Issue #68 - Disappearing plastic, hydrogen aircraft, and Australia increasing renewables

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The EV Musings Newsletter
Issue #68 - Disappearing plastic, hydrogen aircraft, and Australia increasing renewables
By Gary Comerford • Issue #68 • View online
Some interesting developments in the EV/ renewable world over the last few weeks with lots of ‘breakthrough’ tech that promises a lot.
The issue I have with many of these items is that they are working on the basis that ‘We’re still going to be burning stuff, just not as much’.
Is that the same as saying ‘We’re still going to shoot people but we’ll use .22 pistols rather than assault rifles’?
Or is this a case of ‘The perfect solution doesn’t exist and this moves the ball a little closer to the target’?
Am I letting perfect be the enemy of the good? Let me know.

This Week's Podcast.
112 - The Short Range Episode
111 - The Workplace Charging Episode
Top Five EV/ Renewable Stories.
Watch This Magic Plastic Instant-Coffee Package Disappear in Your Drink
Plastic wrapping is something of a scourge of modern living. So a new company that is seeking to replace this with something more sustainable - is making waves.
With a typical single-serve packet of instant coffee—the ready-to-brew kind that Starbucks and other brands sell for home and office use—the plastic wrapper ends up in the trash. In a prototype of a new seaweed-based packaging design, the wrapper dissolves into the drink, adding nutrients.
The design is from London-based Notpla (short for “not plastic”). A tea bag made from seaweed can be safely stirred into the water instead, adding some fibre and antioxidants. The seaweed is processed so it doesn’t add any flavour
The material can also be used for something like a pack of ramen noodles or a serving of rice so that the whole package can be dropped into hot water during preparation. “For people who go on a hike and want to bring back their packaging, it could be literally consumed within the meal,”
This New Tech Could Make Hydrogen an Affordable, Clean Fuel for Planes
As sure as the night follows the day we get another attempt at making aviation ‘greener. This time by using solar panels to heat rocks that store the energy and mixing electrolysis with steam reformation.
Again there are two issues with this technology. The first is that it is relying on CCUS to capture and store carbon produced from fossil fuel hydrogen generation (This is an unproven and unscaled technology) and secondly they talk about shipping hydrogen around the world. If they’re using fossil fuel ships and trains to do that, this isn’t zero carbon tech.
Furthermore, even if the process is 45% more efficient than extracting hydrogen the old-fashioned way, it is still 65% less efficient than using electricity (as hydrogen is 3 times less efficient than electricity)
Global Energy Storage Market Set to Hit One Terawatt-Hour by 2030
Energy storage installations around the world will reach a cumulative 358 gigawatts/1,028 gigawatt-hours by the end of 2030, more than twenty times larger than the 17 gigawatts/34 gigawatt-hours online at the end of 2020,
BloombergNEF’s 2021 Global Energy Storage Outlook estimates that 345 gigawatts/999 gigawatt-hours of new energy storage capacity will be added globally between 2021 and 2030, which is more than Japan’s entire power generation capacity in 2020
Batteries are a key enabling technology for renewables. You need the ability to both capture renewable energy when it is cleanest and use it when the RE isn’t as robust as it needs to be (windless nights, for example).
BNEF’s forecast suggests that the majority, or 55%, of energy storage built by 2030 will be to provide energy shifting (for instance, storing solar or wind to release later). Co-located renewable-plus-storage projects, solar-plus-storage in particular, are becoming commonplace globally.
Nestlé Australia Switches to 100 Pct Renewables With CWP Wind Farm Deal
Despite the fact that the Australian government seems intent on running the whole of the country on as much coal as it can, some companies there appear to be bucking the trend and going to renewables. One such company is the Australian offshoot of Nestle
The Australian offshoot of global food giant Nestlé says it is switching to a 100 per cent renewable energy supply after signing a 10-year power purchase agreement with CWP Renewables from their Sapphire and Crudine Ridge wind farms.
The contract with Nestlé, effectively immediately, is for 106GWh of wind output a year. As a guide, Sapphire produces around 830GWh of electricity a year. Corporate customers are playing an increasingly important role in driving investment in new wind and solar projects, and also supporting existing ones.
Fossil Gas Pared Back to Its Bare Bones in South Australia’s Renewables Grid
On the topic of Austalia and renewables, this article indicates that there is now so much of it in South Australia that the market operator supplying energy has turned the wick down dramatically on the gas generators it uses to provide the baseload for the state
Some gas generation – even when there is enough wind and solar generation to meet all local demand – is usually required to provide “synchronous generation” considered essential to maintain system strength and keep the grid in a secure state
A cool EV or renewable thing
From Episode 111
There has been a lot of discussion and concern in both mainstream and social media about the mining of the minerals used in batteries and the manufacture of electric cars.
While a lot of that is one-sided and biased against EVs (Cobalt, for example, has a major use in the refining of petrol but that is rarely mentioned when people deride the use of Cobalt in EV batteries), there is some legitimate concern about where a lot of the minerals are coming from for EV manufacturing.
This brings us to the concept of agro-mining.
Humans have for many, many years eaten plants to get minerals. How many times have you been told that spinach is good for you because it builds up your iron?
Well Agro-farming, also known as phytomining, is simply growing plants that can store metals such as zinc and then later harvesting them.
Interestingly enough nickel, not steel, has the highest CO2 emission intensity, so anything that can be done to reduce the carbon footprint associated with mining for nickel can only help.
Phytomining is the process of growing these plants, harvesting the leaves, drying them and incinerating them to produce an ash that is rich in the mineral in question. For nickel, it is estimated as much as 4% of the ash is nickel.
Of course, the problem then is ‘You’re burning stuff!’ That’s an unfortunate issue with this method of ‘mining’. However, tests have discovered that the overall agro-mining process uses significantly less energy than conventional mining procedures. Is a little more smoke in the world worth having a lot less carbon?
It’s a difficult trade-off, granted. But one that we should consider.
From Episode 112
New York City is planning to buy over $12 million worth of Tesla Model 3s. The Department of Citywide Administrative Service of the City of New York is currently in the process of allocating $12.3m to buy a set of cars to be used within that department. Depending on the spec that will get them around 26 Tesla Model3s. Not huge in terms of Tesla sales. But getting cars like this into New York City public departments is a way of raising the profile of EVs as well as reducing overall costs.
We know from the reports in the UK that Tesla police cars are rapidly being seen as fit for purpose AND cost-effective: The update highlighted comments such as: After 15,000 miles the only maintenance has been brakes and tires, no annual service schedules mean minimal running costs, time off the road and competitive total cost of ownership.
Great to see the public services embracing EVs
Something To Think About.
Finally...
This is the last newsletter of 2021. To everyone celebrating the festivities I hope you have a great time.
Stay safe and look after yourselves, and each other.
See you in 2022.
It's a mystery box. From Amazon. What's in it?
It's a mystery box. From Amazon. What's in it?
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Gary Comerford

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