New solar PV nanotechnology
There have been so many developments in PV technology it’s hard to know which will be significant.
Gizmag tells us about new material consisting of tiny hollow spheres, made out of nanocrystalline-silicon.
The new material is efficient, light, flexible, should be easy and cheap to make and their efficiency is less affected by the angle of the sun.
No downsides are mentioned.
No easy choices
The Grattan Institute has compiled a report No easy choices: which way to Australia’s energy future? which assesses the prospects for seven technologies – wind, solar PV, concentrating solar thermal, geothermal, carbon capture and storage, bioenergy and nuclear – that generate electricity with near-zero emissions and that have the prospect of deployment at large scale over the next 40 years.
All have their problems and the suggestion is that governments must intervene directly beyond putting a price on carbon. The report details what governments should and should not do.
I haven’t had time to study the report in detail, but I must say I was disappointed with the publication design being so unfriendly to internet viewing.
Permafrost carbon feedback
Courtesy of Skeptical Science the Potsdam people and others have examined the problem of carbon emissions from permafrost. The suggestion appears to be that the resulting warming will be relatively modest.
The seed emergency: The threat to food and democracy
Vandana Shiva has written a piece for Aljazeera arguing that the fact the farmers can no longer save their own seeds is having a profoundly adverse effect on how farmers operate in India and elsewhere. The wide use of GM seeds has reduced diversity and spread debt:
As a farmer’s seed supply is eroded, and farmers become dependent on patented GMO seed, the result is debt. India, the home of cotton, has lost its cotton seed diversity and cotton seed sovereignty. Some 95 per cent of the country’s cotton seed is now controlled by Monsanto – and the debt trap created by being forced to buy seed every year – with royalty payments – has pushed hundreds of thousands of farmers to suicide; of the 250,000 farmer suicides, the majority are in the cotton belt.
He says power is concentrated in the hands of the seed and agri-petrochemical companies. And that the state has abandoned its poor, instead acting on behalf of its super-wealthy.
Shiva also blames the US government, Monsanto and WTO rules. As she told Phillip Adams back in 2009 she advocates a return to local economies and small-scale food production as the only solution to save the planet and humanity. She calls it the Earth Democracy.
It seems we need to look to Asia for momentum, but India is “problematic” for unspecified reasons and in China the relative contribution of nuclear is small and likely to remain so. If China stop building the bottom would fall out of the world’s nuclear order book. They built none last year.
The heartbeat of the world grows stronger
The El Niño/La Niña phenomenon has been referred to as the heartbeat of the world.
New Zealand have been studying El Niño and La Niña events by examining the tree rings of kauri trees. The rings grow more during El Niño events and less when La Niña holds sway.
Dr Anthony Fowler from the School of Environmental Science of the University of Auckland says:
“Notably wide and narrow kauri tree rings have become more frequent as the world has warmed over the last few centuries. We infer from this that El Niño and La Niña events become more frequent or intense as the world warms, or that New Zealand’s climate becomes more strongly influenced by such events. Either possibility suggests that droughts and floods related to El Niños and La Niñas will continue to significantly affect New Zealand, and may well become more intense.”
They are now extending the study to look back 4000 years.
BOM special climate statement
In an earlier thread Ootz linked to a Special Climate Statement put out by the Bureau of Metereology. The last two years show up as the wettest two-year period on record, but the dry pattern persists in the SW corner of the continent and the western part of Tasmania.
Here’s the average for the last 15 years:
If you overlaid that map with an average rainfall map, much of the above average rainfall has been in places that remain fairly dry. All the state capitals have been on the dry side.
Here in Oz
The Federal Government is to provide $100 million in funding for a new power station fired by brown coal and coal seam gas in the Latrobe Valley.
And the Alcoa smelter jobs threatened as the company reviews the viability of its aluminium smelter in Geelong.
Alcoa says a combination of factors including metal prices, input costs and exchange rates have caused the Point Henry smelter to become unprofitable.
Abbott blames the carbon tax.
Alcoa says it’s already losing money, but obviously they will have to take the carbon tax into account.
Looks like a big government handout coming up.