Making the transition

How much coal is there in the world? Where is it found? How much of it should we keep in the ground to avoid negative environmental impacts? Can renewable energy really replace it? How is the transition going to look like?
  • There are an estimated 1.1 trillion tonnes of proven coal reserves worldwide. This means that there is enough coal to last us around 150 years at current rates of production.
  • Coal reserves are available in almost every country worldwide, with recoverable reserves in around 70 countries. The most prominent reserves are in the USA, Russia, China and India.
A 2015 study in the journal Nature revealed that we need to leave at least 80% of the world’s known remaining fossil fuel (coal + oil + natural gas) reserves in the ground to prevent runaway climate change. It’s 2018 now.
What’s the alternative? A lot of doubts float around renewable energy’s power. Here’s taking the cloud off of it:
  • Renewable energy is not expensive.
  • Renewable energy is big enough to power the whole world.
  • Renewable energy can supply electricity 24X7.
  • Our infrastructure can handle renewable energy.
  • Renewable energy is not bad for the environment.

Proof.

In India, coal is expected to stay for at least the next 30 years due to its abundance and cost advantage. In the meantime, we have a family of technologies called Carbon capture and storage (CCS) that can help.

Technology, however, doesn’t solve everything.

How do we make this transition humanely? What about the lives that are dependent on the fossil fuel industry? Iron & Earth is led by oilsands workers committed to incorporating more renewable energy projects into our work scope.

What happens to the landscapes where the coal mines exist? Worldwide, former mining lands have become valuable real estate.  This floating solar farm in China, for instance, sits on a coal mine.

Shout out: Thanks, D, for suggesting this topic! :)

SolarChat on Twitter: American Corporate Solar Champions

Last week, I participated in a #SolarChat on Twitter, “American Corporate Solar Champions,” which showcases corporate solar champions featured in SEIA’s “Solar Means Business” report. Questions from Raina Brett Russo ‏@EcoOutfitters.

Here are some of the questions that interested me and to which I answered:

Q WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE MOTIVATOR FOR A COMPANY LIKE GM AND OTHERS TO GO SOLAR?

My answer: (Or rather a question back) I wondered if any of the business models included rental or secondary market (second-hand) for solar panels? Also, promising and long-lasting solar panels (Solar cell degradation) http://bit.ly/IFOdTg

Companies involved in the renting/leasing business:

Source: Howstuffworks, theenergycollective

Q IN WHAT WAYS CAN CORPORATIONS CONSIDERING SOLAR GET INVOLVED? WHAT ARE FIRST STEPS?

My answer: Geography and demographics. #solarchat #India is a great place for the solar industry to flourish.

Best places for solar power:

India‘s high population and high solar insolation, makes it a perfect place for solar power installations. While it is gaining speed in this sector, there are other countries who have harnessed solar energy and these are:

  1. The Netherlands
  2. France
  3. Australia
  4. Italy
  5. South Korea
  6. China
  7. United States
  8. Japan
  9. Spain
  10. Germany

Source: Discovery News

Further reading: Washington Post for solar resource map of US and Wiki for solar resource map of India.

Q HOW CAN COMPANIES BEST COMMUNICATE SOLAR ACCOMPLISHMENTS TO KEY STAKEHOLDERS AND CUSTOMERS? HOW IS THIS IMPORTANT?

My answer: Money and transparency.

One other thing I’d like to add to this is ‘effective communication’. People need to know how they can benefit from solar technologies.

Q WHAT DOES THE INDUSTRY AND/OR THE GOVERNMENT NEED TO DO TO ENTICE NEW CORPORATIONS TO GO SOLAR?

My answer: Finance research in solar energy. Governments can ask schools to include solar and renewable energy options in their curriculum and not just in a passing way.

Q HOW DO YOU SEE SOLAR IMPACTING ELECTRIC CAR (EV) PRODUCTION IN THE US?

My answer: For me @TeslaMotors has done a great job at making me love solar impacting EVs.

For the whole list of questions and to see what others had to say, click here.

Any thoughts you’d care to share? Please do.

Solar for elec…naah, heat!

“Utilization ratios — the proportion of solar radiation reaching a collector’s surface that can be converted to usable process energy — of over 60% can be obtained by integrating solar thermal equipment in industrial systems. By comparison, photovoltaic systems typically have an efficiency of around 15%. ” –che.com

Solar energy can not only be transformed into electricity, but process heat in a chemical industry.

Read more on this : Producing Solar Process Heat with Fresnel Collectors in the CPI

Converting solar energy into heat is not new. Solar cooking is one such application.

The world’s largest solar cooking system, designed by Gadhia Solar Energy Systems Pvt. Ltd., is functioning at the Shirdi temple, where a solar cooked lunch is served to over 50,000 people per day.

It is not just India, but this technology is used worldwide.

Read more:

Most significant solar cooking projects

Edit (13/09/2013)

Nanoheaters really boggled my mind the most.

“Nanoheaters generate steam at a remarkably high efficiency,” Halas said. “More than 80 percent of the energy they absorb from sunlight goes into production of steam. In the conventional production of steam, you would have to heat the entire container of water until it boils, with the bubbles rising to the top to release steam. With nanoheaters, less than 20 percent of the energy heats the neighboring liquid.”

Read more: New Solar Device Kills Germs on Surgical Equipment (and Everything Else)