Building the World

May 26, 2017
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Golden Opportunity? Coal to Wind

“Green River of Wyoming.” Artist, Thomas Moran, 1878. Image: wikimedia commons

A golden opportunity may be dawning, not only for energy but for employment, from coal to wind. There’s precedent: many workers on the Transcontinental Railroad were “navvies” – a term coined to describe those who built navigable waterways including the Erie Canal. Skills in technologies, combined with the ability to work in remote locations: these are the same valuable traits that may now transform the coal industry. Carbon County, Wyoming, is launching a job training program for coal miners to become wind farm technicians. Wyoming produces more coal than any other American state; but geography makes it ideal for wind, with 850 turbines planned, perhaps leading to a change in tax policy.  Job training is free, offered by Goldwind, a leading wind turbine manufacturer in Urumqi, Xinjiang, China, famous hub of the Silk Road. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal: will the celebration include the training and development of workers who changed the American economy? Might the future feature transformation from coal to wind, as skilled workers take on new industries to rebuild energy and environment?

Baeumier, Axel, Ede Ijjasa-Vasque, Shomik Mehndirrata, eds. Sustainable Low-Carbon City Development in China. The World Bank, 2012. ISBN: 9780821389881 (ebook).

Cardwell, Diane. “Wind Project in Wyoming Envisions Coal Miners as Trainees.” 21 May 2017. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/21/business/energy-environment/wind-turbine-job-training-wyoming.html?_r=0

Goldwind. In Chinese: http://goldwind.cn; in English: http://www.goldwindglobal.com/web/index.do

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

April 26, 2017
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Fountain of Hope

Water is the hope of the MOF-801. Here, the largest floating fountain in Europe, Multimedia Fountain Roshen, Ukraine. Image: wikimedia.

Two-thirds of the earth’s population may soon need more water, especially in arid regions. Australia, India, North Africa, and areas of the United States and Mexico, to name but a few, are rich in sun but poor in water. Using the sun to power a metal-organic framework (MOF) that acts like a sponge to soak up humidity, Omar Yaghi of the University of California Berkeley and Evelyn Wang of MIT, and team, have developed MOF-801 that could be carried in a suitcase, set up in a solar view, and immediately produce enough water for a family of four.

Hyunjo Kim, Sungwoo Yang, Sameer R. Rao, Shankar Narayanan, Eugene A. Kapustin, Hiroyasu Furukawa, Ari S. Umans, Omar M. Yaghi, Evelyn N. Wang. “Water harvesting from air with metal-organic frameworks powered by natural sunlight.” Science, 13 April 2017: eaam8743. DOI: 10.1126/science.aam8743. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2017/04/12/science.aam8743/tab-figures-data/

Urieff, Kaya. “New solar-powered device makes water out of desert air.” 19 April 2017, CNN.com. http://cnnmon.ie/2pg50FR/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

 

April 22, 2017
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It’s Earth Day: Look Up!

Ra, Egyptian sun god. Artist: Jeff Dahl. Image: wikimedia commons.

Earth Day. Could the answer to our planet’s energy problems and resultant climate change be found by looking up? Every culture on earth has myths about the sun. For example, Egypt worshipped Ra, the sun god whose falcon head was crowned with a solar disk. In 1973, building upon the success of COMSAT and the Apollo Moon Landing, Peter Glaser was awarded the United States patent for solar power from space, via satellite. Honored in the spring, as the sky glows with a stronger light, Earth Day might call us to look up.

Thanks to Jacques Horvilleur, and Lucien Deschamps, and Sociéte de électricité et des électronique et des technologies de l’information et de la communication (SEE), Société des Ingénieurs et Scientifiques de France (ISF).

For solar power from space: http://archive.org/details/sps91powerfromsp00unse/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

April 14, 2017
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Why is an Orange like a Light Bulb?

The water-energy-food nexus may influence the growing of oranges, in competition for lightbulbs and drinking water. Image: wikimedia commons.

Did you know that growing one orange requires 13.8 gallons of water? Next time you crunch into an almond, you’ll consume the result of one gallon. California grows both: a result, in part, of the Colorado River Compact. Edward Spang of the University of California Davis, as well as colleagues including David H. Marks of MIT, predict competition for water use will increase in the water-energy-food nexus. Spang developed a water consumption for energy production (WCEP) indicator, comparing the use of water for different forms of energy in over 150 countries. Fossil fuels and biofuels require the most water; wind is less thirsty. The United Nations cites the World Water Development Report: “If water, energy, and food security are to be simultaneously achieved, decision-makers, including those responsible for only a single sector, need to consider broader influences and cross-sectoral impacts. A nexus approach is needed.”

For more: Spang, Edward. “A Thirst for Power: A Global Analysis of Water Consumption for Energy Production.” GWF Discussion Paper 1246. Global Water Forum, Canberra, Australia. http://www.globalwaterforum.org/2012/10/23/a-thirst-for-power-a-global-analysis-of-water-consmption-for-energy-production/and also see: http://cwee.ucdavis.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/10-25-2013-ThirstforPower_Final.pdf

“Multiple metrics for quantifying the intensity of water consumption of energy production.” E.S. Spang, W.R. Moomaw, K.S. Gallagher, P. H. Kirshen, and D.H. Marks. 8 October 2014. Environmental Research Letters, Volume 9, Number 10. http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/9/10/105003/meta

Ahuja, Satinder, Editor. Food, Energy, and Water. Elsevier 2015. https://www.elsevier.com/books/food-energy-and-water/ahuja/978-0-12-800211-7

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

November 25, 2016
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Island in the Sun

Rose Atoll, American Samoa. Image: NASA.gov.

4,000 miles + 600 people + cost of diesel delivery = innovation. T’au traded fossil fuels for renewable energy via solar collectors combined with storage batteries. Building a microgrid generating 1.4 megawatts of energy, powered by 60 Tesla power packs and 5,328 solar panels, American Samoan island T’au can supply residents and businesses with electricity. In case clouds shroud the island in the sun, battery power runs for three days. Islands in space, like satellites launched by Comsat, Nasa, and the International Space Station, rely upon solar energy. But oceanic islands formerly waited for boats to deliver diesel to power generators. T’au’s solar innovation, funded by contributors including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior, and American Samoa Economic Development Authority, may set a new standard for renewable energy. Next? Tesla and partner Solar City hope to apply the model to Hawaiian island, Kaua’i.

Thanks to Jason W. Lusk for suggesting this post.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

October 7, 2016
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India and the Climate of Peace

Be the change you want to see: Gandhi. Image: wikimedia commons.

India has ratified the Paris Climate Agreement.  The land of the Taj Mahal has a sense of ceremony; the historic decision was taken on October 2, Gandhi’s birthday. Joining other carbon giants, China and United States who both ratified the agreement in September, India declared its intention to pursue “development without destruction.” India, accounting for 4.5 percent of carbon emissions becomes the 62nd nation to deliver a legal instrument of ratification. To date, enough countries have now joined and ratified that only 3 percent point more are needed to reach the 55 percent required; the 55-nation aspect has already been met and surpassed. It is predicted that the Climate Agreement will come into effect on 4 November 2016. Mahatma Gandhi’s message of humanism, environmentalism, and pacifism” is celebrated by the way and date of India’s ratification of the agreement to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius. India set the goal of producing 40% of its electricity with non-fossil fuels by 2030. October 2 is also the International Day of Nonviolence.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

September 3, 2016
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The 38% Solution

Will 38 soon become 88? Image: wikimedia.

China and the United States have both ratified the Paris climate agreement. In Hangzhou, on the eve of the G20, China greeted arriving American President Obama with the announcement. Together, the two nations account for 38% of the world’s carbon emissions. The Paris agreement’s goal is to hold global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit). Will Christiana Figueres, chief architect of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and her words delivered on 6 April 2016 to the University of Massachusetts Boston at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, inspire the world to build a better future?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

 

August 8, 2016
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Olympic Feat

Olympic Gold medalist Michael Phelps, Beijing 2008. Image: wikimedia commons.

Olympic Games are paved with gold (and silver, bronze, and brilliance.) In Rio, Olympic Gold was won by Michael Phelps, crowning the swimmer as the most decorated Olympian, adding to eight golds awarded in Beijing 2008, four golds and two silvers in London 2012. During the London Olympics, a parallel Olympic feat, or perhaps one should say ‘feet,’ marked a milestone in energy and environment. The West Ham Tube station near the London Olympic stadium was paved with 12 electricity pavers, activated by a million footsteps. Renewable, wireless electricity, thus generated, powered 12 LED floodlights at the subway station during the Olympic and Paralympics Games. Laurence Kemball-Cook conceived the idea as a university student, at the age of 25, and soon founded PaveGen. Generative floors power only the immediate area, only when stepped upon, but that’s enough to illuminate an LED street lamp. Or imagine a mall or hospital lobby where an average of 250,000 steps occur; that’s enough to power 10,000 mobile phones. PaveGen technology grows stronger; over 100 locations worldwide, including dance clubs, shine. Will Fitbit readouts soon include energy generated? Kemball-Cook observes that “the average person takes 150 million steps in their lifetime, just imagine the potential.” Future goals: paving areas in Mumbai, where people currently lack access to electricity. More visions: universities, schools, sporting venues, hospitals, shopping malls, grocery stores, greenways and sportsways — places where many steps are taken — could add floors to their energy system. When Tokyo hosted the 1964 Olympics, a milestone in transport and energy was achieved: Shinkansen. Tokyo will again host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics; Beijing, 2022. PyeongChang is next, in 2018. The Olympic path has always been paved with gold; now, also paved with light?

Lawrence Kemball-Cook, TEDtalk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_vPbhYqg2k

“Green sidewalk makes electricity — one footstep at a time.” George Webster, CNN, 13 October 2011. http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/13/tech/innovation/pavegen-kinetic-pavements/

http://www.pavegen.com

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

July 27, 2016
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Here Comes the Sun

Solar Impulse 2 successfully completed the first global solar flight on 26 July 2016. Will Peter Glaser’s vision of space solar power soon provide energy to earth? Image: nasa.gov.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed: successfully completing a flight circling the globe, without using a drop of fuel. Not a non-stop route, the trip required 17 legs, beginning where it ended: Abu Dhabi. Not far from the airfield, one might find another model for a solar, and energy-efficient, future: Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. Developed in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with the guidance of Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh as President and a team of experts including Dr. David H. Marks, the campus uses 70% less electricity, 70% less potable water, and runs on solar and other forms of clean energy. Abu Dhabi welcomed Solar Impulse 2 partners Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard who took turns piloting the plane during historic  40,000 km (26,744 mile) achievement: the aircraft holds only one person, and that pilot sleeps only 20 minutes at a time. July might be remembered for another historic record; in 1969, the first humans piloted Nasa’s Apollo mission to the moon. Peter Glaser was project manager for the Apollo 11 Lunar Ranging Retroreflector Array. Will Glaser’s design, and current initiatives of Lucien Deschamps, for space solar power deliver the energy of the sun to the earth?

Thanks to Fred Moavenzadeh, David Marks, and Sheila Turney on Masdar; Jean Louis Bobin and Lucien Deschamps on new forms of energy.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

June 25, 2016
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TransAtlantic Flight — without a drop of fuel

Solar Impulse. Wikimedia commons.

Solar Impulse 2 crossed the Atlantic ocean without a drop of fuel, making history and opening a wing to the future. New York to Seville in 71 hours, Betrand Piccard landed escorted by an honor guard. Some might say you’d have to be crazy to fly across an ocean without fuel; but Piccard is a psychiatrist, a balloonist, and a pioneer. Tweets aloft included a photo of an oil tanker, contrasting fossil fuels with solar tech. Picard and partner Andre Borschberg share the adventure of flying SI2 around the world: “You can now fly longer without fuel than with fuel, and you fly with the force of nature, you fly with the sun. It’s the new era now for energy.” Flight history was made by Nasa when the Apollo team traversed space to land on the moon. Solar flight may be next the “giant leap.” While floating above, Piccard read Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing, poems written in reflection in meditation, and set to music by Philip Glass, who also composed Itaipu. An excerpt?

I know she is coming

I know she will look

And that is the longing

And this is the book.

  • Leonard Cohen, Book of Longing, read by Piccard on historic solar flight over Atlantic.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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