In the 2015 Paris climate agreement, 195 nations committed to limit global warming to two degrees above pre-industrial levels. But some, like Eelco Rohling, professor of ocean and climate change at the Australian National University's research school of earth sciences, now argue that this target cannot be achieved unless ways to remove huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere are found, and emissions are slashed. This is where negative emissions technologies come in. The term covers everything from reforestation projects to seeding the stratosphere with sulphates or fertilising the ocean with iron fillings. It's controversial – not least because of the chequered history of geoengineering-type projects, but also because of concerns it will grant governments and industry a licence to continue with business as usual.
China has an abundance of carbon dioxide to find uses for. While the world's biggest polluter, China is also a global leader in establishing renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. Scientists in China and the United States are working on a novel way to kill two birds with one stone: capturing carbon-dioxide pollution to use in an energy-storage system that can back up clean sources like solar and wind. Compressed air is already employed in one of the cheapest forms of energy storage. When windmills are spinning and the sun is shining, excess energy is used to compress air that later, when the air is still and the sky dark, is blasted through turbines mixed with natural gas.
Google parent Alphabet Inc. GOOGL 0.58% is pitching an idea to store power from renewable energy in tanks of molten salt and cold liquid, an example of the tech giant trying to marry its far-reaching ambitions with business demand. Alphabet's research lab, dubbed X, said Monday that it has developed plans to store electricity generated from solar panels or wind turbines as thermal energy in hot salt and cold liquids, such as antifreeze. The lab is seeking partners in the energy industry, including power-plant developers and utilities, to build a prototype to plug into the electrical grid. Whether the project, called Malta, ever comes to market depends as much on a sound business model as it does on science. Academics said the technology is likely years away from market, if it ever makes it.
Falling costs of renewable energy technologies could lead to a halt in the growth of global demand for environmentally harmful fossil fuels, according to a new report. Released on Thursday, the report - co-authored by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and the UK-based think tank Carbon Tracker Initiative, showed that cheaper electric vehicles and solar technology, and their increasing use globally could stop growth in demand for oil and coal by 2020. The study said that growth in electric vehicles (EVs) alone could lead to two million barrels of oil per day (mbd) being displaced by 2025, which is the same volume that caused the oil price collapse in 2014-15. "This scenario sees 16 mbd of oil demand displaced by 2040 and 25 mbd by 2050, in contrast to the continuous growth in oil demand expected by industry," it added. READ MORE: India unveils the world's largest solar power plant By 2035, electric vehicles could make up 35 percent of the road transport market, and two-thirds by 2050, when it could displace 25m barrels of oil per day, according to the research.
The project is a pilot designed to understand how much energy storage the hyper-scale cloud operator needs to fully run on renewable energy, Brian Janous, Microsoft's general manager of energy, said in an interview with Data Center Knowledge. Like other renewable energy sources, wind is intermittent, which makes it inferior to coal or gas-fired power plants in terms of predictability of output. That means regardless of how many wind turbines or photovoltaic panels you string together, you still need conventional generation capacity online to supplement the supply whenever the weather is not optimal for renewable generation. The most common technique today is pumping water used by a hydroelectric power plant uphill overnight, when demand is low. Also common are using that cheap off-peak energy to compress air and store it in the caves of old salt mines and storing heat absorbed by solar facilities in molten salt, using it to drive turbines overnight.