Around The Web

Innovative energy project to be piloted by Patterson River Secondary College

RenewEconomy - Fri, 2016-12-02 11:21
A cutting-edge new class will be introduced into the curriculum at Patterson River Secondary College next year.
Categories: Around The Web

Enphase Storage System Goes Live in Landmark Multi-Dwelling Battery Installation

RenewEconomy - Fri, 2016-12-02 10:14
Enphase Energy's installation partner, Solaray Energy, has completed the installation of a rooftop solar PV system with the largest Enphase Storage System commissioned to date.
Categories: Around The Web

Katharine Tapley appointed ANZ Head of Sustainable Finance Solutions, Loans & Specialised Finance

RenewEconomy - Fri, 2016-12-02 09:57
ANZ today announced the appointment of Katharine Tapley as Head of Sustainable Finance Solutions (SFS), Loans & Specialised Finance.
Categories: Around The Web

Drinking too much water when ill can be harmful, finds study

The Guardian - Fri, 2016-12-02 09:30

Doctors warn excessive intake can pose risks for some patients and say medical advice needs to be more specific

The common advice to drink plenty of water when ill is based on scant evidence and can actively harm chances of recovery, doctors have warned.

Medics at King’s College hospital NHS foundation trust, in London, raised the alarm after they treated a patient with hyponatremia – abnormally low sodium – from drinking too much water to help with a recurring urinary tract infection.

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

Threatened Species Strategy - Year One Report

Department of the Environment - Fri, 2016-12-02 09:19
This report captures the progress made during year one of implementing the Threatened Species Strategy.
Categories: Around The Web

Are gut microbes involved with Parkinson's disease?

ABC Science - Fri, 2016-12-02 08:51
GUT BRAIN LINKS: Changes to gut microbes can influence the development of Parkinson's-like movement disorders, according to a study of mice predisposed to the neurological condition.
Categories: Around The Web

'Shockingly' cold gas cloud surrounding early giant galaxy surprises scientists

ABC Science - Fri, 2016-12-02 08:39
GALAXY EVOLUTION: The discovery of an enormous reservoir of ultra-cold gas surrounding a distant galaxy has reshaped our scientific understanding of how stars and galaxies formed in the early universe.
Categories: Around The Web

Renewable Energy Market Report – long hard slog

RenewEconomy - Fri, 2016-12-02 07:10
No substantive changes to the demand/supply equation in Australia's renewable energy market in November.
Categories: Around The Web

Europe ministers debate space future

BBC - Fri, 2016-12-02 06:26
Europe's research ministers negotiate over funding for the space station and a rover to land on Mars and search for life.
Categories: Around The Web

Two-thirds of Australians think reef crisis is 'national emergency' – poll

The Guardian - Fri, 2016-12-02 05:00

Overwhelming majority of people agree the government should legislate to stop chemicals polluting the Great Barrier Reef

More than two-thirds of Australians think the condition of the Great Barrier Reef should be declared a “national emergency” and support much stronger measures to protect it than are now being considered.

On Thursday the government released its report on the reef to Unesco, which was a condition of the reef being excluded from the UN body’s “world heritage in-danger” list. The government reported slow progress on the key issue of water quality and the failure of a major plank in the plan – slowing tree clearing in Queensland.

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

Despite the hype, batteries aren't the cheapest way to store energy on the grid

The Conversation - Fri, 2016-12-02 04:50
Batteries may be a good way to store energy in the home. Battery image from

The Australian government is reviewing our electricity market to make sure it can provide secure and reliable power in a rapidly changing world. Faced with the rise of renewable energy and limits on carbon pollution, The Conversation has asked experts what kind of future awaits the grid.

Storage is the word of the moment in the energy industry. Since Tesla unveiled its Powerwall, politicians, commentators and industry have hyped storage – and particularly batteries – as the solution for getting more renewable energy into electricity grids and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

The concept of storage is simple. A storage system takes power off the grid or from a local generation source and puts it back onto the grid or uses it locally later. It seems like a good idea if you have too much energy, or it is cheap at some times of the day and expensive at others.

So could storage be the answer, and how much would it cost?

The costs of storage

Of course storage isn’t free. It comes with both a capital cost (buying it in the first place) and a running cost, which is related to the cost of electricity to charge the battery and the round-trip efficiency – how much power is lost in the charging and discharging cycle.

To be a sensible economic investment, the benefits have to outweigh the costs. In other words, the savings on your energy bill have to be greater than the capital costs plus the running costs.

There are many different kinds of storage technologies, each with different characteristics. Lithium ion batteries are attractive as they operate effectively at small scales, are lightweight and have good round-trip efficiency. But they are currently expensive per unit of storage capacity.

Pumped hydro at the other end of the scale operates at very large scales, has good round-trip efficiency and is very cheap per unit.

Flywheels (or rotors) have low round-trip efficiency and don’t store a lot of power, but are able to dispatch lots of power in a short time and can also contribute to frequency stability.

Other storage technologies include compressed air, cryogenic (liquid air) energy storage, flow batteries and hydrogen. Each has its respective pluses and minuses.

Figure on storage characteristics. University of Birmingham Energy Storage Centre Report

Each of these technologies will have an appropriate place in the grid to be installed. Lithium ion batteries are a logical choice for a small-scale distributed application, while pumped hydro will work best at the large scale for grid management.

Flow batteries, liquid air and compressed air are in-between technologies in terms of scale, and flywheels and capacitors are most useful at the substation level for voltage and frequency control.

Batteries versus hydro

Let’s focus on lithium ion batteries and compare them to pumped hydro storage.

Lithium ion batteries are coming down in cost at a significant rate. Bloomberg has plotted the costs of lithium ion alongside solar PV. This shows the two technologies share a similar cost curve gradient, with lithium ion reducing from US$1,200 per kilowatt hour to US$600 per kWh in five years (not including installation costs).

As more batteries are built, the price gets cheaper. Bloomberg New Energy Finance

So where does lithium ion need to get to be cost-effective? Imagine a home with a 4.5kW rooftop PV system and variable electricity rate (for instance off-peak cost of 20c, shoulder of 26c and peak of 40c, similar to this tariff).

In such a home a 7kWh battery needs to cost less than A$7,000 fully installed to actually save the homeowner money. In other words, the cost per kWh of storage should be roughly A$1,000 to break even. Currently, batteries cost A$1,000-3,000 per kWh, so they are on the cusp of being cost-effective.

However, there is an important catch here. Retail electricity rates tend to exaggerate the true range in costs between peak and off-peak. The difference in the wholesale market (where retailers buy their electricity) is around 5-10c per kWh, much less than the 20c range in current variable rates. If retailers begin to lose market share, they may respond by reducing or removing these variable rates. That would make peak rates cheaper and mean that batteries would need to be correspondingly cheaper to be cost-effective.

For instance, a flat electricity rate of 25c per kWh means that batteries would need to cost around A$300 per kWh to be cost-effective. That’s less than a third of their current costs.

You could argue that using batteries also reduces the cost of the network itself. By reducing loads at peak time, we can reduce or even remove the need for infrastructure upgrades (substations and additional power lines, for instance).

But this is only true if electricity demand is growing. If demand is flat or falling, then distribution networks will tend to be under-used. Therefore reducing peak demand will not result in any savings.

Overall demand in the National Electricity Market has declined significantly since 2009, so the benefits of storage on the grid will be negligible other than in high-growth corridors. Demand has rebounded in 2015-16 and it will be interesting to watch and see if this is a resumption of the steady increase or if the demand stays low.

Demand in Australia’s National Electricity Market has been falling.

Pumped hydro, on the other hand, is a relatively inexpensive storage technology (already at around A$100 per kWh) as it can store large amounts of energy using a very inexpensive material.

All you need is some water and the means to pump it uphill. So while it can’t be used everywhere, there are many places in the National Electricity Market where it is possible. There are already 1,500 megawatts of pumped hydro in the market (Shoalhaven, Wivenhoe and Tumut 3).

This would be a more logical solution – cheaper and easier to control by the market operator. But in the same way that rooftop PV has gained more popularity than large-scale solar (even though the latter should be cheaper), distributed storage in the form of lithium ion batteries may be the eventual winner, not because of economics but because of human behaviour.

The Conversation

Roger Dargaville has received funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency

Categories: Around The Web

Don’t call Sheffield tree campaigners fanatics | Letters

The Guardian - Fri, 2016-12-02 04:36

Tree campaign groups across Sheffield have been at pains to garner expert inputs to substantiate their very clear arguments against the Sheffield chainsaw massacre (Letters, 29 November). The Woodland Trust is a longstanding critic of the Sheffield “Streets Ahead” programme and its epic and disastrous plans for street tree “management”. Equally, the Sheffield Wildlife Trust has not been shy about its deep reservations. More recently, the Arboricultural Association has felt compelled to take a position. It is insulting to condemn them as “fanatics”.

Campaigners do not advocate saving every tree and have a clear position on the removal of the dead and the dangerous. Yet we live in a post-truth, post-factual world. Perhaps then we should be unsurprised when finding some rot and a little deadwood are being cast in the way of constructive dialogue.

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

'Diet is global food policy's elephant in the room'

BBC - Fri, 2016-12-02 03:35
Global food policy needs to shift way from focusing on feeding people enough calories to nourishing people, say leading food experts.
Categories: Around The Web

Sutton Hoo bitumen links Syria with Anglo-Saxon England

BBC - Fri, 2016-12-02 03:18
Analysis of black organic fragments found in the Sutton Hoo boat burial reveals they are bitumen from Syria.
Categories: Around The Web

Crystalline: art from the Arctic, space and beyond - in pictures

The Guardian - Fri, 2016-12-02 02:49

From an Arctic expedition to working in a studio in the school of biology and environmental science at University College Dublin, artist Siobhan McDonald collaborates with researchers to broach subjects at the edges of current scientific knowledge

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

Contact lost with ISS supply craft

BBC - Fri, 2016-12-02 02:35
The Russian space agency Roscosmos says it has lost contact with an unmanned cargo ship heading for the International Space Station.
Categories: Around The Web

EU on track to meet 2020 renewable energy target, report shows

The Guardian - Fri, 2016-12-02 01:18

Energy and climate targets are ‘well within reach’ but the transport sector is lagging behind

EU countries are on track to meet their 2020 targets for renewable energy and emissions cuts but could fall short of ambitious longer-term goals, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said on Thursday.

“The EU’s 2020 targets on energy and climate are now well within reach,” EEA executive director Hans Bruyninckx said.

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

US businesses push against Trump's attempts to dismiss climate change

The Guardian - Fri, 2016-12-02 00:00

Environmentally friendly groups at Companies vs Climate Change said they will work to make sure Trump won’t undo all the progress the country has made

From his claim that global warming was a gigantic hoax masterminded by China to his promise to pull the United States out of the landmark Paris agreement, Donald Trump’s surprise election win was widely decried by those who feared that recent progress in tackling climate change was about to come undone.

Related: Donald Trump presidency a 'disaster for the planet', warn climate scientists

Continue reading...
Categories: Around The Web

Trump's environment plans could spark opposition

BBC - Thu, 2016-12-01 23:59
Proposals by the Trump administration to roll back US environmental regulations are likely to foment opposition, say analysts.
Categories: Around The Web

Buzz Aldrin evacuated from South Pole

BBC - Thu, 2016-12-01 23:46
Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the Moon, is evacuated from the South Pole after falling ill.
Categories: Around The Web


Subscribe to Sustainable Engineering Society aggregator - Around The Web