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Toronto garbage trucks soon powered by biogas from the waste they collect

All of the garbage trucks in Toronto will soon be powered by the biogas produced from the very trash they collect. Toronto is set to be one of the first cities in North America to launch such an initiative, thanks to the their newly-constructed Dufferin Solid Waste Management Facility.

Starting in March 2020, the city’s fleet of garbage trucks will collect all of the organic waste and flood scraps from the Toronto Green Bins and bring them to the facility for processing. The facility will then use anaerobic digesters to capture all of the biogas produced by the waste and transform it into renewable natural gas (RNG).

After the scraps are dropped off at the facility, the city’s 170 garbage trucks can then immediately fill up their fuel tanks with RNG before heading out to collect more trash.

According to city officials, “RNG is also less expensive and more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels such as diesel. Once injected into the natural gas pipeline, it can be used to fuel vehicles or provide electricity or heat to homes and businesses.

"RNG generated from food waste is actually considered carbon-negative, because the reduction in emissions by not extracting and burning petroleum-based fuel, and the emissions avoided by not sending organics to landfill, exceed the direct emissions associated with the production and use of RNG.”

10% of greenhouse gas emissions in Toronto are generated by garbage, primarily food waste. Now, estimates suggest that the Dufferin facility will produce approximately 3.2 million cubic meters of RNG per year, which will save roughly 9,000 tonnes of CO2 from ending up in the atmosphere.

This closed-loop system is just one of the city’s four pre-planned waste-to-RNG production schemes for the coming years.

The military coup in Bolivia likely to give a German company the right to extract lithium deposits for batteries. 

The military coup in Bolivia has put in place a government which appears likely to give a German company the right to extract lithium deposits for batteries. 

Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni salt flats hold the largest reserves of lithium in the world and demand for lithium is expected to more than double by 2025. The soft, light mineral is mined mainly in Australia, Chile, and Argentina. Bolivia has plenty—9 million tons that have never been mined commercially, the second-largest amount in the world—but until now there's been no practical way to mine and sell it.

Morales' cancellation of the ACISA deal opened the door to either a renegotiation of the agreement with terms delivering more of the profits to the area's population or the outright nationalization of the Bolivian lithium extraction industry.

"Bolivia's lithium belongs to the Bolivian people," tweeted Washington Monthly contributor David Atkins. "Not to multinational corporate cabals."

The coup, which resulted in Morales resigning and going into hiding, was the result of days of protests from right-wing elements angry at the leftist Morales government. Sen. Jeanine Añez, of the center-right party Democratic Unity, is currently the interim president in the unstable post-coup government in advance of elections.

Investment analyst publisher Argus urged investors to keep an eye on the developing situation in Bolivia.

India cancel coal power due to record low cost for solar power

Leaders in India have turned their backs and walked away from plans of building nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations – which is about as much power used in the whole of the UK. The dramatic plummeting of the cost of solar energy has made this possible. This good news only highlights the rate of change regarding solar energy, reports India Times.

Analyst Tim Buckley (director of energy finance studies) wrote in his article on the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis’s website that this shift away from the dirtiest fossil fuel and towards solar in India will have “profound” ramifications for global energy markets. He tells about how 13.7GW of planned coal power projects have been canceled so far this month.

It all started in January of 2016 when Fortum, a Finnish company, got on board to generate electricity in Rajasthan at record low tariff (a guaranteed price) of 4.34 rupees per kilowatt-hour (about 5p). At the time, Mr. Buckley said that this price was so low it would never be repeated.

He was wrong about that! Just 16 months later, an auction for a 500-megawatt solar facility resulted in a tariff of just 2.44 rupees. That’s 31% less than the wholesale price charged by a major coal-power utility of 3.2 rupees! From that moment, everything turned in favour of renewable energy.

Mr. Buckley said: For the first time solar is cheaper than coal and the implications this has for transforming global energy markets is profound.

Time to invest in Africa

The African continent is about to seize every available opportunity to attract investments, according to the second edition of Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, hosted by the African Development Bank. The summit is one of Africa's premier investment conference and brings together pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, private investors, policymakers, private equity firms, and heads of government.

Highlighting how Rwanda was working to improve the investment ecosystem, President Kagame recounted multiple initiatives ranging from policy initiatives such as ensuring predictable governance, ensuring rule of law, guaranteeing security to investment support such as hubs, innovation fund among others.

"We have concentrated on creating a good environment for people to do business, a predictable governance system, security, in a region of East African Community that is probably the fastest growing region on our continent and Rwanda being part of and benefiting from that," he said.

The President was speaking alongside South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, and Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosário of Mozambique on a panel discussion on Investing in Africa.

"Let's do what we know we have to do, let's involve our women, see more numbers of women becoming CEOs because they are many who are capable, we should not leave our women behind, that's what we have tried to address. We know we should have transparent, accountable systems of government, we have to create rule of law in our environment for people to expect certain things to happen and that's what happens. I cannot give advice that anyone doesn't know in this room, everyone knows what we are talking about. Let's just do it," he added responding to a participant who asked for advice on how to increase investment in Africa." Kagame said.

He challenged leaders and stakeholders from across the continent to seize every available opportunity to get towards where the continent ought to be.

"It is not just knowing what you ought to do or being capable of it, it is about actually doing it," Kagame said.

 

The U.S. central bank takes climate change risk into its assessments of financial stability

Severe weather carries economic and financial stability risks and major central banks have already made climate change an explicit part of their financial stability remits. Despite the fact that President Donald Trump’s administration still denies climate change exist, the U.S. central bank now also consider taking climate change risk into its assessments of financial stability, and may even take it into account when setting monetary policy.

It seems the reality of the climate crisis is too much for the Federal Reserve to ignore anymore. Scientists all over the world are in broad agreement that carbon dioxide from cars, power plants and other human sources are behind the climate change that’s already making powerful hurricanes, severe drought, and other weather extremes more frequent.

“To fulfill our core responsibilities, it will be important for the Federal Reserve to study the implications of climate change for the economy and the financial system and to adapt our work accordingly,” Fed Governor Lael Brainard said in remarks released at the start of the Fed’s first-ever conference on climate change and economics in San Francisco, Reuters reports.

The Fed, she said, will need to look at how to keep banks and the financial system resilient amid risks from extreme weather, higher temperatures, rising sea levels and other effects of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The attention for the San Francisco conference was so big that it was oversubscribed. Due to this a webcast was created to meet demand. Papers presented at the conference showed how climate change has crimped growth and presented ideas on how policy, including monetary policy, can be used to mitigate harm.

Ms. Brainard said the central bank now discuss how it might participate in a network of about 40 global central banks that was created in 2017 to promote climate-related financial and macroeconomic issues. The goal of becoming more active with the Central Banks and Supervisors Network for Greening the Financial System, she said, would be to “learn from our international colleagues’ approaches to measuring and managing climate risks in the financial system.”

As social norms have shifted, the Fed has talked about inequality more openly and regularly without a backlash. A similar evolution seems to be underway when it comes to the climate.

“Climate change is an issue we can’t afford to ignore,” San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly said at the start of the conference. “This is not a hypothetical risk of the future...the risks are here, we have to deal with them.”

Scientists Have Discovered How To Turn Seawater Into Fuel

With hydrogen fuel there are no carbon emissions. The only down side is that it uses water that we could be drinking instead. But now scientists have figured out a way to skip this costly water purification part of the process and convert seawater into usable hydrogen. This research is published in the journal PNAS.

The electrodes in water make it possible for the chemical reaction in which hydrogen is formed. When electricity is run through water it splits the hydrogen and oxygen, giving you a pure and zero-emission fuel source.

Seawater contains a positive electrode that attracts chloride, quickly decaying the metal. To tackle this problem, the scientists added a new metal coating so the electrode can last longer. The team was able to use 10 times more electricity with its device, generating hydrogen even faster than before. As a bonus, they made their design environmentally friendly, energy-efficient and powered it with solar cells.

The good thing about fuel cells is that it could store more energy than batteries while avoiding some of their environmental challenges.

"Hydrogen is the next generation of power because the energy density is higher than batteries, meaning that you can drive for a longer distance, or power heavier devices." explains Hongjie Dai, a chemistry professor at Stanford University.

  • Hydrogen-powered cars are already on the roads around the world
  • A hydrogen-powered train is now running in Germany
  • A hydrogen-powered ferry is coming to San Francisco this year
  • Hydrogen-powered cargo ships are currently being designed in Norway
  • The first regional hydrogen-electric airplane is being developed by a startup in Singapore

 

In the future, ships running on hydrogen fuel cells will be able to make their own fuel directly from the ocean with the help of renewable energy such as solar panels or wind turbines.

South Korea to build three cities powered by hydrogen before 2022

South Korea is trying to win the race to create the first hydrogen-powered society. It wants to build three hydrogen-powered cities by 2022 as it positions itself as a leader in the green technology. The plan will see the cities use hydrogen as the fuel for cooling, heating, electricity and transportation. Consultation on where the three cities will be located is under way.

The test cities will use a hydrogen-powered transportation system, including buses and personal cars. Hydrogen charging stations will be available in bus stations and parking spaces. The strategy is part of a wider vision to power 10% of the country's cities, counties and towns by hydrogen by 2030, growing to 30% by 2040.

This includes drastic increases in the numbers of hydrogen-powered vehicles and charging points in the next three years. The government has earmarked money to subsidize these vehicles and charging infrastructure.

Countries including Germany, Japan and China are also looking to a future hydrogen society, with a number of Asian car manufacturers including Hyundai, Toyota and Honda sinking resources into creating a range of hydrogen powered cars.

With fuel cell vehicles – or FCVs – generally offering greater range and faster refueling times than electric vehicles, there is great hope that they will accelerate the transition to cleaner vehicles.

But challenges remain with the technology. Although some FCVs are now on the market, for many the cost remains prohibitive and they have some way to go before they become mainstream.

The output from hydrogen-powered cars is only water as a by-product. Producing the hydrogen itself is an energy-intensive process though, but as long as the production is powered by renewable sources the system is completely clean.

West Africa taking back control of its currency from France

Since 1945, the CFA franc has been the currency used by French colonies, and the usage of the currency continued after independence. President Patrice Talon of Benin revealed that the West African Monetary Union has unanimously agreed to take back control of its currency, withdrawing foreign reserves of the West African CFA from France. The move has been welcomed across the continent.

Benin Republic’s President Patrice Talon announced that the West African Monetary Union wanted to take back control of its currency. A unanimous agreement was reached by the eight African countries – whose foreign reserves are kept in France – to pull the reserves of their CFA franc from France. The countries which include Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Niger and Guinea Bissau all use the French regulated francs.

The Franc which is used by 155 million people on the continent across 14 African countries is one of the colonial relics in many French colonised countries. This is the first time that a president has announced the withdrawal of the West African CFA Franc from France.

President Talon said, “we now unanimously agree that this model needs to end. The Central Bank of the West African Monetary Union will manage all of the currency reserves and will dispatch them to the different partner central banks across the world.”

The CFA franc was created in 1945 after the 1944 Brettons Wood Agreement which saw the world usher in a new global monetary system with the U.S dollar replacing the gold standard. The Brettons Wood agreement cemented America’s dominance as a world economic power. The CFA franc is tied to the Euro, and follows the fluctuation of the Euro. The creation of Eco, the newly proposed West African currency designed to replace the CFA franc by 2020 led to an official separation with the Euro.

Hyundai introduce a hydrogen-powered heavy duty truck

It is thought that hydrogen-powered vehicles could be an optional extra of an electric vehicle for heavy work such as towing but where they really come into force is as a heavy duty electric vehicle. Using an electric motor driven by a fuel cell powered by renewable hydrogen will be greenhouse emissions free. Refuelling is quick, the range is large but most importantly hydrogen provides a powerful fuel for heavy duty trucks, trains, planes and ships.

At the North American Commercial Vehicle Show, Hyundai unveiled the HDC-6 NEPTUNE, a hydrogen-powered Class 8 heavy duty truck, and also announced the launch of its new clean energy refrigerated concept trailer, the HT Nitro ThermoTech.

Labelled as “optimal” for transporting cold chain products, the HT Nitro ThermoTech is able to reduce temperatures faster than traditional refrigeration units and maintain precise temperature without being affected by outside temperatures. It reduces pollutants and emissions while providing reliable and effective cold chain food transportation without affecting the truck’s power supply.

Hyundais introduction of hydrogen powered heavy transports provide a glimpse into the future of transportation around the world.

“We are willing to work with other partners to pave the way to establish a hydrogen ecosystem for CV.” said  Edward Lee, Head of Hyundai Commercial Vehicle Business Division.

A cheap and pollution free electric car battery that takes you 1,500 miles without recharging

Trevor Jackson, the British engineer and former Royal Navy officer, has developed an inexpensive, lightweight battery, nine times more capacious than lithium-ion, made from affordable aluminum and with such a safe electrolyte that can be drunk.

Moreover, it is simpler and cheaper to make, as well as easier to recycle than conventional batteries currently used. The battery can reportedly sustain 1,500 miles of driving before needing to be charged.

It took almost 18 years of development and the investment of several million euros to start producing this large-scale battery. Austin Electric, an engineering firm based in Essex, will begin next year to integrate them into thousands of electric vehicles.

In 2001, Jackson began investigating the potential of a technology first developed in the 1960s. Researchers had discovered that dipping aluminum in an electrolyte stimulated a reaction between the metal and the oxygen that produced electricity. They were, in other words, batteries of the future. At the time, the method was not sustainable because it required 100% pure aluminum, and the electrolyte used was extremely toxic and caustic.

After years of trials and experiments, Jackson found a new formula of electrolyte capable of operating even with less valuable aluminum (including recycled drinks cans), and moreover, neither caustic nor polluting.

“I’ve drunk it when demonstrating it to investors, so I can attest to the fact that it’s harmless,” Jackson says. The formula, which is top secret, is the key to his invention.

Today, the automotive industry that aims at electric cars has invested heavily in lithium-ion battery technology. Yes, there are improvements in efficiency and recharge times, but recycling to recover lithium and cobalt is very expensive.

Technically, Jackson’s invention is more correctly called a fuel cell, not a battery. The device has turned out so light and powerful that it is able to revolutionize carbon-free transport. Once an aluminum-air battery has been used up, it can be recycled very cheaply, he says.

The tests already carried out say that with the same weight, Jackson’s fuel cells produce nine times the energy of lithium-ion batteries. If you put it on the Tesla Model S, then the range of the electric car will increase from 600 km (370 miles) to 4300 km (2,700 miles) with an equal weight of batteries, and with an equal size – up to 2400 km (1,500 miles). A quick swap of battery (only 90 seconds) will eliminate many hours of recharging.

Now, Austin will start producing aluminum-air batteries according to Jackson’s recipe – first for tuk-tuks, three-wheeled Asian taxis, then for electric bicycles and, finally, kits for converting ordinary gas or diesel cars into electric ones.

In Tesla, Jackson says, the battery costs about £30,000. An aluminum-air fuel cell that would power the same car for longer would cost just £5,000, Daily Mail reported.

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