Screw Batteries – Alternative energy doesn’t need them

That’s right. Batteries are great for houses and cars, but that’s about it. For every other purpose there are better alternatives and for large scale reproduction of power. This is the newest and the best.

https://www.wired.com/story/energy-vault-gravity-storage/?utm_source=pocket-newtab

Gravity Could Solve Clean Energy’s One Major Drawback

Finding green energy when the winds are calm and the skies are cloudy has been a challenge. Storing it in giant concrete blocks could be the answer.

In a Swiss valley, an unusual multi-armed crane lifts two 35-ton concrete blocks high into the air. The blocks delicately inch their way up the blue steel frame of the crane, where they hang suspended from either side of a 66-meter-wide horizontal arm. There are three arms in total, each one housing the cables, winches, and grabbing hooks needed to hoist another pair of blocks into the sky, giving the apparatus the appearance of a giant metallic insect lifting and stacking bricks with steel webs. Although the tower is 75 meters tall, it is easily dwarfed by the forested flanks of southern Switzerland’s Lepontine Alps, which rise from the valley floor in all directions.

Thirty meters. Thirty-five. Forty. The concrete blocks are slowly hoisted upwards by motors powered with electricity from the Swiss power grid. For a few seconds they hang in the warm September air, then the steel cables holding the blocks start to unspool and they begin their slow descent to join the few dozen similar blocks stacked at the foot of the tower. This is the moment that this elaborate dance of steel and concrete has been designed for. As each block descends, the motors that lift the blocks start spinning in reverse, generating electricity that courses through the thick cables running down the side of the crane and onto the power grid. In the 30 seconds during which the blocks are descending, each one generates about one megawatt of electricity: enough to power roughly 1,000 homes.

This tower is a prototype from Switzerland-based Energy Vault, one of a number of startups finding new ways to use gravity to generate electricity. A fully-sized version of the tower might contain 7,000 bricks and provide enough electricity to power several thousand homes for eight hours. Storing energy in this way could help solve the biggest problem facing the transition to renewable electricity: finding a zero-carbon way to keep the lights on when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. “The greatest hurdle we have is getting low-cost storage,” says Robert Piconi, CEO and cofounder of Energy Vault.

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Go there and read. More next week.

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Upheavals Caused By Clean Energy – All the tree huggers make it look like pixie dust

By “pixie dust” I mean that a lot of environmentalists make it sound like there will be no chaos from fossil fuel use to renewal energy systems and that is not true. Dislodging fossil fuel will result in job loses, factories closing and possibly the lack of transportation (for example) for chunks of the population. Especially those not preparing for it now. Lives will be lost. This is the fault of capitalism but it is what we have. Also the reverse is true, as demand for clean energy grows, whole resources will be created from scratch (rare earths for instance). The earth will be scarred, employment will be created with much wrenching and tearing. Lives will be lost. Capitalism will prevail. Just think of what happened when oil and gas took over and from the Luddites. This is a Really Long article about all of that and it only scratches the surface.

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-11-30/geopolitics-energy-green-upheaval?utm_source=pocket-newtab

It is not hard to understand why people dream of a future defined by clean energy. As greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow and as extreme weather events become more frequent and harmful, the current efforts to move beyond fossil fuels appear woefully inadequate. Adding to the frustration, the geopolitics of oil and gas are alive and well—and as fraught as ever. Europe is in the throes of a full-fledged energy crisis, with staggering electricity prices forcing businesses across the continent to shutter and energy firms to declare bankruptcy, positioning Russian President Vladimir Putin to take advantage of his neighbors’ struggles by leveraging his country’s natural gas reserves. In September, blackouts reportedly led Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng to instruct his country’s state-owned energy companies to secure supplies for winter at any cost. And as oil prices surge above $80 per barrel, the United States and other energy-hungry countries are pleading with major producers, including Saudi Arabia, to ramp up their output, giving Riyadh more clout in a newly tense relationship and suggesting the limits of Washington’s energy “independence.”

Proponents of clean energy hope (and sometimes promise) that in addition to mitigating climate change, the energy transition will help make tensions over energy resources a thing of the past. It is true that clean energy will transform geopolitics—just not necessarily in the ways many of its champions expect. The transition will reconfigure many elements of international politics that have shaped the global system since at least World War II, significantly affecting the sources of national power, the process of globalization, relations among the great powers, and the ongoing economic convergence of developed countries and developing ones. The process will be messy at best. And far from fostering comity and cooperation, it will likely produce new forms of competition and confrontation long before a new, more copacetic geopolitics takes shape.

Talk of a smooth transition to clean energy is fanciful: there is no way that the world can avoid major upheavals as it remakes the entire energy system, which is the lifeblood of the global economy and underpins the geopolitical order. Moreover, the conventional wisdom about who will gain and who will lose is frequently off base.

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Go there and reeeeaaad. More next week.

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Grid Regulation With Alternative Power – Its almost as important how you turn alternative power off as how you turn it on

Can the Grid run only on Alternative Power? Yes. Can we store enough Alternative Energy to run the Grid smoothly (night and day, whenever)? Yes. Can we turn Alternative Power off if we need to? This video argues, Yes. Again, I do not normally do videos because this is a print based blog. But this video says it better than any article I have ever seen. So:

https://digg.com/video/what-happens-when-islands-makes-way-more-power-than-neededs

 

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Go there and watch. Its only 6 minutes. More next week.

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The Future Is Built In Batteries – Where the structure becomes the storage device

While I have always said the storage is NOT the problem in renewable energy because you can always pump something like water or air during good times and discharge it in bad times. The storage of energy in moving things was always gonna be a problem and batteries were only an interim solution. Now some people are getting a handle on this problem, and I am supper EXCITED about it. This article is real techincal. Sorry.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210322091632.htm

Big breakthrough for ‘massless’ energy storage

Date:
March 22, 2021
Source:
Chalmers University of Technology
Summary:
Researchers have produced a structural battery that performs ten times better than all previous versions. It contains carbon fiber that serves simultaneously as an electrode, conductor, and load-bearing material. Their latest research breakthrough paves the way for essentially ‘massless’ energy storage in vehicles and other technology.

Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology have produced a structural battery that performs ten times better than all previous versions. It contains carbon fibre that serves simultaneously as an electrode, conductor, and load-bearing material. Their latest research breakthrough paves the way for essentially ‘massless’ energy storage in vehicles and other technology.

The batteries in today’s electric cars constitute a large part of the vehicles’ weight, without fulfilling any load-bearing function. A structural battery, on the other hand, is one that works as both a power source and as part of the structure — for example, in a car body. This is termed ‘massless’ energy storage, because in essence the battery’s weight vanishes when it becomes part of the load-bearing structure. Calculations show that this type of multifunctional battery could greatly reduce the weight of an electric vehicle.

The development of structural batteries at Chalmers University of Technology has proceeded through many years of research, including previous discoveries involving certain types of carbon fibre. In addition to being stiff and strong, they also have a good ability to store electrical energy chemically. This work was named by Physics World as one of 2018’s ten biggest scientific breakthroughs.

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Go there and read. It is kinda long too. More next week.

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The Latest In Residential Solar – I love the “solar skin”

I have not talked about Solar for awhile. We plan on getting some Solar Panels on our roof this year and they have exploded in our neighborhood. This is all good. Like I said, it may not be commercial yet, but I love the concept of solar skin. Just saying solar skin, makes me happy.

https://www.solarreviews.com/blog/solar-panel-technologies-that-will-revolutionize-energy-production

Which new solar panel technologies will revolutionize energy production?

Updated

In this post, we take a detailed look at 5 solar technologies that will have the biggest impact on the solar industry over the coming years.

#3 Solar skins

Solar skins are a novel PV technology to integrate custom designs into solar panel systems. The solar skin technology is similar to the ad wraps displayed on bus windows.

Solar panel skin

A comparison of a standard solar panel installation (L) and solar skins on top (R). Image Credits: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) News

Sistine, the manufacturer of solar skins, is testing the technology at the United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory to increase its efficiency. Solar thin-film skins maintain high efficiency due to its selective light filtration advancements. The sunlight falling on solar skins is filtered to reach the solar cells beneath it. As a result, it simultaneously displays the custom image and provides solar energy.

These imprinted custom images, embedded into solar panels, can exactly match your grassy lawns or rooftops of your homes.

Solar skin panels can also be beneficial for businesses or government offices. They can be customized to display business logos, business advertisements, a country’s flag, and so on.

Moreover, solar skins utilize rail-less racking systems, sit lower, have a sleek finish, and hide metal components, giving the panels a super cool look. If panel aesthetics stops you from going solar, Sistine’s SolarSkins might be the solution you are looking for.

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Go there and read. More next week

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Solar Waste, What Shall We Do – I never dodge a bullet

I say the same thing I have said about recycling all along. Store what you can’t recycle right now and recycle what you can now. The best examples is the large Wind Generator Blades (it used to be common batteries). Throwing stuff in the land fill that has no business there messes everything else up. So storing the Blades from the Wind Generators (turbines whatever) in one place…even if you bury them is critical, so that when you find a way to recycle them (and you will) you can go get them. Throwing common batteries in a land fill ( AAs, AAAs, etc) is essentially admitting you will never get them back. Better to store them in abandoned warehouses or something. Even burying them in a battery land fill so you can get them back is better than just throwing them away.

https://www.wired.com/story/solar-panels-are-starting-to-die-leaving-behind-toxic-trash/?utm_source=pocket-newtab

Solar Panels Are Starting to Die, Leaving Behind Toxic Trash

Photovoltaic panels are a boon for clean energy but are tricky to recycle. As the oldest ones expire, get ready for a solar e-waste glut.

This story originally appeared on Grist and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Solar panels are an increasingly important source of renewable power that will play an essential role in fighting climate change. They are also complex pieces of technology that become big, bulky sheets of electronic waste at the end of their lives—and right now, most of the world doesn’t have a plan for dealing with that.

But we’ll need to develop one soon, because the solar e-waste glut is coming. By 2050, the International Renewable Energy Agency projects that up to 78 million metric tons of solar panels will have reached the end of their life, and that the world will be generating about 6 million metric tons of new solar e-waste annually. While the latter number is a small fraction of the total e-waste humanity produces each year, standard electronics recycling methods don’t cut it for solar panels. Recovering the most valuable materials from one, including silver and silicon, requires bespoke recycling solutions. And if we fail to develop those solutions along with policies that support their widespread adoption, we already know what will happen.

“If we don’t mandate recycling, many of the modules will go to landfill,” said Arizona State University solar researcher Meng Tao, who recently authored a review paper on recycling silicon solar panels, which comprise 95 percent of the solar market.

Solar panels are composed of photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sunlight to electricity. When these panels enter landfills, valuable resources go to waste. And because solar panels contain toxic materials like lead that can leach out as they break down, landfilling also creates new environmental hazards.

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Go there and read. Demand that your municipality pass a law that solar panels do not go in the land fill. More next week.

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Elon Musk Throws A Tempertantrum – NOone listens

Really – wouldn’t that be cool? But you know, self absorbed rich young guys with big mouths, the press eats them up. More! More! More! Is he right well? Newsome is no fascist. He is just a little old Democrat. Could the car industry open up? Well probably, slowly. But Elon wants what Elon wants and Elon usually gets. Thus the outburst.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/29/tesla-tsla-earnings-q1-2020.html

Tesla rises as company ekes out a Q1 profit

  • Tesla reported first-quarter results on Wednesday, including a $16 million profit.
  • A Covid-19 outbreak in China forced Elon Musk’s electric-vehicle maker to suspend manufacturing in Shanghai for more than a week in February and in the U.S. at the end of March.
  • Musk and Tesla CFO Zachary Kirkhorn are expected to update shareholders on the impact of the coronavirus on their business so far and their plans to bring production back online in the U.S.

Excerpt:

Musk slammed the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place orders as “unconstitutional” and “fascism” in a profanity-laced tirade on an earnings call Wednesday evening.

He said: “I think we are a bit worried about not being able to resume production in the Bay Area and that should be identified as a serious risk. We only have two car factories now, one in Shanghai and one in the Bay Area.”

And he continued sounding more and more incensed, at one point asking, “What the f–k?”

Musk also ranted about the health orders: “I think people are going to be very angry about this and are very angry. It’s like somebody wants to stay in the house? That’s great, they should be allowed to stay in the house, and they should not be compelled to leave. But to say that they cannot leave their house, and they will be arrested if they do, this is fascist. This is not democratic. This is not freedom. Give people back their goddamn freedom.”

(Leaving a place of residence is not a crime in California under Covid-19 health orders.)

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Go there and listen to loud shouting. More next week.

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The Darkside Of The Green Revolution – Lithium extraction really messes things up

I should very quickly say – the way things are done now. The mining industry, as it functions in the past and now, destroys things no matter what it is extracting – gold, lead or lithium. So if we are going to have a real revolution we are going to have to change the entire extraction industry. This point is larger for me than this article implies because capitalism is the problem. We as a society can achieve a carbon negative atmosphere and humans will still threaten the planet because that it what capitalism does – destroys thing. Still you have to start somewhere.

https://logicmag.io/nature/what-green-costs/?utm_source=digg

Issue 9 / Nature

December 07, 2019

What Green Costs

Thea Riofrancos

Deep in the salt flats of Chile lies the extractive frontier of the renewable energy transition.

Clean energy advocates envision an electrified home running on 100 percent renewable energy with a Tesla parked in its garage, solar shingles gleaming on its rooftop, and a smart meter dutifully collecting usage data and uploading it to the cloud. But swim upstream and eventually you arrive at the extractive frontiers of the renewable energy transition.

It was 8:45 am on the first day of the 11th Lithium Supply & Markets Conference in the basement level of the W Hotel in Santiago, Chile. There was no way for me to blend in. “Providence College” on my name tag rendered me a curiosity. Still, I was glad I remembered to wear lipstick and that my backpack had straps that converted it into a tote.

I found an empty seat in the sea of suits, almost all men but of different ages. They hailed variously from China, Australia, Chile, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Argentina. They were market analysts and prospectors; equipment salesmen and regulators; executives, consultants, and peddlers of information in the notoriously opaque world of lithium, a “space,” in Silicon Valley talk, not quite meriting the word “market.”

As I slid into my seat, the chairman of one of the largest lithium companies in the world, with a sordid past in a corrupt privatization process under Augusto Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship, took to the stage. “Mining is the spine of Chile; mining runs through our veins.” I might have been the only person in the room who immediately thought of Eduardo Galeano’s anti-colonial page-turner, Open Veins of Latin America?—?incidentally penned the same year Pinochet came to power, brutally crushing the dream of democratic socialism in Chile. But I don’t think the chairman meant to call to mind the vampiric iconography of global capital. The dead sapping the living; the blood and sweat and tortured landscapes of extraction, especially in its colonial variant.

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Go there and read. More next week, if there is a next week.

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We Are Going Over The Climate Cliff – At least these people are trying

Natural Gas will be the death of us. Let me repeat that. Natural Gas will be the death of us. Why? Because Capitalists will sell it as a bridge to renewables and humans will die half way across the bridge. Let’s be honest, METHANE is a much more corrosive long lasting green house gas. While using natural gas will decrease the Volume of green houses gases. It will speed up Climate Change. Humans do not want to face up to what is killing us – Greed sped on by a pernicious economic system. If we stopped venting green house gases tomorrow it would be a 100 years before the effects wore off. We are not stopping today, are we?

Illinois offering affordable solar installation for low-income housing

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Go there and read. More next week.

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Rivian Could Be The Car Marker Of The Future – or a Billion Dollar bust

It is so hard to imagine that Bloomington/Normal may be the next Detroit. All that glamor. All those people. Well all those robots and some new people. All the international stylin.  All that money which means banks. It could also be well… a mirage. Still, Amazon is ordering vehicles already. Ford is the leader in self driving cars. This could be amazing. I can hold my breath for 2 or 3 years I guess.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/15/rivian-announces-700-million-investment-round-led-by-amazon.html

Autos

Electric truck start-up Rivian announces $700 million investment round led by Amazon

  • Amazon led a $700 million round of funding in Rivian, a Michigan-based electric vehicle startup.
  • Rivian plans to launch an electric pickup and electric SUV in the U.S. in 2020.

https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/fna/us/en/news/2019/04/24/rivian-500-million-investment-ford.html

Rivian Announces $500 Million Investment from Ford; Partnership to Deliver All-New Ford Battery Electric Vehicle

  • Ford and Rivian form strategic partnership through $500 million minority investment
  • Ford to build all-new battery electric vehicle using Rivian’s flexible skateboard platform
  • The investment is subject to customary regulatory approval; Ford’s Joe Hinrichs to join Rivian’s board of directors

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/rivian-announces-350-million-investment-from-cox-automotive-300915155.html

Rivian Announces $350 Million Investment from Cox Automotive


News provided by

Rivian

Sep 10, 2019, 09:41 ET

PLYMOUTH, Mich., Sept. 10, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Rivian today announced an equity investment of $350 million from global automotive services company Cox Automotive. In addition to the investment, the companies will explore partnership opportunities in service operations, logistics, and digital retailing.

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Go there and read. More next week.

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