Main electricity source in 2060?

maandag 2 januari 2012

Green crisis?

Because of the financial/economic crisis, governments across the globe are cutting funding for green energy! How can we turn this around? Discuss!

vrijdag 7 oktober 2011

New fuel for cars: hydrogen or electric?

Mobility takes up a large portion of our energy consumption. Most cars run on fossil fuels, but in the future this needs to change to another source of energy, because of global warming and because the worldwide oil reserves are declining. It is necessary that the industry adapts to new technologies in time because if they wait too long it might be damaging for the economy, if everybody is still driving a petrol-powered car while the price of petrol has tripled compared to today.

So, what are the options? A few years ago we were introduced with hybrid cars. These cars are more economical but still use petrol. This year the Nissan Leaf and Peugeot Ion were released, completely electrical cars. Now in theory this is a good idea, but in practice we can see a lot of problems with electrical cars. Most importantly, their action radius is way too short to be used by everyone. A car like the Nissan Leaf can barely drive 120 km / 80 miles until its battery is empty and it takes TWELVE hours to recharge (there's a nice Top Gear episode about that: season 17 episode 6).

So we need a green car which doesn't take 6 days to drive from Amsterdam to Marseille or from New York to Chicago. Hydrogen is the solution here. 100% renewable (if the hydrogen is generated with green electricity) and you can fill up your car in 2 minutes. Downside: it's expensive, and hydrogen doesn't contain as much energy as petrol, which means that you need more of it in terms of volume to drive the same distance. But I think hydrogen has a better future than electricity because I don't think that batteries will ever be improved so much that you can drive an electric car 500 kilometers on one charge and then charge it in 15 minutes. Hydrogen will become cheaper once it gets big and people won't mind visiting the petrol station (hydrogen station!) a little bit more often, if they can spare their wallet and the environment with it.

Below a picture of the Honda Clarity, a concept hydrogen car:

donderdag 1 september 2011

New types of wind power

Besides the well known regular wind turbines you see everywhere, scientists are thinking of alternative ways of wind power generation. One cool gadget is a micro-wind turbine on your own house! Though I'm not sure if the noise they make won't get complaints from your neighbors, but this is something you could look into.

On the other hand they're looking for more large-scale wind power generation. One example can be seen here:

Maglev Wind Turbine

Later! M

zondag 31 juli 2011

Solar power

More on solar power!

Solar power is currently more expensive than wind energy, but this depends on the circumstances. Take a look at this map (wikipedia):

Around the equator, solar energy is more efficient. The black dots represent the area of solar panels that is needed to provide all the worlds energy (that is, electricity+fuel+all other energy).

It also explains why warmer countries like Italy and Spain invest more money in solar energy than countries with less sunshine. Though Germany is investing billions of euros in solar panels, while their efficiency is much less than in southern countries.

Solar energy is getting cheaper and more efficient because of technological improvements. At the same time, oil is getting more and more expensive (currently around $100 per barrel and increasing). This means that solar energy is the future!

zaterdag 25 juni 2011

Why is green energy important?

A quick reminder for you, the main arguments why green energy is so important:

1. Currently the western world is very dependent on oil and gas. Increasingly we have to import this from unstable and/or totalitarian countries like Nigeria, Libya, Iran, Venezuela and Russia. Our own oil+gas supplies are depleting fast. Most fields in the USA, Norway, Netherlands and UK are already long over their production peak and they are declining fast. Most gas in western Europe used to be from Norway and the Netherlands but in 20 years from now it will all be from Russia. This is bad for the western economy and political position so we simply need to consume less gas.
2. The greenhouse effect. I tend to believe scientists who claim that humans are creating a rise in temperature and sealevels because of burning fossil fuels. It is a fact that temperature has been rising sharply for the past 50 years and this is probably (though not certainly) linked to emission of carbondioxide. More windmills and less coal plants is the solution. (or nuclear plants??)
3. Air pollution is bad for our health so more electric cars - especially in big cities where it is proven that air quality is pretty bad mainly because of cars - can give a great contribution to clean air in cities.
4. Depletion of oil reserves. After the 'peak oil' production of oil will drop but demand will still remain the same or even rise, creating high oil prices and potentially civil unrest and shortages of electricity and gas. To prevent this chaos we need to convert to wind/solar/nuclear in time.

pic: solar plant in spain

zaterdag 18 juni 2011

How can I save on energy?


1. Easy one: turn the lights off in rooms when you're not there
2. Turn your lights + pc monitor off when you go to the bathroom
3. Use public transport instead of car
4. Use bicycle or walk instead of public transport
5. Eat less meat.
6. Use energy saving light bulbs
7. Buy a LED-monitor and LED-television.
8. Clear the ice from your freezer.
9. Drink water instead of coke. Is healthier too.
10. Remove all electronic devices from their power sockets when you go away for a few days.

ALL THESE TIPS save money as well. Who said being good for the environment is expensive?

maandag 13 juni 2011

Energy grid

If green energy is implemented on a very large scale, like a one third or more of all energy in the world, then an intelligent system of providing energy is required. This is because in some periods the wind is much stronger or sunshine is more intense than in other periods. If there is an excess of wind energy, the electricity needs to be stored somewhere. This can be done by temporarily stopping hydro plants, so the water level in the lake next to the dam rises, and once the wind lies down again the hydro plant can be turned on to provide the needed energy. This is already being done in Denmark (lot of wind mills) and Sweden (lot of hydro energy).

The countries surrounding the North Sea (UK, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Germany) are planning to line up their power grids so they can easier exchange their excess wind, hydro or solar energy. The EU has a goal to make 20% of all energy renewable, so building the North sea full of windmills, installing more solar panels and building this international power grid is essential in reaching this goal.