Solar Power production and storage

In our article A Clean Energy Revolution is Underway  we tried to elaborate on Solar Power production and storage that is getting preponderant in our life literally by the day.  We are increasingly seeing how Energy is more and more appreciated but from as clean a source as it can be mustered by the available technology and like for anything else, it is no more a matter of generation but rather of storing or stock piling what has been produced.  In this particular case it is about batteries and / or different types of batteries. Here are some of the most noteworthy ones to date.
“To smooth out the production of a solar plant on a 24 hours basis, store a day production of electricity at night. For this batteries are a Classic solution.”  said André Gennesseaux of Energiestro, specialist in the field for 15 years explaining in an article in French of EDF’s Electrek  post.  This is Voss, rewarded by EDF Pulse 2015 priced invention.
Alternatives abound such as for instance the beautiful promises of the hydrogen to address the Intermittency of renewable energy, hydrogen could be the ideal solution to store excess production of wind turbines or solar power stations. EDF has also committed on this topic via its Electranova program.
More recently, Tesla TESLA TESLA BATTERY  commissioned researchers hit good results with a revolutionary battery system.  This is elaborated in this proposed article of electrek posted on May 9, 2017 written by Fred Lambert .  Here it is reproduced for its obvious interests, etc.

Tesla battery researcher says they doubled lifetime of batteries in Tesla’s products 4 years ahead of time [Updated]

@FredericLambert

Almost a year into his new research partnership with Tesla, battery researcher Jeff Dahn has been hitting the talk circuit presenting some of his team’s recent progress. We reported last week on his talk at the International Battery Seminar from March and now we have a talk from him at MIT this week.

He went into details about why Tesla decided to work with his team and hire one of his graduate students, but he also announced that they have developed cells that can double the lifetime of the batteries in Tesla’s products – 4 years ahead of schedule.

Update: Dahn reached out to clarify that the cells in question were tested in the lab and they are not in Tesla’s products yet.

During the talk titled “Why would Tesla Motors partner with some Canadian?” – embedded below, Dahn explained how they invented a way to test battery cells in order to accurately monitor them during charging and discharging to identify causes for degradation.

Like he admitted in his talk at the International Battery Seminar in March, Dahn doesn’t claim that he understands perfectly the chemistry behind the degradation, but the machines that they developed enabled them to test new chemistries more accurately and much faster – resulting in significant discoveries for the longevity of the cells.

One of his students working on the project went on to work for Tesla’s in-house battery cell research group and another started a company to commercialize the battery cell testing machines that they developed. Their client list includes Tesla, but also Apple, GM, 24M, and plenty of other large battery manufacturers and consumers.

In the second half of the talk, he explained how their new testing methods led them to discover that a certain aluminum coating outperformed any other material. The cells tested showed barely any degradation under high numbers of cycles at moderate temperature and only little degradation even in difficult conditions.

When it was time to talk about how those discoveries are impacting Tesla’s products, Dahn asked to stop recording the talk in order to go into the details.

While we couldn’t get that valuable information, when they started recording again, it was for a Q&A session and the first question was about his team’s ultimate goal for the lifetime of li-ion batteries.

He hesitated to answer, but then he said:

“In the description of the [Tesla] project that we sent to NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) to get matching funds from the government for the project, I wrote down the goal of doubling the lifetime of the cells used in the Tesla products at the same upper cutoff voltage. We exceeded that in round one. OK? So that was the goal of the project and it has already been exceeded. We are not going to stop – obviously – we have another four years to go. We are going to go as far as we can.”

This is impressive, especially since their research partnership started only in June 2016 and in February 2017, Dahn said that his team’s research is already “going into the company’s products“ – just a month after Tesla and Panasonic started production of their new ‘2170’ battery cell at Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.

It’s not necessarily related, but the timing is certainly interesting. It can take some time for products successfully tested in the lab to make it to production products.

It’s also important to note that Dahn’s research was focusing on Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) battery cells, which Tesla uses for its stationary storage products (Powerwall and Powerpack), and the first cell production at Gigafactory 1 was for those products.

Dahn explained that by increasing the lifetime of those batteries, Tesla is reducing the cost of delivered kWh for its residential and utility-scale projects. He gave examples of the costs at $0.23 per kWh for residential solar with storage and $0.139 per kWh for utility-scale, based on Tesla’s current projects:

For the batteries in its vehicles, Tesla uses Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (NCA) and Dahn said that they are also working on this chemistry. Tesla and Panasonic are planning to start production of battery cells for vehicles, starting with the Model 3, at Gigafactory 1 by June 2017.

He added that considering Tesla’s use of aluminum in its chassis, there’s no reason why both the cars and the batteries couldn’t last 20 years.

Here’s the talk in full (update: MIT made the video private after we published our article):

Further reading :

How clean is solar power? The Economist wondered in an article dated December 10, 2016 http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21711301-new-paper-may-have-answer-how-clean-solar-power where all production parameters were critically reviewed in the light of their impacting Climate Change in the process of manufacturing of the necessary hardware.

Electric and / or Self-Driving cars and in which part of the World

Electric and / or Self-Driving cars vs Conventional ones?

The oil and gas giant British Petroleum (BP) predicted in a report that was published last week that although electric cars are increasingly being put on the roads and renewable energy growing at exceptional rates, fossil oil extraction, production, etc. which needless to remind is BP’s main business line, would not only remain in demand but see this latter rise to unprecedented levels.  The reason for this unabated level in demand would be according to this report the greater numbers of the Third World countries (cum Emerging) populations reaching levels of prosperity allowing car ownership.  The question beside that of the validity of fossil oil demand predicted not to decrease in the future, is which direction the automotive manufacturing industry would take in the future.  Would it be Electric and / or Self-Driving cars and in which part of the World would these be on the roads?  And most importantly, which type of energy would be used in which type of vehicle ?

We republish the following Brookings article on driveless cars as these obviously will be marketed mainly in the so-called First World.

Driverless cars are coming: Here are 8 useful facts about them

By Fred Dews / Tuesday, January 24, 2017.

“Driverless cars are a transformative technology that could have important implications for society, national security, the economy, and the environment,” Darrell West and Hillary Schaub wrote in a 2015 piece that outlined a number of challenges, benefits, and policy recommendations related to autonomous vehicles. West, vice president and director of Governance Studies, and Schaub, a program coordinator, addressed specific issues for the continued development of this technology, including: cybersecurity and liability, increasing fuel efficiency and reducing traffic fatalities, and addressing international safety and testability. “The discussion surrounding driverless cars involves a great deal of uncertainty,” West and Schaub observed. “There are huge ethical decisions that must be made regarding these new technologies. It is the responsibility of policymakers to help decide these issues.”

Here are analyses and data about driverless cars drawn from recent Brookings research.

Computers can be considered legal drivers of vehicles

Noting that in early 2016, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration determined that under federal law computers could be considered legal drivers of vehicles, Darrell West and Jack Karsten of the Center for Technology Innovation write that, “With the combined efforts of the technology industry, automakers, and federal regulators, driverless cars could achieve widespread use sooner than many drivers and policymakers might expect.”

With technology companies and automakers continuing to make advances on driverless cars, and with increased federal research, companies like Toyota are saying they aim to deliver driverless vehicles around 2020. Given this pace of development, West and Karsten argue that “creating a national strategy for driverless cars is a crucial task for federal transportation officials.”

Pittsburgh is a leader in driverless car technology research and testing

Bruce Katz, the Brookings centennial scholar, writes of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Mayor Bill Peduto being the first person to hail and ride a driverless taxi. The former steel manufacturing center has become, Katz notes, “the research lab and test bed for this revolutionary technology” due to an “ecosystem” that includes the robotics research unit at Carnegie Mellon University, plus start-ups and large firms, and Uber’s Advanced Technology Center. “But what has made Pittsburgh especially effective,” Katz says, “is public, private and civic leadership that is willing and eager to make the city itself a laboratory for technological invention and testing.”

The U.S. military has an interest in self-driving vehicles

Automated vehicles are not just for civilian passengers. As Nonresident Senior Fellow Kenneth Anderson explains in a Lawfare blog post, “the U.S. military has a keen interest in self-driving vehicles that can be deployed in combat for many possible functions, such as logistics and re-supply.” Anderson discusses some of the unique technological, reliability testing, and regulatory issues the Department of Defense faces as it develops this technology for warfare.

Autonomous vehicles are expected to comprise 25 percent of the global market between 2035 and 2040

In a wide-ranging 2016 paper, Darrell West explores the different types of autonomous vehicles, their impact, and cross-national issues involved with their development. He looks in detail at the technology, budgetary, regulatory, legal, and policy frameworks for autonomous vehicles in China, Europe, Japan, Korea, and the United States. “In each nation,” West argues, “government officials and business leaders have to resolve these matters because within a foreseeable period, the technology will have advanced to the point where intelligent vehicles will spread into key niches such as ride-sharing, taxis, delivery truck, industrial applications, and transport for senior citizens and the disabled.”

“People and businesses will have driverless options for taking them safely to their destinations,” he says, “and it is important for leaders to provide reasonable guidance on how to commercialize advanced technologies in transportation.”

Fragmented regulatory framework the biggest challenge to driverless cars in America

In a briefing paper included in the Election 2016 and America’s Future series, and now part of the “Brookings Big Ideas for America” book meant to inform the new Trump administration, West explains that the “biggest American challenge” for autonomous vehicles “is overcoming the fragmentation of 50 state governments and having uniform guidelines across geographic boundaries. Public officials should address questions such as who regulates, how they regulate, legal liability, privacy, and data collection.”

In the briefing paper, West reviews the benefits and needed policy actions—including better national technical standards, addressing legal liability, and improving data protection and security. “Governments can accelerate or slow the movement towards self-driving vehicles by the manner in which they regulate,” West writes. “Addressing relevant issues and making sure regulatory rules are clear should be high priorities in all the countries considering autonomous vehicles.”

Existing products liability law is adaptable to new issues in autonomous vehicles

John Villasenor, a nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies, examines the liability issues associated with autonomous vehicles as new technologies continue to advance us into an era of widespread commercial use of vehicle automation. In 2012, Villasenor notes, motor vehicle accidents caused over 33,000 deaths in the United States alone. Just as existing vehicle automation technologies have provided safety improvements, additional automation promises to improve safety even more. In this context, Villasenor argues that “broad new liability statutes aimed at protecting the manufacturers of autonomous vehicle technology are unnecessary.”

In this paper, Villasenor offers a set of guiding principles for legislation. “In short,” he writes, “the liability concerns raised by vehicle automation are legitimate and important. But they can be addressed without delaying consumer access to the many benefits that autonomous vehicles will provide.” He concludes that the U.S. “has a robust products liability law framework that, while certainly not perfect, will be well equipped to address and adapt to the autonomous vehicle liability questions that arise in the coming years.”

The adoption of driverless cars can save thousands of lives each year

Drawing upon research that shows that as unemployment rises, more dangerous drivers drive less and safer ones drive more—thus decreasing traffic deaths—Senior Fellow Cliff Winston and Vikram Maheshri of the University of Houston argue that policymakers “could allow the most dangerous drivers … to continue to have access to an automobile provided it is driverless or at the very least has more autonomy than current vehicles.” Doing so, they say, “will not only save lives but also would “expedite the transition to driverless cars and help educate the public and build trust in the new technology.”

Automated vehicles will save government billions of dollars

As Kena Fedorschak of Arizona State University and Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Kevin Desouza observe, state and local governments derive billions of dollars in revenue from speeding tickets, DUIs, towing fees, and other driver-related laws. They argue that while the safety improvements offered by autonomous vehicles will remove these sources of revenue, the technology will save taxpapyers an estimated $10 billion per year by eliminating “inefficiencies” in the transportation system such as congestion, road damage, and deaths.

“Even if the public sector refuses to innovate, government entities will save big bucks from the impending driverless car revolution,” Fedorschak and Desouza conclude. “Billions will be saved as a result of increased safety and the reduction of transportation inefficiencies. The future is bright for autonomous vehicles.”

5 years to change how we Learn, Earn and Care

Saadia Zahidi in perhaps one of her most commendable contributions to the WEF, states here that times are a-changing and that it is up to us to adapt our systems of education, care, etc. so as to maximise our chances of a better future.  For that we have only 5 years to change how we learn, earn and care or even perhaps less than that. 

We may have less than 5 years to change how we learn, earn and care

January 4, 2016

Over the course of the last year, at World Economic Forum and elsewhere, I have asked participants two questions. First I ask for a show of hands on whether they feel confident about their current skills taking them through to the end of their careers – about one in five raise their hands. Then I ask if they feel confident about advising their children on their education to prepare for their own futures: none raises their hand. These are some of the most knowledgeable, leading figures in the world and yet they, like many of us, are uncertain about what the future of labour markets looks like.

This is not surprising.

Globalization and technology are accelerating both job creation and destruction. Some estimates have put the risk of automation as high as half of current jobs, while others forecast a considerably lower value of 9%. Still, all occupations will go through change: we found that on average one-third of the skillsets required to perform today’s jobs will be wholly new by 2020.

job-families-rise-and-decline

At the same time, education and training systems are not keeping pace with these shifts. Some studies suggest that 65% of children currently entering primary school will have jobs that do not yet exist and for which their education will fail to prepare them, exacerbating skills gaps and unemployment in the future. Even more urgent, underdeveloped adult training and skilling systems are unable to support learning for the currently active workforce of nearly 3 billion people.

In addition, outdated cultural norms and institutional inertia already create roadblocks for half of the world’s talent – and are getting worse in the new context. Despite women’s leap forward in education, their participation in the paid workforce remains low; and progress is stalling, with current forecasts for economic parity at 170 years.

The near-term outcomes of these dynamics, compounded through other demographic, geopolitical and economic factors, are profoundly challenging. They include skills gaps in the workforce that are difficult for employers and workers alike, unemployment and job displacement, particularly in blue-collar and services work, rising fear of further technological unemployment, insufficient supply of talent for many high-skill occupations, and loss of female talent and potential. Together these factors are exacerbating income inequality and creating a crisis of identity.

Yet, most of these dire predictions need not be foregone conclusions. If leaders act now, using this moment of transformation as an impetus for tackling long-overdue reform, they have the ability not only to stem the flow of negative trends but to accelerate positive ones and create an environment in which over 7 billion people on the planet can live up to their full potential.

Instead, in several advanced economies, we are seeing the political and social consequences of short-term, emotive – and sometimes disingenuous – thinking. For those who are losing out from the changes underway, fear is an understandable response. But turning away immigrants, trade or technology itself, and disengaging from the world, is a distraction, at best. At worst, will create even more negative consequences for those already losing out – and many more. It is up to courageous, responsible and responsive leaders and citizens to take the long view and set out on the path to more fundamental, relevant reforms, and an inspiring future.

How? By investing in human capital and preparing people for the new opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution. The World Economic Forum has worked with leaders, experts and practitioners to create a common vision and a shared change agenda focused on how we learn, earn and care.

  1. Transform education ecosystems. Most education systems are so far behind the mark on keeping up with the pace of change today and so disconnected from labour markets that nothing short of a fundamental overhaul will suffice in many economies. The eight key areas of action here are early childhood education, future-ready curricula, a professionalized teaching workforce, early exposure to the workplace, digital fluency, robust and respected technical and vocational education, openness to education innovation, and critically, a new deal on lifelong learning.
  2. Facilitate the transition to a new world of work. While there are deeply polarized views about how technology will impact employment, there is agreement that we are in a period of transition. Policy needs to catch up and facilitate this transition. We propose four areas of action: recognition of all work models and agile implementation of new regulations, updated social protection, adult learning and continuous re-skilling, and proactive employment services.
  3. Advance the care economy. Often undervalued and unregulated, care is one of the most fundamental needs among both young and old populations. It has a strong impact on education, and holds potential for job growth. We propose six areas of action: recognize and value care as a vital sector of the economy, professionalize the care workforce, rebalance paid and unpaid work responsibilities, expand high-quality care infrastructure, create new financial provisions to facilitate care, and use technology as a tool for balancing care and work.

how-is-care-valued

Image: World Economic Forum

To do any of this – and to make it pay off – it is critical that policy design includes agile multistakeholder governance, empowerment of the individual, objective measurement, universal access and long-term planning as fundamental tenets.

The rapid pace of change means we need to act urgently. By some estimates the current window of opportunity for action is three-to-five years. This may sound daunting but there are a large variety of robust success stories to learn from and emulate. There are also substantial new commercial opportunities – such as adult education, care services, employment services – that make this space ripe for public-private collaboration.

It’s the harder path to follow, there’s no doubt about it. Transforming education ecosystems, creating a care economy and managing the transition to a new world of work require political will, innovative policy, new financing models and, most importantly, a new mind-set.

But this is also the only viable path if we want to get ahead of the transition underway and turn this moment of flux into an opportunity for revitalizing growth and realizing human potential in the age of the fourth industrial revolution.

The whitepaper on Realizing Human Potential in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: An Agenda for Leaders to Shape the Future of Education, Gender and Work can be found here.  Saadia Zahidi is Head of Education, Gender and Work and Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum.

 

The Future is Not in Fossil Fuels

 

An article published on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 by Common Dreams and written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer is reproduced here for its interest to all concerned in the MENA region countries about the Peak-Oil theory being concretised under our eyes and that renewable energy would eventually replace all fossil oil based energy production.  The author asserts rightly that the Future is Not in Fossil Fuels  and that “Solar is also creating jobs at an unprecedented rate, more than in the oil and gas sectors combined, and 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.” (The above Photo is by David Goehring/flickr/cc)

 

Global Economic Realities Confirm, the ‘Future is Not in Fossil Fuels’

While oil and gas companies falter, ‘renewable energy has reached a tipping point,’ says World Economic Forum expert.

 

Underscoring the need for a global shift to a low-carbon economy, a new report finds a record number of U.K. fossil fuel companies went bust in 2016 due to falling oil and gas prices.

The Independent reported the analysis from accounting firm Moore Stephens which found “16 oil and gas companies went insolvent last year, compared to none at all in 2012.” And the trend was not unique to the U.K.—a year-end bankruptcy report from Texas-based Haynes and Boone LLP showed there have been 232 bankruptcy filings in the U.S. and Canadian energy sector since the beginning of 2015.

“As the warnings from climate science get stronger, now is the time to realize…that the future is not in fossil fuels,” Dr. Doug Parr of Greenpeace U.K. told The Independent. “It’s also time for government to recognize that we should not leave the workers stranded, but provide opportunities in the new industries of the 21st century.”

Those opportunities are likely to come in the renewable energy sector, as the World Economic Forum (WEF) announced (PDF) in December that solar and wind power are now the same price or cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries.

“Renewable energy has reached a tipping point,” Michael Drexler, who leads infrastructure and development investing at the WEF, said in a statement at the time. “It is not only a commercially viable option, but an outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns.”

Quartz reported last month:

In 2016, utilities added 9.5 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic capacity to the U.S. grid, making solar the top fuel source for the first time in a calendar year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s estimates. The U.S. added about 125 solar panels every minute in 2016, about double the pace last year, reports the Solar Energy Industry Association.

The solar story is even more impressive after accounting for new distributed solar on homes and business (rather than just those built for utilities), which pushed the total installed capacity to 11.2 GW.

And as Paul Buchheit noted in an op-ed published Tuesday at Common Dreams, “solar is also creating jobs at an unprecedented rate, more than in the oil and gas sectors combined, and 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.”

But it remains unclear how these trends will develop under an incoming Donald Trump administration.

As Moody’s Investor Services reported Tuesday, under Trump’s fossil-friendly cabinet, “U.S. energy policy likely will prioritize domestic oil and coal production, in addition to reducing federal regulatory burdens.”

In turn, according to Moody’s:

Increasing confidence in the oil and gas industry’s prospects will spur acquisition activity among North American exploration and production (E&P) firms, Moody’s says. Debt and equity markets are again offering financing for producers seeking to re-position and enhance their asset portfolios after a lull. [Merger and acquisition activity] will also pick up in the midstream sector. At the same time, integrated oil and gas firms will continue to improve their cash flow metrics and leverage profiles by cutting operating costs, further reducing capital spending and divesting assets.

Even so, the oilfield services and drilling (OFS) sector is in for another tough year, with continued weak customer demand, overcapacity, and a high debt burden.

Bottom line, wrote Buchheit, is that with the rapid expansion of solar power, Trump has “the opportunity to make something happen that will happen anyway, but he can take all the credit, with the added bonus of beating out his adversary China.”
“Unfortunately, Trump may not have the intelligence to recognize that he should act,” Buchheit wrote. “And the forces behind fossil fuel make progress unlikely. But there is plenty of American ego and arrogance and exceptionalism out there. We need some of that ego now, just like 60 years ago, when the Soviet accomplishments in space drove us toward a singular world-changing goal. Then it was the moon. Now it’s the sun.”

White Christmas in the Saharan Algeria

 

Climate change: For the first time in 37 years, snow in the Sahara as expressed in Indian Express of December 23, 2016.  It could be interpreted as White Christmas in the Saharan Algeria.

Climate change: For the first time in 37 years, snow in the Sahara

On December 19, a freak snow shower coated the dusty red dunes of Aïn Séfra, Algeria’s ‘Gateway to the Desert’.

In 1984, charitable supergroup Band Aid sang, ‘And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time’.

Had it been this year, they’d have got it wrong — on December 19, a freak snow shower coated the dusty red dunes of Aïn Séfra, Algeria’s ‘Gateway to the Desert’.

Also Read | Parts of Saudi Arabia covered in snow, temperatures plunge

The snow — the result of a combination of atmospheric factors — stayed for about a day before melting.

 

The Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) on the USGS/NASA Landsat 7 satellite acquired a natural-colour image of snow in an area near the Morocco-Algeria border, south of Bouarfa and southwest of Aïn Séfra. The rare snowfall generated excitement after local photographer Karim Bouchetata posted several stunning pictures of rolling dunes covered in white on his Facebook page. “Everyone was stunned to see snow falling in the desert, it is such a rare occurrence,” Bouchetata told The Independent. “It looked amazing as the snow settled on the sand.”

WHY

The Washington Post reported that a weather map analysis from the day of the snowfall shows that temperatures in the area, at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, were about 10 to 15 degrees colder than normal when the event occurred. Also, a very strong patch of low pressure had been created at a high altitude, which rapidly sucked up air and cooled it, creating conditions for the extremely rare snowfall.

Ain Sefra –  Algeria

EARLIER

Aïn Séfra, which is situated between the Atlas Mountains and the northern fringes of the Sahara, saw a half-hour snowstorm earlier in February 1979. This region receives only a few centimetres of precipitation every year. In July 2011, the world’s driest desert, the Atacama in Chile, received 80 cm of snow. This week’s event could be another sign of climate change.

Source: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the US Geological Survey. Caption by Mike Carlowicz. Other information: NASA & ENS

 

Merry Xmas and Best Wishes to Each and Everyone.