The Alternative Energy Sources of the Future

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Solar and wind seem to be all everyone can talk about when it comes to renewable energy. Little do people know that these two energy sources have only made a small dent in the energy mix so far. However, as costs continue to come down and more people understand the benefit of adopting green energy technology, solar and wind will rise to greater heights.

However, if we really want to make fossil fuels a thing of the past we are going to need to be more innovative. This means thinking outside of the box and looking at other ways we can generate energy. Luckily, we do not need to pin all our hopes on solar and wind. There are several other ways to generate energy and a group of scientists have come up with some potentially excellent alternative energy sources. Some of them might seem like a long shot, but anything is worth a try, right?

Space Solar

Not all of the solar energy emitted by the sun actually makes it into the Earth’s atmosphere. In fact, most of it stays out in space. So, space-based solar power generation makes a lot of sense. The main challenge for this energy source is the cost of getting a generator out into space and then bringing the energy back to earth.

Human Power

There are billions of people on this planet and they move around all the time. Scientists have long thought about harnessing the energy that could be generated simply by people going about their daily lives. This would be the ultimate renewable energy source.

Tidal Power

Tidal Power is growing in popularity in a number of countries. While some are making it a viable energy source, there is still a long way to go in most nations. However, the full potential of tidal power is enormous. The US alone has the capacity to generate over 250 billion KWh per year.

Hydrogen Power

Hydrogen counts for 74% of the mass of the entire universe so if this can be turned into energy it is good news for the planet. Unfortunately, hydrogen is usually found fused with other atoms, such as oxygen, carbon and nitrogen. To separate these atoms you require energy, so the process could end up being counter-productive. This one needs more research and development.

Magma Power

We all know that the centre of the Earth is extremely hot, so why not try and turn this into energy, If magma could be tapped for geothermal heat we would have another viable alternative energy source. Scientists in Iceland are currently looking in to the possibility of this.

Nuclear Waste

When nuclear fission takes place in a nuclear reactor only around 5% of the uranium atoms are actually used, the rest simply becomes nuclear waste. This then sits in storage for thousands of year as it breaks down. There is a lot of talk right now in the energy community about using these leftovers to generate energy.

Algae Power

Who would have thought that this little pond plant would be capable of generating energy? Algae grows all over the place and could produce serious amount of energy if we were capable of harnessing its full potential.

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Government Support for Independent Renewable Energy Projects Dips, Halting Progress

resource for energy generation.jpgA drop in government subsidies for renewable energy projects has resulted in the lowest level of growth in this area in years. These small-scale projects, owned by farmers, land-owners and communities have proved to be a powerful resource for energy generation. Currently, these projects generate almost 10% of the UK’s energy mix and are capable of powering well over eight million homes.

 

Thanks to the growth in this sector, the UK saw its greenest year ever in 2017. The UK went several days without using coal power – a first since the industrial revolution. This shows the impact of investment in solid renewable energy projects.

 

Yet, in 2017, £227 million was spent on independent renewable energy projects – this compared with £280 million in the previous year and a staggering £418 million in 2014. This steep decline in support for these projects comes in the wake of the government’s decision to end feed-in tariffs. This was a scheme that aimed to support the development of small-scale renewable energy generation.

 

The scheme enabled those hoping to build a renewable energy source, such as a wind turbine or solar array, to rely on payments from energy companies for electricity generation. The feed-in tariff scheme is set to end in March 2019 and the government has not announced a review date.

 

Last year, the government also announced the closure of the Renewable Obligation Scheme for new projects. This scheme encouraged generation of energy from renewable sources by making sure energy companies were acquiring a proportion of their electricity from renewable energy sources.

 

The Vice President of Renewables at Smartest Energy explained: “The reduction in subsidies has inevitably slowed growth in the independent generation sector but these latest figures underline the significant role energy entrepreneurs continue to play as the UK shifts to a decentralised, decarbonised and digitised energy system.”

 

Unfortunately, due to the shift in the financial landscape, the prediction for the future is that new renewable energy projects that can operate subsidy-free will be the exception, not the norm.

 

However, Robertson also noted that the number of future projects will most likely pick up again. Aurora Energy Research produced a report that forecasts a large number of subsidy-free projects being built by 2030. The report highlighted the importance of improving battery storage of electricity, saying it could lead to £20 billion in UK investment in the next 12 years.

 

Dr. Jonathan Marshall, head of analysis at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, explained that while we still see growth in independent renewables, we can be satisfied that the health of the sector is good. He said that despite the drop in government support, independent investment shows that the industry powers that be want to push on with the development of the sector.

 

Marshall went on to say: “Following the recent announcement that the UK carbon targets could be tightened later this year, measures that curtail the generation of low-carbon power seem out of step with our long term goals. Without a cheap and clean power supply, plans to cut carbon from heating and transport are likely to be harder to achieve, and risk undermining claims of climate leadership that British ministers have been making on both the domestic and global stage.”

 

A spokesperson for the government department for energy has attempted to reassure by saying that the team will be reconsidering how best to support small-scale energy projects after the 2019 expiration date.

Elon Musk Hopeful for Tesla Output of Model 3 cars: 5,000 per Week By End of Month “Quite Likely”

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At just 46, Elon Musk has already achieved far more than any of us will even come close to achieving in our entire lifetime. With SpaceX and Tesla firmly tucked into his belt, Musk seems like an unstoppable tour de force. And, this notion is only confirmed by his latest statement to the world.

Last Tuesday, Elon Musk announced that he believes it is quite likely that Tesla will be able to produce 5000 Model 3 cars per week. The vehicle is due to start being delivered in 2019 and it comes with free, unlimited supercharging. With the world focusing heavily on electric vehicles and sustainable energy, the mass production of an affordable electric car is big news. Indeed, Tesla’s share price has performed exceptionally well following the news.

The news of Tesla’s increased production of electric cars was followed by an announcement that the company’s Nevada Gigafactory is set to produce more batteries than all other electric vehicle companies combined. This includes those in China.

This series of revelations comes in the wake of proposals to shake up the company’s board were smacked down by voters. The proposal would separate the CEO and chairman roles, both of which are positions currently held by Musk.

Recently, Tesla has been concerned with the production of the Model 3 and has been struggling with its finances. However, the fortunes of the company look destined to turn. While so far only the more expensive versions of the Model 3 have been on offer (priced at $35,000), Musk assured the world that a base model will be available. He expects it to be on the market by the first quarter of 2019.

According to the company, those wishing to test drive the Model 3 will be able to in “almost all stores in North America by the end of next month.”

As if this wasn’t enough, Elon Musk has yet more in store for potential owners of electric vehicles. He announced that it is likely that Tesla will create and sell a compact electric car in the next five years. This could revolutionise the school and grocery stores runs and make a huge impact on the environment.

Musk said Tesla is expected to be GAAP profitable in the third quarter and cash-flow positive in the third and fourth quarters. Many on Wall Street have suspected the company will need to raise more capital by early next year.

The result of this push by Tesla to produce more electric cars and to make them available to the general public is another indicator of how the business world is fighting back against Trump’s disregard for climate change. Since the Clean Power Plan was scrapped and the USA withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord, it has been up to industry to show the world that the USA is part of the battle against climate change. Elon Musk is clearly spearheading this campaign and it will be exciting to see where Tesla goes in the future.

Electric vehicles come out in their hordes at Geneva Motor Show

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Car makers are hot on the heels of Tesla as more and more electric vehicles are rolled out at the Geneva International Motor Show. The attempts to compete show the recognition of the importance of this disruptive shift in the transportation world. Low emission and autonomous vehicles are going to be the future of automobiles.

 

However, not all was rose-tinted for European carmakers as Donald Trump’s threat to slap tariffs on manufacturers lingered in the air. This came as the result of what looked set to become a trade war between the U.S and EU.

 

In other news, German car giants Volkswagen, Daimler, and BMW have taken the opportunity to show off their new high-tech developments. This comes despite issues with legal attempts to ban diesel vehicles in German cities and a scandal involving lab monkeys and exhaust fumes.

 

Themes of the show were as follows.

 

Electric and Autonomous

 

This is the biggest trend in the automotive industry. Currently, manufacturers are racing one another to develop affordable and functional technologies that can be rolled out to the public. While a number of the cars on show, including the I.D. Vizzion, are simply concepts, there were a number of other models ready to go on sale. This includes the Jaguar I-Pace, which can travel 310 miles off one battery charge.

 

Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai have also joined in and unveiled electric vehicles. Meanwhile BMW and Jaguar attempted to claw back some sales that were stolen away by Tesla in the luxury car-making industry.

 

When it comes to changes in the industry, there is a lot to talk about vis-à-vis electric vehicles. And, it’s not just the cars themselves that are changing. Cities are looking at how to adapt to a potential influx of electric vehicles. Various car-makers are making plans to install a network of charging stations for electric vehicles. The companies hope that this will encourage more people to invest in an electric car and not be put off by the idea that they won’t be able to use it for long distances. These charging stations could fill a car battery in as little as 15 minutes.

 

Automakers are being compelled by national governments to propel vehicles with something other than combustion engines in order to comply with new efforts to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. This has been compounded by a ruling that German cities can, if they choose, ban diesel vehicles.

 

Stand Against Animal Cruelty

 

Volkswagen has been condemned for its experiments in 2014 in which it exposed macaque monkeys to diesel exhaust in a lab in New Mexico. All three German automakers, BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler, are investigating into how these tests were allowed to happen.

 

Repeat Vehicles

 

A number of important cars that were revealed at the show had already been unveiled at previous automobile launches. This includes the new Mercedes Benz A class, which was shown to the public the month previous in Amsterdam. This new vehicle has voice controlled operations, much like Amazon’s Alexa.

 

Sky-High Prices

 

If you are thinking you might like to purchase one of these luxury cars featured at the Geneva car show, you might want to pause before getting out your cheque book. Some of these cars cost up to $1 million – not exactly what you want to pay for a little run around!

 

New Home Energy Efficiency Ideas

There are two reasons why making your house more energy efficient is a good idea. The first is that you will be doing your bit to protect the environment. There has been a huge focus in the past few years on combatting climate change and a reduction in energy usage has been highlighted as one of the key ways this can be achieved. The second reason is that a house with high energy efficiency will amount to lower energy bills. This could end up saving you hundreds of pounds a year – money that could be spent on vacations and dinners.

 

Many people are put off by anything that might affect the comfort of their lifestyle. The good news is that making your house energy efficient does not need to have a negative impact on the way you live. In fact, some of these suggestions can be done with virtually no effort at all. Take a look and see if you can make your home as energy efficient as possible.

 

Seal and Insulate Your Home

 

Did you know that heating and cooling account for about 45% of your expenditure on energy bills? Making sure your house is properly sealed can save you huge amounts of money as it stops heat from escaping during the winter and entering in the summer. Double glazing and inner wall insulation are great ways to insulate your house. Keep an eye out as well for any draughty windows or cracks under the doors, which might let in a brisk chill on a cold day.

 

Use LED Light Bulbs

 

Low-energy LED light bulbs are life savers for people trying to cut down their energy bills. Not only do they use 90% less energy but they also have a much longer shelf life. Typically, LED bulbs last around 10 times longer than average light bulbs. This means you will be saving money on your energy bill and saving money on replacement light bulbs. Win-win!

 

Deck Out Your House With A-Rated Energy Efficient Appliances

 

Admittedly, energy-saving appliances do cost a bit more up-front. However, the extra money you fork out at the beginning will be offset by the energy savings garnered by your new efficient appliance. Kettles and shower heads are some of the most popular low-energy purchases.

 

Be Sparing With Your Appliances

 

Even if you have energy efficient appliances in your home, the less you use them, the more energy efficient your home will be. If the weather is nice, use a BBQ instead of your oven; and hang your clothes out on the line rather than bundling them in the tumble dryer. This leaves your electrical appliances unused and saves you money in the process.

 

Use Thermostats and Timers

 

Thermostats and timers are fantastic ways to monitor how much energy you are using. Very few people need to heat their homes 24/7, nor do they need a constant flow of hot water. You would be amazed at how many different things you can control with a timer in your home. Set your heat and hot water for the early mornings and late evenings so you are not haemorrhaging cash while you’re at work

Tips to reduce energy consumption

electricity-624569_960_720.jpgNobody likes to pay more for the same service or product so shopping around for the best energy prices is important. But there is something else you can do to cut your yearly energy bills and that is by making changes to reduce your energy consumption. It’s better for you and better for the planet.

You might be thinking that reducing your energy consumption would be difficult but there are many easy and cheap possibilities you can act on to start saving money today.

 

Large energy consumption factors

Heating, air conditioning and lighting are often cited as being the main energy costs to small businesses. Recent government figures suggest that energy savings approaching 40% could have been made during the 2014-15 period which would have equated to nearly £4bn. Okay so it’s the industrial sector that is the most wasteful with its manufacturing infrastructure and, by financial necessity, slow uptake of the newest energy efficient equipment. But, even in the office, retail and hospitality sectors there are substantial areas where you can cut usage. Estimates suggest that in these three sectors alone 25% to 33% reductions in energy consumption would be possible.

Lighting in particular is easily targeted although the initial outlay can be high depending on how far you wish to pursue it. Cheap fixes such as swapping to LED light bulbs will make a noticeable dent in your outgoings. They don’t get hot like conventional incandescent/gas-filled light bulbs so less electricity is wasted. Also they are readily available in a range of colour temperatures from cool to warm so can be used confidently in any workspace. Another lighting option to consider would be checking to see whether your offices use T12 fluorescent striplights. If so you could make a 35% saving by swapping these out for T8s with electronic ballast.

If you want to take lighting more seriously then you could invest in a timed and/or sensor solution where the lights only come on during the working days and to allow for cleaners to come and go.

A staggering fifth of a business’s energy bill goes into lighting. Nationwide, we could save over £1bn annually by being smarter with our lighting solutions.

 

Heating and air conditioning

Eating up the lion’s share of energy consumption is temperature regulation. Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) needs to be addressed as part of any energy use audit. Some quick wins can be through implementing a better use of timers and effective thermostat settings which will have an impressive impact on your bills. One major driver in temperature management is staff motivation. Making sure your workforce will do their bit in keeping windows and doors open or shut as appropriate, for example, will help reduce your bills and you could introduce some kind of reward scheme for good practice. Keep a good maintenance schedule too by regular checks of HVAC equipment, cleaning and replacing of filters too to keep them performing efficiently.

So we have air conditioning to keep us cool and heating to keep us warm. If you haven’t already, look to implement a temperature ‘dead-zone’ of 50C to prevent both systems running simultaneously and competing.

 

Computers – the elephant in the room

Who turns their workstation off at night? Office computers consume several watts per hour even while idle. If you run a company that operates ten or more computers which are left running overnight then you are wasting a lot of energy. Typical reasons for leaving computers on 24/7 include allowing automatic updating of operating systems, software and antivirus programs. But a simple solution to this is to use a scheduling system that could boot your machines up a few hours before the workforce arrives giving allowing them to update without using as much electricity.

 

Hospitality

If your business is the hospitality sector or care then refrigeration and storage of frozen food requires constant 24/7 energy usage. While you can’t cut corners with food safety you can maximise efficiency by making sure all the door seals are tight and that they are cleaned regularly.

 

The Carbon Trust Green Business Fund

This initiative from the Carbon Trust is aimed at small to medium-sized businesses in England, Scotland and Wales. They can carry out energy efficiency assessments for your business and also contribute financially towards capital expenditure that’s designed to cut emissions. In the north of England a carpet retailer received help to improve their energy efficiency by installing new HVAC systems throughout the business. The new HVAC setup gave more control over scheduling and temperature with annual savings of an impressive £7,000 that will pay for itself in under four years.

 

Summary

We’ve covered the major sources of common energy expenditure accrued by businesses across the UK. There are a range of measures you can take to make significant savings on your annual bills. Some require little capital and others require more investment but government and funding bodies like the Carbon Trust exist to help you out.

 

Bio: This article is written by Emma Hays, who works for Troocost.  Troocost is a business energy comparison website.

The Top 8 Energy Stories For 2018: Are Cities, States And Companies More Consequential Than Trump?

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The world energy news continues to be dominated by Donald Trump. His doubters have hesitated to speak out as there is certainly something to said for going over the nation’s regulatory regime and reconsidering its configuration. However, critics still stand by the fact that Trump’s primary initiative is to undo Obama’s progress and undermine the science that underpins the research relating to climate change.

Fortunately, cities and states are taking matters into their own hands and are backed by American enterprise. Hopefully, their actions will outlast those of the president.

  1. The Trump Organisation looks like it is going to pay out millions of dollars towards the clean up of a polluted site. The site was overseen by Donald Jr. and is known as Titan Atlas Manufacturing. The industrial site began in 2010 and failed two years later. This shows the president’s attitude towards the link between environment and business. If there is money to be made then environmental concerns are secondary.
  2. In January 2017, the president signed an order to launch the Keystone XL Pipeline into action. The project has been on standby since 2008 and there were doubts about how many permanent jobs the pipeline would create. The drop in the price of oil also caused speculation as to the economics of the project, given that it was to cost in excess of $7 billion.

 

  1. In July OFAC fined Exxon Mobil $2 million for violating sanctions on Russia. The breach was considered a reckless disregard for the sanctions, which barred U.S. entities from dealing financially with Igor Sechin, CEO of Rosneft, a Russian state-owner oil company.

 

  1. Scott Pruitt, an EPA administrator, announced on Halloween that scientists who receive research grants from the EPA will no longer have a seat on the agency’s board. This means that hundreds of independent scientists will no longer be able to sit on the board but it will not stop scientists from private enterprise from doing so. Critics have blasted the move saying it is a blatant purging of independent scientists who may conflict with corporate interests.

 

  1. Trump sent ripples through the world when he decided to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, making the U.S. the only country in that world that is not participating. The aim of the pact was to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. Trump’s reasoning is flawed. He argued that he cannot create jobs and build an economy if he has to worry about a healthy environment. However, the U.S. economy has flourished recently whilst making great environment strides and renewable energy technologies are creating jobs.

 

  1. Trump also ditched the Clean Power Plan and is attempting to resurrect the coal industry. However, market forces are proving stronger than the plan to roll back the proposed emission cuts. CO2 emissions were 18% less than in 2005 according to the EIA.

 

  1. California has been busy creating and implementing a strategy to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 from 1990 levels. The move is in direct contrast with Trump’s position. By 2050 the state hopes to have reduced emissions by 80% and it believes that this initiative will create jobs.

 

  1. Cities and states are certainly accelerating the low-carbon trend but it is the corporate world that is making things happen. Companies are listening to customers and investors and adopting technologies that will reduce emissions. Over 365 businesses have signed a letter asking Trump to go back to the Paris climate and Clean Power Plan.