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Monday, November 28, 2016

UPDATE ON ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT


Whatever happened to Solar Impulse 2?  Including a ten month vacation in Hawaii, after flying nearly 25,000 miles around the world in 17 legs over 15 months from Abu Dhabi to Abu Dhabi, the plane was shipped back to Switzerland.


The Solar Impulse Foundation announced their World Alliance for Clean Technologies at COP22 (Conference of the Parties #22) in Marrakech earlier this month.  Said Bertrand Piccard (below), chairman of the Foundation:

Even if climate change didn’t exist, energy efficient technologies would make sense to create jobs, generate profit and boost economic development, while also reducing CO2 emissions and protecting natural resources    Even if climate change didn’t exist, energy efficient technologies would make sense to create jobs, generate profit and boost economic development, while also reducing CO2 emissions and protecting natural resources.

The U.S. Department of Energy selected AquaHarmonics (their device is in the photo below) of Oregon as the first place winner to received $1.5 million of the Wave Energy Prize.  CalWave Power Technologies of Berkeley won $500,000 and Waveswing America of Sacramento got $250,000.  Ninety-two teams competed.  Scaled prototypes of the finalists were tested at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Carderock, Maryland.

I've long felt that wave power would not work at any large scale, for, save for a very few natural sites that can safely protect the device, storms will destroy most attempts at capturing waves.  The reinforcing costs will become prohibitive.  This is one of those things where I hope I'm wrong, but all my colleagues who have had experience with this technology have also expressed doubts.

Geez, I'm being a killjoy, but energy storage is also having difficulty.  No doubt something is needed to balance the intermittent electricity provided by solar and wind options, but batteries will just not do it.  Lithium batteries in particular will be too expensive.  Pumped hydro appears to be edging ahead in California, but even here, you need a natural site essentially with the right elevation requirements, and they are hard to find these days when people complain about everything.

I'll have a summary article on energy storage soon.

Here we go again, but this time it's not me:  David Victor of the University of California at San Diego, who, in his What a Trump Win Means for the Global Climate Fight, says:

Donald Trump’s ascension to the presidency signals an end to American leadership on international climate policy. With the withdrawal of U.S. support, efforts to implement the Paris agreement and avoid the most devastating consequences of global warming have suffered a huge blow.


You can read his point of view by clicking on the title above.  Joel Stronberg authored Renewable Energy in the Age of Trump:  The Politics of Change -- What Now?  He has a realistic, but non-negative viewpoint.

This morning in the morning paper was another Trump warning.  Apparently, he relishes in being called a climate pariah, who also is a malevolent hater of windmills.  However, here is an article indicating that Bill Gates agrees with Trump on the matter of wind technology, and even in Hawaii people are more and more protesting large wind farms.  Mind you, Gates is supportive of renewable energy R&D, but not willy-nilly commercialization of many sustainable technologies at this stage, a point that makes general good sense to me.  In any case, global warming could well become the climactic torpedo to sink U.S.A. Trump.

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