IKEA Is Now Selling Home Solar Power Systems

Solarcentury
Solarcentury

The United Kingdom is not known for its cheery weather, but that doesn’t mean its residents can’t benefit from the power of sunshine. IKEA stores are now offering home installation of solar power setups to their customers in the UK.

The move represents a substantial departure from the Swedish retail giant’s traditional offerings of tealights, spartan furnishings, and meatballs. To make it happen, IKEA teamed up with local energy firm Solarcentury, which has been creating sun-based power solutions for the rainy nation for almost two decades.

“Our business partnership with IKEA is a significant step forward for the renewable energy industry,” Susannah Wood, Solarcentury’s head of residential solar energy, said in a statement. “The cost of solar installations has dropped considerably in recent years and is in fact 100 times cheaper than it was 35 years ago.”

The folks at IKEA are equally excited.

“The energy of the future is going to be about millions of homes making energy, not big coal-fired power stations,” the flat-pack company's chief sustainability officer, Steve Howard, said in a video.

IKEA estimates that the average solar-powered home in the UK uses only 40 percent of the power it generates; the rest is sent back to the national grid. To help homeowners avoid this loss, the company offers battery storage systems in addition to the solar panels themselves.

“It’s not only about saving money, which is probably one of the main reasons to do it,” deputy retail manager Javier Quiñones said in the video above, “but also, for us, the more solar panels we put in the market, the more we will contribute to a better world.”

The company promises that customers will not have to assemble the solar panels themselves. No word yet on if and when they'll make their way into U.S. stores.

2624-Year-Old Cypress Tree Discovered in North Carolina Swamp

iStock/earleliason
iStock/earleliason

National Love a Tree Day on May 16 is a day to appreciate all the world's trees, but a bald cypress recently identified in North Carolina is especially deserving of recognition. As Live Science reports, scientists date the tree to 2624 years old, making it one the oldest living non-clonal trees on Earth.

For their study, recently published in the journal Environmental Research Communications, a team of researchers studied the rings of trees in North Carolina's Black River swampland to learn more about climate history in the eastern United States. Bald cypresses are known to have impressive lifespans, but after analyzing specimens in the Black River's Three Sisters Swamp, an area that's notable for its long-lived trees, the scientists discovered that cypresses can grow to be even older than previously believed. The 2624-year-old cypress tree they found predates the Great Wall of China and the Roman Empire. Other remarkably old trees, including a 2088-year-old cypress, were also identified in the same grove.

The North Carolina cypresses are old, but there are other types of trees that can grow to be much older. Clonal tress are genetically identical plants that reproduce asexually from a single ancestor. Old Tjikko, a clonal tree in Sweden, has a root system that dates back 9550 years.

Despite all that North Carolina's bald cypress trees have endured, their lives are under threat. The swamp where the 2624-year-old tree stands is located just 6.5 feet above sea level, which means that floods driven by climate change could damage its habitat. And though the grove is in a protected area, industrial runoff and logging that's happening nearby could impact the trees' health. North Carolina is considering establishing a Black River State Park where the trees grow to further protect the ancient natural wonders.

[h/t Live Science]

This Beverage Maker Lets You Enjoy Carbonated Drinks Without Hurting the Environment

Sparkel
Sparkel

Whether you're preparing breakfast before you head off to work or looking for something to wash down lunch, procuring the perfect beverage is vital. If it's a carbonated drink, though, with that comes the carbon dioxide emissions that arise every time you hear that classic "fssst" sound from cracking one open. These emissions are actually quite harmful to the environment.

But thanks to the newly unveiled Spärkel, curating carbonated drinks can be done without using CO2 or any artificial ingredients.

"If you walk into any grocery store, the explosion in the popularity of sparkling drinks is plain to see with more choices and flavors than ever before, but why buy off-the-shelf when it is healthier, cheaper, and more fun to create your own drinks at home?" Darren Hatherell, CEO of Spärkel, said in a press release. "With Spärkel, we created a system that lets people use the freshest ingredients and convenient carbonation process to experiment and unleash their creativity in a way that is kind to their wallet and the environment."

Users can place any kind of ingredients they wish—berries, citrus, cucumbers, etc.—along with their drink of choice—water, tea, cocktails—into the 25 oz. (750 mL) bottle and choose what level, from one to five, of fizz they'd like to have added to their drink. The sealed chamber generates CO2 naturally from a sachet of Spärkel Carbonator powder, which is "made of a special granulation of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate." The CO2 bubbles are cycled through the liquid, and within a couple of minutes, you have a completely personalized sparkling drink.

On top of all that, the beverage maker is suitable for any number of usages from water and juices to cocktails. It also comes in nine different colors—black, white, gray, yellow, orange, red, blue, green, and pink—so it can match up with whatever kitchen palette you have.

To get your hands on the Spärkel, check it out on Indiegogo, where it's available for a pre-sale price of $59.

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