Archive | Renewable energy

Solar freakin’ roadways would be hugely expensive and won’t work

even-cooler

There are so many things wrong with solar freakin’ roadways; like cost, practicality, and durability, it’s difficult to know where to start. Here’s are some of the major points. Watch the video for more.

Price is a huge issue. Glass panels themselves are expensive. On top of that must be added the price of embedded processors and electronics in the panel, the ginormous cost of connecting the panels to the grid along the roadways, the steep cost of burying power and data lines, and of course, actually building the roads. New electrical infrastructure would need to be build alongside solar panel roads so the power could be sent elsewhere. This inevitably means new, big transmission lines everywhere.

Solar roadways must provide traction, just like regular roads. Will wet or icy glass road panels provide proper traction for braking and turning? Want to bet your life on that during an ice storm when the semi in front of you starts fish-tailing? The raised parts of the glass panels will wear down after prolonged usage, making the surface slippery indeed. Dirt and gravel is stronger and more abrasive than glass and will accelerate the process. Glass will become opaque, cutting down on efficiency of power creation.

Solar roadways cannot melt snow off them in winter during storms because the roads will be covered with snow and thus no power would be created. Plus, melting ice takes large amounts of energy. Snow plows are much more efficient. But would snow plows even be able to be used on solar roadways without damaging the glass due to scraping? I doubt it.

Tiles will inevitably come loose. Water will seep into the road, causing erosion. Asphalt doesn’t have this problem, and is 99% recycled now.

Driving a little bitty tractor on the glass panels as a demo is not sufficient. Try it with hundreds of loaded semis each day for several months, then see what the road looks like.

The Indegogo video shows the inventors shoveling waste colored glass into a wheelbarrow as an example of recycling. However, colored glass is not what is needed for solar panels. The glass needs to be clear. Further, they clearly do not have the facilities needed to turn waste glass into roadway tiles at any kind of scale.

Colored LEDs will be almost impossible to see during bright sunlight. Light pollution at night from thousands of roads with sparkly lights will be severe. Would you want to live on a street that had ever-changing lights all night long? Didn’t think so. And why do roads need lights on them anyway?

Parking lots with solar panels as the pavement seem to be a swell idea until your realize that cars will be parked on top of the panels during the day, thus cutting way down of power generation.

Solar roadways are a wonderful idea. However, they are completely impractical.

Posted in News, Renewable energy, Solar power

S&P quantifies climate change risk for nations

climate-change-vulnerability

Credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s rates nations vulnerability to climate change based on population living below 16 feet elevation, how climate change will affect their agriculture, and whether the country is preparing. This is not a theoretical exercise. Sooner or later these findings will impact bond ratings. Countries at higher risk will pay more interest on their bonds, insurance comapnies will pay more in claims, and utilities will be negatively impacted.

Interestingly, the US, Canada, and Europe are among the least affected areas. India and Indonesia are among the most severely threatened.

Posted in Renewable energy

Grease rustlers. Hippies wanting free biofuel or organized crime?

grease

Restaurant grease is highly prized, because it can be used to create biofuel. Businesses that used to charge to pick up grease sometimes now pay for it instead – if it’s still there and hasn’t been stolen by grease rustlers, that is.

“You can pull in and drive off in five minutes. It can be $500 a night, $2,500 a week,” said Carrillo-Miranda, 37, a beefy man in a black T-shirt and jean shorts. “Even if your truck gets impounded, that’s $500. You’re still ahead $2,000 for the week.”

Interestingly, many legit grease haulers say they got started by stealing grease. There is a technology war going on too. Storage barrels are getting harder to break into, locks are stronger, and video cameras can record thefts.

Posted in Renewable energy

Floating solar power on wastewater treatment plant has big advantages

floating-solar-power

A wastewater treatment plant in Australia will use floating solar photovoltaic panels to decrease evaporation and to increase energy. The water cools the panels, allowing them to last longer and work at greater efficiency. The panels will cover 90% of the water surface, cutting down on evaporation. Wow. A double win. Let’s hope this technology spreads to water treatment panels everywhere and maybe even to reservoirs.

The solar panels are supported by buoyant polyethelene pipe and steel pontoons and construction is not all that different from rooftop solar.

 

Posted in Renewable energy, Solar power

Solar panels in space could beam power back to earth via microwave

llustration: John MacNeill

llustration: John MacNeill

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency proposes installing ginormous solar panels in space then beaming the power down to us by microwave. If this proves to be feasible, then energy shortages could disappear.

JAXA’s technology road map calls for work to begin on a 100-kW SPS demonstration around 2020. Engineers would verify all the basic technologies required for a commercial space-based solar power system during this stage. Constructing and orbiting a 2-megawatt and then a 200-MW plant, the next likely steps, would require an international consortium, like the ones that fund the world’s giant particle physics experiments. Under such a scenario, a global organization could begin the construction of a 1-GW commercial SPS in the 2030s. It would be difficult and expensive, but the payoff would be immense, and not just in economic terms. Throughout human history, the introduction of each new energy source—beginning with firewood, and moving on through coal, oil, gas, and nuclear power—has caused a revolution in our way of living.

Posted in Renewable energy, Solar power

Solar Wind Energy Tower may be built near Mexico border. I’m skeptical

solar-wind

The Solar Wind Energy Tower, promoters say, can produce power 24/7 in hot dry areas using recycled water. Pumps spray water at the top of a ginormous 1,200 foot diameter, 2,250 ft tall tower. Hot, dry air evaporates the water. The air inside the tower becomes cooler and heavier than outside air, creating wind speeds up to 50 mph, which then powers multiple turbines. San Luis, Arizona has just approved construction of a $1.5 billion structure.

Can this be built? Will the company find financing and pass regulatory and NIMBY hurdles? We shall see. Those commenting in an article by The Atlantic are openly skeptical, especially since the technology has not been proven at scale. And, um, what happens when birds get sucked into the turbines?

So, in this tower the moist air is heavier than the dry air? When did they learn to do that? Moist air used to be less dense where the airplanes fly.

I find it hard to believe people are falling for this.

“When water vapor content increases in the moist air the amount of Oxygen and Nitrogen decreases per unit volume and the density decreases because the mass is decreasing.”

The farce is strong with this one

From the company:

Solar Wind Energy’s Tower is unique in that it does not have any operational limitations in terms of time. It’s capable of operating around the clock, 24 hours per day, and seven days per week. Whereas there are operational limitations with solar collectors that work only when the sun shines, and with wind turbines that work only when the wind blows.

It also has the ability to be operated with virtually no carbon footprint, fuel consumption, or waste production. It generates clean, cost effective and efficient electrical power without damaging effects.

Posted in Renewable energy, Solar power, Wind turbines

Smart house by UC Davis / Honda

smart-home

Treehugger has detailed specs, photos, and videos of this innovative smart house. It has passive solar, complex heat pumps, LED lighting, solar power, software that controls power coming in from and out to the grid, and an electric car.

This is where the idea of the smart house makes sense for the average homeowner and builder. Who cares if your fridge is talking to your washing machine; what matters is that your house is talking to your car and working together with it to make them both net zero energy and net zero carbon, dealing with our two biggest sources of CO2, the house and the car.

honda-smart

Posted in Renewable energy, Solar power

Build Tesla factory at Salton Sea to use lithium from recycled brine

saltonsea

The inland, saline Salton Sea in California is in desperate condition, filled with dead fish and toxins for agricultural runoffs. If Tesla built their planned battery manufacturing gigafactory there, they could extract lithium from the brine to use in the batteries. Plus, they could create much of their own power from wind and solar. The factory would create 6,000 jobs in an area that really needs them. It’s a bit of a longshot as there is plenty of competition from other areas.

Let’s hope it happens. A big manufacturing plant would revitalize the area, create lots of subsidiary businesses, and help efforts to save the Salton Sea.

Posted in Renewable energy

Solar bridge in London now operational, Blackfriar’s Bridge

Blackfrairs-Bridge

Blackfriar’s Bridge in London, part of a railway station, now has 4,400 solar PV panels and generates 50% of power needed for the station. It is the largest solar bridge in the world. Construction was a bit tricky, as the panels were installed atop an aging Victorian era bridge while trains ran underneath. Solar PV, clearly, can work anywhere, not just in baking deserts.

During the renovations, the railway station was also fitted with other energy saving measures such as a rain harvesting system and sun pipes that will provide natural lighting throughout the building.

Posted in Renewable energy, Solar power

US kills IPPC climate change proposal to help poor nations

Photo: Gruenenrw on Flickr

Photo: Gruenenrw on Flickr

US hypocrisy over climate change is nauseating. Our government bleats sanctimoniously about stopping global warming then kills calls for funding poor nations in the IPPC report. Poor nations are the biggest victims of climate change yet the least responsible. The World Bank estimates helping poor nations deal with global warming will require $100 billion a year. The IPPC report mention this in all versions except the final version.

The need for $100 billion in crisis funds to aid poor nations was removed from the 48-page Summary, the only document that will be read outside the scientific community.

The U.S. led the push to remove the statement.

Thus, we have gasbags like Secretary of State John Kerry babbling about how we must stop climate change while he and his ultra-wealthy ilk work secretly to make sure it never happens. As Secretary of State it is inconceivable Kerry wasn’t responsible for removing the IPPC statement.

Your three take-aways from this material should be:

1. There will never be international cooperation, because the rich will never pay a dime to offset anyone’s cost to deal with this crisis.

2. Any nation can embark on a Zero Carbon energy economy the minute it wants to.

3. The rich will have to be moved aside to solve the climate crisis. And by that I mean forcefully.

Posted in Climate change, Renewable energy

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