Climate change artist, Mary Mattingly, plus Singapore’s massive floating solar farm, and Climate Launchpad!
Climate Change Artist–Mary Mattingly, Singapore’s Massive Floating Solar Farm, Climate Launchpad!
CLIMATE CHANGE ARTIST, MARY MATTINGLY
You know what surprising thing I just discovered? That New York City has a law on the books making it illegal to grow or pick food on public land. That’s right. Otherwise, you’d turn a place like Central Park into a commons, a place where the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth, or a place to grow food. That’s exactly my point. And climate change artist and champion Mary Mattingly’s, too, when she launched her 2016 exhibition, Swale. Swale is a barge-turned-floating edible landscape. It’s an ongoing public art piece-slash-vigilante garden which invites communities to enjoy the view and pick their own produce. It’s both an indictment of urban food deserts and a floating “commons.”
Mattingly floated Swale on a boat precisely to circumvent that NYC law I talked about making it illegal to grow or pick food on public land. Says Mattingly on her website, “I grew up in an agricultural town outside of NYC where the drinking water was polluted,” “That framed my understanding of clean water as an increasingly rare resource that needed to be protected. Swale came out of a need to connect with and rely upon New York’s waterways and public land in order to better care for it, and by proximity, each other.”Why does this matter to us? Swale was so successful and impactful that the NYC parks commissioner opened a pilot-program, edible garden in Concrete Plant Park in the Bronx. It’s the first time NYC public parks is allowing people to publicly forage in more than a century. More cities should open limited public spaces to agriculture. It could solve problems of food deserts, or at the very least reconnect neighborhoods to nature.
SINGAPORE LAUNCHES MASSIVE FLOATING SOLAR FARM
Just last week, the island nation of Singapore turned on its second massive floating solar farm on the Tengeh Reservoir. Singapore is unique in the southeast Asia in that it is one of the biggest CO2 emitters in that region, despite its relatively small size. It’s also challenged by lack of land to use for alternative energy. So, it innovated, and installed floating solar panels.
(They don’t actually float, do they?)
Good question. And yes, yes they do. Although they’re tethered to the reservoir bed via mooring lines. Another great question. According to Singapore’s National Water Agency, gaps between solar panels were incorporated to improve the airflow and allow sufficient sunlight to reach aquatic life. Moreover, aerators maintain oxygen levels in the water to reduce the impact on biodiversity and water quality of the reservoir. And to ensure that water quality is not compromised, floats are high-density polyethylene (HDPE) – a certified food-grade material that is UV-resistant.
Singapore’s first floating solar farm launched in early 2021. It was built in the Johor Strait between Singapore and Malaysia. That installation features 13,000 panels and can produce up to 5MW of electrical energy—enough to power about 1,400 Singapore apartment units annually. In contrast, the new Tengeh Reservoir floating solar farm installation has 122,000 solar panels—almost ten times the number of the Johor project—and is almost 112 acres in size! And whereas Johor’s 13k solar panels produce 5MW of energy, the Tengeh project can produce up to 60MW. That’s 12 times the power, or enough to light up almost 17,000 Singapore apartments. This is all part of Singapore’s goal to quadruple solar energy capabilities by 2025. Singapore has set itself a targeted solar capacity of 2-gigawatt peak (GWp) by 2030.
Futzing around on the internet last night, I stumbled across a fantastic green idea generator/business incubator based out of the Netherlands. It’s called ClimateLaunchPad. According to their website, it’s the world’s largest green business ideas competition. Its mission is to unlock the world’s clean tech potential in terms of combating climate change. The competition creates a stage for those ideas. ClimateLaunchpad is part of the Entrepreneurship offerings of EIT Climate-KIC, a European knowledge community working to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy. The idea behind ClimateLaunchPad is simple. Through its global business and government partnerships, it offers training, coaching, and support to cleantech innovators who are great inventors but not great marketers, public speakers or entrepreneurs. ClimateLaunchPad was founded by Frans Nauta in 2014 with 11 participating countries. In 2021, that number has grown to over 50. (I love their slogan: “Fixing climate change, one start-up at a time.”)