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Thursday 27th February 2020

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Smart Energy Summit Begins Monday the 17th

Next Monday marks the start of the Smart Energy Summit in Austin, Texas, running through Wednesday of that week. The event will be hosted by Parks Associates, a market research and consulting company, at the Omni Hotel in Austin. The [...]

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  Renewable Energy News

Perovskite May be an Important Aspect of Future Solar Panels

Photo: Wikipedia A new mineral is being used for solar panels that could greatly improve the efficiency of solar panels. Perovskite is a calcium titanium oxide mineral found in the Ural Mountains of Russia in the 1800’s. Excitement about this mineral has grown due to its efficiency, unusual properties, and its low cost. Perovskite reacts to a wider range of visible light frequencies, ultimately meaning it can convert more sunlight to energy than a typical silicon-based Photovoltaic (PV) cell. PV panels are currently seeing efficiency rates of around 19%-21% with the possible limit of around 29%. Perovskite panels could see efficiency rates as high as 35% or more. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced funding to support Research and Development for PV energy applications, including perovskite. It is currently cheaper to produce Perovskite but it is less durable than traditional silicon-based photovoltaics. Hybrid panels could allow for greater panel efficiency while still delivering a long life. Written by Justin Stanphill

By |January 21st, 2020|

60-Second Science is a Great Way to Consume Science Information on the Go

Scientific American 60-Second Science podcast is a great resource for obtaining a conversational knowledge of various scientific studies and happenings. A recent episode highlights science and technology news from around the globe from Spain’s uncovered Dolmen of Guadalperal due to the summers powerful drought to the discovery of a new species of electric eel in Brazil. Scientific American is the longest continuously published magazine in the United States having been around for 170 years. 60-Second Science is a great way for people on the move to learn about important scientific news occurring around the world, in a way that is easy and palatable to the average non-scientist and professional researcher alike. Add this podcast to your repertoire of science information.   Written by Justin Stanphill

By |January 15th, 2020|

RENEW Wisconsin’s Ninth Annual Renewable Energy Summit Jan. 16 in Wisconsin

Non-profit RENEW Wisconsin hosts their ninth Annual Renewable Energy Summit January 16 in Madison, Wisconsin (WI), where more than 400 renewable energy sector experts and attendees will address this year’s theme for the state, “2020 Vision: The Path to 100% Clean Energy,” at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. Held from 7:30 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. on Thursday, the summit will focus on the state’s future in renewable energy, and the steps required to make that vision a reality. Attendees—a mix of industry experts, government officials, utility professionals, advocates, and students—can participate in workshops, panels, and networking opportunities. This year’s presenting sponsors are Arch Electric, Invenergy LLC, and Zerology. The eco-friendly Monona Terrace venue is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certified structure first designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. This year’s keynote speaker is Katherine Hamilton, Chair of 38 North Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in business development and policy services for companies and organizations in the renewable energy industry. Hamilton’s speech will focus on the global renewable energy industry, before explaining how Wisconsin can accelerate its progression in clean energy. The summit will commence with brief “101” courses on renewable energy technologies and the electrical grid, before moving on to policy initiatives and explanations of successful renewable energy initiatives in Wisconsin. These will include presentations from Antonio Butts, Executive Director of the community development-focused Walnut Way Conservation Corp., and Scott Anderson, an engineer-turned-elementary-school-teacher who engages his students in real-life green energy projects to encourage stewardship. Other summit panels will focus on alternatives to the current petroleum-focused energy industry, such as biogas, wind, and solar energy, as well as the changes in education, energy storage, and energy distribution systems that Wisconsin will need in order to make 100% renewable energy a reality. Some of the summit’s many enlightening speakers include WI state senator Robert L. Cowles, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and Lincoln Lande, the Senior Director of Business Development at EDF Renewables. A variety of forward-thinking businesses and organizations will attend the summit, including such entities as Sunrun, ENGIE North America, and SC Johnson. The full, detailed schedule can be seen here. A full list of speakers can be found here. A list of organization attendees can be found here. Registration can be found here. Written by Dilawar Naqvi

By |January 14th, 2020|

BEST PRACTICES: Spain’s Repsol is First Fossil Fuel Energy Giant to Pledge Net-Zero Emissions by 2050

              Spanish oil and gas company Repsol S.A. recently announced plans to be the industry’s first net-zero greenhouse gas emitter by 2050, as well as the first such company to include their customers’ emissions in their measurements. Accounting for clients’ emissions produced by power plants and transportation vehicles that use their products, Madrid-based Repsol is poised to be the first company in its field to meet all three scopes of greenhouse gas emissions as defined by the global Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol). Repsol, one of the smaller global oil and gas giants, operates in 37 countries, including the United States, with a world-wide product sales reach of 90 countries. The GHG Protocol is the world’s most utilized greenhouse gas accounting and reporting standard for companies and organizations. The Protocol entails different greenhouse gas emissions reporting scopes: • Scope One comprises a reporting entity’s direct greenhouse gas emissions; • Scope Two comprises the entity’s indirect emissions resulting from consumption of purchased electricity, steam, or heat; • Scope Three comprises the indirect emissions that do not fall under Scope Two, such as the reporting entity’s clients’ emissions from use of the entity’s products, or the emissions created during production of materials that the reporting entity has purchased. To meet the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 2015 Paris Agreement goals and to help accelerate the decarbonization of the changing gas and oil economy, Repsol confirmed their new multi-energy business strategy by marking down their gas and oil reserves by $5.3 billion and pivoting towards clean energy investments that so far have increased Repsol’s renewable energy portfolio by 40%. They will continue to search for natural gas and oil, but plan to focus on value over volume, according to a recent Repsol press release. With a focus on the circular economy ideal, the company will double production of vegetable oil-derived, high-quality biofuels by 2030. They are committed to exploring clean energy and have already begun development of wind power and photovoltaic solar power projects. Written by Nicole Foulke

By |January 13th, 2020|

Cryogenic Energy Storage Can Store Energy Without Fossil Fuels or Batteries

Photo: Highview Power The British company Highview Power Inc. has developed a process to store energy for the grid without the need for fossil fuels. The system involves cooling air, storing it efficiently, and using the re-gasification process to drive a turbine and create electricity without combustion. The Cryogenic energy storage process cools air to its liquid state (-320 degrees Fahrenheit). Then, when power is needed, Re-gasification occurs, causing a 700-fold expansion in volume which allows provides the pressure necessary to drive turbines. Highview is currently able to store enough power for 200,000 homes for a full day. The most ideal location for installing the liquid air energy storage system is at abandoned coal-fired power plants where there is the ability to easily connect to the grid. The company is currently developing the first long duration liquid air energy storage system in the US in Northern Vermont. The electricity storage industry is growing, and future looks promising for Highview Power. Written by Justin Stanphill

By |January 9th, 2020|
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  Climate Change News

Researchers at the University of Bath Have Developed a Mobile Solar-Powered Desalination System

Researchers have designed a system that can desalinate ocean water. The system uses Ionics to separate salt from water and is powered by solar. Desalination on large scales typically uses a large amount of energy, costs vasts amounts of money, and has unintended environmental impacts. A small-scale system, used strategically, could avoid these negative aspects. “the prototype desalination unit is a 3D-printed system with two internal chambers designed to extract and/or accumulate salt. When power is applied, salt cations (positively charged ions) and salt anions (negatively charged ions) flow between chambers through arrays of micro-holes in a thin synthetic membrane. The flow can only happen in one direction thanks to a mechanism that has parallels in mobile-phone technology. As a result of this one-way flow, salt is pumped out of seawater. This contrasts with the classical desalination process, where water rather than salt is pumped through a membrane.” – Bath University Eventually, mobile units could be deployed in remote areas lacking clean water as well as disaster areas where water resources have been affected or in short supply. Currently the system can remove 50% of salt from the water. In order to have safe drinking water, about 90% of salt needs to be removed. The researchers think with collaboration and better materials, this could be achieved. The researchers expect the technology could be rolled out in the next 5 years.     Written by Justin Stanphill

By |February 18th, 2020|

Researchers Have Found a Way to Make Graphene Out of Trash

Scientists at Rice University in Houston TX have found a way to create Graphene by using waste. The process, named flash graphene, works by heating carbon-containing materials to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat this intense creates graphene in 10 milliseconds. This graphene can then be used in a wide range of products. Graphene is one of the world’s strongest materials. It is generally used to enhance the strength of other materials including metals and plastics. Graphene is also conductive to both electricity and heat making it a versatile substance used in an enormous amount of technology applications. Graphene is currently complex to create and uses slower chemical processes. This process is quicker and uses waste that would otherwise breakdown, emitting carbon into the atmosphere.  When graphene created by Flash Graphene is used in applications like concrete, it allows those industries emit less carbon by needing less concrete as a result of adding graphene to the mixture. Creating graphene with food waste has the potential to be another option as a waste management solution. Currently between 30%-40% of food is wasted in the United States, according to the USDA. Solutions like Flash Graphene and Waste to Energy have the ability to use this waste in a way that is environmentally friendly while also creating new industries.     Written by Justin Stanphill

By |February 11th, 2020|

BEST PRACTICES: Microsoft Corp States Ambitious Goal – Carbon Negative by 2030

      Technology behemoth Microsoft, based in the United States (U.S.), made its position on corporate sustainability clear with a bold pledge late January - to be carbon negative by 2030, and further, a 2050 goal to eliminate all of the carbon the company has introduced since its inception in 1975. Many companies have started with pledges of carbon neutrality, but Washington-based Microsoft has set a far more challenging goal. Or, as Microsoft president Brad Smith calls it in his January 16 company blog post: “[the] world’s next moonshot.” Smith urges agreement with lead climate scientists that the world population must take immediate action to curb the 2 trillion metric tons of greenhouse gas that humans introduced into the atmosphere since the First Industrial Revolution of the 18th century . Writes Smith, climate experts agree that humanity must eventually reach a net zero emissions goal - meaning that the global population must remove the same amount of carbon that it releases each year. “‘This will take aggressive approaches, new technology that doesn’t exist today, and innovative public policy,’” he writes. “‘It is an ambitious - even audacious - goal, but science tells us that it’s a goal of fundamental importance to every person alive today and for every generation to follow.’” How will the company achieve their goals? Senior associate and carbon capture expert James Mulligan of the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Food, Forests, and Water Program recently told that Microsoft’s target is challenging but completely necessary on a global scale to preserve the planet. Further, Mulligan added, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates that humans must oust billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere by 2050 to prevent the rise in global temperature. “We need not only Microsoft to be doing this, but other companies and governments at the national, state, and local levels,” he told Currently the technology to do so exists but is insufficient for the goal at hand; there must be more technologies, and they must also be less expensive. To read more about Microsoft’s pledge: Written by Nicole Foulke

By |February 10th, 2020|
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