Emergent Futures Tumblelog

This is the Tumblelog of Paul Higgins and Sandy Teagle - Futurists from Melbourne and Brisbane in Australia. Go to Emergent Futures to see more or follow on Twitter at FuturistPaul . If you right click on the pictures, titles or links in these posts you will be able to go to the original story on the web. If you click on comments for each post you can either read what others have said or add your own comment via Disqus. If you click on the date of a post it will take you to a single post view where you can copy the web link if you want to send it to someone else. If you click on the tags it will take you to other stories from Emergent Futures with the same tag.

smarterplanet:

A proposed high voltage electrical cable running across the floor of the North Atlantic Ocean to tap Iceland’s surplus volcanic geothermal energy would become the world’s longest underwater electrical cable, if it goes ahead. The cable would be a significant step towards a pan-European super grid, which may one day tap renewable sources as far afield as Scandinavia, North Africa and the Middle East. It’s argued that such a grid would be able to widely transmit energy surpluses from active renewable sources, thereby alleviating the need for countries to use (or build) back-up fossil fuel power stations to cater for peaks in demand when more local renewable sources aren’t particularly productive.

If a European super grid comes to fruition, energy surpluses will be big business. So it’s hardly surprising that both Germany and the United Kingdom are jostling for position at the other end of the Icelandic cable, with Norway and the Netherlands also having been mooted as potential connectees. That would necessitate a cable at least 745 miles (1198 km) in length, making it easily the longest electrical cable in the world.

» via ars technica

via infoneer-pulse:

Posted at 4:41am and tagged with: energy, environment,.

8bitfuture:

New solar cell technique could more than double efficiency.

A joint Australian/German research team have developed a way to boost efficiency of solar cells up to a record breaking 40% efficiency. Current panels have around 12-17% efficiency.

Called photochemical upconversion, the process captures energy that is normally lost in solar cells.

“We are able to boost efficiency by forcing two energy-poor red photons in the cell to join and make one energy-rich yellow photon that can capture light, which is then turned into electricity,” Associate Professor Schmidt said.

“We now have a benchmark for the performance of an upconverting solar cell. We need to improve this several times, but the pathway is now clear.”

Posted at 1:49pm and tagged with: tech, technology, solar, energy, innovation,.

8bitfuture:

New solar cell technique could more than double efficiency.
A joint Australian/German research team have developed a way to boost efficiency of solar cells up to a record breaking 40% efficiency. Current panels have around 12-17% efficiency.
Called photochemical upconversion, the process captures energy that is normally lost in solar cells.

“We are able to boost efficiency by forcing two energy-poor red photons in the cell to join and make one energy-rich yellow photon that can capture light, which is then turned into electricity,” Associate Professor Schmidt said.
“We now have a benchmark for the performance of an upconverting solar cell. We need to improve this several times, but the pathway is now clear.”

smarterplanet:

Making Cheaper, Better Windmills | Fast Company

GOAL: Cheaper, Better Windmills

PROJECT: Makani Airborne Wind Turbine (aka the Flying Windmill)

Thesis
Wind power can be cheaper than solar and greener than coal, which bodes well for the $77 billion (and counting) annual market. But turbines are clunky and expensive—both huge barriers to adoption. So what if they soared like kites?

Method
Makani built a carbon-fiber wing, with triblade propellers to mimic traditional windmills. The gizmo, which flies in circles, is tethered to the ground by a wire that transmits the electricity its propellers generate. Onboard sensors and a computer chip work automatically to direct its path. “Once the blade gets high enough, it can coast without help from a motor,” says CEO Corwin Hardham. “It flies by hitting the wind flow perpendicularly, like a kite.”

Posted at 6:30am and tagged with: innovation, energy, tech, technology, wind,.

smarterplanet:

Making Cheaper, Better Windmills | Fast Company
GOAL: Cheaper, Better Windmills
PROJECT: Makani Airborne Wind Turbine (aka the Flying Windmill)
ThesisWind power can be cheaper than solar and greener than coal, which bodes well for the $77 billion (and counting) annual market. But turbines are clunky and expensive—both huge barriers to adoption. So what if they soared like kites?
MethodMakani built a carbon-fiber wing, with triblade propellers to mimic traditional windmills. The gizmo, which flies in circles, is tethered to the ground by a wire that transmits the electricity its propellers generate. Onboard sensors and a computer chip work automatically to direct its path. “Once the blade gets high enough, it can coast without help from a motor,” says CEO Corwin Hardham. “It flies by hitting the wind flow perpendicularly, like a kite.”

climateadaptation:

A major new study has quashed fears that onshore windfarms are causing long-term damage to bird populations, but found new evidence that some species are harmed when windfarms are built.

The study by conservationists into the impacts on 10 of the key species of British upland bird, including several suffering serious population declines, concluded that a large majority of species can co-exist or thrive with windfarms once they are operating.

But the study, the largest carried out in the UK into the impact of onshore windfarms on bird life, also found strong evidence that some species suffered serious harm while windfarms are being built.

The Guardian

Posted at 4:39am and tagged with: Environment, risk, energy,.

As demand for renewable energy increases, wind turbine blades are increasing in size, leading to longer blades that can achieve larger swept areas. Yet, gravity-induced bending loads on blades create dramatic increases in dynamic stress, heightening market demand for a material that reduces blade mass while retaining strength.

Posted at 9:09pm and tagged with: nanotechnology, energy, Environment,.

Wooden batteries

a paper in Science, by Grzegorz Milczarek of Poznan University of Technology, in Poland, and Olle Inganas of Linköping University, in Sweden, may prove important. For these two researchers propose making one of a battery’s three components, its cathode, out of the waste from paper mills.


Full Story: The Economist

Posted at 5:30pm and tagged with: innovation, energy,.

Wooden batteries


a paper in Science, by Grzegorz Milczarek of Poznan University of Technology, in Poland, and Olle Inganas of Linköping University, in Sweden, may prove important. For these two researchers propose making one of a battery’s three components, its cathode, out of the waste from paper mills.

Full Story: The Economist

futurescope:

Ultrathin and lightweight organic solar cells with high flexibility

The only way that solar power is ever going to contribute an appreciable amount of energy to the betterment (and cheaperment) of society is if we plaster solar panels on everything, everywhere, all the time. And we might just be able to do it now, with this new generation of panels that are thinner than a strand of human hair by a factor of 20.

Thin doesn’t just mean lightweight (although these panels are very lightweight), it also means flexible. At 1.9 micrometers thick, the plastic foil cells are, for all practical purposes, elastic. So, you can layer them onto clothing, for example, and not only will you not be able to feel any additional weight, but the panels will be able to flex and crumple right along with the fabric without damaging anything.

Beyond applications requiring flexibility, solar cells that don’t take up any space and don’t weigh anything become an obvious thing to stick on to all sorts of surfaces just because you can. Back of a cellphone? Sure! Roof of your car? Sounds good! Bottom of your swimming pool? Why not!

The current generation of these cells can only convert 4.2% of sunlight into electricity (which is terrible, to be honest), but by the time commercial availability rolls around in five years or so, our hope is that that number will get bumped up enough to make it worthwhile to start putting this stuff on everything.

[via] [paper] [photo credit: Kaltenbrunner etal.]

Posted at 8:34pm and tagged with: energy, solar, tech, technology,.

futurescope:

Ultrathin and lightweight organic solar cells with high flexibility

The only way that solar power is ever going to contribute an appreciable amount of energy to the betterment (and cheaperment) of society is if we plaster solar panels on everything, everywhere, all the time. And we might just be able to do it now, with this new generation of panels that are thinner than a strand of human hair by a factor of 20.
Thin doesn’t just mean lightweight (although these panels are very lightweight), it also means flexible. At 1.9 micrometers thick, the plastic foil cells are, for all practical purposes, elastic. So, you can layer them onto clothing, for example, and not only will you not be able to feel any additional weight, but the panels will be able to flex and crumple right along with the fabric without damaging anything.
Beyond applications requiring flexibility, solar cells that don’t take up any space and don’t weigh anything become an obvious thing to stick on to all sorts of surfaces just because you can. Back of a cellphone? Sure! Roof of your car? Sounds good! Bottom of your swimming pool? Why not!
The current generation of these cells can only convert 4.2% of sunlight into electricity (which is terrible, to be honest), but by the time commercial availability rolls around in five years or so, our hope is that that number will get bumped up enough to make it worthwhile to start putting this stuff on everything.

[via] [paper] [photo credit: Kaltenbrunner etal.]

smarterplanet:

Green homes use 80 per cent less energy | Physorg.com

Clever, inexpensive design can cut the energy used in new homes by up to 80 per cent, says a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researcher.

Posted at 5:52am and tagged with: Environment, energy, design,.

smarterplanet:

Green homes use 80 per cent less energy | Physorg.com
Clever, inexpensive design can cut the energy used in new homes by up to 80 per cent, says a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researcher.

alexob:

A team of MIT researchers have revisited the standard way solar panels are constructed and have developed a new structure that maximizes the capture of sunlight.

Cubes or towers that extend the solar cells upward in three-dimensional configurations. Amazingly, the results from…

Posted at 8:17am and tagged with: tech, technology, innovation, solar, energy,.

theatlantic:

Did the EPA Just Kill Big Coal?

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a set of landmark greenhouse gas regulations that will surely have every coal country politician, from the hills to Appalachia to the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, sputtering mad. The rule will require new power plants to emit about 43 percent less carbon dioxide than today’s coal-fired generators. Natural gas plants already meet this requirement. But if a utility wants to burn coal for electricity, it will need to install carbon capture technology — and that’s really expensive.

“This standard effectively bans new coal plants,” one petulant lobbyist told The Washington Post

And indeed, it could. But while that might be devastating for mining companies, it won’t mean a whole lot to consumers. Coal use, you see, is already in decline. Blame America’s natural gas boom. 

In December, coal generated less than 40 percent of America’s electricity for the first time since March 1978, according to the Energy Information Administration. Even before the proposed greenhouse gas rules, Deutsch Bank predicted it would be producing as little as 20 percent by 2030. And Exxon Mobil forecasts that natural gas will replace coal as the U.S. top fuel for electricity by 2025. 

Read more. [Image: U.S. Energy Information Administration]

Posted at 1:14pm and tagged with: energy, trends, environment,.

theatlantic:

Did the EPA Just Kill Big Coal?

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a set of landmark greenhouse gas regulations that will surely have every coal country politician, from the hills to Appalachia to the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, sputtering mad. The rule will require new power plants to emit about 43 percent less carbon dioxide than today’s coal-fired generators. Natural gas plants already meet this requirement. But if a utility wants to burn coal for electricity, it will need to install carbon capture technology — and that’s really expensive.
“This standard effectively bans new coal plants,” one petulant lobbyist told The Washington Post. 
And indeed, it could. But while that might be devastating for mining companies, it won’t mean a whole lot to consumers. Coal use, you see, is already in decline. Blame America’s natural gas boom. 
In December, coal generated less than 40 percent of America’s electricity for the first time since March 1978, according to the Energy Information Administration. Even before the proposed greenhouse gas rules, Deutsch Bank predicted it would be producing as little as 20 percent by 2030. And Exxon Mobil forecasts that natural gas will replace coal as the U.S. top fuel for electricity by 2025. 
Read more. [Image: U.S. Energy Information Administration]