Norway shoots for 100% electric short-haul flights by 2040

January 18, 2018 by  
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More than 50 percent of new car sales in Norway were electric vehicles in December, according to Electrek . Now the country aims to take the electric revolution to the skies. Norwegian airports public operator Avinor wants all their short-haul flights to be electric in just over 20 years. CEO Dag Falk-Petersen told Agence France Presse (AFP) they’re hoping “to be the first in the world” to switch over to electric air transportation . Every short-haul airliner should be electric by 2040 in Norway, Avinor said this week. Falk-Petersen told AFP, “We think that all flights lasting up to 1.5 hours can be flown by aircraft that are entirely electric.” He said that would include all domestic flights and trips to nearby Scandinavian capitals. Related: Eviation Aircraft unveils all-electric plane with 600-mile range 2.4 percent of Norway’s greenhouse gas emissions come from domestic air transportation – and when international routes are taken into account the figure is over double that. Falk-Petersen told the AFP, “When we will have reached our goal, air travel will no longer be a problem for the climate , it will be a solution.” There are other benefits to electric flight besides lowered carbon emissions – such as reduced operating costs. Falk-Petersen also said electric flight would halve noise levels at least. Avinor will explore intermediary technologies, like hybrid fuel-electric options or biofuels , before making the switch to all-electric. The company recently teamed up with the Norwegian Air Sports Federation to purchase the first electric aircraft in Norway from Pipistrel . The Alpha Electro G2 is a two-seater aircraft with a range of 130 kilometers, or just over 80 miles. Falk-Petersen said in Avinor’s press release on the purchase that lower operating costs could have an impact on ticket prices as well. AFP reported Avinor also aims to start a tender offer to trial a commercial route with a 19-seat electric plane beginning in 2025. Via Agence France Presse and Electrek Images via Avinor ( 1 , 2 )

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Norway shoots for 100% electric short-haul flights by 2040

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

Substantial swaths of globe face desertification without climate action – new study

January 2, 2018 by  
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Limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels could reduce desertification of substantial swaths of Earth, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change . The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016 is theoretically designed to ensure temperatures reach “well below 2 degrees Celsius” — but the United States, a leading contributor to climate change , rescinded its participation last June under President Donald Trump. “Our research predicts that aridification would emerge over about 20-30 percent of the world’s land surface by the time the global mean temperature change reaches 2ºC,” Manoj Joshi, lead researcher from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, told The Washington Examiner . “But two-thirds of the affected regions could avoid significant aridification if warming is limited to 1.5ºC.” More than 20 percent of the world’s population would be affected by extreme drought without action, according to the report; Central America, Southeast Asia, Southern Europe, Southern Africa and Southern Australia would be hardest hit. The UN’s Green Climate Fund was established to ensure developed countries that spew the most greenhouse gases into the atmosphere contribute funds to help less developed countries, which are likely to suffer the most, adapt to and mitigate the effects of a warming world. Related: Stephen Hawking says Trump decision to leave Paris accord could induce irreversible climate change Before the Trump administration announced the US would stop making contributions to the fund, the country had committed to a contribution of less than $10 per person, according to the New York Times . Considering how much the US contributes to climate change, that sum pales in comparison to Sweden’s $59 per capita. But for Donald Trump, $10 per person was too steep a price to pay to slow down what leading scientists like Stephen Hawking warn is one of the gravest dangers humanity has ever faced. Here’s Trump in a recent tweet showing a cringeworthy lack of understanding of climate science: In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2017 Beyond being just plain wrong, Trump’s scientific illiteracy is dangerous; not only does he promote industries that send even more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, he encourages his base to adopt the kind of wrong-thinking that could derail the kind of climate action that could have life-saving results. “The world has already warmed by 1ºC. But by reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere in order to keep global warming under 1.5ºC or 2ºC could reduce the likelihood of significant aridification emerging in many parts of the world,” said Su-Jong Jeong from China’s Southern University of Science and Technology, and a participant in the study. Drought is nothing to scoff at. It could lead to water and food scarcity, disease and war, among countless other consequences. It behooves all of us to arrest its deadly advance. + Nature Climate Change Images via DepositPhotos – Kalahari Desert , Desert Dune

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Substantial swaths of globe face desertification without climate action – new study

Consumers in Germany were paid to use electricity this holiday season

December 26, 2017 by  
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The cost of electricity in Germany has decreased so dramatically in the past few days that major consumers have actually been paid to use power from the grid. While “negative pricing” is not an everyday occurrence in the country, it does occur from time to time, as it did this holiday weekend. This gift to energy consumers is the result of hundreds of billions of dollars invested in renewable energy over the past two decades. This most recent period of negative pricing was a result from warm weather, strong breezes, and the low demand typical of people gathering together to celebrate. Germany’s temporary energy surpluses are a result of both low demand and variably high supply. Wind power typically makes up 12 percent of Germany’s power consumption on a daily basis. However, on windy days, that percentage can easily multiply several times the average. The older segment of Germany’s energy portfolio, such as coal plants , are not able to lower output quickly enough. Thus, there is a glut of electricity. On Sunday, Christmas Eve, major energy consumers, such as factory owners, were being paid more than 50 euros (~$60) per megawatt-hour consumed. Related: First public ultra-fast EV charging station in Europe is now operational Germany is not the only country that has experienced negatively priced power. Belgium, France, the United Kingdom , the Netherlands and Switzerland have all had to face the fortunate problem of too much energy. European countries are often able to share excess power with each other through the grid, though the system is far from perfect. This challenge highlights the essential need for affordable battery storage technology. With battery storage, countries will be able to save excess power in an energy bank, ready to be deployed in an emergency or simply returned to citizens in the form of cheap or even free energy. Via the New York Times Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Consumers in Germany were paid to use electricity this holiday season

New Arval HQ uses geothermal and solar energy to achieve complete power self-sufficiency

December 26, 2017 by  
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The new headquarters for car rental company Arval uses geothermal and solar energy to achieve complete self-sufficiency and a zero-emission status. Pierattelli Architetture designed the building with huge photovoltaic steel wings lined with over 1000 flexible solar panels to maximize solar-collecting capabilities. The architects designed the headquarters , known as the Photovoltaic Bolt, as a Climate House Class A building without emissions. The complex is characterized by huge photovoltaic wings with about 1000 solar panels , realized with a steel frame. Together with the panels installed on the roof, these structures can generate enough power to activate the geothermal pumps in the subsoil and make the building completely energy self-sufficient. Related: OVG’s TNT Centre is an Energy Positive, Zero Emission Office in The Netherlands The office spaces and common areas are distributed across 3 floors and a basement, accommodating about 200 employees per floor. Spaces are articulated around a central dorsal on a north-south axis to provide an east-west direction and guarantee optimum sunlight positioning. Natural light is available throughout the complex. The architects placed ceiling lights of different dimensions to guarantee maximum diffused lighting capability. Large open spaces and colorful furniture help humanize the spaces and enhance socialization. Color coding by program makes navigation more intuitive and fun. + Pierattelli Architetture Photos by Max Lisi

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Hot electron research could open up greater efficiencies for solar energy

December 26, 2017 by  
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Hot electron research is heating up solar and renewable energy research, according to the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory . Nanoscientists there uncovered quicker ways to convert power from light to energetic or hot electrons – and their methods could allow for higher efficiencies for solar power. Argonne researchers and collaborators created hybrid nanomaterials – smaller than the width of human hair – “to harness the full energy of photons,” according to the laboratory . The result was what are called hot electrons that “carry the same amount of energy as a photon that strikes nanomaterial components” and could lead to large advances in photovoltaics and photocatalytic water splitting — where materials turn solar energy into hydrogen fuel . Related: SunPower’s new solar shingles are 15% more efficient than conventional photovoltaics Senior scientist and study co-author Gary Wiederrecht said in their statement, “In larger particles, you see very few of these energetic electrons with energies near the photon energy. So you need a smaller particle.” The team zeroed in on metals because they absorb a lot of light, key to increasing the amount of energetic electrons in a material that’s been lit up. They simulated the material to determine what conditions would create the biggest number of hot electrons, and settled on silver nanocubes and gold films divided by aluminum oxide spacers. The nanostructure can crank out hot electrons better than others, according to Argonne. Wiederrecht said, “One of the key advances is our ability to produce energetic electrons over a very broad spectral range – from the ultraviolet through the visible and into the near infrared.” The journal Nature Communications published the research online in October. Scientists from Duke University, the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, and Ohio University contributed. Via Argonne National Laboratory Images courtesy of Matthew Sykes, Argonne National Laboratory, Shutterstock/Triff and Shutterstock/siro46 and via Depositphotos

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Hot electron research could open up greater efficiencies for solar energy

Macron offers 18 scientists the chance to "Make Our Planet Great Again"

December 12, 2017 by  
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France’s president Emmanuel Macron had an answer to President Donald Trump’s decision to tug America out of the Paris Agreement : invite scientists to research climate change solutions in his country instead. The Make Our Planet Great Again initiative now has its first class: 18 scientists from around the world. They’ll move from institutions like Princeton University, Stanford University, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to work in France. Macron announced the 18 grants with French research minister Frédérique Vidal right before the One Planet Summit , a meeting convened by Macron, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to work towards climate action . 12 of the 18 scientists were based at American research centers, laboratories, or universities. Others come from institutions in Canada, Spain, India, the United Kingdom, Poland, and Italy. Related: Macron and Schwarzenegger throw shade at Donald Trump in new climate video Thank you for your answer to this first call, your decision to move and come to Paris. Here you have a hub to do more. pic.twitter.com/TFoGRLG5J8 — Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) December 11, 2017 One of the scientists is University of Plymouth professor Camille Parmesan, who hails from Texas and was a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Prize awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for her work as a lead author. She said Make Our Planet Great Again is “absolutely fabulous, and a very appropriate response to Trump pulling out of the Paris accords.” Bravo à tous ceux qui ont répondu au projet #MakeOurPlanetGreatAgain . Vous allez nourrir la vitalité dont nous avons besoin ! pic.twitter.com/X9t0sXdFd4 — Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) December 11, 2017 The French government is offering three to five year grants of up to 1.5 million Euros, or around $1.7 million, each, with a goal of attracting around 50 climate researchers. Over 1,800 scientists expressed interest. Of those, 450 were considered eligible and 255 turned in applications. 90 were invited to offer proposals, working with a French institution, and 57 proposals were turned in to the French National Research Agency. An international panel comprised of nine members reviewed the proposals. France will go through a second round of proposal evaluations next year, with Germany, which joined the project and committed 15 million Euros, or around $17.6 million. You can see the full list of the 18 winning scientists here . Via Science Magazine Images via Emmanuel Macron Facebook and Depositphotos

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Macron offers 18 scientists the chance to "Make Our Planet Great Again"

Scientists find the Earth’s constant hum is best heard from the ocean floor

December 12, 2017 by  
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European scientists have determined that the Earth’s unceasing humming is best heard from the ocean floor , presenting opportunities to better understand this mysterious phenomenon. Although the sound is far below the human hearing threshold, the Earth is constantly humming. While scientists have been aware of the Earth’s humming since 1959, with more definitive research emerging in 1998, the source of the sounds remains a mystery. Nonetheless, recent research using ocean-bottom seismometer stations has provided scientists with a clearer picture of the phenomenon than ever before. “It’s like taking a piano and slamming all the keys at the same time,” said Spahr Webb of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, according to National Geographic . “Except they’re not nice harmonics. They’re oddball frequencies.” The researchers, who hail from various earth science institutes across Europe , searched through seismometer records gathered from an area that stretches more than 1,200 square miles to the east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean . Using this data, the team determined two high-quality seismometer stations from which it extracted the sound of a humming Earth. However, at 2.9 to 4.5 millihertz, the vibrations are nearly 10,000 times lower than the frequencies that humans can detect. From this data, scientists were able to determine that the loudness of the hum does not change over time, contradicting previous studies that documented a range of amplitude for the sound. Related: Everything we know about the Earth’s mantle is completely wrong A better understanding Earth’s humming may prove invaluable to creating a more comprehensive map of Earth’s interior, which is usually only able to be studied during earthquakes . Although the recent study has not definitely determined the source and nature of Earth’s humming, it has clarified the phenomenon and offered opportunities for further research. “To better understand where the signal comes from, we believe that observing oscillations from the ocean bottom can help,” said study co-author Martha Deen, according to National Geographic. The most recent study credits atmospheric turbulence and ocean waves with causing the sounds, though this is far from conclusive. Via National Geographic Images via Depositphotos (1)

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America’s first private high-speed train could take 3M cars off the roads

December 11, 2017 by  
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America isn’t known for high-speed rail travel. But a new express train project taking off in Florida could shake up that perception. Brightline , owned by Florida East Coast Industries , will be the country’s first private, high-speed rail service, and will allow people to travel from Fort Lauderdale to Miami in half an hour, on trains powered by diesel electric engines. Floridians could soon get around Southeast Florida in around an hour aboard Brightline. The $3 billion project could take up to three million cars off the roads, on trains the company says were “designed with green in mind” with diesel electric engines that are quieter and spew less emissions . They’ll operate in Florida’s densest population corridor, where over six million people live and tourists continually visit. Related: Amtrak purchasing new high-speed trains to speed up travel between New York, Boston and Washington DC Brightline will start transporting travelers from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale this month, and in early 2018 into downtown Miami . Phase 2 will take people all the way to Orlando . Much of Brightline’s marketing revolves around ease, advertising frequent departures and the ability to book on the fly. They say rideshares will be waiting at their modern stations, and while traveling people can take advantage of free WiFi. All Aboard Florida obtained state approval earlier this year to sell bonds to finance Brightline, and said no public money will go towards paying for it. The Brightline project is the first test into an American foray into high-speed rail, according to Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions director John Renne. The vehicle speeds still won’t be as fast as some trains in other countries. Brightline trains will travel at 120 miles per hour (mph) at their fastest, but during the rollout they’ll operate at around 80 mph. The company has not yet confirmed ticket prices; a 2015 study they commissioned suggested it could be around $16 to go from Miami to West Palm, which is around $10 more than the price to journey on a government-run train on a similar route. + Brightline Via Brightline and NPR Images via Brightline and Brightline Twitter

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Wildfires in California now larger than NYC and Boston combined

December 11, 2017 by  
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The wildfires raging throughout Southern California are now so fierce and widespread they cover a land area larger than Boston and New York City combined. The Thomas Fire, the largest of the six blazes, covers 230,000 acres, making it the fifth largest wildfire in modern Californian history. Firefighters are struggling to make progress against the inferno, with containment of the Thomas Fire shrinking from 15 percent to 10 percent on Sunday. The fire’s spread has been aided by powerful, dry Santa Ana winds and a lack of rainfall , which are fairly typical of the Southern California coastal region. “Every single year, we have ideal conditions for the types of wildfires we’re experiencing,” ecologist Alexandra Syphard at the Conservation Biology Institute told Wired . “What we don’t have every single year is an ignition during a wind event. And we’ve had several.” Related: The fearless dog who refused to leave his goats during the Santa Rosa wildfire “The problem is not fire,” Syphard added. “The problem is people in the wrong places.” While wildfires were a normal occurrence before the development of Los Angeles and the rest of Southern California, they would typically only occur once or twice a year. Human activity in one of the most populous regions in the United States has increased the rate of wildfires, which has damaged the local ecology. “We’ve lost a lot of our natural heritage [to wildfires],” US Geological Survey research ecologist Jon Keeley told Wired . As the effects of climate change continue to become more pronounced and powerful, these ferocious wildfires may become ordinary occurrences. “With climate change, some scientists are saying that Southern California is literally burning up,” said California Governor Jerry Brown, “so we have to have the resources to combat the fires and we also have to invest in managing the vegetation and forests … in a place that’s getting hotter.” Via CNN and Wired Images via Depositphotos , US Fish and Wildlife Services  and Glenn Beltz/Flickr

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