January 5, 2014 3:44 pm
Atlantis joins latest wave to list on Aim
By Pilita Clark in London
A Singapore company that plants large underwater windmills in the seabed to generate electricity is heading to the London Stock Exchange to raise money in the latest sign of activity in the tidal energy industry.
Atlantis Resources hopes to garner up to £20m from an initial public offering on London’s Aim market, around half of which would fund its flagship MeyGen tidal project on the northern tip of Scotland, one of Europe’s biggest proposed tidal power schemes.
The company initially plans to install four 1.5 megawatt turbines by the second half of 2015, each around 25m in height, to generate power from the rise and fall of the tides between the Scottish mainland and the nearby island of Stroma.
It has approval to put in a total of 86MW of generating capacity in the first phase of the scheme, enough to power 42,000 Scottish homes each year, but hopes to eventually install far more.
The tidal energy industry is still immature compared with the wind and solar power sectors that have boomed in the past decade as countries have started subsidising renewable energy to cut the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change.
However, a number of big engineering companies, including Siemens of Germany and France’s Alstom, have started snapping up smaller tidal groups over the past two years, amid forecasts that tidal energy will eventually become a far more popular form of renewable power.
Tides can be accurately predicted years in advance, unlike wind and sunshine, and commercial tidal energy schemes are expected to grow from a handful of small projects today to about 170MW of generating capacity by 2020, mostly in Europe, according to the Bloomberg New Energy Finance research group.
This is likely to depend on how fast the tidal power industry can reduce its costs, which are far higher than many other forms of low-carbon power.
Atlantis is working on tidal power projects in several countries, including Canada, France and China, but its chief executive, Tim Cornelius, said the financial support offered by the British government had put the UK at the forefront of the industry.
“The UK has led the way and now you see Canada, France and these sorts of places effectively taking all the good bits out of the UK’s policies and applying them in their own domestic environments,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times.
Tidal power companies will get a “strike price” of £305 per megawatt hour under the UK’s latest renewable energy financial support scheme, nearly double the £155 MWh for offshore wind farms and triple the £95 MWh for onshore wind projects.
Published on May 12, 2013
Learn all about Humus,
the layer of soil essential for healthy food production which is being gradually depleted by unsustainable farming practices.
Graeme Sait a lifelong human and soil health educator explains how 467 billion tonnes of carbon has been released from the soil into the atmosphere, and that we urgently need to return that carbon to the soil, and start replenishing the humus in order to reverse the impact.
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)
|By Chris Nelder | August 7, 2013, 1:32 AM PDT
For complete article and graphics refer: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/take/trouble-in-fracking-paradise/1028
The shale revolution is “a little bit overhyped,” Shell CEO Peter Voser said last week as his company announced a $2.1 billion write-down, mostly owing to the poor performance of its fracking adventures in U.S. “liquids-rich shales.” Which of its shale properties have underperformed, Shell didn’t say, but CFO Simon Henry admitted that “the production curve is less positive than we originally expected.”
Shell was a latecomer to the tight oil game. As late as 2010 it was acquiring mineral rights at inflated prices, predicting that those properties would produce 250,000 barrels per day in five years. Three years down the road, they are yielding only 50,000 barrels per day, and the company intends to sell half of its shale gas and tight oil portfolio. Shell has officially abandoned its production target of 4 million barrels per day by 2012-2018. Instead, Voser said, “we are targeting financial performance.”
Second-quarter earnings were dismal for the so-called oil supermajors. Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Total SA, Statoil, and Eni SpA all reported sharply lower profits.
Production was also down nearly across the board, with only Total SA reporting an increase.
Of course, none of this would be a surprise for those who read my article from March, “Oil majors are whistling past the graveyard.”
The declining profitability and production primarily owed to lower oil prices and rising costs. AsPlatts reported in June, total capital spending for the top 100 U.S. producers in 2012 rose 18 percent year on year. Costs will be higher still this year.
Rising costs are partly due to the tight oil boom itself. Producers that invested heavily in tight oil production are struggling to maintain output against the accumulating undertow of existing wells, where output declines rapidly. Geologist David Hughes finds an average decline rate of 60 percent to 70 percent for the first year of production in new wells in the Bakken shale of North Dakota. And a new statistical analysis by Rune Likvern at The Oil Drum shows production from most Bakken wells falls by 40 percent to 65 percent in the second year.
For the Bakken field as a whole, Hughes calculated an annual production decline rate of 40 percent per year in his February report, Drill, Baby, Drill.
The problem is obvious. Decline rates that sharp make tight oil production a treadmill that speeds up a little more every year. Producers have to keep drilling more each year to simply keep output flat. That increases costs.
Other factors contribute to rising costs across the industry globally, including the ever-increasing difficulty of finding new prospects, and overall price inflation for basic commodities like cement and steel.
A good summary by Tom Fowler and Daniel Gilbert in the Wall Street Journal quotes analysts at Bernstein & Co. who see trouble ahead. “This cannot continue. . . . As long as oil prices stay flat and costs continue to rise, it will be impossible for the industry to sustain the current levels” of spending. If their spending drops off, production will too.”
One thing that doesn’t help the cost curve is unprofitable investments, and some of the newer tight oil plays aren’t panning out as hoped. In April, Bloomberg reported that the four biggest stakeholders in the Utica shale of Ohio were divesting, due to “disappointing” results. And the Monterey shale in California has continued to prove troublesome.
A growing consensus suggests that only the Bakken, Eagle Ford, and Permian formations will be major tight oil producers.
Prices are going higher
To be clear, smaller companies who are extremely focused on U.S. tight oil exploration are still turning profits. Tight oil production is still growing, and should continue to grow for several more years at least, just not as quickly as it has for the last several years. However, I am dubious about its production increasing from a bit over 2 million barrels a day today to 5 or 8 million barrels per day by 2020, as some have forecast.
We’ll probably drill around 19,000 horizontal wells this year, which will push production another few hundred thousand barrels per day higher. But we’re not going to raise production by a million barrels per day in a year anymore.
And it’s gonna cost ya. U.S. oil prices have bounced around $95 this year (as I predicted) but that has not been high enough for Shell to make money in tight oil and shale gas. It has not been high enough to sustain high drilling rates in the Bakken. It has not been high enough for most of the supermajors to turn a profit.
The decline in Bakken drilling could have been partly due to the glut at the Cushing, OK delivery point, which forced Bakken producers who ship by pipeline to accept a steep discount. (Bakken producers who shipped by rail directly to coastal refineries could fetch higher prices.) That is now partially relieved due to new pipeline capacity, and U.S. oil prices have risen back to global price levels. That may spur a new uptick in production as we head into the end of the year. As I explained in my last column, tight oil production supports price, it doesn’t reduce it.
But the decline in Bakken drilling can’t be wholly explained by the temporary glut at Cushing. The entire U.S. tight oil boom appears to be running into more systemic problems.
Analyst Bob Brackett of AllianceBernstein says, “the prime locations have already been drilled” in U.S. tight oil plays, and that drillers are moving on to less prospective areas. He sees the U.S. oil price benchmark WTI averaging $103 per barrel in 2015, while the European benchmark Brent rises to $113.
Rising costs across the industry, and declining profitability for the supermajors in an era of triple-digit global prices, suggest that oil prices need to be higher to maintain output. Since domestic gasoline and diesel prices, which are strongly linked to global prices, have remained stubbornly high even while U.S. oil prices were falling this year, that suggests we will likely see gasoline prices pushing toward $4.50 a gallon next year in higher-priced U.S. markets like San Francisco and New York City.
From an oil booster’s perspective, drilling 19,000 new horizontal wells (and 35,000 new wells in total) this year is a good sign. But regular folks might want to think about how much longer such a frenetic pace can go on, about the incursion of fracking into their backyards, about the environmental cost, and about the financial cost of keeping the “bonanza” going.
There is trouble in fracking paradise. A $2 billion write-down by Shell doesn’t quite spell the end of the U.S. oil boom, but it doesn’t bode well either. The “Saudi America” craze was cute, but that slogan isn’t going to make you any happier when you’re shelling out $4.50 and more for a gallon of fuel.
Want my advice? Get a more efficient vehicle. Don’t settle for less than 40 mpg. If your habits and pocketbook allow, consider an electric vehicle. And if energy independence is really your thing, then make it an EV with a rooftop solar PV system. That’s your best protection against the persistently rising cost of fuel.
My thanks to David Hughes and Rune Likvern for their contributions to this article.
Beyond Zero Emissions Chief Executive Officer Wanted
Beyond Zero Emissions is a not-for-profit research and communication organisation developing solutions for the implementation of climate change mitigation programmes. Their objective is to transform Australia from a fossil fuel based economy to a renewable powered clean tech economy. Sharing this research with tens of thousands of Australians via a multitude of external channels, the organisation is engaging, educating and inspiring stakeholders with real and positive solutions to climate change.
As one of the fastest growing NGOs in Australia, BZE are seeking an experienced and passionate CEO who can lead and consolidate the organisation through the next period of change and growth.
Reporting to the Board of Management, your role as CEO will be to provide the collaborative leadership needed to ensure the organisation can deliver on its ambitious goals. You will work to foster an environment of courage, collaboration and accountability alongside staff and volunteers alike.
The key responsibilities for the role are:
- Staff management and leadership
- Operational management
- External stakeholder engagement
- Media communications
As someone with proven leadership, coaching and management experience you will be thoroughly committed to, and passionate about, action on climate change and the work that the organisation undertakes. As a strong communicator you will be the focal point externally therefore it is essential that you have advanced influencing skills.
Further key requirements include, but are not limited to:
- Excellence in organisational and project management with the ability to coach staff, manage, and develop high-performance teams, set and achieve strategic objectives.
- P/L management, ensuring the fiscal viability and sustainability of the organisation.
- Strong marketing, public relations, and fundraising experience with the ability to engage a wide range of stakeholders.
- Experience developing productive, collaborative partnerships with external agencies and influential individuals.
You will be given the platform to be a highly visible exponent of climate change mitigation, engaging with influential private and public stakeholders across Australia and potentially further afield. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to help shape the future of the Australian energy industry and build on the progress that this organisation has achieved to date.
For a confidential discussion contact Ben Cartland on 0413 555 632 or Richard Evans on 0431 414 883 or send your resume to email@example.com
Stephen will be commencing as CEO of Beyond Zero Emissions on Monday the 9th of September 2013.
Stephen has worked on climate change, renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transport for the past 20 years, primarily in policy and research positions at a local, national and international level.
Ross Garnaut warned against over-playing the dangers of economic growth damaging the ecosystems AAP/Julian Smith
Economist Ross Garnaut has warned against over-playing the dangers of economic growth damaging the ecosystems that are important to life.
Current patterns of economic growth had those effects, he said, but “economic growth is not inherently in conflict with conservation of the natural environment”.
Garnaut, who did much of the groundwork for Labor’s carbon pricing, was launching a booklet of essays titled “Placing global change on the Australian election agenda”.
It has been issued by Australia21, a non-profit group, chaired by a former secretary of the defence department, Paul Barratt, that promotes research on big issues.
The aim of the booklet is to “stimulate a constructive discussion between voters and political aspirants from all parties about the kind of Australia we will leave to our children in an increasingly hazardous, globalised and resource-constrained world”.
The essays have a heavy emphasis on climate change but also cover such topics as defence, the global financial future and the threat from chemical and antibiotic overuse.
Garnaut said that increases in material wellbeing (“economic growth”) derived from increases in population, in the amount of capital each worker used and in productivity.
While an inexorable increase in population was by definition in conflict with finite natural resources, experience showed that rising living standards reduced fertility, in a process that was stronger “than the edicts of imans as well as popes”.
Increases in capital per worker could be resource-saving or resource-using – and he suggested China would provide an example of the former, Garnaut said.
The same went for productivity growth which came from technological change – much technological improvement resulted in less pressure on natural systems per unit of economic value.
“When we see economic growth in this light, we do not need to make enemies of the whole of the developing world’s people as they seek higher standards of living.
“When we see economic growth in this light, we recognise that the important thing is to make sure that we put in place policies that encourage resource-conserving and discourage resource-using capital intensification and technological change”.
That was what Australia had done in a small but so far effective way with its carbon pricing and associated clean energy policies.
He conceded that the linking of the Australian price to the European Union from 2015 would probably lead to lower carbon prices for a while and diminished pressure for the use of carbon-conserving investments and technologies.
“However, the pressure of the carbon pricing causes firms to consider the likelihood that European prices will rise in future, and to think twice about the carbon intensity of future output from investments that they are making now”.
In a shot at the opposition, which is pledged to remove the carbon tax, Garnaut said: “To expect Australians to put the welfare of future Australians near the top of their priorities may be too much to ask as we live through what I hope are the later days of the great Australian complacency.
“But surely it is not too much to expect that we will not make things worse, by retreating on the modest steps forward that we have made in addressing one of the great challenges facing our people”.
In the preface to the booklet Barratt and editor Bob Douglas, former director of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at ANU, have framed a dozen sets of questions that they hope “become part of the political discourse in the lead up to the election of our next government”.
If you want to grill your local candidates during this election, here are some of the questions. (Good luck with them.)
GREENHOUSE GASES. Do you believe we should radically curtail energy production from fossil fuels? If so, over what timeframe? Should we also curtail our mining and export of fossil fuels to other countries?
ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT AND GROWTH. Do we need to develop a more “steady state” approach to economic management, in which we can maintain full employment without rapid growth in the demands placed upon our resources and the biosphere?
DEFENCE POLICY. Are we spending enough on defence for the Australian Defence Force to be able to meet your expectations? Are you concerned about the prospect of strategic competition emerging between China and the US, and how should Australia respond?
FOOD FOR OUR FUTURE. What are the prospects of Australia feeding itself in the context of rising temperatures, declining extent and health of croplands, and rising food prices and international famine?
OUR DEPENDENCY ON OIL Should the government adopt policies to ensure we have specified stock levels of fuels and lubricants in-country?
PROSPECTS FOR THE GLOBAL ECONOMY What is the likelihood of another global financial crisis? What should we do to prepare for such an eventuality?
PROTECTION AGAINST TOXINS AND ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE. What role should government play in protecting the community against exposure to toxins and deterioration in antibiotic sensitivity?
THE VALUATION OF SERVICES PROVIDED BY ECOSYSTEMS. Should we include in our evaluation of proposed developments or changed land use the economic value of the services provided by local ecosystems to human communities and to industry?
ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINTS AND EQUITY. How can we reduce our per capita footprint in a way that both assists developing countries and makes limited resources more equitably available to all Australians?
ENVIRONMENTAL REFUGEES. How should we best integrate provision for refugees from the results of climate change into our immigration policy?
DOMESTIC TRAVEL. Do you think that the rising demand for rapid movement between our major cities can be met into the indefinite future by increasing civil aviation capacity?
RESPONDING TO THE NEEDS OF THE COMING GENERATION. Is Australia preparing its younger population adequately for the likely risks ahead as climate change and resource scarcity challenge the conventional wisdom of endless economic growth?
Earthships are 100% sustainable homes that are both cheap to build and awesome to live in.
They offer amenities like no other sustainable building style you have come across.
For the reasons that follow, I believe Earthships can actually change the world. See for yourself!
1) SUSTAINABLE DOES NOT MEAN PRIMITIVE
When people hear about sustainable, off-the-grid living, they usually picture primitive homes divorced from the comforts of the 21st century. And rightfully so, as most sustainable solutions proposed until now have fit that description. Earthships, however, offer all of the comforts of modern homes and more. I’ll let these pictures do the talking…
2) FREE FOOD
Each Earthship is outfitted with one or two greenhouses that grow crops year-round, no matter the climate. This means you can feed yourself with only the plants growing inside of your house. You can also choose to build a fish pond and/or chicken coop into your Earthship for a constant source of meat and eggs.
3) BRILLIANT WATER RECYCLING
Even the most arid of climates can provide enough water for daily use through only a rain-harvesting system. The entire roof of the Earthship funnels rain water to a cistern, which then pumps it to sinks and showers when required. That used ‘grey water’ is then pumped into the greenhouse to water the plants. After being cleaned by the plants, the water is pumped up into the bathrooms for use in the toilets. After being flushed, the now ‘black water’ is pumped to the exterior garden to give nutrients to non-edible plants.
4) WARMTH & SHELTER
The most brilliant piece of engineering in the Earthship is their ability to sustain comfortable temperatures year round. Even in freezing cold or blistering hot climates, Earthships constantly hover around 70° Fahrenheight (22° Celsius).
This phenomenon results from the solar heat being absorbed and stored by ‘thermal mass’ — or tires filled with dirt, which make up the structure of the Earthship. The thermal mass acts as a heat sink, releasing or absorbing heat it when the interior cools and heats up, respectively.
The large greenhouse windows at the front of the house always face south to allow the sun to heat up the thermal mass throughout the daytime.
Solar panels on the roof and optional wind turbines provide the Earthship with all of the power it needs. As long as you’re not greedily chewing through electricity like a typical first-world human, you’ll never be short of power.
With all of your basic needs provided for and NO bills each month, you’re free! You don’t have to work a job you hate just to survive. So you can focus your time on doing what you love, and bettering the world around you.
Imagine if the entire world was able to focus on doing extraordinary things instead of just making enough to get by. Imagine if even 10% of the world could do this. What would change?
7) EASY TO BUILD
At a recent Earthship conference in Toronto, Canada, a married couple in their forties shared about how they built a 3-story Earthship by themselves in 3 months. They had never built anything before in their lives and were able to build an Earthship with only the printed plans. They did not hire any help, nor did they use expensive equipment to make the job easier.
If one man and one woman can do this in 3 months, anyone can do it.
Earthships are exorbitantly cheaper than conventional houses. The most basic Earthships cost as little as $7000 (The Simple Survival model) with the most glamorous models costing $70,000 and up, depending on how flashy you want to be with your decorating.
With these cost options, Earthships can fit the needs of everyone — from the least privileged to the most worldly.
9) MADE OF RECYCLED MATERIALS
Much of the materials used to build Earthships are recycled. For starters, the structure is built with used tires filled with dirt:
If there’s one thing we’re not short of on Earth, it’s used tires! There are tire dumps like the one pictured here in every country in the world. There are even places that will pay you by the tire to take them away.
The walls (above the tires) are created by placing plastic and glass bottles in concrete. When the Earthship team was in Haiti after the earthquake, they employed local kids to both clean up the streets and provide all of the bottles required for building their Earthship. Plus, they look pretty sexy.
10) THINK DIFFERENT
The most powerful thing Earthships do is force people to think differently about how we live. If housing can be this awesome, and be beneficial to the environment, then what else can we change? What else can become more simple, cheaper and better at the same time?
It’s time for us to re-think much of what we consider normal.
Hyundai Celebrates World’s First Assembly Line Production of Zero-Emissions Fuel Cell Vehicles
First ix35 Fuel Cell rolls off production line in Ulsan, Korea
World’s first automaker to launch mass production of Fuel Cell vehicles
Delivery to European customers underway
594 kilometres range on a single charge
26 February, 2013 – A white Hyundai Motor Co. ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle rolled off the assembly line at the company’s Ulsan manufacturing complex today, as Hyundai became the world’s first car manufacturer to begin assembly-line production of zero-emissions, hydrogen-powered vehicles for fleet use.
The ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle, based on Hyundai’s popular ix35 SUV, exited the assembly line at Hyundai Motor’s Plant No. 5 during a launch event attended by Hyundai management and VIPs.
“With the ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle, Hyundai is leading the way into the zero-emissions future,” Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman, Eok Jo Kim said at the ceremony today. “The ix35 Fuel Cell is the most eco-friendly vehicle in the auto industry and proves that hydrogen fuel cell technology in daily driving is no longer a dream.”
The ix35 Fuel Cell unveiled at the ceremony will be one of 17 destined for fleet customers in City of Copenhagen, Denmark and SkÃ¥ne, Sweden. The Municipality of Copenhagen, as part of its initiative to be carbon-free by 2025, will be supplied with 15 ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles for fleet use, according to an agreement that was announced in September 2012. Two ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles will be supplied to SkÃ¥ne, Sweden.
“Assembly-line production of fuel cell vehicles marks a crucial milestone in the history of the automobile industry not just in Korea, but throughout the world,” Mang Woo Park, mayor of Ulsan city, said in his congratulatory message. “By supplying more hydrogen refuelling stations to support the eco-friendly fuel cell vehicles produced, we will make Ulsan the landmark for eco-friendly automobiles.”
Hyundai plans to build 1,000 ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles by 2015 for lease to public and private fleets, primarily in Europe, where the European Union has established a hydrogen road map and initiated construction of hydrogen fuelling stations.
After 2015, with lowered vehicle production costs and further developed hydrogen infrastructure, Hyundai will begin manufacturing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for consumer retail sales.
Built with proprietary technology, Hyundai’s ix35 Fuel Cell is powered by hydrogen. A fuel cell stack converts the hydrogen into electricity, which turns the vehicle’s motor. The only emission generated by the ix35 Fuel Cell is water. Hyundai’s ix35 Fuel Cell achieves drivability and performance similar to that of the petrol ix35.
The development and application of a new radiator grille, bumper, fog lamps, super vision cluster and 7-inch GPS exclusively for the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles enhances the ix35 Fuel Cell’s marketability. Furthermore, modularization of fuel cell systems for the core part of the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle – fuel cell stack, driving device and inverter – enabled the engine to be downsized to match the size of a petrol engine while improving productivity and making maintenance more convenient
In January 2013, the ix35 Fuel Cell won the prestigious FuturAuto award at the Brussels Motor Show, celebrating its technical innovation.
The ix35 Fuel Cell is the halo vehicle in Hyundai’s Blue Drive sub-brand, the badge worn by Hyundai’s cleanest vehicles, including Sonata Hybrid, i20 Blue Drive and BlueOn, Hyundai’s battery-powered i10.
As governments around the world step up regulations to reduce carbon output and fossil fuel dependency, zero-emissions mobility solutions such as Hyundai’s ix35 Fuel Cell will become a driving force of change. The ix35 Fuel Cell aligns with the 2009 agreement by the European Union’s G8 countries to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and California’s Zero Emission Vehicle regulations.
The ix35 Fuel Cell can be refuelled with hydrogen in only a few minutes. It accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 12.5 seconds, has a top speed of 160 km/h and can travel 594 kilometres with a single charge.
The ix35 Fuel Cell is the result of 14 years of research by hundreds of engineers at Hyundai’s fuel cell R&D centre in Mabuk, Korea. The car has logged more than 2 million miles of road tests in real-world conditions in Europe, Korea and the U.S.
The first ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle rolled off the assembly line will be displayed at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.
ix35 Fuel Cell Specifications:
Driving range on one fill-up
Acceleration, 0 to 100 km/hr
Fuel cell output power
Energy storage system
Battery, 24 kW
Hydrogen (700 bar, 5.6 kg)
By Oilver Wagg on 14 November 2012
Extract from: http://reneweconomy.com.au/
“You need to have scientifically valid, preliminary evaluation – you have to have reasonable rational grounds for concern [to invoke the precautionary principle],” Joshi said, “and essentially the scientific validity of the health claims around wind turbines I don’t think meet those criteria.”
Seawater greenhouse – just add solar
South Australia’s Port Augusta, with its abundant solar resource, has recently been pegged as the ideal location for the development of a concentrating solar thermal power plant – and understandably so.
But what about a 2000 square metre greenhouse? It would seem an unlikely match for hot, dry Port August, yet while the region’s CSP plant proposal remains just that, an enormous solar-powered greenhouse has indeed been built – and it’s producing a fine crop of tomatoes.
Behind the project is Sundrop Farms: a group of international scientists (and an investment banker) whose goal has been to devise a system of growing crops that doesn’t require a fresh water supply. How does it work? “It all begins with a 70 metre-long stretch of solar panels,” says Pru Adam’s on ABC Radio’s Landline: a series of concave mirrors which focus the sun’s energy onto a black tube that runs through the centre of the panels. The tube is filled with thermal oil, which is superheated up to 160°C, then pumped through the tube back to a little storage shed, where its heat is transferred to a water storage system. Some of this stored heat goes towards greenhouse temperature control, some to powering the facility, but most is used for desalination of the tidal bore water. When the heat goes to the thermal desal unit it meets up with relatively cold seawater and the temperature difference creates condensation.
“It’s pretty simple to understand,” said Reinier Wolterbeek, Sundrop’s project manager and head of technology development, in a 2010 television interview with Southern Cross News. “If you have a fresh water bottle from your refrigerator, and you put it in a room, then condensation forms on the sides. That’s more or less what we try to mimic over here; the cold sea water, from the ground, we put it through plastic tubes, we blow hot, very moist air against these plastic tubes, condensation forms on the tubes, we catch the condensation, and that’s actually the irrigation for the tomato crops.” The brine ends up in ponds and the salt can be extracted as a saleable by-product.
So, while this large-ish commercial-scale greenhouse (they’ve tested a smaller version in Oman), perched, as Adams describes it, “in the remains of flogged-out farmland,” really is an incongruous sight in Port Augusta, it’s there for good reason.
“We looked on a world map, and funnily enough, Port Augusta is the ideal place,” Wolterbeek told Southern Cross News. “It’s really close to the sea, so we have a lot of seawater available, and it’s very dry, which is good for the process of the technology.”
Philipp Saumweber, Sundrop’s managing director who is a former Goldman Sachs investment banker with an economics degree from Harvard, describes the project as unique. “Nobody has done what we’re doing before and to our knowledge nobody has done something even similar,” Saumweber told Landline. “What we think is so unique about our system is we’re not just addressing either an energy issue or a water issue, we’re really addressing both of those together to produce food from abundant resources and do that in a sustainable way.”
David Travers – CEO of the University College London’s Adelaide office, who became Sundrop’s chairman after being convinced of the merit of its technology – agrees. “Well it’s unique in the sense that it’s the only example we’re aware of in the world where there’s that complete integration of the collection of solar energy, the desalination of water, the production of energy sources from electricity through to heating and storage and then the growing of plants, in this case tomatoes and capsicums, in a greenhouse environment,” he told Landline. “It’s the totality of that system that makes it quite unique.”
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You Are Where You Eat: Re-Focusing Communities Around Markets; Will YOU support “Buy Bellarine”?
By Project for Public Spaces on |
You Are Where You Eat: Re-Focusing Communities Around Markets; Will YOU support “Buy Bellarine”?
Picture yourself at the supermarket, awash in fluorescent light. You’re trying to stock up for the next couple of weeks, since it’s a busy time of year. You grab some granola bars (and maybe even a box of pop tarts), some frozen dinners, a box of macaroni with one of those little packets of powdered cheese stuff. And oh, they’re running one of those promotions where you can get ten cans of soup for, like, a dollar each. Perfect! Dinner for the next two weeks. On the way to the register, you swing by the produce aisle to grab a bunch of bananas. Like many people these days, you’re trying to eat healthy, and breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
Now imagine that your neighborhood had a public market–the kind of place that’s easy to pop by on the way home from work to grab fresh food every couple of days. Before you reach the open-air shed, you’re surrounded by produce of every shape and color; you can smell oranges and basil from half a block away. As you follow your appetite through the maze of bins and barrels, you bump into your neighbors, and make plans to head downtown to the central market over the weekend to take a cooking class and pick up some less common ingredients. You may even make a day of it and check out the new weekly craft fair that takes place the next block over.
Up in Nova Scotia, where Davies and O’Neil have been working with the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, Operations Manager Ewen Wallace notes the importance of his market (which does have its own permanent building) in the local community. “Throughout my involvement in this project and spending so much time face-to-face with the community at large” he says, “the thing that’s really hit home is that the people of Halifax really do consider this their market.”
And while the market is truly a stalwart (they’ve never missed a Saturday in 262 years!), the role that it plays in the regional economy contributes greatly to the sense of community ownership, since most residents of Atlantic Canada are just a generation away from a farmer or fisherman. “At the end of World War II,” Wallace explains, “we had around 35,000 independent farms in Nova Scotia. Now we have around 3,800. This market is intended to serve as a hub from which money in the urban core is being channeled back into rural areas around the province. This is all tied to food security.”