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Google is searching for a way to be zero emissions all the time

[Photo: Flickr user Mark Skipper]
Buying enough clean energy to make up for your dirty energy is one thing; using all clean energy 24/7 is another, and it could signal a new approach.

Our time to move away from dirty energy to green sources is limited. Federal governments can’t be relied upon to push the conversion–especially not the one in the U.S., which is actively working against large-scale adoption of green energy. Much of the progress we’ve seen so far has come from big corporate energy buyers demanding carbon-free power. There is an ecological motivation, but it’s also driven by a desire to get in on the falling cost and high cost predictability of renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

The largest corporate buyers are big tech companies that rely heavily on global networks of large power-hungry data centers, storing and serving up most of the internet’s digital content: videos and movies, webpages, search results. No surprise: Google is a gigantic energy hog, but it’s also currently the world’s largest buyer of renewable energy, in its various forms—over 3 gigawatts—according to a March report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. (This particular Fast Company article comes to you via a server hosted by Amazon Web Services, the world’s largest cloud provider and No. 2 on Bloomberg’s list; Microsoft, Apple, and the U.S. Department of Defense round out the current top 5.) Continue reading “Google is searching for a way to be zero emissions all the time”

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Pipe dream or reality? Mexico looks to harness waves for green energy

Pic: Lucano Hinkle

Energy from the ocean breakers that pound Mexico’s Pacific Coast could soon be turned into electricity as an Israeli joint venture finalizes permits and financing for the country’s first wave energy plant.

Wave power development has long lagged renewable rivals such as solar, but Eco Wave Power says it could prove an effective way to deliver power to coastal communities in countries such as Ghana or Kenya that have little access to electricity.

“The ocean is the biggest renewable resource that we have and it’s completely untapped, and it has to change,” said Inna Braverman, co-founder of Tel Aviv-based Eco Wave Power.

“At the moment we’re a comparable price to solar, but the advantage on top of solar is the availability of the resource…. It keeps working 24/7,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

After scanning the coast for optimal wave conditions, the company decided to set up its first Mexican plant near Manzanillo, the country’s busiest cargo port some 525 miles west of Mexico City.
Situated close to the shore, hundreds of floating buoys connected by arms to a jetty would move with the waves to generate clean electricity at the 4.8-megawatt plant. Continue reading “Pipe dream or reality? Mexico looks to harness waves for green energy”

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Offshore wind market expected to exceed $60 billion by 2024

According to a new research report by market research and strategy consulting firm, Global Market Insights Inc., the offshore wind energy market size will exceed USD $60 billion by 2024. The global offshore wind energy market has been set ablaze with a number of projects that have recently commenced power production. For instance, following the installation of its first 7-MW turbines, Scotland’s biggest offshore wind farm has sent power for the first time to the National Grid.

The Race Bank offshore wind farm in the U.K. and reportedly the fifth-largest wind farm on the planet has also officially opened recently in the month of June. This 91-turbine facility is expected to produce 573 MW of electricity and is capable of powering more than half a million homes every year. Continue reading “Offshore wind market expected to exceed $60 billion by 2024”

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Green energy is the future, according to new report

Pic Credit: Shutterstock

The UK should seize a ‘golden opportunity’ to move away from fossil fuels, towards cheaper, greener energy sources, according to a new report, published by the National Infrastructure Commission.

The National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) is the first long term view of the UK’s needs, and is underpinned by analysis produced by a consortium of the UK’s leading universities, including Oxford University, who led on the work.

The report calls for a more joined up view of infrastructure, with significant investments to tackle road congestion, deal with water shortages and provide secure low-carbon energy supplies. It proposes ways of promoting greater innovation, for example through the roll-out of 5G mobile services and the uptake of autonomous vehicles.

The move to renewables has long been framed to be an expensive one, however, the report highlights renewable energy as being a “golden opportunity” to make the UK greener and make energy in general more affordable.
Continue reading “Green energy is the future, according to new report”

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UK government must seize ‘golden opportunity’ for cheap switch to green energy, advisers urge

The UK must seize a “golden opportunity” to make the move away from fossil fuels and towards greener energy without increasing consumer bills, the government’s independent advisers on infrastructure have said.

The move to renewable energy has long been thought to be an expensive one. But a major report by the National Infrastructure Commission says if the transition begins now, changes to the energy system could tackle greenhouse gas pollution without hitting consumers’ pockets.

“Ten years ago, it seemed almost impossible that the UK would be able to be powered mainly by renewable energy in an affordable and reliable way,” the report says. “But there has been a quiet revolution going on in this area.”

The authors say 50 per cent of the UK’s power generation should come from renewable sources by 2030, up from 30 per cent today, and from accounting for just 12 per cent five years ago.

“The crucial first step is to enable an increasing deployment of renewables,” the report says. Continue reading “UK government must seize ‘golden opportunity’ for cheap switch to green energy, advisers urge”

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Vegan Electricity? Company Offers Green Alternative to Energy Made From Animal Byproducts

(Photo by Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images)

Animal products could lurk in electricity, one British power company warns—and to give consumers a choice, it’s offering what it calls the world’s first vegan electricity.

Ecotricity, a renewable energy provider in the U.K., announced its electricity and gas would be certified vegan after it claimed half of British homes are powered by electricity made from animal byproducts. Company founder Dale Vince accused companies that consider themselves “ethical” or “green” of keeping consumers in the dark about their “secret ingredient.”

“We need clear labeling of energy sourcing so that people can make informed choices,” he said in a statement.

The company offers “vegan energy” in wind and solar power, and it’s developing “sea power” produced by wave oscillation and marine currents. None of Ecotricity’s electrical sources contain animal byproducts that the company knew of before it made the announcement, but it registered with the Vegan Society to certify its green status. Continue reading “Vegan Electricity? Company Offers Green Alternative to Energy Made From Animal Byproducts”

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U.S. Becomes Second Most Attractive Country For Renewable Energy, Says New Study

The United States is the second most attractive nation for renewable energy investments, according to the newest annual global ranking prepared by Ernst & Young.

The international accounting juggernaut E&Y released the 2018 Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI) today, showing that the U.S. is now second only to China in terms of attractive to the renewable energy sector.

The report described a recent wave of investment in the renewable energy sector by many of the world’s largest oil companies, highlighting industry-leading investments by Total and Shell:

  • In January, Royal Dutch Shell spent $217 million agreed to buy a huge stake in Nashville, Tenn.-based solar project developer Silicon Ranch Corporation, which itself plans to invest in multi-billion dollar pipeline of clean energy acquisitions over the next two years.
  • France’s Total took a minority stake in solar and hydro generator EREN Renewable Energy last year after buying Lampiris, a natural gas and green power supplier based in Belgium, and the Saft, the leading French battery manufacturer.

Continue reading “U.S. Becomes Second Most Attractive Country For Renewable Energy, Says New Study”

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UK fund ‘could unlock’ RE finance

A £100m local development fund is one of the recommendations to boost renewable energy and other clean growth infrastructure projects in the UK in a new report by the government’s green finance taskforce.

Such a fund has the potential to unlock an estimated £30bn of in clean growth infrastructure, the report said.

The taskforce was asked by the government to come up with ideas to deliver the public and private investment required by the UK to meet carbon budgets and related environmental goals, as well as maximise its share of the global green finance market.

Among a raft of recommendations the report, called ‘Accelerating Green Finance in the UK’, backs the setting up of clean growth regeneration zones.

These could be transformed with anchor investments in new renewable energy projects linked directly to industrial activity such as with power purchase agreements, the report said. Continue reading “UK fund ‘could unlock’ RE finance”

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USA will have cheap UNLIMITED energy in 15 years and it could come to the UK

Image: Getty

THE US is on the verge of perfecting fusion which will produce unlimited green energy in just 15 years which could mark the end of mankind’s need for expensive fossil fuels, it has been revealed this week.

On Friday, scientists at MIT and Commonwealth Fusion Systems, a private company, announced that they will be working together and the US could have completely green energy within two decades.

The collaborators believe they are on the verge of breaking the code of nuclear fusion. Fusion is the energy source of the universe, which powers our sun and the distant stars.

Bob Mumgaard, CEO of the private company Commonwealth Fusion Systems, said: “The aspiration is to have a working power plant in time to combat climate change.

“We think we have the science, speed and scale to put carbon-free fusion power on the grid in 15 years.” Continue reading “USA will have cheap UNLIMITED energy in 15 years and it could come to the UK”

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This new fuel cell could turbocharge renewable power

S. Choi et al., Nature Energy 10.1038 (2018)

Fuel cells are far greener than gas-powered engines because they produce electricity without burning up the hydrogen (or other fuel) that powers them. But they’re often impractical on a commercial scale because they’re so much more expensive to make. Now, researchers report that by creating a fuel cell that can run at a midrange temperature, they’ve made an inexpensive, powerful version that could boost the prospects for plentiful green energy.

Most fuel cells run at temperatures too hot or too cool to make at a reasonable price. One class, the polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) cells that power cars and buses, run at about 100°C. Another class, the solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) that power backup generators for hospitals and other buildings, typically run at 1000°C. The lower temperature of PEM cells makes the essential chemical reactions sluggish, requiring the use of expensive metal catalysts, such as platinum, to speed them up. But the feverish temperatures of SOFCs means that even if they don’t need the pricy catalysts, they need to be built from expensive metal alloys that can handle the scorching operating temperatures.

So in recent years, fuel cell researchers have pursued a Goldilocks strategy, looking for midrange temperature fuel cells that operate at about 500°C. That’s warm enough for reactions to proceed quickly, but cool enough to allow them to be built from cheaper metals, such as stainless steel. Initially, scientists tried doing so with catalysts borrowed from SOFCs. The devices worked, but they generated just 200 milliwatts of power per square centimeter (mW/cm2) of electrode surface area, well behind the performance of PEM fuel cells and SOFCs. To make it commercially, such fuel cells would need to produce at least 500 mW/cm2, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Continue reading “This new fuel cell could turbocharge renewable power”