Here comes an electric airplane!

❝ Electric cars and electric buses gaining ground both in terms of innovation and acceptance by the public as being the future of transportation. Models are currently being developed, tested, and rolled out around the world. These events are clear signs that EVs are well on their way to become a common sight on the road — and both companies and consumers will be better for it.

One form of transportation that has yet to see the same amount of progress is airplanes, though that isn’t to say there aren’t any projects focused on bringing the idea of electric aircraft to the skies. The problem is, passengers can’t ride in an electric plane as easily as they can an electric car. At least, not yet…

❝ Now, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and German automation company Siemens have announced a partnership to undertake a project that would convert a plane to utilize electric propulsion. The trio has dubbed the project “E-Fan X,” which involves gradually replacing the BAe 146 airliner’s gas turbines with two-megawatt electric motors…

❝ The three companies will each be in charge of separate parts of the project. Airbus will oversee the aircraft’s overall integration, which includes the control architecture of the hybrid-electric propulsion system and batteries, as well as integration with flight controls. Rolls-Royce will provide the turbo-shaft engine, two-megawatt generator, and power electronics, and Siemens will provide the two-megawatt electric motors, power electronic control unit, DC/DC converter, and power distribution system.

Good thing no one like our fake president is involved. He’d probably want the designers try to make the critter run on coal.

Wind Power Set a New Green Energy Record in Europe Last Week


Click to enlargeGetty Images

❝ On October 28, wind power sources from 28 countries in the EU set a new record: they provided 24.6% of total electricity — enough to power 197 million European households.

Though the spike in power was likely due to the powerful storm that passed over Europe that weekend, with 153.7 Gigawatts of wind power capacity installed in the EU (including the largest offshore wind farm off the coast of Kent) Europe is on its way to becoming a major force for renewable energy…

❝ …Offshore wind energy is now cheaper than nuclear energy in the UK, and countries across Europe receive significant portions of energy from wind. Denmark regularly gets more than 100 percent of its energy from wind (and hit 109% last weekend), while wind frequently provides Germany more than half of its electricity. Additionally, Scotland recently made news in opening the first floating wind farm, which should provide power to 10,000 homes.

Additionally, with new wind farms being constructed offshore, these high records are likely just the beginning of a new norm for European energy. Denmark’s Ørsted Energy is currently working on the world’s largest offshore wind farm for the UK, which will have the capacity of 1200 Megawatts when it opens in 2020—and they’re under contract to build what will become the next largest offshore wind farm, also in the UK, with a planned capacity of 1386 MW when it opens in 2022.

Gee, Republicans say the United States is incapable of reaching similar goals. They’re already happy with second-rate…from the White House to Congress.

Being led by third-rate minds makes it easier, I guess.

Trump & Republican Dirty Fuel Pimps Hand Over $20 Billion-a-Year of Taxpayer Subsidies

❝ Millions of Americans may be struggling to pay routine household bills, but still US taxpayers are handing out a whopping $20 billion in fossil fuel subsidies a year.

This is the major finding of a new report Dirty Energy Dominance: Dependent on Denial published by Oil Change International today.

Subsidies are where the government gives financial incentives to artificially lower the cost of production or consumption of fossil fuels to encourage more drilling or oil, gas, or coal use.

❝ …The irony gets worse. There is something morally wrong with a billionaire-led Administration handing out money to rich executives, when this money could help America’s poorest and most at need.

The cost of the subsidies to American taxpayers is equivalent to the projected 2018 budget cuts from Trump’s proposals to slash 10 public programs and services, including supports for America’s most vulnerable children and families…

❝ The US spent on average $2.5 billion annually subsidizing the exploration of new fossil fuel resources in 2015 and 2016, even though the science clearly shows that fossil fuel expansion must stop immediately in order to meet internationally recognized climate goals.

Government giveaways in the form of permanent tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry – one of which is over a century old – are seven times larger than those to the renewable energy sector.

So, the Clown Show in Congress continues to cut subsidies to homeowners trying to save on energy costs with solar and other green alternatives – while perpetuating the taxpayer handout to oil and coal companies. Mail me a penny postcard when the crew in DC grows enough backbone to stand on their own and oppose the profit-hungry crooks they really work for.

Record-Melting Fall Heat Wave Bakes Southern California — and More


Tuesday, 24th, 1PM PDT

❝ It’s not every October 23 or 24 that millions of Americans are swathed in temperatures above 100°F. This week has done just that, bringing some of the toastiest weather ever observed in the United States during late October, and more pre-Halloween heat is on the way. By far the most scorching weather has been in Southern California, although it’s also been exceptionally mild this month in settings as far-flung as Michigan, Florida, and New England…

The first three weeks of October were remarkably mild for most of the United States east of the Rockies. Overnight lows across most of the Northeast on Monday night were in the 50-70°F range—warmer than the average highs for this time of year! Albany, NY, “dipped” to 68°F early Tuesday, compared to its average high and low for the date of 57°F and 37°F. If the temperature stays above 64°F through midnight, it’ll be Albany’s highest daily minimum ever recorded this late in the year, in data going back to 1874.

Don’t know what it’s like in your neck of the prairie; but here in northern New Mexico we used to plan for the first fire in our living room stove on October 15th. Not in a number of years. In fact we stockpiled the usual amount of firewood the last 2 autumns – and didn’t bring in any, this year. We have enough leftover for a full-sized old-fashioned winter, stacked and waiting. No fire in the stove, yet.

First floating wind farm – built by an offshore oil company BTW – starts delivering electricity


Click for a short video

❝ The world’s first floating offshore wind farm began delivering electricity to the Scottish grid last week.

The 30MW installation, situated 25km from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, will demonstrate that offshore wind energy can be harvested in deep waters, miles away from land, where installing giant turbines was once impractical or impossible. At peak capacity, the wind farm will produce enough electricity to power 20,000 Scottish homes.

❝ The installation, called Hywind Scotland, is also interesting because it was built by Statoil, a Norwegian mega-corporation known for offshore oil drilling. Statoil has pursued offshore wind projects in recent years, using the company’s experience building and managing infrastructure in difficult open sea conditions to its advantage.

❝ Hywind Scotland began producing power in September, and on the 18th it started delivering electricity to the Scottish grid. Now, all that’s left is for Statoil and its partner company Masdar to install a 1MWh lithium-ion battery, charmingly called “Batwind,” on shore. Batwind will help the offshore system regulate power delivery and optimize output.

❝ After a number of small demonstration projects, the five 6MW turbines are the first commercial turbines to lack a firm attachment to the seafloor. They’re held in place using three giant suction anchors, which are commonly used in offshore oil drilling. Essentially, an enormous, empty, upside-down “bucket” is placed on the seafloor, and air is sucked out of the bucket, which forces the bucket downward, further into the seafloor sediment.

RTFA for greater understanding of why Statoil invested the funds and effort into a technology – that unsurprising – hasn’t a ROI greater than the average pilot plant.

Hint! Eventually, it will.

Amazon patents drones wirelessly charging your electric car while driving — Who? Wha?


Click to enlargeReuters/Brendan McDermid

As countries around the world are putting more electric vehicles on the road, they’re also struggling to power those engines. For now, countries are focusing on adding charging stations, but in the future there may be a more mobile option available to drivers: flying drones that come to you.

In early October, the US Patent and Trademark Office granted Amazon the patent for developing a drone that can connect to transfer electricity to a car in motion. Amazon filed the application in 2014, the patent document showed…

How cool is that?

In a nutshell, when the vehicle is low on battery, it will contact a central server, which communicates with the car to figure out the amount of energy needed for its intended destination before sending out an unmanned flying machine with some form of battery to service the car. Several authentication steps would be required to prevent malicious use, according to the filing. The new patent might go well with an earlier Amazon application that envisions recharging stations on top of public street lights for flying drones to use themselves.

So, if you’ve been wandering around the countryside in your full-electric AWD Ford Watanabe checking out new fishing spots – and weren’t paying attention to your car’s charged level – the car will do it for you. A new level of Amazon Prime service may be required. And sounds useful to me. If I was still living my life on the road.

Solar = 6¢ per kilowatt-hour, beating Obama’s goal by 3 years


Formerly the largest piggery in Massachusetts

❝ The Department of Energy has announced that utility-grade solar panels have hit cost targets set for 2020, three years ahead of schedule. Those targets reflect around $1 per watt and 6¢ per kilowatt-hour in Kansas City, the department’s mid-range yardstick for solar panel cost per unit of energy produced (New York is considered the high-cost end, and Phoenix, Arizona, which has much more sunlight than most other major cities in the country, reflects the low-cost end).

Those prices don’t include an Investment Tax Credit which makes solar panels even cheaper. The Energy Department said that the cost per watt was assessed in terms of total installed system costs for developers. That means the number is based on “the sales price paid to the installer; therefore, it includes profit in the cost of the hardware,”…

❝ The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a DOE-funded lab that assesses solar panel cost, wrote that, compared to the first quarter in 2016, the first quarter in 2017 saw a 29-percent decline in installed cost for utility-scale solar, which was attributed to lower photovoltaic module and inverter prices, better panel efficiency, and reduced labor costs. Despite the plummeting costs for utility-scale solar, costs for commercial and residential solar panels have not fallen quite as quickly — just 15 percent and 6 percent, respectively…

❝ Now that utility-grade solar panels have crossed the finish line almost three years early, the DOE says that it’s setting a new goal line for 2030…Through the DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, the federal department says it will start funding early stage projects focusing on “grid reliability, resilience, and storage.”

Too bad – for the moment – we’re saddled with an administration, White House, Congress and all – wholly committed to pimping for fossil fuel extraction and energy industries. Hopefully, the American electorate will learn to skip over idjits who prefer pimps to progress and elect some useful folks in 2018 and 2020.

Lessons from Germany’s Transition from Coal to Renewables

❝ Seventy-seven-year-old Heinz Spahn—whose blue eyes are both twinkling and stern — vividly recalls his younger days. The Zollverein coal mine, where he worked in the area of Essen, Germany, was so clogged with coal dust, he remembers, that people would stir up a black cloud whenever they moved. “It was no pony farm,” he says — using the sardonic German phrase to describe the harsh conditions: The roar of machines was at a constant 110 decibels, and the men were nicknamed waschbar, or “raccoons,” for the black smudges that permanently adorned their faces.

Today, the scene at Zollverein is very different. Inside the coal washery where Spahn once worked—the largest building in the Zollverein mining complex — the air is clean, and its up to 8,000 miners have been replaced by one-and-a-half million tourists annually. The whole complex is now a UNESCO world heritage site: Spahn, who worked here as a fusion welder until the mine shut down on December 23, 1986, is employed as a guide to teach tourists about its history. “I know this building in and out. I know every screw,” he says fondly.

Zollverein is a symbol of Germany’s transition away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy — a program called the Energiewende that aims to have 80 percent of the country’s energy generated from renewables by 2050. That program has transformed Germany into a global poster child for green energy. But what does the transition mean for residents of Essen and the rest of the Ruhr region — the former industrial coal belt—whose lives and livelihoods have been dramatically altered by the reduced demand for coal? The answer to that could hold some useful lessons for those undergoing similar transitions elsewhere…

The trade unions are stronger in Germany than in the United States. Progressive politicians are often voted into office – locally and nationally – in Germany. There has been legitimate, strong pressure exerted upon government and corporations alike in Germany. RTFA and see what a difference that has made in the transition away from the most polluting energy sources.

139 countries could be 100% powered by wind, water, and solar energy by 2050

❝ The latest roadmap to a 100% renewable energy future from Stanford’s Mark Z. Jacobson and 26 colleagues is the most specific global vision yet, outlining infrastructure changes that 139 countries can make to be entirely powered by wind, water, and sunlight by 2050 after electrification of all energy sectors.

Such a transition could mean less worldwide energy consumption due to the efficiency of clean, renewable electricity; a net increase of over 24 million long-term jobs; an annual decrease in 4-7 million air pollution deaths per year; stabilization of energy prices; and annual savings of over $20 trillion in health and climate costs…

❝ The challenge…is one of the greatest of our time. The roadmaps developed by Jacobson’s group provide one possible endpoint. For each of the 139 nations, they assess the raw renewable energy resources available to each country, the number of wind, water, and solar energy generators needed to be 80% renewable by 2030 and 100% by 2050, how much land and rooftop area these power sources would require (only around 1% of total available, with most of this open space between wind turbines that can be used for multiple purposes), and how this approach would reduce energy demand and cost compared with a business-as-usual scenario…

❝ …Jacobson says that the overall cost to society (the energy, health, and climate cost) of the proposed system is one-fourth of that of the current fossil fuel system. In terms of upfront costs, most of these would be needed in any case to replace existing energy, and the rest is an investment that far more than pays itself off over time by nearly eliminating health and climate costs.

RTFA for a clear exposition. There’s a link available to the original paper published in JOULE. Much heavier reading. A necessity for real scientific analysis and review.