Each Monday Nikolas Badminton, Futurist Speaker, shares the top energy revolution stories that have been revealed to the world in the past week.
In Energy Revolutions – Algae Biofuel we look at the trends that we should be aware of today, January 16th, 2016. We see Saudi investing in renewables and nuclear (that part’s sad), companies in Canada looking at storage solutions, the UK’s first 100% renewable offer, and algae biofuel.
Biofuel matchmaker: Finding the perfect algae for renewable energy
A new, approximately $6-million collaborative project is using this unique climate-simulating laboratory system as part of a new streamlined process to quickly pare down heaps of algae species into just a few that hold the most promise for renewable fuels.
Discovering which algae species is best suited to make biofuel is no small task. Researchers have tried to evaluate algae in test tubes, but often find lab results don’t always mirror what happens when green goo is grown in outdoor ponds.
The Algae DISCOVR Project — short for Development of Integrated Screening, Cultivar Optimization and Validation Research — is trying out a new approach that could reduce the cost and the time needed to move promising algal strains from the laboratory and into production. At the end of the three-year pilot project, scientists hope to identify four promising strains from at least 30 initial candidates.
“Algae biofuel is a promising clean energy technology, but the current production methods are costly and limit its use,” said the project’s lead researcher, Michael Huesemann of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “The price of biofuel is largely tied to growth rates. Our method could help developers find the most productive algae strains more quickly and efficiently.”
Read more at Science Daily
Saudi to launch $30-50 billion renewable energy program soon: minister
Saudi Arabia will launch in coming weeks a renewable energy program that is expected to involve investment of between $30 billion and $50 billion by 2023, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Monday.
Falih, speaking at an energy industry event in Abu Dhabi, said Riyadh would in the next few weeks start the first round of bidding for projects under the program, which would produce 10 gigawatts of power.
In addition to that program, Riyadh is in the early stages of feasibility and design studies for its first two commercial nuclear reactors, which will total 2.8 gigawatts, he said.
Read more at Reuters
Companies increasing energy storage developments as renewables grow
The rise of renewable power has created a need for energy storage that companies are fulfilling with underwater balloons, multi-tonne flywheels and decades-old designs.
“Where renewables go, storage will follow,” said John Wright, project manager at Northland Power.
The need for energy storage comes from the temporary and sometimes unpredictable nature of renewable energy. The wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine.
Power companies and utilities have been looking to compensate for that with what amount to giant batteries and smooth out delivery, storing energy in times of low demand and distributing it when demand is high.
Read more at Times Colonist
Fischer Energy joins UK retail market with 100% renewable offer
The ranks of the 40-plus energy companies jostling for householders’ business will swell on Monday with the launch of a new supplier that delivers electricity from windfarms.
Fischer Energy hopes to sign up 40,000 customers in the first year to its single variable tariff, with renewable power bought from Denmark’s Dong Energy.
The new entrant arrives less than two months after the collapse of another small supplier, GB Energy UK. Experts have raised concerns that the retail energy market is approaching saturation point and question the wisdom of consumers signing up for a variable tariff at a time of rising wholesale prices.
Keith Bastian, Fischer’s chief executive, said he had been motivated to start the company because of the inequality of multiple tariffs, and that offering a single tariff would reduce confusion.
“That will in effect put the customer first,” he said. “They can buy the energy knowing it’ll be a fair price. It won’t be the cheapest, we can’t guarantee that, but it will be fair.”
Read more at The Guardian
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.