Making Construction Board from Wheat Straw, Spanish City Turns Leftover Oranges into Electricity, Grid Scale Battery Storage a Reality, Three Days of Climate Action

by | Apr 5, 2021 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Making construction board from wheat straw, plus the city of Sevilla, Spain turns its leftover oranges into electricity. Grid scale battery storage a reality, and three days of Earth Day climate action!





Did you know that millions of pounds of wheat straw,are burned after each harvest? Burning releases millions of pounds of carbon into the atmosphere unnecessarily. What can be done? Turns out, a lot.

Isobord, a Canadian company started by Gary Gall and Steve Simon decided to focus on the problem of leftover wheat straw on the farmlands of the Canadian prairies. Their goal was to turn that into an alternative for wood-based composite panels like particle board and medium density fiberboard, commonly known as MDF.

 The company contracted with the Straw Producers Co-Op of Manitoba, a confederation of 350 Manitoban wheat farmers to harvest their straw once they harvested their wheat from roughly 200,000 “burn” acres. That translates into about 400,000 bales of wheat straw, each 4 feet wide by 4 feet high, 8 feet long and weighing in at over half a ton.

The company claims its three strawboard products are more elastic than particle board, 10% lighter, more water resistant, and made without formaldehyde. That last part due to the natural waxiness of the wheat straw. Other companies are exploring repurposing rice straw for the same purpose, and researchers at Stanford are looking at ways to use soybean straw in the same way.

 Why companies like Isobord matter is that they promote the circular economy–an economy  focused on designing waste and pollution out of the system, and keeping products and materials in use, while regenerating natural systems.

DEEPER DIVE: Strawboard Thesis, Isobord



Technological advancements continue to push the future towards renewable energy. Along the northern California coast, grid-scale battery storage systems are being built to supply enough renewable energy to power roughly 300,000 California homes. Reported by Yale Environment 360, a 300-megawatt lithium-ion battery is currently being built for operation, with an additional 100-megawatt battery to be developed in 2021. 

Altogether, the battery storage systems will power California homes for roughly four hours, specifically during times when energy demand exceeds supply, according to project developer Vistra Energy, a Texas-based electricity and power generation company. Tesla megapack batteries will also supply roughly 182.5 megawatts, which will contribute to California’s electric grid by mid-2021.

California is beginning its gradual transition towards a decarbonized economy, and the state is currently the global leader in deployment of high-capacity batteries – bridging battery storage to a renewable energy future.

DEEPER DIVE: Yale Environment 360, Vistra Energy



Like every year, Earth Day is April 22nd. However, if you can’t wait until then, there’s a whole slate of great stuff happening in the runup to Earth Day, hence Earth Day Week…Actually it’s called the Three Days of Climate Action.

EARTHDAY.ORG along with lead organizers Education International, Hip Hop Caucus, and Earth Uprising are organizing three separate parallel climate action summits on April 20 and 21 ahead of the Biden Administration’s global leaders’ climate summit.

April 20 kicks it off with the global youth climate summit led by Earth Uprising, in collaboration with My Future My Voice, OneMillionOfUs and hundreds of youth climate activists. The global youth summit will consist of panels, speeches, discussions, and special messages.

That evening, the Hip Hop Caucus and its partners will present the “We Shall Breathe” virtual summit, examining climate and environmental justice, connecting the climate crisis to issues of pollution, poverty, police brutality, and the pandemic, all within a racial justice framework.

On April 21, Education International will lead the “Teach for the Planet: Global Education Summit.” The multilingual virtual summit will span several time zones and feature prominent activists from every continent, focused on the crucial role that educators play in combating climate change and the need transformative climate education right now.   

April 22: Parallel to the Biden Administration’s global climate summit, EARTHDAY.ORG will produce its second Earth Day Live digital event on April 22. The multi-hour multi-channel livestream will include segments taking place around the world starting at noon Eastern Time.

DEEPER DIVE:, HipHop Caucus



The southern Spanish city of Seville is turning leftover oranges into electricity. Reported by the Guardian, the municipal water company Emasesa plans to use roughly 35 tons of fruit to generate clean energy to power one of the city’s water sanitation centers. Afterwards, leftover oranges will be transported to a facility where the fermenting fruit will power a methane capturing generator. The energy of carbon chains during the fruit fermentation process is high because fructose is made of very short carbon chains, meaning more energy production.

In an interview with the Guardian, head of Emasesa’s environmental department Benigno López estimates the project will cost the city a roughly $300,000 investment. “It’s not just about saving money,” said López. “The oranges are a problem for the city and we’re producing added value from waste.”

Looking towards the future, the plan aims to channel surplus electricity back into the city’s energy grid. Preliminary trials show promising signs for oranges being a key energy source in Seville. One preliminary trial indicated if all the city’s oranges were recycled, roughly 73,000 homes could be powered, by oranges!

DEEPER DIVE: The Guardian