Technology

University of Queensland Goes 100% Renewable

The University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia has become the first institute of higher learning in the world to have its entire energy consumption offset by renewable energy produced from its own assets. With 50,000 solar panels on campuses in Brisbane and Gatton generating 7 megawatts (MW) the university was already Australia's largest solar energy producing university. The new Warwick facility that was completed in 2020 generates about 160GWh per year making UQ energy neutral. The new facility not only meets its current electricity needs it also offsets projected future demand. The AU$125 million (US$87.33 million) cost of the project...

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Are Green Buildings and Energy Efficiency Enough?

Buildings are a leading source of climate change causing greenhouse gas, and as such they are an essential part of carbon reduction efforts. Driven by lower costs and carbon abatement, green buildings offer tremendous benefits. New technologies like smart systems that access data in real time make it easy to identify savings opportunities. Buildings are becoming more efficient and their energy demand is expected to keep declining. This may be why the building sector and energy efficiency have outpaced most official projections. In an essay for Foreign Affairs' Hal Harvey thinks climate advocates should forget about pipelines and focus on...

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Electric Planes are the Future of Aviation

Six years ago a sun-powered emissions-free aircraft called Solar Impulse, captivated our imagination by crossing the Pacific Ocean. That same year Airbus Group and its partners, unveiled the electric E-Fan training aircraft. However, it would take another five years for a test flight of an electric commercial carrier. In 2019, Canadian company Harbour Air and electric motor startup Magnix made history with their all-electric converted 6 passenger de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver seaplane. Recently MagniX conducted a successful test flight of a larger plane in Washington state.The modified Cessna Grand Caravan 208B which has been dubbed "eCaravan" was powered by a...

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COVID-19 Exposes Supply Chain Vulnerabilities that Cause Food Insecurity

The cornavirus pandemic has highlighted supply chain weaknesses that are causing food shortages. As explained in an FAO report, the global pandemic is threatening supply lines leading to concerns about food insecurity. "A protracted pandemic crisis could quickly put a strain on the food supply chains, a complex web of interactions involving farmers, agricultural inputs, processing plants, shipping, retailers and more," the report said. In a March paper the U.N. Committee on World Food Security (CFS) warned that Covid-19 will cause heightened instability in global food supply. The pandemic also prompted the Food and Land Use Coalition to issue a...

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The Scourge of Ghost Planes in the Wake of the Coronavirus

Early in March as the coronavirus was breaking and air travel was declining airlines began flying empty planes so that they could keep their flight slots. According to European rules if airlines fail to fly their allocated flights they risk losing their right to fly these routes. These passenger-less flights are being called ghost planes. As a consequence they wasted thousands of gallons of jet fuel and generated emissions that we can ill afford given our dwindling carbon budgets. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought air travel to a virtual standstill, and more than $100 billion in losses are expected. This...

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Short Brief on the State of Negative Emissions Research

Research into NETs has shown both promise and disappointment. A 2010 study indicated that "negative emission technologies…significantly enhances the possibility to meet low concentration targets" (Azar et al, 2010). The American Geophysical Union has also called for further research (Landau, 2018). A recent article published in the Cambridge University Press called for a research agenda on NETS and stated: "There are many technological solutions to address climate change but unfortunately there are no silver bullets" (Nekuda, 2019).A 2016 paper called the assumption that these technologies and concepts will work to scale in time a "moral hazard” (Anderson & Peters, 2016)....

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Why We Need Negative Emissions Technologies that Sequester Carbon

NETs have often been considered technologies of last resort. As emissions keep rising and global carbon budgets decline, it is becoming increasingly apparent that if we are to stave off the worst of climate change we must deploy and scale these desperate remedies as quickly as possible. Atmospheric carbon is the primary cause of the climate crisis and current CO2 concentrations are now higher than they have been in at least 800,000 years. (Lindsey, 2019). The average level of atmospheric CO2 for the month of December 2019 at Mauna Loa was 411.76 ppm (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , n.d.)....

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What We Should and Should Not Do with Captured Carbon

Carbon capture technologies are an essential part of efforts to reduce climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions. The captured carbon can be sequestered underground or it can be used to make products that would be made anyway.  The advantage of using recycled CO2 is that it uses captured carbon that would otherwise end up in the atmosphere and it sequesters them in products without generating additional greenhouse gas. Carbon dioxide can be used as a raw material in a wide range of products including everything from concrete to car seats. It is even being used by soft drink manufacturers and it...

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A Carbon Market for Aviation could Spur the Growth of NETs

There is an increasing need to curtail emissions from airlines. Traditional air travel generates some of the most damaging greenhouse gases but if carbon markets were used by the aviation industry it could provide a massive and much needed boost to negative emission technologies (NETs). Air travel currently accounts for about 2 percent of global carbon emissions but they are expected to quadruple by 2050. A program knows as the "Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation" (CORSIA) could curtail emissions and maximize airline efficiency while advancing research and development in NETs. This program leverages a global carbon credit...

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Examples of Carbon Removal Technology

The need for negative emission technologies (NETs) is becoming increasingly apparent in the wake of our failure to draw-down atmospheric greenhouse gases. Plants can harvest the CO2 from the air and sequester it or sell it for agricultural or industrial applications. It can also be recycled and used to make synthetic fuel. This means that the same CO2 molecules could be used over and over again. Here are four examples of carbon capture technologies that may prove to be critical to our efforts to keep global temperatures from rising above the upper threshold limits. The first two suck carbon out...

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