I am no expert on climate change
But I know one thing for sure
Unless we stop burning fossil fuels, the planet’s condition is not going to improve.
We all can turn vegan, segregate our waste, use less plastic, take only public transportation- but all these would only take us so far.
Unless we replace fossil fuels with alternative energy sources, we will not see the real difference.
Here are some excerpts from the recent IPCC report, highlighting the impact of fossil fuels on climate change-
The main human influence on the climate is combustion of fossil fuels and land-use-change-related-CO2 emissions, the principal causes of increased CO2 concentrations since the pre-industrial period.
There is high confidence that this recent growth [in methane emissions] is largely driven by fossil fuel exploitation, livestock, and waste.
Fossil fuel combustion for energy, industry and land transportation are the largest contributing sectors on a 100-year time scale.
Fossil fuel combustion is responsible for 64 percent of the increase in human-caused carbon dioxide emissions since 1750, and responsible for 86 percent of emission growth over the last 10 years.
So this week, I’ve focused on 3 startups that are harnessing wind energy in unique ways
Why so tall?… When we think of wind energy, the first thing that comes to mind are those tall wind turbines. One of the recent models designed to work offshore stands 728 feet tall, with each blade nearly as long as three space shuttles. Wind turbines are tall because the wind velocity at higher altitudes is many times higher than at ground level. And faster wind translates to more energy extraction. But taller wind turbines means higher cost too.
Wind energy of the future…In a wind turbine, the tips of the blades are the part that receives the most energy. The remaining parts are just a supporting structure. So what if we take the most important part and remove everything else? That’s what KiteKraft is doing via its power-generating kites. They are a sophisticated version of toy kites and are designed like aircraft wings capable of flying in most conditions.
The autonomous flying kite consists of 8 small rotors onboard that are driven by wind.
Energy is generated through them and then is sent down a thin tether back to the ground.
This energy is then fed into the grid or stored in batteries.
Let’s talk advantages…The height at which the kite flies can be modified to attain the best results in different weather conditions. These kites require 10 times less material than a typical wind turbine, bringing down the cost and the carbon footprint of manufacturing the system. Also, they generate electricity at roughly the same cost as coal-fired power stations.
Need more wind…The higher the speed of winds, the more energy wind turbines can extract. As the wind turbines are located onshore, they are dependent on the onshore winds. But oceans contain the largest energy resource on the planet in the form of offshore winds. The estimated potential of deepwater offshore wind in Europe, the US and Japan are 7,000GW. This is 14x of the current global installed capacity of onshore wind!
Is that even possible?… But how can we mount wind farms on the water to tap offshore energy? Barcelona-based startup X1 Wind is tapping the offshore wind. It’s building a floating offshore platform. This is not a new concept, but their simplified lighter platforms are disrupting the multi-billion pound offshore wind industry.
Their floating buoy technology self-aligns with the sea breeze.
This reduces the weight and helps to minimize installation and maintenance costs- which are significant in the case of offshore wind energy.
The turbine blades are designed in a way that they bend away, making them lighter, longer and cheaper.
Almost there…In 2020, they received €4 million in Horizon 2020 to deploy PivotBuoy – a novel, single point mooring system platform which could significantly reduce the cost of floating offshore wind. X1 wind would be deploying this along with 8 other partners at a test site off the shores of the Canary Islands.
Shipping secrets…80% of the global trade happens through ocean shipping. The fossil-fuelled cargo ships have a grim carbon reality- they account for 2.2% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Sounds small? Well, if ocean shipping were a country, it would be the sixth-largest carbon emitter. The carbon released by these ships is worsening climate change- making the oceans more acidic and impacting biodiversity. If no measures are taken, these emissions would more than double by 2050.
Finnish cleantech startup…Norsepower is developing the world’s first renewable energy-powered vessel technology. It is doing so by bringing sailing back to shipping. In 1922, Anton Flettner first patented the Flettner rotor which harnessed the Magnus effect using a vertically rotating, deck-mounted cylinder to provide propulsive energy for the ships.
The Norsepower Rotor Sail Solution is a modernized version of this Flettner rotor.
These Rotor Sails can be installed on new vessels or retrofitted on existing ships without requiring the vessel to be out of service. (images below)
The automated solution detects whenever the wind is strong enough, at which point the rotor sails start automatically.
Here’s a great video explaining how it works-
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