Energy & the Environment News and Discussions

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Energy & the Environment News and Discussions

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Energy & the Environment News and Discussions

This thread covers general news and discussions on a wide range of energy and environment-related subjects. This includes the latest developments in renewables, batteries/storage and other clean tech, as well as desalination, global warming, fossil fuels, habitat destruction, mining, recycling, sustainable living, and so on.

More specific and indepth coverage of particular subjects will be found in other threads (e.g. climate change, electric vehicles, geology).


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Australia’s first fully renewable ‘hydrogen valley’ slated for NSW coal heartland
Australia’s first “hydrogen valley” would be created in New South Wales and run entirely on renewable energy under a $2bn proposal supported by local and global energy companies.

Led by renewables advisory business Energy Estate, the consortium says it plans to produce green hydrogen with wind and solar energy and use it as a feedstock for mining, transport and industrial users in the upper Hunter Valley, spruiking it as a potential replacement for the region’s coal industry.

If successful, a second stage would pipe hydrogen to Newcastle, where it could be used to help run a clean energy industrial precinct. Vincent Dwyer, a principal at Energy Estate, said it could provide zero-emissions feedstock for chemical manufacturing and allow the development of green ammonia for export.
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-n ... -heartland
“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.” - Steven Moffat
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Discovery of flowering gene in cacao may lead to accelerated breeding strategies

by Jeff Mulhollem, Pennsylvania State University

For the first time, Penn State researchers have identified a gene that controls flowering in cacao, a discovery that may help accelerate breeding efforts aimed at improving the disease-ridden plant, they suggested.

Characterizing the Flowering Locus T gene in cacao, responsible for the production of florigen—a protein that triggers flowering in most plants—is important, according to study co-author Mark Guiltinan, J. Franklin Styer Professor of Horticultural Botany and professor of plant molecular biology. He expects this advancement to enable scientists to develop disease-resistant trees faster, which is critical because 20% to 30% of the world's cacao crop is lost to disease annually.

"Breeding tree crops like cacao is very slow and can take 20 or more years to release a new variety," he said. "Knowledge of the mechanisms of flowering may lead to methods to accelerate cacao breeding and to develop trees that produce fruit sooner than conventional varieties, which takes two to four years. Each year we move closer to these goals as we continue to explore the molecular biology of the cacao tree."
https://phys.org/news/2021-05-discovery ... egies.html
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The 1,000 rivers contributing the most to ocean plastics

by Bob Yirka , Phys.org
A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in the Netherlands and one in Germany has created a list of the 1000 rivers around the globe that are pouring the most plastics into the world's oceans. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their study of the factors that introduce plastics into the ocean, and the methods they used to figure out which rivers were the largest contributors.

Prior research has shown that an enormous amount of man-made plastic makes its way into the world's oceans. And many studies have shown the kinds of impacts such plastics can have on the creatures that live in the sea, particularly those exposed to microplastics. In this new effort, the researchers have attempted to find the major sources for plastics in the ocean.

To trace the path of plastics from where they are used to the ocean, the researchers looked at possible routes and found three main drivers: wind and various forms of precipitation that move plastics from one area to another; the way land is used and its geography—different types of terrain can make it easier for plastics to be moved by natural forces; and the distance plastics have to travel to get to the sea.
https://phys.org/news/2021-05-rivers-co ... stics.html
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Researchers create new zinc-air pouch cells

by Ingrid Fadelli, Science X Network, Tech Xplore
Zinc-air batteries (ZABs) are among the most promising next-generation battery technologies due to their many advantageous characteristics. Most notably, these batteries have unique half-open structures, a significant theoretical energy density (1,086 and 1,370 Wh kg−1 when including and excluding oxygen, respectively), flexible electrodes and an inherently aqueous electrolyte. Moreover, in contrast with other materials used in batteries, Zinc (Zn) is less harmful for the environment and more abundant.

Researchers at Hanyang University in South Korea recently designed a new type of zinc-air pouch cell that can outperform other commercially available battery technologies. These pouch cells, presented in a paper published in Nature Energy, use (101)-facet copper phosphosulfide [CPS(101)] as a cathode, anti-freezing chitosan-biocellulosics as super-ionic conductor electrolytes, and patterned Zn as the anode.

"Previous ZABs employing liquid (6 M KOH) electrolytes failed because of the sluggish kinetics for the oxygen reduction and evolution reactions (ORR/OER) and irreversibility of Zn accompanying the parasitic reactions over wide temperatures," Jung-Ho Lee, one of the researchers who carried out the study, told Tech Xplore. "This feature inspired us to develop solid-state electrolytes, such as functionalized biocellulose, capable of transferring OH- ions effectively without parasitic reactions."
https://techxplore.com/news/2021-05-zin ... cells.html
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Sales of peat compost to gardeners to be banned from 2024
Tue 18 May 2021

Sales of peat compost to gardeners will be banned from 2024, the government has said. Ministers will also give £50m to support the restoration of 35,000 hectares of peatland by 2025, about 1% of the UK’s total.

The UK’s peatlands store three times as much carbon as its forests. But the vast majority are in a degraded state, and are emitting CO2, which drives the climate crisis.

The environment secretary, George Eustice, announced £500m to fund a tripling of tree planting in England to reach 7,000 hectares a year by 2024 and said a new 2030 target for wildlife populations would be set. A species reintroduction taskforce was also unveiled, to take forward work on recovering species lost to England, such as wildcats and beavers.

Restoring peatlands and increasing woodlands are vital to tackling global heating and boosting biodiversity. In terms of wildlife and wild spaces preserved from human activity, the UK is ranked 228th in the world, out of 240 countries and territories, according to the RSPB.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... -from-2024
“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.” - Steven Moffat
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"Take it easy, nothing matters in the end."
– William Shatner
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Climate change: No gas boilers to be sold by 2025 to reach net zero
Tuesday 18 May 2021

No new fossil fuel boilers should be sold from 2025 if net-zero emissions goals are to be met by 2050, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says.

The Net Zero by 50 report published on Monday said no new coal mines are needed from now on as coal demand is on the decline, and there is also no place for oil or gas exploration or supplies.

By 2035, it said the sale of new petrol and diesel cars around the world would end.
https://news.sky.com/story/oil-and-gas- ... e-12309593
“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.” - Steven Moffat
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Leonardo DiCaprio leads $43m pledge to restore the Galápagos Islands

Tue 18 May 2021 07.55 BST

Leonardo DiCaprio has announced a $43m (£30.4m) pledge to enact sweeping conservation operations across the Galápagos Islands, with his social media accounts taken over by a wildlife veterinarian and island restoration specialist.

The initiative, in partnership with Re:wild, an organisation founded this year by a group of renowned conservation scientists and DiCaprio, the Galápagos National Park Directorate, Island Conservation and local communities, aims to rewild the entire Galápagos Islands, as well as all of Latin America’s Pacific archipelagos.

It has a large number of supporting and implementing partners from a range of philanthropic and environmental organisations, including Galápagos National Park Directorate, Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment and Water, and Charles Darwin Foundation.

The $43m pledge will fund Galápagos projects including efforts to restore Floreana Island, home to 54 threatened species, and reintroduce 13 locally extinct species, including the Floreana mockingbird – the first mockingbird described by Charles Darwin.

The money will also pay for a captive breeding programme and other activities to prevent the extinction of the pink iguana, and strengthen measures to protect the Galápagos’s marine resources from the human impact of ecotourism.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... os-islands


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Global renewable energy industry grew at fastest rate since 1999 last year

Tue 11 May 2021 07.00 BST

The world’s renewable energy industry grew at its fastest pace since 1999 last year, despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and may have established a standard for growth in the future, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The global energy watchdog revealed that the delivery of renewable energy projects, including windfarms and solar power projects, grew by 45% last year in a step change for the global industry.

Wind power capacity doubled over the last year, while solar power grew by almost 50% more than its growth before the pandemic, due to the growing appetite for clean energy from governments and corporations.

The clean energy boom has prompted the IEA to revise its renewable energy forecasts for the coming years up by about 25% from its previous growth estimates due to the faster than expected expansion of renewables in China, Europe and the US.

Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA, said governments need to “build on this promising momentum” by putting in place policies that “encourage greater investment in solar and wind, in the additional grid infrastructure they will require, and in other key renewable technologies such as hydropower, bioenergy and geothermal”.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... -last-year


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