rules will require you to take safety tests

US officials might be easing up on drone regulations, but their UK counterparts are pushing forward. The British government has instituted rules that require you to not only register any robotic aircraft weighing over 250g (0.55lbs), but to take a "safety awareness" test to prove you understand the drone code. Regulators hope that this will lead to fewer drones flying over airports and otherwise causing havoc in British skies. Not that they're taking any chances -- the UK is also planning wider use of geofencing to prevent drones from flying into dangerous airspace.

The new rules come following a study highlighting the dangers of wayward drones. A smaller drone isn't necessarily safer than its larger alternatives, for example -- many of those more compact models have exposed rotors that can do a lot of damage. A drone weighing around 400 g (0.88lbs) can crack the windscreen of a helicopter, while all but the heaviest drones will have trouble cracking the windscreen of an airliner (and then only at speeds you'd expect beyond the airport). While you might not cause as much chaos as some have feared, you could still create a disaster using a compact drone.

It's nothing new to register drones, of course, and it doesn't appear to have dampened enthusiasm in the US. The test adds a wrinkle, though: how willing are you to buy a drone if you know you'll have to take a quiz? The test likely won't slow sales too much, if at all, but it could give people one more reason to pause before buying a drone on impulse. Manufacturers appear to be in favor of the new rulebook, at any rate -- DJI tells the BBC that the UK is striving for a "reasonable" solution that balances safety with a recognition of the advantages that drones can bring to public life.

Source: Gov.uk (1), (2)

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