The weekend was a bit ordinary for me, but as supercoach Wayne Bennett says, if you can’t say anything nice say nothing. That’s how he addressed his troops after the thrashing they got in the previous week. This week they creamed the opposition!
This CC concentrates on climate mitigation, the practical stuff, rather than science, observations and future predictions. What I’m stepping around at the moment is politics, policy, opinion etc.
1. Renewables in surprising places
This image at Clean Technica indicates the potential of renewable energy. Please note that the amounts for coal etc are total reserves, whereas the renewables are annual.
I’m not sure the natural gas is accurate as there is a lot of unconventional gas around.
2. Countries with over 60% renewable energy
Karl-Friedrich Lenz, a German law professor in Tokyo, has compiled a list of countries with over 60% renewable energy. There is a lot of hydro in the 45 countries listed. Iceland with 26.27 geothermal and Portugal with 27% wind are notable.
Wikipedia has a list of all countries, somewhat out of date. It’s hard to get a ranking excluding hydro and lists of wind and solar are a bit hard to come by. Perhaps readers have seen some.
I extracted this list from the US Department of Energy 2011 Wind Technologies Market Report (pdf):
The top 10 countries are European, then India.
This link gives the top solar countries mixed with US states in terms of watts per capita. Again the European countries take the top ten except for Australia in 9th spot.
It’s interesting that Professor Lenz gave up advocacy for nuclear because of the “intolerable opposition to renewable energy of most of the pro-nuclear bloggers.”
3. Cheap solar panels coming our way
China hardly rates on the per capita graph, but nevertheless its solar production and use is large in absolute terms.
Tristan Edis tells of the huge subsidies imposed by the US and Europe on Chinese imports solar panels. This pie chart shows the global PV demand in 2013:
I believe we do have one solar panel manufacturer, but tariffs are not our style.
As expected China is not amused, so who knows what will happen!
4. China invests in our grid
They are here, and in the long run may have much to contribute. China has bought into Australian utilities through the purchase of part of the electricity and gas distribution interests from Singapore Power. The Chinese outfit is State Grid Corporation, the largest utility company in the world.
They will be a passive investor, but State Grid is regarded as a world leader in ultra high-voltage technology and smart grids. So in the long run their technology may help us to modernise. A sign of how the future will unfold.
5. Milan’s vertical forest
Architect Stefano Boeri plans to bring the forest to the city by planting 480 big and medium-size trees, 250 small trees, and roughly 11,000 groundcover plants on two new buildings in Milan. It’s the equivalent of a hectare (10,000 sqm) of forest.
6. European cities adapt
Last year the European Environment Agency (EEA) produced a report Urban adaptation to climate change in Europe downloadable here. Green spaces on roof tops are eye-catching and valuable, but the report is far more extensive in it’s coverage, containing numerous maps of the projected impacts of climate change. Together with the European Climate Adaptation Platform Climate-ADAPT reports from the EEA make a valuable resource for policy makers and practitioners.
7. New technology
New technology appears at a bewildering rate. Here are some that have crossed my path in the past few days.
A new solar cell printer installed at CSIRO’s Melbourne labs is allowing scientists to produce Australia’s largest thin film solar cells, at 10 times their previous size.
Purchased over the last three months, the $200,000 printer has allowed researchers from the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) – a collaboration between CSIRO, the University of Melbourne, Monash University and industry partners – to print organic photovoltaic cells the size of an A3 sheet of paper.
Australia is [now] definitely up there with the best in the world – and vastly increases the range applications the solar cells can be used for. “We can set them into advertising signage, powering lights and other interactive elements,” says Dr Watkins. “We can even embed them into laptop cases to provide backup power for the machine inside.”
Local company Dyesol has announced a ‘game changing’ technical breakthrough’: the achievement of a solid-state Dye Solar Cell (DSC) efficiency of 11.3 per cent at full sun – up from 5 per cent in 2010.
Dyesol says it is also confident of achieving industrial efficiencies greater than 10 per cent because of the added simplicity of working with solid-state systems. This would make the technology grid competitive, says the company – “the ‘holy grail’ for renewable energy technologies.” The achievement is particularly important in solar markets where light conditions are sub-optimal, such as Europe, North America and North-East Asia, where Dyesol technology has a considerable advantage over 1st and 2nd generation photovoltaic technologies.
The University at Buffalo in New York is working on a new affordable solar paint.
Then scientists at Yale have improved the ability of a promising type of solar cell to absorb light and convert it into electrical power by adding a fluorescent organic dye to the cell.
Meanwhile new electricity in California is to be nearly 100% solar.
Utility scale PV plants are now cost-effective in Oregon.
The Australian Government has released a clean energy map showing activity around the country.
I think there is a fair chance that an Abbott government would find the whole direct action, or most of it, unaffordable in the context of the presumed ‘budget crisis’. If so the world will simply pass them by.