I have not been tuned in to much these days online or on the news, so I almost missed this. Lots of green jobs, I’m hoping!
I have not been tuned in to much these days online or on the news, so I almost missed this. Lots of green jobs, I’m hoping!
Things here have slowed down a bit, so I could refocus on this project. I enjoyed reading up on some of the newest technologies… next up, I think, will be Grids – improving existing grids and advancements in micro-grids – and whatever else I find out. If you have resources on that, share in the comments if you like. In personal news, we may be adding a new feathered family member soon…
In 1931, shortly before his death, Thomas Edison said to his friend Henry Ford, “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left!”
When I started putting together a solar post, I was stymied. I had an idea of what harnessing the sun should look like and I was discouraged by what I viewed as the lack of progress in the area of photovoltaics. Then I dropped my preconceived notions and began looking for the latest innovations. And I found some exciting transformations. I’ve put together a few of the new technologies I found.
Floatovoltaics are being used widely in China and Japan, but the USA has been slow to adopt the technology. But it is a promising way to harvest energy from sunlight.
“Floatovoltaics cost less to install than traditional land-based solar panels“, said Robert Spencer, a data scientist at the lab and the leader of the research. “In part because there’s no need to clear land or treat soil. And research shows that the natural cooling effect of the water below can boost the solar panels’ power production by up to 22 percent.”
Floatovoltaics offer benefits beyond more efficient power generation.
By limiting air circulation and blocking sunlight that would otherwise reach the surfaces of reservoirs, the study noted, they can dramatically limit the amount of water lost to evaporation. In addition, they can help prevent harmful algae blooms, which produce toxins that can sicken people and animals and raise drinking water treatment costs.
“The biggest benefits to installing floatovoltaics would be seen in the arid southwestern states that are dealing with scarce water resources,” Spencer said.
For large scale energy generation, Concentrating Solar Power installations are key in lowering the cost per kilowatt-hour, to a predicted five cents per KWH by 2030 in the US.
Concentrating Solar Power 101
CSP technologies use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy and convert it to heat. Thermal energy can then be used to produce electricity via a turbine or heat engine driving a generator. Because CSP technologies collect solar energy and convert it to thermal energy that can be stored before powering a generator, they can be used either as a flexible provider of electricity, such as a natural gas “peaker” plant, or as a baseload source of electricity similar to a traditional nuclear or coal plant. CSP can also be deployed as fossil-fuel backup/hybridization that allows existing fossil fuel projects to run cleaner while operating at the same or lower cost. In the United States alone, between 11 and 21 gigawatts of CSP could be built and integrated into existing fossil fuel plants in the United States to reduce their carbon emissions – that’s enough electricity to power to between 3 million and 6 million homes.
One of the limitations on photovoltaics is solar panel efficiency. There are several innovative technologies, mostly involving layering different elements in a single cell to improve efficiency.
That efficiency might be coming. There is a worldwide race, from San Francisco to Shenzhen, to make a more efficient solar cell.
Today’s average commercial solar panel converts 17-19% of the light energy hitting it to electricity. This is up from 12% just 10 years ago. But what if we could boost this to 30%?
More efficient solar cells mean we could get much more than today’s 2.4% of global electricity supply from the sun.
Solar is already the world’s fastest growing energy technology. Ten years ago, there were only 20 gigawatts of installed solar capacity globally – one gigawatt being roughly the output of a single large power station.
By the end of last year, the world’s installed solar power had jumped to about 600 gigawatts.
Even with the disruption caused by Covid-19, we will probably add 105 gigawatts of solar capacity worldwide this year, forecasts London-based research company, IHS Markit.
There are some solid breakthroughs coming in photovoltaic efficiency, including perovskite solar cells, which shows great promise.
…perovskite solar cells aim to increase the efficiency and lower the cost of solar energy. Perovskite PVs indeed hold promise for high efficiencies, as well as low potential material & reduced processing costs. A big advantage perovskite PVs have over conventional solar technology is that they can react to various different wavelengths of light, which lets them convert more of the sunlight that reaches them into electricity.
Moreover, they offer flexibility, semi-transparency, tailored form factors, light-weight and more. Naturally, electronics designers and researchers are certain that such characteristics will open up many more applications for solar cells.
Incorporating photovoltaics into a variety of locations will expand the ability to generate electricity . Parking garages, commercial rooftops, sidewalks and even highway noise barriers.
Highway photovoltaic noise barriers (PVNBs) represent the combination of noise barrier systems and photovoltaic systems in order to
mitigate traffic noise while simultaneously producing renewable energy. First deployed in Switzerland in 1989, PVNBs are now found in
several countries where transportation agencies have sought ways to find multiple uses of their infrastructure. The PVNB experience
documented in literature and supplemented through a series of interviews provides evidence suggesting that noise barriers can be
designed to produce renewable energy without compromising their abilities to reduce noise, and do so safely. The business case for a
PVNB often hinges on the availability of subsidies or other incentives that promote the renewable energy market. Although the first
highway PVNB is yet to be constructed domestically, at least two State Departments of Transportation are currently working with
partners to pursue PVNB pilots in the United States. Given the substantial extent of noise barriers in the country, the potential for solar
energy production on American noise barriers is likely at least 400 Gigawatt hours annually, roughly equivalent to the annual electricity
use of 37,000 homes, and perhaps much higher.
This is a lot of information for one post, and it’s barely scratched the surface of the latest innovations. The more we improve the ways to harness the sun, the quicker we will be able to move away from coal, natural gas and oil.
x-posted at LivingLightly
I have been on phone calls all morning but was able to listen to John Kerry and Gina McCarthy and I was completely impressed. I remain hopeful. Here’s that video:
And Biden is speaking, and I’m late, but you can rewind.
Follow our live coverage of the Climate Ambition Summit
– Event marks five years since the adoption of the Paris Climate agreement
— Independent Climate (@indy_climate) December 12, 2020
Here’s everything you need to know about India’s commitment to the Paris climate agreementhttps://t.co/mDUYRN1Gn7
— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) December 12, 2020
Climate Reality Project had a great slideshow on nations’ contributions:
I am behind on what I’ve wanted to post over the past month. I kind of got stymied when I went to write about photovoltaics. I wanted to explore the latest technologies in the U.S., but most articles stopped around 2017. Hmmm…wonder why? I’ll work at finding more recent advancements worldwide and get back to it. Then I’ll tackle microgrids and Biden’s policy positions.
After that, I’m not sure, but there is plenty of fun, new technology out there to look at.
Energy freedom for everyone is at our fingertips. But why does it still seem so far away? Because there are some very powerful people preventing us from attaining it. In Power Trip, filmmaker Jonathan Scott (HGTV’s Property Brothers) travels the United States confronting those at the root of the issue and meets the everyday citizens fighting against a deeply entrenched, powerful system that’s waging war against the solar industry—and against the rights of the people who want to choose how they power their lives. Jonathan Scott’s Power Trip will infuriate, enrage, and compel you to take action to make solar energy a global reality.
I was able to preview about twenty minutes of this, I was actually invited to watch the full documentary through my local college, but a work-related issue interrupted my viewing.
I will say from what I saw, it’s worth taking a look at – it will be on PBS Independent Lens on Nov 16th (check for times).
When I have a moment, probably over the holiday, since we are pretty much on lockdown here and I’m not a #covidiot, I’ll take a good look at Biden’s climate plan and then I’ll write up a post on it.
Still on the list of topics: solar power and micro-grids are next up. But there are a lot of interesting and clever solutions out there, so I think I can keep this going for a while.
As always, if this is your actual bailiwick and want to contribute, please let me know, I’m sure we’d all like to hear from some experts.
x-posted Living Lightly TV
DISCLAIMER: I wrote this BEFORE this week’s debate. 🤦♀️ We really need to have a serious discussion about the climate crisis going forward, not 3 minutes shoved into the final minutes of debates.
If there is one alternative energy source that sparks my interest, it is wind power. Elegant, kinetic sculptures creating clean energy and local jobs.
From the Carbon Nation documentary:
Jobs that cannot be outsourced.
One of the best ways to create a sustainable future for our planet is to invest in sources of clean, renewable energy like wind. Wind energy isn’t just a clean alternative to the fossil fuels driving the climate crisis – it’s also an engine for job creation across the US.
What about the birds?
- A study finds painting windmill blades reduced bird fatalities by over 70 percent.
- Scientists are always looking for ways to reduce bird deaths from turbines.
- The emphasis on windmills’ threat to birds is politically charged.
Could a ridiculously simple change save birds from wind turbine-related deaths? Scientists in Norway have presented a 9-year study where they painted wind turbines a highly visible black and observed a 70 percent drop in bird deaths. In turn, this could remove one of the most stalwart critiques people have used to slow the spread of wind power technology.
In the new study, the researchers focus on “passive visual cues” that are easy for flying animals to internalize and act on. The researchers explain:“We tested the hypothesis that painting would increase the visibility of the blades, and that this would reduce fatality rates in situ, at the Smøla wind‐power plant in Norway, using a Before–After–Control–Impact approach employing fatality searches.”
If all the blades were painted black, the spinning turbine might still appear as “motion blur” that is not visibly distinctive enough to alert passing birds. So in this study, the researchers built on the example of previous findings and painted just one rotor on each turbine, which means the single black rotor spins with a frequency that keeps it visible instead of part of a blur.
How many are killed by wind turbines? According to US Fish and Wildlife:
Available data indicate that some regions are higher risk than others. Bird/turbine collisions in California are estimated to be an average 7.85 birds/turbine/year, higher than in the East (6.86 birds/turbines/year), the West (4.72 birds/turbine/year), and the Great Plains (2.92 birds/turbine/year).
A simple solution that can be administered during manufacturing or servicing that can solve this issue, reducing bird deaths.
Here are some Wind Energy Facts:
FACT: WIND ENERGY IS AFFORDABLE AND JUST MAKES ECONOMIC SENSE
When we pay for electricity, we typically pay per kilowatt hour. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), “onshore wind electricity costs have dropped by almost a quarter since 2010.” That means, on average, the cost of wind (per kilowatt hour) is about six cents (USD) around the globe. Alternatively, fossil fuels fall between $0.05 to $0.17 per kilowatt hour. But these market prices also often don’t reflect one big reality: the costs fossil fuels impose of our health and environment. And Big Polluters don’t foot the bill. We do. These costs of fossil fuels are what’s called “externalized costs” – basically costs that producers impose on someone else (in this case, the rest of society) instead of paying themselves. What are we talking about? We’re talking about everything from air pollution to tax dollars to rebuild communities to the human costs of hurricanes, droughts, and floods made worse by the climate crisis.
FACT: WIND ENERGY IS PUTTING PEOPLE TO WORK
Demand for wind power is growing, and that means the industry needs workers to help fulfill that demand. Between 2007 and 2017, global wind power capacity (or the maximum amount of power output of all the turbines in the world) grew by about 500 percent, or five times what is was. And the industry is expected to keep growing. In 2017, more than 1.15 million people were employed by the wind industry around the globe. That’s incredible!
In the US, wind turbine service technician is projected to be the second fastest-growing job in the nation through 2026, right behind solar PV installer. Better yet, these are blue-collar jobs that pay well; in 2017, an American wind turbine technician could expect to be paid $53,880 per year – or about $28 an hour.
FACT: WIND ENERGY IS A RELIABLE WAY TO POWER OUR WORLD
Combining wind with other renewables like solar or with battery storage in a flexible, smart grid design is a reliable way to keep the lights on in the twentyfirst century. In addition, there is more than enough wind to meet our electricity needs—and then some! In fact, by some estimates, wind could supply more than 40 times as much electricity as the world consumes today. Using multiple sources of clean energy and twenty-first century electricity management tools can often make wind just as reliable as dirty fossil fuels —with the added benefit that it doesn’t pollute the air or warm our climate. The right combination can provide around-the-clock power — even when the wind isn’t blowing. In fact, by adding more wind power and using the free fuel it provides, we’re making the entire grid more dependable, with energy coming from many diverse sources. Which is a good thing, because every power plant is vulnerable to disruption at some point or another from everything from storms to mechanical accidents and failures.
Next up will be Solar Power facts and resources.
cross-posted at LivingLightlytv.com
Here are a few documentaries that provide insight into achievable climate solutions.
Carbon Nation is one of my favorites, highlighting a cornucopia of innovations and people from all walks of life employing them.
carbon nation is a documentary movie about climate change SOLUTIONS. Even if you doubt the severity of the impact of climate change or just don’t buy it at all, this is still a compelling and relevant film that illustrates how SOLUTIONS to climate change also address other social, economic and national security issues. You’ll meet a host of entertaining and endearing characters along the way.
- carbon nation is an optimistic, solutions-based, non-preachy, non-partisan, big tent film that shows tackling climate change boosts the economy, increases national & energy security and promotes health & a clean environment.
- Public opinion is sliding the wrong way – far fewer people are concerned about climate change than even a year ago. We’ve made carbon nation to give a majority of people an entertaining, informed and pragmatic primer about why it’s incredibly smart to be a part of the new, low-carbon economy: it’s good business.
- carbon nation’s optimism and pragmatism are appealing across the political spectrum. While other good films have been about problems, blame and guilt, carbon nation is a film that celebrates solutions, inspiration and action.
On their website they have a lot of resources and a half-dozen or so videos of interesting folks, doing interesting things. I recommend A Thousand Beating Hearts part of the Carbon Cowboys series (click here for all their videos).
Next up is a new documentary Kiss The Ground which continues the ideas of soil regeneration and carbon sequestration. It’s on Netflix at the moment.
Kiss the Ground is a full-length documentary narrated by Woody Harrelson that sheds light on an alternative approach to farming called “regenerative agriculture” that has the potential to balance our climate, replenish our vast water supplies, and feed the world.
And again there many resources on their Kiss the Ground website here.
And the granddaddy of all documentaries, An Inconvenient Truth
An Inconvenient Truth makes the compelling case that global warming is real, man-made, and its effects will be cataclysmic if we don’t act now. Gore presents a wide array of facts and information in a thoughtful and compelling way: often humorous, frequently emotional, and always fascinating. In the end, An Inconvenient Truth accomplishes what all great films should: it leaves the viewer shaken, involved and inspired.
The first hour is a real downer (as in, we are seeing everything projected twenty years ago manifesting at a faster rate then scientists expected). But the last thirty minutes outlines accessible ways to address climate change and how quickly those changes can make a difference and reverse the effects of our current dilemma. It’s available on DVD, rent from Amazon and it plays occasionally on IFC and BBCAmerica.
There is also a sequel and it’s a bit darker because of course, we are at a tipping point. And it details how to take political and social actions.
That should get you started and provide you with a lot of hope for our ability to affect change. If we start today.
Sorry for that last video image. Please vote to save our climate.
Please share any resources on climate solutions you favor in the comments. Films, books, articles. And besides voting, what steps are you taking?
For all the resources I’ve been posting, click on the Climate Change Solutions category.
x-posted at LivingLightlyTV.com