In this issue:
One of the biggest barriers to retrofitting commercial buildings is the agency problem between landlord and tenant, i.e. landlords show little interest in efficiency improvements as energy costs are passed through, tenants have little incentive to invest in efficiency unless they have long leases. The ACEEE (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy) has just published a report on how we might break down those barriers. While US in context, you may well find the report interesting and may pick up a few snippets of value.
Cooling emissions could be cut be 60%
That’s the finding of a new report from the UN Environment Programme. It says a combination of improved energy efficiency standards, an increase in the application of passive cooling and reduction in harmful refrigerants could lead to a 60% decrease by 2050. Factoring renewable generation elevates the improvement to 96%. It goes on to outline pathways to achieve this.
CO2 potency on the rise
In a disturbing discovery, scientists from Miami University have uncovered that CO2 becomes more potent as a greenhouse gas as its intensity increases. They have extrapolated that as the stratosphere cools due to climate change, successive increases in carbon dioxide have a greater heat-trapping effect than prior increases, making the greenhouse gas even more effective at warming the planet. The finding means traditional modelling on the impact of emissions may need to be modified to factor in the increased warming effect.
Climate resilience pays off
Investments in adaptation and resilience are providing astounding returns according to a report from the Boston Consulting Group and the Global Resilience Partnership, with returns of between $2 and $15 being seen for every dollar invested. The report also predicts a huge boom for companies providing services in resilience and adaptation.
375 million EVs from a desert
Perhaps not the whole vehicles but the US Department of Energy has just released the results of its survey of the Salton Sea in California which reveals it could hold around 3,400 kilotons of lithium, enough to cover the battery needs of 375 million EVs.
Bluebottle to be seen around the coast
Not the pesky flies or jellyfish but the latest uncrewed, renewable vessel beginning trials with the Royal New Zealand Navy. The vessel is 6.8 metres long and is easily transported on a trailer or winched on and off ships. The vessel is wind and solar powered and can remain on patrol indefinitely. The trial will see it used for border and fisheries protection and as a weather station.
Is AI costing the earth?
Making just one image on AI platforms uses as much power as is needed to charge a mobile phone. It is well established that training an AI system is highly energy intensive, it turns out simply using one is costly too. Platforms differ but for the more energy intensive generating 1,000 AI images can produce as many emissions as driving 6.6 kilometres in an average ICE car. Generating text is significantly less harmful but we still need to be aware AI comes with many costs and high emissions are part of that mix.
24 hour solar
Scientists from Jordan and Qatar have developed a new solar tower that can generate electricity day and night. The tower uses solar updraft technology. i.e. it heats air at the base of the tower which drives a turbine as it rises. That isn’t new and isn’t an especially efficient form of generation. The innovation is that after passing through the turbine, the hot air is sprinkled with mist and falls down a secondary, sleeve tower passing through other turbines on the way back down. This twin-technology solar system (TTSS) can generate at night from stored heat energy and generates more than double the electricity of a similarly sized, updraft only tower. Simulations with Riyadh weather conditions indicate the tower could generate 753MWh annually, 350MWh from the upward draft and 400MWh from the downward.
Using that CO2
While carbon capture technologies remain in the trial, demonstration or, at best, uneconomic bucket, work continues of ways and means of using that captured CO2 rather just squirreling it away in caves or wells. Some will, undoubtedly, get used in the food or agricultural sectors but, to date, efficient conversion to a reusable fuel has remained elusive. That may be about to change with scientists from MIT and Harvard developing a technique to convert captured CO2 into a formate that can be used in fuel cells. The formate, in powder form, is stable and can be easily transported and stored. The creators claim the process is easier than the normal two step process based on calcium carbonates and is 90% efficient.