Farming Sunlight From Space

Whether they’re producing voltage directly from solar rays or focusing them to melt salt like Ivanpah, even Earth’s biggest and baddest solar power plants are hamstrung by all this damnable atmosphere getting in the way. But a new kind of off-world solar energy plant could soon provide the whole planet with plenty of power—we just have to finish figuring out how to build and operate it. Energy Production in Spaaaaaaaace! With the advent of silicon-based photovoltaic solar panels—the kind that directly convert solar energy to electrical current—some 60 years ago, researchers immediately looked to the skies as the ideal place to collect solar energy. coque iphone pas cher Up there, you don’t have miles and miles of atmosphere and clouds absorbing, scattering, or blocking out the sun’s incoming rays. That means photovoltaic panels should, conceivably, be able to operate at (or very near) their theoretical efficiency limits. Plus, if you position a solar power satellite (SPS) properly over the equator, it will only reside in the Earth’s shadow for a few hours every year and thereby provide nearly non-stop energy. coque iphone 8 The idea of space-based solar power (SBSP) was formalized in the seminal 1968 report, Power from the Sun: Its Future, by American aerospace engineer Peter Glaser. The paper set forth a conceptual system for collecting unhampered solar energy from massive extra-atmospheric arrays of photovoltaic cells set in geosynchronous orbit above the equator, and transmitting it wirelessly back to Earth where it would be used by terrestrial power grids. In theory, with enough orbiting “solar farms,” the energy needs of not just the U.S. coque iphone pas cher but the entire world could be met. In his paper, Glaser argued that while building, launching, and operating such a power plant was currently beyond the reach of scientific knowledge at the time, those technological advances would be within our grasp in the coming years and decades. So, are we any closer to freeing the entire world from its energy woes with orbiting solar farms than we were at the start of the Space Age? Sure, but we’ve still got some work to do before that actually happens. coque iphone en ligne Specifically, there are a number aspects that we need to iron out before something like this actually comes to fruition. Launch It – What It Will Take to Farm Sunlight from SpaceExpand The first issue is the fact that a commercial-grade SPS would be simply gargantuan. In order to produce a GW of power, you’d need a massive collection area 0.5 kilometers long by 5.2 kilometers wide and weighing tens of thousands of tons. No matter how tightly you fold it up, there’s simply no way to get a fully formed SPS from the surface of the Earth into orbit given our current launch capabilities that wouldn’t be cost-prohibitive. So, for example, let’s assume that a standard solar panel weighs about 20 kg per kw. Not including the necessary support and transmission components, a 4 GW capacity would weigh a whopping 80,000 tons. It would require nearly 9,000 Atlas V rockets (each with a max lifting ability of 8,900 kg to GEO) to free that structure from Earth’s gravitational grip, or at least 9,000 trips to geosynchronous orbit and back, and cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $320 billion. That’s just to get the solar panels into position, not to assemble them or operate them—just to get them up there. Nor is that accounting for the environmental impact of all those rocket launches. However, while reusable space launch systems like Space X’s Dragon Capsule can only lift a fraction of what an Atlas V can, their low-cost nature could provide significant cost savings and drastically shortened turnaround times should the project be attempted today. Similarly, since we’re not rushing to beat another nation to the punch (something of this scale would demand the financial and technological assistance of every nation on Earth), slower but more cost efficient delivery methods like ion propulsion could also be deployed to shuttle materials from Low Earth Orbit up to Geosynchronous Earth Orbit. Essentially, LEO would become a staging area where materials would be tugged up to GEO by a fleet of as-of-yet-uninvented space transport vehicles. A secondary option proposed by American physicist Gerard O’Neill in the 1970s would have avoided the high cost of launching materials from Earth by instead constructing the SPS from materials mined on the Moon. This would have offered significant launch cost savings given the Moon’s far lower gravity, but would have required NASA to invent and deploy mass drivers (electromagnetic rail guns designed to throw packages into space) on the Moon’s surface. Though this seems like it would cost a hell of a lot more than just using rockets, a 1979 report by General Dynamics’ Convair Division estimated that using lunar resources would be cost effective should we build out 30 or so 10GW SPS’s—for a total capacity of 300 GW, or enough to satisfy projected U.S. electricity demand in the 2000-2030 period. Build It – What It Will Take to Farm Sunlight from SpaceExpand So even if we manage to get these tens of thousands of tons of stuff into orbit, the next issue would be putting it all together. This of course comes with its own set of challenges. coque iphone pas cher The structure, for example, wouldn’t need to support itself against gravity or the elements as terrestrial-based power plants do, but would have to defend against micrometeors and solar flares. There’s also the matter of who would build it. When NASA took a look at the issue in the late 1970s, it estimated necessary construction time at around 30 years. Three decades of build time. We can barely keep highly-trained astronauts out there on the ISS for more than a year, and a project like this would require either a veritable army of orbital workers (we’re talking a New Deal-scale workforce) continually shuttled back and forth to the surface, or we’d need an army of robots to do the same. NASA’s 1970s solution was to use a fleet of “beam builder” robots to roll and assemble sheets of aluminum into trusses tens of kilometers long. This method would reduce the necessary workforce of humans to a supervisory skeleton crew, which in turn would minimize training, operating, and liability costs. However, even with generous estimates of mechanization capabilities at the time, NASA estimated it would need at least 1,000 full-time astronauts on hand at any given moment—again, that’s just counting astronauts, not the additional doctors, cooks, cleaners, and other service workers they’d require to live in orbit, or the massive amount of resources (air, water, and food) that they’d consume. NASA estimated that the number of support workers would outnumber the builders by a factor of 10 to 1. And though this would be a massively expensive undertaking, it would also open up a huge new industry for anyone brave enough to work and live 22,000 miles up. Maintain It Not to put the cart before the horse, but assuming we do somehow manage to construct an SPS, keeping it from falling out of the sky could be tricky. The ISS for example, the largest orbiting man-made satellite in existence, uses regularly refilled gas propulsion to keep its orbit from fatally degrading. But given the monstrous size of these power plants, we’d have to devise a new, more efficient means of keeping them aloft. Solar light sails have been suggested as one solution, propped up either by the suns rays or by ground-based laser and radio energy. This energy would essentially counteract the planet’s gravitational pull and push the SPS just hard enough to keep it from falling back to Earth. But we’re still years away from such technology being readily available. Another solution, which is a bit closer to reality, is to convert solar-generated, DC power into microwaves and beam that energy up to the satellite to provide operational power. Researchers have been playing with this technology since the 1980s, and JAXA (Japan’s space agency) recently announced that a proposed small-scale SPS might use this method when it comes online in 2040. Get It Back By far, the biggest stumbling block for SPS technology involves getting it from space to your wall socket—it’s not like we can just run a huge extension cord up there. Instead, we’ll have to rely on a neophyte power transmission technology known as “wireless power transmission” (WPT). WPT converts DC current to microwave frequency and shoots it to a distant receiver where it is converted back to electricity and added to the power grid—essentially the reverse of what we’d use to keep the SPS aloft, as described above. This technology is far closer to science than fiction. It was first demonstrated in 1964 when American electrical engineer William C Brown demonstrated a microwave beam-powered helicopter for Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News. soldes coque iphone Subsequent developments by Raytheon in the 1970s saw microwaves transmit 30kW of energy over the course of a mile with 84 percent efficiency. And while a 5 GW beam would require massive arrays of receiver dishes spread over large uninhabited areas of the planet, the UN’s non-profit SunSat Energy Council has stated that this type of beam would be of such low density that it wouldn’t be capable of harming plant and animal life. You wouldn’t get a kitten in a microwave effect if you walked through this beam—in fact, it would reportedly warm your skin less than the Sun’s natural rays would. While WPT technology is certainly possible, there are a number of necessary factors to make it plausible. Factors like how you would generate the microwave signal in the first place. In the 1970s, when NASA first looked at the issue, the state of the art still used vacuum tubes. Today, semiconductor amplifiers offer superior efficiencies at a lower price point, but at the 1 GW scale, an SPS would need somewhere around the order of 100 million such devices to create a powerful-enough signal. There’s also the matter of the specific frequency the beam will take, lest it interfere with existing technologies. Somewhere in the 1 – 10 GHz range (around 5.8 GHz) is most likely, given the need to balance between antenna size and atmospheric penetration capabilities as well as accounting for existing band usage. Then there’s the issue of aiming the damn thing to hit a receiver dish 36,000 km away. You wouldn’t be able to do it with a single antenna. An SPS would require a massive number of smaller coordinated and synchronized antennae (up to a billion per satellite by some estimates) each precisely aimed at a 3km wide rectifying antenna on the ground, and aimed with an accuracy of just 10 µrad (and an efficiency of about 85 percent). That’s an unprecedented level of accuracy—not even the beam line tolerances at CERN are that tight. For all intents and purposes, it’s beyond our capabilities at this time. Where to Go from Here While this may seem like just as much of a Herculean task as it was in the 1970s, SBSP could well become a viable energy source within our lifetimes. Japan has already announced plans to build its own SPS within the next 25 years. Given both the rapid development of renewable energy over the past decade and the shift from public to private spaceflight—not to mention the growing need for more and cleaner power—the stars could soon align in favor of this ambitious project.

New Weapon in Climate Fight… Soil?

Soil as Carbon Storehouse: New Weapon in Climate Fight? The degradation of soils from unsustainable agriculture and other development has released billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. But new research shows how effective land restoration could play a major role in sequestering CO2 and slowing climate change. By: Judith d. Schwartz In the 19th century, as land-hungry pioneers steered their wagon trains westward across the United States, they encountered a vast landscape of towering grasses that nurtured deep, fertile soils. Today, just three percent of North America’s tallgrass prairie remains. Its disappearance has had a dramatic impact on the landscape and ecology of The world’s cultivated soils have lost 50 to 70 percent of their original carbon stock. soldes coque iphone the U.S., but a key consequence of that transformation has largely been overlooked: a massive loss of soil carbon into the atmosphere. The importance of soil carbon — how it is leached from the earth and how that process can be reversed — is the subject of intensifying scientific investigation, with important implications for the effort to slow the rapid rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. coque iphone According to Rattan Lal, director of Ohio State University’s Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, the world’s cultivated soils have lost between 50 and 70 percent of their original carbon stock, much of which has oxidized upon exposure to air to become CO2. coque iphone 8 Now, armed with rapidly expanding knowledge about carbon sequestration in soils, researchers are studying how land restoration programs in places like the Rattan Lal Soil in a long-term experiment appears red when depleted of carbon and dark brown when carbon content is high former North American prairie, the North China Plain, and even the parched interior of Australia might help put carbon back into the soil. Absent carbon and critical microbes, soil becomes mere dirt, a process of deterioration that’s been rampant around the globe. Many scientists say that regenerative agricultural practices can turn back the carbon clock, reducing atmospheric CO2 while also boosting soil productivity and increasing resilience to floods and drought. Such regenerative techniques include planting fields year-round in crops or other cover, and agroforestry that combines crops, trees, and animal husbandry. Recognition of the vital role played by soil carbon could mark an important if subtle shift in the discussion about global warming, which has been a look at soil brings a sharper focus on potential carbon sinks heavily focused on curbing emissions of fossil fuels. But a look at soil brings a sharper focus on potential carbon sinks. Reducing emissions is crucial, but soil carbon sequestration needs to be part of the picture as well, says Lal. The top priorities, he says, are restoring degraded and eroded lands, as well as avoiding deforestation and the farming of peatlands, which are a major reservoir of carbon and are easily decomposed upon drainage and cultivation. coque iphone He adds that bringing carbon back into soils has to be done not only to offset fossil fuels, but also to feed our growing global population. “We cannot feed people if soil is degraded,” he says. “Supply-side approaches, centered on CO2 sources, amount to reshuffling the Titanic deck chairs if we overlook demand-side solutions: where that carbon can and should go,” says Thomas J. Goreau, a biogeochemist and expert on carbon and nitrogen cycles who now serves as president of the Global Coral Reef Alliance. Goreau says we need to seek opportunities to increase soil carbon in all ecosystems — from tropical forests to pasture to wetlands — by replanting degraded areas, increased mulching of biomass instead of burning, large-scale use of biochar, improved pasture management, effective erosion control, and restoration of mangroves, salt marshes, and sea grasses. “CO2 cannot be reduced to safe levels in time to avoid serious long-term impacts unless the other side of atmospheric CO2 balance is included,” Goreau says. Scientists say that more carbon resides in soil than in the atmosphere and all plant life combined; there are 2,500 billion tons of carbon in soil, compared with 800 billion tons in the atmosphere and 560 billion tons in plant and animal life. And compared to many proposed geoengineering fixes, storing carbon in soil is simple: It’s a matter of returning carbon where it belongs. Through photosynthesis, a plant draws carbon out of the air to form carbon compounds. What the plant doesn’t need for growth is exuded through the roots to feed soil organisms, whereby the carbon is humified, or rendered stable. Carbon is the main component of soil organic matter and helps give soil its water-retention capacity, its structure, and its fertility. According to Lal, some pools of carbon housed in soil aggregates are so stable that they can last thousands of years. This is in contrast to “active” soil carbon, ‘If we treat soil carbon as a renewable resource, we can change the dynamics,’ says an expert. “If we treat soil carbon as a renewable resource, we can change the dynamics,” says Goreau. “When we have erosion, we lose soil, which carries with it organic carbon, into waterways. When soil is exposed, it oxidizes, essentially burning the soil carbon. We can take an alternate trajectory.” As basic as soil carbon is, there’s much scientists are just learning about it, including how to make the most of its CO2 sequestration capacity. One promising strategy, says Goreau, is bolstering soil microbiology by adding beneficial microbes to stimulate the soil cycles where they have been interrupted by use of insecticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. As for agroforestry, programs with greater species diversity are better able to maximize the storage of carbon than monocultures. Many researchers are looking to biochar — produced when plant matter, manure, or other organic material is heated in a zero- or low-oxygen environment — for its ability to turn problem areas into productive sites while building soil carbon. Says Goreau, “Vast areas of deforested land that have been abandoned after soil degradation are excellent candidates for replanting and reforestation using biochar from the weeds now growing there.” An important vehicle for moving carbon into soil is root, or mycorrhizal, fungi, which govern the give-and-take between plants and soil. According to Australian soil scientist Christine Jones, plants with mycorrhizal connections can transfer up to 15 percent more carbon to soil than their non-mycorrhizal counterparts. The most common mycorrhizal fungi are marked by threadlike filaments called hyphae that extend the reach of a plant, increasing access to nutrients and water. These hyphae are coated with a sticky substance called glomalin, discovered only in 1996, which is instrumental in soil structure and carbon storage. The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises land managers to protect glomalin by minimizing tillage and chemical inputs and using cover crops to keep living roots in the soil. In research published in Nature in January, scientists from the University of Texas at Austin, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and Boston University assessed the carbon and nitrogen cycles under different mycorrhizal regimens and found that plants linked with fruiting, or mushroom-type, fungi stored 70 percent more carbon per unit of nitrogen in soil. Our understanding of how soil life affects the carbon cycle is poised for tremendous growth. coque iphone en ligne driver of carbon storage, particularly “the mechanisms by which carbon can stay in the ground rather than going into the atmosphere.” One implication of this research, says Goreau, is that “the effect of most landscape alterations is to convert them from systems that store carbon efficiently … toward ones that are inefficient in the use of nitrogen, and as a result are losing carbon storage.” By landscape alterations, he means from forest to cropland, or from small farms to industrial agriculture operations that use the chemicals that inhibit the mycorrhizal and microbial interactions that store carbon. Our understanding of soil microbiology and how soil life affects the carbon cycle is poised for tremendous growth, says Goreau. This, he says, is thanks to the burgeoning field of metagenomics, the study of genetic material from specimens taken directly from the environment rather than cultured in a lab. “For the first time,” says Goreau, “we can identify all major soil biogeochemical pathways from the genetic information in the microbes.” Even at our current level of knowledge, many see great potential for storing carbon in soil. Lal of Ohio State says that restoring soils of degraded and desertified ecosystems has the potential to store in world soils an additional 1 billion to 3 billion tons of carbon annually, equivalent to roughly 3.5 billion to 11 billion tons of CO2 emissions. (Annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning are roughly 32 billion tons.) Many call Lal’s carbon soil storage figures low. This could reflect the fact that soil carbon is generally measured in the top 15 to 30 centimeters, whereas soil at depth may store carbon at much higher rates. For example, in land with deep-rooted grasses the soil can go down five meters or more. Research by Australian and British scientists published last year in the journal Plant and Soil examined soils in five southwestern Australia sites MORE FROM YALE e360 As Uses of Biochar Expand, Climate Benefits Still Uncertain Research shows that biochar made from plant fodder and even chicken manure can be used to scrub mercury from power plant emissions and clean up polluted soil. The big question is whether biochar can be produced on a sufficiently large scale to slow or reverse global warming. Those who champion soil carbon for climate mitigation frequently look to grasslands, which cover more than a quarter of the world’s land. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, grasslands also hold 20 percent of the world’s soil carbon stock. Much of this land is degraded, as evidenced in the U.S. Great Plains and places like northern Mexico, Africa’s Sahel, and Mongolia. Seth Itzkan — founder of Massachusetts-based Planet-TECH Associates, a consulting firm specializing in restoration ecology — advocates Holistic Planned Grazing (HPG), a model developed by Zimbabwean wildlife biologist Allan Savory. In this practice, livestock are managed as a tool for large-scale land restoration, mimicking the herding and grazing patterns of wild ruminants that coevolved with grassland ecosystems. Animals are moved so that no plants are overgrazed, and grazing stimulates biological activity in the soil. Their waste adds fertility, and as they move in a herd their trampling aerates soil, presses in seeds, and pushes down dead plant matter so it can be acted upon by soil microorganisms. All of this generates soil carbon, plant carbon, and water retention. Savory says HPG doesn’t require more land — in fact it generally supports greater animal density — so it can be applied wherever livestock are raised. In Australia, which has been suffering extreme heat and wildfires, policy-makers are taking seriously programs that build and stabilize soil carbon. The action plan Regenerate Australia outlines a strategy to restore up to 300 million hectares (740 million acres). A core goal is attaining previous soil carbon levels by introducing more sustainable grazing, farming, and water-retention practices. Says Rattan Lal: “Soils of the world must be part of any agenda to address climate change, as well as food and water security.

ELF – Sun-powered ‘Organic Transit’

ELF sun-powered trikes from Organic Transit ELF is a sun-powered trike featuring bike pedals and solar electric assist to make your ride fun and easy, coque iphone clean and green… and fast. coque iphone xr The spacious interior keeps you out of the elements and in view of other drivers. coque iphone 8 Get power through the solar panels or simply charge the batteries by plugging into a socket. vente de coque iphone Our vehicles are designed to make bike commuting accessible and affordable for everybody.

Wind Power Slashes Carbon Emissions

Wind Power Has Cut U.S. soldes coque iphone pas cher Carbon Dioxide Emissions By 4.4 Percent: Report Kate Sheppard WASHINGTON — The growth of wind power in the United States is putting a significant dent in emissions, according to a forthcoming report from the American Wind Energy Association. Wind generation avoided 95.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2013, which is equivalent to taking 16.9 million cars off the road. That’s a 4.4 percent cut to power sector emissions, when compared to the level of emissions that would have been generated if that power had come from fossil fuels. Wind proponents say that’s evidence that the wind industry is playing a major role in meeting U.S. coque iphone 2019 soldes emissions goals. “Every time a megawatt of wind power is generated, something else is not generated,” said Elizabeth Salerno, AWEA’s vice president for industry data and analysis. coque iphone There are now 61,000 megawatts of wind power installed in the U.S., with turbines in 39 states. Another 12,000 megawatts of wind power are currently under construction, and power projects for which contracts are signed but construction has yet to start are expected to produce another 5,200 megawatts. coque iphone 8 AWEA says those additional projects should cut another 1 percent of power sector emissions, putting the country closer to the Obama administration’s goal of cutting total U.S. emissions 17 percent by 2020. The switch to natural gas for power generation, spurred by lower prices in recent years, is usually given most of the credit for reductions in emissions from the power sector over the last nine years. But plants now burning gas could switch back to coal if prices go back up, said Salerno, so “those aren’t fixed, permanent reductions.” With wind, she says, “those reductions are locked in.” The AWEA report also found that the expansion of wind energy has helped reduce water consumption by 36.5 billion gallons, or about 116 gallons of water per U.S. resident. coque iphone x Thermal power plants, which include coal, nuclear and some natural gas-fired units, use the fuel source to boil water, which produces the steam that turns the turbines that generate electricity. Plants also require water for cooling, whereas wind turbines do not. soldes coque iphone Jordan Macknick, an energy and environmental analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, has said that wind is the “clear winner” when comparing the water use of different types of electricity generation. AWEA says two big factors could help boost the continued growth of wind: the extension of the production tax credit, which provides a financial incentive for wind development, and possible changes to the EPA’s emission standards for existing power facilities. Regarding the former, the Senate Finance Committee approved a bill Thursday that would extend the credit through the end of 2015. coque iphone pas cher It had lapsed at the end of the 2013. As for the EPA, it’s still not clear what the standards for emissions reductions from existing power plants will look like. The EPA said Friday that it has sent its draft standards to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review, and expects to release those draft standards in June, per President Barack Obama’s climate action plan. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has said that standards will be crafted in a way that allows states to develop their own feasible emission reduction plans through energy efficiency measures and the increased use of renewable energy. It’s not yet clear, however, how steep the emissions cuts for existing plants will be. It’s also not yet clear how much of a state’s compliance with the standards will be expected to come from changes inside the power plants — such as efficiency or technology upgrades — or from added capacity via renewables. AWEA argues EPA could “set the standard pretty aggressively” for states to use additional generation from wind and other renewables to comply.

America’s Transformation to Renewable Energy

Stanford Report, February 26, 2014 Stanford scientist unveils 50-state plan to transform U.S. to renewable energy Mark Jacobson and his colleagues have created a 50-state roadmap for replacing coal, oil and natural gas with wind, water and solar energy. coque iphone 7 By Mark Shwartz The Solutions Project Stanford University scientist Mark Jacobson has developed a 50-state roadmap for transforming the United States from dependence on fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. He unveiled the plan at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago. “Drastic problems require drastic and immediate solutions,” said Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. “Our new roadmap is designed to provide each state a first step toward a renewable future.” The motivation for the 50-state plan, he said, is to address the negative impacts on climate and human health from widespread use of coal, oil and natural gas. Replacing these fossil fuels with clean technologies would significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming and spare the lives of an estimated 59,000 Americans who die from exposure to air pollution annually, he said. In recent years, Jacobson and his colleagues have developed detailed proposals for converting the energy infrastructures of New York, California and Washington states to 100 percent wind, water and solar power by 2050. The new plan includes an online interactive map tailored to maximize the renewable resource potential of each of the 50 states. Hovering a cursor over California, for example, reveals that the Golden State can meet virtually all of its power demands (transportation, electricity, heating, etc.) in 2050 by switching to a clean technology portfolio that is 55 percent solar, 35 percent wind (on- and offshore), 5 percent geothermal and 4 percent hydroelectric. Nuclear power, ethanol and other biofuels are not included in the proposed energy mix for any of the states. “The new map provides all of the basic information, such as how many wind turbines and solar panels would be needed to power each state, how much land area would be required, what would be the cost and cost savings, how many jobs would be created, and how much pollution-related mortality and global-warming emissions would be avoided,” Jacobson said. coque iphone pas cher The 50-state plan is posted on the website of The Solutions Project (, a nonprofit outreach effort led by Jacobson, actor Mark Ruffalo (co-star of The Avengers), film director Josh Fox and others to raise public awareness about switching to clean energy produced by wind, water and sunlight. coque iphone xr To publicize the plan, Ruffalo joined Solutions Project member Leilani Münter, a professional racecar driver, at a Feb. coque iphone 2019 15 Daytona National Speedway racing event that Munter participated in. coque iphone 8 “Global warming, air pollution and energy insecurity are three of the most significant problems facing the world today,” said Jacobson, a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy. coque iphone “Unfortunately, scientific results are often glossed over. coque iphone The Solutions Project was born with the vision of combining science with business, policy and public outreach through social media and cultural leaders – often artists and entertainers who can get the information out – to study and simultaneously address these global challenges.” Mark Shwartz writes about energy research for the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University.

Blue Is The New Green: Future Power

By Ari Phillips In February, a natural gas power plant along the Central California coast closed after operating for more than 50 years, thus ending an era that saw the surrounding community of Morro Bay grow up around it. In an unlikely partnership, the shuttering may also help usher in a new era of energy generation — this one reliant on power from the waves that undulate through the bay before crashing up against the nearby shoreline. The antiquated Morro Bay plant is part of a pattern of seaside plants closing due to a combination of stricter environmental regulations coupled with California’s requirement that 33 percent of electricity in the state come from renewable sources by 2020. Two companies have filed preliminary permits with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to test wave energy projects off the coast of Morro Bay, a town of about 10,000 people north of Los Angeles. Both projects would use the defunct plant as a much-needed transmission hub to push energy to the grid and from there to consumers throughout the region. “If we aren’t able to use Morro Bay, there are other shore-based power plants shutting down along the coastline,” said Paul Grist, president and chairman of Archon Energy, one of the companies applying for a FERC permit. “They can’t meet the Renewable Portfolio Standard and they suck in and spew out millions of gallons of water.” Dynegy, the owner of the power plant, is the other company that applied for a FERC permit. A Houston-based utility company with around 13,000 megawatts (MW) of nationwide power generation capacity, their February 6 application with FERC came several months after Archon’s. If their project tests successfully and goes on to get the two dozen or so licenses and permits that would be needed, it would eventually generate 650 MW of power and cost more than $1 billion to build. “Dynegy filed their permit many months after we did,” Grist said. “Our goal was to use that transmission corridor to the coast and Dynegy basically followed. Their application is further towards land than ours. I’ve talked with them and we’re going to try to work together and help each other out as much as we can.” Wave energy will be coming of age in the immediate future. Archon Energy, co-founded by Grist in 1999 when he was 20 years old, is a small, independent power producer focusing on next generation technologies with minimal environmental impacts. In the fall of 2013, the company filed for a FERC permit to pursue testing on a one-by-fifteen mile site several miles offshore that would cost about $1 million. Grist said they are waiting for preliminary permits to start investing significant capital and holding consultations with stakeholders, including local community members and environmental groups. coque iphone 8 However, he’s had his eye on hydrokinetics — the production of energy from the flow of moving water — for a decade. coque iphone xs “There’s a lot of technology happening in wave energy conversion,” Grist said. “Wave energy will be coming of age in the immediate future.” Ocean-Powered Future A spate of recent developments would seem to support Grist’s prediction. In March, Lockheed Martin, a global defense, security and technology company, signed on to help build what will be the world’s largest wave energy project — a 62.5 MW project several miles off Australia’s southern coast that will have the capacity to power 10,000 homes. Across several oceans, a 320 MW tidal project, another world’s largest, is under consideration off the coast of Wales. Ideally, it will lay the groundwork for similar installations around the U.K. The first FERC-licensed, grid-connected tidal project was approved in 2012 off the coast of Maine for the Portland-based Ocean Renewable Power Company. Having invested over $20 million dollars in the project, no major negative environmental impacts have been observed thus far and the company plans to expand the installation this year, deploying several additional devices and greatly increasing the amount of tidal power they are capturing. On March 20, in an indication of FERC’s willingness to support such technologies, the agency approved a ten-year pilot license for the 600 KW Admiralty Inlet Pilot Tidal Project to be located in Puget Sound off Washington state. The project will be grid-connected and, as the first U.S. undertaking at such a scale, is leading an effort to better understand how wave and tidal energy projects interact with local environments, numerous stakeholders ranging from tribal groups to business organizations, and the electric grid. “Anyone who has spent time on the waters of Puget Sound understands the power inherent in the tides,” Steve Klein, Snohomish Public Utility District (PUD) General Manager, told the local news. “In granting this license, the FERC acknowledges the vigilant efforts of the PUD and its partners to test the viability of a new reliable source of clean energy while at the same time ensuring the protection of the environment and existing uses.” Ocean current resources are about 800 times denser than wind currents … meaning a 12-mph marine current generates the equivalent amount of force as a 110-mph wind gust. Wave and tidal power are both hydrokinetic sources of energy. Wave power harnesses the energy of surface waves through a number of different mechanisms, many still in early stages of development. Currently the primary method involves floating buoys the size of lighthouses that are moored to the ocean floor. In another example, a group of researchers at UC-Berkeley have developed what they call a “seafloor carpet” that absorbs the impact of ocean waves much as muddy seabeds do. Tidal power uses the flow of ocean currents, tides or inland waterways to capture the potential energy between high and low tides as they occur every 12 hours. “The rotation of the earth creates wind on the ocean surface that forms waves, while the gravitational pull of the moon creates coastal tides and currents,” the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) explains. As the search for new forms of clean, sustainable energy persists, the global potential of wave and tidal power represents an untested but immensely promising frontier. Oceans cover 70 percent of the Earth’s surface — and they do so densely. Ocean current resources are about 800 times denser than wind currents, according to NREL, meaning a 12-mph marine current generates the equivalent amount of force as a 110-mph wind gust. With more than half of all Americans living near the coastline, wave and tidal power is also appealing for its proximity to electricity demand centers, whereas the many of the best wind and solar sites are hundreds of miles from population hubs. A 2012 report prepared by RE Vision Consulting for the Department of Energy found that the theoretical ocean wave energy resource potential in the U.S. is more than 50 percent of the annual domestic demand of the entire country. The World Energy Council has estimated that approximately 2 terawatts — 2 million megawatts or double current world electricity production — could be produced from the oceans via wave power. Testing Waves Up And Down The Coast But even in the small nook of ocean lapping into Morro Bay, an impressive amount of energy is being devoted to the development of wave, and possibly tidal, power generation. Just about a dozen miles inland from the Bay, research into setting up a National Wave Energy Test Facility in California (CalWave) is underway at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. As part of the newly formed Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy, the facility has been selected by DOE to determine which location along California’s coast has the best potential to accelerate the development of a commercial ocean renewable energy industry. IATPP, formed in 2012, is the brainchild of former California State Senator Sam Blakeslee, who has been running it since its inception on a pro-bono basis. Blakeslee has a Ph.D. in geophysics from nearby UC-Santa Barbara and also worked as a strategic planner for Exxon before entering state politics in 2005. He left politics just over a year ago after leading the GOP State Assembly and helping craft California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, among other things. “I have no plans to return to politics,” Blakeslee told ThinkProgress. “The best place to drive policy right now is in some of these think tanks working on exciting new ideas, and not in state houses or on the Hill where people can’t seem to agree on anything.” Blakeslee wants to help develop and spread the potential transformative benefits of emerging technologies rather than get bogged down by laws, regulations, and standards that can actually impede the application of such innovations. acheter coque iphone en ligne And after signaling its interest in giving up to $40 million to the expansion of wave energy technologies — pending Congressional approval — its seems DOE is pursuing the same type of paradigm-shifting innovation. Blakeslee likens the prospect of a national wave testing facility to the public-private partnership that led to the proliferation of satellites. In that case, satellite owners and operators share in the common technology and infrastructure provided by the government which would otherwise be cost-prohibitive to development. “The Obama administration is looking to develop the test facility so companies can test equipment and compare results in a facility that would otherwise be unavailable to them individually,” Blakeslee said. coque iphone 8 “Down the road as the technology develops there will be wave farms, and this is one of the major steps towards that. By having this facility in the U.S. the likelihood that the country will be a big commercial player in the industry greatly increases.” By having this facility in the U.S. coque iphone 8 the likelihood that the country will be a big commercial player in the industry greatly increases. Blakeslee has had conversations with Grist about the type of research that needs to occur off Morro Bay before any siting decisions are made. He and Grist both expressed concern for marine life, especially migratory mammals such as blue whales, gray whales, and humpback whales, as well as fishing communities that could be impacted by the projects. These concerns will need to be addressed up and down California’s 750-mile coastline and the rest of the West Coast if wave and tidal power are to proliferate. The closing of the Morro Bay Power Plant is not a one-time, serendipitous occasion, but part of a trend of coastal power facilities closing due to old age and new regulations aimed at protecting sea life being negatively impacted by the facilities’ cooling systems. In fact, the plant is just one of 19 gas-fired power plants along the coast of California to be phased out of operation in order to project marine life from being sucked through their cooling systems or impacted by the hot water released back into the ocean. This will open up 5,500 MW of transmission lines and a similar amount of energy demand — although many would like to see some of that demand reduced through efficiency and conservation measures rather than replaced, even by sustainable sources. Farther down the coast, the recent closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has opened up not only hundreds of megawatts of transmission lines, but also a power supply void that will need to be filled. The California Public Utilities Commission recently directed Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric to secure up to 1,500 MW of new energy by 2022, with at least 600 MW coming from renewable energy sources or energy efficiency measures. Having available transmission lines is critical for a nascent technology like wave power. “Building transmission lines in California can take up to a decade,” Blakeslee said. “The availability of transmission lines and to have a prescribed amount of power brought into the system through Independent System Operators are big considerations for any energy project in the state.” Transmission is far from the only challenge wave and tidal power will have to overcome on the path to becoming major energy providers. New Jersey-based Ocean Power Technologies encapsulates the ups-and-downs of the early days of the industry. In February, Ocean Power Technologies signed on to provide buoys for the Lockheed Martin project off the coast of Australia, a major deal that sent the company’s stock soaring. The company has spent millions of dollars developing a PowerBuoy that converts ocean wave energy into commercial scale electricity. Standing 140 feet tall, it resembles a giant metal detector and when submerged in the ocean, only the handle remains above water. The tip-of-the-iceberg effect in the form of wave energy. Then in March, Ocean Power Technologies shelved its much-hyped plans to develop the country’s first large-scale wave energy project off the coast of Oregon, which would have employed a flotilla of up to 100 buoys. A key challenge is that all new technologies are initially uncompetitive. Kevin Watkins, the Pacific Northwest representative for Ocean Power Technologies, told the Oregonian that implementing the wave energy technology on a large scale became too expensive and complicated. The cumbersome regulatory process and concern from fishing and crabbing communities about ecological and economic impacts caused unanticipated delays. Peter Fraenkel, co-founder of U.K.-based Marine Current Turbines Limited and a pioneer in the field of wave and tidal energy, thinks that the bottom-line concern is really cost. coque iphone en ligne “A key challenge is that all new technologies are initially uncompetitive,” he told ThinkProgress via email. “Conventional generation using steam turbines, gas turbines or nuclear for example were originally developed on an almost cost-no-object basis mainly for military purposes. Sadly there seems to be no military application for wave or tidal energy so it will need subsidies in some shape or form for early projects.” Fraenkel also acknowledges the challenges of grid connectivity, saying that in the U.K., unlike along California’s coastline, promising tidal and wave resources lack easy transmission options. “So we have a ‘Catch 22′ situation where nobody wants to invest in grid extension until the technology to generate into the grid extension is ready and nobody wants to invest in projects where there is no certainty of having a grid connection.” While oceans may cover more than two-thirds of the planet, wave and tidal power require concentrated energy locations with strong currents or consistently large waves. This limits the opportunities to a tiny percentage of the ocean, according to Fraenkel. So on top of technological advances and economic favorability, siting, natural resources availability, and transmission access must all align for a successful wave or tidal power project. Even so, Fraenkel views the challenges as not only worth overcoming, but necessary to overcome. “The oceans contain a huge amount of energy so logic dictates that we need to learn to extract energy where possible bearing in mind that future use of fossil fuel is going to be inhibited both by the effects of pollution induced climate change and by resource depletion,” he said.

Five Signs Solar Power is Taking Over the World

This post originally ran on Juan Cole’s Web page. Burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and oil) is putting 32 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually into the atmosphere. coque iphone xr Since CO2 is a greenhouse gas that traps heat from the sun on earth and prevents it radiating back out to space, this unprecedented human output is causing climate disruption, a process that will accelerate over the next few decades and will prove extremely costly to human society (if the latter can even survive). The only energy source that has a hope of fixing this problem and of resolving the coming energy crisis is solar. The cost of solar panels is falling rapidly, raising the hope that we can put in enough panels quickly enough to avoid the very worst scenario of carbon-induced climate disruption. (I put in 16 Enphase microinverter panels at my place this winter and they generated 120 kilowatt hours in the past week; my house and electric car averaged 150 kilowatt hours usage per week last month; and that is in Michigan at the tail end of winter). coqueiphone Join NationofChange today by making a generous tax-deductible contribution and take a stand against the status quo. Here are some promising signs with regard to solar power that have recently been in the news: 1. coque iphone 2019 Cheaper solar panels and more efficient wind turbines now produce so much energy that they pay for themselves quickly even if you add the cost of storage into the mix, and they also pay for the cost of adding more wind and solar. The Scientific American writes that Charles Banhart, a post-doc at Stanford’s Global Clmate and Energy Project, told them: “What we’re saying is that theoretically, it is now theoretically possible to have this perfect world that’s just based on wind and solar.” It adds, “Rather than using existing “stock” fuels like fossil fuels, he said, renewables put out enough excess energy to fuel their own expansion.” 2. coque iphone The price of electricity generated by solar panels in India has fallen so much that solar is now competitive with coal. India wants to add 22 gigawatts of solar by 2022, but is already looking like it will do at least 3 times that because of falling costs. In twenty years, India will be the country generating the most new demand for electricity in the world, surpassing China. 3. Ghana has started work on a $400 million, 155 megawatt solar utility plant, the largest so far in Africa and the 6th largest in the world. It will be completed in 2015. 4. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe introduced a feed-in tariff 18 months ago, with dramatic results. Installed solar capacity in the past year and a half has gone from about 2 and a half gigawatts to a whopping 7.5 GW. In an encouraging sign for the Japanese economy, nearly half the photovoltaic panels shipped were manufactured in Japan. Since the tsunami disaster at the Daichi Fukushima nuclear complex, Japan has scrambled to replace the electricity generating capacity of its nuclear reactors. acheter coque iphone A majority of days in the year are sunny in Japan, but the solar panels generate at least some electricity even when it is overcast. soldes coque iphone pas cher The number of sunny days each year in Japan is comparable to that in Germany, where solar now accounts for 5 percent of German electricity production, a proportion expected to increase rapidly over the next decade. coque iphone 5. American hip-hop artist Akon (who grew up in Senegal) is promoting affordable solar energy kits for African villagers that are cheaper than kerosene. He aims to bring power to a million Africans this year.