Socguy writes: With the cost of gas rising and the cost of storage falling, true cost renewables (renewables + storage) have become the cheapest option in Austrailia.
Carbon capture technology will not be ready for prime time till perhaps as late as 2030 and by then there may be no appetite to build new base-load generating stations as they are too inflexible to compete in the modern electrical infrastructure.
Socguy writes: The city of Summerside, Prince Edward Island, achieved the highest level of wind power integration in North America at 46%. It has achieved this remarkable feat through the creation and utilization of a smart grid that controls thermal storage in hot water heaters and furnaces within community homes.
Socguy writes: The Keith group has posted an expert analysis basically saying that their 2008 and 2011 projections were wrong. In those papers the group projected that the cost of solar had a 50% chance to drop to $0.03/W by 2030. In the most recent analysis they note that the current unsubsidized cost of PV in optimal locations is $0.04/W and could easily be $0.02/W by 2020 making solar the cheapest source of electricity on the planet. http://www.keith.seas.harvard....
Socguy writes: A typical Lithium-ion battery breaks down badly between 5000-7000 cycles. Researchers at the University of California may have discovered a simple way to build a Lithium battery that can withstand 100,000+ cycles.
This was a serendipitous discovery as the researcher was playing around with the battery and coated it in a thin gel layer. The researchers believe the gel plasticizes the metal oxide in the battery and gives it flexibility, preventing cracking.
Socguy writes: Scientists in China have developed a prototype solar panel with a single atom thick layer of graphene on the surface. This layer allows the panel to generate electricity, not just from the sun but also from any rain that falls on it. This development promises to further boost the output of solar panels during times of less than optimal conditions.
Socguy writes: Colville Lake, high in the Canadian arctic will be the first community to be entirely powered by solar through the summer months. To this end, the community has installed a large array of solar panels and batteries. What's more, the community will not rely on the grid to smooth out any bumps as the community is not grid connected. The community expects the main benefits to come from a lessening of pollution and noise.
Socguy writes: Woodland, North Carolina has rejected a rezoning application, effectively blocking a solar farm, after a town hall meeting where residents expressed fear that solar farms suck up all the energy from the sun and block photosynthesis. Other residents were afraid that solar farms cause cancer, while still others felt that solar farms drive away jobs and young people.
Socguy writes: Bloomburg reports wind has now crossed the threshold to become the cheapest source of energy in both the UK and Germany. Notable because this is the first time it has occurred in a G7 country. In the US, wind and Solar have started biting into the capacity factor of fossil fuel driven plants as generators opt to idle plants more often in favor of nearly free renewable energy. This is leading to changes in the lifetime profitability of those plants.
Socguy writes: Development of new engine technology could enable a plane to fly anywhere on earth in about 4 hours. This even includes space. The key development? A massive precooling system with a staggering 400 MW of cooling power enabling speeds of mach 5 "pretty easily".
Socguy writes: Apparently the claims that digital downloading is killing music and movies is overblown according to the London school of economics. In fact, there is some evidence to indicate that it actually generates more income in certain cases.
Socguy writes: New research indicates that the use of nano particles suspended in a fluid can absorb sunlight and release it into the surrounding fluid creating steam without wastefully heating the surrounding liquid.
Broad potential applications include: desalinization, distillation, sterilization and sanitation.
Socguy writes: Has Digg been compromised? Alternet is reporting massive censorship of sites like Digg, twitter, Stumbleupon and others by a group going by the name of Digg patriots. The process is simple: When a story is submitted that the group likes, they place it on a mailing list and thousands of members 'Digg' it. This means that it gains popularity and often rises to the main page where most of the viewers reside. When a story comes up that doesn't like, they, place it on a 'bury' mailing list and the membership down votes the story often to such an extent that it is removed from the upcoming section and can never make it to the main page. This group is reasonably well organized as they have gone so far as to develop their own tools to expedite this process.
Socguy writes: The Associated press is reporting that 'Apple has surpassed Microsoft as the largest technology company in the world by market capitalization.' There is only one company in the world with a higher market value: Exxon Mobil.
Socguy writes: With the announcement that a team of researchers has created the first artificial life, the Economist has been pondering the implications of what this brave new frontier means when the power to build living organisms filters through to anyone with a laptop. Traditional methods of restricting and regulating dangerous technology has more or less worked so far, but the Economist thinks that this time may be different. They are calling for an open system where the 'good guys' can see and counter any dangerous organisms that are released accidentally or otherwise.
Socguy writes: Slate Magazine discusses the studies surrounding the issue of why so many of the terrorists have engineering degrees and comes to the conclusion that engineers and engineering students are much more likely to hold strong conservative and religious views than a general cross section of the public. Further, engineers tend to hold a particular mind-set that disdains ambiguity and compromise.
Terrorist organizations have long recognized that engineering departments are fertile ground for recruitment and have concentrated there efforts there. A 2005 report from British intelligence noted that Islamic extremists were frequenting college campuses, looking for "inquisitive" students who might be susceptible to their message. In particular, the report noted, they targeted engineers.