In this issue:
1.5 is still alive
At least according to the IEA in its latest update on how we are tracking against this crucial 2050 target, although it also warns the window of opportunity to stick within target is narrowing. Strong growth in solar power and EV sales have balanced an increase in the use of fossil fuels and are the reasons the window is still just ajar. However, the report warns this growth must accelerate even further and energy efficiency must double by 2030 to stay on track. The good news is that two thirds of the technologies needed to deliver this pathway are already commercially available and viable.
Offshore wind in the doldrums
Recent weeks have seen the cancellation of several offshore wind projects in the UK, Netherlands and Norway over concerns about rising material costs and supply chain constraints. Auctions are failing. The concern is that the delays and deferrals will compromise renewables targets. Reuters has published a short but informative analysis which can be found through the link.
Efficiency becomes law
The German government has taken the bold step of passing a legal framework for energy efficiency into its statutes. The Energy Efficiency Act stipulates the German federal government has to reduce consumption by at least 45 TWh and the states by at least 3 TWh per year from 2024. The law requires a 26.5% decrease in energy consumption by 2030 against a 2008 base, in effect a 25% decrease from 2021. A fine example and recognition of the part efficiency will play in achieving climate targets.
Circular economy could slash decarbonisation costs for heavy industry
That’s the finding of the Agora Industrie think tank in Germany. A circular economy for steel, cement and plastics will reduce the transformation costs to carbon neutrality by 45%, according to its analysis, and reduce energy consumption by 20%. It will also save 25% of emissions by 2045.
Smart, tunable windows
While dynamic windows that can switch between transparent and darkened have been around for some time, a team at North Carolina State University have now developed tunable windows. Using tungsten oxide hydrate, the new windows can be tuned to block infrared or infrared and visible light, improving flexibility and, therefore, efficiency as a temperature control mechanism.
Harvesting electricity at water outlets
Scientists from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have uncovered a method of harvesting energy from the meeting of salt and fresh water. Using the principle of Coulomb drag, a silicon membrane allows the concentrations of salt to balance while capturing the energy the transfer exudes. Capture sites could be established anywhere along coastlines where fresh water, or presumably waste water, flows to the sea. While currently operating at the nano scale, the team believes the technology could prove more efficient at harvesting electricity than solar panels.
Save 90% emissions on your next phone
Assurant has recently launched a new service to provide insights on the carbon impact of individual connected devices. Called Carbon IQ and developed with the Carbon Trust, the service claims to track emissions throughout the life of the device. Aggregated fundings suggest a refurbished device saves 90% of the emissions of a new device.
If you are lucky enough to live in France you are now able to buy an e-bike that doesn’t need charging and isn’t going to catch fire. The Pi-Pop bike uses a supercapacitor to assist movement rather than a battery, removing the need for lithium, extending its lifespan and making its recycling much cheaper. The bikes are on sale for €2450 (NZ$4,300).