How cheap must batteries get for renewables to compete with fossil fuels?

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Production of lithium batteries for environmentally friendly electric cars future of energy

 While solar and wind power are rapidly becoming cost-competitive with fossil fuels in areas with lots of sun and wind, they still can’t provide the 24/7 power we’ve become used to. At present, that’s not big a problem because the grid still features plenty of fossil fuel plants that can provide constant baseload or ramp up to meet surges in demand.

But there’s broad agreement that we need to dramatically decarbonize our energy supplies if we’re going to avoid irreversible damage to the climate. That will mean getting rid of the bulk of on-demand, carbon-intensive power plants we currently rely on to manage our grid.

Alternatives include expanding transmission infrastructure to shuttle power from areas where the wind is blowing to areas where it isn’t, or managing demand using financial incentive to get people to use less energy during peak hours. But most promising is pairing renewable energy with energy storage to build up reserves for when the sun stops shining.

The approach is less complicated than trying to redesign the grid, say the authors of a new paper in <emJoule, but also makes it possible to shift much more power around than demand management. A key question that hasn’t been comprehensively dealt with, though, is how cheap energy storage needs to get to make this feasible.

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CEO of Tesla says humanity is currently running ‘the dumbest experiment in history

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Elon Musk said in an interview earlier this year people are running “the dumbest experiment in history” by continuing to burn fossil fuels As Musk explained:

“The greater the change to the chemical composition of the physical, chemical makeup of the oceans and atmosphere [due to increased carbon emissions], the greater the long-term effect will be. Continue reading… “CEO of Tesla says humanity is currently running ‘the dumbest experiment in history”

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Here’s where 620 million people in Africa live without electricity

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The International Energy Agency has come out with an in-depth analysis of Africa’s energy sector.  According to the IEA report, there are 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who don’t have any electricity at all — and fixing that could require burning a lot more fossil fuels.

 

 

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The future of the energy infrastructure in the U.S.

The U.S. has massive renewable energy potential.

Transmission lines hold much of the same challenge and promise of the interstate highway system a century ago. The transmission network – the high voltage, long distance power lines that carry electricity from power facilities and into communities – is currently a patchwork system, lacking centralized organization or planning. Assuming that America cannot achieve 100% clean energy with distributed resources, the transport of renewable electric energy across state lines is a major hurdle to realizing a future without fossil fuels.

 

 

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‘Blue Petroleum’ Fuel Could Be the Fuel of the Future

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Scientists in Spain hope they have found the fuel of tomorrow: bio-oil produced with algae mixed with carbon dioxide from a factory.

In a forest of tubes eight metres high in eastern Spain scientists hope they have found the fuel of tomorrow: bio-oil produced with algae mixed with carbon dioxide from a factory.

 

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Tiny Thorium Reactors Could Wean the World Off Fossil Fuels Within Five Years

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One ton of thorium can produce as much energy as 200 tons of uranium and 3.5 million tons of coal.

If Barack Obama were to marshal America’s vast scientific and strategic resources behind a new Manhattan Project, he might reasonably hope to reinvent the global energy landscape and sketch an end to our dependence on fossil fuels within three to five years.  We could then stop arguing about wind mills, deepwater drilling, IPCC hockey sticks, or strategic reliance on the Kremlin.  History will move on fast.

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Scientists Develop New Plastic Made From Sugar That Can Be Composted At Home

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Plastics could be made from sugar and composted at home.

Food packaging made from sugar has been developed by British scientists.  It could soon be composted at home along with organic waste.

 

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‘Flash-Frying’ Coal Underground To Provide A Green Source Of Energy

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A project is taking shape that could offer an affordable means of reaching billions of tons of deep-lying coal deposits without causing irreparable harm to the environment.

Coal has become the ugly sister of power sources, condemned as old-fashioned, ultra-polluting and excessively costly to mine, given that we have exhausted the most easily accessible supplies.

 

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