There are few better ways of running an electric car than doing so on solar power, and that’s now cheaper than ever according to a new report.
The Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory produces an annual “Tracking the Sun” report (pdf file) into the prices of photovoltaic (PV) power systems.(click to read more...)
Some of our electric car−owning readers already reap the benefits of solar energy with roof−mounted panels, but on a grid level solar still has a long way to go.
The U.S. Department of Energy wants to change that, revealing targets that would mean one third of the Western U.S. energy demands could be satisfied by solar by 2050.(click to read more...)
EACH of us took turns over the past 43 years running the Environmental Protection Agency. We served Republican presidents, but we have a message that transcends political affiliation: the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally.
There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts: our world continues to warm, with the last decade the hottest in modern records, and the deep ocean warming faster than the earth’s atmosphere. Sea level is rising. Arctic Sea ice is melting years faster than projected.(click to read more...)
Europe’s largest battery is to undergo testing in the UK, where it will be used to store and regulate energy generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar power, The Guardian reports. The lithium manganese battery, developed by S&C Electric Europe, Samsung SDI and Younicos, will be capable of storing up to 10 MWh of energy.
Though the Guardian reports a “6 MW capacity battery installation,” this doesn’t make an awful lot of sense as power, measured in watts − mega or otherwise, is a rate of energy use, which is only an indicator of battery capacity if you also know the time over which it can sustain that rate of delivery.(click to read more...)
The Nikkei reports that Hokkaido Electric Power Co. will invest in a 60,000 kWh vanadium redox flow battery from Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. to bolster its grid capacity amid rapid growth in power generation using renewable energy.
A redox battery is an electrochemical system that generates oxidation and reduction between two active materials, forming a redox system, on the surface of inactive electrodes (the electrodes themselves do not change). A redox flow (RF) battery has the electrolyte including these active materials in external containers, such as tanks, and charges and discharges electricity by supplying the electrolyte to the flow type cell by pumps or other means.(click to read more...)
For owners of electric vehicles, powering their homes and cars using solar panels mounted on the roof are a win−win scenario.
Not only do they get to drive past every gas station, but home electricity bills are reduced or even eliminated.
That’s great news for the end user, but not so much for the utility companies. Caught napping by rising demand for solar, the energy industry now wants to stem its spread before their own profits are harmed.(click to read more...)
Synthetic crop fertilizers are a huge source of pollution. This is particularly true when they’re washed from fields (or leach out of them) and enter our waterways. Unfortunately, most commercial crops need the fertilizer, because it provides the nitrogen that they require to survive. Now, however, a scientist at the University of Nottingham has developed what he claims is an environmentally−friendly process, that allows virtually any type of plant to obtain naturally−occurring nitrogen directly from the atmosphere.(click to read more...)
For years, power companies have watched warily as solar panels have sprouted across the nation’s rooftops. Now, in almost panicked tones, they are fighting hard to slow the spread.
Alarmed by what they say has become an existential threat to their business, utility companies are moving to roll back government incentives aimed at promoting solar energy and other renewable sources of power. At stake, the companies say, is nothing less than the future of the American electricity industry.(click to read more...)
(CNN) − Scientists look at a warming Arctic and see a shift from white to green, as tundra gives way to new plant life.
Governments and corporations are also seeing green, as receding ice cover opens new shipping routes and opportunities to get at long−hidden natural resources.
But the downside of those opportunities is the risk that the current pace of climate change could be sped up dramatically by the release of long−trapped methane gas in the region’s permafrost −− a risk to which a new study has attached an eye−popping price tag of $60 trillion in the next several decades, on top of previous estimates.(click to read more...)
Editor’s note: Chris Field is the director of the Department of Global Ecology of the Carnegie Institution for Science and co−chair of a working group tasked with assessing climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
(CNN) −− The goals President Barack Obama set out Tuesday in his Climate Action Plan −− including cutting pollution from coal plants and aggressively pursuing clean energy alternatives −− won’t solve all the challenges of climate change, but they are a big first step in protecting the planet from its worst effects. Getting serious about solutions is critically important, especially now and especially for the United States.(click to read more...)
TUCSON, Ariz. — THIS summer the tiny town of Furnace Creek, Calif., may once again grace the nation’s front pages. Situated in Death Valley, it last made news in 1913, when it set the record for the world’s hottest recorded temperature, at 134 degrees. With the heat wave currently blanketing the Western states, and given that the mercury there has already reached 130 degrees, the news media is awash in speculation that Furnace Creek could soon break its own mark............
The most vulnerable crops are those that were already in flower and fruit when temperatures surged, from apricots and barley to wheat and zucchini. Idaho farmers have documented how their potato yields have been knocked back because their heat−stressed plants are not developing their normal number of tubers. Across much of the region, temperatures on the surface of food and forage crops hit 105 degrees, at least 10 degrees higher than the threshold for most temperate−zone crops.(click to read more...)
WASHINGTON − The nation’s entire energy system is vulnerable to increasingly severe and costly weather events driven by climate change, according to a report from the Department of Energy to be published on Thursday.
The blackouts and other energy disruptions of Hurricane Sandy were just a foretaste, the report says. Every corner of the country’s energy infrastructure − oil wells, hydroelectric dams, nuclear power plants − will be stressed in coming years by more intense storms, rising seas, higher temperatures and more frequent droughts.(click to read more...)
Wells are drying up and underwater tables falling so fast in the Middle East and parts of India, China and the US that food supplies are seriously threatened, one of the world’s leading resource analysts has warned.
In a major new essay Lester Brown, head of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, claims that 18 countries, together containing half the world’s people, are now overpumping their underground water tables to the point − known as “peak water” − where they are not replenishing and where harvests are getting smaller each year.(click to read more...)
Wells used for drinking water near the Marcellus Shale in northeast Pennsylvania have methane concentrations six times higher than wells farther away. That is the finding of a Duke University study published on June 24th in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.(click to read more...)
About six in ten Americans (58%) say “global warming is affecting weather in the United States.”
Many Americans believe global warming made recent extreme weather and climatic events “more severe,” specifically: 2012 as the warmest year on record in the United States (50%); the ongoing drought in the Midwest and the Great Plains (49%); Superstorm Sandy (46%); and Superstorm Nemo (42%).(click to read more...)
Solar power holds the promise of clean, limitless energy, but it currently suffers from high costs and an inherent disadvantage of not working when the sun isn’t shining. The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is taking a best−of−both−worlds approach by developing a hybrid solar/gas system that increases the efficiency and reduces the carbon footprint of natural gas power plants.(click to read more...)
Tunisian green energy startup Saphon Energy has created a new bladeless wind turbine which draws inspiration from the design of a ship’s sails, and promises to convert the kinetic energy of the wind into electricity at up to double the efficiency − and half the cost − of a typical wind turbine.
Dubbed the “Saphonian,” in honor of an ancient wind divinity worshiped by the Carthaginian Mediterranean culture which predated modern Tunisia, the current iteration of bladeless wind turbine is the second prototype developed by the company thus far.(click to read more...)
Phase one of the London Array usurped the UK’s Greater Gabbard to become the largest operational offshore wind farm in the world when its final turbine (its 175th) was commissioned on Saturday afternoon. Though construction was completed back in December, it is only now that all of the farm's turbines are supplying the UK’s national grid with electrical power. The array has a total capacity of 630 MW.(click to read more...)
Back in 2011, scientists reported the creation of the “world’s first practical artificial leaf” that mimics the ability of real leaves to produce energy from sunlight and water. Touted as a potentially inexpensive source of electricity for those in developing countries and remote areas, the leaf’s creators have now given it a capability that would be especially beneficial in such environments − the ability to self heal and therefore produce energy from dirty water.(click to read more...)
Mar. 20, 2013 − An innovative new process that releases the energy in coal without burning −− while capturing carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas −− has passed a milestone on the route to possible commercial use, scientists are reporting. Their study in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels describes results of a successful 200−hour test on a sub−pilot scale version of the technology using two inexpensive but highly polluting forms of coal.(click to read more...)
At a legendary but secretive laboratory in California, Lockheed Martin is working on a plan that some employees hope might transform the world’s energy system: a practicable type of nuclear fusion.
Some 900 miles to the north, Bill Gates and another Microsoft veteran, Nathan Myhrvold, have poured millions into a company developing a fission reactor that could run on today’s nuclear waste.(click to read more...)
by John Timmer − Mar 7 2013
The glacial cycles that have dominated the Earth’s climate for millions of years are driven by changes in the Earth’s orbit, reinforced by greenhouse gasses. But these changes occur over the course of tens of thousands of years, and we only have good global temperature records for the last 1,500 or so. This leaves questions about how the orbital cycles have interacted with shorter−term changes, like volcanic activity and changes in solar activity.
To provide a broader perspective on our climate, a team of researchers has reconstructed its history for the entire Holocene, the period that started with the end of the last ice age. The record shows that the Holocene temperatures largely followed the orbital forcings, peaking over 6,000 years ago and then gradually falling until roughly 1900. That’s when the temperatures experienced a sudden reverse, going from among the coldest of the entire period to the warmest in less than a century.(click to read more...)
If you wanted to get large numbers of people actively engaged in helping to solve global warming, how might you go about it? For years, the main approach in the environmental movement has been to sound the alarm bell and implore people to consume less, switch to green products, recycle, and speak up to companies and politicians. It hasn’t always been an easy sell. However, if the approach of a promising Oakland-based start−up takes hold, there may be another line of action that could become available to ordinary people: directly financing renewable energy.(click to read more...)
External Site TED.com
Filmed Feb 2013 • Posted Mar 2013 • TED2013
“Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And terrifyingly, it’s happening to about two−thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes −− and his work so far shows −− that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.(click to watch TED video lecture...)
If someone were to tell you that they had a technology − a weed actually − that could sequester huge amounts of carbon permanently while lifting villagers out of poverty by providing both protein−rich food and super−insulated building materials, you might start to wonder if they were, well, smoking a different weed.(click to read more...)
Jan. 18, 2009 — Slight changes in climate may trigger major abrupt ecosystem responses that are not easily reversible.
Some of these responses, including insect outbreaks, wildfire, and forest dieback, may adversely affect people as well as ecosystems and their plants and animals.(click to read more...)
Evidence from caves in Siberia indicates that a global temperature increase of 1.5° Celsius may cause substantial thawing of a large tract of permanently frozen soil in Siberia. The thawing of this soil, known as permafrost, could have serious consequences for further changes in the climate.
Permafrost regions cover 24 percent of the land surface in the northern hemisphere, and they hold twice as much carbon as is currently present in the atmosphere. As the permafrost thaws, it turns from a carbon sink (meaning it accumulates and stores carbon) into a carbon source, releasing substantial amounts of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.(click to read more...)
If Joseph Zawodny, a senior scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center, is correct, the future of energy may lie in a nuclear reactor small enough and safe enough to be installed where the home water heater once sat. Using weak nuclear forces that turn nickel and hydrogen into a new source of atomic energy, the process offers a light, portable means of producing tremendous amounts of energy for the amount of fuel used. It could conceivably power homes, revolutionize transportation and even clean the environment.(click to read more...)
Feb. 5, 2013 — A new system cleans ‘produced water’ from natural gas wells, and could lead to improved desalination plants for developing countries.
Increased natural gas production is seen as a crucial step away from the greenhouse gas emissions of coal plants and toward U.S. energy independence. But natural gas wells have problems: Large volumes of deep water, often heavily laden with salts and minerals, flow out along with the gas. That so−called “produced water” must be disposed of, or cleaned.(click to read more...)
Carbon capture and sequestration in underground reservoirs isn’t the most practical or cost effective way to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels. It would be much simpler if CO2 could be quickly and cheaply converted into a harmless, solid mineral before it is released into the atmosphere. A team from the U.K.’s Newcastle University may have stumbled across a way to achieve this thanks to the humble sea urchin.(click to read more...)
The world of unicellular microorganisms is vast and complex; a whole universe of activity that the naked eye can’t see. It’s a place rich with activity and potential, which makes it a wonderland for researchers.
One type of bacteria, those that oxidize iron, have been difficult to study because they are difficult to grow and research in the lab. Iron oxidizers “eat” electrons from dissolved iron, which results in large amounts of rust.
Scientists have long been interested in the unique properties of iron−oxidizing bacteria, and now, new research has paved the way to cultivate these bacteria using electricity instead of iron.(click to read more...)
It’s not the happiest time to be an environmentalist. Climate change hit home last year with brutal force: 2012’s historic drought singed much of the Midwest, turning farms to dust and withering the corn crop. Other parts of the U.S. suffered through storms like Sandy and massive wildfires. Average annual temperatures in the continental U.S. beat the previous recorded high by a full 1°F (1.8°C). And the future is uglier still:
LIMA, Jan. 24, 2013 (Reuters) − Climate change has shrunk Andean glaciers between 30 and 50 percent since the 1970s and could melt many of them away altogether in coming years, according to a study published on Tuesday in the journal The Cryosphere.
Andean glaciers, a vital source of fresh water for tens of millions of South Americans, are retreating at their fastest rates in more than 300 years, according to the most comprehensive review of Andean ice loss so far.
(click to read more...)
The weather reports are in. 2012 was the hottest and the most extreme year on record in many places.
While parts of China are enduring the harshest winter in 30 years, the Antarctic is warming at an alarming rate. In Australia, out−of−control bushfires are partially the result of record−breaking weather (new colors were added to weather forecast maps, to account for the new kind of heat). In the United States, where Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of New Jersey and New York and where extreme drought still lingers in the Midwest, the average temperature in 2012 was more than a whole degree Fahrenheit (or 5/9 of a degree Celsius) higher than average − shattering the record.(click to read more...)