SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Renewable energy

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Sustainability assessments of coastal beach exploitation are difficult because the identification of appropriate monitoring methodologies and evaluation procedures is still ongoing. In particular, the most suitable procedure for the application of sustainability assessment to coastal beaches remains uncertain. This paper presents a complete sustainability assessment process for coastal beach exploitation based on the analytic hierarchy process (AHP). We developed an assessment framework consisting of 14 indicators derived from the three dimensions of suitability, economic and social value, and ecosystem. We chose a wind power project on a coastal beach of Yancheng as a case study. The results indicated that the wind power farms on the coastal beach were not completely in keeping with sustainable development theory. The construction of the wind power farms had some negative impacts. Therefore, in the design stage, wind turbines should be designed and planned carefully to minimize these negative impacts. In addition, the case study demonstrated that the AHP was capable of addressing the complexities associated with the sustainability of coastal beaches.

Concepts: Assessment, Sustainability, Analytic Hierarchy Process, Renewable energy, Wind power, Wind farm, Wind turbine, Arithmetical hierarchy

28

India is the fifth largest primary energy consumer and fourth largest petroleum consumer after USA, China, and Japan. Despite the global economic crisis, India’s economy is expected to grow at 6 to 8 %/year. There is an extreme dependence on petroleum products with considerable risks and environmental issues. Petroleum-derived transport fuels are of limited availability and contribute to global warming, making renewable biofuel as the best alternative. The focus on biogas and biomass-based energy, such as bioethanol and biohydrogen, will enhance cost-effectiveness and provide an opportunity for the rural community. Among all energy sources, microalgae have received, so far, more attention due to their facile adaptability to grow in the photobioreactors or open ponds, high yields, and multiple applications. Microalgae can produce a substantial amount of triacylglycerols as a storage lipid under photooxidative stress or other adverse environmental conditions. In addition to renewable biofuels, they can provide different types of high-value bioproducts added to their advantages, such as higher photosynthetic efficiency, higher biomass production, and faster growth compared to any other energy crops. The viability of first-generation biofuels production is, however, questionable because of the conflict with food supply. In the future, biofuels should ideally create the environmental, economic, and social benefits to the communities and reflect energy efficiency so as to plan a road map for the industry to produce third-generation biofuels.

Concepts: Petroleum, Anaerobic digestion, Biogas, Biofuel, Renewable energy, Ethanol fuel, Biomass, Fuels

28

In times of dwindling fossil fuels it is particularly crucial to develop novel “green” technologies in order to cover the increasing worldwide demand for energy. Organic photovoltaic solar cells (OPVs) are promising as a renewable energy source due to low energy requirement for production, low resource extraction, and no emission of greenhouse gasses during use. In contrast to silicium-based solar cells, OPVs offer the advantages of light-weight, semi-transparency and mechanical flexibility. As to a possible forthcoming large-scale production, the environmental impact of such OPVs should be assessed and compared to currently best available technologies. For the first time, this review compiles the existing knowledge and identifies gaps regarding the environmental impact of such OPVs in a systematic manner. In this regard, we discuss the components of a typical OPV layer by layer. We discuss the probability of enhanced release of OPV-borne components into the environment during use-phase (e.g. UV- and biodegradation) and end-of-life phase (e.g. incineration and waste disposal). For this purpose, we compiled available data on bioavailability, bioaccumulation, biodegradation, and ecotoxicity. Whereas considerable research has already been carried out concerning the ecotoxicity of certain OPV components (e.g. nanoparticles and fullerenes), others have not been investigated at all so far. In conclusion, there is a general lack of information about fate, behavior as well as potential ecotoxicity of most of the main OPV components and their degradation/transformation products. So far, there is no evidence for a worrying threat coming from OPVs, but since at present, no policy and procedures regarding recycling of OPVs are in action, in particular improper disposal upon end-of-life might result in an adverse effect of OPVs in the environment when applied in large-scale.

Concepts: Energy, Environment, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Fossil fuel, Renewable energy, Wind power, Hydroelectricity

27

Wind turbines generate electricity by removing kinetic energy from the atmosphere. Large numbers of wind turbines are likely to reduce wind speeds, which lowers estimates of electricity generation from what would be presumed from unaffected conditions. Here, we test how well wind power limits that account for this effect can be estimated without explicitly simulating atmospheric dynamics. We first use simulations with an atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) that explicitly simulates the effects of wind turbines to derive wind power limits (GCM estimate), and compare them to a simple approach derived from the climatological conditions without turbines [vertical kinetic energy (VKE) estimate]. On land, we find strong agreement between the VKE and GCM estimates with respect to electricity generation rates (0.32 and 0.37 We m(-2)) and wind speed reductions by 42 and 44%. Over ocean, the GCM estimate is about twice the VKE estimate (0.59 and 0.29 We m(-2)) and yet with comparable wind speed reductions (50 and 42%). We then show that this bias can be corrected by modifying the downward momentum flux to the surface. Thus, large-scale limits to wind power use can be derived from climatological conditions without explicitly simulating atmospheric dynamics. Consistent with the GCM simulations, the approach estimates that only comparatively few land areas are suitable to generate more than 1 We m(-2) of electricity and that larger deployment scales are likely to reduce the expected electricity generation rate of each turbine. We conclude that these atmospheric effects are relevant for planning the future expansion of wind power.

Concepts: Energy, Renewable energy, Wind, Wind power, Electrical generator, Wind turbine, Windmill, Environmental effects of wind power

27

New types of energy storage are needed in conjunction with the deployment of renewable energy sources and their integration with the electrical grid. We have recently introduced a family of cathodes involving the reversible insertion of cations into materials with the Prussian Blue open-framework crystal structure. Here we report a newly developed manganese hexacyanomanganate open-framework anode that has the same crystal structure. By combining it with the previously reported copper hexacyanoferrate cathode we demonstrate a safe, fast, inexpensive, long-cycle life aqueous electrolyte battery, which involves the insertion of sodium ions. This high rate, high efficiency cell shows a 96.7% round trip energy efficiency when cycled at a 5C rate and an 84.2% energy efficiency at a 50C rate. There is no measurable capacity loss after 1,000 deep-discharge cycles. Bulk quantities of the electrode materials can be produced by a room temperature chemical synthesis from earth-abundant precursors.

Concepts: Cathode, Electrochemistry, Chemistry, Battery, Electrolyte, Electrode, Anode, Renewable energy

26

Civilization continues to be transformed by our ability to harness energy beyond human and animal power. A series of industrial and agricultural revolutions have allowed an increasing fraction of the world population to heat and light their homes, fertilize and irrigate their crops, connect to one another and travel around the world. All of this progress is fuelled by our ability to find, extract and use energy with ever increasing dexterity. Research in materials science is contributing to progress towards a sustainable future based on clean energy generation, transmission and distribution, the storage of electrical and chemical energy, energy efficiency, and better energy management systems.

Concepts: Agriculture, Energy, Earth, Thermodynamics, Europe, Renewable energy, World population, Efficient energy use

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The aim of this paper is to analyze and quantify the average healthcare centres' energy behavior and estimate the possibilities of savings through the use of concrete measures to reduce their energy demand in Extremadura, Spain. It provides the average energy consumption of 55 healthcare centres sized between 500 and 3,500 m2. The analysis evaluated data of electricity and fossil fuel energy consumption as well as water use and other energy-consuming devices. The energy solutions proposed to improve the efficiency are quantified and listed. The average annual energy consumption of a healthcare centre is 86.01 kWh/m2, with a standard deviation of 16.8 kWh/m2. The results show that an annual savings of €4.77/m2 is possible. The potential to reduce the energy consumption of a healthcare centre of size 1,000 m2 is 10,801 kWh by making an average investment of €11,601, thus saving €2,961/year with an average payback of 3.92 years.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Energy, Investment, Fossil fuel, Renewable energy, Energy development, Greenhouse gas, World energy resources and consumption

26

The environmental costs of economic development have received increasing attention during the last years. According to the World Energy Outlook (2013) sustainable energy policies should be promoted in order to spur economic growth and environmental protection in a global context, particularly in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Within this framework, the European Union aims to achieve the “20-20-20” targets, including a 20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, a raise in the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20% and a 20% improvement in the EU’s energy efficiency. Furthermore, the EU “Energy Roadmap 2050” has been recently adopted as a basis for developing a long-term European energy framework, fighting against climate change through the implementation of energy efficiency measures and the reduction of emissions. This paper focuses on the European context and attempts to explain the impact of economic growth on CO2 emissions through the estimation of an Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) using panel data. Moreover, since energy seems to be at the heart of the environmental problem it should also form the core of the solution, and therefore we provide some extensions of the EKC by including renewable energy sources as explanatory variables in the proposed models. Our data sets are referred to the 27 countries of the European Union during the period 1996-2010. With this information, our empirical results provide some interesting evidence about the significant impacts of renewable energies on CO2 emissions, suggesting the existence of an extended EKC.

Concepts: Sustainability, Renewable energy, Peak oil, Wind power, Greenhouse gas, Kyoto Protocol, World energy resources and consumption, Energy policy

24

The heavy dependence on petroleum-derived fuel has raised concerns about energy sustainability and climate change, which have prompted researchers to explore fuel production from renewable sources. 1-Butanol and isobutanol are promising biofuels that have favorable properties and can also serve as solvents or chemical feedstocks. Microbial production of these alcohols provides great opportunities to access a wide spectrum of renewable resources. In recent years, research has improved the native 1-butanol production and has engineered isobutanol production in various organisms to explore metabolic diversity and a broad range of substrates. This review focuses on progress in metabolic engineering for the production of these two compounds using various resources.

Concepts: Metabolism, Enzyme, Natural resource, Habitat conservation, Renewable energy, Alternative energy, Renewable resource, Natural capital

22

Photocatalytic hydrogen (H2) generation through water splitting has attracted substantial attention as a clean and renewable energy generation process that has enormous potential in converting solar-to-chemical energy using suitable photocatalysts. The major bottleneck in the development of semiconductor-based photocatalysts lies in poor light absorption and fast recombination of photogenerated electron-hole pairs. Herein we report the synthesis of CuS/TiO2heterostructured nanocomposites with varied TiO2contents via simple hydrothermal and solution-based process. The morphology, crystal structure, composition, and optical properties of the as-synthesized CuS/TiO2hybrids are evaluated in detail. Controlling the CuS/TiO2ratio to an optimum value leads to the highest photocatalytic H2production rate of 1262 μmol h-1g-1, which is 9.7 and 9.3 times higher than that of pristine TiO2nanospindles and CuS nanoflakes under irradiation, respectively. The enhancement in the H2evolution rate is attributed to increased light absorption and efficient charge separation with an optimum CuS coverage on TiO2. The photoluminescence and photoelectrochemical measurements further confirm the efficient separation of charge carriers in the CuS/TiO2hybrid. The mechanism and synergistic role of CuS and TiO2semiconductors for enhanced photoactivity is further delineated.

Concepts: Photon, Energy, Hydrogen, Photoelectrochemical cell, Solar cell, Photocatalysis, Fossil fuel, Renewable energy