Monday, April 1, 2019

David Nield — Huge Global Study Just Smashed One of The Last Major Arguments Against Renewables

Think "money" is the biggie. Think again. Energy is real game changer. 

"Money" is to the fore right now, but soon it is going to be energy. Keep your eye on energy technology. The world is in the process of scaling down carbon-based energy use and scaling up alternatives. 

The industrial revolution took off with the coal-fired steam engine that powered steam ships, and railroads and factories. The harnessing of electricity and coal-fired power plants enabled the proliferation of factories and the widespread use of lighting, lengthening the day. The introduction of petroleum-based energy made automobiles and aircraft possible. The standard living of societies was measurable in the amount of energy use.

Shifting among energy sources and scaling up alternatives to replace carbon is a huge challenge. So is replacing petroleum as transportable energy. Batteries are only one solution. This article sets forth another.

Science Alert
Huge Global Study Just Smashed One of The Last Major Arguments Against Renewables
David Nield


Unknown said...

See also Stanford researchers have developed a water-based battery to store solar and wind energy

Quote: Stanford scientists have developed a manganese-hydrogen battery that could fill a missing piece in the nation’s energy puzzle by storing wind and solar energy for when it is needed, lessening the need to burn carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

And this is without the environmental impact created by dams.

Joe said...

If it turns out that the energy density of batteries can't be made high enough and feasible electric planes can't be made, then you can capture carbon from the atmosphere and turn it back into an energy dense liquid hydrocarbon, and fly planes on that. Sure the plane spews the carbon in the atmosphere but it can be captured back, thus closing the system.
Klaus Lackner has done a lot of work in this area. So the argument that we need to eliminate air travel to eliminate emissions is false.

The preliminary research for making genetically modified bacteria that produces a hydrocarbon fuel as a "waste" product and using them in bio-reactors has already been done. Lots of options here.

People sometimes just have an extraordinarily bad imagination.

Tom Hickey said...

The big challenge is scale, both scaling up new technology and scaling down existing technology as it is replaced. The challenge is to effect the transition to new sources of energy with minimal disruption. This is a huge challenge since it is global and the burden needs to be shared.

Magpie said...


I share your concern about pumped-up hydro and its environmental impact.

By coincidence, here in Australia there has been much talk lately about one such project, the so-called Snowy 2.0 scheme. It deals with other problems with pumped-up hydro:

Yes, there are other limitations besides its environmental impact. For one, the engineering is complex and that's not a particularity of that specific project. As a result, pumped-up hydro tends to be costly, not only financially, but also in terms of resources employed. Think, for instance, of the need to distribute the energy and the loss and investment that long distribution lines implies.

On the other hand, hydro is a tried-and-tested technology. The Stanford battery sounds promising, but is still an untested technology. Personally, I find the possibility it could afford of a less centralised network very attractive. But it remains to be seen if it really works.

Nebris said...

When the storms get big enough, when the flooding gets bad enough, when the heat deaths get numerous enough, the will to shift technologies will manifest.