Energy Revolutions – Mmmmm, Atomic Sandwiches

Posted By on November 14, 2016

Each Monday Nikolas Badminton, Futurist Speaker, shares the top-5 energy revolution stories that have been revealed to the world in the past week.

In Energy Revolutions – Mmmmm, Atomic Sandwiches we look at the trends that we should be aware of today, November 14th, 2016. We see efficient ‘atomic sandwiches’, low-cost wind-generated electricity, Britain ditches coal power by 2025, kinetic tiles in Las Vegas, and the Asian Super Grid.

‘Atomic sandwiches’ could make computers 100X greener

Researchers have engineered a material that could lead to a new generation of computing devices, packing in more computing power while consuming a fraction of the energy that today’s electronics require.

Known as a magnetoelectric multiferroic material, it combines electrical and magnetic properties at room temperature and relies on a phenomenon called “planar rumpling.”

The new material sandwiches together individual layers of atoms, producing a thin film with magnetic polarity that can be flipped from positive to negative or vice versa with small pulses of electricity. In the future, device-makers could use this property to store digital 0’s and 1’s, the binary backbone that underpins computing devices.

“Before this work, there was only one other room-temperature multiferroic whose magnetic properties could be controlled by electricity,” said John Heron, assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan, who worked on the material with researchers at Cornell University. “That electrical control is what excites electronics makers, so this is a huge step forward.”

Read more at University of Michigan

Vattenfall wins Kriegers Flak with record €49.90/MWh

Swedish utility Vattenfall won a bid in the tender for the giant 600MW Kriegers Flak array off Denmark with a bid of €49.90 ($55.34) per megawatt hour, the lowest-ever achieved in offshore wind.

“The announcement is an essential milestone for our ambition to increase our production of renewable power. We are already the second largest offshore player globally,” Vattenfall chief executive Magnus Hall said.

“The winning bid of €49,9 per MWh proves that Vattenfall is highly competitive and brings down the costs for renewable energy.”

Located over 132 square kilometres of the Baltic Sea, the offshore array will be Denmark’s largest – completed, the park will contribute around 7% of Denmark’s electricity production.

After Vattenfall’s winning the tender for the 350MW Danish near-shore project in September, this morning’s result is the company’s second major victory in as many months and adds to its reputation for smashing down prices.

Read more at Recharge News

Britain say it will ditch coal power by 2025

“Our relatively inefficient and aging fleet of coal power stations is not sustainable in the long-term,” said secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Greg Clark in a statement. “Nearly all of the remaining coal stations in Great Britain are operating beyond their original design life—and without substantial spending on extending their lives even further most are likely to close in the next few years.”

It’s cheaper, then, to fund renewables. The plan is to take coal offline in a controlled way, so that the country’s growing power needs do not go unmet, and the people working at the power stations won’t find themselves without work at short notice. To help, £290 million ($360 million) will be made available to for renewable energy projects. These contract auctions are expected to result in enough power for a million homes, and to bring down the cost of renewables. As an example, offshore wind power prices are now 25% lower than they were during the last auction.

Even if this phase-out had not been planned, admits the government in its paper, the U.K.’s coal plants would probably close by 2022 anyway, “due to economic factors.” This makes the push for a replacement urgent, and inevitable. Still, the government deserves some credit for looking to wind and solar, at least, even the the wind is blowing in that direction already.

Read more at FastCo Exist

Las Vegas gets “kinetic tiles” that power lights with foot traffic

A New York-based startup called EnGoPlanet has installed four streetlights in a plaza off the Las Vegas Strip that are powered exclusively by solar and kinetic energy. The installations aren’t mere streetlights though—they also power a variety of environmental monitors, support video surveillance, and, for the masses, offer USB ports for device charging.

The streetlights are topped by a solar panel crest, and have “kinetic tiles” on the ground below them. These panels reportedly can generate 4 to 8 watts from people walking on them, depending on the pressure of the step. The renewable energy is then collected by a battery for use at night. The solar-plus-kinetic energy design is useful on those rare Vegas days without too much sun—as long as there is still plenty of foot traffic.

The four streetlights have a host of sensors that collect information, and details on what kind of information is collected are sparse. In EnGoPlanet’s promotional video, a quick slide lists the streetlights’ additional capabilities: environmental monitoring, air quality monitoring, video surveillance, and the ever-vague “smart analytics.” If the bright side of progress is more environmentally-friendly streetlights, the dark side is that as you replace those old analog streetlights you get the addition of video surveillance from a private company.

Read more at Arstechnica

Asian Super Grid: China, Japan, South Korea, And Russia Plan To Power The World


Nikolas Badminton is a world-respected futurist speaker that researches, speaks, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how workers are adapting, the sharing economy, and how the world is evolving. He appears at conferences in Canada, USA, UK, and Europe. Email him to book him for your radio, TV show, or conference.


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