Category Archives: Green Energy

The Coming Blackout Epidemic

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Motherboard:

‘​Industrialized countries face a future of increasingly severe blackouts, a new study warns, due to the proliferation of extreme weather events, the transition to unconventional fossil fuels, and fragile national grids that cannot keep up with rocketing energy demand.

“We need a fundamental re-think about how electricity is generated and distributed and who controls this,” said lead author Prof Hugh Byrd of Lincoln University, a specialist in international energy policy and urban sustainability. “It is not in the interests of the privatized power industry to encourage less electricity consumption.”

Every year, millions of people around the world experience major electricity blackouts, but the country that has endured more blackouts than any other industrialized nation is the United States. Over the last decade, the number of power failures affecting over 50,000 Americans has more than doubled, according to federal data.’

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‘Ethical’ funds still pouring money into coal, oil and gas, new report finds

Rupert Jones reports for The Guardian:

‘Should ethical investment funds be putting millions of pounds of people’s money into oil, gas and coal companies?

A new report says too many UK ethical funds are still invested in fossil fuels and heavily polluting industries, at a time when growing numbers of people are looking to reduce their exposure to these sectors.

Launched to coincide with Good Money Week (the new name for National Ethical Investment Week), which kicks off on Sunday 19 October, the report from ethical independent financial adviser firm Barchester Green names the “sinners” and “winners” of the multibillion-pound ethical and environmental funds industry.’

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More US Communities Opting to ‘Go Local’ with Greener Power Supply

Lauren McCauley writes for Common Dreams:

‘In the face of a mounting carbon crisis and the lack of action by commercial utility companies to adopt greener energy solutions, communities across the nation are opting to take hold of the power—literally!—and switch to more local, less polluting energy sources.

Reporting from Sonoma County, California on Tuesday, LA Times reporter Evan Halper highlights this growing trend known as Community Choice Aggregation. Established by law in six states thus far, including California, CCA allows communities to pool their energy load and then direct the purchase of their energy supply while working in partnership with existing utilities, who then deliver the power.

Established by law in six states thus far, CCA is an energy supply model that works in partnership with the region’s existing utility which continues to deliver power, maintain the grid, and provide customer service and billing.’

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Business Insider’s 18 Most Innovative Cities

Drake Baer writes for Business Insider:

Cape Town, South Africa‘Cities might be humanity’s greatest invention — if you listen to Harvard economist Ed Glaeser, author of  “Triumph of the City.”

“So much of what humankind has achieved over the past three millennia has come out of the remarkable collaborative creations that come out of cities,” he said in an interview. “We are a social species. We come out of the womb with the ability to sop up information from people around us. It’s almost our defining characteristic as creatures. And cities play to that strength.”

Indeed, many modern metros are pushing the limits of industry, design, and urban planning, while rethinking the way people live and work.’

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Report: World faces water crises by 2040

Renee Lewis reports for Al Jazeera:

‘Globally, there has been a three-fold population increase in the past century and a six-fold increase in water consumption, the report said. If trends in population and energy use continue, it could leave a 40 percent gap between water supply and demand by the year 2030. In most countries, including the United States, energy production is the biggest source of water consumption — even larger than agriculture, researchers said. In 2005, 41 percent of all freshwater consumed in the U.S. was for thermoelectric cooling, according to the study.

Power plants produce excess heat, requiring cooling cycles that use water. Only wind and solar voltaic energy production require minimal water. “If we keep doing business as usual, we are facing an insurmountable water shortage — even if water was free, because it’s not a matter of the price,” Sovacool said.  Researchers said nuclear power and coal — the most “thirsty” power sources — should be eventually replaced with more efficient methods, especially renewable sources like wind and solar, the report said.’

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Oil-producing Iran looks to solar power

Ali Akbar Dareini reports for the Associated Press:

‘President Hassan Rouhani’s government has quintupled its spending on solar power projects in the last year, taking advantage of Iran’s 300-odd days of sunshine a year that make its vast sun-kissed lands one of the best spots on earth to host solar panels. While being good for the environment, the panels also offer rural Iran steady power amid uncertainty over the country’s contested nuclear program as it negotiates with world powers.

And as the Islamic Republic cuts back on subsidies that once made gasoline cheaper than bottled mineral water, a push toward self-sustaining solar power could help the government save money and bolster its sanctions-battered economy. “A big change is in the making in Iran,” said Saman Mirhadi, a senior official in charge of solar projects. Iran, home to some 77 million people, is a fossil-fuel powerhouse, even in the crude-oil rich Middle East. It is home to both the world’s fourth-largest proven oil reserves and massive natural gas reserves. However, sanctions have cut into the country’s refining and production capabilities.’

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Pop-up solar station can take electricity, water and shelter anywhere

Becky Crew reports for Science Alert:

power‘How do we quickly get power to a remote village sitting miles off the grid or a bunch of homes hit by a natural disaster? “Not very easily”, would usually be the answer, but now we have ’the PowerCube’, a new ‘pop-up’ solar station that can be transported via shipping container and installed anywhere with the push of a button.

Developed over the past seven years by Ecosphere Technologies, a technology and licensing company in the US, the PowerCube is completely self-contained, remotely monitored and controlled, and can be manufactured in three different sizes to match standard shipping container varieties. The first model will be released this month.’

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Nature inspired futuristic cities and living space

What Does a City of the “Third Industrial Revolution” Look Like?

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan reports for Gizmodo:

What Does a City of the "Third Industrial Revolution" Look Like?

This, apparently.

After several months of debate, officials in Kazakhstan’s capital city of Astana have chosen a final design for the massive site that will host the World EXPO 2017. The sprawling, wind- and sun-powered neighborhood was designed by Chicago architects Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the designers of Kingdom Tower—the forthcoming world’s tallest building in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

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Sonnenschiff: Solar City Produces 4X the Energy it Consumes

Andrew Michler writes for Inhabitat:

Although net-zero projects have been creating a lot of buzz lately in the field of green building, the Sonnenschiff solar city in Freiburg, Germany is very much net positive. The self-sustaining city accomplishes this feat through smart solar design and lots and lots of photovoltaic panels pointed in the right direction. It seems like a simple strategy — but designers often incorporate solar installations as an afterthought, or worse, as a label. Designed by Rolf Disch, the Sonnenschiff (Solar Ship) and Solarsiedlung (Solar Village) emphasize power production from the start by smartly incorporating a series of large rooftop solar arrays that double as sun shades. The buildings are also built to Passivhaus standards, which allows the project to produce four times the amount of energy it consumes!

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The World’s Largest Solar Plant Just Started Creating Electricity

From Gizmodo:

The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today

Take 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors, each 7 feet high and 10 feet wide. Control them with computers to focus the Sun’s light to the top of 459-foot towers, where water is turned into steam to power turbines. Bingo: you have the world’s biggest solar power plant, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System.

Long-mired by regulatory issues and legal tangles, the enormous solar plant–jointly owned by NRG EnergyBrightSource Energy and Google–has opened for business.

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What if it’s a big hoax…?

Biggest Emitter China Best on Climate, Figueres Says

From Bloomberg:

China, the top emitter of greenhouse gases, is also the country that’s “doing it right” when it comes to addressing global warming, the United Nations’ chief climate official said.

The nation has some of the toughest energy-efficiency standards for buildings and transportation and its support for photovoltaic technology helped reduce solar-panel costs by 80 percent since 2008, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said yesterday in an interview at Bloomberg News headquarters in New York.

The country is facing growing public pressure from citizens to reduce air pollution, due in large part to burning coal. Its efforts to promote energy efficiency and renewable power stem from the realization that doing so will pay off in the long term, Figueres said.

“They actually want to breathe air that they don’t have to look at,” she said. “They’re not doing this because they want to save the planet. They’re doing it because it’s in their national interest.”

China is also able to implement policies because its political system avoids some of the legislative hurdles seen in countries including the U.S., Figueres said.

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Japanese engineers plan to turn the moon into a giant solar panel station

From The Independent:

It sounds like a tale from a science fiction novel, but a team of Japanese engineers really is hoping to turn the moon into a giant solar panel.

Shimizu, a giant civil engineering and construction firm, plans to install a ‘solar belt’ around the moon’s equator.

To be built almost entirely by remote-controlled robots, the Luna Ring would run around the 6,800 mile lunar equator and be 248 miles in width.

The solar energy collected would converted and beamed back to earth as microwaves and laser, where it would then be converted into electricity and then potentially supplied to the national grid.

Shimizu says the Luna Ring could generate a massive 13,000 terra watts of energy. The Sizewell B nuclear reactor in Suffolk produces 1,198 megawatts (MW).

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Organic Lights and Solar Cells Straight from the Printer

From Science Daily:

Flickering façades, curved monitors, flashing clothing, fluorescent wallpaper, flexible solar cells — and all printable. This is no make-believe vision of the future; it will soon be possible using a new printing process for organic light-emitting diodes.

Time is slowly running out for bulky television sets, boxy neon signs and the square-edged backlit displays we all know from shops and airports. It won’t be long before families gathering together to watch television at home will be calling out: “Unroll the screen, dear, the film’s about to start!” And members of the public may soon encounter screens everywhere they go, as almost any surface can be made into a display. “These may just be ideas at the moment, but they have every chance of becoming reality,” says Dr. Armin Wedel, head of division at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam-Golm. The first curved screens were on display at this year’s consumer electronics trade show (IFA) in Berlin. The technology behind it all? OLEDs: flexible, organic, light-emitting diodes.

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Brazil Cools on Nuclear Power Plans; Favors Wind

From Reuters:

Brazil will probably scale down its plans for new nuclear plants due to safety concerns following the 2011 radiation leak in Japan and pick up some of the slack with a “revolution” in wind power, the head of the government’s energy planning agency said.

Mauricio Tolmasquim, chief of the Energy Research Company, told Reuters it was “unlikely” the government would stick to its plans to build four new nuclear plants by 2030 to meet rising demand for electricity.

He declined to specify how many might be built instead.

Tolmasquim’s comments, part of a broad assessment of Brazil’s long-term strategic plans for electricity generation, highlighted continued global doubts regarding nuclear power more than two years after an earthquake and tsunami led to an accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.

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British Gas profits hit £22 per second but firm refuses to rule out further price rises

From The Mirror:

British Gas today refused to rule out a price RISE – despite making a £356million profit in the first half of the year.

The bumper haul – equivalent to £22 a second – was fuelled by a 13% jump in gas use as households cranked up the heating to keep warm over the winter and angered customers and critics.

It also followed a 6% price increase last November.

Despite the profit, up more than 3% on the same time in 2012, it hinted that bills could rise again before next winter.

Nick Luff, finance director at British Gas owner Centrica, said: “We will keep prices as low as we can for as long as we can.

“If prices do have to go up, we will delay it for as long as possible.”

The company put the blame on Government green taxes which are added to all bills.

It warned the scheme, which has landed it with a £1.4billion cost, would “inevitably impact on customer bills ultimately”.

However, critics slammed the firm after it was revealed half-year profits at Centrica leapt by 9% to £1.58billion.

FULL ARTICLE…

Lib Dems plan to ban most cars by 2040 causes outrage

Lib Dems plan 'to ban all cars by 2040' causes outrage (© Toyota)From MSN:

The Liberal Democrats are aiming to ban most cars from the roads by the year 2040, according to a party policy proposal. This would see only “ultra-low carbon vehicles permitted on UK carriageways for non-freight purposes”.

The party’s plans also include introducing a road pricing scheme, an initiative already mooted under the current Lib Dem-Conservative coalition government.

These new proposals, set to be discussed at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow next month, reveal how some party members want to outlaw all but the most environmentally friendly, low emissions private vehicles.

This could mean that the car you drive today – maybe even the cars you buy within the next decade – would not be allowed on UK roads by law in 2040. A focus on emissions, moving towards low-carbon vehicles by the year 2020 is already a current government policy.

However, sales of mass-produced ultra-low carbon vehicles – classed as electric or hydrogen-powered cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles – have yet to record any meaningful numbers.

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Arizona’s biggest power utility wants to tax solar

From Tree Hugger:

Arizona’s biggest power utility, Arizona Public Service (APS), has announced their intention to implement what would effectively be a tax on the sun. The whole idea behind net-metering is that if you install a solar system on the roof of your house or business, you can buy power from the grid when you need it, and sell extra power when you have a surplus. Often these rates are advantageous to provide an incentive for renewable energy adoption, a very fair thing considering all the subsidies, direct and indirect, that fossil fuels have had for decades.

But APS would like to start charging a monthly fee to sell clean power back to the grid (in their Orwellian language, they call it a “convenience charge”). A source says that that the fee could be of around $100/month or $1,200/year, enough to change the economic attractiveness of small systems. It’s not entirely clear if the fee scales up for larger systems, but that seems likely.

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Fridges could be switched off without owner’s consent to reduce strain on power stations ~ Telegraph

by Melanie Hall
The Telegraph

‘White goods such as electric ovens would be affected by the proposals to fit all new appliances with sensors that could shut them down when the UK’s generators struggle to meet demand for power.

The measures proposed by the UK’s National Grid, along with its counterparts in 34 European countries, to install the controversial devices are backed by one of the European Union’s most influential energy bodies.

They are pushing for the move because green energy sources such as wind farms are less predictable than traditional power stations, increasing the risk of blackouts

The proposals are outlined in documents drawn up by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), and has been agreed by the EU-wide body of energy regulators.

The proposals were sent to the European Commission on March 27, and it is set to deliver its verdict on the proposals within three months.’

FULL ARTICLE @ THE TELEGRAPH