Tag: renewable energy

The World’s Fifth-Largest Economy, California, Just Committed To 100% Carbon-Free Power By 2045

California governor Jerry Brown signed what may be the world’s most ambitious carbon energy plan into law on Monday, setting a 100% clean electricity goal for the state by 2045.

At the same time that he signed the measure, SB100, Brown also issued an executive order that establishes a new carbon neutrality target for that same year.

Co-sponsored by state Senator Kevin De Leon, SB100 requires the state to get 60% of its power from renewable energy by 2030, up from the previous target of 50% for the same deadline.

California is committed to doing whatever is necessary to meet the existential threat of climate change,” Brown said during signing of SB100.

“This bill, and others I will sign this week, help us go in that direction. But have no illusions, California and the rest of the world have miles to go before we achieve zero-carbon emissions.”




The announcement comes just days ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit. Brown is co-chairing the massive environmental summit, situated midway between Paris 2015 and 2020.

It offers a forum where business executives, state and local government officials, and United Nations leaders including Michael Bloomberg and Indian billionaire entrepreneur Anand Mahindra will convene to address the most pressing climate change issues.

GCAS 2018 kicks off Wednesday, September 12 in San Francisco.

The state of California is the world’s fifth largest economy, and in many cases, it already sets some of the most ambitious environmental goals on the continent, if not the planet.

California has some of the toughest laws about super pollutants such as methane and black carbon, and the state set North America’s toughest greenhouse gas emissions targets, aiming to cut emissions at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

Brown has a number of bills headed for his desk that would also set a standard for other states, including a bill that would hold retailers jointly responsible for workplace abuses against port truckers at ports including Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland; and a bill that would mandate women on the public, corporate boards of companies in California.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Tesla Just Built The World’s Biggest Battery In Record Time

Elon Musk has won. The Tesla CEO made a bet that he could install the world’s biggest battery in South Australia within 100 days, and the whole installation would be free if the company failed.

Last November 23, Thurday, it was revealed that the project has been completed with 46 days to spare.

Congratulations to the Tesla crew and South Australian authorities who worked so hard to get this manufactured and installed in record time!” Musk said on his Twitter page Thursday.

The batteries are designed to provide reliable power to a part of Australia that desperately needs it. South Australia has dealt with 18 months of blackouts.

A 50-year storm event in September 2016 knocked out pretty much the entire state’s elect.




The Powerpack system provides 100 megawatts of storage to renewable energy firm Neoen’s Hornsdale wind farm near Jamestown in South Australia, holding enough power for 30,000 homes.

The two companies will join engineering company Consolidated Power Projects and state premier Jay Weatherill next week to officially unveil the battery.

The project forms part of a AU$530 million ($404 million) state plan to improve renewable energy production.

Last September, South Australia suffered from severe blackouts after a storm cut off production.

The state receives around a third of its energy from renewables, but the plan will boost this by building a solar thermal power plant and emergency generators along with the battery.

The world’s largest lithium-ion battery will be an important part of our energy mix and it sends the clearest message that South Australia will be a leader in renewable energy with battery storage,” Weatherill told the Associated Press.

Tesla first set itself the 100 days goal after a discussion between Musk and Australian software-billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes.

In March, Cannon-Brookes asked if Lyndon Rive, Tesla’s vice-president for energy products, was telling the truth when he said the company could install between 100 to 300 megawatt-hours of storage in 100 days.

This led to a bidding process where the state government agreed to fund $113 million of battery storage. Tesla beat out a number of competitors to score the contract.

Musk was a bit sly with the deadline, though. Tesla started counting down 54 days ago from September 30, the point at which the Australian energy regulator gave clearance to the project.

The company was building the battery for a while prior to this. The project came well under the January 8, 2018 deadline, but Tesla did not build a battery in less than two months.

Between now and next week’s unveiling, the battery will undergo a series of checks to ensure it meets state and energy regulations.

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Why Renewable Energy Is Good For Business?

Gone are the days where a focus on renewable energy can be relegated to the “environmentally conscious.”

Now, issues surrounding commercial alternative energy solutions encompass a company’s financial performance as well as its corporate social responsibility.

As a result, an increasing number of organizations are taking a deeper look into the benefits of renewable energy for business.




In October last year, the Energy Collective reported that well-known brands including Apple, Bank of America and General Motors are not only looking to reduce their environmental impact but are actively gaining a competitive edge over other companies by investing in and utilizing renewable energy.

These corporations are leveraging their clean energy usage to bolster their business sustainability strategies and financial success. The article states:

Early adopters are building a critical advantage by being ahead of this market …

And goes on to conclude:

… the buying or selling of renewable power directly to corporations will be a barometer of success for businesses of all types.

Far from being simply a fad, investing in renewable energy is taking the stage like never before. Here’s why businesses are taking the concept of using renewable energy seriously:

  1. Consumers are evaluating and prioritizing companies that are committed to reducing and/or eliminating dependence on fossil fuels.
    The Apple brand isn’t only loved for its great technology. Recently, the company illustrated its dedication to sustainability planning by announcing goals for 100% clean energy reliance
  2. Government regulations will likely soon have an even bigger impact on companies and their energy usages.
    In the US, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan may have a significant role in putting the pressure on businesses for clean energy use.
  3. Companies are seeing the advantage of investing in renewable energy initiatives, and the possibility of financial savings.
    A major player in this effort is the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), which is an organization that helps businesses understand the advantages of moving to renewables, and has over 100 major corporate buyers on its roster.

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Light Can ‘Heal’ Defects In New Solar Cell Materials

Now, a team of researchers at MIT and elsewhere say they have made significant inroads toward understanding a process for improving perovskites’ performance, by modifying the material using intense light.

The new findings are being reported in the journal Nature Communications, in a paper by Samuel Stranks, a researcher at MIT; Vladimir Bulovic, the Fariborz Maseeh (1990) Professor of Emerging Technology and associate dean for innovation; and eight colleagues at other institutions in the U.S. and the U.K.

The work is part of a major research effort on perovskite materials being led by Stranks, within MIT’s Organic and Nanostructured Electronics Laboratory.

Tiny defects in perovskite’s crystalline structure can hamper the conversion of light into electricity in a solar cell, but “what we’re finding is that there are some defects that can be healed under light,” says Stranks, who is a Marie Curie fellow jointly at MIT and Cambridge University in the U.K.




The tiny defects, called traps, can cause electrons to recombine with atoms before the electrons can reach a place in the crystal where their motion can be harnessed.

This is the first time this has been shown,” Stranks says, “where just under illumination, where no [electric or magnetic] field has been applied, we see this ion migration that helps to clean the film. It reduces the defect density.

While the effect had been observed before, this work is the first to show that the improvement was caused by the ions moving as a result of the illumination.

This work is focused on particular types of the material, known as organic-inorganic metal halide perovskites, which are considered promising for applications including solar cells, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), lasers, and light detectors.

They excel in a property called the photoluminescence quantum efficiency, which is key to maximizing the efficiency of solar cells.

But in practice, the performance of different batches of these materials, or even different spots on the same film, has been highly variable and unpredictable.

The new work was aimed at figuring out what caused these discrepancies and how to reduce or eliminate them.

Stranks explains that “the ultimate aim is to make defect-free films,” and the resulting improvements in efficiency could also be useful for applications in light emission as well as light capture.

Previous work reducing defects in thin-film perovskite materials has focused on electrical or chemical treatments, but “we find we can do the same with light,” Stranks says.

One advantage of that is that the same technique used to improve the material’s properties can at the same time be used as a sensitive probe to observe and better understand the behavior of these promising materials.

Another advantage of this light-based processing is it doesn’t require anything to come in physical contact with the film being treated — for example, there is no need to attach electrical contacts or to bathe the material in a chemical solution.

Instead, the treatment can simply be applied by turning on the source of illumination. The process, which they call photo-induced cleaning, could be “a way forward” for the development of useful perovskite-based devices, Stranks says.

The effects of the illumination tend to diminish over time, Stranks says, so “the challenge now is to maintain the effect” long enough to make it practical.

Some forms of perovskites are already “looking to be commercialized by next year,” he says, and this research “raises questions that need to be addressed, but it also shows there are ways to address” the phenomena that have been limiting this material’s performance.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Hydropower vs. Geothermal – Which Renewable Energy Is Best?

Hydroelectric is the use of moving water to turn turbines that generate electricity, usually through the building of dams or pump stations on rivers.

And hydroelectricity is the king of renewable energy, making up 70% of the renewable energy produced around the world. And for good reason.

They’re kind-of the perfect energy source. It’s stable, base-load energy that’s flexible. If you need more electricity, just release more water into the turbines.

They’re cheap to run and maintain once they’re built and they’re 95% efficient at generating energy, compared to 33% for coal and 15% for solar.

And of course they create no pollutants, consume no fuel, and the water never stops flowing.

The Three Gorges Dam in China is actually the largest energy plant of any kind in the world and generates just under a hundred terawatt hours per year all by itself.

So, hydro is kinda perfect. The problem is, it’s location-specific.

If you don’t live by a large river, you’re not going to be able to use it. Luckily, most cities were built near rivers, but not all rivers are large and powerful enough to make enough difference to justify the cost of building them.

Which is also a problem. While they produce free energy for decades and even centuries after they’re built, hydroelectric dams are huge engineering projects that cost tons of money up front.

(By the way, the whole ‘expensive at first but then free for decades’ thing is a common theme amongst renewable energies)

They also create reservoirs and lakes that flood a lot of land whose landowners may not want to give up.

There are some concerns about the disruption of fish habitats, but… that’s not at the top if my list of concerns.

So each hydroelectric plant is a birds nest of legal and construction challenges to overcome but even so, the number of hydropower plants are expected to double by 2050.

 

Another base load energy source is geothermal energy.

Geothermal uses the heat from natural geologic hotspots to turn turbines that generate electricity.

Iceland and the Philippines are major producers of geothermal power, which can be used in huge commercial plants to power entire cities or just pump the heat directly into homes for heating.

It’s a consistent flow of energy so it never runs out, but the efficiency isn’t great. Only an average of 12% efficiency.

Which really just means it will take longer for the investment to build it to pay off because once it’s turned on, it’s just free energy basically. And the efficiency is getting better, with newer plants getting over 20%.
https://www.geothermal-energy.org/pdf

Even in Iceland, which is covered in hotspots and has a very progressive attitude toward clean energy, it only accounts for 30% of their energy production.

So it’s not likely to become a major source of energy worldwide

And as if all that wasn’t enough of a bummer, it also turns out that geothermal can produce greenhouse gasses.

Geologic hotspots churn up all kinds of stuff from inside the Earth, stuff like sulfur dioxide and silica emissions, and heavy metals like mercury, arsenic and boron.

These can get in the reservoirs and eventually the water supply.

Oh, and by the way, one of the methods they use to open up geothermal wells is hydraulic fracking. Yeah. That hydraulic fracking.

Let’s drill down and inject extremely high pressure water and other chemicals… Right over a volcano.

 

What could go wrong?

Earthquakes. That’s what.

Just like fracking for natural gas has caused earthquakes in Oklahoma…

(zoom in)
Earthquakes. In Oklahoma.

A geothermal well that was drilled in Switzerland set off an earthquake that measured a 3.4 on the Richter scale.

(pained)
Geothermal… Why do you hurt me so?

I used to think geothermal was really cool. Used to.

So am I wrong about this? Do you have experience using geothermal, or working in hydro plants? Are my numbers garbage? Let me know in the comments

The next video in this series will focus on biomass energy and harnessing the motion of the ocean to make power.