Despite the political insufficiency to address the climate challenges of our time – debating endlessly about whether climate change is engraved by human activity or not – solutions are here today and they’re working. The IPCC has calculated the global “carbon budget” we can spend until 2050. If we want to stay under the 2°C temperature rise, which is generally accepted as the tipping point to unleash feedback loops in our climate system, we can only burn fossil fuels for another 17 years at the current rate (see blue scenario on graph below). It’s obvious we need to shift to renewable solutions, now. Luckily there are more and more investors who seem to have noticed this. Get ready for some nice facts and figures about the solar photovoltaic power industry. Unless otherwise stated, all graphs are produced by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st century (REN21) and published in their global status report 2014. (more…)
Last Saturday January the 31th, NASA successfully launched its first of five Earth satellites. SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive) will give new insights about what is happening in the top layer of Earth’s soil. For the next three years it will be scanning the top 5cm of the ground below our feet to produce global maps of soil moisture with an unseen detail. This will give scientists new insights in how the Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles are connected. This enables scientist to forecast droughts, floods and crop yields better. It will also improve weather forecasts. “SMAP will improve the daily lives of people around the world,” said Simon Yueh, SMAP project scientist at JPL.
Find out more on NASA’s website.
Desalination of water usually is an energy-intensive and expensive process. The Desolenator is aiming to change that: it’s a cheap and easy-to-use solution to produce clean drinking water in regions where water scarcity is a problem. With the sun as only driving force, this piece of engineering is able to produce up to 15litres of clean water a day – enough for cooking and drinking of a small family. Not only salt water but also contaminated and dirty water can be transformed. The contaminated water is first heated up by the sun until it reaches boiling temperature, then electricity generated by the soler panel is used to boil it further and to vaporize the water. The condensed vapor is safe to drink. The Desolelanor has a price tag of 450$ but the team is working hard to get the price down so it becomes affordable for families who lack access to clean water. CEO Janssen: “… [water scarity, red.] will get worse—by 2025, close to 3 billion people will deal with water scarcity daily. We want to give them something that’s an affordable, family-sized device.”
Find out more: desolenator.com
By examining data from the Suomi NPP satellite, scientists of NASA have identified interesting patterns in nighttime light intensity during holiday seasons. In the Western World an increase of 30-50% in suburban areas is noted during Christmas and New Year’s time, while an increase is seen in the Middle East during the holy month of Ramadan. The data reveals patterns in the usage of energy in different societies and cultures. When we want to reduce greenhouse gases, it is necessary to understand such social phenomena that drive energy consumption. The data of the Suomi NPP satellite and processed by an algorithm which filters out reflection of the moon and influances of the clouds, will help scientists to do so.