In order to avert climate catastrophe we’re going to have to make boring changes to our built infrastructure. Politicians find it hard to argue for these sorts of enhancements because voters don’t get to see a ribbon cutting ceremony; however changes to infrastructure can make a massive difference. In the USA alone enhancing electrical transmission over power lines can reduce carbon emissions comparable to the entire chemical industry. And power lines are boring. As we find ways to use power lines (and other existing infrastructure) we need to encourage and reward politicians who want to improve them to save our planet.
Technical losses are the simplest to address through the deployment of more advanced technologies and by upgrading existing infrastructure, both for long-distance transmission of power and distribution at the local level. Improvements in transmission can be made, for example, by replacing inefficient wires, using superconductors that reduce resistance in wires, and thus lost energy, and controlling power flow and high-voltage direct current.
Similarly, improvements in distribution can be achieved by better managing the load and distribution of power, as well as how distribution lines are configured. Innovation, such as adopting digital technologies for routing power flows, can also play a role.
Solutions for nontechnical losses are more challenging and may only partially cut associated emissions. The causes of high losses are diverse and can originate in, for example, extreme events, such as the hurricanes that struck Haiti and Puerto Rico in recent years, or war, or a combination of weak governance, corruption and poverty, as seen in India. For either type of losses, countries with large shares of fossil fuel generation and the most inefficient grid infrastructure can cut the greatest emissions and reap the largest environmental benefits from reducing transmission and distribution losses.
Not to be outdone by other nations, France has announced that the country will eliminate use of coal for electricity by 2023. Yesterday we looked at Canada’s plan to phase out coal plants by 2030, which in Canada caused concern. In France, there’s little debate that we need to stop using coal in our power plants.
It’s fantastic to see so many nations stopping their reliance on coal and switching to renewable energy sources!
“We need carbon neutrality by 2050,” the French President continued, promising that coal will no longer form part of France’s energy mix in six to seven years’ time.
France is already a world leader in low-carbon energy. The country has invested heavily in nuclear power over the past few decades and now derives more than 75 per cent of its electricity from nuclear fission. It produces so much nuclear energy, in fact, that it exports much of it to nearby nations, making around £2.5 billion each year.
In Brazil a recent energy auction has shown that wind power is cheaper than natural gas in the country, and also a better investment opportunity. The competitiveness of sustainable energy sources continues to impress everyone (even with the subsidized resource-extraction industries), it’s only a matter of time until other sustainable energy options get this cheap.
They even expect the cost of wind power to decrease in the coming years!
EPE president and chief executive Mauricio Tolmasquim said the auctions show that wind and natural gas are competitive, predicting wind prices will continue to fall in Brazil.
“That wind power plants have been contracted at two digit prices, below 100 reals per MWh, showcases the energy market competition through auctions,” he said. “That wind power could reach these lows versus natural gas was unimaginable until recently.”
The energy auctions for a total of 92 projects were the first in Brazil for 2011, and also featured biomass, hydro-electric and natural gas projects.
Investments amounted to 11.2bn reals in total, for 3,962MW of energy that is slated to start generating in 2014.
Solar panels have to endure a lot of temperature variations be it from bright sun to cloud to rain so the panels need to be rather durable. Some smart people have figured a way to keep the ambient temperature of the solar array low b placing the panels over water.
The floating solar power units, called Liquid Solar Arrays (LSA), use concentrated photovoltaic technology where a lenses direct the light onto solar cells and move throughout the day to follow the sun.
The company says the advantage to floating a solar power plant is that it erases the need for expensive structures to protect it from inclement weather and high winds — when rough weather comes along, the lenses just submerge. Floating on water, whether it be the ocean, a lake or a tiny pond, also keeps the solar cells cool, which increases their efficiency and lifespan
Trains are a great transit solution and are efficient at moving people and goods. Trains are really a green way to travel.
In Belgium, they are taking this green form of travelling and making it even better by powering the trains using solar power.
More than 16,000 solar panels will be installed on the roof of the high-speed rail tunnel stretching just over 2 miles long. The tunnel is primarily used by the high-speed train connecting Amsterdam and Paris via Brussels.
The roof’s total surface area is 50,000 m2, roughly equivalent to 8 football fields. The installation should generate an estimated 3.3 MWh of electricity per year.
The installation commenced this summer on the tunnel’s northern side. Project completion is scheduled for December 2010. The total investment budget is $20.1 million.
Infrabel, the Belgian railway infrastructure manager, will use the green energy in the Antwerp North-South junction (including Antwerp Central Station) and to power both conventional and high-speed trains running on the Amsterdam-Brussels-Paris line. With this project Infrabel has re-emphasized its belief in renewable energy as a viable alternative, and complement, to conventional energy sources.