Britain achieves first ever coal-free day ‘since Industrial Revolution’

226. coal-free day

Energy sources such as gas, wind, solar and nuclear allowed Britain to keep things switched on for 24 hours without the use of coal-fired power plants.

Last Friday (21 April 2017) saw Britain’s energy demand be met without the use of coal power for the first time since the industrial revolution, according to National Grid.

Prior to this, the UK’s longest period without coal power had been 19 hours – achieved both on a weekday and weekend in May 2016.

A spokesman for National Grid said the record period was a demonstration of things to come, with coal-free days becoming more common.

Inrecent years, coal has significantly decreased, accounting for only 9% of electricity generation in 2016, down from 23% in 2015, as coal power plants have closed or shifted to burning biomass such as wood pellets.

Britain was the first country to make use of coal for electricity when Thomas Edison opened the Holborn Viaduct power station in London in 1882.

Now, as part of a government plan, Britain’s last coal power station will be forced to close in 2025, to meet its climate change commitments.

“The first day without coal in Britain since the Industrial Revolution marks a watershed in the energy transition. A decade ago, a day without coal would have been unimaginable, and in 10 years’ time our energy system will have radically transformed again”, says Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace UK.

She added: “The direction of travel is that both in the UK and globally we are already moving towards a low carbon economy. It is a clear message to any new government that they should prioritise making the UK a world leader in clean, green, technology.”

Head of climate and energy at WWF, Gareth Redmond-King, described Britain’s first coal-free day as “a significant milestone in our march towards the green economic revolution”.

“Getting rid of coal from our energy mix is exciting and hugely important. But it’s not enough to achieve our international commitments to tackle climate change – we haven’t made anything like the same progress on decarbonising buildings and transport. Whoever forms the next government after the general election, they must prioritise a plan for reducing emissions from all sectors.” He added.

Hydroelectricity: What the future of hydropower holds

 

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/21/britain-set-for-first-coal-free-day-since-the-industrial-revolution

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/21/britain-set-historic-first-coal-free-day-since-industrial-revolution/

http://www.cleanenergynews.co.uk/news/solar/gb-energy-supply-enjoys-coal-free-day-for-first-time-since-the-industrial-r

The power produced by runners competing in the London Marathon

London, UK- April 13, 2014: London Marathon in Canary Wharf aria, massive sport event for professionals and amateurs sportsmen, Champions League

The London Marathon is considered one of the biggest marathon events in the world, attracting runners of all ages and abilities on one course.

From Blackheath to Greenwich, across Tower Bridge and through the Isle of Dogs, the layout of the marathon route means that spectators can move between different points to cheer on participants.

How much energy does it take to run the London Marathon?

According to Common calculations, the average runner burns around 100 kilocalories per mile.

The London Marathon is a sweaty 26.2 miles, starting near Greenwich Park and ending at St James’ Park.

This totals to 2,620 kilocalories burned throughout the marathon.

With this total, we can then work out how much power is generated by converting this figure into a unit for measuring electricity.

By converting this figure to watts and then kilowatts, 2,620 kilocalories equates to 3.045 kWh.

The power of a single runner

Using the total of 3.045 kWh, a single runner completing the marathon could power:

  • A 40W energy-saving light bulb running for 76 hours straight
  • Charge a smart phone for an entire year
  • The same amount of power a 6kW wind turbine would generate in a windy location

 
The power of the entire marathon

This year a record total of 253,930 people are expected to participate in the London Marathon.

If a single participant competing in the marathon uses an equivalent 3.045 kWh of energy, then the total amount of energy consumed by the entire marathon would be a mammoth 752.3 mWh.

An average house in the UK uses 4,600 kWh a year in electricity. This means the whole of the London Marathon could exert the equivalent energy needed to power 164 homes for a year.

Timings and what to expect this year:

The event will see Jemima Sumgong defend her title in the elite women’s race, while Kenenisa Bekele is among the star names in a stellar elite men’s field.

The 37th edition of the London Marathon is set to produce more Guinness World Records, and the race promises to be one of the best yet.

The marathon takes place on Sunday 23rd April, 2017, starting at Old Billingsgate at 08:40 – this consists of three-mile races for different youth categories.

The official start times for are as follows:

08:55 – London 2017 World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup in association with the Virgin Money London Marathon elite wheelchair race

09:00 – London 2017 World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup (ambulant athletes)

09:15 – Virgin Money London Marathon for Elite Women

10:00 – Elite Men and the British Athletics and England Athletics Championships for Men and Women and the Virgin Money London Marathon Mass Start

Here’s how other major events such as the Grand National and the Boat Race compare to the London Marathon in terms of power generation.

Sources:

https://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/en-gb/event-info/spectator-info/how-follow-virgin-money-london-marathon/

http://www.opusenergyblog.com/how-powerful-is-a-london-marathon-2016-runner/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power#Wind_power_capacity_and_production

World’s first green energy boat prepares for voyage around the world

bateau-hp-00

Known as the “Solar Impulse of the Seas,” the first self-sufficient boat powered only by renewable energies — and not just the wind in its sails — hopes to make a historic six-year trip around the world.

The Solar Impulse, the plane that completed its round-the-world trip in July 2015 without the use of fuel became the first solar aeroplane ever to fly through the whole night.

Now the water-borne version of the Solar Impulse will take to the seas, only powered by the sun, the wind and self-generated hydrogen when it sets sail. The boat will begin its first of 101 stops in Paris, visiting 50 countries.

Originally designed in 1983, the 100-foot solar powered boat had great success in open-sea sailing races. From here, The Energy Observer project was dreamed up in 2015 by skippers Frédéric Dahirel and Victorien Erussard, with scuba diver and filmmaker Jérôme Delafosse also working behind the project.

“I’m passionate about new technologies,” Erussard said. “Building a self-sufficient boat could have seemed unrealistic, but this is going to be an incredible vessel. It’s very promising for the future.”

Mark Z. Jacobson, a Stanford University engineering professor who is working to help countries convert to 100 per cent renewable energies by 2050 said: “I believe that it is fantastic that a boat powered by hydrogen . . . will travel the world”.

He added: “It is an important step forward and consistent with this proposed path to 100 per cent clean, renewable energy worldwide for all purposes to solve energy security, job creation, air pollution and climate problems.”

The plan is to power the boats batteries in good weather with solar and wind energy. “If there’s no sun or wind, or if it’s night, stored hydrogen, generated by electrolysis powered by the solar panels and two wind turbines will take over,” explained Erussard.

The vessel will therefore not use any carbon-emitting fossil fuels, which is the case for 96 per cent of boats today.

The catamaran has an interesting past, having won the Jules Verne trophy, for a team sailing non-stop round the world, in 1994. The vessel was bought for half a million euros and extended by six meters, to 30.5 metres for the project.

Well-known French environmentalist Nicolas Hulot is backing the endeavour. “I support it because it’s the first project of this kind to actually be undertaken, it’s ambitious and looking toward the future,” Hulot told AFP.

“It’s very promising for marine transport,” Hulot added. “The Energy Observer is going to demonstrate that you can have great autonomy (at sea) and you can store and find energy when there isn’t any more wind or sun.”

Energy Observer’s voyage around the world is expected to take six years. Once the vessel has crossed the Mediterranean, it will venture out into the Atlantic and then Pacific oceans.

Funding remains an obstacle, with the expedition expected to cost at least four million euros a year, in particular to develop travelling cost. However the team remains confident that it will get the funds.

The six year planned voyage finds its inspiration from its airplane mentor the Solar Impulse, which completed its journey around the world on renewable energy and accomplished “what everyone said was impossible,” said Delafosse.

Sources:

http://e.vnexpress.net/news/world/green-powered-boat-readies-for-round-the-world-voyage-3466735.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/worlds-first-green-energy-boat-prepares-for-a-six-year-voyage-around-the-world/2017/01/11/addd870a-d37c-11e6-9cb0-54ab630851e8_story.html?utm_term=.d007a335ad87

Image Credit: Energy Observer

World’s first green energy boat prepares for voyage around the world

bateau-hp-00

Known as the “Solar Impulse of the Seas,” the first self-sufficient boat powered only by renewable energies — and not just the wind in its sails — hopes to make a historic six-year trip around the world.

The Solar Impulse, the plane that completed its round-the-world trip in July 2015 without the use of fuel became the first solar aeroplane ever to fly through the whole night.

Now the water-borne version of the Solar Impulse will take to the seas, only powered by the sun, the wind and self-generated hydrogen when it sets sail. The boat will begin its first of 101 stops in Paris, visiting 50 countries.

Originally designed in 1983, the 100-foot solar powered boat had great success in open-sea sailing races. From here, The Energy Observer project was dreamed up in 2015 by skippers Frédéric Dahirel and Victorien Erussard, with scuba diver and filmmaker Jérôme Delafosse also working behind the project.

“I’m passionate about new technologies,” Erussard said. “Building a self-sufficient boat could have seemed unrealistic, but this is going to be an incredible vessel. It’s very promising for the future.”

Mark Z. Jacobson, a Stanford University engineering professor who is working to help countries convert to 100 per cent renewable energies by 2050 said: “I believe that it is fantastic that a boat powered by hydrogen . . . will travel the world”.

He added: “It is an important step forward and consistent with this proposed path to 100 per cent clean, renewable energy worldwide for all purposes to solve energy security, job creation, air pollution and climate problems.”

The plan is to power the boats batteries in good weather with solar and wind energy. “If there’s no sun or wind, or if it’s night, stored hydrogen, generated by electrolysis powered by the solar panels and two wind turbines will take over,” explained Erussard.

The vessel will therefore not use any carbon-emitting fossil fuels, which is the case for 96 per cent of boats today.

The catamaran has an interesting past, having won the Jules Verne trophy, for a team sailing non-stop round the world, in 1994. The vessel was bought for half a million euros and extended by six meters, to 30.5 metres for the project.

Well-known French environmentalist Nicolas Hulot is backing the endeavour. “I support it because it’s the first project of this kind to actually be undertaken, it’s ambitious and looking toward the future,” Hulot told AFP.

“It’s very promising for marine transport,” Hulot added. “The Energy Observer is going to demonstrate that you can have great autonomy (at sea) and you can store and find energy when there isn’t any more wind or sun.”

Energy Observer’s voyage around the world is expected to take six years. Once the vessel has crossed the Mediterranean, it will venture out into the Atlantic and then Pacific oceans.

Funding remains an obstacle, with the expedition expected to cost at least four million euros a year, in particular to develop travelling cost. However the team remains confident that it will get the funds.

The six year planned voyage finds its inspiration from its airplane mentor the Solar Impulse, which completed its journey around the world on renewable energy and accomplished “what everyone said was impossible,” said Delafosse.

Sources:

http://e.vnexpress.net/news/world/green-powered-boat-readies-for-round-the-world-voyage-3466735.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/worlds-first-green-energy-boat-prepares-for-a-six-year-voyage-around-the-world/2017/01/11/addd870a-d37c-11e6-9cb0-54ab630851e8_story.html?utm_term=.d007a335ad87

Image Credit: Energy Observer

Virginia’s Largest Solar Farm: Helping power Amazon Operations

Virginia’s Largest Solar Farm- Helping power Amazon Operations

Amazon is backing Virginia’s largest solar farm to power its data centers in the state. The $150 million project will help the company achieve its goal to use 100 per cent renewable energy sources at its global cloud computing operations.

Govenor Terry McAuliffe announced that Community Energy Solar will construct the 100-megawatt project, which will be located in southeast Virginia in Southampton County.

“Once complete, the new Southampton facility will be the largest solar farm ever constructed in Virginia,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “The pace of solar deployment has increased exponentially in recent years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. With projects like this, we’re building both the new Virginia economy and a better future for our children.”

The solar project is the largest of clean energy investments by giant U.S. technology companies in recent months. Energy conscious businesses are increasingly turning to alternative energy sources such as solar and wind — to both reduce their overall climate change emissions and cut down on their energy bills.

Apple Inc. recently bought nearly $850 million in solar power contracts for its new headquarters in Silicon Valley in the U.S. In October 2015, the company announced it would build 200-megawatts of solar energy projects in China and work with local suppliers to source more renewable energy for its manufacturing facilities.

Google Inc. has spent more than $1.5 billion globally on clean energy projects to power its offices and infrastructure, and the company says it uses renewables to power 35 per cent of its operations.

Energy policy analyst, Devashree Saha said “I think it makes economic and financial sense for these tech companies. As wind and solar markets have grown in the past few years, the cost of building and running renewable energy projects, along with the price of renewables, has come down substantially.”

Amazon and other leading tech companies are facing pressure from environmental associations and their clients to cut down greenhouse gas emissions and reduce electricity usage from their high consumption data centers. In the U.S. data centers used around 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2013. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that this is the equivalent of running 34 large coal-fired power plants for a whole year.

Companies are also investing in clean energy as the costs of solar and wind power decrease, making renewable energy an attractive option for large energy users. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, the average U.S. price for solar energy has dropped from about 15 cents per kilowatt-hour a decade ago to about 5 cents today.

Amazon also has a power purchase agreement for the 80-megawatt Amazon Solar Farm U.S. East — a Community Energy project in Accomack County.

“Amazon Web Services’ leadership and continued commitment to large scale solar energy is a key catalyst for this exciting new industry in Virginia.” Brent Beerley, executive vice president of Community Energy Solar, said in a statement.

Sources:

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2017/01/virginia-s-largest-solar-farm-will-help-power-amazon-operations.html

http://www.ibtimes.com/amazon-will-build-virginias-largest-solar-farm-clean-its-energy-guzzling-data-centers-1961193

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-apple-renewables-china-idUSKCN0SG02V20151022

http://www.ibtimes.com/apple-inc-google-inc-sign-major-renewable-energy-deals-wind-solar-energy-costs-plunge-1814778

Riding the waves: Harnessing the power of our tides

4a8f21b8-d8b8-11e6-944b-e7eb37a6aa8e

Day and night, all over the world, the force of the ocean can be seen and heard, pounding onto beaches and shores. The endless cycle of waves, currents and tides is driven by wind, the gravitational effects of the moon and the power of the sun.

Though still emerging, tidal power remains one of the great engineering challenges yet to be fully harnessed in the modern world, despite being put forward more than a century ago.

Untapped potential

The ocean holds enormous quantities of potential energy that can be developed with very low greenhouse gases, and with decades of research conducted, the ability to tap into this source looks promising. This would see an almost limitless and dependable supply of clean energy, helping reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Tapping into the power of waves and tides to generate electricity would create a vibrant new energy sector, creating up to 420 000 jobs by 2050 and see economic growth for areas that are suffering from the decline of traditional maritime industries such as fisheries and the construction of ships.

It’s estimated that wave and tidal energy could meet 15% of the European electricity demand by 2050, whilst at the same time helping avoid 136 MT/MWh of CO2 emissions.

Global tidal resources

The first large-scale tidal project opened in La Rance in France in the 1960s, provides only a fraction of the energy delivered by its renewable counterparts – just 0.5GW compared with almost 400GW of wind power. However, the development of new technologies means the tidal industry could see a positive renewal.

Similar to the La Rance project, the Sihwa Lake tidal power station in Korea is a rich repository of tidal energy resources. This is the worlds largest operating tidal power station, producing 552.7 GWh of electricity per year – enough to support the domestic needs of a city with a population of 500,000.

According to the International Hydropower Association (IHA), the 552.7 GWh of electricity generated from Sihwa tidal power plant is equivalent to 862,000 barrels of oil, or 315,000 tons of CO2 – the amount produced by 100,000 cars produce annually.

The world’s first man-made tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay in Wales is currently awaiting planning permission. Former energy minister, Charles Hendry said his independent review of tidal power had concluded a small trial lagoon at Swansea Bay was a “no regrets option” that could open the way to at least five other full-scale projects around the UK.

The future of tides

The development of transformative technology takes time and money, but harnessing the power of the ocean has plenty of potential. In the UK, the Carbon Trust says wave and tidal power could meet 20% of the country’s total energy needs.

With other projects looking likely to take off in the UK, France, Canada and Korea in the coming years, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts global ocean power generation will double to 1GW by 2020.

A complicated ocean environment and high costs will continue to delay development, however once the industry overcomes these barriers, tidal and wave power will eventually make a significant contribution to global energy supply.

Sources:

http://www.nova.org.au/technology-future/ocean-power

https://www.hydropower.org/blog/technology-case-study-sihwa-lake-tidal-power-station

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/12/tidal-lagoons-could-ensure-uk-power-supplies

http://www.tidallagoonpower.com/projects/swansea-bay/

Image Credit: Financial Times

Hydroelectricity: What the future of hydropower holds

hydropower John Toulouras

Hydropower has been around for more than a century, and is one of the world’s largest sources of clean, renewable electricity.

Considering the strains climate change is having on the planet’s limited resources, what role can hydropower play in the future?

Committing to renewable energy sources

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report outlining the long term economic, social and environmental costs the world would have to face if climate change is allowed to progress at its current rate. The report indicates that the effects of climate change will impact every facet of life if not dealt with proactively – this is before the increased demand for energy and subsequent increase in carbon emissions are taken into consideration.

The United Nations (UN) estimates that in 2035, the world’s population will consume 50% more energy. By increasing the application of renewable energy such as hydropower, carbon emissions and pollution can be reduced.

The European Union (EU) set targets to meet 20% of their energy from renewables and to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020. Of new electricity generation in the EU, 72% was from renewables. Elsewhere around the world, countries are committing to meet more of their energy needs through renewable energy sources.

Hydropower around the world

The Three Gorges Dam in China is the world’s largest hydro power station in terms of installed capacity (22,500 MW). The dam spans 2.4 kilometres across the Yangtze River in Hubei Province and captures 84.7 terawatts per hour (TWh) annually.

China is the world’s largest producer of hydroelectricity – and for a country that is also the largest emitter of carbon dioxide, hydropower is an important source of clean energy to help combat the pollution of many Chinese cities such as Beijing.

Pakistan’s 1,300-MW Tarbela Dam is the world’s largest fill-type dam and helps combat the country’s rising demand for power. Norway is western Europe’s largest producer of both oil and natural gas, yet it receives 97% of its energy needs from hydropower. Energy-rich countries such as Canada, Brazil and Venezuela all receive over 50% of their electricity from hydropower.

The Potential of hydropower

Hydropower is one of the most established and ready sources of renewable energy, and with 1.2 billion people living without electricity; many countries could potentially take advantage of their natural landscape to produce sustainable energy. Africa has largely untapped potential, where hydropower is already being used to supply electricity and 65% of the population lives in water basins where hydropower can be utilised.

Hydropower makes up 74% of the world’s total renewable electricity generation and 16% of the world’s electricity is generated by hydropower. The current capacity of hydropower could be tripled if all available resources are harnessed, generating around 15,000 TWh per year. The International Energy Agency (IEA) would like the output of hydroelectricity to be doubled globally by 2050.

Roadmap to the future of hydropower

Hydropower provides one of the most effective methods to achieve a renewable energy future. If it is adapted in a sustainable manner, it can be an environmentally responsible segment of any country’s energy supply mix.

The U.S. Department of Energy highlights five ‘action areas’ that would help achieve the Hydropower Vision:

  • Technology Advancement: Developing innovative technologies will help reduce costs and improve both power production efficiencies and environmental performance.
  • Sustainable Development and Operation: This includes using integrated approaches that balance environmental, social and economic factors.
  • Enhanced Revenue and Market Structures: Appropriate compensation and incentives for new and existing hydropower are needed given the numerous energy production and grid support services it provides.
  • Regulatory Process Optimisation: This includes increasing access to shared data, making information on relevant scientific advances available, enhancing process efficiency and reducing risks and costs.
  • Enhanced Collaboration, Education and Outreach: Sharing best practices for maintaining, operating and constructing facilities and developing curricula for programs to train new hydropower professionals are needed to usher in the next era of hydropower.

Although hydropower remains one of the world’s largest sources of clean, renewable electricity, many actions remain critical to further the advancement of hydropower as a key energy source of the future.

Sources

http://www.ren21.net/Portals/0/documents/Resources/GSR/2014/GSR2014_full%20report_low%20res.pdf

http://www.fairobserver.com/more/environment/the-future-of-hydropower-00594/

http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/

http://www.publicnow.com/view/102EF24779BF9558101F27CC9D28E22E364A02FB?2016-07-26-21:31:09+01:00-xxx9924

http://www.water-technology.net/projects/tarbela-dam-project/

Bill Gates Launches $1 Billion breakthrough energy fund

(FILES)Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates attends the Clinton Global Initiative during in this September 24, 2013 file photo in New York. Microsoft announced February 4, 2014 that Satya Nadella will take over the reigns as CEO succeeeding Steve Ballmer who is out effective immediately. Microsoft also announced that Gates, previously Chairman of the Board of Directors, will assume a new role on the Board as Founder and Technology Advisor, and "will devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction." AFP PHOTO/Mehdi Taamallah/FILESMEHDI TAAMALLAH/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Bill Gate

Billionaire philanthropist and investor Bill Gates, along with a group of high-profile executives, are launching a $1 billion fund, called Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), to promote clean energy technology and tackle global climate change.

The Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund is made up of nearly two dozen of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and business leaders, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

“I am honoured to work along with these investors to build on the powerful foundation of public investment in basic research. Our goal is to build companies that will help deliver the next generation of reliable, affordable, and emissions-free energy to the world”, Gates said.

The announcement comes just over a year after the United Nations climate change goals were set in Paris in November 2015. The fund is looking to increase the financing of emerging energy research and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

“To be successful, you have to get the most out of the technology you already have while developing the technology you still need”, Gates said in his post on his Gates Notes blog.

Energy storage technology is one of the key focus areas that BEV will invest in as part of a first wave, as more efficient and cheaper storage allows greater dependency on intermittent clean energy sources such as solar and wind power.

Gates, along with some of the world’s most respected scientists, energy experts, and energy investors, developed a list of scientific priorities that will help with the energy of the future.

In this ‘landscape of innovation’ list, Gates, along with other energy experts and investors, set five grand challenges, corresponding to the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions around the world:

  • Electricity: How can we deliver reliable, affordable zero-carbon electricity to the world?
  • Buildings: How can we eliminate emissions from our homes, offices, hospitals, and schools?
  • Manufacturing: How can we make everything we use without emitting greenhouse gases?
  • Transportation: How can we get around our communities and the world without emitting carbon?
  • Food: How can we feed the planet without contributing to climate change?

Gates says the success of the effort for clean, reliable, affordable energy relies on a lot more that the $1 billion in capital.

He added: “When it comes to energy, though, this transition—from idea to product to company—is often complicated by the challenges of the market. Unlike a software start up, getting a new energy technology from a lab to market takes a lot of infrastructure, a lot of upfront capital, and a lot of time.”

Gates plans to work closely with energy companies that are involved in funding and supporting promising technology breakthroughs.

Gates concluded his post by saying: “With patience, flexibility, collaboration, and a clear vision backed by meaningful investment, we, the fund’s investors, are confident the world can meet its energy needs in a way that is fair, safe, and sustainable. And we’re excited about the role that Breakthrough Energy Ventures will play in that effort.”

Sources:

https://www.gatesnotes.com/Energy/Breakthrough-Energy-Ventures

http://fortune.com/2016/12/11/bill-gates-john-doerr-venture-fund/

Landscape

Image credit: Mehdi Taamallah / AFP /GETTY IMAGES

Bill Gates Launches $1 Billion breakthrough energy fund

(FILES)Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates attends the Clinton Global Initiative during in this September 24, 2013 file photo in New York. Microsoft announced February 4, 2014 that Satya Nadella will take over the reigns as CEO succeeeding Steve Ballmer who is out effective immediately. Microsoft also announced that Gates, previously Chairman of the Board of Directors, will assume a new role on the Board as Founder and Technology Advisor, and "will devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction." AFP PHOTO/Mehdi Taamallah/FILESMEHDI TAAMALLAH/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Bill Gate

Billionaire philanthropist and investor Bill Gates, along with a group of high-profile executives, are launching a $1 billion fund, called Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), to promote clean energy technology and tackle global climate change.

The Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund is made up of nearly two dozen of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and business leaders, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

“I am honoured to work along with these investors to build on the powerful foundation of public investment in basic research. Our goal is to build companies that will help deliver the next generation of reliable, affordable, and emissions-free energy to the world”, Gates said.

The announcement comes just over a year after the United Nations climate change goals were set in Paris in November 2015. The fund is looking to increase the financing of emerging energy research and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

“To be successful, you have to get the most out of the technology you already have while developing the technology you still need”, Gates said in his post on his Gates Notes blog.

Energy storage technology is one of the key focus areas that BEV will invest in as part of a first wave, as more efficient and cheaper storage allows greater dependency on intermittent clean energy sources such as solar and wind power.

Gates, along with some of the world’s most respected scientists, energy experts, and energy investors, developed a list of scientific priorities that will help with the energy of the future.

In this ‘landscape of innovation’ list, Gates, along with other energy experts and investors, set five grand challenges, corresponding to the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions around the world:

  • Electricity: How can we deliver reliable, affordable zero-carbon electricity to the world?
  • Buildings: How can we eliminate emissions from our homes, offices, hospitals, and schools?
  • Manufacturing: How can we make everything we use without emitting greenhouse gases?
  • Transportation: How can we get around our communities and the world without emitting carbon?
  • Food: How can we feed the planet without contributing to climate change?

Gates says the success of the effort for clean, reliable, affordable energy relies on a lot more that the $1 billion in capital.

He added: “When it comes to energy, though, this transition—from idea to product to company—is often complicated by the challenges of the market. Unlike a software start up, getting a new energy technology from a lab to market takes a lot of infrastructure, a lot of upfront capital, and a lot of time.”

Gates plans to work closely with energy companies that are involved in funding and supporting promising technology breakthroughs.

Gates concluded his post by saying: “With patience, flexibility, collaboration, and a clear vision backed by meaningful investment, we, the fund’s investors, are confident the world can meet its energy needs in a way that is fair, safe, and sustainable. And we’re excited about the role that Breakthrough Energy Ventures will play in that effort.”

Sources:

https://www.gatesnotes.com/Energy/Breakthrough-Energy-Ventures

http://fortune.com/2016/12/11/bill-gates-john-doerr-venture-fund/

Landscape

Image credit: Mehdi Taamallah / AFP /GETTY IMAGES

Elon Musk enters the solar panel market in style

press_solar_roof

Tesla has announced a new line of solar roof tiles that mimic common roofing materials.

Tesla’s new solar roofing was revealed by founder, inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk at a recent high-profile launch event.

Musk, who is also famous for founding SpaceX and co-founding Paypal, said that the new solar roof tiles will be cheaper to install than a roof made of traditional materials.

He then went on to say that the electricity they produce, ‘is just a bonus’.

Secret solar panels

Musk announced the invention on the set of American TV show Desperate Housewives, surprising the audience by revealing that they were surrounded by solar houses – even though there wasn’t a solar panel in site.

The solar roofing is comprised of glass tiles covering solar cells, which are camouflaged to look like slate or Tuscan clay.

New builds could be covered in these solar roof tiles, while homeowners could renovate part of their roofing to provide solar power without changing the aspect or look of their houses.

Still undergoing development

Although Tesla’s current solar tile models are 2% less efficient than standard solar panels, the company is developing tiles that have no shortfall.

They’re also developing better coating materials that, rather than reflecting or absorbing light, trap it between the glass and the solar cells until the rays get absorbed.

Cheaper and more ecological

The solar roofing also has benefits for construction firms. Not only are they cheaper to install, they will also allow housebuilders to produce more energy-efficient buildings.

Environmental campaigners have welcomed the product, which will reduce the use of fossil fuels and lessen the roofing industry’s reliance on asphalt. The petroleum-based material is difficult to recycle due to the fact that it often contains hazardous materials.

More Musk updates

Musk also announced two new updates of existing Tesla products: the Powerwall 2 and the Powerpack 2.

The Powerwall 2 stores solar energy and discharges it for use in the home. It can store 14 kilowatt-hours of energy and has a power capacity of half that – that’s roughly enough for a four-bedroom home for a day.

Anyone who wants to install a solar tile roof will need a Powerwall to store the energy and then use it in the home.

Although it’s still in its early stages, Tesla’s solar roofing will fill an obvious gap in the market: providing home owners with a low cost, energy producing alternative to traditional materials without substantially changing their homes.

Sources:

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-17/musk-says-tesla-s-solar-shingles-will-cost-less-than-a-dumb-roof

[2] http://earth911.com/business-policy/tesla-solar-roof/

[3] https://techcrunch.com/2016/10/28/these-are-teslas-stunning-new-solar-roof-tiles-for-homes/

[4] http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/31589/20161110/tesla-solar-roof-ready-distribution-much-will-cost.htm

[5] https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/what-really-matters-from-tesla-battery-powerwall-powerpack

[6] http://www.alphr.com/tesla/1003563/tesla-powerwall-2-release-date-uk-price-and-specs-elon-musk-unveils-new-home-battery