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LED lighting April 23, 2015

Posted by Maury Markowitz in Uncategorized.
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Buy some

Buy some, trust me.

I thought I’d put up a little post about my latest power bill.

Now that you’re all hanging on the edge of your seat…

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EV battery prices falling rapidly April 5, 2015

Posted by Maury Markowitz in Uncategorized.
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nclimate2564-f2

Price declines in large battery packs are faster than expected.

A recent paper in Nature Climate Change attempts to track the real costs of electric car batteries, and find they are already well below the most wild-eyed predictions for 2020 made only a few years ago. If the trends continue, batteries will fall below a critical threshold around 2020, meaning that electric car lifetime costs will be lower than gasoline cars, in spite of higher up-front costs.

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Electric cars and carbon intensity April 1, 2015

Posted by Maury Markowitz in Uncategorized.
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You evil car you, you're so... so... I gawd I want one.

You evil car you! You’re so… so… oh gawd I want one.

As the regular readers of Energy Matters -the world’s most beautiful supermodels- are no doubt aware, I have a thing about electric vehicles. So when a story on the topic came up on CBC Radio One the other day my ears perked up. And when it turned out the story in question starts right here in Toronto, well, I’m off to the races!

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太空电力 March 30, 2015

Posted by Maury Markowitz in solar power satellites.
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That's a lot of paper to crunch on that CRT!

That’s a lot of paper to crunch on that CRT!

Once again the undead topic of solar power satellites has raised its hand and flagged down the hoards of space enthusiasts over on Slashdot (thanks for the stats bump everyone!).

A post entitled Chinese Scientists Plan Solar Power Station In Space might lead you to falsely conclude that some actual work is taking place. A slightly more accurate title can be found if you click through to the linked article, Chinese scientists mull power station in space. And if one takes the time to actually read the article in question, you might conclude the title should read Retired Chinese rocket engineer gets some free press.

Harsh? Maybe. The person in the article is Wang Xiji, formerly of China’s space development agency and best known as the lead designer on the Long March 1, China’s first space booster. He indirectly launched their first satellite, Dong Fang Hong 1, in 1970. As is always the case with these stories, the real motivation quickly becomes evident when you consider quotes like “we need a cheap heavy-lift launch vehicle”.

Xiji is an astonishing 93 years old, and clearly hale. I should be so lucky! And if age really does translate into wisdom (we should all be so lucky) then clearly my feelings on space power have to be wrong. But in this case, I’m going to chalk it up to age before beauty.

Renewable growth in the US: 1, 2, 3 March 14, 2015

Posted by Maury Markowitz in power grid.
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image of two wind turbines in China

They’re popping up like weeds!

Three reports that came out about the same time highlight the dramatic changes to the US power mix which is going on largely without comment outside the nerdy circles (like this one).

The long and short is this: wind power in the US will double to about 10% in the next five years, and make up something like 35% of the US grid by around 2050. That’s fast, but solar is going in ever faster, outpacing wind. Coal is disappearing, while gas turbines take up its place.

As always, this is really about cost. Wind turbines and gas plants are far, far less expensive than any non-hydro conventional source. PV isn’t that far behind. Coal plants are actually more expensive than any of these, nuclear even more. And that, basically, is that.

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Areva in turmoil, bullet dodged? March 5, 2015

Posted by Maury Markowitz in Uncategorized.
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Image of a French nuclear reactor

Funny, it doesn’t look like a boat.

The newswires were alight this morning with the latest tale of woe from the nuclear industry; Areva, what’s left of the mergers of various French and other European nuclear firms, announced losses that were greater than the company’s book value.

The company is exploring “voluntary departures” while the government is arranging a bailout to save some of the industry’s 220,000 employees from what appears to be an impending financial implosion.

Which makes the recent sell-off of Canada’s version of Areva, AECL, seem prescient. After eating about $50 billion of taxpayer’s money for 50 years with no upside in sight, the company was sold off for negative $750 million and promptly disappeared into a partnership with the Chinese that has so far yielded zero dollars in actual work.

Looks like we dodged a neutron!

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