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Monday, 15 May 2017

Energy frontiers

Whether you are a strong advocate or a mild skeptic, the focus on CC has spawned widespread research for efficient low cost inexhaustible, non-polluting energy. This research is gradually bearing fruit with advances in new technologies making headlines weekly.

From time to time I have highlighted some of these in posts (see What the Heck is Thorium?, What is LENR?), and will continue to do so.

In the mean time here is a list of recent articles on some of these new technologies;-
  • Energy Storage. Intermittency is perhaps the major constraint on the use of Solar and Wind power that can be addressed by energy storage. There are many approaches and widespread research. Tesla battery technology is widely known and is gaining increasing acceptance. Vanadium based Flow batteries are less well known but potentially equally valuable. These batteries use a liquid Vanadium 'electrolyte' that can be in a charged or discharged state. It can be charged using renewable sources and if required transferred to provide power where it is needed.  (see Vanadium-Flow Batteries: The Energy Storage Breakthrough We've Needed.)
  • Nuclear. Given its low cost , proven capacity, and despite Fukushima , nuclear is developing on several fronts.
    • Mini reactors. China is starting the roll-out of factory size 300 Megawatt 'mini' nuclear reactors (see Mini Nuclear Reactor ready to be built.) The ACP100 reactors meet all IAEA safety standards and promise efficiency and safety beyond the conventional larger size reactors. China plans to start mass production for the local market with plans to later export overseas.
    • Thorium reactors.  Indonesia together with consortium ThorCon is developing novel Thorium Molten Salt Reactors for deployment in Indonesia. (see Indonesia and Thorcon to develop Thorium MSR.) For some background on the use of Thorium in nuclear reactors, see my earlier post What the Heck is Thorium?
  • Cold Fusion. Yes it is still around. See my post "What is LENR?" for an introduction and the video below gives a technical intro.

This list is by no means complete.

New energy technologies rather than Carbon taxes

With the world's energy needs rising and the concentration of energy use on fossil fuels that threaten Climate change the rewards for any breakthrough are substantial. So it is no surprise that research in new technologies is pervasive.

Despite widespread efforts by the world community to counter climate change by limiting the use of fossil fuels, their use is still rising. Poorer countries are not willing, nor should they, limit the economic prosperity of their people by using more expensive renewable technologies. I believe it is unlikely that all the global agreements on limiting "Carbon pollution" will have the desired effect.

At the same time as soon as renewable energy is cheaper than fossil fuels there will be no incentives required to encourage its use and the world will rapidly convert.  I believe this is the most likely solution to the threat of climate change and will occur with in the next decade.

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