Category: Renewable energy

World’s largest offshore wind farm developer to recover, reuse or recycle turbine blades

Read the full story at CNBC.

The issue of what to do with wind turbine blades when they’re no longer needed is a challenge for the industry. A number of companies involved in the sector have attempted to find solutions to the issue.

Wisconsin researchers proving the Dairy State has some green-energy tricks up its sleeve

Read the full story from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

From faster car chargers to smaller wind turbines, “the way we look at this utility is going to totally change, and it’s going to happen” at UW-Milwaukee and elsewhere.

Microgrid Installations Database

The Microgrid Installation Database includes a comprehensive listing of the U.S.’s 461 operational microgrids that provide a total of 3.1 gigawatts of reliable electricity. The information, which is updated on a monthly basis, is presented in a tabular format to help users easily access and sort data. The site features:

  • An interactive map of microgrid installations across the U.S.
  • The ability to filter and search for sites by technology, end-user application, generation and storage capacity, and operating year
  • Downloadable data files

Users can also request to have sites added.

The places paving the way to 100 percent renewable energy

Read the full story at The Verge.

President Joe Biden is setting the US on a path to run entirely on clean electricity by 2035. That’s not an easy target, considering renewables only make up about 20 percent of the country’s power mix today. Luckily, Biden, and other state and city leaders with similar aims, have roadmaps from communities like Burlington, Vermont that are already ahead. The city offers a glimpse into what a clean energy future might look like for the rest of the nation, what it might take to get there, and which potential pitfalls it would be best to avoid.

As US aims to boost clean energy supply chain, critical minerals gap largely human-caused, analysts say

Read the full story at Utility Dive.

There’s no shortage of rare earth minerals needed to transition to a clean energy economy, experts say. The problem is getting them out of the ground — and out of China.

Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector

Download the document.

The number of countries announcing pledges to achieve net-zero emissions over the coming decades continues to grow. But the pledges by governments to date – even if fully achieved – fall well short of what is required to bring global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 and give the world an even chance of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 °C.

This special report is the world’s first comprehensive study of how to transition to a net zero energy system by 2050 while ensuring stable and affordable energy supplies, providing universal energy access, and enabling robust economic growth. It sets out a cost-effective and economically productive pathway, resulting in a clean, dynamic and resilient energy economy dominated by renewables like solar and wind instead of fossil fuels. The report also examines key uncertainties, such as the roles of bioenergy, carbon capture and behavioral changes in reaching net zero.

Soaking up the sun: Artificial photosynthesis promises a clean, sustainable source of energy

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Humans can do lots of things that plants can’t do. We can walk around, we can talk, we can hear and see and touch. But plants have one major advantage over humans: They can make energy directly from the sun.

That process of turning sunlight directly into usable energy – called photosynthesis – may soon be a feat humans are able to mimic to harness the sun’s energy for clean, storable, efficient fuel. If so, it could open a whole new frontier of clean energy. Enough energy hits the earth in the form of sunlight in one hour to meet all human civilization’s energy needs for an entire year.

Yulia Puskhar, a biophysicist and professor of physics in Purdue’s College of Science, may have a way to harness that energy by mimicking plants.

Yulia Pushkar

Wind power and solar power, harnessed by photovoltaic cells, are the two major forms of clean energy available. Adding a third — synthetic photosynthesis — would dramatically change the renewable energy landscape. The ability to store the energy easily, without requiring bulky batteries, would dramatically improve humans’ ability to power society cleanly and efficiently.

Both wind turbines and photovoltaics have downside in terms of environmental effects and complicating factors. Pushkar hopes that artificial photosynthesis might be able to bypass those pitfalls.

“We and other researchers around the world are working incredibly hard to try to come up with accessible energy,” Pushkar said. “Energy that is clean and sustainable that we can create with nontoxic, easily available elements. Our artificial photosynthesis is the way forward.”

Photosynthesis is a complex dance of processes whereby plants convert the sun’s radiance and water molecules into usable energy in the form of glucose. To do this, they use a pigment, usually the famous chlorophyll, as well as proteins, enzymes and metals.

The closest process to artificial photosynthesis humans have today is photovoltaic technology, where a solar cell converts the sun’s energy into electricity. That process is famously inefficient, able to capture only about 20% of the sun’s energy. Photosynthesis, on the other hand, is radically more efficient; it is capable of storing 60% of the sun’s energy as chemical energy in associated biomolecules.

The efficiency of simple photovoltaic cells – solar panels – is limited by semiconductors’ ability to absorb light energy and by the cell’s ability to produce power. That limit is something scientists could surpass with synthetic photosynthesis.

“With artificial photosynthesis, there are not fundamental physical limitations,” Pushkar said. “You can very easily imagine a system that is 60% efficient because we already have a precedent in natural photosynthesis. And if we get very ambitious, we could even envision a system of up to 80% efficiency.

“Photosynthesis is massively efficient when it comes to splitting water, a first step of artificial photosynthesis. Photosystems II proteins in plants do this a thousand times a second. Blink, and it’s done.”

Pushkar’s group is mimicking the process by building her own artificial leaf analog that collects light and splits water molecules to generate hydrogen. Hydrogen can be used as a fuel by itself via fuel cells or be added to other fuels such as natural gas, or built into fuel cells to power everything from vehicles to houses to small electronic devices, laboratories and hospitals. Her most recent discovery, an insight into the way water molecules split during photosynthesis, was recently published in the journal Chem Catalysis: Cell Press.

Scientists in Pushkar’s lab experiment with natural photosystem II proteins and synthetic catalysts combinations in attempts to understand what works best – and why. She also puts a priority on using compounds and chemicals that are readily abundant on Earth, easily accessible and nontoxic to the planet.

Progress in artificial photosynthesis is complicated, though, by the fact that photosynthesis is so multifaceted, a fact bemoaned by biochemistry students everywhere.

“The reaction is very complex,” Pushkar said. “The chemistry of splitting water molecules is extremely intricate and difficult.”

Scientists have been working on artificial photosynthesis since the 1970s. That’s a long time, but not when you remember that photosynthesis took millions of years to evolve. Not only that, but scientists believe that, unlike flight, communication or intelligence, photosynthesis has evolved only once – about 3 billion years ago, only about 1.5 billion years into Earth’s existence.

Pushkar posits that within the next 10-15 years, enough progress will have been made that commercial artificial photosynthesis systems may begin to come online. Her research is funded by the National Science Foundation.

About College of Science

Purdue University’s College of Science is committed to the persistent pursuit of the mathematical and scientific knowledge that forms the very foundation of innovation. Nearly 350 tenure-track faculty conduct world-changing research and deliver a transformative education to more than 1,200 graduate students and 4,300 undergraduates. The college is a community of learners that develops practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges with degree programs in the life sciences, physical sciences, computational sciences, mathematics and data science.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://purdue.edu/.

Writer, Media contact: Brittany Steff; 765-494-7833; bsteff@purdue.edu 

Source: Yulia Pushkar: YPushkar@purdue.edu

BASF, RWE partner on sustainability solutions for industrial production

Read the full story from ESG Today.

Chemical and materials company BASF and renewable energy-focused power provider RWE announced today a new collaboration aimed at developing new technologies for climate protection in industrial production.

The companies presented a project idea aiming to electrify the production processes for basic chemicals, which are currently based on fossil fuels. The project envisions an additional offshore wind farm with a capacity of 2 gigawatts (GW) to provide BASF’s Ludwigshafen chemical site with green electricity and enable CO2-free production of hydrogen.

Steam crackers play a central role in the production of basic chemicals and require a significant amount of energy to break down hydrocarbons into olefins and aromatics, with reactions conducted at temperatures of approximately 850 degrees Celsius. BASF recently announced an agreement with chemical company SABIC and industrial gases company Linde to develop and demonstrate solutions for electrically heated steam cracker furnaces, in a bid to significantly reduce CO2 emissions within the chemical industry. To advance the joint project, the CEOs of BASF and RWE have signed a letter of intent covering a wide-ranging cooperation for the creation of additional capacities for renewable electricity and the use of innovative technologies for climate protection.

IEA: Energy investment surge to nearly $5 trillion needed to reach net zero by 2050

Read the full story at ESG Today.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) announced the release today of a new report, Net Zero by 2050: a Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector. Developed at the request of the COP26 Presidency, the report outlines the pathway to achieve net zero emissions globally by 2050, in line with the international effort to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 °C.

The grid needs to smarten up to reach clean energy goals

Read the full story at The Verge.

…electricity grids still have a long way to go to get “smart.” They’ve managed to fail spectacularly under the stressors of climate change and more extreme weather.

After years of underinvestment, there’s renewed hope that long-awaited smart grids might actually come to fruition. President Joe Biden can’t reach his goal of getting the power sector to run on 100 percent clean energy by 2035 without a smarter grid. And grids can’t get smarter without the kind of urgency that Biden has injected into overhauling America’s infrastructure.

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