Evaporation Power Could Supply 325 Gigawatts (70%) Of US Electricity Demand
September 28th, 2017 by Joshua S Hill on Clean Technica
Researchers from Columbia University have this week published their findings evaluating the potential of evaporation as a renewable energy source in the September 26 issue of the journal Nature Communications. The study, Potential for natural evaporation as a reliable renewable energy resource, was designed to test how much power can be generated by using what the researchers call the Evaporation Engine, a machine developed by Columbia University biophysicist Ozgur Sahin which controls humidity with a shutter that opens and closes, prompting bacterial spores to expand and contract.
“We have the technology to harness energy from wind, water and the sun, but evaporation is just as powerful,” Ozgur Sahin, the study’s senior author. “We can now put a number on its potential.”
The researchers further conclude that evaporation can be generated only when necessary, compared to traditional renewable energy sources which are variable and reliant upon outside sources such as wind and sunshine. The normal solution to variable energy generation is to combine it with battery storage, which while efficient, nevertheless requires the use of expensive and sometimes toxic materials in manufacturing.
“Evaporation comes with a natural battery,” said study lead author, Ahmet-Hamdi Cavusoglu, a graduate student at Columbia. “You can make it your main source of power and draw on solar and wind when they’re available.”
The study also found that evaporation technology can also save water, with the researchers estimating that half of the water naturally lost from lakes and reservoirs through evaporation could be saved during the process of harvesting evaporation for energy — which came to around 25 trillion gallons of water a year, or about a fifth of the water Americans consume in a year.
NEW YORK, September 18, 2017: Sustainable Energy for All today announced two government co-chairs and members of the new Cooling for All initiative Global Panel that will work to identify the challenges and opportunities of providing access to affordable, sustainable cooling solutions for all.
Announced following the Panels inaugural meeting during the UN General Assembly, the Global Panel on Access to Cooling will work together to better understand the challenges and opportunities of providing access to cooling solutions that can reach everyone within a clean energy transition.
Cooling for All was launched earlier in the year as record-breaking temperatures of 129 degrees were recorded in Iran. Lack of cooling access risks health issues, work productivity and growing food loss – with current estimates showing that 30% of all food is either lost or wasted from lack of cold, refrigerated supply chains.
The panel, made up of leaders from business, philanthropic, policy and academia, will now work together to produce a comprehensive report that clearly addresses these challenges with evidence based recommendations. The report, due for release in 2018, will help create a pathway to ensure the poorest countries and their citizens, who are often disproportionality affected, can have sustainable access to cooling solutions.
The Global Panel will be led by two co-chairs; President Hilda Heine of the Marshall Islands and Dr. Vincent Biruta, Minister of Natural Resources for the Republic of Rwanda.
Rachel Kyte, Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), who will act as secretariat for the Global Panel, said: “As temperatures soar, cooling demands risk creating a significant increase in energy demand, that if not managed through super-efficient technologies or clean sources, will cause further climate change impacts and a rise in emissions. The work of the Global Panel will therefore be critical to develop the evidence we need to understand the challenges and opportunities of providing cooling access for all.”
New Global Panel members include; Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Program; Rachel Kyte, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All; Erik Solheim, Executive Director, UN Environment; Dan Hamza Goodacre, Executive Director, Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program; Juergen Fischer, President, Danfoss Cooling; Kate Hampton, CEO, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation; Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Distinguished Professor of Climate Sciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego; Maria Neira, Director, Public Health and the Environment Department, World Health Organisation; Tina Birmbili, Executive Secretary to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and its Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer; Iain Campbell, Managing Director, Rocky Mountain Institute; Kurt Shickman, Executive Director, Global Cool Cities Alliance.
The work of the initiative and panel will create a direct intersect between three internationally agreed goals for the first time: the Paris Climate Agreement; the Sustainable Development Goals; and the Montreal Protocol’s Kigali Amendment* – with one of the key goals of the amendment to limit consumption and production of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a potent greenhouse gas used widely in air conditioners and refrigerators.
Century-old records across the Midwest and East Coast are being shattered by a monster late-September heat wave — the kind of extreme weather we can expect to get much worse thanks to President Donald Trump’s policies to undermine domestic and global climate action.
“There has never been a heat wave of this duration and magnitude this late in the season in Chicago,” the National Weather Service reported Tuesday evening.
From Wednesday through Tuesday, for example, Chicago sweltered through “the only occurrence on record of 7+ consecutive 90°[F] days entirely within September.” Every day of the heatwave was 92°F or above, and every one set a new record high for that date.
“Summer in some regions of the world will become one long heatwave even if global average temperatures rise only 2°C [3.6ºF] above pre-industrial levels,” finds a study published Monday in Nature Scientific Reports. The Paris climate agreement, which Trump has decided to pull out of, seeks to limit global warming to “well below” 3.6ºF.
On Wednesday, another study showed the connection between deadly heat waves and climate change. Scientists with World Weather Attribution (WWA) released an analysis of Europe’s blistering summer heat, which included the heat wave so deadly it was nicknamed “Lucifer.” The researchers found, “climate change increased the chances of seeing a summer as hot as 2017 by at least a factor of 10 and a heat wave like Lucifer by at least a factor of four since 1900″ (emphasis in original).
Back in the United States, the current heat wave has set records across the Midwest and East. On Monday, 92ºF was the hottest Burlington, Vermont had ever been that late in the year — by a full seven degrees, the Washington Post reported. On Sunday and Monday, Buffalo, New York saw its latest-ever consecutive 90ºF days. Records for hottest day or hottest series of days this late in the year were crushed in Minneapolis; northern Maine; Ottawa, Canada; and Green Bay, Wisconsin.
“It’s perhaps obvious that global warming means more frequent and intense heat waves,” climatologist Michael Mann noted in an email to ThinkProgress. “But what is less obvious is how climate change may be impacting the behavior of the jet stream in way that causes more persistent weather extremes, giving us even more extreme and longer-duration heat waves than we would otherwise expect.”
The National Weather Service tweeted out a chart showing this very effect.
The scientific evidence and analysis is getting stronger and stronger that carbon pollution is changing the jet stream in ways that cause high pressure ridges that block or stall weather patterns. A similar effect stalled Superstorm Harvey over Houston, leading to a once-in-25,000-year deluge.
“Many of the worst heat waves in recent history, including the 2003 European heat wave and the 2011 Texas/Oklahoma heat wave, were associated with this effect,” Mann said.
The latest science makes it very clear that stronger heat waves are becoming far more likely, thanks to global warming — and that the warmer it gets the worse the heat waves will get.
Indeed, the new Nature Scientific Reports study finds that for each additional 1.8°F of global warming during the summer, there would likely be:
- 15 to 28 more heat wave days each year
- Heat waves would last 3 to 18 days longer
- The peak intensity of heatwaves will increase 2.2°F to 3.4°F
But while the rest of the world is working to limit additional warming as much as possible, Trump’s policies would take us to upwards of 5.4°F or more additional warming. In the worst case, we can see as many as 80 more heat wave days, heat waves could be 50 days longer, and the peak intensity could be as much as 10°F higher than it is now.
© Ant Studio
Terracotta has been around for a long time. Though we use the Italian word (literally meaning “baked earth”) for it, its use dates back to ancient times and ancient cultures that have been using this kind of clay-based ceramic for pottery, tiles and low-tech cooling devices of all kinds for millennia, thanks to its porous nature.
Wanting to create a low-tech air conditioner using terracotta, New Delhi based Ant Studio created this sculptural installation that also serves to cool the ambient air when water flows over it. Designed by architect and Ant Studio founder Monish Siripurapu as a beautification project for an electronics factory, the piece consists of many terracotta tubes that have been arranged together in a somewhat spherical form using a metal framework.
© Ant Studio
Siripurapu explains that he was drawing upon traditional materials and building techniques, as well as utilizing the ancient concept of evaporative cooling in the design:
As an architect, I wanted to find a solution that is ecological and artistic, and at the same time evolves traditional craft methods.
© Ant Studio
© Ant Studio
© Ant Studio
© Ant Studio
The installation was conceived as a cheaper alternative to electrical air conditioning; the factory wanted to keep its employees cool and comfortable but could not afford a big electrical AC system. With this terracotta intervention, as water is poured and cycled over the terracotta (in this case, it’s electronically pumped), the porous clay absorbs the liquid, and as it slowly evaporates, the air around it cools down 6-10 degrees Fahrenheit.
© Ant Studio
There’s a wealth of knowledge and possibilities in traditional materials and ways of building things, and modern designers are increasingly looking to the past as a point of reference to help solve today’s problems in an energy-efficient and environmentally responsible way. Terracotta is one of these potential avenues for deeper exploration: earth is an abundant material and has numerous advantages over man-made stuff. In this case, this striking terracotta air cooler will be refined further in the future, says Siripurapu:
I believe this experiment worked quite well functionally. Findings from this attempt opened up a lot more possibilities where we can integrate this technique with forms that could redefine the way we look at cooling systems, a necessary yet ignored component of a building’s functionality. Every installation could be treated as an art piece.
By Hans-Josef Fell
As prices for renewables keep falling, global energy transition will happen faster than many think. To accelerate the process, we need innovative political measures.
“More for less” was the story of renewable energy in 2016, according to the latest REN21 report. Although globally new investments in renewables dropped by 23%, a record of 161 gigawatts of new renewable power capacity worldwide was installed.
As costs of solar and wind power keep falling, a global transition to 100% renewable energy is a reality which is unfolding much faster than skeptics think. Already today, wind and solar are the cheapest sources of electricity, and storage technology will soon follow. Disruptive technology improvements in the renewable energy sector as well as the search for real solutions to climate change, air pollution, poverty and refugee crises will accelerate the process.
Why do we need a full transition to 100% renewable energy?
In many regions across the world, living conditions have long been destroyed. This is the case in the heavily radiation contaminated areas Chernobyl and Fukushima; in crude oil regions of Syria, Iraq, and Sudan where conflict over raw materials has escalated into war, in some South Pacific islands which are under threat of flooding due to the rising sea level, and in cities with air pollution.
By signing the Paris Agreement, the world community has committed to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. To achieve this target, we need a two-fold strategy: to bring greenhouse gas emissions to a halt and to remove surplus carbon from the atmosphere. A key aspect of this strategy is a transition to an emission-free global economy. The Paris Agreement targets can be achieved only if we switch to a full-scale renewable energy supply by 2030 at the latest.
How can a full-scale transition to renewable energy be achieved?
All types of renewable energy sources and storage technology need to be used. Solar and wind energy will deliver the largest input. During the fluctuations, hydropower, geothermal, bioenergy, and tidal energy will help to cover the energy demand.
Pump storage systems, for instance in disused mines, batteries in all diverse forms, power to gas and power to liquid, as well as flywheel generators, will compensate for solar and wind energy fluctuations. Batteries will also deliver the necessary system services previously provided by old coal and nuclear power plants.
Retrofitting and constructing power grids will also play an important role. Intelligent smart grid systems are beneficial not only for decentralized distribution networks, but also for offsetting winter periods of dark days with no wind — a phenomenon known as “Dunkelflaute” in German — by means of large cross-regional transmission lines. One thing is clear: decentralized deployment with at least 80% energy from the region for the region holds the key to 100% renewable energy.
Energy demand in the heat/cooling, transport, agriculture, construction, industrial production, and desalination sectors will be covered by electricity through e-mobility, heat pump systems, power to fuel solutions, as well as a raw material base for crude oil replacement in synthetic chemistry.
In global air traffic or overseas shipping, synthetic fuel generated by solar, wind and sustainable biofuels will help to accelerate the transition. Biofuel crops such as jatropha, rapeseed, and sunflowers should be planted on degraded lands, which will exclude the risk of deforestation and will create carbon sinks. Moreover, sustainably grown plant-based oil can help to replace natural gas and crude oil in organic chemistry.
First ever modeling of a 100% renewable energy world on an hourly basis
Critics of energy transition often use solar and wind fluctuations as their major argument. Until now, there was a lack of a global modeling, which would show the amount of renewable energy required on an hourly basis across all regions of the world — a Herculean task even for modern supercomputers and data collectors.
In previous years, such modeling has been the focus of a research team led by Professor Christian Breyer at the Finnish Lappeenranta University of Technology. Breyer’s research findings in India, Northeast Asia, MENA, South America, and Eurasia are revealing. First, they prove that 100% renewables can provide full energy supply at any hour year-round. Second, they show that such an energy system is the most cost-efficient. Only five to seven euro cents per kWh would suffice to finance investment in energy generation, storage and distribution. No other kind of energy supply is cheaper than that.
The Energy Watch Group, together with the Lappeenranta University of Technology, is currently working on a study titled “Global full energy supply with renewable energy.” It will analyze a global 100% renewable energy system on an hourly resolution for one reference year and present results on electricity, heating, mobility, desalination and industrial energy demand. In addition, the study will look closer into carbon sink potential of plant-based oil production on degraded lands. The first study results on electricity are expected in November this year.
Measures to accelerate the transition to 100% renewable energy
The global movement for 100% renewable energy has been rapidly growing.
On a global scale, hundreds of cities including Vancouver, San Francisco, Munich, Frankfurt, Barcelona, Geneva, Doha, and Sydney as well as entire nations such as Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland have set the bold goal of 100% renewable energy.
Costa Rica, Uruguay, and Nicaragua have already achieved this goal in the electricity sector or are about to achieve it. At the Marrakesh Climate Conference in 2016, the group of 48 developing countries most vulnerable to climate changes committed to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.
The public support for a transition to renewable energy and strong green entrepreneurship are decisive driving forces. But, we also need new innovative political measures to encourage investments in network integration and sector integration. One political measure can deliver precisely this: combined cycle renewable power plant remuneration.
The technology for such an energy system is available today and can be implemented in physical or virtual combined cycle-power plants. Investments from an intelligent mix of combined renewable energy facilities can meet the necessary requirement for full energy supply at all times.
To this end, I suggest a rate of remuneration for combined cycle renewable power plants running on 100% renewable energy, which will balance the fluctuations within their local supply area and will reduce the responsibility of grid operators.
Advantages of combined cycle renewable power plant remuneration
- A transition to 100% renewable energy in such regional networks is cheaper than on the national level. Regionally organized energy systems significantly reduce the need for power grid expansion and network services.
- Conventional power plants and balancing capacity will not be needed anymore.
- Local companies and citizen communities will join the business, strengthen the local economy and create new local jobs.
- As power to heat is indispensable for combined cycle renewable power plants, the use of renewable energy will also advance in heating and transport sectors.
- Power supply security and flexibility will increase significantly.
The time is ripe. We need a strong political and social movement to accelerate a global transition to 100% renewable energy. Otherwise, more and more regions around the world will fall victim to wars fought for the last fossil fuel reserves.
20 million climate change and war refugees are reason enough to overcome the remaining obstacles and to complete the global transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030 at the latest.