Tesla

Wind & Solar get the thumbs-up. #auspol #StopAdani

One of the biggest criticisms against wind and solar energy has been quashed
Akshat Rathi

One of the biggest criticisms of the renewable-energy industry is that it has been propped up by government subsidies. 

There is no doubt that without government help, it would have been much harder for the nascent technology to mature. But what’s more important is whether there has been a decent return on taxpayers’ investment.

A new analysis in Nature Energy gives renewable-energy subsidies the thumbs-up.

 Dev Millstein of Lawerence Berkeley National Laboratory and his colleagues find that the fossil fuels not burnt because of wind and solar energy helped avoid between 3,000 and 12,700 premature deaths in the US between 2007 and 2015. 

Fossil fuels produce large amounts of pollutants like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter, which are responsible for ill-health and negative climate effects.

The researchers found that the US saved between $35 billion and $220 billion in that period because of avoided deaths, fewer sick days, and climate-change mitigation.
How do these benefits compare to the US government’s outlays? “The monetary value of air quality and climate benefits are about equal or more than state and federal financial support to wind and solar industries,” says Millstein.
Between 2007 and 2015, Quartz’s own analysis* finds that the US government likely spent between $50 billion and $80 billion on subsidies for those two industries. Even on the lower end of the benefits and higher end of subsidies, just the health and climate benefits of renewable energy return about half of taxpayers’ money. If the US were to stop subsidies now, those benefits would continue to accrue for the lifetime of the already existing infrastructure, improving the long-term return of the investments.
What’s more, those benefits do not account for everything. Creation of a new industry spurs economic growth, creates new jobs, and leads to technology development. There isn’t yet an estimation of what sort of money that brings in, but it’s likely to be a tidy sum.
To be sure, the marginal benefits of additional renewable energy production will start to fall in the future. That is, for every new megawatt of renewable energy produced, an equal amount of pollution won’t be avoided, which means the number of lives saved, and monetary benefits generated, will fall. But Millstein thinks that we won’t reach that point for some time—at least in the US.
The debate whether subsidies to the renewable industry are worth it rages across the world. Though the results of this study are only directly applicable to the US, many rich countries have similar factors at play and are likely to produce similar cost-benefit analyses.

Press link for more: QZ.Com

South Australia to build World’s biggest Solar Thermal Plant. #auspol 

South Australia Will Be Home to the World’s Biggest Single-Tower Solar Thermal Power Plant
South Australia has approved the biggest solar thermal power plant of its kind in the world. The 150-megawatt structure received the green light from government officials this week. The plant will be constructed in Port Augusta. 

The project will provide employment for over 600 construction workers and will provide more than enough energy for the state’s requirements.

[Image Source: Solar Reserve]
Project expects to be running by 2020
The renewable energy project will kick off next year and be completed by 2020. 

The US$510 million project is the latest in a long line of renewable energy projects the state is tackling.

 Wasim Saman, from the University of South Australia, explains “The significance of solar thermal generation lies in its ability to provide energy virtually on demand through the use of thermal energy storage to store heat for running the power turbines.”

 He adds, “This is a substantially more economical way of storing energy than using batteries.”

The most common form of solar power uses solar photovoltaic panels to convert sunlight directly into electricity. 

This method of energy production then requires batteries to store the excess power.

 Solar thermal plants on the other hand use mirrors to concentrate the sunlight into a heating system. 

The method of heating can vary but for the South Australian plant, molten salt will be heated up.
This is a much more economical method than using regular batteries.

 The hot salt is then used to boil water, spin a steam turbine, and generate electricity when required.
Designers of the Port Augusta project say that the plant will have the ability to generate power at full load for up to 8 hours after the sun’s gone down.

 The South Australian project will be modeling itself off another big solar thermal power plant. 

The 110-megawatt capacity Crescent Dunes plant in Nevada was built by the same contractor who will use the US model as the base.

[Image Source: Solar Reserve]

South Australia leading the way in renewables.
South Australia is a world leader in renewable energy. 

This latest project now means that around 40 percent of the state’s entire electricity needs are generated by renewable sources. 

It is hoped that the conversion to solar will also mean a cut in residential electricity costs. 

The new plant costs less than building a new coal-fired power station and works out to a similar cost per megawatt as other renewable sources such as solar and wind power.

Challenges still lie ahead
It isn’t all happy news though. 

South Australia was plagued by electricity blackouts last year and the unreliable renewable sources were blamed. 

Engineering researcher Fellow Matthew Stocks, from the Australian National University, says we still have “lots to learn” about how solar thermal technologies can fit into an electric grid system. 

He explains, “One of the big challenges for solar thermal as a storage tool is that it can only store heat. 

If there is an excess of electricity in the system because the wind is blowing strong, it cannot efficiently use it to store electrical power to shift the energy to times of shortage, unlike batteries and pumped hydro.”

Press link for more: Interesting Engineering

5 Countries are winning the battle against #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Auspol 

These 5 Countries Are Killing It in the Battle Against Climate Change
Raya BidshahriAug 07, 2017

When it comes to climate change, government leaders and politicians must begin to think beyond their term limits and lifetimes. They must ask themselves not how they can serve their voters, but rather how they can contribute to our species’ progress.

 They must think beyond the short term economic benefits of fossil fuels, and consider the long term costs to our planet.


Climate change is considered one of the greatest threats to our species. 

If current trends continue, we can expect an increase in frequency of extreme weather events like floods, droughts and heat waves. 

All of these pose a threat to crops, biodiversity, freshwater supplies and above all, human life.
The core of the problem is that we still rely on carbon-based fuels for 85 percent of all the energy we consume every year. 

But as Al Gore points out in his latest TED talk, there is a case for optimism.

“We’re going to win this. 

We are going to prevail,” he says. “We have seen a revolutionary breakthrough in the emergence of these exponential curves.” 

We are seeing an exponential decrease in the costs of renewable energy, increase in energy storage capacity and increase in investments in renewables.

In an attempt to reverse the negative effects of climate change, we must reduce carbon emissions and increase reliance on renewable energy.

 Even more, we need to prepare for the already-emerging negative consequences of changing climates.
Winning the battle against climate change is not a venture that a few nations can accomplish alone. It will take global initiative and collaboration. Here are examples of a few countries leading the way.
Denmark
Considered the most climate-friendly country in the world, Denmark is on the path to be completely independent of fossil fuels by 2050. With the most effective policies for reducing carbon emissions and using renewable energy, it is also a top choice for international students when it comes to environmental education. The nation has also developed an extensive strategy for coping with the effects of extreme weather.
Note that while Denmark is placed fourth by many rankings, including the ‘The Climate Change Performance Index 2016′, it is actually the highest-ranking in the world. Sadly, there was no actual first, second or third place in the rankings since no country was considered “worthy” of the positions.
China
China is far from being the most environmentally friendly country. Yet the nation’s recent investments in renewable energy are noteworthy. Home to the world’s biggest solar farm, China is the world’s biggest investor in domestic solar energy and is also expanding its investments in renewable energies overseas.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the country installed more than 34 gigawatts of solar capacity in 2016, more than double the figure for the US and nearly half of the total added capacity worldwide that year.
France
Home to the international Paris Agreement and the global effort against climate change, France has for long been a global leader in climate change policy. The nation seeks to reduce its emissions by 75 percent in 2050. Thanks to the production of nuclear energy, representing 80 percent of nationwide energy production, France has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions.
President Emmanuel Macron recently announced that the French government is inviting climate change researchers to live and work in France, with all their expenses paid. The government will be providing four-year grants to researchers, graduate students and professors who are working hard on tackling climate change.
India
The world’s emerging economies have some of the greatest energy demands. India’s current leadership recognizes this and has launched several federal-level renewable energy-related policies. Consequently, the nation is on the path to becoming the third-largest solar market in the world.
As solar power has become cheaper than coal in India, the nation is leading a significant energy and economic transformation. It will be the host of the International Solar Alliance, with the objective of providing some of the poorest countries around the world with solar energy infrastructure.
Sweden
Sweden has passed a law that obliges the government to cut all greenhouse emissions by 2045. The climate minister has called for the rest of the world to “step up and fulfill the Paris Agreement.”
With more than half of its energy coming from renewable sources and a very successful recycling program, the country leads many initiatives on climate change. According to the OECD Environmental Performance Review 2014, it is one of the most innovative countries when it comes to environment-related technology.
Protecting our Home, The Pale Blue Dot
Legendary astronomer Carl Sagan said it best when he pointed out that “The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.”
On February 14 1990, as the spacecraft Voyager 1 was leaving our planetary neighborhood, Sagan suggested NASA engineers turn it around for one last look at Earth from 6.4 billion kilometers away. The picture that was taken depicts Earth as a tiny point of light—a “pale blue dot,” as it was called—only 0.12 pixels in size.
In Sagan’s own words, “The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.”
When we see our planet from a cosmic perspective and consider the fragility of our planet in the vast cosmic arena, can we justify our actions? Given the potential of climate change to displace millions of people and cause chaos around the planet, we have a moral imperative to protect our only home, the pale blue dot.

Press link for more: Singularity hub.com

BP says CO2 emissions unsustainable, warns on global warming.

BP has warned that carbon dioxide emission levels from burning fossil fuels are unsustainable unless the international community unilaterally introduces tougher binding regulations on atmospheric pollution. 

The stark warning from the UK’s second-largest oil company came with the publication on Tuesday of its closely-watched long-term outlook for global energy markets, which predicts that CO2 emissions will increase by 1pc per year, or 25pc in total, through to 2035. 

This rise in pollution would be worse than the current rate, which scientists have said would have a negative effect on climate change. The United Nations is seeking to limit the increase of the average global surface temperature to no more than 2C, compared with pre-industrial levels, to avoid “dangerous” climate change, and will hold a major conference in Paris in December to agree on a firm system for restricting emissions.

Press link for more Andrew Critchlow | telegraph.co.uk


Why Tesla’s battery for your home should terrify utilities.

Earlier this week, during a disappointing Tesla earnings call, Elon Musk mentioned in passing that he’d be producing a stationary battery for powering the home in the next few months. It sounded like a throwaway side project from someone who’s never seen a side project he doesn’t like. But it’s a very smart move, and one that’s more central to Musk’s ambitions than it might seem.

To understand why, it helps to look not at Tesla, but at SolarCity, a company chaired by Musk and run by his cousin Lyndon Rive. SolarCity installs panels on people’s roofs, leases them for less than they’d be paying in energy bills, and sells surplus energy back to the local utility. It’s proven a tremendously successful model. Founded in 2006, the company now has 168,000 customers and controls 39 percent of the rapidly expanding residential solar market.

WHEN YOU HAVE A LOT OF SOLAR, YOU NEED A LOT OF BATTERIES

Fueled by financing systems like SolarCity’s, government subsidies, and a rapid drop in the price of photovoltaics, solar has been growing fast. But with that growth, some of solar’s downsides are coming to the fore. Obviously, the sun isn’t always shining when you need power, and sometimes the sun is shining when you don’t need power. The former is a problem for the user, who needs to draw on the grid when it’s cloudy or dark; the latter is a problem for the grid, which needs to find a place for that excess energy to go. When there’s a lot of solar in the system, it can get hard to keep the grid balanced.

That’s part of the reason that California, with one of the most aggressive renewable energy mandates in the country, recently declared the most aggressive energy storage mandate as well, with a goal of 1.3 gigawatts of storage by 2020. As other states adopt intermittent renewables like solar and wind, they’ll need to install energy storage too, providing a ready and waiting market for Tesla’s batteries.

Press link for more: Josh Dzieza | theverge.com

Tesla Motors, throwing down a major challenge to the global motor industry.

Tesla, which already has a market worth more than half of General Motors, despite having just a fraction of the sales, says its next big market is the battery storage sector, and will release a lithium-ion battery storage produce in the next few months.

Chief technical officer JB Straubel says designs are nearly complete, and production will begin within the next six months.

“We’re going to unveil some of the Tesla home battery consumer battery that will be for you using and people’s houses or businesses, fairly soon,” he told an analysts in a conference to discuss Tesla’s latest results. “It’s really great. I’m really excited about it.”

Tesla, with its Model S vehicle, has broken down the barriers on electric vehicles with its high performance, luxury and extended range (400kms to 500kms), and its success has accelerated the EV efforts of other car makers such as BMW, GM and Ford.

Press link for more: Giles Parkinson | reneweconomy.com.au

‘It is profitable to let the world go to hell’

How depressed would you be if you had spent more than 40 years warning of an impending global catastrophe, only to be continually ignored even as you watch the disaster unfolding?

So spare a thought for Jørgen Randers, who back in 1972 co-authored the seminal work Limits to Growth (pdf), which highlighted the devastating impacts of exponential economic and population growth on a planet with finite resources.

As politicians and business leaders gather in Davos to look at ways to breathe new life into the global battle to address climate change, they would do well to listen to Randers’ sobering perspective.

The professor of climate strategy at the Norwegian Business School has been pretty close to giving up his struggle to wake us up to our unsustainable ways, and in 2004 published a pessimistic update of his 1972 report showing the predictions made at the time are turning out to be largely accurate.

What he cannot bear is how politicians of all persuasions have failed to act even as the scientific evidence of climate change mounts up, and as a result he has largely lost faith in the democratic process to handle complex issues.

Our economic system enriches the most powerful at the expense of the 99%.
In a newly published paper in the Swedish magazine Extrakt he writes:

It is cost-effective to postpone global climate action. It is profitable to let the world go to hell.

I believe that the tyranny of the short term will prevail over the decades to come. As a result, a number of long-term problems will not be solved, even if they could have been, and even as they cause gradually increasing difficulties for all voters.

Press link for more: Jo Confino | theguardian.com

Battery energy storage to free ourselves from the grid.

Those who are following the development and rise of solar energy and battery energy storage will have many reasons to rejoice. The cost of traditional lithium-ion batteries, such as those used by laptops and mobile gadgets are getting cheaper as the technology begins to flood the Australian and international markets.

Battery energy storage previously explored by Tesla
For instance, Tesla’s electric car company, and Panasonic, the electronic giant, have been working closely on reducing the costs of their Li-Ion batteries. The ‘gigafactory’ of Tesla has led many companies to expect Li-Ion batteries that will be available at a third of the price of the current ones.

As a result of this recent development, most people in the solar market are entertaining the big idea of putting solar panels on every roof with an affordable battery energy storage in the basement or the backyard and be free of the grid completely.

Press Link for more: Eddy Buckley | australiansolarquotes.com.au

Can the world live better and curb climate change?

The world can improve living standards for all while cutting climate-changing emissions to keep to an internationally agreed limit for global warming, a team led by the British government said on Wednesday.

It launched an online calculator allowing businesses, governments, researchers and the public to explore how different ways of pursuing economic development to 2050 will shape carbon emissions and rising temperatures.

Even though the world’s population is set to rise to 10 billion by 2050 from 7 billion today, the tool shows it is possible for everyone to eat well, travel further and live in more comfortable homes, without pushing global temperature rise above 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change said.

But to achieve that, we must use energy more efficiently, shift away from fossil fuels, protect forests and make smarter use of land, it added.

Press link for more: World Economic Forum

Energy Revolution is upon us.

Malcolm Turnbull gets it. Last Saturday, after having a test drive of a Tesla Model S electric vehicle in California – an experience he described as ‘exhilarating’ – he declared that an “energy revolution” was upon us.

He noted how battery storage could turn the energy market upside down, reducing peaking power requirements, optimising the use of renewables and in some cases enabling consumers to go off the grid altogether.

“The excitement of technology in the Bay Area is exhilarating…..but not quite as palpable as the jolt you feel when you hit the accelerator!” he wrote. We don’t have a video of Turnbull’s test drive, but if he was in the passenger seat, it might have looked something like this.

For more press link: Giles Parkinson | reneweconomy.com.au