Good day, Earthlings! That is our weekly e-newsletter on all issues environmental, the place we spotlight tendencies and options which can be transferring us to a extra sustainable world. (Join right here to get it in your inbox each Thursday.)
- Compressed air, flywheels and extra: Power storage options being examined in Canada
- Barcelona decides to get wild
- Halifax firm first in Nova Scotia to reap single-cell organisms
Compressed air, flywheels and extra: Power storage options being examined in Canada
Final week, we checked out a number of the hydro- and gravity-based vitality storage applied sciences being explored, together with batteries, in an effort to combine wind and solar energy extra successfully into the grid. That is as a result of clear vitality is not essentially generated on the occasions when folks use essentially the most energy, and sometimes must be saved for later.
Listed here are another vitality storage applied sciences which have been examined in Canada in recent times or are being examined and used proper now.
Compressed air vitality storage
That is much like pumped hydro, besides that it includes utilizing surplus energy to compress and pump air as a substitute of water into an area similar to a cave or mine shaft. The air is later launched to drive a turbine.
The primary business set up of this type was in-built salt caves in Germany in 1978, and it is nonetheless working.
In Canada, Toronto-based Hydrostor constructed two demonstration crops:
Flywheels (or rotors) spin at very excessive charges (as much as 50,000 revolutions per minute), sometimes in a vacuum so air friction does not sluggish them down. Energy is saved as kinetic vitality by utilizing a motor to speed up the flywheels, and vitality may be discharged by reversing the method so the flywheel drives a motor or another electrical technology gadget.
Whereas this may occur in a short time in comparison with different varieties of vitality storage, flywheels will not be good for long-term storage, however work nicely to steadiness provide and demand on a short-term foundation.
In Canada, Toronto-based NRStor has a flywheel storage facility that has operated in Minto, Ont., since 2014, and not too long ago purchased a second flywheel storage challenge in Clear Creek, Ont.
A flywheel is utilized by Montreal-based Tugliq Power Co. to handle variations in wind energy at Glencore’s Raglan Mine Renewable Electrical energy Good-Grid Pilot Demonstration Challenge in northern Quebec. (Within the picture above, it is positioned in the dead of night buildings on the again left.)
Thermal vitality storage
Power may be saved by heating or cooling supplies similar to rocks, salts or liquids and retaining them insulated to forestall the vitality from escaping as warmth. Later, the warmth can be utilized to provide steam to show generators and generate electrical energy, or can be utilized instantly for heating and cooling.
A minimum of two initiatives in Canada have accomplished the latter by drawing energy from the grid at evening throughout off-peak occasions:
One different technique to retailer vitality is to make use of electrical energy to generate hydrogen from water utilizing an electrolyzer. The vitality may be launched later by feeding the hydrogen right into a gasoline cell, which operates very like a battery. It is solely 25 to 45 per cent environment friendly, which is way lower than most different vitality storage strategies, however it’s dependable, quiet and takes up little area.
The Markham Energy-to-Gasoline facility within the Toronto space, which was commissioned in 2018, is used to assist steadiness electrical energy provide and demand in Ontario by changing electrical energy to and from hydrogen.
Hydrogen programs have additionally been used at plenty of initiatives throughout Canada in distant areas, together with:
For those who’re inquisitive about a extra detailed have a look at vitality storage initiatives in Canada, Prof. Ian Rowlands on the College of Waterloo has compiled a listing right here.
— Emily Chung
Following our article final week on gravity vitality storage, plenty of you wrote in about our inconsistent use of two items of measurement for energy: watts and watt-hours. We agree this was complicated and, in a single case, incorrect. (Power Vault’s demonstration is a 35 megawatt-hour plant, not a 35-megawatt plant.)
In the case of vitality storage, each items are necessary, says Prof. Jatin Nathwani, govt director of the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Power on the College of Waterloo. That is as a result of vitality storage serves two features: It will possibly steadiness short-term fluctuations within the transmission grid on the size of seconds or minutes, and it may well retailer and launch vitality over many hours.
Watts are a measure of energy capability — the speed at which a facility can feed energy into the grid, which is necessary for short-term balancing. Watt-hours are a measure of vitality capability, or how a lot vitality can feed again into the grid earlier than the saved vitality runs out. Put one other method: Energy capability is much like the speed at which water can come out of a hose. Power capability is the entire quantity of water that would come out.
The specs for a given challenge embody each numbers. For instance, Power Vault says considered one of its items can have a storage capability of 20 to 80 MWh, with the power to supply steady energy of 4 to eight MW for eight to 16 hours.
Outdated problems with What on Earth? are proper right here.
There’s additionally a radio present! Carbon offsets are billed as a crucial device for local weather motion, however many years of initiatives have largely failed to scale back emissions. With a brand new Canadian system within the works, What on Earth seems to be on the issues with offsets and the way we will make them work. Hearken to What on Earth on CBC Radio One on Sunday at 12:30 p.m., 1 p.m. in Newfoundland, or any time on podcast or CBC Pay attention.
The Massive Image: Barcelona will get wild
Together with the (short-term) discount of carbon emissions, one of many key environmental developments of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the return of nature in locations the place it has traditionally been a second-class citizen — particularly, cities. Largely due to lockdown measures, all method of wildlife has been capable of dwell extra freely in city areas, and lots of cities are cultivating methods to extend the rewilding. Barcelona has witnessed a burst of life through the pandemic — for instance, 74 per cent extra butterflies in Could and June of 2020 than in 2019 — and is endeavor a wide range of measures to additional “naturalize” the town, from creating 783,300 sq. metres of open inexperienced area to constructing particular housing constructions for birds, bats, bees and extra. One residence constructing encompasses a rooftop backyard that has 10,000 native perennials and offers a house for pollinators year-round. As Francisco Bergua, president of the Spanish Affiliation of Parks and Public Gardens (AEPJP), instructed the Guardian newspaper, “The lockdown gave us a glimpse of nature within the metropolis, and we favored it.”
Scorching and bothered: Provocative concepts from across the internet
The wonders of nature by no means stop. Along with being stunning, this species of sea slug can decapitate itself and carry on residing, in response to a report in a biology journal. The researchers who found this imagine the slug most likely developed this trick in an effort to combat off parasites.
In China, consuming meat has lengthy been seen as a logo of prosperity. However a authorities push to scale back consumption as half of a bigger emissions-reductions technique has opened the door to meat alternate options — and they’re gaining reputation. One report urged China’s plant-based meat market might develop 20 to 25 per cent yearly.
Halifax firm first in Nova Scotia to reap single-cell organisms
A Nova Scotia firm is harvesting a brand new supply of protein, however you may want a microscope to see it.
Smallfood, based mostly in downtown Halifax, holds the province’s solely aquaculture licence for single-celled marine microalgae. Their distinctive microbe was picked after finding out greater than 20,000 others, and is in the identical household as brown seaweed, in response to Smallfood CEO Marc St-Onge.
“That is most likely essentially the most primitive meals that has existed … it’s the origin of meals,” St-Onge stated. “Sure, we have gone by means of, you recognize, three, 4 billion years of evolution, however we nonetheless have that authentic meals that is accessible at the moment.”
Just like the processes used to make yogurt or kimchi, St-Onge stated their microbe produces protein by means of biomass fermentation. They develop and harvest the proteins in industrial-scale vertical tanks, giving their area a brewery-like look.
As soon as they separate the biomass from the water, St-Onge stated they will course of these cells right into a “suite of various meals substances.” Their major focus in the meanwhile is a vegan ingredient with about 90 per cent protein content material that they will promote to meals, beverage or complement producers.
St-Onge believes his firm will not be solely the primary in N.S. however the first in Canada to get an aquaculture licence for a single-celled organism.
“It is a frequently evolving discipline and we’re excited to have an organization pursuing this sort of revolutionary improvement in Nova Scotia,” stated Bruce Nunn, spokesperson for the province’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Division, which issued Smallfood’s licence in March 2020.
St-Onge stated an extended listing of standards went into discovering this organism. They wished to discover a microbe that produced proteins, fat and amino acids much like animal proteins, that are thought of the “gold customary.” As nicely, the microbe wanted to develop rapidly.
Ranging from scratch, St-Onge stated a small vial of this microorganism might result in “tractor-trailer a great deal of protein going out the door in seven days.” For comparability, he stated soy or peas take seven to 9 months, whereas beef takes a number of years for cattle to develop.
Because the meals manufacturing business is one of many main drivers of local weather change, St-Onge stated it is necessary to quickly adapt to different proteins like microbes, that are extra sustainable than meat or fish.
“Feeding 10 billion folks by 2050, there’s just one method that we will proceed to make use of these conventional types of agriculture in a method that’s extra caring and supportive for the planet,” St-Onge stated. “We have to shift the bottom, the muse … enter microbes.”
Smallfood is considered one of a number of microbe corporations establishing store in Halifax.
DeNova has been understanding of the town since 2017, and developed applied sciences that “convert greenhouse gases right into a high-quality, sustainable microbial protein product” from sources in Alberta, firm spokesperson Talia Boates stated in an e mail.
“Micro organism are the world’s most effective carbon recyclers, requiring dramatically much less land and water assets per tonne of product in comparison with conventional agriculture,” Boates stated.
There’s additionally Mara Renewables, who’ve a marine microalgae pressure from the shores of Atlantic Canada that produces omega-3 fatty acids, in response to their web site.
For these nonetheless not sure concerning the concept of consuming this sort of protein, folks shouldn’t see them as “scary little alien particles within the ocean” however merely very small and plentiful crops, stated Stephen O’Leary, a analysis officer with the Nationwide Analysis Council of Canada’s aquatic crop and useful resource improvement centre in Halifax.
They eat carbon dioxide, produce oxygen and create sugars, fat and proteins, O’Leary stated, and what’s “actually thrilling” is people solely actually know a fraction of them.
With so many microbes nonetheless undiscovered, O’Leary stated the chances are limitless.
— Haley Ryan
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Editor: Andre Mayer | Emblem design: Sködt McNalty