Archive for the ‘innovation’ Category


Let’s keep pretending the climate will notice if a few hundred wind turbines are dotted around the seas. Better still, let’s make them even more expensive and unwieldy by adding some new technology that we can’t easily service as it’s miles offshore. It’s claimed that ‘brilliant minds’ will be working on this, but it doesn’t take a genius to see the flaws in the plan.
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Siemens Gamesa and Siemens Energy have today announced plans to invest €120m ($146m) in a five-year strategy to unlock the potential of harvesting green hydrogen from offshore windpower, reports Power Engineering International.

The companies are collaborating on a solution to integrate an electrolyzer into an offshore wind turbine as a single synchronized system to directly produce green hydrogen.

Over the next five years, Siemens Gamesa will invest €80m and Siemens Energy €40m in the initiative, with a view to unveiling a full-scale offshore demonstration by 2025/26.

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Nobel prize-winning physicist CTR Wilson


‘Charles Thomson Rees Wilson, CH, FRS (14 February 1869 – 15 November 1959) was a Scottish physicist and meteorologist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention of the cloud chamber.
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The invention of the cloud chamber was by far Wilson’s signature accomplishment, earning him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1927. The Cavendish laboratory praised him for the creation of “a novel and striking method of investigating the properties of ionized gases”. The cloud chamber allowed huge experimental leaps forward in the study of subatomic particles and the field of particle physics, generally. Some have credited Wilson with making the study of particles possible at all.’ — Wikipedia.

A potted biography, including cloud chamber images and a diagram of the global atmospheric electrical circuit, can be found here.

The link to the broadcast script is below the introduction.
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Credit: carsdirect.com


Critics may struggle to stifle a yawn, as battery ‘breakthroughs’ are regularly promised or hinted at, but the actual pace of change in EV battery tech seems quite slow. On the other hand, solid-state batteries may be the best way forward if tests can be successfully turned into full-scale production. The original report headline says: ‘VW and Bill Gates-backed QuantumScape releases performance data…’, so plenty of industrial and financial muscle behind the project. No cost estimates available.
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California-based QuantumScape Corp (QuantumScape), a company focussing on the development of next-generation solid-state lithium-metal batteries for use in electric vehicles (EVs), has released performance data, which it says demonstrates its capability to address fundamental issues holding back widespread adoption of high-energy-density solid-state batteries, including charge time (current density), cycle life, safety, and operating temperature. Autocar Pro reporting.
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The company says a commercially viable solid-state lithium-metal battery is an advancement that the battery industry has pursued for decades, as it holds the promise of a step function increase in energy density over conventional lithium-ion batteries, enabling electric vehicles with a driving range comparable to combustion engine-based vehicles.

QuantumScape claims its solid-state battery is designed to enable up to 80 percent longer range compared to today’s lithium-ion batteries.

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I usually avoid weather modification as a topic as it tends to bring out the ‘chemtrail’ theorists and other assorted window-lickers in force, but this is big enough to warrant an exception. So have at it Talkshoppers, does a project of this size have bad international implications, or are China using technology beneficially to reduce crop damage within their own borders?

This from CNN. As a concept, cloud seeding has been around for decades. It works by injecting small amounts of silver iodide into clouds with a lot of moisture, which then condenses around the new particles, becoming heavier and eventually falling as precipitation.

study funded by the US National Science Foundation, published earlier this year, found that “cloud seeding can boost snowfall across a wide area if the atmospheric conditions are favorable.” The study was one of the first to ascertain definitively that cloud seeding worked, as previously it had been difficult to distinguish precipitation created as a result of the practice from normal snowfall.

That uncertainty had not stopped China investing heavily in the technology: between 2012 and 2017, the country spent over $1.34 billion on various weather modification programs. Last year, according to state news agency Xinhua, weather modification helped reduce 70% of hail damage in China’s western region of Xinjiang, a key agricultural area.

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Porsche 911 of a certain vintage


Basically they will extract CO2 from the air and mix it with manufactured hydrogen. Whether the economics stack up remains to be seen. If not, it could end up as another pseudo-green attempt to curry favour with global climate miserablists. Or as an expensive way to keep a few old cars on the road.
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Porsche and Siemens Energy have announced plans to link arms for a new e-fuel factory, says CNET Road Show.

The German companies say the pilot project will result in the world’s first industrial-scale plant for carbon-neutral synthetic fuel.

The facility will be located in Southern Chile in a bid to capitalize on the country’s strong wind energy, which will be used to power the plant sustainably.

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Scottish offshore wind project [image credit : urbanrealm.com]


Billed as ‘A bright future for Levenmouth’, the claim that switching to hydrogen could ‘save energy customers across Britain billions of pounds’ looks rose-tinted to say the least. Maybe it’s easy to get carried away when you imagine you’re going to save the world, or something.
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Fife has leapt closer to launching the world’s first 100% green hydrogen network with the announcement of an £18 million funding boost, reports The Courier.

Three hundred homes across Levenmouth will be connected to the network, with residents becoming the first in the world to use zero carbon hydrogen for heating and cooking.

Householders will be invited to get involved in the four to five year trial from late next year.

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Solar power stations in space – part 2

Posted: November 19, 2020 by oldbrew in Energy, ideology, innovation
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Credit: NASA


Re our recent article on the idea of space-based solar power stations, a new article at The Conversation tells us the European Space Agency is also looking at this. Another day, another distant green dream, as these extracts from the article suggest. But at least they’re openly admitting renewables alone will never cut the mustard, either in scale or reliability of supply.
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How solar power stations in orbit could become a reality in the coming decades.

Solar power stations in space could be the answer to our energy needs.
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Renewable energy technologies have developed drastically in recent years, with improved efficiency and lower cost. But one major barrier to their uptake is the fact that they don’t provide a constant supply of energy.

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Credit: IEEE Spectrum


Does this by any chance suggest that wind and solar power may not quite be the wondrous energy future our leaders keep trying to hoodwink the public with? No word on costs so far.
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It is thought that energy could be beamed anywhere on the planet, save for the poles, according to the UK Space Agency.

From an idea first mooted in 1941, the UK has launched research into whether solar power in space could be beamed back to Earth as a sustainable energy source, reports Sky News.

The concept was first thought up by science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov; now the UK Space Agency and UK government are aiming to make the idea a reality.

Space-based solar power (SBSP) stations would capture the solar energy emitted by the sun that never makes it to Earth, and beam it back down using lasers to meet energy demands.

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UK energy plant to use liquid air

Posted: November 7, 2020 by oldbrew in Energy, innovation
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Liquid air energy storage: Highview’s 5 MW pre-commercial demonstrator [credit: ModernPowerSystems]


Under the heading ‘Cool air technology for a cooler planet’, the firm behind the scheme says:
‘Our CRYOBattery can deliver anywhere from 20 MW/80 MWh to more than 200 MW/1.2 GWh of energy and can power up to 200,000 homes for a whole day. We do this at half the cost of lithium-ion batteries and release zero emissions in the process.’
The system is intended to run on surplus night-time output from wind farms, but as ever, converting electricity to some form of storage and then back to electricity again is adding yet more costs and complexity to the system.

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Work is beginning on what is thought to be the world’s first major plant to store energy in the form of liquid air, reports BBC News.

It will use surplus electricity from wind farms at night to compress air so hard that it becomes a liquid at -196 Celsius.

Then when there is a peak in demand in a day or a month, the liquid air will be warmed so it expands.

The resulting rush of air will drive a turbine to make electricity, which can be sold back to the grid.

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[credit: green lantern electric]


Would it be churlish to ask what is powering this contraption? ‘Hunting for clean energy’ implies you want to use it exclusively. Now they try to justify the thing as potentially ‘tackling the climate crisis’, which looks like two illusions rolled into one. It took seven years just to build it.
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A pioneering nuclear fusion experiment based in Oxfordshire has been switched on for the first time, reports BBC News.

Mast Upgrade could clear some of the hurdles to delivering clean, limitless energy for the grid.

Fusion differs from fission, the technology used by existing nuclear power plants, because it could release vast amounts of energy with little associated radioactivity.

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Fuel cell bus from Wrightbus


The obvious problem for the imagined ‘hydrogen economy’ is that there isn’t any natural source of hydrogen gas. The viability of using electricity generated only from renewables to convert water into industrial-scale hydrogen supplies is questionable, to put it mildly. Brace for the usual ‘green jobs’ claims having a tendency to be wildly over-optimistic.
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The first zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell-electric double-decker bus has arrived in Aberdeen, reports Route One.

Aberdeen City Council (ACC) says the delivery, part of an £8.3m project funded by ACC, the Scottish Government and the European Union Joint Initiative for Hydrogen Vehicles across Europe (JIVE) project, underlines the city’s role as the ‘energy capital of Europe’ and its commitment to the transition of green energy in a net zero vision.

Hydrogen offers greater range and faster refuelling while maintaining the efficiency of battery-electric equivalents, the council says.

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The plan is to use abandoned coal mining shafts globally as power storage plants, and/or drill their own shafts if necessary. Costs are estimated to be lower than other existing energy storage options (see report for details).
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Gravity has been the center of wonderment for physicists, mathematicians and thinkers of all kinds for centuries, says TechXplore.

In the early 1600s, astronomer Galileo dropped balls from the Tower of Pisa and declared that gravitational acceleration is the same for all objects.

Decades later, Isaac Newton expanded on those thoughts and devised his theory of gravity, that all particles attract all other particles with a force directly proportional to the square of the distance between their centers.

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If the U.S or anywhere else thinks it needs to spend a fortune on energy innovation to meet ‘critical needs’, which may or may not deliver anything useful, what does that say about existing technologies like wind and solar power? This report suggests they’re at least 50% short of reaching the pie-in-the-sky targets of climate alarmist dreamers with existing (zero emission) technology, so they must now try to invent their way out of trouble with what they call ‘advanced energy’. Good luck with that, if they still intend to shun nuclear power. Will the climate notice anyway, whatever they end up doing?
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Research released today recommends that the U.S. federal government triple its annual investment in energy innovation over the next five years to speed clean energy transitions around the world and build advanced energy industries at home, says TechXplore.

The Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia SIPA released Energizing America: A Roadmap to Launch a National Energy Innovation Mission, a detailed guide for federal policymakers to raise energy innovation as a core national priority.

Co-authored with scholars from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), Energizing America is the first in a series of volumes to kickstart a U.S. federal clean energy innovation policy agenda.

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As the report below points out: ‘until we see some output figures the claims are still hazy, and until we see some proof, they are of course just claims’.
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California company NDB says its nano-diamond batteries will absolutely upend the energy equation, acting like tiny nuclear generators, reports New Atlas.

They will blow any energy density comparison out of the water, lasting anywhere from a decade to 28,000 years without ever needing a charge.

They will offer higher power density than lithium-ion. They will be nigh-on indestructible and totally safe in an electric car crash.

And in some applications, like electric cars, they stand to be considerably cheaper than current lithium-ion packs despite their huge advantages.

The heart of each cell is a small piece of recycled nuclear waste.

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Admitting the problem is a start, but not installing the turbines in the first place is obviously the most effective solution. Reducing deaths and injuries would hardly be a triumph.
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Painting one blade of a wind turbine black could cut wind farms’ fatal bird strikes by up to 70%, reports BBC News.

Painting one blade of a wind turbine black could cut bird strikes at wind farms by up to 70%, a study suggests.

Birds colliding with the structures has long been considered to be one of the main negative impacts of onshore wind farms, the authors observed.

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E-truck test route [image credit: transport-online.de]


The bill for such a system would be massive and a lot of fuel duty revenue would be lost. What does it offer to anyone outside the haulage industry?
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Electrification of 7,500 km of the UK’s major road network would enable most lorries to be powered by overhead charging cables, resulting in dramatically reduced carbon emissions, a new report has found.

A team from the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight (SRF) – bringing together heavy vehicle engineering expertise from the Department of Engineering and logistics expertise from Heriot-Watt University and the University of Westminster and a consortium of industry partners—has proposed that building a so-called ‘electric road system’ could be used to decarbonise 65% of UK lorry kilometers traveled by 2040, says TechXplore.

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BYD electric bus, London [image credit: China Daily]


What effect this could have on the life of the bus batteries remains to be seen, but it’s unlikely to be beneficial. The efficiency or otherwise of the power transfer process is also open to question.
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A north London bus garage is to become the world’s largest trial site for a new eco-friendly method of generating electricity, reports the Evening Standard.

Northumberland Park garage is to be transformed into a “virtual power station” – taking energy stored in the batteries of parked electric buses and feeding it back into the electricity network.

Putting energy back into the grid when demand is high and recharging buses when demand is low helps make the network more efficient by balancing the peaks and troughs.

The Government-funded Bus2Grid project will become operational in November and will run for three years.

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Electric storage heating has been around for decades, but this is a bit different, storing power rather than heat. After a predicted 10,000 recharge cycles performance may degrade. The researchers say: ‘Our supercapacitor technology adds value to a “dirt-cheap” construction material and demonstrates a scalable process affording energy storage for powering embedded microdevices in architectural applications that utilize fired brick.’
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Helping turn ordinary bricks into energy-storing ones is PEDOT — poly polystyrene sulfonate — a polymer that stores and conducts electricity, says MEA WorldWide.

The walls of your home are capable of storing electricity, like batteries. It would need two materials: the humble red bricks and plastic, according to scientists who turned ordinary bricks into “smart” ones in their new study.

It opens up the possibility of plugging gadgets directly into American homes.

In fact, bricks are known for absorbing and storing the sun’s heat. And because buildings can take up large amounts of space, researchers from Washington University in St Louis wondered if it can also store electricity. So they began testing the feasibility of the idea.

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Nikola Tesla in the lab with a few million volts of electricity overhead.
[image credit: Wikipedia]


Sounds interesting, but of course experiments don’t always go according to plan – as Tesla well knew.
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A New Zealand-based startup has developed a method of safely and wirelessly transmitting electric power across long distances without the use of copper wire, and is working on implementing it with the country’s second-largest power distributor, reports New Atlas.

The dream of wireless power transmission is far from new; everyone’s favorite electrical genius Nikola Tesla once proved he could power light bulbs from more than two miles away with a 140-foot Tesla coil in the 1890s – never mind that in doing so he burned out the dynamo at the local powerplant and plunged the entire town of Colorado Springs into blackout.

Tesla’s dream was to place enormous towers all over the world that could transmit power wirelessly to any point on the globe, powering homes, businesses, industries and even giant electric ships on the ocean.

Investor J.P. Morgan famously killed the idea with a single question: “where can I put the meter?”

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VW ID.3 [image credit: Alexander Migl @ Wikipedia]


The car is about the same size as VW’s Golf model but weighs 200 kilograms more due to the battery, which has an 8 year guarantee. What is guaranteed is not clear. List prices for most versions are well in excess of 30,000 euros, but subsidies are on offer. Don’t all rush at once…
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Volkswagen ID.3 latest news

Even before the Volkswagen ID.3 goes on sale, it has managed to pick up an award – from carwow!

The ID.3 collected the Most Wanted award at the 2019 carwow Car of the Year awards, says Green Car Congress.

This award is given to the brand that has the most-read news story here on carwow – and the ID.3 scooped that accolade by some margin.

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