- Virgin Atlantic Airways to Fly Commercial Routes in 2014 Using Waste Gas
- Conditions Clearing for Take-Off in US Offshore Wind Power
- Sponsor Solar Panels in Developing Countries with Energy+
- 10 Minutes or Less: Another New Charging System from Nissan
- British Columbians Supportive of Wind Energy as Industry Aims for 2025 Goals
- Re-generation: The Next Wave of Entrepreneurship is in Sustainability
Posted: 11 Oct 2011 01:35 PM PDT
Vowing to halve its carbon footprint, Virgin Atlantic Airways has announced it plans to begin flying commercial routes by 2014 using a waste gas-based jet fuel.
LanzaTech and Swedish Biofuels – partners in the green aviation waste fuel venture – report they are creating this new fuel by capturing, fermenting and chemically converting waste gases from industrial steel production. Virgin Atlantic adds this refining process recycles gases that are typically burned and released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, adding that this overcomes many of the controversial land use issues often associated with producing biofuels.
This development is expected to take the airline beyond its pledge of a 30 percent carbon reduction per passenger kilometer by 2020.
The partners are piloting the technology in New Zealand, and plan to launch a larger demonstration facility in Shanghai this year. Following that, the airline's first commercial flight will be scheduled in China by 2014.
Of note, Virgin Atlantic is the first company to use this fuel, and plans a demonstration flight within 18 months. If the demonstration flights are successful, the airline will commence scheduling commercial from Shanghai and Delhi to London Heathrow. After that, other international routes will be scheduled.
LanzaTech estimates that its process could apply to 65 percent of the world's steel mills. The process can also apply to metals processing and chemical industries, growing its potential considerably further, the company said.
Virgin, LanzaTech, Swedish Biofuels and Boeing are working towards achieving the technical approval required for using new fuel types in commercial aircraft.
As reported today by Environmental Leader, Virgin Atlantic was the first commercial airline to test a bio-fuel flight, according to its president, Sir Richard Branson. In 2008 the company flew one of its Boeing 747 jumbo jets from London to Amsterdam on a biofuel composed of babassu oil and coconut oil.
Tony Tyler, head of the International Air Transport Association and former chief executive of Cathay Pacific, was reported by the New York Times to be "amazed" at the progress made with aviation biofuels. Only a few years ago, he added, the idea of powering planes with biofuel seemed "very pie-in-the-sky and futuristic." But today, he said, "I believe that the most significant leap forward in the industry's environmental performance in the coming years will be the commercial use of sustainable biofuels."
Posted: 11 Oct 2011 12:22 PM PDT
Though well established and growing fast in Europe, offshore wind power has yet to get off the ground – or in the water – in the US. That’s despite the tremendous potential offshore wind holds in terms of supplying vast amounts of clean, renewable electricity to highly populated areas all along the US East, West, Gulf of Mexico and Great Lakes’ coasts.
Pike Research forecasts that investment in US offshore wind power will rise steeply over the next six years, with revenue reaching $104 billion by 2017. That’s a 56% constant annual growth rate (CAGR). They could reach as high as $130.5 billion under different assumptions incorporated in a “more aggressive scenario,” according to Pike Research’s “Offshore Wind Power” report.
"The world's best wind resources are largely untapped because they are located at marine sites that cannot be owned or controlled in the traditional way," notes Pike Research senior analyst Peter Asmus. "At the same time, interest in freshwater offshore wind is also picking up, especially in the Great Lakes in the United States and Canadian Midwest."
The long-term challenge for aspiring offshore wind power project and technology developers and suppliers is to get the cost of electrical power production down close to $0.10 per kilowatt-hour over the next 20 years, according to the report.
Pike recognizes the significantly higher costs of developing offshore wind power – projected at times to be 2x-3x higher. Then again, the returns are also higher, as winds tend to blow steadier and stronger offshore than on. Yet on balance that means project developers will probably need to install larger wind turbines and on a larger scale than has been the case on land.
It also notes that the challenges of developing the nation’s offshore wind resources are different than those that have confronted the development of land-based wind power in the US. Some 70% of the cost of offshore wind power projects is associated with infrastructure, installation and maintenance, as opposed to the cost of the wind turbines, where the ratio is reversed.
Serving the Public Interest
Europe will continue to be the world’s leading developer of, and market for offshore wind power, according to Pike research’s analysts. Europe will account for a whopping 75% of installed global offshore wind power capacity in 2017, the research firm forecasts.
The pieces are just finally start to fall into place for the development of US offshore wind power. The US Dept. of Energy recently announced a $43 million program to jump-start offshore wind power development.
The outcome remains largely uncertain, however. Detractors regularly trot out a litany of claims to forestall development of offshore wind power in the US: large, up-front costs; technological and technical challenges; and even their negative environmental impacts. Are these any greater or worse than drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico, much less the Arctic Ocean?
Clearly, the answer is no, and the US populace would continue to be ill-served if their government representatives do not establish fair, equitable support and incentives for developing a largely homegrown industry with such economic, social and environmental benefits and advantages.
Posted: 11 Oct 2011 10:12 AM PDT
The cost of traditional energy is rising. We look at our monthly electricity bill, our gas bill, at the receipts at the pump after will fill up our cars, and it's there to see – and this is all in first-world countries, where we have it relatively easy. Traditional sources of energy are even more unattainable in developing countries; approximately three billion people (just under half the world's population) don't have access to reliable energy.
Of course, the more birds hit with one stone, the better – to that end, the Norwegian government is launching a program called Energy+ to address not only energy poverty, but also climate change. The program is designed to finance access to renewable energy.
The initiative is well-timed. UN negotiations regarding climate finance for developing countries is going nowhere, and without an agreement on how to pay for something, that something is a non-issue. With Norway's program, developing countries can move straight into clean, renewable energy without getting hung up on finite fossil fuels.
Rasmus Hansson, CEO of WWF-Norway, said: "Ending energy poverty should be part of the solution to climate change, not part of the problem. WWF urges Norway, and other countries, to keep their focus on renewables, the energy of the future – not on the dirty fossil fuels of the past."
Samantha Smith, leader for WWF's global climate and energy work, said "The science is certain – we have no time to lose in switching to clean, safe and renewable energy. Norway's leadership is critical when the UN climate negotiations so far have failed to deliver the money we need for this switch."
Energy+ is scheduled for discussion at a high-level conference attended by the UN Secretary General regarding renewable fuel, fossil fuel, and the lack of energy availability to half the world population.
Source: WWF Global
Posted: 11 Oct 2011 09:25 AM PDT
As long as there are complaints about electric cars, Nissan just isn't satisfied. Having already resolved the bulky home charger issue with a smaller version, Nissan will next tackle the time it takes to charge an EV.
DC quick chargers can take an EV up to about 80% capacity in just thirty minutes – not bad, when the alternative is charging the car overnight. But thirty minutes is still more time than you might want to spend off the road, or waiting in the morning before heading out to wherever. Nissan's new technology, if all goes according to projections, will charge an EV battery completely in 10 minutes – less time than it takes to drive to the gas station and fill up.
Kansai University is the hot spot for Nissan – engineers and researchers there have a capacitor electrode made of tungsten oxide and vanadium oxide. Why that works better than the usual carbon is a mystery to me (and many of you, I suspect), but much like the system from the University of Illinois, it can hold more power and charge faster without screwing up the battery capacity.
Nissan isn't the only Japanese company with super rapid charging technology – last year, JFE Engineering announced it had a 3 minute charging system. Nissan has accepted the challenge and working to get its charging times down as well.
The downside to all of this is that it does none of us any good right now; both systems are a good decade away from commercialization. At least the probable 10-year gap between development and distribution will offer an opportunity to prepare the grid for the new level of power demand. Hey, it could happen.
Posted: 11 Oct 2011 02:57 AM PDT
A recent survey by Oracle Research and the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) said 76% of British Columbians support expanding wind energy as a source of clean electricity within the Canadian province. The poll, done September 26-27, mentioned 84% of respondents want enough energy created within the province to meet demand while not having to import from other sources. Research also found 55% in the poll want new energy sources with minimal environmental impact.
Robert Hornung, President of CanWEA, said that meeting ever-increasing energy demand, addressing lowering greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and supplying low-cost energy is something residents in the province support.
Just as residents are in overwhelming support on wind energy, CanWEA also came out with a report or plan entitled WindVision 2025. The plan is to increase wind energy capacity from 250 megawatts (MW), which is 1 % of BC’s electricty’s demand now, to 5,250 MW or 17% of the province’s demand by 2025.
Currently, sixth overall in installed wind energy capacity in Canada, the report argues that despite BC’s well-known hydro electricity supply, various factors support much more use of wind energy, including: increasing costs with hydro building dams and higher demand by customers.
The report said wind energy as a source of electricity in the province provides positives, thanks to wind power’s dramatically lower cost, lower environmental impact compared to other sources, and local community benefits.
BC has many advantages when it comes to wind energy, including its high potential for offshore wind capacity. Keep your eye on this region.
Image Credit: Some Rights Reserved By James Wheeler
Posted: 11 Oct 2011 02:04 AM PDT
U.S. as Global Innovators
"A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move towards higher levels."- Albert Einstein
Our nation’s economic success has always been based on our technological superiority coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit: In the 1940′s, it was our superior infrastructure and distribution capabilities. In the 60′s and 70′s, we had an explosion of scientific revolutions through the “space race.” And in the late 80′s and 90′s, the technological revolution turned into the internet revolution.
Before the IT revolution, our entrepreneurial spirit and technology reinvented our economy while having a degree of global impact. However, with the internet revolution, we created anew a much bigger phase of globalization that connected so many around the world, allowing them to collaborate and change economics, politics, military, and social affairs.
In 2011, there is no longer a debate regarding the five key issues of sustainability: energy supply and demand, petro-politics, climate change, energy poverty, and biodiversity loss. These issues are based on strong science and to bet against their effect on us is to “bet against 670,000 straight years of data, and to hope that we are going to get lucky this time," as Caltech Energy Chemist Nate Lewis puts it.
In Hot, Flat, and Crowded, Thomas Friedman proclaims that these five key issues regarding sustainability reached their critical mass around the year 2000 and that: ”December 31, 1999, was not simply the end of a century, not simply the end of a millennium, but the end of the period we called the common era — and that January 1, 2000, was actually the first day of a new era. It was day one, year one, of the Energy-Climate Era. It was 1 E.C.E.”
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