Top 10 Most Interesting Energy and Environment Articles From October

by David L Roberts

Elevated radiation levels of US
Elevated radiation levels in the U.S.A.

Here’s my latest monthly report of the “Top 10” most compelling clean energy, climate, and environment-related news stories encountered last month. These articles may have an impact on your business, your life, and the world we live in. Or, at the very least, might surprise you about what’s going on.

Over a thousand articles were reviewed across various energy platforms and 40+ were found to be of particular interest, which were sent to my private reader list. This newsletter is available upon request. The 10 most interesting to me are shown here, with a startling #1 article at the end.

10. A report from three Bay Area companies paints a positive outlook for investment in cleantech, stating that cleantech accounts for 25% of all investment capital today. Now that cleantech expectations are more in line with capabilities, many large multinational companies are stepping in as investors, both for their own energy efficiency (carbon footprint) goals as well as venture capitalist–like goals.

9. Denmark is striving for 100% power generation from renewables by 2050, and it has been announced that it will receive a WWF Gift to the World award for this leadership. Other nations planning to be carbon neutral are Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, Tuvalu, Bhutan, The Maldives and Costa Rica.

8. Navigant Research estimates the currently small global market for energy storage (today at $150 million) will rapidly expand to $10 billion by 2023 due to acceleration of wind and solar installs.

• California currently mandates 33% of utility power be derived from renewables and is now considering mandating energy storage as well. To address inherent intermittency, this evolving industry is seeing growing commercialization of many technologies including batteries (lithium-ion and sodium-sulphur), flywheel, molten salt, and pumped hydro storage.

7. Scientists from Potsdam Institute (PIK) forecast the planet is on path to increase global temperature 9 degrees F in a century through GHG emissions, creating a scenario of floods and droughts that would place 1 billion people at risk — 13% of the global population.

• The Asian Dev. Bank reports that, by 2035, Asia will increase its energy consumption by 67%, representing half the world’s energy demands — and half the world’s GHG emissions. The bank soberly estimates that coal will account for 83% of this growth and that CO2-emitting gasoline cars will remain dominant.

Here’s one view of global climate change in 25+ years, with predictions of more droughts, floods and impacts on over 1 billion people as a result of rising sea levels — with island nations, coastal cities, and tropical zones most vulnerable.

6. While a national cap-and-trade program has been illusive, the New Jersey legislature is considers rejoining the 9-state (eastern) regional carbon-trading program, RGGI. RGGI is the oldest such program in the US, but a similar program now exists in California, Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. The western regional carbon and GHG emissions trading program hopes of to expand to surrounding states at some point.

5. The Energy Information Administration reports that the US produced 3.8% less CO2 in 2012 (vs. 2011), continuing a recent downtrend of GHG emissions since 2007. Some of the main credits for the drop in emissions are considered to be a slowed down economy, power plants converting from coal to gas, increasing use of renewable energy, and an improvement in “energy intensity” — a macro energy efficiency measure of energy usage per unit of GDP.

• Notably, however, the switch from coal to gas, while reducing CO2, increases the (risk of) emissions of methane, which is 20 times more harmful than CO2.

4. A report from the UK predicts that advanced (drop-in) biofuels such as butanol will begin to play a large long-term role in reducing GHG emissions. Compared to hydrogen or electric vehicle formats, the benefit here is the fact that biofuels can be used in international combustion engines. Since internal combustion engines are expected to dominate for the foreseeable future, many argue that advanced biofuels are sorely needed.

CEFC is the first to make and distribute the advance biofuel biomethane, called Redeem, thru a network of 35 fueling stations in CA. It is made from methane from landfills (and other sources) and is available both compressed and in liquid form.

3. T. Boone Pickens and Waste Management are two notables committed to “renewable” natural gas that’s an alternative to fossil gas currently produced via tracking. Redeem is renewable since it’s a natural by-product of decomposing biodegradable materials (methane et al), such as that found in landfills.

Some communities are now capturing methane gas naturally produced in land fills (aka “garbage dumps”) and selling it to intermediaries to produce electricity.

2. China’s Harbin City (11 million) was closed down due to an excessive pollution index of 1000, which the WHO states is over 3 times the 300 index it considers “hazardous.” WHO considers an index of 20 to be “safe.”

The #1 Energy Story Of October

1. In case you’re wondering about the effects of Fukushima, here’s a frighteningly well documented report about doses of cesium 137, iodine 131, and strontium 90 that have already infected wildlife all along the west coast of North America, including my favorite — wild caught Pacific salmon. This may affect human health for generations.

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This article, Top 10 Most Interesting Energy & Environment Articles From October, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

David L Roberts is a marketing consultant to renewable energy startups.

Navy’s New and All-Electric Destroyer Is A Seagoing Microgrid

by Tina Casey

Launch of the USS Zumwalt courtesy of US Navy.
Launch of the USS Zumwalt courtesy of US Navy.

We were just taking note of the US Navy’s focus on stationary, portable, and even wearable microgrids when along comes a doozy of an example in the form of the USS Zumwalt DDG 1000. The newly launched high-tech destroyer has been dubbed the Navy’s first “all-electric” ship, but not because you can plug it into a wall socket. The Zumwalt’s distinctive feature is a fully integrated power system that both generates and distributes electrical energy everywhere in the ship, including the propulsion system as well as weaponry and support services.

A Floating Microgrid For The US Navy

The actual power source of the Zumwalt is a 78 megawatt array of four gas-turbine generators, but that’s the extent of the role of internal combustion engines on the ship. Here’s a rundown provided by our friends at the technology association IEEE:

…the Zumwalt’s propellers and drive shafts are turned by electric motors, rather than being directly attached to combustion engines. Such electric-drive systems, while a rarity for the U.S. Navy, have long been standard on big ships. What’s new and different about the one on the Zumwalt is that it’s flexible enough to propel the ship, fire railguns or directed-energy weapons (should these eventually be deployed), or both at the same time.

Speaking of railguns, another energy-intensive weapon system that could come into play is the Navy’s new laser weapons system (LaWS). Earlier this year we took note of an article about LaWS from the Office of Naval Research, which makes the case that ships with integrated all-electric power systems are essential to future force effectiveness, given the transition to energy-based forms of weaponry.

Here’s the money quote:

As the technology advances, and faced with rising and unpredictable fossil fuel costs, the Navy’s next-generation surface combatant ship will leverage electric ship technologies in its design. While electric ships already exist, design characteristics of a combatant ship are more complex with regard to weight, speed, manoeuvrability—and now, directed energy weapons.

For the record, the Zumwalt isn’t quite ready for prime time yet. The launch took place on October 28 at almost 90 percent completion, so there’s more work to be done before it’s fully operational. The Navy expects to have initial shakedowns completed by 2016.

The Zumwalt And You

If you were thinking that “all-electric” ship meant a battery-powered vessel that could potentially be charged from diverse renewable sources, the whole gas-turbine thing is a bit of a letdown.

Since the Zumwalt has just one original fuel source, from that perspective it’s not as advanced in future fuels as the Navy’s new SPIDERS microgrid for land based facilities, which can integrate both renewable energy and fossil fuels. The same goes for the wearable MAPS microgrid, which incorporates a battery that can be recharged from multiple sources.

However, given the Navy’s hand-over-fist pursuit of biofuels, the Zumwalt does open the door to the use of renewable biogas, so that’s something.

More to the point, the development of the Zumwalt and its two planned sister ships involves future electrical systems and energy efficiency improvements that could find application in the next generation of civilian electric vehicles, in addition to the potential for integrating advanced, multi-sourced energy storage systems in military vessels and vehicles.

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This article, Navy’s New “All-Electric” Destroyer Is A Seagoing Microgrid, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Tina Casey Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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The Microgrid Solution To The Macro Problem Of AGW

100% Renewable Energy Powers All These Places, All The Time

by John Brian Shannon

A handy selection of jurisdictions where renewable energy has taken over completely. More locations will be added, check back for updates!

__________

4. Iceland. (Yes, all of it) runs on clean, renewable energy.

Iceland: A 100% renewables example in the modern era

Iceland

__________

3. Tokelau. A South Pacific Island. Runs on 100% Solar Power. Used to burn shiploads of expensive diesel and kerosene to create electrical power.

An Island (Tokelau) Powered 100% By Solar Energy
 
An Island (Tokelau) Powered 100% By Solar Energy →
.
__________

2. Samsø. An Island in Denmark. Citizen cooperative formed to power the entire Island. Sells excess electricity to mainland Denmark. Cooperative makes a tidy profit.

Introducing Samsø, A 100% Wind-Powered Island

blog_2013_10_23-1

.

__________

1. Güssing. Formerly near-bankrupt town in Austria runs on solar and locally-sourced biofuel. Oh, and they export solar panels, electricity, and biofuel, by the truckload. And town coffers are filling with clean gold.

Güssing, Austria Powered Entirely By Renewable Energy

blog_2013_10_08-1

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__________
 

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