The UK just went for a record 55 hours without using coal

April 19, 2018 by  
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Coal fueled the world for more than 100 years, but now it’s being pushed out of the market. Recent evidence for that can be found in the United Kingdom , which just set a new record by going nearly 55 hours sans coal. The UKs energy sector went from 10:25 p.m. on Monday to 5:10 a.m. on Thursday without utilizing coal for power generation. Grid data put together by Bloomberg revealed the United Kingdom’s power plants didn’t use coal to help generate electricity for close to 55 hours — the longest stretch of time in recent history. The Independent said this is the first time the UK has been powered without coal for this length of time since the first public-use, coal-fired power plant in the world opened in 1882 in London. The UK set its previous record in October when the nation went without coal for 40 hours. Related: 104% of Portugal’s electricity consumption in March came from renewable energy Wind turbines helped provide energy for the UK during this time; solar panels also helped meet demand. On Tuesday, the country obtained more than 60 percent of electricity from low- or zero-carbon sources: 33.7 percent from wind, 20.1 percent from nuclear , five percent from biomass , 3.3 percent from solar and 0.9 percent from hydro . The numbers were similar on Wednesday. Bloomberg said Britain has installed more offshore wind turbines than any other country, and they described the UK as an early adopter of renewable energy. Traditional power plants in the country are closing permanently, and the UK government aims to turn off all coal power plants by 2025. The UK set a new record of 54 hours and 50mins without #coal fired generation in the UK electricity mix this week https://t.co/knjFLPms2p Expect more records to be broken this summer as coal continues its rapid decline https://t.co/pQdDnipSJ0 pic.twitter.com/hgTP4eEJF5 — Carbon Tracker (@CarbonBubble) April 19, 2018 According to a March 2018 article from Carbon Brief, “Coal now accounts for only 5.3 percent of total primary energy consumed in the UK, down from 22 percent in 1995.” The country’s total carbon dioxide emissions are “as low as emissions were back in 1890.” Via Bloomberg , The Independent and Carbon Brief Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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The UK just went for a record 55 hours without using coal

Scientists reveal new technique to make biofuel from mushroom waste

April 10, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the National University of Singapore have discovered a revolutionary way to transform mushroom waste into biofuel. Despite claims to the contrary, biofuel — typically derived from food crops — is often more environmentally-destructive than it is helpful. This new technique could change that by harvesting energy from waste produced in the process of mushroom cultivation. In a study published in Science Advances , researchers explain how Thermoanaerobacterium thermosaccharolyticum (TG57), a common bacterial byproduct of mushroom cultivation, can be isolated and used to convert plant-based cellulose into biobutanol. Biobutanol is a biofuel that can be used by vehicles designed to run on gasoline. First identified in 2015, the TG57 bacterium strain has been cultivated in various forms to analyze its ability to produce biofuel in a more sustainable manner. “The production of biofuels using non-food feedstocks can improve sustainability and reduce costs greatly,” researcher He Jianzhong told Silicon Republic . “In our study, we demonstrated a novel method of directly converting cellulose to biobutanol using the novel TG57 strain. This is a major breakthrough in metabolic engineering and exhibits a foundational milestone in sustainable and cost-effective production of renewable biofuels and chemicals.” Related: Paris has a new underground – a massive farm for mushrooms and veggies Creating biofuel from waste products is a potential boon for the industry and the environment. Biobutanol holds the most promise because of its energy density, and it can be used directly, without modification, in vehicles designed to run on gasoline. Prior to the study, the high environmental and financial costs of producing biobutanol blocked it from mainstream use. However, the researchers have revealed a widely applicable, straightforward technique that does not require any significant genetic alterations of the bacterium. Someday soon, you may munch on mushrooms with the satisfaction of contributing to greener transportation and a healthier planet. Via Silicon Republic Images via Depositphotos (1)

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HOW TO: Turn your food waste into clean energy

February 21, 2018 by  
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Each year, 1.3 billion tons of food ends up lost or wasted — 46 percent of the world’s garbage. While the global food waste situation is what you’d call a “doozy,” consumers and companies like HomeBiogas are determined to turn food waste into clean, usable energy. Read on to find out how. What Is HomeBiogas? HomeBiogas is one of several successful projects to come about from Kickstarter. The Israeli company, which began its crowdfunding efforts in 2015, focuses on turning everyday food waste into energy for your home. How do they do it? With compact, household-sized biogas digesters that support anaerobic digestion, a process with zero oxygen and hungry bacteria that are ready to dive into last week’s moldy bread. Since the company’s launch in 2015, consumers have responded enthusiastically to their efforts. In fact, they blew past their crowdfunding goal for both biogas products. The second version, HomeBiogas 2.0 , exceeded its initial goal by more than 400 percent. In dollars and cents, that translates to more than $490,000. How Does HomeBiogas Work? OK, so consumers love it, but how does HomeBiogas work? Like the 27 million biogas plants in China, but on a smaller, less commercial scale. The process is alike, however, because every biogas system operates on the same premise — anaerobic digestion. Here’s a breakdown — pun intended — of the HomeBiogas process: 1. A user pours food waste into a funnel, where it enters the oxygen-free tank. 2. Water and bacteria begin digestion. Bacteria can come from a starter kit or from nitrogen-rich substances like chicken manure and shellfish shells. 3. Fermentation produces methane, carbon dioxide, and other gases. 4. Gas enters a storage tank for use via a pipe to your kitchen. 5. Liquid fertilizer becomes accessible via a spout for use in landscaping. In addition to bacteria, sunlight also contributes to biogas. Why? Bacteria love and thrive in heat, which means a well-placed HomeBiogas in a climate with temperatures around 68 degrees Fahrenheit digests food waste at a more efficient rate, which translates to more clean energy for you. What Does HomeBiogas 2.0 Do Better? With the basics of anaerobic digestion established, as well as the processes behind the original HomeBiogas, it’s time to explore how HomeBiogas 2.0 offers an edge over its predecessor: Upgraded efficiency: The new model promises a 50 percent boost to its processes. Increased capacity: HomeBiogas 2.0 doubles its storage with space to hold up to 185 gallons. Improved construction: The latest biogas digestor offers a lighter weight, plus more durable build. Enhanced installation: HomeBiogas 2.0 requires only an hour of your time to install. And if you’re worried about HomeBiogas filling your home with the nose-assaulting smell of decomposing food, forget about it. The team equipped its products with an airtight seal and filter, while using water to submerge food waste in the tank eliminates odor. How Can You Use This Clean Energy? Back in the 2000s, The Black Eyed Peas asked, “What you gon’ do with all that junk?” While they weren’t referencing food waste, there are plenty of ways to use the clean energy from your converted organic junk. Applications for the clean energy and liquid fertilizer produced by a HomeBiogas include: Powering your stove or grill: Cook up to three hours each day. Just place your HomeBiogas less than 65 feet from your kitchen or patio and connect the two with an included pipe. The biogas can connect to a countertop stove or double-burner setup. Fertilizing your gardens: Nurture your gardens with the liquid fertilizer produced by anaerobic digestion. HomeBiogas 2.0 features a user-friendly pouring sleeve, which makes it easy to dispense fertilizer into a water pail. Helping your neighbor: Support families in underserved communities. When you purchase a HomeBiogas 2.0, the company directs some of those funds to install their products in countries like Jordan and Uganda to combat indoor air pollution from cooking fuels. Like solar, wind and geothermal, biogas is a renewable energy source — and one that’s financially viable for consumers. As long as you have access to organic materials, like plants, you can count on the energy from biogas. As an additional benefit, biogas powers itself with pre-existing waste. What Does HomeBiogas Mean for the Future? Our planet wastes an enormous amount of food, yet the efforts of HomeBiogas and consumers around the globe demonstrate there is a motivation to do better and to reduce the waste that’s dominating the world’s landfills. What does that mean for the future? Hopefully that more people will adopt a lifestyle that thrives on clean, green energy. + HomeBiogas Images via HomeBiogas

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Moya Power tests sheeting material to harvest wind power from London’s Crossrail

February 14, 2018 by  
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We can harness the power of wind in a field or on the ocean, but what about in drafty train tunnels? 27-year-old Charlotte Slingsby’s startup Moya Power seeks to generate electricity capturing wind in existing infrastructure, Wired reported . The company employs a lightweight sheeting material to harvest low grade wind power. They have a pilot project underway on the London Crossrail . Slingsby pioneered Moya Power as part of an Innovation Design Engineering master’s program at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art (RCA); the description on RCA’s website describes Moya as a building material able to harvest wind energy in a variety of locations, like bridges or building facades. The statement on the project said, “The printed, semi-transparent sheets are light, low cost, versatile, and scalable.” Related: Pavegen unveils world’s first energy-harvesting smart street in London Wired described Moya as lamellae-covered plastic sheets. Moya Power’s website said the energy harvesting material “is designed to scavenge-off low grade wind energy, which is abundantly found against existing infrastructure . This involves vibrations and low speed, turbulent winds generating power 24 hours a day, which can be mounted on otherwise unused surfaces, hidden from public view.” One of those areas is the London Crossrail . The Moya material has been installed in tunnels , where wind from trains causes protrusions on the sheeting to move to generate electricity. According to Wired, the system is able to generate 10 percent of the power per square meter a solar panel can. Slingsby sees her product as one piece of a future mixture of urban power sources. She told Wired, “If we all live in cities that need electricity, we need to look for new, creative ways to generate it. I wanted to create something that works in different situations and that can be flexibly adapted, whether you live in an urban hut or a high-rise .” + Moya Power Via Wired and Royal College of Art Images via Transport for London Flickr and Moya Power/Royal College of Art

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Moya Power tests sheeting material to harvest wind power from London’s Crossrail

Gravitricity is turning old mine shafts into power generators using giant weights

February 8, 2018 by  
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The coal mining industry is dying (despite what some people would have you think ), and it isn’t coming back. But a new startup is breathing life into mining communities with an ingenious design that uses old mine shafts to generate energy. Gravitricity has devised a giant weight system that drops down into disused mine shafts to create power on demand using gravity. Here’s how it works: “Our patented technology is based on a simple principle: raising and lowering a heavy weight to store energy.” It’s sort of the same principle used to run pendulum clocks, with a weight acting as a power generator to keep the clock running. A weight up to 3,000 tons is suspended in a mine shaft, and energy is generated or expended by lowering and raising the weight. The system is capable of generating up to 20 MW of power in shafts varying from 500 feet to 5,000 feet. It can last 50 years without degradation, and it’s cost-effective because it uses existing infrastructure. In areas where mine shafts don’t exist and solar or wind isn’t effective, a hole could be dug for the system. Related: German coal mine set to become “giant battery” for storing renewable energy Part of what makes Gravitricity’s design so great is that it doesn’t rely on sun or wind, which can be unpredictable. When you need energy, the weight can drop in a second for power on-tap, or be released slowly for sustained energy. And because it doesn’t use a battery for energy storage, you don’t have the problems of disposal and degradation inherent in batteries. Gravitricity is still in the development phase, but the startup just received nearly a million dollars from a grant from Innovate UK. If the system takes off, it could mean jobs and money – along with clean energy – for communities that are struggling as coal mines decline. + Gravitricity Via WAN Images via Gravitricity and Deposit Photos

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Gravitricity is turning old mine shafts into power generators using giant weights

Trump’s 30% solar tariffs could kill thousands of jobs and harm industry growth

January 23, 2018 by  
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The solar industry has been booming. In some states, solar threatens to upend fossil fuel profits , massive corporations are investing heavily and even oil giants are getting into solar . But Trump’s recent move to put 30% tariffs on solar panels could change that, killing up to 23,000 jobs and slowing down – or even stopping – the rapid industry growth. Embed from Getty Images window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’t5MIqytJS5NXEvTSm7y-rQ’,sig:’n4unO-lpiCZMlgG8YdNTqxetJabmbD4NGv7Nw-WrTtA=’,w:’514px’,h:’594px’,items:’886433502′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })}); Yesterday, Trump announced that there would be a 30% tariff placed on all imported solar panels, and all components used to create them. While no one can say for sure what impact this will have on the industry, many experts agree that the move will make solar much less attractive to investors and could cost thousands of jobs. The economic impacts will be felt not only by panel manufacturers but across the entire chain, including installers and companies that manufacture solar supplies. Related: The US solar market grew by a record-breaking 95% last year ICYMI: The Trump administration's decision in the Section 201 solar trade case will cause 23,000 Americans to lose their jobs this year. #SaveSolarJobs https://t.co/7Ssa6CJ2j5 pic.twitter.com/CgxnJEfJhi — Solar Industry (@SEIA) January 23, 2018 Solar has grown at 20% annually and employs over 260,000 people, with an average hourly wage for engineers, electricians and installers of $25 – $29. Obama placed similar tariffs on solar panels, but a loophole allowed Chinese manufacturers to move production to nearby countries. Trump’s move comes at a time when his administration has been working hard to bolster the fossil fuel industry, withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement , opening national parks to mining , and paying lip service to coal miners (without actually improving things for miners themselves ). Via CNBC and Engadget Image via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 ) The proposed tariffs are a direct attack on American workers and the booming solar industry in this country, Via @CNNMoney #SaveSolarJobs https://t.co/eXXHEGxDlM — David Bywater (@DavidBywaterCEO) January 19, 2018 Trump just approved tariffs on imported solar products. Our statement on the misguided move which puts jobs and consumer savings at risk: https://t.co/mOrup52PL5 #SaveSolarJobs pic.twitter.com/v9bhDbMHcw — votesolar (@votesolar) January 22, 2018

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Trump’s 30% solar tariffs could kill thousands of jobs and harm industry growth

24-year-old Yemeni engineer invents mini biogas plants for home use

January 17, 2018 by  
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Some villages in war-torn Yemen still don’t have electricity since the recent conflict started nearly two years ago, according to 24-year-old chemical engineering graduate Omer Badokhon speaking to Reuters . So he invented micro-scale biogas devices to transform trash into cleaner fuel , to combat indoor pollution and slash energy poverty. He was recently among the winners of the Young Champions of the Earth prize from United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and polymer company Covestro , winning $15,000 he plans to use to construct 50 to 80 units. Badokhon could tackle multiple issues Yemen faces with his small biogas devices. The country has faced the biggest cholera epidemic the World Health Organization has recorded, and Badokhon connects cholera with organic waste pollution in the country – which has only worsened during the war. He said in a video organic waste is the primary reason for the cholera, but that garbage could be turned into something useful to help the country with another issue: electricity woes. Related: Off-grid village with game-changing green solutions blooms in the Middle East Badokhon told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, “In some villages, electricity has not been restored since the conflict began in 2015. In Mukalla City where I now live, I remember how desperate I felt trying to complete university assignments by candlelight when power shuts down for four to six hours every day.” More than three million people still cook over open flames in Yemen, according to UNEP , and Badokhon said in another video women and child die each year because of exposure to smoke. His biogas devices will be built locally with fiberglass or plastic . They “enable the rapid decomposition of domestic organic waste, thereby maximizing the amount of biogas produced,” per UNEP. And the remains of the fermentation process are useful too; Badokhon said in a video they can serve as rich liquid fertilizer . During the upcoming eight months, according to Reuters, the devices will be tested in 1,500 rural houses in Sana’a, Ibb, Aden, Hadhramaut, Shabwa, and Taiz. In addition to the Young Champions of the Earth prize money, Badokhon also received $10,000 for research from Yemeni oil company PetroMasila. Via Reuters and the United Nations Environment Program ( 1 , 2 ) Images via the United Nations Environment Program

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24-year-old Yemeni engineer invents mini biogas plants for home use

Turkey poop could offer a potent alternative to coal

November 24, 2017 by  
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Turkeys don’t just offer fuel on a Thanksgiving plate. Two Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers found turkey poop could act as a potent alternative energy source – and could actually replace around 10 percent of coal utilized for electricity generation. Turkey, chicken, and other poultry poop, when treated and converted to solid biomass fuel, could offer an alternative to coal. Biomass comprises 73 percent of renewable energy production around the world, according to a press release on the work, but instead of growing crops for biomass, utilizing turkey excrement could solve two problems. The researchers said in the statement, “Environmentally safe disposal of poultry excrement has become a significant problem. Converting poultry waste to solid fuel, a less resource-intensive, renewable energy source is an environmentally superior alternative that also reduces reliance on fossil fuels .” Related: 6 Ways to Convert Poo into Power They compared turkey poop as biochar and hydrochar; the first is “produced by slow heating of the biomass at a temperature of 450 degrees Celsius in an oxygen-free furnace” and the second by “heating wet biomass to a much lower temperature of up to 250 degrees Celsius under pressure” in a process known as hydrothermal carbonization (HTC). Turkey poop processed as hydrochar seemed like the better option, offering 24 percent higher net energy generation, according to the researchers, who said, “Poultry waste hydrochar generates heat at high temperatures and combusts in a similar manner to coal, an important factor in replacing it as renewable energy source.” The researchers discovered greater temperatures during the HTC process resulted in a reduction of methane and ammonia emissions , although there were increases in carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide . But researcher Amit Gross said, “Our findings could help significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation and agricultural waste.” The journal Applied Energy published the research online this month. Via American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Images via Andrea Reiman on Unsplash and Pixabay

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Atlanta says all new construction must be "EV ready"

November 24, 2017 by  
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Several countries have already stated that within the next decade or so combustion vehicles will no longer be allowed, but here in the United States, the government hasn’t really made any significant mandates around EVs. Except for the city of Atlanta, which recently passed a new law that mandates all new residential homes and public parking facilities to accommodate electric vehicles . The new ordinance requires 20 percent of parking spaces in new commercial and multifamily parking structures to be EV ready, and new residential homes must also be equipped with the infrastructure needed to install EV charging stations. Related: California may ban gas and diesel-powered cars by 2030 “Today, the City of Atlanta has taken a historic step to increase our EV readiness and to ensure we remain a leading city in sustainability. I want to thank Councilmember Keisha Lance Bottoms for introducing this legislation and the Atlanta City Council for their work to pass this ordinance,” Mayor Kasim Reed said in a Tuesday statement . “I am proud of our City’s commitment to energy conservation, as well as our efforts to ensure that EVs and EV charging stations remain accessible to everyone.” The new “EV Ready” ordinance will go into effect immediately. This isn’t the first time that the Atlanta has made efforts to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road. The city already has a fleet of 60 electric vehicles and even its police department has a small fleet of electric vehicles. + City of Atlanta Via Treehugger Images via Honda, Chevy and Ford

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London buses swap out diesel for a coffee-based biofuel

November 22, 2017 by  
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Brits may prefer tea, but their busses will be getting a buzz from coffee. U.K. startup bio-bean , Shell, and Argent Energy have teamed up to fill London’s double-deckers with an innovative new java-based fuel. According to CNN , bio-bean has already brewed up 6,000 liters (1,585 gallons) of the high-octane joe, an amount able to power one city bus for an entire year. So, how is the coffee oil manufactured? As bio-bean shares on its site, the company gathers grounds everywhere from small cafes to Starbucks-like chains to universities and even instant coffee factories. The grounds are then brought to the bio-bean plant where they are dried and coffee oil is extracted. Related: Could coffee help fight cancer? The extracted oil is then blended with other fats and oils to create a “B20” biofuel, which is further mixed with traditional mineral diesel. The new concoction offers a 10-15 percent reduction in CO2 emissions as compared to pure diesel, and prevents the release of any methane that would have occurred had the grounds been sent to a landfill. Notably, the mix does not require a specialized engine and can be used with any diesel bus, making the switch easy. Bio-bean estimates that Britain produces nearly 500,000 tonnes of coffee grounds a year—enough to power a third of London’s entire transport network. At the moment, bio-bean’s plant has the capacity to recycle 50,000 tonnes of grounds a year. Company founder Arthur Kay, however, hopes to scale the project. Kay, in fact, has his sights set on the U.S. where coffee consumption is the highest of anywhere on the planet with 400 million cups downed daily. + bio-bean Via CNN Images via Pixbay and bio-bean

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