University of Michigan’s Erb Institute has a winner in the Climate Public Service spot contest.

More evidence that WC Field was right when he warned other actors never to work with children. None of us can compete. You’ve been warned.

surcharge

CleanTechnica:

This interesting and beautiful graph was recently published by the German Renewable Energy Agency (Agentur für Erneuerbare Energien). It shows the increases of energy costs per month for the average German household from 2000 on. The tiny, small, barely visible violet part at the top is the cost of the feed-in tariff surcharge.

We see an increase in surcharge costs of EUR 14 per month from 2000 to 2013. But at the same time, other costs of electricity increased even more (by EUR 25 a month).

And the cost of heating oil increased by EUR 66, the cost of gasoline by EUR 53 a month. In comparison, the cost of the surcharges is rather small.

In total, energy costs increased from EUR 198 a month to EUR 356, or by EUR 158. The surcharge costs are less than ten percent of that.

Most of the cost increases come from the fact that the oil price has gone up by a factor of five in that decade. I expect more of the same in the future.

That of course means that in the long term it is much cheaper to have a fast transition to renewable than a slow one, even if the costs of the present speed were substantial, which they are not.

Description:

Mushroom® Materials were inspired by the woods of Vermont as a replacement for plastic foams. Ecovative’s patented process combines agricultural byproducts with fungal mycelium, a natural, self-assembling binder, to literally grow high performance insulation. We grew a tiny house on a trailer as a radical demonstration of this technology, and this is now available for sale as a kit. The tiny house market is small but growing rapidly, and we see this as a proving ground for the $21B rigid board foam insulation market.

Rigid board insulation like extruded polystyrene is made of finite petrochemicals, and often includes high global-warming potential blowing gasses that seep out over time, lowering the aged R-value. Loose fill and batt insulation can settle, especially in a movable tiny house, which compromises effectiveness. In order to meet fire safety codes, nearly all rigid board and loose fill insulation materials are made with harsh flame retardant chemicals.
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Actually, part 4, but I left out part 1. Never mind.

You can view the whole thing here.

Obnoxious drunken, nicotine spewing blowhards make it their business to insert themselves in a stranger’s business and tell him that he shouldn’t be “minding other people’s business”.

GreatergreaterWashington:

Last night, a cyclist nearly hit a van blocking the L Street cycletrack and decided to report it to the police. That’s when he met Fred and Fran Smith, the husband-and-wife heads of a conservative think tank who started berating him for “minding other people’s business.”

Rob, who tweets as @the_baseband, captured the interaction on his helmet camera and posted it online yesterday. It not only shows the need for more public education about cycling laws in the District, but also the divisive attitude some have towards cyclists, even when they’re following the law.

Rob was turning left from 19th Street NW to L Street when he almost slammed into the back of a white van parked in the lane. He walks his bike onto the sidewalk and can be heard calling the police, when a woman approaches and asks if he’s going to report the van.

As Rob reads out the license plate of the truck over the phone, an older man in a suit walks over and the two begin screaming at him. The two are later identified asFred Smith and Fran Smith, founder and board member of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank that promotes free-market economics and denies global warming.

The interaction is brief, but it says a lot about lingering attitudes towards cycling and cyclists in DC. While the driver of the van broke the law by parking in a bike lane, it happens so frequently that people like Fred Smith either assume that it’s acceptable, or that it’s not actually a bike lane.

When Rob explains that he almost hit the van, Fred yells, “The truck is not in the bike lane at all!” He walks out into the street, points to the striped buffer between the bike lane and the general traffic lanes, and says that’s the bike lane.

It’s also interesting the way that Fred and Fran immediately try to paint Rob as the aggressor for trying to report the driver, chiding him for “minding other people’s business.” Fred makes multiple assumptions about Rob, saying he “hasn’t worked a day in his life” and is “mad” at the driver for not being a cyclist.

I won’t go into whether someone who goes to a”think tank” every day actually knows about real work.

sieverlassen

reneweconomy:

You don’t have to go far inside the headquarters of German battery storage company Younicos, or even their website for that matter, to find out what they are about. “Let the fossils rest in peace,” the logo suggests. Another sign at their technology centre east of Berlin proclaims: “You are now leaving the CO2 producing sector of the world.”

This sign is designed to mimic those which adorned the checkpoints that separated the various sectors of east and west Berlin before the wall was torn down. Younicos believe they have a technology that is equally disruptive, and can break down one of the last barriers to 100 per cent renewable energy: the need to run fossil fuel generation to control the “frequency” of the grid, and the other system services such as voltage control.

The company, based in Berlin Adlershof, on the eastern outskirts of the capital, is developing 10MW-sized battery parks, using battery systems that it says can stabilise the grid faster, cheaper and with greater precision that conventional generation.

It says that these systems can substitute 10 times the capacity from conventional generation – coal, nuclear and gas – and at a fraction of the cost. According to Younicos spokesman Philip Hiersemenzel, each battery park can be installed at around € 15 million, which means that for an investment of €3 billion, conventional generation in Germany’s 80GW would no longer be needed – at least for frequency and stability purposes.

This is critical is Germany. The sheer scale of their solar PV installations – it has more than 35GW – means that on some days it already produces more than half the country’s electricity needs. But baseload generators have to keep running for the sake of frequency control and system stability, this has caused spot prices to plunge well below zero.

For an 80GW grid, it needs about 20GW and 25GW of “must run” balancing to maintain frequency and keep the grid stable. Younicos says 2GW of its battery parks would render this need redundant. Around 200 of it battery parks could be installed around the country at a total cost of around €3 billion.

(Of course, that is not the only impediment to 100 per cent renewables – enough solar and wind power needs to be built, and other storage is needed, battery storage to respond to variations in load on a minute by minute and hour by hour basis, and longer-term or “seasonal” storage, which can take excess production and store it – synthetic diesel, hydrogen etc.).

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In your heart, you’ve always known this.

Gizmodo:

Ever notice how you feel more productive while listening to a great song? It’s not just you. Researchers just discovered that a certain type of solar panel works most efficiently when exposed to the acoustic vibrations of pop music. Crank it up!

The UK research team works on zinc oxide solar panels, a cheaper, more flexible variant of traditional silicon-based solar cells. Unfortunately, zinc oxide panels are still in the experimental stages, hampered by a paltry 1.2 percent efficiency at the moment. Zinc oxide’s trick, however, is that it can form nanoscale rods that generate electricity from outside vibrations—like, say, some pumped-up jams.

Having subjected the photovoltaics to a variety of musical genres, the team found that rock and pop boosted efficiency nearly 50%, likely due to the wide range of sound frequencies involved. Even ambient noise gave a decent increase. While an industrial-scale stereo playing Top 40 hits to a field of solar panels wouldn’t be very efficient, the discovery paves the way for cells that generate extra juice from the ambient vibrations in noisy environments. Someday, perhaps black metal could generate just as much power as a ray of sunshine. [Advanced Materials via New Scientist]

Cleantechnica:

Wiley Online Library first broke the story: ”Acoustic vibrations are shown to enhance the photovoltaic efficiency of a P3HT/ZnO nanorod solar cell by up to 45%, correlated to a three-fold increase in charge carrier lifetime. This is assigned to the generation of piezoelectric dipoles in the ZnO nanorods, indicating that the efficiency of solar cells may be enhanced in the presence of ambient vibrations by the use of piezoelectric materials.”

Pop music is most effective in increasing this certain kind of energy with this type of solar panel. Sound vibrations form this music most increased energy absorption. No doubt this is relevant information that will be developed in the solar field.