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SnippETS for 21 November 2019

November 20, 2019

 

 

Welcome to our latest SnippETS newsletter.

 

In this edition of SnippETS we take a sobering look at what scientists are saying about our changing climate and global energy trends. We then have some exciting news about wind energy in New Zealand and some good news about the seemingly bleak future of coal-fired generation (at least in the US).

 

Following that, we have articles addressing city congestion, the future of heavy transport vehicles and the increasingly low cost of battery storage.

 

Lastly, we discuss the pros and cons of deep sea mining for raw materials that are needed to build household electronics and electric vehicles.


 

To clear up any ambiguity, 11,000 scientists from 153 nations have stated, clearly and unequivocally, that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency. They insist that in order to secure a sustainable future, we must have major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems. The good news is, there is still time for policymakers and business leaders to make the necessary changes to ensure that future generations can enjoy living on planet earth, our only home. Read more.....

 

 

 

 

The International Energy Agency published its annual World Energy Outlook report and this article covers five of the main takeaways. It looks like renewable energy will soon surpass coal, offshore wind is going big and mainstream, SUVs are erasing progress from electric cars, energy efficiency efforts are slowing, and what happens in Africa is crucial. Read more.....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From global to local, Mercury Energy have committed to completing the Turitea wind farm near Palmerston North, making it the biggest in NZ and able to produce enough power to run 375,000 electric cars. Of course, the energy will be available for homes and businesses too! Having more low emissions energy generation can only be a good thing for our climate future. Read more.....

 

 

 

 

 

And in the US some good news too, with the closure of two very large coal plants. The US coal industry has been hit by slowing electricity demand, customers’ preference for low-carbon energy, and competition from solar, wind, and natural gas. The long-term global market for coal plants is unfortunately still strong though, with some less affluent industrialising countries increasing consumption.. Read more.....

 

 

 

 

 

It is common to find large metropolitan areas struggling with air quality and traffic congestion issues. However, there are actions being taken to improve air quality and reduce emissions in some cities, with varying degrees of success. The results are a mixed bag and it appears that the heavier handed approaches may be working the best. Read more.....

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Another way to reduce air pollution and emissions is by electrifying the fleet. With small cars electrification may be possible, but what about heavy transport vehicles? Batteries are expensive, heavy and bulky therefore reducing the carrying capacity of trucks and buses. Enter hydrogen! Heavy transport powered by hydrogen fuel cells is currently being trialled and shows great promise.

Read more.....

 

 

 

 

 

Batteries do have their place in the mix, and one of those places is in large scale storage for electricity utilities. Renewable energy can be cheap, but unless you can store it the benefits are limited to when and if the sun is shining or wind is blowing. However, with large batteries, we will continue to see renewables outcompeting coal and gas. This article delves into the changing face and economics of it all. Read more.....

 

 

 

 

 

In our next series of articles we head under the waves, where the next big wave of mineral mining may occur. Metal cobalt, gold, silver and other valuable materials are needed to produce household electronics and electric vehicles and can be found in abundance on the ocean floor. It will take quite an engineering feat to make it possible in the first place and then we are not sure how much environmental damage will occur. It is hoped that Apollo II a prototype deep sea mining machine may provide some answers. Read more....

 

 

 

 

 

We haven’t got a good track record trying to limit the impacts of onshore mining, so how will we fare under the sea? How will creatures living at extreme depths and in complete darkness be affected by heavy machinery and lighting? As this article suggests, mining in areas of the ocean floor, that have never been touched by civilisation, could have long lasting environmental impacts. Read more.....

 

 

 

 

 

So, we just don’t dive down there, we protect what we can by putting firm rules and regulations in place first. It’s not just about mining on the ocean floor, it’s about protecting fish and other living ocean creatures. Although we need these minerals, we must stop the ocean quality becoming worse through human generated pollution and waste. Everyone has a part to play here - governments, corporations and you and me, to make sure we don’t wreck the deep ocean too! Read more.....

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in September, we featured in our Innovation space  one of the entries for the James Dyson Award -  a plastic substitute made from organic fish waste.  This innovative idea went on to win the global award (and £30,000), so here we update you about this. Read more.....

 

 

 

 

 

And for those of you who like this innovation space, and want something new... read here about carbon negative vodka made from thin air!  Read more....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright of all featured articles lies with the original authors

                     

 

 

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