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The Race for Solar

Seychelles Undertakes World’s Largest Salt-Water Floating Solar Plant

April 17th 2020

Caribbean Sea Shore

Located in the Indian Ocean archipelago, and with a population of just 25,400 souls, Seychelles is putting together the world’s largest floating solar power plant on saltwater — a project currently being developed by a consortium of companies.

The five megawatts (MW) plant will be the first project led by an independent power producer (IPP) in Seychelles. According to the IRENA energy agency, the country currently has an installed 0.9 MW of solar capacity.

The solar plant will require 13,500 solar panels, which will be built across 40,000 square meters of water. Construction will begin in July on a lagoon on Mahé, the main island of the archipelagic nation.

The tender launched by the government in 2018 gave the best technical and financial score to the consortium made of Quadran Seychelles and local solar player VetiverTech. Upon completion, the installation will account for about 2% of total power generation in the island nation. Read more ..

The Race for EVs

European Electromobility Soars--Tesla Leads

March 30th 2020

Ford Focus electric

Sales of battery electric cars and plug-in hybrids rose by 44% year-on-year in 2019 to over 600,000 vehicles, according to McKinsey's investigations. This makes Europe's development stand out globally: In China, e-car sales rose by only 3% to 1.2 million units, while in the USA the market shrank by as much as 12% year-on-year to just over 300,000 cars. A total of 2.3 million e-cars were sold worldwide in 2019, 9% more than in 2018, enabling Europe to increase its global market share to over 25%; e-cars accounted for 2.8% of all new registrations in 2019.

Norway, as the most mature e-car market in Europe, retains the lead not only in China but also in the McKinsey Electric Vehicle Index (EVI), which is used by management consultants McKinsey & Company to regularly measure the development of e-mobility in the 15 most important countries.


The Race for Natural Gas

Nature Gas Companies Recycling Manure for Profit and Ecology

March 23rd 2020

Paraguay beef cattle

Companies in the U.S. natural gas industry have begun to scale up a program to sell methane that’s recycled from sources like hog-feeding farms and sewage plants as a replacement for natural gas drawn from wells.

It offers an opportunity to reduce a potent greenhouse gas while creating a source of revenue for the growing number of companies, cities and farmers becoming engaged in the budding process.

A “methane tracker” report released in January by the International Energy Agency calculated that the warming power of the invisible and hard-to-detect gas can be as high as 87 times more powerful than carbon dioxide during its first 20 years of life. The amount of methane circulating in the atmosphere is 2.5 times bigger than it was in the preindustrial age, the report said. Read more ..

The Race for EVs

Porsche Designs 5-minute Fast Charger

March 7th 2020

Electric car Israel

Porsche has developed its own fast charger technology for a 7MW charging park for electric vehicles (EVs) at its plant in Leipzig, central Germany,

The Porsche Turbo Charging park has six internal quick charging points developed by Porsche Engineering and can be used by any vehicle with a Combined Charging System (CCS2) connection. The 7MW capacity, provided entirely from renewable energy sources, makes it Europe's most powerful rapid-charging park.

Twelve rapid charging points with 350 kW (direct current) and four charging points with 22 kW (alternating current) are now in operation at the plant for customers of all vehicle brands. Read more ..

The Fukushima Disaster

Japan Panel Recommends Ocean Release for Contaminated Fukushima Water

February 4th 2020

Rad monitor Japan

A panel of experts advising Japan’s government on a disposal method for radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant on Friday recommended releasing it into the ocean, a move likely to alarm neighboring countries.

The panel under the industry ministry came to the conclusion after narrowing the choice to either releasing the contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean or letting it evaporate - and opted for the former. Based on past practice it is likely the government will accept the recommendation.

The build-up of contaminated water at Fukushima has been a sticking point in the clean-up, which is likely to last decades, especially as the Olympics are due to be held in Tokyo this summer with some events less than 60 km (35 miles) from the wrecked plant. Read more ..

The Race for Autonomous Vehicles

GM Cruise Introduces Utilitarian Electric Robo-Shuttle

January 27th 2020


General Motor's self-driving car subsidiary Cruise Automation (San Francisco, CA) has unveiled a self-driving electric-powered ride-sharing vehicle.

Similar in appearance to a small bus, the six-passenger Cruise Origin has no steering wheel or pedals, and offers a large area where two rows of three passengers face each other. It also features air bags, "Start Ride" buttons, an "SOS" button, and an interior camera, as well as an expected lifespan of over 1 million miles.

"It's not an improvement on the car," says Cruise CEO Dan Ammann. "It's completely different. It's not a product you buy. It's an experience.“

The Origin, says the company, is its first attempt at building a self-driving car entirely from the ground up - the result of reimagining transportation as if the traditional car had never existed.

"So, we removed the engine," says Ammann. "We removed the driver - who, more often than not, is tired, distracted, frustrated, and rushed. We removed the equipment that's there to support the driver, including the steering wheel, pedals, rearview mirrors, windshield wipers, and cramped seats."

"When we got rid of all that human-driver stuff, we traded it for something precious: space," says Ammann. "The Cruise Origin looks big. But in fact, it's no bigger than your average car. It's just more efficient, making full use of the space it takes up on the road."


The Race for Flying Cars

Toyota Soars in Air Taxi Business

January 20th 2020

Traffic Jam

The company has developed a quiet, all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, which it says will be instrumental in the commercial launch of the emerging on-demand urban air taxi market. Toyota will share its expertise in manufacturing, quality, and cost controls to support the development and production of the aircraft.

This support, says the company, along with the capital investment, will accelerate the certification and deployment of this new mode of local transportation.

"We are building a new system for transportation to transform your daily life, at greater safety and, in time, at a similar cost to driving," says Joby Aviation founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt. "This collaboration with Toyota represents an unprecedented commitment of money and resources for us and this new industry from one of the world's leading automakers. I am excited to harness Toyota's engineering and manufacturing prowess helping to drive us to achieve our dream of saving a billion people an hour a day."


The Race for Natural Gas

Israel Becomes an Energy Powerhouse

January 8th 2020

Gas Well Israel

The start of natural-gas flow from the Leviathan rig is a momentous achievement for the State of Israel.

For the first time, a resource-poor country can become an energy superpower. The export of natural gas to immediate neighbors Jordan and Egypt—and later exported via Cyprus and Greece—strengthens Israel’s geopolitical status both in the Middle East as well as the West.

In addition to formal peace alliances and security cooperation, Jordan and Egypt are turning to Israel to provide for their energy needs. In the past, Egypt exported gas to Israel. Israel already supplies Jordan with water. The cooperation is likely to lead further towards normalized ties with other Sunni Gulf states. Read more ..

The Race for Autonomous Vehicles

U.S. Postal Service to Test Self-driving Trucks

November 11th 2019

crash test dummy

Self-driving truck company TuSimple (San Diego, CA) has announced that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has awarded it a contract to test its autonomous technology as the government agency explores the feasibility of using autonomous delivery vehicle technology to reduce fuel costs, increase safe truck operation, and improve its fleet utilization rate through longer hours of operation.

Under the contract, TuSimple will perform five round trips, for a two-week pilot, hauling USPS trailers more than 1,000 miles between the Postal Service's Phoenix, Arizona, and Dallas, Texas distribution centers. As with other autonomous testing pilots, the truck will have humans aboard - a safety engineer and driver - during the pilot to monitor vehicle performance and to ensure public safety.


The Race for Natural Gas

Israel's Regional Natural Gas Prominence Expanding

November 7th 2019

Med Natural Gas

Energean Oil and Gas PLC, a British-Greek gas producer focused on the Mediterranean, said Monday in a press release, that its Karish North and Tanin fields revealed “significantly” larger than expected natural gas supplies.

“This is an excellent result from the Karish North appraisal sidetrack, confirming in place volumes in the top half of pre-drill estimates and increasing our recoverable volumes in Israel by 0.9 Tcf (25 BCM) of gas plus 34 million barrels of light oil or condensate,” Energean CEO Mathios Rigas said, according to the press release.

“Today’s news delivers upon another commitment that we had made to our shareholders, and the successful results allow us to continue our gas marketing efforts in the region with a goal to fully utilize the capacity of our 8 BCMA FPSO. Our focus now remains on closing the Edison E&P acquisition, in parallel with progressing the Karish development,” he continued. Read more ..

The Race for Maglev

China Builds 1000 km Maglev to Exceed 600 kmph

October 15th 2019

Shinkansen bullet train

The construction of a 1000 km long magnetic high-speed railway line for 600 km/h to 1000 km/h in the People's Republic of China is scheduled to begin as early as 2020.
The maglev technology is based on magnetic forces to elevate the train a few centimeters above the rail and to propel it. Since it does not involve any moving parts, it does not generate any friction. For this reason, trains can achieve very high speeds at higher power efficiency than conventional ones. The maglev technology was brought to series maturity in Europe in the 90s. It is not without irony that at this time it was strongly rejected by environmentalists, so that it could not be implemented anywhere.
According to official Chinese media, modern maglev trains between the cities of Guangzhou and Wuhan will initially run at a speed of 600 km/h. The trains will be equipped with a new technology, which will allow them to travel at a speed of 600 km/h.

The Race for EVs

Volkswagen Shifts to Next Gear in Electromobility

March 14th 2019

Electric car Israel

Safe Travel

US Set to Ban Lithium Batteries as Cargo on Passenger Aircraft

March 4th 2019


US regulators are set to formally ban passenger aircraft from carrying lithium ion batteries as cargo. Batteries in cargo aircraft will have to follow the rules of only a 30 per cent charge, a ruling that has been in force for the last year on an interim basis.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), issued the Interim Final Rule (IFR) to enhance air safety by revising the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) for lithium ion cells or batteries transported by aircraft.

“This rule will strengthen safety for the traveling public by addressing the unique challenges lithium batteries pose in transportation,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

This IFR prohibits the transport of lithium ion cells or batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft.  In addition, the IFR requires lithium ion cells and batteries to be shipped at not more than a 30 percent state of charge aboard cargo-only aircraft.


The Race for the Future Car

Battle for the Future Car is Coming to a Head

February 28th 2019

Tesla Car

The automotive industry is facing massive disruptions: Classic carmakers are increasingly competing with technology companies such as Apple, Alphabet, Baidu or Uber. This realization was not just established in the industry yesterday. The consulting and tech investment company GP Bullhound, however, is now giving precise figures based on a study of M&A activities in the automotive and technology sectors.

The report focuses on four key areas that, according to market observers at GP Bullhound, will significantly change the automotive sector over the next ten to fifteen years: Autonomous driving, e-mobility, shared mobility and connected cars. One result of the evaluation: Europe plays only a subordinate role with only 7 percent of the global M&A transaction volume - however, companies from Europe are responsible for more than a third (39 percent) of all worldwide transactions in the Autotech sector. In Europe, transactions are thus significantly smaller than on other continents.


The Race for Solar

Putting Solar Panels on Water Is a Great Idea—but Will It Float?

February 8th 2019

Hikers on Garfield Peak Trail, Crater Lake

Winemaker Greg Allen had a problem. As president of Far Niente Winery in Napa Valley, California, he had done the math on how much land the vineyard could possibly dedicate to solar panels, to offset energy costs. The figure—about two acres—“really hurt,” Allen says. So he compromised: Far Niente completed an array of 2,296 solar panels, 994 of which float on pontoons tethered to the bottom of the winery’s pond. The installation was the world’s first nonexperimental floating solar array.

That was in 2008. Since then floating photovoltaics have proliferated in Asia—yet not so much in the U.S. Japan has more than 60 installations, the most of any country in the world. China, a bourgeoning giant in renewable energy, claims the world’s largest array. Read more ..

The Edge of Oil

Houston Energy Sector Heads into a ‘Kind of Purgatory’

January 14th 2019

Oil Barrels 400px

The state of the Houston energy sector might be summed up in one word: Meh.

Oil prices are hovering around $50 a barrel, not high enough to spur much growth, but not so low that panic sets in. As a result, the region’s oil and gas companies are mostly watching and waiting, spending conservatively, moving ahead cautiously and holding onto what’s left of the optimism from 2018, when prices mostly rose until cratering in the last three months of the years.

“This is a kind of purgatory,” said Mike Bradley, managing director at the Houston energy investment firm Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. “But at least it’s not death and despair.”


The Race for EVs

Germany Secures Access to World's Largest Lithium Deposit

December 11th 2018

Toyota Prius PHEV

With the expansion of electric mobility, the demand for batteries - and thus for the basic material lithium - is increasing steeply. The market is largely dominated by China, but the largest deposits of lithium worldwide can be found in Bolivia. A Bolivian-German joint venture is to secure access to this valuable material for the German automotive industry.

With the planned establishment of a public-private joint venture between the Bolivian state enterprise Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB) and the German ACI Systems Alemania GmbH (ACISA), Germany is to gain access to this important, non-domestic raw material. Bolivia will be responsible for the industrialization of lithium and thus will enable the development of the economy.


The Race for Solar

Researchers Achieve Highest Certified Efficiency Of Organic Solar Cells To Date

November 13th 2018

Solar Array

Materials scientists at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) report a new record in the performance of organic, non-fullerene-based single stack solar cells. Through optimization, together with partners from the South China University of Technology (SCUT), they achieved a certified energy efficiency of 12.25 percent on an area of one square centimeter. This standardized area forms the preliminary stage for prototype production.

Organic solar cells usually consist of two layers of semiconductors - one acts as a donor, the other as an acceptor. In contrast to conventional silicon, which is produced using a great deal of energy, the polymer layers can be transferred from a solution directly onto a carrier film. On the one hand, this means comparatively low production costs and, on the other hand, the flexible modules can be used more versatilely in urban areas than silicon cells. For a long time, fullerenes, carbon-based nanoballs, were regarded as ideal acceptors, but the intrinsic losses in fullerene-based composites limit the efficiency potential too much. The FAU has therefore made a paradigm shift: Together with their Chinese partners, the scientists found a new organic molecule that absorbs more light than fullerenes; in addition, it is very durable.


The Race for Ethanol

Trump Moves To Allow More Ethanol In Gas With E15 Available Year-Round

October 18th 2018

Broken Road

After months of false starts, President Donald Trump will tell Iowans on Tuesday during a campaign rally in Council Bluffs that he's opening the door to year-round access to gasoline with higher ethanol blends.

A senior White House official said Monday that Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency to begin rule-making that allows for year-round use of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol or E15.

The announcement sets off a review that could make E15 available to consumers as soon as next summer.

In addition, the president will seek reforms to biofuels credit trading the White House says will provide greater transparency and help reduce volatility in the market. Read more ..

The Race for BioFuel

Algae as Biofuel Hold Powerful Potential

October 5th 2018


With $2 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, University of Michigan researchers aim to make the long-touted promise of algae as a biofuel source for diesel engines into a reality.

Their goal: create biofuels that work with existing diesel engines and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent, compared with normal diesel fuels.

To do that, they will work with colleagues at Penn State University on a three-year project to perform an end-to-end evaluation of how best to grow algae, transform it into a diesel fuel and maximize its performance during the combustion process.


The Race for Hydrogen

Autonomous Zero Carbon Hydrogen Aviation Program Launches In France

September 24th 2018

Runway lights

A developer of high performance hydrogen fuel cell propulsion systems for aerial platforms, HES Energy Systems is announced its expansion to France to begin work on the first decentralized hydrogen infrastructure for autonomous fuel cell powered aerial vehicles.

The move is part of HES’ broader goals to introduce long range zero emission aviation powered by renewable hydrogen, the most energy dense element in the universe. Thinking big yet starting small, the same company that started introducing its range-extending propulsion technology to small drones several years ago, is now evolving towards manned aerial platforms, such as flying cars and inter-urban electric aircraft.

A developer of high performance hydrogen fuel cell propulsion systems for aerial platforms, HES Energy Systems is announced its expansion to France to begin work on the first decentralized hydrogen infrastructure for autonomous fuel cell powered aerial vehicles.

The Race for Batteries

The Battle for Lithium

September 17th 2018

Traffic Jam

The battle to secure supplies of lithium for batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage is heating up.In order to meet the demand predicted in 2025, producers need to build a supply of approximately 500,000 tonnes of lithium - three times more than today's production, says a new infographics from market researchers IHS Markit. With an average capex of 16,000US$ per ton, the industry requires an investment of $7bn to $8bn during the next 10 years.

The main cost component of an EV is its battery pack. Battery costs for EVs decreased from around $900 per kWh in 2010 to approximately $200 per kWh in 2017, a drop of 80% as volume increases. Grid-connected batteries for energy storage will grow 16-fold between 2017 and 2025.


The Race for EVs

Electric Vehicles’ Day Will Come, and It Might Come Suddenly

September 13th 2018

Electric car Israel

This week, California’s state legislature approved a bill requiring the state to get 100 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources by the year 2045. It’s a landmark for power sector decarbonization, and if Governor Jerry Brown signs the bill, it will require a transformation of the state’s energy system.

California already gets 29 percent of its electricity from zero-carbon wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy, and it has already reduced statewide greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels. As I highlighted in July, though, emissions in the state’s biggest emitting sector, transportation, have barely budged this century.

That’s why the state’s electric vehicle market is increasingly important, and worth a close look. Read more ..

The Racve for Smart Highways

Self-driving Cars Need Ground Penetrating Radar, says WaveSense

September 3rd 2018

Broken Road

The pitch: current systems exclusively rely on above ground sensors like GPS, lidar and cameras to identify the exact position of the vehicle, but those can be confused and handicapped by poor visibility issues and adverse weather conditions such as snow, heavy rain, fog, sand and dust. But more reliable and stable data can be tapped beneath the road's surface where unique subsurface textures can be mapped and leveraged to accurately position a car on a track, regardless of the weather conditions and visibility above ground.

The technology, initially developed by researchers at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory for military applications (accurately detecting and mapping mines and other sub-surface explosives) is described by WaveSense's CTO and co-founder Byron Stanley in a 2015 paper "Localizing Ground Penetrating RADAR: A Step Toward Robust Autonomous Ground Vehicle Localization" published in the Journal of Field robotics. Read more ..

The Race for Renewables

Facebook Vows to Run on 100 Percent Renewable Energy by 2020

August 28th 2018

oil seed field

Facebook announced today that it’s reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent and will make its operations run on 100 percent renewable energy by the end of 2020. These efforts are part of its pledge to combat climate change.

The company has signed contracts for more than 3 gigawatts of new solar and wind energy since it began such efforts in 2013, it writes in a blog post. These wind and solar projects are built on the same grid as Facebook data centers, including centers in Oregon, Virginia, New Mexico, and Sweden. Facebook says that it has met its 2015 goal to support 50 percent of its facilities with renewable energy by 2018 early: last year, it reached 51 percent renewable energy.


The Race for Solar

Siemens Works for African Solar Microgrid Projects

July 3rd 2018

Sunrise or Sunset

Siemens has teamed up with Berlin-based systems developer Solarkiosk to boost connectivity across Africa.

The two signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to use the Solarkiosk’s solar energy technology in non-electrified parts of rural Africa for connection gateways.

Solarkiosk has deployed more than 250 projects in twelve countries serving around 5 million people. It’s solar powered E-HUBB is the business centrepiece for a rural "off-grid" village providing retail and energy related services such as charging (mobile phones, batteries, lights), internet connectivity, cooling of products and medication, water purification, copy, print or scan, financial inclusion services as well as news and entertainment to local communities.


The Digital Age

8 Gigabit Data Connection to Aircraft Successfully Tested

May 17th 2018

airplanes shadows

Internet access in passenger airplanes today is expensive and not really high-performance. Really fast Internet for passenger is available nowhere yet; passengers can only dream of accessing online videos and music streams. Scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now succeeded for the first time in establishing a data link to an 8 GB/s aircraft. Is the fast Internet for airplane passengers coming now?

The researchers achieved the data rate of 8 GB/s by using the frequency range between 71 and 76 GHz for an air-to-ground radio link. In this frequency range, large bandwidths are available to achieve multi-gigabit data rates, and this frequency band has recently been released by the authorities for such purposes. With the technology developed, both broadband Internet and video-on-demand could be available in passenger aircraft in the future.


The Race for EVs

Wireless Recharging EVs on the Go

April 8th 2018

Traffic Jam

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder (Boulder, CO) have developed a proof of concept for wireless power transfer that could potentially allow electric vehicles to be charged while they are moving.

The researchers' wireless power concept is based on transferring electrical energy through electric fields at very high frequencies. Future electric vehicles, they envision, could be able to recharge while driving down the highway by drawing wireless power directly from low-cost charging plates installed in the road.

Most electric vehicles today can only travel between 100 and 250 miles on a single charge, and charging stations are still far from ubiquitous in the U.S., requiring drivers to carefully plan their trips. That problem, say the researchers, could go away with this technology.


The Race for EVs

Smart Charger Connects Solar Panels Directly to EVs

April 2nd 2018

Toyota Prius PHEV

The team worked with Power Research Electronics and Last Mile Solutions, funded by the Dutch Urban Energy Top Consortium (TKI Urban Energy).

Solar panels produce direct current (DC) and this normally has to be converted to alternating current (AC) before it can charge an electric car. The team developed a two-way 10kW direct charger using silicon carbide FETs and quasi-resonant technology which results in a high efficiency of over 96% for both full load and partial load and is a third the size of a conventional AC charger.  

“Charging stations are currently using the 50Hz AC network to exchange power between the solar panels and the vehicle,” said Chandra Mouli at TU Delft. “However, this is not efficient or cost-effective, for two reasons. Firstly, converting to AC results in unnecessary steps and loss. And, secondly, it requires two separate DC-AC converters, one for the vehicle and one for the solar panels, resulting in increased costs and dimensions.”


The Race for EVs

New Lithium Air Battery Design Promises up to 5x Energy Boost

March 26th 2018

Ford Focus electric

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory has produced a design for a lithium-air battery that could have five times the energy capacity of today’s lithium ion batteries.

“Others have tried to build lithium-air battery cells that run on air, but they failed because of little cycle life,” said Larry Curtiss, co-principal investigator and Argonne Distinguished Fellow. Previous battery cells tested in the lab required a separate supply of pure oxygen, requiring a tank of oxygen gas would have to be part of the battery system. A lithium-air battery that uses air from outside eliminates this problem.

“This first demonstration of a true lithium-air battery is an important step toward what we call ‘beyond-lithium-ion’ batteries,” said Amin Salehi-Khojin, assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


The Race for Smart Roads

Smart Road Stud System Makes Driving Safer

March 7th 2018

Broken Road

Just as skin is the body’s largest organ, roads are the earth’s largest infrastructure, covering a total of 30 million kilometers (8 million miles) worldwide.

And yet only 4 percent of the world’s roads are outfitted with sensors to convey critical data such as traffic patterns, hazardous conditions, driver behavior and accidents. That’s because it costs about $3 million per mile today to make roads “smart.”

“When it comes to data, roads are the final frontier. The main problem is the need for very expensive communication cables, cameras, patrols and control centers,” says Gabriel Jacobson, CEO of Valerann an Israeli and British company whose cloud-based road digitization system aims to change all that by slashing current costs by as much as 90%. Read more ..

The Race for Natural Gas

Will the Eastern Mediterranean Become a World Center for the Natural Gas?

February 28th 2018

Med Natural Gas

The deal just concluded between Nobel Energy from Texas and Israeli Delek group on the one hand, and Egyptian private company Dolphinus on the other, to provide Egypt with 64 billion cubic meters of gas for a total of $15 billion over a period of 10 years may well turn out to be the first sign that the Mediterranean is about to become a world hub of gas trade.

According to United States Geological Survey estimates, huge reserves of gas can be found in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea: some 325 trillion cubic feet or 9.2 trillion cubic meters—more than all known U.S. reserves. Regional disputes, however, are likely to hinder exploration and exploitation. Read more ..

The Race for Natural Gas

$15 Billion of Israeli Natural Gas to be Sold to Egypt in Landmark Deal

February 20th 2018


The operators of Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan offshore natural gas fields have announced a landmark $15 billion, 10-year deal to sell the gas to Egypt.

Israeli-based Delek Drilling and U.S.-based Noble Energy announced that it has signed two agreements with Egypt’s Dolphin Energy worth an estimated $15 billion.

According to the terms of the deal, Delek and Noble will supply Egypt with about 7 billion cubic meters of gas annually, with half coming from the already operating Tamar field and the other half from the Leviathan field, which plans to begin operations next year. The companies are looking at various options to transfer the gas, including an eastern Mediterranean pipeline or a Pan-Arabian pipeline via Jordan. Commenting on the agreement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the deal as “historic.” Read more ..

The Race for EVs

Is EU planning to Promote Batteries for EVs?

February 15th 2018

EU flag

The EU is pushing the pace of developing powerful batteries for electric cars. The EU Commission intends to present a concrete strategy shortly.

We in Europe want to be competitive not only on our own market, but also worldwide, "said EU Energy Commissioner Maros Sefcovic earlier this week after a "Battery Summit" in Brussels, attended by representatives of other EU countries, including Germany's Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Matthias Machnig. At the end of next week, the Commission intends to present a strategy, Sefcovic said according to media reports.

Machnig said in Brussels that the automotive industry has undergone the deepest changes since its beginnings. In the past, the economy of the EU has been competitive because it leads the way in combustion engines. However, battery cells and modules are central to e-mobility. Those who think they can just buy these batteries are blind or even naïve, Sefcovic said. For this reason, European companies must work together across national borders.


The Race for Wind

World's Largest Offshore Wind Farm Might Rise Off Netherlands

January 14th 2018

Wind Turbine

The Netherlands has a highly ambitious renewable-energy plan in the works.

The country hopes to build the world's largest offshore wind farm by 2027, along with a 2.3-square-mile artificial island to support it.

As The Guardian notes, the farm would sit at Dogger Bank, a windy and shallow site 78 miles off the East Yorkshire coast. It would deliver power to the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and later Belgium, Germany, and Denmark.

Offshore wind farms typically use expensive underwater cables that convert the turbines' electric current into a type that electricity grids can use. TenneT's island, however, would house equipment that would perform this conversion on-site, thereby allowing the farm to send electricity directly to the UK and Netherlands via less pricey cables.

According to TenneT, the Dutch electric company spearheading the project, putting additional equipment on the island would also allow the team to operate more turbines at a lower cost — and thus generate more power — than a traditional offshore wind farm.

Though the cost of offshore wind power is often higher than onshore (without subsidies), the approach can be advantageous, since winds tend to blow harder and more consistently in the ocean.

The Dutch wind farm would be capable of producing 30 gigawatts of power — more than double the amount of offshore wind power installed across Europe today.


The Race for Batteries

Salt and Water Could Make a Cheap Battery

January 11th 2018


Water could form the basis for affordable rechargeable batteries in the future. Scientists at the Swiss material research institution EMPA have succeeded in doubling the electrochemical stability of water with a special salt solution. This brings economic use of the technology closer.

Looking for safe, affordable batteries for the future, the question is: Why don't we just use water as electrolyte? Water is inexpensive, available everywhere, does not burn and can conduct ions. However, water has a decisive disadvantage: it is chemically stable only up to a voltage difference of 1.23 V. A water cell therefore supplies three times less voltage than a standard lithium-ion cell with 3.7 volts, which is why it would hardly be suitable for applications in an electric car. For stationary power storage applications, however, a cost-effective water-based battery could become interesting.

 Ruben-Simon Kühnel and David Reber, researchers in Empa's Materials for Energy Conversion department, have now discovered a way to solve the problem: The salt containing electrolyte has to be liquid, but at the same time it has to be so highly concentrated that it does not contain any "excess" water.


The Race for EVs

BMW Makes Its Electric Cars More Agile – With A Simple Design Trick

January 4th 2018

Electric plug and car

Starting with the new “s” version BMW's electric vehicle i3 has become considerably more agile and powerful. This is not only because BMW has given the car a stronger engine. But also at because a design trick for the electronics.

The new BMW i3s with its 135 kW electric motor offers a torque of 270 Nm from the standstill. But the traction system can do more than just get going: In adverse weather and road conditions, it increases traction and driving stability when starting off, in braking energy recovery mode and when accelerating from tight corners. The innovation is based on a control system that is 50 times faster than earlier versions. The BMW engineers achieved this performance increase mainly with a simple trick: They installed the driving stability systems for calculating the control process directly in the drive unit - normally these algorithms run in a remote ECU. The installation significantly shortens the signal paths and thus the dead times in the control loop.

BMW did not disclose details about the necessary design changes to the control electronics. It is clear, however, that the developers had to master a number of challenges for this measure, because when placed directly on the engine, the electronics have to be immunised against the strong electromagnetic interference fields of the engine; furthermore, the heating of the drive module requires additional cooling measures for the electronics.


The Race for EVs

Scotland to 'Phase Out' New Petrol and Diesel Cars by 2032

January 2nd 2018

new cars close up

The Scottish government has pledged to phase out new petrol and diesel cars and vans across Scotland by 2032, eight years ahead of the UK Government target.

Nicola Sturgeon outlined plans to "massively expand" charging points and set up pilot projects to encourage uptake of electric vehicles.

The SNP leader also said there were plans to make the A9 Scotland's first fully electric-enabled road and that an innovation fund would be set up to encourage climate-change solutions such as charging vehicles in areas with a high concentration of tenements.

“Our aim is for new petrol and diesel cars and vans to be phased out in Scotland by 2032,” Ms Sturgeon said. In July, Britain said it would halt the production of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 to cut pollution. The plans replicate those already made by France and cities such as Madrid, Mexico City and Athens.


The Race for EVs

Superfast StoreDot Batteries Advance Superfast EV Charging

December 27th 2017

Ford Focus electric

The truck division of Daimler AG has led a $60 million invest round in StoreDot Ltd. (Herzeliya, Israel), a developer of peptide-based quantum dots founded in 2011.

The funding brings the amount raised to more than $125 million and includes participation of financial institutions from Israel and China, as well as existing investors such as Samsung Ventures and Norma Investments, representing Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club.

Daimler will become a strategic partner of StoreDot and work with the company on fast-charging for electric vehicles. Samsung took a similar strategic position with StoreDot in 2013 to work on batteries for smartphones ( Samsung spots startup's quantum-dot potential ). It is not known that the technology has yet produced any exploitable results for Samsung.


The Race for Autonomous Cars

Autonomous Car for Winter in Development in Finland

December 21st 2017


Autonomous driving is already a challenging thing on normal, dry roads. It is even more so on ice-covered, slippery road. Where else could engineers face this challenge than in Finland? And so Martti, the first automated car to drive autonomously on a snow-covered road is the product of researchers from the VTT Research Centre of Finland.

Martti is a research vehicle developed on the chassis of Volkswagen Touareg. Like its counterpart Marilyn, it is equipped with cameras, antennas, sensors and laser scanners. The number and placement of sensors differs between the vehicles. For example, Martti has three laser scanners sensing the environment only in front of the car, whereas its spouse Marilyn has two scanners looking forwards and one looking backwards.

“When in spring 2017 we taught Marilyn to drive autonomously, this autumn it has been teaching us on how to make Martti such that it can get along with its spouse, and follow GPS and positioning information on its route. Martti has been designed for demanding weather conditions and Marilyn shines as the queen of urban areas,” says project manager Matti Kutila from VTT’s RobotCar Crew, describing the couple.


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