Exotic Renewable Energy Plants: Tidal Energy

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Tidal Energy power plants are definitely some kind of an exotic form for energy production. That’s because most tidal power plants are just pilot projects that are only build for research purposes and do not create a very big amount of energy in their lifetime. Tidal energy is one form of hydropower energy that gets obtained from tides and is then converted in useful electricity. In ancient times and in the middle ages tide mills have been used to mill grain, and nowadays axial or cross flow turbines are used to produce the electrical energy that is needed in modern times. As the gravitational attraction of the moon moves huge amounts of ocean water on certain coastlines or trough lagoons, tidal power plants were build in this strategic positions, there are 4 main types of tidal power generators: Tidal stream generatorstidal barragesdynamic tidal power and a tidal lagoon.

Unfortunately the issues that come with tidal energy are fairly big, from environmental concerns on marine life (also given the danger of blade strikes and the acoustic output). From a technical and maintenance point of view corrosion in salt water and fouling have a big impact on the plants and make them hardly economically efficient.

Even tough there are some massive problems to face when it comes to significant tidal power generation, there are some steps in the right direction, like a 3,4 MW tidal power generator in the East China Sea.

Check out tidalenergytoday.com for more news on the argument!

 

Life transitions can help to instil better environmental behaviours

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You are most likely to change your habits if you are changing your city, a job or even a country. Maybe that’s why people say that their life changed once they moved to some other country. Different language, people or food can have a very positive effect on you. At least the researchers of University of Bath (Bath?! Really??) think so too.

“The study tested the habit discontinuity hypothesis, which states that the behavior change interventions are more effective when delivered in the context of life course changes. This assumption was that when habits are (temporarily) disturbed, people are more sensitive to new information and adopt a mind-set that is conducive to behavior change. A field experiment was conducted among 800 participants, who received either an intervention promoting sustainable behavior, or were in a no-intervention control condition. In both conditions half of the households had recently relocated, and were matched with households that had not relocated. Self-reported frequencies of twenty-five environment-related behaviors were assessed at baseline and eight weeks later. While controlling for past behavior, habit strength, intentions, perceived control, biospheric values, personal norms, and personal involvement, the intervention was more effective among recently relocated participants. The results suggested that the duration of the ‘window of opportunity’ was three months after relocation.”

Check the link below to read the actual scientific paper for more details.

We all can’t move to other location but we can try to change our lifestyle to be more sustainable. Maybe following Meatless Monday’s or going to office twice in a week by public transport, walking more or using less plastic.

Source: ScienceDirect, University of Bath

Soil is a non-renewable resource!

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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO declared 2015 the international year of soils, and if you haven’t heard and thought about why healthy soils are necessary for a healthy life I will tell you now.

Way too often we forget about soil as a resource that provides food, feed, ecosystem services, fuels ecc… that ensure that humanity could survive on earth. Unfortunately it is a finite resource and its degradation implies that precious soil will be lost forever due to  unsustainable cropping, forestry and urbanization to satisfy the demand of growing population. Today one third of global soil is already moderately to highly degraded trough erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification, chemical pollution and nutrient depletion, states the FAO. In fact, the key messages for the 2015 year of the soil are easily understandable but yet important to remember: without soils no food production, no fiber and fuel harvesting. Damage to the soil is also a damage to biodiversity, which is hosted to one quarter on healthy soils. Soils help to slow down climate change and play a key role in the carbon cycle, while they store and filter water. Its preservation is essential for food security and our sustainable future.

©FAOfao-infographic-iys2015-fs1-en

 

Here you can find some further information on the topic and a high res version of the info graphics you see above. Have fun and stay tuned.

The wired wild – data is the key

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Some weeks ago the World Wildlife Fund WWF organized the fuller symposium event, bringing together leaders in science, policy business and development to talk about innovative technologies and the promises it give when it comes to face the challenges on our planet. Even if you are not a big fan of WWF, you can check out the “WIRED IN THE WILD – Can technology save the planet?” agenda because it offers some interesting point of views, TED-talks, videos and many more, just click on the link above to get there.

There are some several outcomes of this summit, one is collaboration. Collaboration is crucial to bring together scientist from various fields to guarantee that a mix of different technologies gives a more accurate view on what is happening in the big picture but not only. In fact without community participation and the support of local communities  and their data “from the ground” very often it would not be possible to guarantee that the outcome of the research reflects what is really happening in the “real” world. Here technology is key because without sensors and technologies that gather information and that are positioned in strategic points and possibly with some kind of real-time information. With an everyday growing level of connectivity this could be possible and should help to get the big-data that is necessary to do some high quality research in many fields, from climate change to pollution and renewable energy consumption and many more.

Check it out!

3D-Underwater framing

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In resource economics we talk quite a lot of renewable resources and their stock size, and to make it more feasible professors introduce to students this topic by the stock of fish  in the sea and the trees in forest.
Today I would like to do the same to you and show you this project, that somehow unites the two arguments:

“Farming the Sea: why eating kelp is good for you and for the environment”

This superduper-well made Video about a project that has the potential of a big future shows how kelp farming that is linked with a multi-stage breeding of oysters and fish stock can revolutionize the use of the oceans resources. But the main plant here is kelp, some sort of large seaweeds that grow in so called “underwater forest”. What makes kelp so special is the fact that it is full of nutrients, it soaks up excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the ocean and can be used as vegetable, fertilizer and biofuel.

If you have 5 minutes of time, lean back and enjoy this eyeopening video.

 

Paris Summit 2015 – Each country’s pledge

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Carbon Brief has been following each country’s pledge towards the Paris 2015 summit. Here on this post you will find more details on how each country pledged in the upcoming summit. While for some countries, the pledges seem a big task however it will be interesting to see if they manage to achieve the target.

For instance, Mexico – the first developing country to come forward – includes a section on adaptation, while the EU is silent on the topic. Switzerland’s pledge of a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions looks high compared to the EU’s “at least 40%”, until you realise they plan to use international carbon credits where the EU will make all reductions on home soil.

These pledges are also known as “intended nationally determined contributions”, or INDCs. You can find more details of each country’s INPC on UNFCCC. If the INDCs fall short – as they are widely expected to do – there is no official mechanism in place to ratchet them up before Paris. This is where they will be incorporated into the agreement, and likely take on some element of legal force.

I have my skepticism too but let’s wait for this event to happen!

Source: Carbon Brief

Current Environmental Problems

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Even it is very clear from the image on how we all are getting effected by various environmental problems but let’s have a look together on some of those issues ( I can write long pages on that) but I will keep short and sweet in order for you to understand or at least give an overview on it.

1) Overpopulation: In my opinion, overpopulation is one of the causes for environmental problems. Because of higher demand for food, which is caused by higher population, farmers use dirty pesticides and fertilizers to grow vegetables or some firms give corn or antibiotics to animals in order to make them fat and grow quickly. Using fertilizers harm the earth, eating antibiotics laden food harm directly us.

2) Deforestation: We have come a long way since Industrial revolution started. Population grew, employment grew due to new technology and overall economics growth so people need more house and they needed more land to make houses. Not to mention, to have farms to keep chickens and cows and what not to feed us. This all came up with a higher environmental price which none of us kept in mind. Deforestation of Amazon is a prime example.

3) Water Pollution: It’s being said that the third world war will be fought for water. I don’t know it might be a reality one day but I do kind of agree that clean drinking water will become a rare commodity. One of the options could be desalinization process.

4) Loss of Biodiversity: Human activity is leading to the extinction of species and habitats and and loss of bio-diversity. Eco systems, which took millions of years to perfect, are in danger when any species population is decimating. Balance of natural processes like pollination is crucial to the survival of the eco-system and human activity threatens the same. Another example is the destruction of coral reefs in the various oceans, which support the rich marine life.

Maybe going back to simple harming, living a simple life with controlled population might turn out to be a solution. We need to wait and see how it goes.