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The Empire Strikes Back?

12/04/2011 Leave a comment

Evil Nuclear EmpireIn a rare demonstration of a nearly non-Leftists bias, the Toronto Star printed an article that shows that it’s still capable of presenting slightly balanced views of contentious issues. In this case, it offered some visibility for a realistic presentation from the Organization of CANDU Industries (OCI) which offered clear insights into the effects of replacing two proposed nuclear reactors with the equivalent in renewable sources. In particular, the OCI demonstrates the physical scale of both the solar and wind turbine installations that would be required to match the energy production available from a nuclear site measuring 1.6 square-kilometers. In the end, the Star’s article simply took this issue as another opportunity to discredit nuclear energy, by (indirectly) claiming that the facts aren’t complete.

So in an attempt to right the scales abit, we’ll off our own slant on the subject as well…

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Conservation: A Promissory Note?

04/04/2011 Leave a comment

So…After having to endure so much more global ennui this past month, EnviroNauts are going to try and take a more local approach to plotting-out sustainable Futures for ourselves…

Earth Hour 2011
Earth Hour 2011

March 26th saw Earth Hour come and go here in Toronto, and astoundingly for a city so bent on demonstrating its political correctness,  the initial visibility enjoyed by this annual event is showing signs of flickering right out.

What started as an easy way to for armchair environmentalists and idealists of all types to make a token, yet satisfyingly visible gesture about kicking their energy habits (even just for an hour) has now seemingly fallen right off the radar for most people…at least for this year anyhow. See pics below;

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Copper Spurs New NanoTech Growth!

02/06/2010 2 comments

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” Copper Nanowires can now be ‘grown’ in bulk and then ‘printed’ on a surface to transparently conduct current! ”
– Benjamin Wiley, Duke Chemistry

Most people probably don’t realize that thin film solar panels and flat screen TV’s share alot in common, since they both rely heavily on the technologies of ‘thin-film dialectrics’ (TFD) to produce the substrates (electrode layers) that control either the emission or absorption of light. So obviously, any advances made in the manufacturing processes for these films could create both cost and technical efficiencies that would enable TFD’s to either consume less power, or generate more energy on an even cost basis for a given amount of light. This would be no small achievement if you consider the growing demand for efficient display screens, and the persistent cost barriers to all the solar panels that people are hoping to install in the very near Future.  The exciting Science News here is that new discoveries in copper-based ‘Nano Tech’ are offering the first cheaper and efficient alternatives to existing methods that we’ve seen in quite awhile, and could genuinely change the surface of playing field if Cu-based nanotech can continue to overcome the hurdles of establishing a brand new TFD process.

thin film solar array goes online in Arizona

Currently the status quo of TFD manufacturing is based in a predominance of electrode films made from Indium Tin Oxide (ITO), and this rather expensive method still has quite a few nagging drawbacks. First of all, ITO is pricey to process, it’s also brittle and thus fragile; so its production process remains highly inefficient; and it’s already an expensive technology that’s becoming even more costly because of the dual increases in market demand (scarcity) for both raw materials and the finished product. Currently the only alternatives we see on the horizon are coming from nano technology that uses either silver or carbon nano-tubes – which both remain highly cost prohibitive and difficult to produce. However a research team at Duke University have recently announced that they’ve perfected a method to grow nanowires from Copper, which promises to dramatically reduce not only the manufacturing demands for these thin films, but also allow for them to be much more flexible, durable, and cost efficient – Especially since copper is an abundant resource who’s price can’t be as easily cornered and manipulated by merchants and market forces…
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Creeping Green Growth Overtakes Cities!

27/01/2010 Leave a comment

– EVENT REPORT –

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Toronto will require all new buildings over 2000 sq/ft to include Green Roofs !

The Urban Heat Island effect can be reduced in the very near Future, if actions are taken immediately to seek out all the available options, rather than balking at the most costly solutions.

The first significant signs of a cooler, more ecologically sound Future are now becoming a reality in Toronto Ontario, because as of January 31st 2010, all new building permits issued for buildings over 2000 sq.ft. will also require Green Roof construction in the building plans. (UPDATE:  See Note at bottom for a loophole that’s been discovered by some clever property developers though!). Nevertheless, however brief the Summers may be in these Northern climes, there are still all sorts of other steps that we can take to help cool our cities and reduce the enormous emissions produced by all the cooling energy that we collectively consume during hot Summer months. In fact, it’s been estimated that we could reduce the ambient temperature of our cities by as much as 3 degrees C (5degF), just by putting a few relatively simple measures into place, and reap enormous health, energy, and ecological savings immediately!

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Carbon Capture: A Solution in Stasis?

25/01/2010 2 comments

– EVENT REPORT –


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Worldwide adoption of Carbon Capture and Storage solutions have been delayed by an announcement at the Copenhagen Conference

The link to this News Event is no longer available at COP15.dk but it has been cached at Google!

The primary thrust of the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change was to implement an accord of limiting CO2 emissions worldwide, and thus necessitate various regulatory solutions which would have required industry to either reduce their emissions, or face stiff financial consequences. This is where Carbon Capture and Storage (CSS) would have liked to step in with some immediate industrial-grade solutions, presumably while the rest of us continued to consider the enormous challenges of actually reducing and eliminating our reliance on carbon emitting fossil fuels as a Society. As mentioned previously however (COP15.dk is History), the committee under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had discussed the issue of CCS during the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, but delayed any decisions on the subject until future summits. The committee contended that some countries had concerns over the long-term viability for the storage site, including liability for any seepage. Thus the larger challenges of capturing CO2 have seemingly become stuck behind a roadblocking question of legal liability in the ‘storage’ component of this much larger process.

Deja Vu

Proponents of Nuclear Energy will no doubt see a parallel in the bitter irony of yet another Green industry being hindered by the wasted energy and by-products of bureaucratic finagling and legal wrangling over questions of waste storage…Rather than getting on with the business of refining the existing (and already adequate) processes, while continuing to develop new and improved waste management solutions, and effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions IMMEDIATELY, rather delaying movement until later, once the technical details and legal liabilities of any unforeseen accidents have been ironed out to the Nth degree. Carbon Capture Left Out in the Cold

What did Copenhagen teach us about CCS

In it’s search for an accord, Copenhagen seemed like a direct precursor to establishing and implementing Carbon Cap/Trade/Tax solutions, that would place financial burdens on all CO2 emitters, and incent the development and application of CO2 capture technologies to reduce such burden. Although the COP15.dk site is now dead in the water, there are still “selected” pages made available by the Danish Government, which may cast light on what the Conference organizers wished to present as their lasting legacy from this historic conference, or at least demonstrate where the organizers left things on the rather important subject of CCS. A search for “Carbon Capture” yields only four (yes, 4!) results on this rather critical next step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Click Here, if you’d like to consider what these meagre results say about the Future of CCS from the POV of those who selectively transplanted the entire the COP15.dk site less that a month after the Copenhagen Conference closed.

CCS…Does green Energy hurt the Carbon Market?

In a short blogpost at Envirogy (derived almost entirely from Spiegel Online), we can clearly see how Green (or low emisions Renewable) Energy sources have actually hurt the price of carbon at the European Climate Exchange (and thus the cost incentives for implementing CCS), and in fact the entire system can be proven to have not reduced European carbon emmisions by a single gram!

Sitting on the Border Fences

Meanwhile, in North America, the open markets for carbon at the Chicago Climate Exchange is still awaiting the kinds of regulatory and political pressures that will kick things into a higher gear, and properly comodify Carbon in the U.S. and thus at least make select financiers, investors, and other assorted Middlemen rich in the process, if not at least repeating the lessons already being learned in Europe.

Meanwhile in the Oilpatch

Even though Copenhagen squashed any immediate hopes for Carbon Cap/Trade pricing, and delayed it’s pronouncements on teh future of CCS, searching the transplanted COP15.dk site yields a link to shipping giant Maersk’s role in bringing CO2 to oilfields in the North Atlantic, and there are examples all over the world where CO2 is pumped down into older oilwells to force out remaining oil, and maximize yield.  In fact contrary to popular belief, CO2 has already been getting stored in large quantities within used up gasfields, with the only concerns so far being in small amounts of CO2 re-escaping via carbonated water in the formations, and the possible formation of carbonic acid within any porous water areas. The fixation in carbonate minerals is playing only a minor role, so the search to chemically ‘fix’ CO2 into a more neutral and stable state will continue.

TBC…This is a work in progress

Please feel free to add to this Report Stub via the Comments Section below

Worldwide adoption of Carbon Capture and Storage solutions have been delayed by an announcement at the Copenhagen Conferenc

ER: Where’s the EPA Going with Airliners and Automobiles?

14/12/2009 Leave a comment
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This Event has also generated the following Impact Report :

IR: EPA Kicks Tires on Airliners and Automobiles?

–  EVENT REPORT  –

Where’s the EPA Going with Airliners and Automobiles?

In decisive and well publicized move to strengthen the U.S. position on Global Warming, just in time for the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the United States Environmental  Protection Agency (EPA) threatens to upstage the U.S. Congress by stepping in (with a compliant Department of Transport) to begin placing regulations of it’s own on Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions in America.  This event has also allowed Barack Obama to maintain his political poise and environmental commitments when assuring the World that the United States is indeed prepared to take clear and decisive actions against Global Warming. The significant risk in establishing this alternate legal route to the regulation of  Greenhouse Gases (GhG’s) via the EPA, rather than waiting for any similar Bills to finally clear Congress, means that a political gauntlet has been tossed down that could either spur U.S. lawmakers to regain their role in this fight, or possibly generate a severe backlash from those who see this as an affront to their authority and who can also control the EPA’s funding and functions, depending upon who picks up this tossed challenge and rises to the occasion.

This bold opening move is based in a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling (from a deeply divided decision) that the Clean Air Act granted EPA the authority to regulate automobile emissions, and furthermore that GhG’s could fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants according to subsequent EPA reports.  At the risk of sideswiping industrialists and lawmakers throughout the land, on December 7/09, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came forward to issue its formal findings that greenhouse gasses (GhG’s), including carbon dioxide emissions, do indeed “threaten the public health and welfare of the American people”. This statement effectively sets the stage for the EPA to regulate a list of GhG  under provisions of the 1970 Clean Air Act, and CO2 is now at the top of that confirmed list.

Under the provisions of the 1970 Clean Air Act, EPA is obligated to address declared pollutants. Jackson explained that the “premise” of the Act is that “once you know you have a pollutant and you know it’s endangering public welfare, then EPA must act.” The question remains what is teh EPa’s next move?

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New Reports

01/12/2009 Leave a comment

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