Category Archives: Wind Power

Arctic sea ice under the midnight sun (Image: Solent News/Rex/Shutterstock)

Could a £400bn plan to refreeze the Arctic before the ice melts really work?

Temperatures are now so high at the north pole that scientists are contemplating radical schemes to avoid catastrophe

Arctic sea ice under the midnight sun (Image: Solent News/Rex/Shutterstock)
Arctic sea ice under the midnight sun (Image: Solent News/Rex/Shutterstock)

Physicist Steven Desch has come up with a novel solution to the problems that now beset the Arctic. He and a team of colleagues from Arizona State University want to replenish the region’s shrinking sea ice – by building 10 million wind-powered pumps over the Arctic ice cap. In winter, these would be used to pump water to the surface of the ice where it would freeze, thickening the cap.

The pumps could add an extra metre of sea ice to the Arctic’s current layer, Desch argues. The current cap rarely exceeds 2-3 metres in thickness and is being eroded constantly as the planet succumbs to climate change.

“Thicker ice would mean longer-lasting ice. In turn, that would mean the danger of all sea ice disappearing from the Arctic in summer would be reduced significantly,” Desch told the Observer.

Desch and his team have put forward the scheme in a paper that has just been published in Earth’s Future, the journal of the American Geophysical Union, and have worked out a price tag for the project: $500bn (£400bn).

It is an astonishing sum. However, it is the kind of outlay that may become necessary if we want to halt the calamity that faces the Arctic, says Desch, who, like many other scientists, has become alarmed at temperature change in the region. They say that it is now warming twice as fast as their climate models predicted only a few years ago and argue that the 2015 Paris agreement to limit global warming will be insufficient to prevent the region’s sea ice disappearing completely in summer, possibly by 2030.

“Our only strategy at present seems to be to tell people to stop burning fossil fuels,” says Desch. “It’s a good idea but it is going to need a lot more than that to stop the Arctic’s sea ice from disappearing.”

The loss of the Arctic’s summer sea ice cover would disrupt life in the region, endanger many of its species, from Arctic cod to polar bears, and destroy a pristine habitat. It would also trigger further warming of the planet by removing ice that reflects solar radiation back into space, disrupt weather patterns across the northern hemisphere and melt permafrost, releasing more carbon gases into the atmosphere.

Read more: The Guardian

National Grid wants the batteries to help it cope with the challenges of more wind and solar power (Image: PA)

New batteries to help Britain keep the lights on

Eight new battery storage projects are to be built around the UK after winning contracts worth £66m to help National Grid keep power supplies stable as more wind and solar farms are built.

EDF Energy, E.On and Vattenfall were among the successful companies chosen to build new lithium-ion batteries with a combined capacity of 200 megawatts (MW), under a new scheme to help Grid balance supply and demand within seconds.

National Grid wants the batteries to help it cope with the challenges of more wind and solar power (Image: PA)
National Grid wants the batteries to help it cope with the challenges of more wind and solar power (Image: PA)

Power generation and usage on the UK grid have to be matched as closely as possible in real-time to keep electricity supplies at a safe frequency so that household electrical appliances function properly.

Read more: Telegraph

The floating solar farm on Godley Reservoir near Manchester (Image: A. Cooper/Guardian)

If wind and solar power are cheaper and quicker, do we really need Hinkley Point?

Nuclear energy’s cost, and a focus on alternative technology, including research on a new generation of hi-tech battery storage, is leading observers outside the green lobby to question the project’s value

Should Theresa May take the axe to the troubled Hinkley Point nuclear project, it will propel wind and solar power further into the limelight. And for renewable technologies to become really effective, Britain and the rest of the world need breakthroughs in electricity storage to allow intermittent power to be on tap 24/7, on a large scale and for the right price.

Cheap, light and long-life batteries are the holy grail, and achieving this requires the expertise of people like Cambridge professor Clare Grey. The award winning Royal Society fellow is working on the basic science behind lithium-air batteries, which can store five times the energy in the same space as the current rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that are widely used today.

The floating solar farm on Godley Reservoir near Manchester (Image: A. Cooper/Guardian)
The floating solar farm on Godley Reservoir near Manchester (Image: A. Cooper/Guardian)

She is also focusing on sodium-ion and redox flow batteries; the latter store power in a liquid form, contained in vats or tanks that in theory can easily be scaled up to power-grid sizes.

“There has been an amazing transformation in this field. There is an explosion of interest and I am extremely lucky to have decided early on to concentrate on this area,”

she says, although she is keen to play down the idea that a eureka moment is just around the corner.

She is also thankful for Hinkley – if only because of the government’s long-term funding deal with EDF Energy that it gave rise to.

“It has put a price on [future] electricity in the market which is high, and this has potentially opened up further commercial space for new technologies such as batteries. But independent of Hinkley we do need better batteries and my chemistry will hopefully help find them,” she says.

The wisdom of bringing in the Chinese to help EDF, the French state-owned utility company, construct the proposed new Somerset reactors has been highlighted as a key factor behind the government’s reluctance to push the go button.

But ministers are also aware that, in the last 18 months, many experts in the field have concluded that the biggest argument against the plant is not that it is too expensive, at £18.5bn, but that the kind of “on-all-the-time” power it delivers is no longer what is required.

Read more: The Guardian

DECC Minister Amber Rudd visits UK Power Networks ‘Big Battery’, in Leighton Buzzard (Image: DECC)

National Grid sees major boost for solar, electric vehicles and batteries

The UK could adopt solar, electric vehicles and batteries much faster than expected just a year ago, according to the National Grid.

DECC Minister Amber Rudd visits UK Power Networks ‘Big Battery’, in Leighton Buzzard (Image: DECC)
DECC Minister Amber Rudd visits UK Power Networks ‘Big Battery’, in Leighton Buzzard (Image: DECC)

The new outlook is part of a rapidly changing landscape for the UK energy system, laid out in the 2016 Future Energy Scenarios. Marcus Stewart, National Grid’s head of energy insights, says in a foreword to the report: “We are in the midst of an energy revolution.”

Carbon Brief runs through the key changes in the outlook compared to last year.

Energy revolution

The idea that the UK energy world is in the midst of a period of rapid and fundamental change has been gaining traction since the start of the year. The usually conservative National Grid is the latest of several industry and government groups to use the language of “revolution”.

In February, a report for industry group Energy UK talked of a coming “revolution”, similar to those that have overtaken telecomms and banking. Then, in March, the National Infrastructure Commission said embracing a “smart power revolution” could save the UK £8bn a year by 2030.

The National Grid report and press release includes Stewart’s quote on energy revolution, as well as saying that “electricity supply is going through a period of unparalleled transformation”. However, the report fails to spell out exactly how much the National Grid’s scenarios have shifted since last year.

They now see up to 39 gigawatts (GW) of solar installed by 2035, up from around 12GW today and up 7GW from last year’s maximum expectation for 2035 of 32GW. Two years ago, National Grid expected as little as 8GW and no more than 17GW of solar in 2030. Now, its minimum is 15GW.

The raised expectations for the number of electric vehicles on the road in 2035 is equally dramatic, ranging from a 23% to a 120% increase on last year’s report, with the range depending on the wider economic and policy environment. In total, there could be as many as 8.3m electric vehicles in 2035, the report says, making up nearly a quarter of all cars on the road.

This year’s scenarios also include, for the first time, a significant future role for battery electric storage. Last year’s outlook merely noted that storage was important and said new capacity could be unlocked with technological improvements, regulatory change and subsidies.

As of this year, “the value proposition has improved for storage”, says a National Grid document discussing stakeholder feedback received during its scenario development process.

This improvement is set to continue. The Future Energy Scenarios report says the cost of lithium ion batteries could halve by around 2019, and halve again by the early 2020s. It says:

Commercial and regulatory changes which are expected in the next 12 months will be key to the successful large-scale deployment of new storage technologies.

Read more: Carbon Brief

The installation comes as Nissan celebrates 30 years of manufacturing in the UK

Nissan switches on solar farm to power UK car production

Nissan has switched on a new solar farm at its plant in Sunderland, its biggest manufacturing site in Europe, and the latest landmark in the company’s journey towards Intelligent Mobility.

The installation comes as Nissan celebrates 30 years of manufacturing in the UK
The installation comes as Nissan celebrates 30 years of manufacturing in the UK

Made of up 19,000 photo-voltaic panels, the new 4.75 MW facility is now fully operational at the Sunderland Plant, as Nissan strives towards its twin goals of zero emissions and zero fatalities.

The solar farm has been installed alongside 10 wind turbines already generating clean power for the manufacturing facility in the North East, the European centre of production for the all-electric Nissan LEAF and its batteries.

Colin Lawther, Nissan’s Senior Vice President for Manufacturing, Purchasing and Supply Chain Management in Europe, said:

“Renewable energy is fundamental to Nissan’s vision for Intelligent Mobility.

“We have built over 50,000 Nissan LEAFs in Europe, and the industry-leading new 250 km-range LEAF is now available. With 10 wind turbines already generating energy for our Sunderland plant, this new solar farm will further reduce the environmental impact of Nissan vehicles during their entire lifecycle.”

Nissan began integrating renewable energy sources in Sunderland in 2005 when the company installed its first wind turbines on site. These 10 wind turbines contribute 6.6 MW power, with the 4.75 MW solar farm bringing the total output of renewables to 11.35 MW in Sunderland. This equates to 7% of the plant’s electricity requirements, enough to build the equivalent of 31,374 vehicles.

The solar farm has been developed and installed within the loop of Nissan’s vehicle test track in Sunderland by partner company European Energy Photovoltaics, with 100% of the electricity generated to be used by Nissan.

Its installation comes as Nissan celebrates its 30th anniversary of manufacturing in the UK, having become the biggest UK car plant of all time and now supporting nearly 40,000 jobs in Britain in vehicle design, engineering, production, parts distribution, sales and marketing, dealer network and supply chain.

Pursuing a goal of zero emission vehicles and zero fatalities on the road, Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility vision is designed to guide Nissan’s product and technology pipeline, anchoring critical company decisions around how cars are powered, how cars are driven, and how cars integrate into society.

Other Nissan initiatives recently announced concerning electric vehicles and next generation battery technology include: a future generation of electric vehicle batteries for the UK battery plant; a major vehicle-to-grid trial in the UK that will see Nissan EVs supplying the UK’s National Grid; and a revolutionary new residential energy storage system called xStorage.

Source: Next Green Car

We can ditch fossil fuels in 10 years, if we want to

Patterns show that the move to cleaner energy would be quick if there was a concerted effort.

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The quest to end the use of fossil fuels might not be as daunting as you think. A University of Sussex study claims that humanity could drop coal and oil within a decade, based largely on historical evidence that many tend to overlook. Professor Benjamin Sovacool notes that energy transitions have happened quickly whenever there was a combination of “strong government intervention” with economic or environmental incentives to switch. It only took 11 years for the Canadian province of Ontario to abandon coal energy, for example, while nuclear power surged to 40 percent of France’s electricity supply within 12 years. In the case of fossil fuels, it’s a combination of climate change worries, dwindling resources and advanced technology that could step up the pace.

The researcher admits that these handovers tend to move slowly if left to their own devices, such as the decades it took for electricity to see widespread adoption. However, Professor Sovacool argues that the mainstream notion that these transitions must happen slowly doesn’t really hold water. They just need a concerted, collaborative effort, he says.

Of course, actually creating that effort is another matter. While electric cars and renewable energy are quickly hitting their stride, there’s also stiff opposition from the fossil fuel industry (and the politicians that protect it) to the sort of regulation that would speed up the use of cleaner power sources. Also, developing countries seldom have the luxury of dropping fossil fuels — it’d cost too much, or leave too many people without reliable electricity. An accelerated transition might not happen until the political and economic advantages are so overwhelming that even the staunchest opponents concede defeat.

Source: Autoblog

You’ll want to know how the electricity is produced, right? (Image: A. Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Why Would You Power A Clean Electric Car With Dirty Energy?

Buying a Tesla might lead to greener choices elsewhere

You’ll want to know how the electricity is produced, right? (Image: A. Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
You’ll want to know how the electricity is produced, right? (Image: A. Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

NEW YORK — It’s one thing to get people to care about the price of energy. It’s quite another challenge to get them to care about the source of energy and its environmental impact.

But buying an electric car — presumably, in part, to reduce one’s carbon footprint — may push people to think about where the electricity to power that vehicle comes from, according to one early investor in Tesla Motors.

“The electric vehicle is like a Trojan horse for energy literacy,”

Nancy Pfund, managing partner at the venture capital firm DBL Partners, said during a panel discussion at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit in Manhattan on Monday morning.

Pfund said she noticed the possible linkage a decade ago, when DBL first invested in Tesla, which sells luxury electric cars, and its sister company, SolarCity, which markets solar power systems. Both are chaired by billionaire Elon Musk.

“In the early days of Tesla, early adopters would buy the Roadster or the Model S, and weeks later we’d see an uptick in solar adopters,” she told The Huffington Post in an interview. “They’re really examples of the connection between transportation and the green electrical grid.”

The idea is that no one wants to go greener by buying a battery-powered electric vehicle only to charge it with electricity generated from burning coal or gas.

Most Americans buy electricity from utility companies that produce energy by burning fossil fuels or generate power from water flow, wind turbines or solar panels. A small but growing number of people generate power from rooftop solar panels or backyard wind turbines and then sell any excess energy to the utility companies. To really go green, people need batteries to store their own clean energy for later use.

If purchasing an electric car focuses the buyer on other ways to access cleaner energy and use it in lower quantities, that can work to improve the whole system.

“Anytime you get people to be more literate and understand where something is coming from, they have a voice,” Pfund added. “And a more engaged and vocal population will demand more energy choices.”

Read more: Huffington Post

Solar Power (Image: ARENA)

Wind and Solar Are Crushing Fossil Fuels

Record clean energy investment outpaces gas and coal 2 to 1

Solar Power (Image: ARENA)
Solar Power (Image: ARENA)

Wind and solar have grown seemingly unstoppable.

While two years of crashing prices for oil, natural gas, and coal triggered dramatic downsizing in those industries, renewables have been thriving. Clean energy investment broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels.

One reason is that renewable energy is becoming ever cheaper to produce. Recent solar and wind auctions in Mexico and Morocco ended with winning bids from companies that promised to produce electricity at the cheapest rate, from any source, anywhere in the world, said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

“We’re in a low-cost-of-oil environment for the foreseeable future,” Liebreich said during his keynote address at the BNEF Summit in New York on Tuesday. “Did that stop renewable energy investment? Not at all.”

Read more: Bloomberg