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September 9, 2020






Welcome back to another edition of Snippets.


Renewable generation features this week as the price of wind, both on-shore and more recently off-shore, continue to decrease, along with large scale solar PV.  Ideologically, there are those on the conservation right who will argue that coal and oil will live forever, but the markets are signalling otherwise.


In Australia, some coal fired stations are only running at 50% capacity, which are patently unsustainable, especially given they were designed to run in a steady state, i.e. no ramping up or down and therefore are wearing out faster.


The growth of cheap renewables is now making transformation fuels like hydrogen and ammonia increasingly attractive, as NZ gets ready for hydrogen into it’s heavy road transport mix and researchers are experimenting with ammonia being used in the aeronautical sector.


We wrap up this week with a quick review of our relationship with the natural world.  For example, the impact on having access to nature can increase an individuals IQ and bring a sense of calmness.  Seaweed also features, especially with its attractive potential to make a huge dent in reducing our GHG emissions.





It seems that on a daily basis we are hearing stories about how renewables are out-competing fossil fuels. This article discusses an official UK government study that shows wind and solar are 30-50 percent cheaper than previously thought, the upside of which means electricity from onshore wind or solar could be supplied in 2025 at half the cost of gas-fired power. The days of our electricity generation being dominated by fossil fuels or nuclear seems to be quickly waning Read more.....






When we think of Australia, we think of kangaroos, flies, budgie smugglers and coal fired electricity generation. So, of all places in the world you would least expect to read an article about a decline in coal use for electricity generation, would be in Australia. In Australia the rise of renewable energy is having a devastating impact on coal fired power plants; with a 50% to 60% reduction of run time that is actually threatening their economic viability. Little wonder that BHP is exiting coal. Read more.....






With renewables continuing to become increasingly competitive, the next challenge is finding high density power sources required for heavy trucks and planes. Hiringa Energy (New Plymouth) are partnering with New York based Hyzon Motors to roll out a zero emission hydrogen fuel cell network throughout New Zealand over the next 6 years – one of the first countries in the world to do this. The initial phase comprises 8 refuelling stations with 20 proton-exchange fuel cell powered trucks in 2021 rising to 24 stations by 2025. Read more.....





And zero-emissions aeroplanes could take to the skies 'within years' thanks to British scientists who are developing technology, that with only minor changes to the current engines, will allow them to run on ammonia. Ammonia could be great for short haul flights – albeit as the energy density of ammonia is slightly lower than current kerosene jet fuel, more fuel by volume will be required. Another advantage with ammonia-based fuel is that when combusted it only produces water vapour and nitrogen waste.Read more.....






You’ve heard of carbon credits from planting trees, but now a new carbon removal marketplace is allowing products to be sold as carbon credits. A credit with a purpose or a function if you like. Instead of selling and trading credits related to nature-based solutions, its exchange features industrial businesses that store carbon dioxide in products such as biochar, timber construction and even insulation. The Finnish based marketplace offers a broad scope of carbon capture and storage methodologies.Read more.....






Here in NZ, the environmental charity Trees That Count has partnered with native forestry experts Tane's Tree Trust to launch a CO2 calculator for Kiwi businesses looking to mitigate carbon emissions and give something back to Aotearoa's natural environment. It complements the Trees That Count marketplace and since 2016, more than 500,000 native trees have been funded through the marketplace from over 450 businesses and thousands of individuals. The tool gives businesses a really visible way to do the right thing by the environment and to invest locally. Read more.....






It turns out that having more trees around doesn’t just help mitigate climate change but it can actually make kids smarter and less socially challenged. A new study has found that growing up in a greener urban environment boosts children’s intelligence and lowers levels of difficult behaviour. Analysis of more than 600 children aged 10-15 showed a 3% increase in the greenness of their neighbourhood raised their IQ score by an average of 2.6 points. More reasons to plant trees and create green spaces. Read more.....






Seaweed could play an important part in our future in a number of ways. Seaweed can be used to make synthetic fuels and can be eaten or provide supplements to a person’s diet, including as feedstock for animals (cattle), resulting in reduced methane production by up to 99%. Seaweed is also the most effective natural way of absorbing carbon emissions from the atmosphere and unlike tree planting, does not require fresh water or fertilizers and grows much faster than trees, at up to two feet a day. Read more.....






Covid 19 has impacted our lives in many ways, with international tourism being especially hard hit. Some of us can remember the NZ tourism advert with the tag line, ‘don’t leave home till you have seen the country’. This is also probably a well-overdue moment to reflect on what sort of NZ tourism industry we should aspire to. Do we go back to mass tourism with large volume and small margins or adopt a more sustainable low volume, higher margin operation instead? Bangkok is having this very conversation and so should we. Read more.....







We have a selection of interesting innovation articles this week...

  1. Scientists Hack Photosynthesis to Make Crops Produce More, But With Less Water

  2. This Israeli startup mimics mangroves, coral and oysters to create protective seawalls

  3. Drive the plastic highway? How a California company's innovative repaving process could lead to the 'holy grail' of road construction.














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