World’s largest solar power plant planned for Chernobyl nuclear wasteland  

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Electrek has a post on a plan to build a solar power plant at Chernobyl - World’s largest solar power plant planned for Chernobyl nuclear wasteland.

The proposed 1GW solar plant, if built today, would be the world’s largest. There are several plans for 1GW solar plants in development (Egypt, India, UAE, China, etc) – but none of them have been completed yet. One financial benefit of the site is that transmission lines for Chernobyl’s 4GW nuclear reactor are still in place.

Doubling the battery power of consumer electronics using lithium metal batteries  

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MIT News has a report on "new lithium metal batteries could make smartphones, drones, and electric cars last twice as long" - Doubling battery power of consumer electronics.

Founded in 2012 by MIT alumnus and former postdoc Qichao Hu ’07, SolidEnergy Systems has developed an “anode-free” lithium metal battery with several material advances that make it twice as energy-dense, yet just as safe and long-lasting as the lithium ion batteries used in smartphones, electric cars, wearables, drones, and other devices.

“With two-times the energy density, we can make a battery half the size, but that still lasts the same amount of time, as a lithium ion battery. Or we can make a battery the same size as a lithium ion battery, but now it will last twice as long,” says Hu, who co-invented the battery at MIT and is now CEO of SolidEnergy.

The battery essentially swaps out a common battery anode material, graphite, for very thin, high-energy lithium-metal foil, which can hold more ions — and, therefore, provide more energy capacity. Chemical modifications to the electrolyte also make the typically short-lived and volatile lithium metal batteries rechargeable and safer to use. Moreover, the batteries are made using existing lithium ion manufacturing equipment, which makes them scalable.

July is World’s Hottest Month on Record  

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Climate Central has a report on the latest global temperature records - Scorching July is World’s Hottest Month on Record.

By NASA’s reckoning, July 2016 was 1.27˚F (0.84˚C) hotter than the 1951-1980 average. It was 0.2˚F (0.11˚C) above July 2015, the next warmest July in records that go back to 1880. The record July heat also means this was the hottest month the planet has seen over the course of NASA's records. That's because July is also generally the hottest month of the year due the fact that it's summer in the northern hemisphere where there's more land.

Schmidt said he expects July will be the last record hot month of this year as the residual heat from an exceptionally strong El Niño dies away. Though El Niño itself was declared over in June, global temperatures tend to lag by about two to three months.

While El Niño provided a boost to global temperatures this year, the bulk of the heat is what has been trapped by accumulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

ANU team cracks solar thermal efficiency of 97% – a world record  

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ReNew Economy has an article on a new efficiency record for solar thermal power - ANU team cracks solar thermal efficiency of 97% – a world record

The ANU team, whose CST technology harnesses the power of the sun using a 500 square meter solar concentrator dish, made the breakthrough by redesigning the system’s receiver in a way that halved its convection losses and boosted its conversion of sunlight into steam from 93 per cent to 97 per cent.

According to the ANU’s Dr John Pye, the new design could result in a 10 per cent reduction in the cost of solar thermal electricity. “Ultimately the work in this project is all about reducing the cost of concentrating solar thermal energy,” he said. “Our aim is to get costs down to 12 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, so that this technology will be competitive.

Saul Griffith Shows How All The Energy In The U.S. Is Used  

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Saul Griffith has produced a Sankey diagram showing how energy is used in the United States - This Very, Very Detailed Chart Shows How All The Energy In The U.S. Is Used.

Tesla's Master Plan, Part 2  

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Elon Musk has a great blog post up outlining Tesla's updated plan for the future - Master Plan, Part Deux.

From the point of view of this blog, Musk is the most important person on the planet as he's been the most successful at accelerating development of 3 of the 4 pillars of the clean energy economy - electric vehicles, energy storage and (to a lesser extent) solar power.

The first master plan that I wrote 10 years ago is now in the final stages of completion. It wasn't all that complicated and basically consisted of:

Create a low volume car, which would necessarily be expensive
Use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower price
Use that money to create an affordable, high volume car

Provide solar power. No kidding, this has literally been on our website for 10 years.

The reason we had to start off with step 1 was that it was all I could afford to do with what I made from PayPal. I thought our chances of success were so low that I didn't want to risk anyone's funds in the beginning but my own. The list of successful car company startups is short. As of 2016, the number of American car companies that haven't gone bankrupt is a grand total of two: Ford and Tesla. Starting a car company is idiotic and an electric car company is idiocy squared.

Also, a low volume car means a much smaller, simpler factory, albeit with most things done by hand. Without economies of scale, anything we built would be expensive, whether it was an economy sedan or a sports car. While at least some people would be prepared to pay a high price for a sports car, no one was going to pay $100k for an electric Honda Civic, no matter how cool it looked.

Part of the reason I wrote the first master plan was to defend against the inevitable attacks Tesla would face accusing us of just caring about making cars for rich people, implying that we felt there was a shortage of sports car companies or some other bizarre rationale. Unfortunately, the blog didn't stop countless attack articles on exactly these grounds, so it pretty much completely failed that objective.

However, the main reason was to explain how our actions fit into a larger picture, so that they would seem less random. The point of all this was, and remains, accelerating the advent of sustainable energy, so that we can imagine far into the future and life is still good. That's what "sustainable" means. It's not some silly, hippy thing -- it matters for everyone.

By definition, we must at some point achieve a sustainable energy economy or we will run out of fossil fuels to burn and civilization will collapse. Given that we must get off fossil fuels anyway and that virtually all scientists agree that dramatically increasing atmospheric and oceanic carbon levels is insane, the faster we achieve sustainability, the better.

Here is what we plan to do to make that day come sooner:

Integrate Energy Generation and Storage ...
Expand to Cover the Major Forms of Terrestrial Transport ...
Autonomy ...
Sharing ...

So, in short, Master Plan, Part Deux is:

Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage
Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments
Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning
Enable your car to make money for you when you aren't using it

Donald Trump right about something for a change ?  

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The only time I ever feel any sympathy for Donald Trump is when I read some journal like The Washington Post and come across some neo-conservative warmonger calling Trump a fascist or some of form of the pot calling the kettle black.

One of Trump's occasional "even a stopped clock is right twice a day" moments came around recently when he referred to the looting of the US taxpayer funds that occurred during the George W Bush years, with billions dispatched to Iraq and straight into the pockets of the sorts of people and organisations that supported the invasion and occupation (not to mention the attempted grab for Iraq's oil).

The Washington Post responded to this outrageous slur with a column from an ex member of the US military talking about how insulted he was and how during his time in Iraq he "had distributed about $2 million to the people of Iraq for justified damage" (apparently the payment for having a parent or child killed while going about their daily business didn't attract a particularly large amount of compensation).

The question which came immediately to mind for me was that if that $2 million is the only money that can be (anecdotally) accounted for, surely someone must be wondering where the rest of the $7 - $12 billion dollars of cash ended up ?

Apple Energy ?  

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Apparently the electric vehicle recharging market isn't enough to keep Apple amused - ReNew Economy reports they may also be looking to start selling electricity as well - Apple’s energy bombshell: Why it may sell you electricity.

Perhaps when they look down the highway at Tesla they see the future is about a lot more than phones and ipads...

The rise of electric vehicle power demand  

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The recent Bloomberg report on peak fossil fuel consumption was based on data in the latest BNEF New Energy Outlook.

Another snippet of interesting information that I didn't note in the earlier post is the estimates for rising electrical power demand due to the switch from oil fuelled vehicles to electric powered vehicles - BNEF estimates that the rise of electric vehicles will add over 2,700TWh of power demand to 2040.

Seven climate records set so far in 2016  

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The Guardian has a report on the record breaking temperatures of the past year Seven climate records set so far in 2016.

1. The Arctic had its warmest winter on record in 2015-16
2. Since October every month has been the hottest on record
3. India's hottest day ever - 51 degrees
4. Alaska's warmest spring ever
5. Carbon dioxide levels pass 400ppm
6. Australia recorded its warmest autumn on record in 2016
7. 2016 has seen mass bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef


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