CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTIONS:Nov 9 2019

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Scientists can now bottle solar energy, turn it into liquid fuel

Latest FERC three-year forecast shows no new coal and drops in oil and natural gas, while renewables soar

Shell Buys EOLFI

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Scientists can now bottle solar energy, turn it into liquid fuel

The barrier to solar energy has always been storage. Now, bottled sunshine has a shelf-life of 18 years.

  • Researchers have invented a liquid isomer that can store and release solar energy.
  • The team has solved problems other researchers have previously encountered.
  • The discovery could lead to more widespread use of solar energy.

In the last year, a team from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, essentially figured out how to bottle solar energy. They developed a liquid fuel containing the compound norbornadiene that—when struck by sunlight—rearranges its carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen atoms into an energy-storing isomer, quadricyclane. Quadricyclane holds onto the energy, estimated to be up to 250 watt-hours of energy per kilogram, even after it cools and for an extended period of time. For use, it’s passed through a cobalt-based catalyst, at which point the energy is released as heat. The team’s research could be a breakthrough in making solar energy transportable and thus even more usable for meeting real-world energy needs.

What’s more, the team has been adjusting the molecular makeup of their fuel so that it doesn’t break down as a result of storage and release cycles. It can be used over and over again. “We’ve run it though 125 cycles without any significant degradation,” according to researcher Kasper Moth-Poulsen.

As a result, the scientists envision a round-trip energy system they call MOST, which stands for Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage.

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Latest FERC three-year forecast shows no new coal and drops in oil and natural gas, while renewables soar

According to a review by the SUN DAY Campaign of data just released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency has once again revised its three-year forecast for changes in the U.S. electrical generating capacity mix. Sharp declines are foreseen for fossil fuels and nuclear power while renewable energy is forecast to experience even stronger growth than previously projected.

FERC’s latest monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” report (with data through August 31, 2019) indicates that “proposed additions under construction” and “proposed retirements” combined could result in a net decrease in the generating capacity of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, oil) as well as a net decline of 4.56% in nuclear capacity by August 2022. Meanwhile, led by wind and solar, the generating capacity of renewable energy sources is foreseen to grow by more than 47 GW.

While net new natural gas generating capacity is projected to increase by 19,757 MW, that is more than offset by a drop of 18,957 MW in coal’s net generating capacity and a decline of 3,016 MW in that of oil. Further, nuclear power is foreseen as dropping by 4,851 MW.

Meanwhile, wind capacity is projected to grow by 27,659 MW and utility-scale solar by 17,857 MW. Other renewable sources would also increase: hydropower by 1,282 MW, biomass by 333 MW, and geothermal by 280 MW. Collectively, they would add 47,411 MW over the next three years. That is significantly more than double the projected growth in natural gas generating capacity. In fact, net new wind capacity alone is greater than that of natural gas.

While earlier FERC data had documented this general trend, the agency’s latest numbers seem to be particularly noteworthy because a modification in how FERC now presents its data, compared to six months earlier, suggests changes in the nation’s energy mix may be accelerating.

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Shell Buys EOLFI

Shell has signed an agreement to acquire French floating offshore wind developer EOLFI.

The acquisition, subject to regulatory and ministerial approvals, is expected to be completed in December, after which EOLFI will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shell and will be fully integrated.

Shell said it sees the acquisition as an opportunity to leverage its offshore experience and project management expertise, as well as a significant step in France where there are opportunities to grow the offshore wind business.

Alain Delsupexhe, Founder of EOLFI.

“EOLFI joins the Shell group at the time when the market of floating wind is taking off globally, EOLFI’s heritage in floating wind combined with Shell’s offshore expertise and global footprint will enable us to expand offshore, but also onshore with our wind and solar photovoltaic projects as part of the Shell New Energies division.”

Alain Delsupexhe, Founder of EOLFI.

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