Tag Archives | Energy

The Club Of Rome’s Predictions: How Accurate Are They?

Via DW:

Fourty years ago, the Club of Rome released “The limits of growth.” Now, it has released another look into the future. But how accurate are such predictions?

In its latest publication “2052—a Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, the Club of Rome takes a bold look into the future. The 66 scientists and economists that make up the club predict—similarly to their first report (“The limits of growth”) in 1972—that the current economic development could soon tip over. But differing from their view back then, they now put climate change at the heart of their study. Their prognosis is mainly influenced by the assumption that a warming of more than 2.5 degrees Celsius is likely: There will be more floods, draughts and climate extremes.

The use of fossile energy is still on the rise. The goal to keep the global temperature rise under 2 percent will probably not be reached, the report concludes.

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Solyndra Redux: Anatomy of a Political Hit Job

John Atcheson writes at Common Dreams:
Republicans have launched a full-scale attack on clean energy, and Solyndra always seems to be exhibit A in their assault. Recently, Romney went so far as to fabricate tales of Obama showing favoritism in this Bush-initiated loan – a whopper even by Romney’s record of complete disregard for the truth. It’s worth reexamining this whole thing, because Solyndra is actually exhibit A in how the Republican Party manufactures failure out of whole cloth, and what it costs us when they aren’t confronted by Democrats or held accountable by the media. To understand the full treachery of Republican attacks on Solyndra funding, it’s necessary to understand a little about venture capital investments...
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Germany Sets New Solar Record By Meeting Nearly Half of Country’s Weekend Power Demand

Photo: Túrelio (CC)

Photo: Túrelio (CC)

This story from inhabitat has the sustainable energy movement incredibly excited, and rightly so methinks:

Germany fed a whopping 22 gigawatts of solar power per hour into the national grid last weekend, setting a new record by meeting nearly half of the country’s weekend power demand.

After the Fukushima disaster, Japan opted to shut down all of its nuclear power stations and Germany followed suit after considerable public pressure. This seems to have paved the way for greater investment in solar energy projects. The Renewable Energy Industry (IWR) in Muenster announced that Saturday’s solar energy generation met nearly 50 percent of the nation’s midday electricity needs AND was equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity! …

By meeting a third of its electricity needs on a work day and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed, Germany’s solar power industry has broken all previous records.

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Solar-Powered Plane Flies Over Mediterranean

Solar Impulse

Photo: Matth1 (CC)

Via the Telegraph:

The Solar Impulse took off on the world’s first cross-Mediterranean flight from an airfield in western Switzerland and is scheduled to make a stop-over in Spain after a 20-hour flight, before finally flying to the Moroccan capital Rabat on Monday.

Lessons learned on this fight will help prepare the pilots for an attempt at a round-the-world journey. “Today it’s the last rehearsal for the flight around the world in 2014. For Andre and myself as pilots and for the entire team, the mission control team and technical team”, Solar Impulse founder, Bertrand Piccard, told Reuters. Pilot Andre Borschberg, who was flying the aircraft to Madrid, found it “rewarding” that the plane flies only using solar power.

“Well the most fun is to be able to go up to 9,000 metres with solar energy, and the more I will fly during the day, the more energy I will collect even in the batteries, so that’s very impressing, very different”…

Read More: Telegraph

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Secrets of the First Practical Artificial Leaf

LeafSolar power is getting less and less expensive. Via ScienceDaily:

A detailed description of development of the first practical artificial leaf — a milestone in the drive for sustainable energy that mimics the process, photosynthesis, that green plants use to convert water and sunlight into energy — appears in the ACS journal Accounts of Chemical Research. The article notes that unlike earlier devices, which used costly ingredients, the new device is made from inexpensive materials and employs low-cost engineering and manufacturing processes.

Daniel G. Nocera points out that the artificial leaf responds to the vision of a famous Italian chemist who, in 1912, predicted that scientists one day would uncover the “guarded secret of plants.” The most important of those, Nocera says, is the process that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The artificial leaf has a sunlight collector sandwiched between two films that generate oxygen and hydrogen gas.

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“Too Much Magic” With James Howard Kunstler

"Too Much Magic" With James Howard Kunstler | The DisinfoCast with Matt Staggs: Episode 07 toomuchmagiciTunes | Download (mp3) | RSS | iPhone App

Social critic and peak oil provocateur James Howard Kunstler is on The DisinfoCast to discuss his upcoming book Too Much Magic: Technology, Wishful Thinking and the Fate of the Nation. Kunstler believes that the end of cheap, readily available oil is very near, and with it the collapse of the industrial society as we know it. According to Kunstler, alternative energy sources and other technological solutions are just wishful thinking, and the future that awaits us may very well resemble our past.
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Wind Turbines That Learn Like Humans

Wind FarmVia ScienceDaily:

Depending on the weather, wind turbines can face whispering breezes or gale-force gusts. Such variable conditions make extracting the maximum power from the turbines a tricky control problem, but a collaboration of Chinese researchers may have found a novel solution in human-inspired learning models.

Most turbines are designed to produce maximum allowable power once winds reach a certain speed, called the rated speed. In winds above or below the rated speed, control systems can make changes to the turbine system, such as modifying the angle of the blades or the electromagnetic torque of the generator.

These changes help keep the power efficiency high in low winds and protect the turbine from damage in high winds. Many control systems rely on complex and computationally expensive models of the turbine’s behavior, but the Chinese group decided to experiment with a different approach.

The researchers developed a biologically inspired control system, described in the American Institute of Physics’ Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, that used memory of past control experiences and their outcomes to generate new actions.

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With All This Natural Gas, Who Needs Oil?

National Grid LNG TankAlexandra Marks says there are limits to how far the US can tilt toward a natural gas economy, in the Christian Science Journal:

Bob Mann leans against his wife’s 2006 Volkswagen Jetta in his tool-packed garage. The mechanic and inventor has just converted the car, which is the color of a ripe crab apple, to run on natural gas. He shakes his head.

“It’s a no-brainer. We could jump-start the economy overnight, put 100,000 people to work – easy – and help the environment,” says Mr. Mann, a former Volkswagen technician who’s as comfortable talking about global energy solutions as he is around a socket wrench.

From his suburban home in a wooded neighborhood once known for its shipbuilding prowess, Mann is crafting automotive gadgets for a future that many believe could help solve the nation’s long-intractable energy woes – one fueled mostly by natural gas. During the past five years, Mann has converted more than 10 cars to run on compressed natural gas, in addition to gasoline, using a device he invented, the “CNG Fogger,” which boosts the vehicles’ mileage.

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As Ice Cap Melts, Militaries Vie for Arctic Edge

KV Svalbard

Photo: Marcusroos (CC)

Via Common Dreams:

While the corporate media continues to keep alive a false narrative that the world’s scientists are still divided over global climate change — new reports show the military has moved beyond that debate. The Associated Press reports today that “to the world’s military leaders, the debate over climate change is long over.”

Instead, military planners from a number of nations that border the Arctic are gearing up for a new cold war – a battle for control of the vast treasure of mineral and oil resources and control of new, strategic sea lanes. As the ice cap melts, the war for the North Pole is heating up.

Greenpeace reported last year: “WikiLeaks releases … have shown the Arctic oil rush is not just a threat to the environment and our climate, but also to peace.”

“The documents show how deadly serious the scramble for Arctic resources has become.

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