Digital Circuit Breakers can Transform Sustainable Electricity

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An often overlooked aspect of sustainable energy is the seemingly simple switching of electricity. Physical switches slow down the ability of repairs on power systems and can even hinder the installation of renewable energy sources. A lot of renewable energy systems (solar, wind, tidal, etc.) fluctuate greatly in the power output which strains switches; this is where digital circuits thrive. With digital switching it is easier to dynamically change power sources and remotely monitor them.

“Instead of using mechanics to switch the power, we apply digital inputs,” Kennedy told Popular Mechanics. “Now I have no moving parts. Now I have the ability to connect things like iPhones and iPads for remote power management, which increases safety and improves efficiency. I can set the distribution panel to a schedule so the flow of power is seamless, unlimited, and shifts between sources automatically. You literally wouldn’t notice. The lights wouldn’t even flicker.”

For a grid-connected solar home, for example, residents sometimes have to disconnect their solar input because traditional power systems (including the circuit breakers) aren’t advanced enough to properly manage multiple power sources that change.

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The State of Energy in Africa

A panel at Collision Conference today looked at the state of the energy grid in Africa. The panellists are involved in bringing sustainable energy solutions to the continent in various ways.

The artist Akon has founded Akoin to help people better deal with currency complications throughout the continent. The profits from the company are then used to fund solar installations so the coin and the continent can run sustainably.

The AKoin Ecosystem unlocks the potential of the world’s largest emerging economy through the creation of a stable currency and innovative, revenue-generating opportunities that stimulate and support youth entrepreneurship, economic stability, and growth across Africa and the world.

Jesse Moore from M-Kopa has built a solar panel company that sells solar energy directly to consumers. They’ve brought electricity to over 750,000 houses and are open to skipping the electricity grid entirely. Customers can’t afford the full installation but they they can afford to pay for electricity as it’s needed without having to connect to a larger system.

The future of sustainable energy in Africa is looking bright!

We can Stop Climate Change Just by Ending Fossil Fuel Usage

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It seems that every month we’re confronted with another study pointing out that climate change is happening faster and worse than projected. This constant news cycle can make people tone it out and ignore the defining issue of our day. Thankfully, we also get tons of suggestions to stop climate change. Today I share with you the simplest way to stop climate change: end fossil fuel use. We have the technology and we have the knowledge. All we need to do to avert a global catastrophe is stop burning dead dinosaur juice.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, used computer models to estimate by how much global temperatures would rise if a fossil fuel infrastructure phaseout began immediately. The lifespan for power plants was set at 40 years, cars an average of 15 years and planes 26 years. The work also assumes a rapid end to beef and dairy consumption, which is responsible for significant global emissions.

In this scenario, the models suggest carbon emissions would decline to zero over the next four decades and there would be a 66% chance of the global temperature rise remaining below 1.5C. If the phaseout does not begin until 2030, the chance is 33%.

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Energy Fund Backed by Bill Gates Only Invests in Carbon Reduction

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On of the richest people on the planet is sick of climate change and has launched a venture capital firm to slow down global warming. Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) funds companies that can make a marked reduction on annual carbon output while also being profitable. Using capitalism to undo what capitalism has caused isn’t a new idea but hopefully it’ll work. So far BEV has funded some really neat initiatives from better batteries to cutting edge biofuels manufactured by plants.

“We are a unique fund with investors who are patient and flexible,” says Rodi Guidero, executive director of BEV. “Our goal is to find the companies that will have the greatest impact on accelerating the energy transition and help them in whatever way we can.”

To help him find those companies, Guidero draws on an in-house group of scientists, technologists, and entrepreneurs, along with a network of 140 academic institutions and large corporations. They provide expertise on the vast range of technologies that BEV is interested in.

To be eligible for BEV’s money, a startup needs to showcase a scientifically sound technology that has the potential to reduce annual global greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 500 million metric tons. Global emissions currently measure about 40 billion metric tons a year.

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Clean Energy Growing in Popularity

Anyone looking at the energy industry instantly notices the growth of clean energy relative to non-renewable sources. Clean energy is getting so popular that nations which you might not think of embracing renewable energy are investing quite a lot into the field. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) recently highlighted seven projects around the world which exemplify the global trend to clean energy.

3. The clean energy transition is happening in Russia too.
“I was in Moscow a few weeks ago. We launched our roadmap for Russia for an energy transition. A lot of people didn’t believe we’d ever do this, but we did this together with the ministry of energy. We have projections that they can quadruple renewable energy in their system by 2030. The minister of energy agreed with that assessment publicly… He said we know the world of energy is going to change, [and] we have to decide if we want to be part of the vanguard of this movement, or if we want to be struggling a few years down the road to catch up with everybody else.”

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Thanks to Delaney!

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