Tag Archives: Transport

Climate clippings 180

1. Tesla car drives owner to hospital, saves his life

Missouri lawyer Joshua Neally was driving his Tesla Model X home from his office when he suffered piercing pain in his stomach and chest. Rather than call an ambulance he set his Tesla Model X in self-driving mode and headed for a hospital 20 miles (32km) down the road. He was able to park it and check himself in.

He suffered a pulmonary, a potentially fatal obstruction of a blood vessel in the lungs. Very probably, the car saved his life. Continue reading Climate clippings 180

Climate clippings 171

1. 3D solar towers

MIT researchers have developed and tested a range of 3D solar towers to achieve power output that is up to 20 times greater than traditional fixed flat solar panels with the same base area. Here is an example of two of the models tested: Continue reading Climate clippings 171

Saturday salon 23/4

1. Remembering Shakespeare

Four hundred years ago on April 1616, William Shakespeare, “widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist”, died apparently from partying too hard on his 52nd birthday. Arguably he is the world’s greatest writer. Continue reading Saturday salon 23/4

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 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 116

1. Super high speed rail

train_japan_maglev_500

The Japanese have run an actual train with people in it at 500 km/h. The Chinese have built a train which can theoretically run at 1800 mph by encasing it in a vacuum tube.

It looks as though high speed rail could become a real alternative to air for intercity travel.

Thanks to John D for the headsup.

2. World’s first power-to-liquids production plant opens

The world’s first power-to-liquids (PtL) demonstration production plant was opened in Dresden on 14 November. The new rig uses PtL technology to transform water and CO2 to high-purity synthetic fuels (petrol, diesel, kerosene) with the aid of renewable electricity.

The article does not say how efficient the process is, but presumably less so than using the electricity directly.

3. World Bank focus on clean energy

The World Bank has traditionally been one of the world’s largest funders of fossil fuel projects. Now it:

will invest heavily in clean energy and only fund coal projects in “circumstances of extreme need”…

No doubt this policy stems from the bank’s commissioned report Turning down the heat.

4. Why the Peru climate summit matters

Hope has been injected into the Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, scheduled to run from 1 to 12 December by the recent US/China agreement. The optimism stems as much from the fact that the two largest emitters in the world are finally working together as the level of ambition. The EU has also recently pledged to cut emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.

Countries will be working on the text of the draft agreement for Paris in 2015.

Countries are expected to put forward their contributions towards the 2015 agreement in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) by the end of March [2015]. These will then be used to craft the Paris treaty. The Lima gathering will help provide guidelines and clarity for what these INDCs must entail, especially for developing countries still reliant on fossil fuels to meet fast-growing energy demand needed to achieve developmental goals. These options could range from sector-wide emissions cuts to energy intensity goals to renewable energy targets.

We’ll be represented during the second week by Julie Bishop and Andrew Robb, a climate change denier. Seems Bishop went bananas when she found out, and Robb doesn’t want to be there anyway.

Giles Parkinson reports that we’ve sent a delegation of 14, the smallest in 20 years and probably not enough to be actively obstructive as we were in Warsaw last year.

5. 2014 looks like hottest on record

This is how it’s shaping:

wmo-years-590x390

Record hot years are often El Niño years. This year is a neutral ENSO year so far.

That’s so far; there is at least a 70% chance that El Niño will be declared in the coming months, according to the BOM. Looks like a hot, dry summer.

6. Germany’s largest utility gets out of the fossil fuel business

On Sunday, Germany’s biggest utility E.ON announced plans to split into two companies and focus on renewables in a major shift that could be an indicator of broader changes to come across the utility sector. E.ON will spin off its nuclear, oil, coal, and gas operations in an effort to confront a drastically altered energy market, especially under the pressure of Germany’s Energiewende — the country’s move away from nuclear to renewables. The company told shareholders that it will place “a particular emphasis on expanding its wind business in Europe and in other selected target markets,” and that it will also “strengthen its solar business.”

E.ON will also focus on smart grids and distributed generation in an effort to improve energy efficiency and increase customer engagement and opportunity.

“With its decision, E.ON is the first company to take the necessary steps from the completely changed world of energy supply,” German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, said Monday.

7. The inconvenient truth of EU emissions

The Commission and European Environment Agency’s Progress Report on climate action says:

according to latest estimates, EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2013 fell by 1.8% compared to 2012 and reached the lowest levels since 1990. So not only is the EU well on track to reach the 2020 target, it is also well on track to overachieve it.

Kevin Anderson is not impressed:

The consumption-based emissions (i.e. where emissions associated with imports and exports are considered) of the EU 28 were 2% higher in 2008 than in 1990[1]. By 2013 emissions had marginally reduced to 4% lower than 1990 – but not as a consequence of judicious climate change strategies, but rather the financial fallout of the bankers’ reckless greed – egged on by complicit governments and pliant regulation.

Then he really gets stuck in:

In the quarter of a century since the first IPCC report we have achieved nothing of any significant merit relative to the scale of the climate challenge. All we have to show for our ongoing oratory is a burgeoning industry of bureaucrats, well meaning NGOs, academics and naysayers who collectively have overseen a 60+% rise in global emissions.