Donald Trump right about something for a change ?  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

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 ?  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

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  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

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  

Posted by Big Gav in

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

NASA Unveils Plans for Electric-Powered Plane  

Posted by Big Gav in

The NY Times has an article on NASA's plans for an all-electric airplane designated as X-57. The agency hopes the technology can be incorporated into general aviation and commuter aircraft - NASA Unveils Plans for Electric-Powered Plane.

The World Nears Peak Fossil Fuels for Electricity  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

Bloomberg New Energy Finance has a new forecast that plots out global power markets for the next 25 years. The article dubs this "peak fossil fuels - a turnabout that's happening not because we're running out of coal and gas, but because we're finding cheaper alternatives" - The World Nears Peak Fossil Fuels for Electricity.

The report notes that demand is peaking ahead of schedule because electric cars and affordable battery storage for renewable power are arriving faster than expected.

The report highlights a number of major trends:

1. There Will Be No Golden Age of Gas
2. Renewables Attract $7.8 Trillion in investment up to 2040
3. Electric Cars Rescue Power Markets
4. Batteries Join the Grid
5. Solar and Wind Prices Plummet
6. Renewable energy technology keeps improving - Capacity Factors Go Wild
7. India is the New Polluter to Worry About

100 miles per gallon ? The Hybrid Stirling Engine  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

KHOU has a (confused) report on a Texas man who is experimenting with adding a Stirling engine to a hybrid car - San Antonio man has engine that gets 100 mpg.

How future-proof are the ideas of Buckminster Fuller ?  

Posted by Big Gav in

New Scientist has a review of a book on Bucky Fuller by Jonathon Keats, entitled "You Belong to the Universe: Buckminster Fuller and the future" - How future-proof are the ideas of Buckminster Fuller ?.

Chapter by chapter, Keats asks how the future has served Fuller’s ideas on city planning, transport, architecture, education. It’s a risky scheme, because it invites you to set Fuller’s visions up simply to knock them down again with the big stick of hindsight. But Keats is far too canny for that trap. He puts his subject into context, works hard to establish what would and would not be reasonable for him to know and imagine, and explains why the history of built and manufactured things turned out the way it has, sometimes fulfilling, but more often thwarting, Fuller’s vision.

It’s going to be a wild ride in the global lithium market  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

RENew Economy has a look at the forecast demand for lithium worldwide as demand for electric vehicles and energy storage ramps up - It’s going to be a wild ride in the global lithium market.


Posted by Big Gav

Just for a change of pace - this pair of posts at Cryptogon are quite interesting - one on the Orlando massacre gunman (and subsequent DDOS attack on the site) and one on the pre-Brexit killing of a British MP (especially the second comment about the killer's white supremacist online history from 2006 only appearing in the Wayback machine in March 2016 - those little inconsistencies always make me wonder...).

The "Gateway To The Underworld" In Siberia Was Created By Global Warming  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

IFL Science has a report on the melting of the Siberian permafrost - The "Gateway To The Underworld" In Siberia Was Created By Climate Change.

Solastor promises world’s cheapest 24/7 solar power  

Posted by Big Gav in , , , , ,

One time Liberal party leader John Hewson (now chairman of a company called SolarStor) made a splash in the media today with an announcement of solar thermal power plant in Port Augusta in South Australia.

Renew Economy has the details - Hewson’s Solastor promises world’s cheapest 24/7 solar power.

The 170MW, $1.2 billion project was officially launched in Adelaide on Tuesday by Hewson, who said he was confident the technology could produce the lowest-price 24/7 solar power in the world.

According to Solastor, this is “the ideal technology” to replace the almost 20,000 megawatts of coal-fired power plants “that will inevitably be phased out over the next 10 to 20 years,” as well as diesel generation systems such as those used in remote communities, islands and mine sites. In Australia alone, the company says, there could be a market for 400 Solastor plants.

The costs being quoted are so low that even RE's Giles Parkinson is being a little wary, sounding some notes of caution - Hewson’s enthusiasm for solar towers is welcome, but wild claims are not.

The proposed plant will use graphite rather than molten salt for heat storage - apparently they licenced the Lloyd Energy Systems / Larkden technology for this (according to a SolarStor web page now only available through Google cache).

Australia isn't the only country with new CSP plants being planned - RE also has an article about project announcement in Dubai - Dubai plans world’s biggest, and cheapest, solar tower + storage project.

Abundance vs Scarcity  

Posted by Big Gav

I liked this quote that I picked up from an article at Brain Pickings - “If you perceive the universe as being a universe of abundance, then it will be. If you think of the universe as one of scarcity, then it will be.”.

Bitter Lake  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

I have enjoyed watching Adam Curtis' work ever since I came across "The Power of Nightmares" back during the Iraq war days.

His most recent film is Bitter Lake, going back for further exploration of what has been going on in Afghanistan over the past 70 odd years.

Curtis has an interview with Jon Ronson on the film, which the snippet below is taken from.

The problem is how that material is then used, when it's processed through broadcast central. It is taken and fitted into increasingly rigid formats in TV that tend to remove the very thing that has been captured so well in the original rushes: the emotional truth of the situation. What it felt like to be there. And what you would think if you yourself were there.

It's part of a much bigger problem. I'm not just talking about news, but about all factual reporting on television. The way they tell stories about the world feels increasingly thin—and more and more detached from the way all of us think and feel. Journalism used to open up reality to tell us new stuff. But now it is helping to keep us all inside the bubble by playing back stuff we already know in slightly altered forms.

So I've taken all that unedited material from Afghanistan and tried to use it in a new way. My aim is both to show the complex reality that we didn't see in Afghanistan, but also to try and do it in a way that's more emotional and involving. Some of it is quite radical, but I think you have to try and do that if you want to puncture the bubble.

Our age is a highly emotional one. It's a time where what people feel as individuals is really important. I'm not saying that journalism should just become a wash of feeling and simply pander to that emotionalism. Journalism's job should always be to explain things to you. But in our age it should do that with real emotional power.

But it doesn't. It has become rigid and full of cliches, and in response people turn away and immerse themselves in the stories of themselves and their friends' lives. Which is exciting—and a new kind of world—but it leaves large parts of the public world completely unexamined, which means that people in power can do more and more what they like.

The Half bike  

Posted by Big Gav in

This thing is an interesting new take on cycling - Half Bikes.

I think I'd miss being able to sit down and coast on long rides though.

REN21: Wind and solar deliver record year for global renewables in 2015  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

ReNew Economy has a summary of the latest REN21 global status report on renewable energy - Wind and solar deliver record year for global renewables in 2015.

It has been a good year, with solar power continuing its exponential growth - on track for 100% of our energy supply by 2030.

The article notes that 147GW of renewable generating capacity was added worldwide, marking the largest year-on-year increase ever and taking the total global share of renewables to just under 20 per cent of final energy consumption.

Donald Trump’s dangerous, nonsensical energy plan  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

Donald Trump's energy "plan" seems to attracted pretty much universal condemnation.

The Washington Post dubbed it "dangerous and nonsensical", pointing out the bizarre contradictions embedded within it - "Mr. Trump’s headline policy is “complete American energy independence” by “lifting these draconian [regulations]” so that “we are no longer at the mercy of global markets.”"

Criticism elsewhere included Technology Review (Donald Trump’s “America-First Energy Plan” Shows He Knows Virtually Nothing About the Issue) and Think Progress ("Here’s What Actual Climate Scientists Think Of Trump’s New Energy Plan).

As well as promising a coal and oil based future, Trump has been claiming that California hasn't been having a drought. I guess if you make a living from lying then even the most basic facts can be shrugged off.

Slate dubbed his latest claims "Lies Trump Reality". At least it gave Bernie Sanders another reason to mock him.

Enphase doubles battery storage production target to 60,000 units  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

ReNew Economy reports that US based company Enphase has doubled it's battery storage production targets - Enphase doubles battery storage production target to 60,000 units.

Enphase is using Australia as the global launch for its modular storage system - they had planned to ship around 30,000 units in the next year but has now lifted that to a total of 60,000 units for the 2016/17 financial year.

Bloomberg on Saudi Arabian Petrodollar recycling  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

Bloomberg has an article on the volume of oil money that Saudi Arabia has recycled into US treasuries - The Untold Story Behind Saudi Arabia’s 41-Year U.S. Debt Secret.

This flow of money has historically been known as petrodollar recycling (a system put in place by Henry Kissinger in the early 1970s).

Saudi Arabian holdings of US assets have been of interest lately due to threats they will be sold off if the US allows the country to be to be held liable in court for the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre.

VW to go electric ?  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

Quartz and the Australian Financial Review have reports that Volkswagen are hoping to put their diesel emissions scandal woes behind them and switch to electric vehicles along with a massive Tesla style battery factory.

VW are dismissing the reports as "speculation" at this stage.

New concept turns flow battery technology upside-down  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

MIT News has a report on a new paper describing a pump free flow battery - New concept turns battery technology upside-down. The new design could offer improved cost and reliability.


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