Solar roads – is that even possible?

Originally posted on Make Wealth History:

Last week I wrote about ‘smart roads‘, an idea to upgrade Europe’s highways into something more user-friendly and less damaging to the environment. Here’s another idea for using our roadways, one that’s even more radical – solar roads.

That video is from a couple of years ago, and since making it, husband and wife inventors Scott and Julie Brusaw have in fact developed their concept. They’ve researched and exhaustively tested a glass tough enough to drive on. They’ve created a modular hexagon-based road system, fitted with solar panels and LEDs, with channels either side for drainage and maintenance. They’ve built a test site on their own driveway, and now they want to scale it up further.

solar roads

It’s hard to imagine that covering every road in America with solar panels will ever be economic, but I can see how it would be a useful technology for car parks, motorway…

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China Now Makes Half Of Everything

Originally posted on Carbon Counter:

I wrote last week about how rapidly China’s energy and emissions have grown in the last decade. But how about materials production?

Here is a new rule of thumb: if humans make something, then China probably makes at least half of it. To check how precise this rule of thumb is I spent an hour or so producing the chart below (using USGS stats). This shows what percentage of each of the world’s most important materials reported by USGS is made in China.


As you can see it is roughly half or more for almost everything.

Of course if we are simply thinking in terms of weight and energy required for production, materials are dominated by cement, steel and aluminium.

So, the rule of thumb holds very well. And is likely to hold very well for a long time, unless China sees an economic contraction.

This all raises an obvious question. Has a single country…

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Word on the Street: Coal is Dead

Originally posted on Climate Denial Crock of the Week:

But then, technically, so are zombies.

Christian Science Monitor:

The Supreme Court upheld Tuesday a 2011 federal rule governing the amount of air pollution some states can let drift across their borders into their downwind neighbors. The 6-2 ruling is a win for the Obama administration, which has leveraged executive powers to curb pollutants from the nation’s power sector. Under Tuesday’s ruling, some 28 Midwestern and Southern states will have to cut emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide from coal-fired power plants.

Supporters of the law cheered the ruling, saying it would protect millions of Americans from pollutants that have been linked to public-health issues. Critics of the White House’s climate action plan have likened it to a “war on coal,” threatening an industry that supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s electricity.

Coal’s outlook remains bright abroad, where it is largely fueling developing economies, and new technologies could make…

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Financial Times: Ukraine Stand-off Aids Case for Renewables

Originally posted on Climate Denial Crock of the Week:

Financial Times:

But the idea that Russia could threaten to turn off Europe’s gas is likely to change the way people think about the cost of renewable energy, some analysts say.

“It creates a different mindset about renewables,” says offshore wind analyst, Sophia von Waldow, of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance research group. “People no longer think, ‘This is very expensive and it’s affecting our energy bills’.” Instead, they start to see the benefits of having an independent source of electricity, she adds

Offshore wind power companies are among the most likely beneficiaries of such a shift in opinion, if it lasts.

Offshore wind is newer and more expensive than the two leading renewable technologies, onshore wind or solar power, meaning it will rely on subsidies for longer than its older counterparts.

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