Tag Archives: Cars

Climate clippings 183

1. Preparing for driverless cars

Leaders from federal and state road and transport agencies, motoring clubs, local government and engineering and industry groups met in Brisbane in August to consider how government and industry can better collaborate to ensure a smooth transition to the world of connected and automated vehicles.

They are expecting partially automated vehicles on public roads before 2020, and highly automated and driverless vehicles within the ensuing decade. Continue reading Climate clippings 183

Rasa gives hydrogen car design a clean slate

riversimple-hydrogen-car-12_250

Welch company Riversimple is developing a hydrogen car, the Rasa, as in tabula rasa, which means clean slate. Rather than a design which modifies the basic layout of the internal combustion car, Rasa has a powertrain designed from scratch.

It’s certainly light, economical, and has a small carbon footprint. It may have a role in personal transport around cities, especially when cars become self-driving. Continue reading Rasa gives hydrogen car design a clean slate

Climate clippings 160

1. Game changing steel to make lighter cars etc.

From Gizmag, courtesy of John D:

    Back in 2011, we wrote about a fascinating new way to heat-treat regular, cheap steel to endow it with an almost miraculous blend of characteristics. Radically cheaper, quicker and less energy-intensive to produce, Flash Bainite is stronger than titanium by weight, and ductile enough to be pressed into shape while cold without thinning or cracking. It’s now being tested by three of the world’s five largest car manufacturers, Continue reading Climate clippings 160

Climate clippings 121

1. Denmark winds up wind

In January of 2014, Denmark got just over 61% of its power from wind. For the whole of 2014 it was 39.1%, a world record.

Their leadership is working well for them. Nine out of ten offshore turbines installed globally are made in Denmark. They plan to be fossil fuel free by 2050.

Elsewhere Germany and the UK smash records for wind power generation. Scotland hopes to be fossil fuel free by 2050.

On Boxing day rooftop solar met one third of South Australia’s demand and at least 30% from 11.30am to 3.30pm. Bonaire (pop. 14,500), a small island off the coast of Venezuela, said goodbye diesel and hello 100% renewable electricity.

California Gov. Jerry Brown last week called for

the state’s electric utilities to boost their renewable energy procurements to 50% of retail electric sales and discussed future initiatives to support rooftop solar, battery storage, grid infrastructure and electric vehicles.

As Bill Lawry would say, “It’s all happening!”

2. 2014 the hottest year

The first set of figures is in, this time from the Japan Meteorological Agency, showing 2014 as the hottest year so far:

JMA2014-cropped_600

The red line is the long-term linear trend.

The blue line is the 5-year running mean.

Australia had the third hottest year on record.

3. Chinese three-wheeler is for real!

From John D’s Gizmag collection we have the Spira4u three-wheeler car:

spira-production-version-2_500

It’s not a toy, it’s a serious car which has gone into pilot production as a 10 kW electric or a fuel-injected 150 cc version with an economy of 2.94 l/100km (80 mpg).

It has a handy parking option:

spira-production-version-14_500

And it floats:

spira-production-version-11_500

An amphibious version is under development.

4. California starts to build a high-speed rail system

The first phase of California’s high-speed rail system will be a 29-mile stretch from Fresno slightly north to the town of Madera. From there the project will link up with urban centers like Los Angeles and San Francisco, eventually allowing commuters to travel between those two cities at 220 mph and cutting the trip from nearly six hours to less than three. The system will eventually extend to Sacramento and San Diego, totaling 800 miles with up to 24 stations.

The full rail system should be in use by 2028.

5. Solar at grid parity in most of world by 2017

At RenewEconomy:

Investment bank Deutsche Bank is predicting that solar systems will be at grid parity in up to 80 per cent of the global market within 2 years, and says the collapse in the oil price will do little to slow down the solar juggernaut.

Quiggin at The Conversation and his place: Only a mug punter would bet on carbon storage over renewables.

6. When you are in a hole, stop digging!

From a study in the journal Nature:

“Our results suggest that, globally, a third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves, and over 80 percent of current coal reserves should remain unused from 2010 to 2050 in order to meet the target of 2°C,” write authors Christophe McGlade and Paul Ekins of University College London.

stay-in-the-ground-cropped_600

Keeping the increase in global temperatures under 2°C will require vast amounts of fossil fuels to be kept in the ground, including 92 percent of U.S. coal, most of Canada’s tar sands, and all of the Arctic’s oil and gas…

In 2013, fossil fuel companies spent some $670bn on exploring for new oil and gas resources. The figure should be zero.

7. Climate change will create more environmental refugees

Natural disasters like Typhoon Haiyan—which devastated the Philippines in 2013 displace more people than war, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center in Geneva. And as climate change sets off increasingly lethal natural disasters, so will the numbers of environmental refugees increase, Reuters reported.

It is a reality that governments must prepare themselves for. In 2013, some 22 million people were displaced by extreme natural disasters like typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis, a number three times the number of those who were forced to migrate because of war, according to the IDMC.

Earlier this summer New Zealand accepted a family who cited climate change as the reason why they had to flee their homeland, thought to be the world’s first official environmental refugees.

Climate clippings 120

1. Pope Francis becomes active on climate change

Pope Francis is going to give climate change action a red hot go in 2015:

In 2015, the pope will issue a lengthy message on the subject to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, give an address to the UN general assembly and call a summit of the world’s main religions.

The reason for such frenetic activity, says Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, is the pope’s wish to directly influence next year’s crucial UN climate meeting in Paris, when countries will try to conclude 20 years of fraught negotiations with a universal commitment to reduce emissions.

He also wants to change the financial system from one based on raw consumerist exploitation to one based on ethics which respect ecological principles. He should have a chat with Naomi Klein!

Giles Parkinson has more at RenewEconomy, including the note that Pope Benedict kicked things off by buying carbon credits in the form of a Hungarian forest to make the Vatican carbon neutral, and the possibility that the Catholic church may divest funds invested in the fossil fuel industry.

2. 2014: the year climate change undeniably arrived

John H. Cushman Jr. at InsideClimate News in reviewing the year thinks 2014 was the year climate change undeniably arrived. It was the hottest year ever, the science became conclusive, and a mushrooming climate movement pressed world leaders to act, which to some extent they did.

On the science, he was referring mainly to the IPCC report where already in 2013 the Physical Science Working Group moved the probability of human causation up a notch from “very likely” (>90%) to “extremely likely” (>95%) which is about as good as it gets. In the Synthesis Report of 2014 the language was ramped up saying that harm from greater warming if we stay on the current course could be “severe, pervasive and irreversible.”

Action looked promising with mitigation pledges by the EU, China and the US, also the UN climate talks at Lima.

On the “mushrooming climate movement he is talking about a:

phenomenon that emerged in a spectacular way in September, on the eve of Ban Ki-moon’s UN summit—the coming of age of a new popular movement demanding climate action now.

Hundreds of thousands of marchers filled the streets of Manhattan, curb to curb for 50 blocks or more. Their presence attested to a new dynamic in which inside-the-beltway lobbyists and well-heeled think tanks joined forces with grassroots anti-fracking and anti-pipeline protestors, in which labor unions and school kids found common cause.

A fine effort, but then, you see, sensible voters stayed at home and allowed the Republicans to take over Congress.

3. Precarious Climate

Climate and political blogger James Wight at Precarious Climate reviews the year, kind of, mostly by listing his best posts.

The last, Australia continues climate obstructionism in Lima, was an excellent wrap of the Lima talks. I was not aware (I’d wondered) that Julie Bishop is a climate denier, along with Andrew Robb, just the pair we needed to represent us at international climate talks.

4. Utility scale solar surges

But not in Australia:

image3-570x374

The big surge is in Asia and North America, but other continents have come to life through installations in Chile and South Africa.

5. Production of shale oil increases

The production of shale oil in North Dakota has increased month by month in 2014, in spite of falling prices.

ndoil

Meanwhile falling oil prices have hidden a new global warming fee on the purchase of gasoline in California.

6. Compressed air technology

Not everyone reads the discussion threads, so I’m repeating here some links made by Jumpy to compressed-air technology.

Danielle Fong with her company LightSail Energy is bringing compressed-air energy storage technology to the market.

Both Peugot and Citroën are developing compressed-air hybrid cars that use 2 litres per 100 kilometres of fuel. Apart from the hybrid compressed-air powertrain both cars are using light-weight materials and aerodynamics to improve economy. The also have narrow tyres pumped up high.

Of course these cars use twice as much fuel as the electric hybrid Volkswagen XL1 which plans to put 250 cars on the road, at a price. That article is from July 2013 – not sure how they are going.

Offset credit trading

Australia’s successful RET emission trading scheme is an Offset Credit Trading Scheme (OCTS) that has been quietly driving investment in utility scale renewable energy since 2001.  Best of all, it has been doing this without causing any dramatic increase in power prices or political pain.  This quiet success  means that few Australian’s have heard of the RET scheme let alone understand what offset credit trading is.

Continue reading Offset credit trading

The end of coal?

This post started out as four related items in Climate clippings. When a fifth showed up I decided to extract them and put them in a separate post. Hence it is a collection of opinions and perspectives rather than an analysis of the future of coal as such. Still, a message seems to emerge.

BHP calls for carbon pricing

Believe it or not Andrew Mackenzie, CEO of BHP Billiton, has called for a price to be put on greenhouse gas emissions to address the threat of global warming.

Talking in Houston Texas on the future of fossil fuels and carbon emissions Andrew Mackenzie said BHP needs to think carefully about controlling its carbon emissions. He wants BHP to lead the way. BHP is the world’s largest mining company and the third biggest company in the world.

Beyond coal the company is also a major player in shale gas in the USA, investing a cool $US20 billion in 2012.

Mackenzie was on message about ‘clean coal’, spruiking the virtues of carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Rio weighs in

Rio Tinto’s head of energy, Harry Kenyon-Slaney, also weighed in saying “Idealistic discussions” about climate change should be abandoned and Australians should recognise that coal will remain an important energy source for decades.

Coal will continue to “do the lion’s share of heavy lifting” to meet energy demand, he says.

Rio has invested $100 million in carbon capture and storage.

Martin Ferguson, now an adviser to the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association:

stepped up criticism of the Coalition government’s emissions-reductions policies and called for the watering down of the renewable energy target, which he said was undermining the national electricity market.

Tristan Edis comments

Tristan Edis comments on Rio Tinto’s clean coal idealism.

He reckons CCS would be great if you could also retrofit it to existing coal-fired power stations, implement it at large scale and a reasonable cost and start doing it by, say, 2025.

The Australian Coal Association instituted an industry-funded initiative to progress zero-emission coal with a levy and created ACA Low Emissions Technology Ltd (ACALET) to undertake initiatives. Unfortunately from 2012-13 the requirement to pay the levy was suspended and ACALET is now concentrating on promoting the use of coal in Australia and overseas.

Edis reports that Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane seems to be willing to acknowledge that carbon capture and storage is a pipedream.

One senior Liberal referred to it as ‘vaporware’ (new computer software promised by companies to be delivered in the future that never eventuates but scares off competing software development).

The end of coal?

Paul Gilding has called the end of coal and the dawn of renewables, especially solar.

He believes the fossil fuel industry live in a delusionary analytical bubble, convinced of their own immortality. They are about to be swept away. Markets can be brutal.

The top 20 European utilities have lost $600 billion in value over the past 5 years.

Tesla, presumably because it makes electric vehicles (see also below), is now worth more than half GM although GM makes 300 times as many cars.

HSBC’s Global Solar index rose 65% last year and is already up 23% in 2014.

Underground coal gasification

Trials are underway or planned in diverse parts of the world in burning in situ coal that can’t be mined, according to an article by Fred Pearce in the New Scientist (paywalled). The process is underground coal gasification (UCG).

The potential is enormous, with enough coal available to supply the world with energy for 1000 years. For example, 70% of the coal in the UK has never been mined. One company has a licence to prospect for UCG sites beneath more than 400 square kilometres of the North Sea.

The attraction of UCG is not just power production. The process produces methane, carbon monoxide, hydrogen as well as CO2. The Brits see potential to use these chemicals as feedstock to revitalize their industrial chemicals industry. The article lists the following uses:

  • Gas to electricity Power stations can burn methane to produce electricity for the grid
  • Gas to chemicals Hydrogen, methane and CO all have value as feedstock for the chemicals industry
  • Gas to liquid Methane can be liquefied (LNG) for storage or transport, or the CO and hydrogen converted through the Fischer-Tropsch process to synthetic diesel fuel for vehicles
  • Gas to tech Hydrogen can provide an alternative transport fuel

CO2 can be reinjected into the void created by the burnt coal.

The article refers to a 2007 MIT study which found that commercial CCS was unlikely before 2030. Undaunted Myles Allen, an Oxford University climate scientist, reckons that CCS is the “only practical way forward”.

Christiana Figueres is hopeful

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), points to 60 countries with 500 pieces of climate legislation, and is confident that an international climate change agreement will be delivered on time in 2015. She looks forward within 20 years to the time where everything new we do will be carbon neutral.

She does see a need for research into energy storage – batteries – and into CCS.

It is only with marketable CCS that we will be able to use the fossil fuels that we need. Storage and CCS would be my top two choices for technology investment.

If so someone, for example BHP and Rio, get cracking.

Meanwhile…

Meanwhile

Investment bank Morgan Stanley says it has been overwhelmed by the response to its recent analysis which suggested that the falling costs of both solar modules and battery storage presented a potential tipping point that would encourage huge numbers of homeowners and businesses in the US to go off grid.

And Tesla is building a $5 billion ‘gigafactory’ for battery production, then providing an

emergency power service by monitoring the power levels in home batteries and delivering replacement batteries in the event home batteries run out of power.

Someone should tell Andrew Mackenzie and Harry Kenyon-Slaney they’ll need to shake a leg with CCS. Schumpeter’s creative destruction seems to be at work in the energy industry.

Update: Murray Energy, the largest independent coal producer in the US, is suing the EPA for not taking into account job losses when formulating emissions regulations.

Climate clippings 81

?????????????????????????These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as an open thread. Again I do not want to spend time in comments rehashing whether human activity causes climate change.

This edition contains items, exclusively, I think, in the broad mitigation category.

1. Nationwide EV fast charging networks

Estonia with around 1.3 million people achieved the first Nationwide EV fast charging network. Now the Netherlands with about 16.8 million souls has established a contract to build the world’s largest. No citizen will be more than 50 km away from a charging station.

That’s impressive, but given the range of EVs still fairly thin on the ground. Will the charges include the cost of the capital required to roll out the plan? Also if they are going to be “user friendly”, will they sell you coffee while you wait the 15-30 minutes it takes to charge the batteries? Continue reading Climate clippings 81

Climate clippings 78

????????????????????????? These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as an open thread. This post has emphasised adaptation and mitigation, essentially what we need to do to achieve a safe climate.

Comments, about science, observations, impacts, and future predictions are welcome. I do not, however, want a rehash of whether human activity causes climate change.

1. Mining company donations to political parties

Bernard Keane Looked at the astonishing trend in mining company donations to political parties:

Mining-Donations-mine

Sandi Keane adds some value in her two part series on the cartelisation of the major parties. Bernard wrote:

The sheer scale of mining company generosity illustrates why Tony Abbott remains committed to repealing the carbon pricing package and the mining tax.

Sandi added:

He might also have added that if Abbott wins office on September 14, we will no longer have a democracy but an oligarchy – a government run by powerful mining and media magnates looking for a return on their investment – with George Pell as spiritual adviser. As Keane tweeted recently:

“Australians are a bunch of sheep about to hand themselves over to a pack of wolves”.

Continue reading Climate clippings 78