An Electric Car Powered by Saltwater ?  

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I don't usually expect to see "free energy" style stories on Inhabitat but I guess they make for good clickbait - this one is on a very hot looking car that can supposedly travel 370 miles on a tank of saltwater - This Blazing Fast Electric Car is Powered by Saltwater.

Nanoflowcell has developed the world’s first saltwater-powered electric car – the Quant e-Sportlimousine – it just received approval for testing in Europe! The futuristic gull-winged vehicle runs on a special type of gasoline that is made from salt water, and it’s now street-legal on public roads in Germany. According to Nanoflowcell, the Quant e-Sportlimousine can accelerate from 0-62 mph in a blazing 2.8 seconds and it has a driving range of up to 373 miles.

2MW Tidal Power Project For Bay Of Fundy  

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The Chronicle Herald has an article on a small-ish tidal power project in Nova Scotia - Fundy Tidal, Ontario firm join for energy project.

A Digby County tidal energy developer is teaming up with an Ontario company to make a 1.95-megawatt tidal project — and possibly more tidal projects — a reality. ... The company’s other COMFIT approvals include 500 kilowatt projects in Grand Passage, between Brier Island and Long Island, and in Petit Passage, between Long Island and Digby Neck. They have two more in Cape Breton, a 500 kilowatt project in Great Bras d’Or Channel and one for 100 kilowatts in Barra Strait.

Canada's CBC also has an article on tidal power testing programs in the Bay of Fundy - Bay of Fundy FORCE study looking at tidal power turbine potential.

Understanding the environmental conditions and strength of the current in the Bay of Fundy is important for four consortia — European companies partnered with local Nova Scotia companies — who have committed to spend $9 million on four berths to test their turbines at the demonstration site.

In 2009, OpenHydro of France tried unsuccessfully to deploy a 10-tonne turbine in the Bay of Fundy, but the ultra-strong tidal flows destroyed the machinery within three weeks. Current speeds have been clocked between 10 and 12 knots.

Instead of waiting months for collected data to be retrieved and processed, the new testing platform is connected to an onshore computer at FORCE in Parrsboro via a three-kilometre-long fibre-optic cable that transmits data in real-time.

Google invests $145m to turn oil field into solar plant  

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RNE has alook at Google's latest clean energy investment - Google invests $145m to turn oil field into solar plant.

US tech giant Google has signed up for its 17th renewable energy project, to put $145 million towards an 82 megawatt solar project being built by SunEdison on a former oil and gas field. The deal, announced last week, puts the internet search company’s clean energy investment tab at more than $1.5 billion, for projects spanning three continents and totalling a capacity of more than 2.5GW.

This latest, the “Regulus” solar project in Google’s home state of California, will be SunEdison’s largest in North America once finished, comprising more than 248,000 monocrystalline solar PV panels spanning 737 acres.Solar-google-logo “Over the years, this particular site in California has gone from 30 oil wells to five as it was exhausted of profitable fossil fuel reserves,” writes Google’s renewable energy principal Nick Coons on Google’s blog. “The land sat for some time and today we’re ready to spiff things up.”

China cracks down on imported coal  

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The SMH reports that China is looking to reduce coal imports - partly to improve air quality, partly to support Chinese coal miners - Risky business: China dumps our dirty coal.

Australian coal exporters are scrambling to clarify the fallout from changes to China's coal import rules, which could expose the industry to billions of dollars in lost sales as China seeks to cut air pollution.

The Chinese government is to limit the use of imported coal with more than 16 per cent ash and 3 per cent sulphur from January 1, 2015 in a bid to improve air quality, especially in cities such as Beijing and around Shanghai. At the same time, China is moving to force power utilities to slash coal import volumes, also with the stated aim of improving air quality, although this move will primarily give China's local coalminers a lift.

Will Superintelligent Machines Destroy Humanity ?  

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reason has a review of Nick Bostrum's book "Superintelligence" - Will Superintelligent Machines Destroy Humanity?.

In Frank Herbert's Dune books, humanity has long banned the creation of "thinking machines." Ten thousand years earlier, their ancestors destroyed all such computers in a movement called the Butlerian Jihad, because they felt the machines controlled them. Human computers called Mentats serve as a substitute for the outlawed technology. The penalty for violating the Orange Catholic Bible's commandment "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind" was immediate death.

Should humanity sanction the creation of intelligent machines? That's the pressing issue at the heart of the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom's fascinating new book, Superintelligence. Bostrom cogently argues that the prospect of superintelligent machines is "the most important and most daunting challenge humanity has ever faced." If we fail to meet this challenge, he concludes, malevolent or indifferent artificial intelligence (AI) will likely destroy us all. ...

In the Dune series, humanity was able to overthrow the oppressive thinking machines. But Bostrom is most likely right that once a superintelligent AI is conjured into existence, it will be impossible for us to turn it off or change its goals. He makes a strong case that working to ensure the survival of humanity after the coming intelligence explosion is, as he writes, "the essential task of our age."

RayGen fast-tracks 10MW CSVP power plant in China  

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While solar thermal power plants aren't expanding as rapidly as I hoped, innovation in the CSP(V) sector is continuing to occur. RNE has a report on Australian company Raygen which is looking to build a CSPV plant in China - Australia’s RayGen fast-tracks 10MW CSVP power plant in China.

Australian solar technology developer RayGen Resources says it will accelerate the time line for its first major commercial-scale project for its concentrated solar PV technology (CSPV), and intends to have a 10MW system built in China within two years.

The Melbourne-based RayGen, which has a small pilot facility in Victoria, says the deal with China Intense Solar will see a 200kW pilot plant completed by March, 2015, followed by a 1 MW demonstration soon after.

Ocean Thermal Energy: Back From the Deep  

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IEEE Spectrum has a look at a new OTEC pilot plant in Hawaii - Ocean Thermal Energy: Back From the Deep.

The finished facility, which will be only a bit higher in capacity than existing test plants in Japan and South Korea, is quite modest by energy production standards. The plant will be able to produce at most 100 kilowatts of power—enough, when operating continuously, to supply electricity to about 80 average American homes.

The plant and its pumps will consume most of the energy produced. But Makai’s plant is geared toward research, Eldred notes, not energy generation. The facility was built primarily to design and test heat exchangers, which are among the most expensive components of an OTEC plant. With the addition of a turbine, Eldred says, Makai will be able to design an automatic control system and improve both performance and cost predictions for its commercial plant designs. The company also hopes to get a sense of how fluctuations in the temperature and pressure of ocean water will alter power output, a factor that might prove significant for wave-tossed offshore plants.

That’s likely to be where OTEC energy production winds up. A 10-megawatt plant, such as one that Lockheed Martin aims to build for China’s Reignwood Group, will require a cold-water pipe that is several meters wide. A plant floating in open water could send a pipe straight to the depth required instead of diagonally, down a long slope extending out from shore. That would make for a shorter and less expensive pipe, reduce the impact on the landscape, and cut down on the energy required to pump the cold water.

The first large-scale plant to make the leap could be New Energy for Martinique and Overseas (NEMO), says Luis Vega of the University of Hawaii’s National Marine Renewable Energy Center. The project, which is a collaboration between renewable energy firm Akuo Energy and naval defense company DCNS, both based in Paris, plans to construct a 16-MW plant about 5 kilometers off the shore of the island of Martinique.

Construction is set to start next year, and the team aims to have the plant operational in four years. When complete, NEMO should be able to supply some 11 MW of energy to the Caribbean island, with the other 5 MW powering the plant and its pumps.

Earth’s Infrared Radiation: A New Renewable Energy Frontier ?  

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IEEE Spectrum has a look at a newly recognised form of ambient energy - Earth’s Infrared Radiation: New Renewable Energy Frontier?.

The Earth continuously emits 100 million gigawatts of infrared heat into outer space. That’s enough to power all of humanity many thousands of times over. Capturing even a fraction of that would mean an end to our energy woes. Harvard University researchers are now proposing a way to harvest this untapped source of renewable energy.

They have come up with two designs for a device they call an “emissive energy harvester” that would convert IR radiation into usable power. Today's technology isn't sufficient for an efficient, affordable harvester, the researchers say. But they've laid out a few different paths towards such devices in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Stanford University has a post on a small radio device that uses ambient energy to power itself - making it a building block for the "internet of things" - Stanford engineer aims to connect the world with ant-sized radios.

A Stanford engineering team has built a radio the size of an ant, a device so energy efficient that it gathers all the power it needs from the same electromagnetic waves that carry signals to its receiving antenna – no batteries required.

Designed to compute, execute and relay commands, this tiny wireless chip costs pennies to fabricate – making it cheap enough to become the missing link between the Internet as we know it and the linked-together smart gadgets envisioned in the "Internet of Things."

"The next exponential growth in connectivity will be connecting objects together and giving us remote control through the web," said Amin Arbabian, an assistant professor of electrical engineering who recently demonstrated this ant-sized radio chip at the VLSI Technology and Circuits Symposium in Hawaii.

Much of the infrastructure needed to enable us to control sensors and devices remotely already exists: We have the Internet to carry commands around the globe, and computers and smartphones to issue the commands. What's missing is a wireless controller cheap enough to so that it can be installed on any gadget anywhere.

"How do you put a bi-directional wireless control system on every lightbulb?" Arbabian said. "By putting all the essential elements of a radio on a single chip that costs pennies to make."

World Energy Reports, 2014  

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All of this year's major energy reports are now out :

Euan at Energy Matters has a summary of the BP report - Global Energy Trends – BP Statistical Review 2014.

  • Global primary energy supply has continued to grow, mainly fossil fuels (FF), mainly coal. FF supply was up 183 million tonnes oil equivalent (mtoe) in 2013 while new renewable supply was up 42 mtoe from 2012.
  • In 2003, FF accounted for 87% of global primary energy consumption. In 2013, FF accounted for 87% of global primary energy consumption. This is testimony to the absolute failure of energy policies aimed at reducing CO2 emissions.
  • In 2003, new renewables (wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels etc) accounted for 0.82% of total primary energy and by 2013 this had grown to 2.69%. In 2003, nuclear power accounted for 6.01% and this fell to 4.40% in 2013. The 1.87% growth in share of new renewables almost matches the 1.61% fall in the share of nuclear power. On the CO2 account, low emissions nuclear power has been replaced by low emissions renewable energy. The actual energy substitutions are a little more complex.
  • Oil consumption has been on a gently rising plateau since 2005 (Figure 1) and oil is declining in importance in the global energy mix (Figure 2). The fall in oil’s share has been picked up by coal and the only simple way for this substitution to occur is for oil fired power generation to close. Once all oil fired generation has been closed, expect severe upwards pressure on the oil price.

Robert Rapier also has some articles on the BP report - World Sets New Oil Production and Consumption Records and The US and Russia are Gas Giants.

First a note about BP’s definitions. “Oil” in the BP Statistical Review (BPSR) is defined as ”crude oil, tight oil, oil sands and natural gas liquids”, but excludes biofuels and liquid fuels produced from coal or natural gas. Consumption numbers do include all liquid fuels, so consumption numbers are always greater than production numbers, but this is merely an artifact of BP’s definitions.

Global oil production advanced in 2013 by 557,000 barrels per day (bpd), reaching a new all-time high of 86.8 million bpd (an increase of 0.6 percent over 2012). After declining in 2009, global crude oil production has now increased 4 years in a row. But as I noted in last month’s short article, while global oil production did indeed set a new record, the US production increase alone was 1.1 million bpd. Thus, outside the US global production actually declined by 554,000 bpd. ...

In 2013 global natural gas production advanced 1.1% to a new all-time high of 328 billion cubic feet per day (Bcfd). Except for a one-year decline in 2008-2009, global gas production has risen fairly steadily for about three decades, and production has more than doubled during that time span.

Power magazine also has a look at the BP report - Above-Average Growth Reported for Renewables in 2013.

According to the report, world power generation grew 2.5% in 2013, slightly up over 2012 (which saw 2.2% growth over 2011) but below the 10-year trend (3.3%). And while electricity generation fell for the third year in a row in member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), it surged 4.8% in non-OECD countries. China, followed by the U.S., was the world’s largest power generator (Figure 1). Meanwhile, India overtook Japan to take third place. ...

Nuclear saw its first increase since 2010, climbing 0.9%. Nuclear consumption grew in the U.S., China, and Canada, but was offset by declines in South Korea, Ukraine, Spain, Russia, and Japan—whose nuclear output has fallen 95% since 2010 with nearly all of its reactors still offline after the Fukushima disaster.

Renewables generation, on the other hand, soared 16.3% and accounted for a record 5.3% share of global power generation, said the report. Globally, wind energy (up 20.7%) again accounted for more than half of renewable power generation growth, and solar power generation grew even more rapidly (33%).

The BS has a snippet from the IEA report looking at shifts in oil consumption - World oil's pivot to Asia.

In the Reference case projection, world liquid fuels consumption increases 38 per cent from 87 million barrels per day in 2010 to 119 MMbbl/d in 2040. China, India, and other developing countries in Asia account for 72 per cent of the net world increase in liquid fuels consumption, with Middle East consumers accounting for another 13 per cent. Most liquid fuel demand is for industrial uses and transportation.

In the United States, Europe, Japan, and other mature industrialised economies, liquid fuel demand has leveled off and is projected to slowly decline. The combined effects of several factors have slowed or even reversed the growth in liquid fuels use. These factors include sustained high oil prices, efficiency standards for vehicles and equipment together with high taxation of motor fuels, price-driven fuel switching towards non-oil fuels outside of transportation, vehicle saturation, as well as structural changes in factors such as demographics and consumer behavior.

The BS also has an update on geothermal power in the US - Geothermal expands out of California.

EGS plants are currently being developed in several countries, and the first commercial-scale plant in the United States, the Desert Peak East pilot project in Nevada, began operating in 2013.

There are currently 64 operating conventional geothermal power plants in the United States, accounting for nearly 2700 megawatts of total capacity at the end o 2013. Over three-fourths of US geothermal power generation in 2013 was in California, largely because of favourable geothermal resources, policy, and market conditions in the state. The largest group of geothermal power plants in the world, a complex called the Geysers, located in Northern California, has more than 700 MW of capacity.

Since 2001, only seven of 30 new plants exceeding 1 MW have been built in California, where most available low-cost geothermal resources have previously been developed. Sixteen of those 30 plants built after 2001 are in Nevada, with the remainder in Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Hawaii. Most of the newer plants are relatively small, and while geothermal generation rose 11 per cent between 2008 and 2013, the geothermal share of total US electricity generation has remained consistently around 0.4 per cent since 2001

ReNew Economy has a post on the IEA reports' comments on solar power and renewable energy - Only solar PV is exceeding expectations for clean energy

The main message in the new Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report from IEA is that sustained growth in renewable energy is at risk. Governments, therefore, need to strengthen efforts to facilitate growth of renewables in all energy sectors. In the power sector, both hydropower, wind and bioenergy fall short of the deployment speed consistent with IEAs 2 Degree Scenario. Solar PV, says IEA, is «the only source expected to exceed global 2DS targets by 2020, boosted by cost declines and an increasingly rapid scale-up in non-OECD markets.»

This is troublesome news for renewables in general, but encouraging news for solar energy. And having studied the underlying assumptions in the report, I am tempted to add: This is just the beginning of the solar awakening of IEA; be ready for better news next year.

The Power Of Nightmares  

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The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is getting surprisingly little coverage - Wired has a look at the growth trend in infections - The Mathematics of Ebola Trigger Stark Warnings: Act Now or Regret It.

The Ebola epidemic in Africa has continued to expand since I last wrote about it, and as of a week ago, has accounted for more than 4,200 cases and 2,200 deaths in five countries: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. That is extraordinary: Since the virus was discovered, no Ebola outbreak’s toll has risen above several hundred cases. This now truly is a type of epidemic that the world has never seen before. In light of that, several articles were published recently that are very worth reading.

You can see how that could quickly get out of hand, and in fact, that is what the researchers predict. Here is their stop-you-in-your-tracks assessment:

In a worst-case hypothetical scenario, should the outbreak continue with recent trends, the case burden could gain an additional 77,181 to 277,124 cases by the end of 2014.

While no one seems concerned enough to expend significant resources on stopping Ebola there does seem to be an increasing amount of hysteria around the spread of IS in Iraq and Syria - the media coverage of this lately reminds me of this gem from Adam Curtis a while ago - The Power Of Nightmares.

PWC runs the numbers on climate change  

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Grist has a look at a new PwC report on carbon emissions - This legendary accounting firm ran the numbers on climate change.

With every year that passes, we’re getting further away from averting a human-caused climate disaster. That’s the key message in this year’s “Low Carbon Economy Index,” a report released by the accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The report highlights an “unmistakable trend.” The world’s major economies are increasingly failing to do what’s needed to to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels. That was the target agreed to by countries attending the United Nations’ 2009 climate summit; it represents an effort to avoid some of the most disastrous consequences of runaway warming, including food security threats, coastal inundation, extreme weather events, ecosystem shifts, and widespread species extinction.

To curtail climate change, individual countries have made a variety of pledges to reduce their share of emissions, but taken together, those promises simply aren’t enough. According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, “the gap between what we are doing and what we need to do has again grown, for the sixth year running.”

The Peak Oil Crisis: When ?  

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Tom Whipple is somehow still managing to beat the peak oil drum at The Falls Church News Press. His latest article ponders when the peak oil crisis so many doomers have been waiting for will finally occur - The Peak Oil Crisis: When?.

For those following the world oil production situation, it has been clear for some time that the only factor keeping global crude output from moving lower is the continuing increase in U.S. shale oil production mostly from Texas and North Dakota. Needless to say once the fabled “peak” comes, oil and gasoline prices are certain to move higher triggering a series of economic events – most of which will not be good for the global economy.

Thus the key question is just how many more months or years will production of U.S. shale oil (more accurately call light tight oil) continue to grow. Many have answers to this question ranging from the “next year or so” on out the middle or end of the next decade. Some forecasts as to time remaining until the “peak” arrives are politically tinged. No politician, business manager, or even investor wants to hear that serious economic problems affecting their lives may be only a few years away. Fortunately for these folks, there are many forecasters available to spin stories about how “technology” will enable US shale oil production to continue on into the dim future of the 2020’s – which most of us really can’t comprehend or plan for.

Usually missing from optimistic estimates for future U.S. shale oil production is any discussion of just how fast production from fracked wells declines. Most fracked wells are adequate or at least economic producers for three years or so, after which their production is so small that they need to be replaced or reworked to keep a meaningful amount of production going. As shale oil production grows larger and larger, more and more wells will have to be drilled and fracked just to keep production level. At some point there will be a cross over between new wells coming on stream and old wells going out of production so output will start to slip. The EIA recently noted that for North Dakota to increase its oil production by 20,000 barrels a day (b/d) next month, it must bring 94,000 b/d of new production online. At Texas’s Eagle Ford basin, it will take 152,000 b/d of new production next month to increase net production by 31,000 b/d.

There is no doubt that the shale oil drilling industry has made many significant technological advances in recent years. Multiple wells are now being drilled from a single drilling pad – foregoing the need to move drilling rigs and setting up all the expensive infrastructure needed to frack shale wells. For a while shale oil drillers were drilling and fracking longer wells which reduced the cost per barrel. Now we hear that drillers are increasing production per well by pumping more fracking materials down each well and some are saying this will be enough to offset any decline in prices. Currently US shale oil production is about 3 million b/d and in June output increased by about 100,000 b/d. About half of US shale oil production comes from North Dakota where winter conditions are so harsh that production has been falling during the winter months.

The two major forecasting agencies, Washington’s EIA and Paris’ IEA, are both more pessimistic than is generally known for they both foresee US shale oil production leveling off as soon as 2016. The reason for this is that drillers will simply run out of new places to drill and frack new wells. While new techniques of extracting more oil from a well are possible, there is need to look closely at the costs of these techniques vs. the potential payoff.

The shale oil situation in Texas is somewhat different than in North Dakota for there you have much better weather and two separate shale oil deposits. The recent growth in Texas’s shale oil production has been much smoother than in storm-prone North Dakota and has been increasing at about 44,000 b/d each month. So far as can be seen from the outside of the industry, production in both states will continue to grow for at least another year or two – but then we will be at 2016.

Trollhunter  

Posted by Big Gav

Veering even more off topic than usual - Trollhunter is a Norwegian "found footage" mockumentary looking at a government conspiracy covering up the existence of Trolls in the Norwegian countryside.

The style is a cross between "Blair Witch Project" and "Dark Side of the Moon" (I loved the clip towards the end where the Norwegian PM is talking about trolls impeding the expansion of the Norwegian electricity grid). Three students investigating bear poaching come across a suspicious man (with truly frightening scratches down the side of his vehicle) and decide to follow him. They get more than they bargained for, including a thorough smearing with "troll stench".

Highly recommended if want to watch something different and enjoy horror movies.

How Big Is The Tesla Gigafactory ?  

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EV Obsession has a graphic putting the new Tesla Gigafactory into context - How Big Is The Tesla Gigafactory?.

Everything is better with a bit of perspective, and a Tesla investor and redditor recently decided to add a bit of perspective with a graphic comparing the Gigafactory to a bunch of large towers an such. With feedback from members of the reddit community, he then had a better idea for how to put the Gigafactory into perspective, so he created another graphic comparing it to other large things.

Gas 2.0 also has a look at the Gigafactory and plans for powering it with renewable energy - Can The Gigafactory Run On Just Renewable Energy?.

It is no small task to power a facility as huge as the Gigafactory, which is said to cover 929,000 square meters and about a thousand acres of land, and over at Engineering.com Tom Lombardo ran some calculations to see just how much power the Gigafactory would need. Based on a Navigant Research study, Lombardo estimates the Gigafactory could consume as much as 2,400 MWh each day if it’s running at full-tilt (that is to say, 500,000 battery packs per year). That’s enough energy to power 80,000 average American homes. Where the hell is Elon Musk going to get all that power?

Well Lombardo goes on to say that if 850,000 square-meters were covered in efficient solar panels (from, say, Solar City?), that alone would generate about 850 MWh of energy per day, about ⅓ of what’s needed. The official Gigafactory picture also included about 85 windmills on the hills in the background, and despite the Reno area not been particularly friendly to wind farms, a setup of similar size would generate about 1,836 MWh of energy, which puts the Gigafactory well past its 2,400 MWh needs. Musk also said geothermal energy could play a role, and a small 10 Mw facility could produce 240 MWh of usable energy each day. All told, the Gigafactory could actually produce 20% more energy than it needs on a daily basis.

Drillers Piling Up More Debt Than Oil Hunting Fortunes in Shale  

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Bloomberg has a look at the borrowing boom underpinning the US shale oil boom - Drillers Piling Up More Debt Than Oil Hunting Fortunes in Shale.

A decade into a shale boom that has made fracking a household word and Wilson a rich man, drillers are propping up the dream of U.S. energy independence with a mountain of debt. As oil production hits a 28-year high, investors and politicians are buying into the vision of a domestic energy renaissance.

Companies are paying a steep price for the gains. Like Halcon, most are spending money faster than they make it, an average of $1.17 for every dollar earned in the 12 months ended on June 30. Only seven of the U.S.-listed firms in Bloomberg Intelligence’s E&P index made more money in that time than it cost them to keep drilling. These companies are plugging cash shortfalls with junk-rated debt. They owed $190.2 billion at the end of June, up from $140.2 billion at the end of 2011.

SunEdison To Set Up 70 MW Solar Power Project For Chilean Copper Mine  

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Cleantechnica has a post on the steady increase in renewable energy usage in Chile, particularly in the mining sector (replacing expensive diesel generation) - SunEdison To Set Up 70 MW Solar Power Project For Chilean Copper Mine

SunEdison has announced that it has signed an agreement with Antofagasta Minerals S.A. to set up 69.5 MW solar photovoltaic power project at one of the latter copper mine in Chile. Antofagasta plans to use solar power to meet a part of the electricity demand at its Los Pelambres mine.

This would not be the first clean energy initiative to be implemented by Antofagasta for the Los Pelambres mine. The mine operators, from the very beginning, had a clear plan to implement sustainable energy solutions. Currently, wind energy is being used to partly power the mine operations. Los Pelambres mine currently has an electricity supply contract from one of Chile’s wind energy projects. The mine will start sourcing hydro power from a 110 MW project from 2020. The company is planning to invest in a geothermal power project as well.

El Tesoro, another mine owned by the company in Chile, gets some of the electricity from a solar thermal power plant. The project, installed at an investment of $15 million, can generate 25 GWh electricity every. The project has helped reduce diesel consumption by 55% and mine’s emissions by 4%.

The NSA now owns Bitcoin  

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John Robb has an interesting theory that Bitcoin is now effectively owned by the NSA (which will no doubt make it an excellent tool for blackmailing a lot of the less-than-legal users of the cryptocurrency) - The NSA now owns Bitcoin.

While I find alternative currencies quite interesting, the whole basis of Bitcoin (converting electricity into virtual coins) seems completely wrong - I far prefer some of the long ago proposals for paper money that entitle the bearer to a fixed amount of electricity...

Satochi Nakamoto (the nom de guerre of the mind behind Bitcoin) designed this flaw into the software because of one false assumption. What was that assumption? He believed that it was possible to build an open and free economic system built purely on simple self-interest (selfishness). Lots of people make this mistake (famously, Greenspan believed that selfish decision making would prevent the banking crisis of 2008).

It's not, obviously. Eventually, selfishness will lead one group to rig, cheat, control, etc. the system so they can get better returns. That's exactly what happened. Here's the flaw they exploited.

When a single entity ("a single miner" or "a mining pool") controls over 50% of the transaction processing it can control the entire system. This means they can "see" every transaction, spend the same coins more than once, and deny transactions they don't approve of.

That's finally happened. According to analysis from Cornell researchers, a mining pool called GHash has now reached 51% for large stretches of time (effective "ownership" is likely much less).

Here's the new boss:

Stopping climate meltdown needs the courage that saved the ozone layer  

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George Monbiot has an article wondering why international treaties to deal with shared risks have become impossible to organise - Stopping climate meltdown needs the courage that saved the ozone layer.

In The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins, a comedy made in 1971, Spike Milligan portrays Sloth as a tramp trying to get through a farm gate. This simple task is rendered almost impossible by the fact that he can’t be bothered to take his hands out of his pockets and open the latch. He tries everything: getting over it, under it, through it, hurling himself at it, risking mortal injury, expending far more energy and effort than the obvious solution would require.

This is how environmental diplomacy works. Governments gather to discuss an urgent problem and propose everything except the obvious solution – legislation. The last thing our self-hating states will contemplate is what they are empowered to do: govern. They will launch endless talks and commissions, devise elaborate market mechanisms, even offer massive subsidies to encourage better behaviour, rather than simply say “we’re stopping this”.

This is what’s happening with climate change caused by humans. The obvious solution, in fact the only real and lasting solution, is to decide that most fossil fuel reserves will be left in the ground, while alternative energy sources are rapidly developed to fill the gap. Everything else is talk. But not only will governments not contemplate this step, they won’t even discuss it. They would rather risk mortal injury than open the gate. ...

The Montreal protocol has famously done more to prevent global warming (which was not its purpose) than the Kyoto protocol, which was designed to prevent it. This is because some of the chemicals the ozone treaty bans are also powerful greenhouse gases.

So what’s the difference? Why is the Montreal protocol effective while the Kyoto protocol and subsequent efforts to prevent climate breakdown are not?

Part of the answer must be that the fossil fuel industry is much bigger than the halogenated hydrocarbon industry, and its lobbying power much greater. Retiring fossil fuel is technically just as feasible as replacing ozone-depleting chemicals, given the wide range of technologies for generating useful energy, but politically much tougher.

But I don’t think that’s the only factor. When the Montreal protocol was negotiated, during the mid-1980s, the notion that governments could intervene in the market was under sustained assault, but not yet conquered. Even Margaret Thatcher, while speaking the language of market fundamentalism, was dirigiste by comparison to her successors: enough at any rate to be a staunch supporter of the Montreal protocol. It is almost impossible to imagine David Cameron championing such a measure. For that matter, given the current state of Congress, it’s more or less impossible to see Barack Obama doing it either.

By the mid-1990s, the doctrine of market fundamentalism – also known as neoliberalism – had almost all governments by the throat. Any politicians who tried to protect the weak from the powerful or the natural world from industrial destruction were punished by the corporate media or the markets.

This extreme political doctrine – that governments must cease to govern – has made direct, uncomplicated action almost unthinkable. Just as the extent of humankind’s greatest crisis – climate breakdown – became clear, governments willing to address it were everywhere being disciplined or purged.

Since then, this doctrine has caused financial crises and economic collapse, the destruction of livelihoods, mountainous debt, insecurity and the devastation of the living planet. It has, as Thomas Piketty demonstrates, replaced enterprise with patrimonial capitalism: neoliberal economies rapidly become dominated by rent and inherited wealth, in which social mobility stalls.

Britain's nuclear clean-up bill to soar by billions  

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The Independent has an article on the UK's ever increasing bill for cleaning up old nuclear power sites - Britain's nuclear clean-up bill to soar by billions 'because of Government incompetence'.

The estimated cost for decommissioning over the next century went up from a £63.8bn estimate in 2011-12 to £69.8bn in 2012-13, with more increases expected in the coming years. This hike is nearly all down to the troubled clean-up of the Sellafield nuclear facility in Cumbria, one of the world's most hazardous and fiendishly complicated decontamination sites. NMP had been accused of chronic mismanagement after a series of delays and budget overruns on Sellafield projects, including problems involved in the construction of a storage facility for radioactive sludge.

Is This Tesla's Newest Rival?  

Posted by Big Gav in

Bloomberg has a report on a Japanese electric car manufacturer - Is This Tesla's Newest Rival?.

Electric vehicles are yet to become a common sight on the world’s roads, but the small list of electric vehicle manufacturers is slowly growing. Paul Allen takes a look at GLM’s latest electric sports car, a Japanese made rival to Elon Musk’s Tesla. And it’s just as fast.

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