Palestinian Urban Planning Gets Green Funding, DOE Announces “Better Climate Challenge,” Kenya Adopts Agrivoltaics, U.K. Water Treatment Plants Go Net Zero By 2030

by | Apr 6, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Palestinian Urban Planning gets green funding, plus Department of Energy announces “Better Climate Challenge.” Kenya adopts agrivoltaics, and U.K.’s largest water treatment plants to go net zero by 2030.



Two years ago, U.K.’s Anglian Water, the largest water and water recycling services provider in England and Wales, switched on its largest solar array at Grafham Water, Cambridgeshire. 

Grafham Water uses approximately 45 million kilowatt hours of energy a year to supply clean water across the region to hundreds of thousands of customers. The  nearly 43,000 solar modules generate over 26% of the energy used by the works. That’s enough electricity to power 3,000 houses.

It also saves around 3,500 metric tons of carbon annually, the equivalent of the annual carbon emissions of 1,000 family cars, based on 12,000 miles annually. The solar array was funded through a partnership between HBS New Energies and the Green Investment Group, a group that specializes in supporting companies in their ‘green’ transition.

Why does Anglian Water matter to us? Wastewater treatment plants are estimated to emit up to 23% more greenhouse gas than previously thought because of what’s in the water:  fossil fuels and detergent-laden water. Already, Anglian Water has reduced its total carbon emissions by 61% since 2010, cut carbon from operations by 34% since 2013-2014 and saved close to over 440,000 tons of carbon in the previous five years.

In the near future, Anglian’s ambitions are to more than double the amount of power the water company generates from renewable sources by 2025 in order to power 44% of its operations.

DEEPER DIVE: Utility Week, Cambridge Network, UK GOV



Through the Integrated Cities and Urban Development project, five major economic areas in Palestine have adopted a new modeling tool called Urban Performance. The tool forecasts outcomes of certain policies, projects and initiatives that cities hope to implement.

Supported by the World Bank, the $5 million grant will help the city areas of Hebron, Nablus, Bethlehem, Ramallah-Al Bireh, and Gaza City. The project aims to help update existing urban and development plans to manage disaster risks and mitigate climate shocks such as droughts, urban flooding, and energy shortages.

Palestine already has densely populated centers and now faces rapid urbanization, increasing land scarcity and climate change. Climate-informed urban planning through advancing compact growth, transit-oriented development, urban greening initiatives, and investments in green infrastructure will help these cities face impacts of climate change and decarbonize urban sectors.

The project has been employing a bottom-up approach where local authorities jointly decide which city-wide issues they want to address and collaborate with the World Bank.

Why does Palestine’s urban planning project matter to us? Financing for forecasting and mitigating possible climate and related challenges is one way to ensure that climate problems don’t just add fuel to the fire in communities that already experience frequent conflict.

DEEPER DIVE: The World Bank, MDLF, UN, The Conversation



At the beginning of March, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a commitment from over 90 companies and organizations to reduce their carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 through its Better Climate Challenge. These partnerships are key to reaching the goal set by President Biden of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.

Jennifer Granholm, the U.S. Secretary of Energy said of the DOE’s urgency that climate change demands action now. Granholm noted, “Companies across America are joining arms to lead the zero-carbon transition through smart, strategic climate solutions.” Inaugural partners in the Better Climate Challenge includes IKEA, Hilton, Harley-Davidson, the Cleveland Clinic, the State of Maryland among others.

Unlike the secret-keeping standard in private industry, this challenge is collaborative. Partners will share the details and data of how they cut their greenhouse gas emissions. Areas being focused on include heating and ventilation, cooling, lighting for buildings, cars and trucks in fleets, the electricity, and more.

The Better Climate Challenge builds on over a decade of experience working with partners to set portfolio wide goals and to address barriers to greater energy efficiency though the Better Buildings Initiative. In that initiative, more than 3000 innovative approaches and strategies for accelerating the adoption of energy efficient technologies and practices have been shared among partners.

Why does the DOE Climate Program matter to us? Marcia Fudge, the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development explains , “We have a tremendous opportunity to deliver climate justice to disadvantaged communities, lower energy expenses in affordable housing, and accelerate mitigation efforts to protect at-risk communities from natural disasters and the impacts of climate change.”

DEEPER DIVE: PV Magazine, Better Building Solutions Center, DOE



Approximately 73% of East Africa’s population does not have access to electricity. Typically, land used for solar farms involves clearing land to bare soil, eliminating several important ecosystem services like soil stability and water retention, carbon sequestration, food provision, and habitat for biodiversity.

So, the Universities of Sheffield, York and Teesside in the UK, the Stockholm Environment Institute, World Agroforestry, the Center for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation, and the African Centre for Technology Studies partnered to bring the project “Harvesting the sun twice,” to fruition.

The idea was to help solve the region’s energy problems without putting too much pressure on land space or reducing the land used for agriculture. First announced in November 2020, in Kajiado county, Kenya, It’s designed to assess whether or not agrivoltaic systems could be successfully used in rural East Africa.

Agrivoltaics is a system where elevated solar panels are installed on farmland, providing clean energy and shade for crops. The solar panels protect the crops from the sun in hot, dry places and help the soil retain moisture.

The strategy has worked successfully in Global North countries like France, Germany and the U.S., but has not been tested in places like Kenya, which fall into the Global South. Dr. Richard Randle-Boggis of the University of Sheffield explained, “We needed to build a test system to see if this technology will be suitable for the region.”

“Harvesting the sun twice,” opened in early 2022 and got off the ground by securing about $1.8 million in funds through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), a program operated by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Why does Kenya’s Agrivoltaics project matter to us? Agrivoltaics have the additional benefits of improving food and water security, while strengthening people’s resilience against the climate crisis, as well as providing low-carbon electricity.

DEEPER DIVE: The Guardian, European Sting