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Putting the ‘so what?’ into renewable energy news

looking forward to our renewable future

issue 2 - July 2012

EMPIRE STATE BUILDING First year energy savings surpass expectations


A bottom-up approach to the global climate challenge


A layman’s guide


Reshaping our energy future



TIMBER! In his 2010 novel Solar, Ian McKewan draws a parallel between humankind’s attitude to energy and a man living in a rainsoaked forest. When he gets thirsty, the man simply chops down a tree and fills his cup with sap. In his wake he leaves a swathe of destruction and is forced to constantly move on in order to find more trees to satisfy his thirst. When somebody asks him why he doesn’t just hold his cup up to the skies and collect rainwater to drink instead, the man replies, “But I’m good at chopping down trees.” A sad indictment of man’s evident inability to rethink his habits, concurred with by Professor dr. Ad J.M. van Wijk , who reminds us in his thought-provoking article ‘A Sustainable Energy Supply For Everyone’ (page 37) that the sun gives us more energy in an hour than the whole world uses in a year. If only we could learn to put the axe down and hold our cups to the sky. A simple change in behaviour which, like a child who prefers to search for hairy appleflavoured sweets down the back of a sofa than pick a real apple from the tree in the garden, we still refuse to make. Mainly, it would seem because most of us think the cup too expensive. This need to question our existing energy habits, is also one of the themes of the article ‘Wedging the Gap’ by our friends at ECOFYS (page 19) who, like the man who questioned Ian McKewan’s tree feller, have the temerity to suggest that all we really lack is a sense of collective ownership and a little bit of organisation. That the know-how and the technology already exist to make that switch from the axe to the cup, and immediately start enjoying the benefits. As evidenced by the recent energy-efficient retrofit of New York’s iconic Empire State Building, which, as Kelly Vaughn of the Rocky Mountain Institute outlines in her article on page 48, is already reaping huge financial rewards in terms of reduced energy bills. Indeed, if this issue of 2050 Magazine has a theme, it is attitude. Not in the truculent teenager sense (“Leave me alone, I like hairy sweets!”) but in the more holistic, ‘human attitude to energy’ sense. As Earl Nightingale once said, “A great attitude does much more than turn on the lights in our world; it seems to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before the change.” Joe Swain, Editor



page 6 - Views on the News Putting the ‘so what?’ into renewable energy news

page 19 - Wedging The Gap A bottom-up approach to the global climate challenge page - In The News page 17 6 - Crowdfunding A selection of the more interstingfinance renewable energy As traditional sources of investment continue to stories fromscarce, the last remain willfew theweeks movement towards crowd-funding prove to be the perfect solution for clean technology projects?

page 29 - Homemade Biofuel A layman’s guide

page 37 - Back To The Future Reshaping our energy future

page 48 - Empire State Building Retrofit First year energy savings surpass expectations


In The News

Solar-Powered Aircraft Completes First Leg of Trans-Continental Flight Solar Impulse, a Swiss solar-powered aircraft, on Friday finished the first leg of its attempt at an intercontinental flight without using a single drop of fuel. It’s difficult, when reading about the intrepid exploits of Solar Impulse and its brave pioneering pilots, not to be reminded of that tragic hero of Greek mythology, Icarus, the man who would have single-handedly changed the entire history of human transportation, if only he had heeded his father’s advice not to fly too close to the sun. A display of bravado which


unfortunately culminated in an undignified descent into the Adriatic and an earlier than anticipated appointment with the Grim Reaper. Which isn’t to suggest that the same might happen to Solar Impulse, an aircraft which ironically relies on the sun for its power source.

pilots, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg aren’t at all renowned for their displays of pointless bravado. Courage and determination yes, but bravado, no.

The real question here is whether or not this pioneering pair, in their single-seater plane with a larger wingspan than an Airbus (200 feet), will Unlike Icarus, Solar Impulse’s achieve what Icarus didn’t

by changing the future of human aviation. Right now it seems unlikely, particularly when you consider the immense power to weight ratio required by modern commercial aircraft, laden down as they are with hundreds of corpulent passengers, suitcases and food trollies. From a carbon reduction point of view, bio-fuels are probably a more likely solution, and those of you who follow the news will probably have noticed that another commercial airline,

Qantas in Australia, just last month joined the growing list of airlines to have used emission-free biofuels instead of aviation fuel for a normal commercial flight.

To learn more about their adventure, a pre-cursor to a planned attempt to circumnavigate the globe in 2014, visit www.

But then again, who knows? If battery technology continues to improve at the rate we’ve witnessed over the last 30 years (remember those very early mobile phones?) it might just happen.

Cue closing music: “Those magnificent men in their flying machines, they go up diddly up-up, they go down diddley down-down…”

Right now Solar Impulse is undergoing technical inspections in Madrid after completing the first leg of its journey from Switzerland, after which, with a quick pilot switch, it will continue to Morocco.


Unlike Icarus, Solar Impulse’s pilots, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg aren’t at all renowned for their displays of pointless bravado. 5

In The News

UK Farmers Harvesting Solar Power. Literally. Fer Solar and wind power installations on farms in the UK could be producing 15% of the UK’s renewable energy by 2020 says joint report by National Farmer’s Union and Natwest Bank.


image courtesy of


Farmers tend to choose between wind and solar power depending upon where they are located. Wind in the north, solar in the south. (Quite what Mr McTrump will have to say on the matter, isn’t yet known). Despite continuing planning permission delays and the usual difficulties persuading banks that putting solar panels on barn roofs isn’t actually that ‘weird’ a thing to do, about a quarter of UK farmers are now deriving additional income from harvesting solar and wind power on their properties. More than 200 megawatts has already been installed, enough to power about 100,000 homes) and the numbers are continuing to rise as more and more farmers take advantage of their ability to become energy providers. The report found that one in 5 farms in the UK currently has some amount of solar photovoltaic power installed and that if the take up continues at a similar rate to the last few years, by the end of this decade farms could be contributing about 15% to the UK’s total renewable energy output (in turn targeted to account for 15% of total UK power production by 2020). In other words, the farmers have big barn roofs, the technology is now cheap

enough and at last the banks are beginning to get up to speed on the concept that solar panels, unlike roof lights, actually provide a return on investment. The report also discovered that farmers are tending to choose between wind and solar power depending upon where they are located. Wind in the north, solar in the south. (Quite what Mr McTrump will have to say on the matter, isn’t yet known.) More than 50% of farmers said that planning permission was the biggest barrier to renewable energy projects while 30% said financing was an issue. SO WHAT? “The NFU has been encouraging farmers and growers nationwide across all sectors to diversify into renewable energy for the past few years, but we are amazed at this level of uptake already. The potential of land-based renewable energy to support profitable farming, while contributing to energy security and the low-carbon economy, is

evidently much greater than we ever imagined.” Jonathan Scurlock, chief renewable energy adviser to the NFU. “We’ve already taken steps to help those businesses that see access to finance as a barrier. We’ve ensured our agriculture managers are better placed to help through our accreditation programme.” Ian Burrow, head of agriculture and renewable energy at NatWest bank. “It’s high time governments around the world allowed farmers to take the lead in renewable energy production by making finance available and cutting the red tape on planning. This is how Germany got its solar installation figures so high, by allowing small stakeholders such as farmers and local community groups to directly benefit from the installations. It’s amazing how quickly a bit of cash in the bank every month quells the NIMBY noise.” (2050 editorial.)


In The News

European Domestic Electricity Consumption Rising

A report initiated by the UK government has discovered that “UK homes are consuming much more electricity than previously estimated,” writes the BBC’s Mark Kinver. additional strain on the National Grid SO WHAT?

The chief culprits apparently still being fridges, freezers Typically, people use their and the standby mode. washing machine 300 times a year but some people use The study, based on 250 it three times a day. households, also discovered: Only two previous studies Up to 16% of households’ of its kind have been carried energy bills are spent on out before (in 2008, Sweden devices left on standby, twice detailed the electricity as high as the 8% figure consumption of 400 often used in official models households, while a study in and policy assumptions. France considered the use in 100 homes during 2007). It is estimated that domestic energy use accounts for People living alone tend to more than a quarter of the use far more power per head nation’s CO2 emissions. than people living in shared The modern home contained accommodation. an average of 41 devices, compared with a dozen or so The emergence of electric in the 1970s. cars could place an


“It is crucial that households across the nation make informed decisions by having the right advice to help them reduce their energy usage and fuel bills. This research shows that there’s still more work to be done with consumer advice, product innovation and take up of energy-efficiency labeling.” Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust (EST). “The government and households cannot control the rising cost of energy but could play a part in ensuring that it was used more efficiently. Our study has found that homes can save up to £85 by just switching things off and not leaving them on standby. Some savings can be made by us, as individuals, by just being more sensible in the way we use energy.” UK Environment minister Lord Taylor. “The fridge and the freezer in a house are the real energy eaters. They are the ones that can make a real

difference, and it is easier to target the consumer on buying a better appliance. It is areas like this where you can make a difference and influence people. But we have never had the evidence down to this level of detail before, so it gives us an insight into what we can target and how we target it.” Rosalyn Foreman, energy adviser for the EST. WORTH NOTING: A typical European house equipped with a selection of 25 traditional light bulbs (averaging, say, 50 watts), which runs those lights for 20% of the time, is paying about 440 euros a year to its electricity company for the privilege (assuming 20 cents per kilowatt hour). To install low-energy light bulbs of the type commonly found in high street shops today (compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs - those twirly things that cost about 3 or 4 times as much as traditional incandescent light fittings but use about 20% of the energy) would cost that typical household as little as 100 euros. And yet would result in an annual saving of the same amount. For about 5 - 7 years, which is about how long your average CFL bulb lasts these days. (We thought this website had a very clear explanation

of this: http://www.getrichslowly. org/blog/2007/10/29/ how-much-do-compactfluorescent-bulbs-reallycost/ To go one step further, the household could also invest in uber-modern LED bulbs (so called because they are full of light-emitting diodes, in case you wanted to know). These are far pricier (about 25 euros each at the moment) but are even more energy efficient than CFLs and should last for about 30,000 hours (CFLs clock up about 8,000 hours and incandescents about 1,000 hours). Such an investment would still cost the household more than 600 euros though (25 bulbs x 25 euros each) and so falls into the ‘I know it makes sense, but I just don’t have the cash right now’ category of house improvement. Which is a shame when you work out how much carbon we could stop being emitted if say 100 million European homes were to make the switch tomorrow. Those 25, 50-watt bulbs (being run for about 20% of the average 24-hour day) were consuming about 2,190 kilowatt hours of electricity (2,190,000 watt hours) per year. Which, according to carbon, equates to 1.27 metric tons of CO2. Imagine having that

dumped on your doorstep every year. 100 million homes doing the same, could therefore save 127 million tons of CO2 per year, a figure which would rise to just shy of 1 billion metric tons of the stuff by 2020. Which, if we’re not mistaken, would qualify it as a contender for the recentlylaunched ‘Wedging The Gap’ initiative, which is looking for a total reduction of 10 billion tons by 2020, to keep us on track for nothing more than a 2 degree global temperature rise long term. See link below for the full story on that: docs/wedging_the_gap So the bottom line is, we have to make this happen. If we don’t, we stand a very good chance of ending up on the wrong end of an awful intergalactic space joke of the future. “Question: How many humans does it take to change a light bulb?” The technology is there, the financial sense is there. What’s missing, as usual, is access to finance (to pay for the LED bulbs) and the motivation to actually do it. “Answer: None. They’re all dead now.”


In The News

World’s Largest Eco-City Opens its Doors Developed under a joint venture between the governments of China and Singapore, Tianjin Eco City has been heralded as the most sophisticated, yet practical sustainable city ever built. This month, after years of waiting, the first of its anticipated 350,000 residents started moving in. “Some eco-cities are too idealistic. In Tianjin they do not want to stop people from driving, but they do want to put into place policies that will help our vehicles to operate successfully,” said Chris Borroni-Bird, the head of GM’s autonomous driving project in Detroit.

According to a recent report on the BBC, the SinoSingapore Tianjin Eco City, just an hour by train from Beijing, ‘will be a model for how Chinese cities could develop and solve some of the enormous problems facing them: permanent gridlock, a lack of water and ruinous electricity bills. Indeed if only a few of the lessons being learned in Tianjin were applied in the rest of the country, the derived benefits could help significantly reduce China’s environmental footprint. “Our eco-city is an experiment, but it is also


practical,” said Wang Meng, the deputy director of construction. “In Tianjin, the residents will not be expected to make any particular effort to be green. If they take the bus and sort their rubbish for recycling, they will be making their contribution.” Facets of the city’s everyday systems are being used as guinea pigs for new sustainable technology. General Motors, for example, is running a project in Tianjin to test the operation of electric driverless cars in normal traffic.

According to the BBC report, Tianjin will allow GM to road-test the next generation of vehicles: small urban cars that drive themselves but are safe in an environment full of unpredictable drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. Other trial projects include Dutch electronics giant Philips’ low energy lighting installations and rubbish bins that empty themselves by sucking their contents into an underground removal network. The city has certainly come a long way since work began just 3 years ago, when it was a ‘desolate wasteland of abandoned salt pans’. Sitting on an area about half the size of Manhattan, the local environment had been the victim of years of chemical

pollution from the factories around it.

easily exported to other the fact that eight out parts of the world with poor of the nine members of water supplies. the Politburo Standing Works at Tianjin are Committee, the ongoing and it will take SO WHAT? country’s highest level a few years yet to expand of government, have the sectors that are already China is often depicted visited Tinajin during its being occupied. Total as the one of the worst development. development costs, which contributors to greenhouse are being shared by the emissions as a result of “The idea is to create Chinese and Singapore its rapid industrialization something that can be governments and private over the last 20 years. adapted to other cities companies, are expected to More for the shear size of in China,” said Mr Wang. reach 250 billion yuan (£25 its population, than for its “What we want to develop billion). per capita contribution to is cheap technology that we annual global emissions can industrialise, produce The experimental city though it has to be said. and sell on elsewhere. We has already produced one have to change people’s significant technological But a great deal of effort ideas that being green is discovery, which could have is actually going on in expensive.” massive benefits for the China, and neighbouring rest of the country. countries like Singapore, And if anyone can do that to help them jump quickly quickly… “We had an industrial onto a sustainable energy reservoir that was full of platform. heavy metals,” said Mr Wang. “It used to be so It is something which the bad that people could Chinese government seems not go near it because of to take very seriously. the smell. Now we have Testament to which is cleaned it with a special process that we can send to other parts of the country.” Considering that 70% of China’s rivers contain too much pollution to provide drinking water, this could be a game-changing new technology and one which could also be


In The News

Local Communities Should Profit From On-shore Wind Turbines Says UK MP Like an unwanted erection in a pair of Speedos, the NIMBY argument has raised its ugly head once more in the United Kingdom, as yet another MP is forced to admit that Germany knows best when it comes to wind. Tim Yeo, the chair of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, was responding to a report in the Observer newspaper that the UK government wants to slash onshore wind subsidies by 25%.

the whole county to be covered by a forest of them.”

Air has recently filled the sails of the NIMBY flotilla after Lincolnshire County Council stated its intention to ban wind turbines being built within 10km of any village of 10 or more houses. “”We’re not going to say we aren’t going to have any more windfarms,” said council leader Martin Hill. “But I don’t think we want


And yet the very same people it would seem, are the first to object when plans are drawn up to site them anywhere near where they live.

Yeo responded by pointing out that cutting subsidies for onshore turbines simply wouldn’t make financial sense. “The cost of onshore wind is about half that of Which is probably fair offshore wind,” he said. “If you want to cut down the A plan which many cost, slow down the rate of observers are saying has offshore wind development, come about as a direct result not onshore.” of pressure from the band of 100 MPs who demanded Yeo also confirmed his view such cuts from UK Premier that while he is a supporter David Cameron back in of nuclear power as part of February. the UK’s clean energy mix for the future, new nuclear “We do have to work harder power stations would simply to find places where wind take too long to build. turbines are acceptable and be more creative about “We can decarbonise now, or sharing the benefits with much more expensively in locals,” Yeo said. “Frankly, we the 2020s. Onshore wind is a need to bribe them.” quick and fairly easy win.”


Two recent surveys in the UK, one by the Independent and one by the Guardian, both concluded that the majority of people in the UK believe that having more wind turbines is an acceptable price to pay for more green energy. (60 and 66% respectively.)

enough when you think about it. But, and it’s a big but, the assumption that cutting subsidies to the renewable energy sector would somehow result in massive saving for ordinary households, is based on completely flawed logic.

average household just ÂŁ6 a year. But that apart, the real problem here, as we have argued for a while now, is that far too few people in the UK are afforded any sense of ownership in the turbines planted in their back yards. Hence the nimbyism.

Indeed, if all the subsidies currently directed towards the development of onshore wind power were to be cut Less than 10% of onshore tomorrow, it would save the wind turbines in the UK

are owned by individuals or communities, compared to nearly 70% in Germany, which produces four times as much clean energy and whose residents would probably laugh out loud if you told them that in the UK cost-cutting turbines are considered an eyesore.


In The News

China Threatens to Impound EU Aircraft In Continuing Carbon Capping Row China has said it will seriously consider impounding European aircraft if the EU pursues its proposed carbon emissions curbing scheme to the extent of fining / smacking the bottoms of airlines which fail to comply. The EU scheme, which commenced in January 2012, requires airlines to pay a fee for their emissions (over and above their allowance) based on the total amount of carbon they produce on flights emanating from or landing in any EU country, rather than just the portion flown over Europe.


Several countries, including China, India, Russia and the US have objected to the scheme, which they see as an infringement of their inalienable right to fart out as much carbon dioxide as they like over their own countries and into international airspace. The Chinese government

has already instructed its airlines not to comply with the scheme (known as the Emissions Trading Scheme because it allows individual airlines to purchase extra farting rights should they wish to, from airlines which don’t use up all their emissions allowances). The scheme required airlines to submit detailed carbon

emission data by March 31st, a deadline which Chinese carriers have consequently not adhered to. “Chinese airlines are unanimous on this. We won’t provide the data,” said Wei Zhenzhong, Secretary General of the China Air Transport Association, at a meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Beijing this week. The Chinese airlines Wei Zhenzhong was referring to include the three main statecontrolled carriers Air China, China Southern Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines. “The government at least will take the same kind of measures and these antisanction moves will be lasting,” Wei continued. “It’s not about the money. It’s an issue of sovereignty,” added IATA’s director of aviation environment, Paul Steele. SO WHAT? Global Aviation currently accounts for 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions every year, a figure which is expected to rise to about 5% by 2020 at current growth rates. It would help if they got together and did something about that. A goal which,

to be fair, the International Civil Aviation Organisation has working towards for about 15 years, but unfortunately with very little to show for their efforts so far. The next ICAO meeting is scheduled for October 2013 and many of the objecting airlines are asking the EU to put full implementation of its scheme on hold until then. Will they? Won’t they? It could be that the EU, tired of waiting for any such self-governance framework, has decided to up the stakes a bit. After all, most international carriers have decided to comply, at least with the first stage of the scheme, and many observers have commented that the emission allowances are generous. It’s entirely possible that the ICAO will be more inclined to come up with something concrete now that the scheme, which has an ultimate aim of reducing the emissions of EU passing planes to 97% of 2006 levels, has been started. But there is obviously a bit of top-level brinksmanship going on here. After all, if Chinese carriers continue to refuse to play ball, then theoretically the EU will

impose fines; and if they aren’t paid, the next step would be to refuse to allow landing slots at EU airports and / or impound their aircraft. But would the EU really do that to China? A country which isn’t exactly renowned for its fear of the EU. China would surely retaliate in some way, either by impounding EU planes, or, more likely, by implementing trade sanctions. According to aerospace industry analysts, China is already holding back on signing a $14 billion order for new planes from European manufacturer Airbus. Ouch! The EU’s Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, has since extended the deadline for its scheme to mid-June. Hopefully though, it won’t end in a spat because ultimately all the world’s airlines, faced by ever escalating fuel prices, need to find ways to increase their efficiency and will probably do so for financial reasons anyway, by really pushing ahead with bio-fuel schemes and investment in more efficient new aircraft. (Image by Ellery Chang)


In The News

Fixing The Climate Problem From The Outside In A pioneering UK project to test technology for a climate “tech fix” has been postponed for at least a year, reports the BBC’s Richard Black. “The Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering (Spice) project would have pumped water droplets into the atmosphere from a tethered balloon.

due to go up last October from the disused Sculthorpe airfield in Norfolk.

It would have ascended to about 1km. Water would have been pumped up a pipe The kit could then have been from the ground and out of used to disperse tiny dust a fine nozzle, with scientists particles to cool the Earth, as monitoring how the droplets volcanic eruptions do. spread and how the balloon and tether responded to The Spice chiefs cite changing winds. problems with regulations, intellectual property and A total of about two public engagement. bathloads of water would The balloon was originally have been dispersed.

Geo-engineering balloon concept (image courtesy of


But an advisory panel convened by the funders, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), mandated a sixmonth delay and asked the project organisers to engage in discussions with concerned stakeholders.” Click here to read article in full:

SO WHAT: When you’ve spent your entire life being fed the natural justice of Hollywood films, it’s easy to understand why so many of us, including the Spice crew, wish someone would just send a few rockets into the lower atmosphere and make some more clouds. It’s possible surely? Forget all this scrabbling around on the ground recycling our jam pots and washing our clothes on the eco-cycle. Let’s just contain the problem from the outside. Isn’t that the sort of thing that separates us from lower life forms? Or maybe go a step further and put up a few satellitemounted sunshades. Something big. A big engineering project in space that would eventually allow us to accurately control our planet’s temperature and weather by regulating the amount of sunlight each part of the world receives on a daily basis. Which, before anyone makes a call to Bruce Willis, is an approach which does have one quite major drawback. The same drawback that other ‘outside in’ fixes also

unfortunately carry. They rely on humanity actually getting round to fixing the problem later.

working on? Space mirrors, laser beams, force fields, that sort of thing? Will any of them suit Bruce?)

Which it probably wouldn’t, because humanity is like that. As soon as the sunshades were in place we’d probably go right back to pumping more and more gases into the air, safe in the knowledge that we can always ‘turn the sun down a bit’ tomorrow to make up for it. But, as everyone knows who has ever spent a night under a luxury quilt, the thicker we allow our greenhouse blanket to become, the less sunshine we will need to warm us up. Which would mean that in about 100 years we’d probably be down to a maximum allowance of about an hour a day. Any more than that, and like a greasy cream doughnut in a microwave, we’d simply pop. (Mental note: find out what other big tech fixes they’re


In The News

Frying High: Qantas Flies on Chip Fat Oil Australian national carrier Qantas carried out a normal flight from Sydney to Adelaide last month with a plane powered by biofuel derived from chip fat oil. The Airbus flight was ‘a total success’ and Qantas says a complete move to biofuels could reduce airline carbon consumption by up to 60%.

“Until biofuel is produced at a competitive price, the industry will not be able to realise its true benefits,” said Qantas head of environment John Valastro. “No single player can make this happen. It needs support from government, private sector investment, access to infrastructure and market demand.” SO WHAT?

300 hundred passengers paid for the privilege of being aboard the Friday 13th flight (what were they thinking?) from Sydney to Adelaide, which used a 50% mix of converted cooking oil in one of the two engines of its twin-aisle Airbus A330s. The aircraft – which can take about 300 passengers – returned to Sydney that afternoon, as Qantas engineers monitored the engine running on standard avgas against the biofuel, which was specially imported from a Macdonalds restaurant in the US. The airline sees this experiment as a vital step towards developing a viable alternative to jet fuel, the price of which continues to rise.


The aviation industry currently accounts for 2% of global emissions, a percentage which with increased demand for flights, is likely to grow to 3% by 2050. If the aviation industry can make biofuels work, they are in a position to make a major contribution to global carbon reduction targets. This is a relatively new phenomenon, with the first successful demonstration flight being conducted by Virgin Airlines as recently as 2008. Since then numerous airlines, including KLM, Lufthansa, Finnair, Interjet, Aero Mexico, Thompson Airways and Continental Airlines have used bio-fuels

on commercial flights. The key to success is to develop what the industry refers to as a ‘drop in’ biofuel which requires no engineering modifications and which is derived from a source which doesn’t compete with food. Much hope is currently being pinned on sources such as Algae (which can ostensibly be ‘farmed’ at locations close to airports) and the jatropha tree. Fortunately for us the aviation industry, perhaps spurred by the goal of developing bio-fuels at a stable and competitive price, has been forward thinking in its approach to the challenge. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has stated that a 6% share of sustainable 2nd generation biofuels is achievable by 2020, and Boeing supports a target of 1% of global aviation fuels by 2015. This is in support of the goals of the aviation industry reaching carbon neutral growth by 2020 and a 50% decrease in carbon emissions by 2050 (relative to a 2005 baseline).

SPECIAL REPORT WEDGING THE GAP A bottom-up approach to the global climate challenge.


Climate Strategy

WEDGING THE GAP A bottom-up approach to the global climate challenge. By: K. Blok, N. Höhne, K. van der Leun, and N. Harrison (ECOFYS) Foreword: Wedging the gap. Sounds interesting, slightly odd maybe. But effectively what we are looking at here is the first true combination of bottom-up and top-down efforts to address one of the greatest challenges of our time - climate change. By determining what needs to be done (how much carbon dioxide do we actually need to reduce), and comparing that to what we can expect from governments and the international process, and then organising ourselves to fill in the rest of the required reductions with individual “wedges”. We really have an interesting approach here that can help us save 10 billion tonnes of the stuff. So that we can all sleep better at night. But seriously, this is potentially the start of a new movement, an addition to the international climate change negotiations process, and an approach that can really make a difference. And 2050magazine is proud to be part of it. (Jan-Willem Bode)

Weather records are piling up in the US and worldwide, and the seasonal state of the Arctic sea ice melt is the worst we’ve seen so far. And in the meantime, greenhouse gas emissions are still rising, where they should be starting to go down now, if we are to keep average global warming below 2 degrees C, the internationally-agreed goal. If we carry on as we are, often referred to as


A recent energyefficient retrofit of the Empire State Building in New York has significantly reduced first year energy costs and is well on track for a complete payback within four years.


Climate Strategy

It is now within our reach to take global solar PV capacity to 1.6 Terawatts (1.6 million Megawatts) by 2020, which will reduce emissions by 1.4 billion tonnes of CO2 per year.


“Business-as-usual”, our emissions will grow by another 12% to reach 56 billion tonnes of CO2equivalent by 2020. Whereas to remain on track for that all-important 2 degrees C target, we actually need them to be 12 billion tonnes lower. This difference is known as the ‘emissions gap’ (figure 1 left).

feasible In any approach, real measures will be required if we are to bring about the emission reduction. There is ample realistic potential to reduce emissions to close the emissions gap, and at least a third of that is in the area of energy efficiency. Many measures have the potential for environmental and economical benefits, that would go far beyond greenhouse gas emission reduction only.

At the global Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, exactly 20 years ago, countries agreed on a Framework Convention on Climate Change. Solar PV technology for example, is developing at But in spite of the an incredible pace, bringing tremendous efforts of down cost, and ramping up the UNFCCC Secretariat, application by over 50% per negotiations to really start year. reducing global emissions are going through a difficult It is now within our reach stretch. to take global solar PV capacity to 1.6 Terawatts Indeed, attention is shifting (1.6 million Megawatts) by to a treaty that only takes 2020, which will reduce effect from 2020, leaving us emissions by 1.4 billion with the existing country tonnes of CO2 per year. commitments for the period 2012-2020, closing just Other technologies like half of the gap, at the very LED-lighting, electric best. vehicles and EV batteries, are developing quickly as Reducing emissions is well.

Some of the possible contributors to a global effort to organise the Wedging the Gap initiative:

Wedging the Gap consists of amplifying the actions of frontrunners in 21 types of activity by applying them on a large scale, under the leadership of organizations already active in the field. . 23

Climate Strategy Front running companies, cities, and individual citizens are taking climate action on their own, demonstrating that the potential and the benefits are real. Wedging the Gap In the UNFCCC negotiations, countries are meant to agree on measures, then make sure that emitters in their countries comply with that agreed reduction. Unfortunately though, the negotiations have increasingly turned into “I will only accept limitations on my economy if I’m absolutely sure you will do the same for yours” scenarios. Thereby obscuring the fact that many emission reduction measures have multiple benefits. As it became apparent in recent years that such a top-down approach alone would not work, a bottomup approach was suggested, but so far, no concrete proposals for this on a global scale have been put

forward Wedging the Gap is a bottom-up approach, building on all the rapid developments in technology and implementation and on the great initiatives in many places to bridge the global emissions gap. It consists of amplifying the actions of frontrunners in 21 types of activity by applying them on a large scale, under the leadership of organizations already active in the field. Bringing together all these initiatives in a grand scheme with a major collective impact will serve as a catalyst for individual action. We have selected the 21 ‘wedges’ by applying the following criteria: Already moving: An ongoing activity, starting from which major scaling up before 2020 is possible. Win-win: Significant additional

benefits next to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Leadership: There are organizations that can lead a global initiative. Impact: The initiative has the potential to reach an emission reduction in the order of 0.5 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent by 2020. Examples: Companies, wind energy and cities Worldwide, over 30 leading companies have entered into Climate Savers agreements with WWF, reducing their emissions significantly below business-as-usual. In doing so, many of them found out it’s easier than they thought, brings lower cost and less exposure to energy price risks, and helps build their reputation. Together, these companies reduced their CO2emissions by over 100 million tonnes over the past 12 years.

We estimate the total emission reduction of the first 19 wedges to be 10 billion tonnes of CO2equivalent per year, achievable by 2020. 24

A recent analysis by Ecofys has shown that taking this approach to major corporations in the 16 business sectors where the program is active could reduce global emissions by 0.5-1.0 billion tonnes of CO2 per year by 2020. Many other companies are making similar pledges already; a perfect starting point for a ‘Companies wedge’! Wind energy has made big strides over the past decades. By the end of last year, 238 GW of installed capacity already provided 2-3% of the world’s electricity. GWEC, the Global Wind Energy Council, has published an ‘advanced scenario’, showing that wind power capacity could grow to 1,070 GW (a TeraWatt) by 2020. Doing so would reduce dependence on fossil fuels, improve air quality,

and provide an additional emission reduction of 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2020, compared to the reference scenario. Many cities have ambitious climate programs, combining the creation of new cleantech jobs with improvements in housing and infrastructure, lower energy cost, and better air quality. Organizations like C40 and ICLEI are leaders in these efforts. If the 40 megacities in C40, or an equivalent sample of other cities, reduce their emissions to 20% below businessas-usual by 2020, this would already result in an emission reduction of 0.7 billion tonnes of CO2equivalent. Emissions reduction from the wedges adds up to 10 billion tonnes! All wedges are shown in the figure on the previous page. Of course, there

will be some overlap: companies and cities may use wind turbines as part of their emission reduction programmes. Taking that into account, we estimate the total emission reduction of the first 19 wedges to be 10 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year, achievable by 2020! Adding up the climate benefits of 2 wedges addressing classic air pollutants, including efficient cookstoves in rural areas, would bring us very close to what is needed to keep the world on track for an average global warming of 2 degrees C. Reference: A paper on our approach has been published online by Nature Climate Change: K. Blok, N. Höhne, K. van der Leun, and N. Harrison Bridging the greenhousegas emissions gap http:// nclimate1602

Solar power is set to make a major contribution to carbon reduction between now and 2020.


In The News

Paint-on Batteries Researchers show off spray-on batteries that work on any surface.

HOUSTON – (June 28, 2012) – Researchers at Rice University in America have developed a lithium-ion battery that can be painted on virtually any surface. The rechargeable battery, created in the lab of Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan, consists of spray-painted layers, each representing the components in a traditional battery. The research appears today in Nature’s online, open-access journal Scientific Reports.

components – two current collectors, a cathode, an anode and a polymer separator in the middle. The materials were airbrushed onto ceramic bathroom tiles, flexible polymers, glass, stainless steel and even a beer stein to see how well they would bond with each substrate.

In the first experiment, nine bathroom tile-based batteries were connected in parallel. One was topped with a solar cell that converted power from a “This means traditional white laboratory light. packaging for batteries has When fully charged by both given way to a much more the solar panel and house flexible approach that allows current, the batteries alone all kinds of new design and powered a set of lightintegration possibilities for emitting diodes that spelled storage devices,” said Ajayan, out “RICE” for six hours; the batteries provided a steady “There has been lot of 2.4 volts. interest in recent times in creating power sources with The researchers reported an improved form factor, and that the hand-painted this is a big step forward in batteries were remarkably that direction.” consistent in their capacities, within plus or minus 10 Lead author Neelam Singh, percent of the target. They a Rice graduate student, and were also put through 60 her team spent painstaking charge-discharge cycles with hours formulating, mixing only a very small drop in and testing paints for capacity, Singh said. each of the five layered


Each layer is an optimized stew. The first, the positive current collector, is a mixture of purified singlewall carbon nanotubes with carbon black particles dispersed in N-methylpyrrolidone.

“The hardest part was achieving mechanical stability, and the separator played a critical role,” Singh said. “We found that the nanotube and the cathode layers were sticking very well, but if the separator was not mechanically The second is the cathode, stable, they would peel which contains lithium off the substrate. Adding cobalt oxide, carbon and PMMA gave the right ultrafine graphite (UFG) adhesion to the separator.” powder in a binder solution. Once painted, the tiles and other items were infused The third is the polymer with the electrolyte and separator paint of Kynar then heat-sealed and Flex resin, PMMA and charged. silicon dioxide dispersed in a solvent mixture. Singh said the batteries were easily charged with The fourth, the anode, is a a small solar cell. She mixture of lithium titanium foresees the possibility oxide and UFG in a binder, of integrating paintable and the final layer is the batteries with recently negative current collector, reported paintable solar a commercially available cells to create an energyconductive copper paint, harvesting combination diluted with ethanol. that would be hard to

beat. As good as the handpainted batteries are, she said, scaling up with modern methods will improve them by leaps and bounds. “Spray painting is already an industrial process, so it would be very easy to incorporate this into industry,” Singh said. The Rice researchers have filed for a patent on the technique, which they will continue to refine. Singh said they are actively looking for electrolytes that would make it easier to create painted batteries in the open air, and they also envision their batteries as snap-together tiles that can be configured in any number of ways. “We really do consider this a paradigm changer,” she said.


In The News

Self-Charging Solar Keyboards for iPads A little while ago we brought you news that UK solar technology developer G24i had successfully tested solar cells that can work on indoor light alone and were actively looking to team up with hardware manufacturers to integrate their clever little invention into some actual gadgets. Well guess what? They’ve only gone and done it.

With an i-Pad keyboard no less. A match so perfect that one can only i-magine it was a case of love at first s-i-ght, the moment they set i’s on each other, etc, etc. This is of course fantastic news, because it means the beginning of the end of all sorts of little batteries. And, wait for it, a world in which we will no longer have to roll the batteries in the back of our TV remote controls every time they start running out of juice. The downside of this invention, as we mentioned before, is that it will likely end up being incorporated into all sorts of things which, frankly, don’t really need to be powered in the first place. Like teddy bears in toyshops,


breakfast cereal bowls and traffic wardens. G24i have apparently already delivered 50,000 units to Logitech, with another 50,000 in the pipeline. The keyboards themselves are expected to retail for about $130 when they hit the stores. Logitech’s President Bracken Darrell, said that he was excited by the development and that it, “signals the future of small electronics.” A sentiment which was echoed by G24i’s chairman, Bob Hertzberg, who in an interview with clean-tech website said that the incorporation of the solar cells, which generate a “trickle charge” from indoor light, was an extremely significant step forward. “We have crossed the Rubicon and are in the market with a device,” he said, adding that the companies were now investigating how the cells

could work with other peripherals such as mouses (mice?) or speakers. “Devices are getting more efficient, batteries are getting better, and our technology is getting more efficient. It is the perfect storm for shifting lots of low energy devices over to energy harvesting.” Obvious other devices include eBook readers such the Kindle, smoke alarms, commercial display units, mobile phones, and ultimately laptops and tablets. He also said that the company is working with a high-profile hotel chain to deliver automated blinds powered using photoelectric cells that allow the blinds to shut when the room is unoccupied, reducing air conditioning requirements and saving between $3m and $4m a year for the company. He didn’t however mention the teddy bears.







ONE MAN’S TRASH, IS ANOTHER MAN’S FUEL Why running your car on clean-burning, used vegetable oil from your local restaurant, might be easier than you think.

McDonald’s supplies many biofuel manufacturers around the world with used vegetable oil.


It is said that when Rudolf Diesel first designed the internal combustion engine that now bears his name, he intended it to run on vegetable oil. Unfortunately for us, if you believe the story, he only turned to fossil fuels (first coal dust then oil) after a chance conversation with one of his former professors at the Royal Bavarian Polytechnic of Munich.

the ground and sucking out some decomposed ancient vegetation juice instead? Rudolf: Uumm…now you’re talking. The rest, as they say, is history.

Which would be more of a shame than it actually is, if it weren’t for the fact that a growing number of thrifty motorists around the world are re-discovering Diesel’s original intentions and are Rudolf: I’m thinking of running ‘brewing’ their own fuel. Not my new internal combustion from vegetables as such, engine on vegetable oil. What but from used vegetable oil, do you think? which they obtain, cheaply Professor von Sparkplug (for or often freely, from local argument’s sake?): Sounds restaurateurs, who would like quite a hassle to me otherwise have to pay to picking all those easy-todispose of it. grow vegetables and things. Might need a spade and a A process that is currently wheelbarrow. Pricey. Have allowing these resourceful you considered sinking a well motorists to run their ‘diesel’ a few thousand feet into cars at between 2 and 15%

of the cost of standard diesel fuel. The process itself is relatively simple. Once you’ve got hold of your oil, ponging perhaps of fried haddock, the first thing you have to do is filter out the bits and pieces of thrice cooked food. To many enthusiasts these bits are known as BCBs, or ‘burnt crispy bits’ and can be eliminated from the mix with the use of a simple wire mesh. After that all you have to do is warm the oil up a bit by adding sodium hydroxide and methanol. The sodium hydroxide, often referred to as ‘lye’ by those in the know, breaks down the molecules of oil and turns them into a combination of fatty acids and glycerol. The methanol is then able to react with the fatty acids to produce ‘esters’. The glycerol is then drained

A process that is currently allowing these resourceful motorists to run their ‘diesel’ cars at between 2 and 15% of the cost of standard diesel fuel.



Not that the equipment need be expensive. As one motorist put it, “It depends how quickly you want to do it and the nature of the junk in your garage.”

away and the remaining liquid washed with water to remove any impurities and surplus lye. This is followed by a spot of aerating with an ordinary aquarium type device, a part of the process that has led to many such amateur fuel alchemists being referred to (affectionately) as ‘bubblers’. What you’re left with after all that, is a batch of finest home-brewed biodiesel, which will work perfectly well in almost all diesel cars (although unfortunately not quite so effectively in modern cross-rail diesel engines). At a cost, assuming you are able to strike a deal with your local fish and chip shop (10 cents a litre seems to be the going rate with restaurants who have cottoned on to the fact that their waste is valuable) of about 15 euro cents a litre once you’ve factored in the cost of the chemicals and some equipment. Not that the equipment need be expensive. As one motorist put it, “It depends how quickly you want to do it and the nature of the junk in your garage.” Most amateur brewers, true to the spirit of pioneering adventure, rely on fairly makeshift equipment for producing what is essentially the motoring equivalent of moonshine, but off-the-shelf products are beginning to appear on the internet at very reasonable prices. For example, a UK company aptly called ‘Oilybits’ have started marketing a slick little contraption that does virtually everything for you, for under 500 pounds. And they are not alone. And while you will be forgiven for thinking that the process must be inherently dangerous, what with all that sodium hydroxide and methanol kicking around, it’s actually not as crazy as you might think. Biodiesel esters aren’t particularly volatile and therefore don’t tend to form an explosive vapour (a quality required by petrol engines) and as long as you are cautious with your handling of the sodium and the methanol, you’re really not


Clockwise from top left Chip fryers like this use billions of litres of vegetable oil every year, most of which is wasted. Rudolf Diesel’s first engine was demonstrated at the Paris Trade Fiar in 1900 and ran on peanut oil. A biodiesel fuelled lorry collects waste oil from local restaurants in North America. Traditionally most home processing kits have been makeshift affairs.



putting yourself into any more danger than you do every time you drive your car anyway. However, before you start drawing up plans for an industrial-sized production facility to sell your cleanburning, sustainable fuel to your local community, it might be worth checking what your country’s taxman has to say on the subject. In the UK for example (after an initial attempt to apply tax and duty to all such homeproduced fuels) they have implemented a ‘personal allowance’ quota of 2,500 litres per year. Enough to run most average vehicles with a bit left over for bank holiday traffic jams, but not enough to make a business of it.


Not that that has stopped some producers. Such as the Baltimore Bio-diesel co-op in America which is producing vegetable oil fuel on a large, tax-paying scale, but still managing to sell it at 30% above the cost of regular petroleum-derived diesel to motorists willing to pay a little extra to know they aren’t directly contributing to global emissions. Which isn’t to say that you can’t produce vegetable oil derived fuel on a large scale and sell it – the taxes mostly only apply to fuels which have been through the esterification process and can be used as a direct substitute for standard diesel fuel – by opting to use unesterified vegetable oil instead. Many diesel engines,

with the addition of a fuel heating system, will happily run on this just as happily. The heating bit is quite important though if you don’t want to spend every other weekend giving your vehicles’s fuel delivery system the motoring equivalent of an enema. Unesterified vegetable oils it seems, being considerably more viscous than standard diesel oil, need to be heated up before they are used, to rid them of their considerable clogging qualities. The same is true to a lesser extent with standard diesel engines (with the possible exception of very modern ‘common-rail’ ones, but then

again if you can afford one of those, why not just go the whole hog and get a Prius instead?), which is why you are generally advised not to start them straight from cold, but to wait 30 seconds or so after half turning the ignition key (depending on the outside temperature) before firing up the engine completely. A hassle perhaps, but then again who doesn’t need a little bit of warming up in the morning before they can work properly? Even then there are some impatient homebrew motorists who have addressed this problem head-on by equipping their cars with two separate fuel

tanks. A small one carrying petroleum-based diesel to feed the engine for the first few miles, or until the radiator is nice and toasty (let’s not even think about the heat-loss inefficiency of most internal combustion engines) at which point hot water from the radiator is bypassed into special pipes running through the second tank of vegetable oil. Then, once the vegetable oil has been warmed up out of its natural cloggy state, the driver just hits a button to switch from the first fuel tank to the second. Again there are plenty of companies to be found on the Internet making these sorts of conversion kits, for

just a few hundred pounds. Some of you, those with an aversion to the smell of used chip fat oil, might now be wondering whether you can’t just buy large containers of vegetable oil straight from your local supermarket and bypass the BCB straining bit altogether. This is of course entirely possible, but unfortunately supermarkets are less inclined to give their oil away than restaurants. And besides, the real beauty of home-brewing vehicle fuel from used chip fat oil, is that it stops the stuff being poured down the drain. Not literally perhaps, but certainly figuratively.


In The News

Norwegian Oil Strikers Stoned Public opinion turns against Norway’s offshore oil workers striking for the right to retire at 62 instead of 65. striking workers as they huddle around their oilfired braziers, regaling each other with delusionary tales of industrial valour that even John Steinbeck might have raised an eyebrow at. On the one hand, the striking Norwegian oil workers see themselves as industrial heroes. The men and (very exceptionally) women, who, over the last 40 years, have transformed the small Scandinavian country into one of the richest per capita countries in the world. (An estimated $97,255 nominal GDP per capita in 2011 according to the International Monetary fund; second only to Luxembourg and Qatar.) On the other hand, parts of the general public in Norway are increasingly seeing them as a bunch of over-privileged, over-paid, over-pampered pooches, with nothing better to do than moan about not being allowed to retire onto their handsome pensions three years earlier than the rest of the working population. The latter contingent having been known to express their displeasure of late by lobbing stones and rotten fruit at the


In the meantime, as the strike enters its third week, the Norwegian oil industry faces the very real threat of total closure (currently 9 platforms are closed at a cost to the country - so far - of about $500m). World oil markets have felt the pinch too, with the price of Brent crude jumping above $100 last week. A total industry shut down would result in a loss to the oil-hungry world of 2 million barrels a day (enough to run Germany for just under a day). Oil analysts are saying that if the Norwegian government doesn’t intervene soon to break/ settle the strike, the International Energy Agency, the western oil watchdog, will probably order the release of strategic petroleum reserves to offset the shortage.

SO WHAT? “Assuming the oil companies, led by stateowned Statoil resort to a lockout, Norway stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars a day in petroleum revenue. It also risks incurring the wrath of the rest of Western Europe, which is in the midst of its worst financial crisis since World War II and can hardly be sympathetic to the demands of 6,500 wellpaid oil workers up north. For the government, the main issue is defending Norway’s rock-solid reputation as an energy supplier, especially the crucial flow of natural gas to industries and utilities throughout the region. This is simply nonnegotiable, which is why the government has resorted to mandatory arbitration every time the offshore workers unions and the oil companies have deadlocked over compensation. (Jim Jelter, Wall Street Journal)





A SUSTAINABLE ENERGY SUPPLY FOR EVERYONE Prof. dr. Ad J.M. van Wijk’s inaugural speech delivered on the 7th of December 2011 at the occasion of his acceptance of the position of Professor Future Energy Systems at the Faculty of Applied Sciences of the Delft University of Technology. (Part 1 of 2.)

Europe’s doorbells, in standby mode, require two 600 MW coal power stations just to keep them inactive.


A sustainable energy supply for everyone; my mission and my dream. A dream that I share with many of you. A mission that I will fight for with all of my heart, as a person, a businessman and a scientist. Today I would like to tell you that this dream must and can become a reality. For us, for our children and for the countless generations that will follow.

this new way of regarding and thinking about energy, and outline a few scenarios for the future of our energy supplies. Let me start by telling you that there is no energy crisis; there is no shortage of energy. This standpoint is supported by three significant observations, namely: 1. We waste roughly 98% of our energy. 2. In just one hour, the earth receives more energy from the sun than the entire world could ever consume in a year.

As a result, we designed products, buildings and machines that took unlimited energy supplies for granted. We found the energy we needed for them in the ground; it simply gushed out in the form of oil, gas or coal. And in the early years, we were blissfully unaware that our consumption patterns would cause major environmental problems.

We gradually developed an I for one am optimistic energy system that would that we will see a waste vast amounts of sustainable energy supply energy, particularly fossil for everyone in my 3. Renewable energy is fuels. lifetime. It will require an all around us. enormous effort, courage But we have forgotten that and willingness to change So what is this energy we are actually surrounded on the part of all of us. crisis then, we are hearing by huge sources of energy, so much about? including the heat from But most importantly, the sun, from ourselves as we will have to learn to We were not even remotely people and from animals, look differently and think concerned about energy from wood from trees, differently about our efficiency until the 1970s. from the wind that blows, energy supplies. We had energy to burn and from the movements (quite literally), and so that we all make. This afternoon, I would like efficiency was the last But what is the most to give you a preview of thing on our mind. practical and efficient way

We were not even remotely concerned about energy efficiency until the 1970s. We had energy to burn (quite literally), and so efficiency was the last thing on our mind. 39


We waste roughly 98% of our energy.

to tap into the energy around us? This question is the reason that we must learn to look and think differently about our energy supplies. 98% The first observation is that we waste roughly 98% of our energy. There have been countless analyses examining the energy efficiency of individual products and of complete systems. But using a few examples, I will show you the meaning of energy inefficiency. Boiling An Egg Take something as simple as a boiled egg. What are the steps involved when boiling an egg?


We fill a pan with water and put it on the cooker. Put in the eggs and five minutes later, we have some lovely soft-boiled eggs. The hot water, which has consumed most of the energy, is simply thrown away. The energy efficiency of this process is at most 5%. If we also turn on the receiving hood and light above the cooker, the efficiency drops to less than 2%. As you can see, a very low efficiency, which we cannot blame directly on the inefficiency of the technology, in this case the cooker. No, it is because we are heating the water and not

just the egg. We are doing something fundamentally wrong in this process. We would generate the highest energy yield if we could reduce the amount of water we use, or even refrain from using any water at all. How could this be done? Boiling an egg in a microwave is obviously not an option. A high-pressure or steam pan would use less water and therefore be more efficient. Another possibility would be to recover the energy from the water you throw away. This could be done fairly simply by fitting a second pipe to the drain, a heat exchanger, which would store the energy from the left-over cooking water in the vessel of a boiler,



which many of us already have in our kitchen cupboard under the sink.

Our car weighs about 1,000 kilos. So we are actually moving more than 1,000 kilos of car to transport, in my case, roughly 100 kilos of passenger.

Running A Car But what difference does boiling an egg make to our total energy consumption, I can you hear you thinking. Let’s take a look at our car. This car has a combustion engine with an energy yield of around 15%. The rest of the fuel is converted into heat, which makes our car little more than a mobile heater. The turning motion of the engine must be transmitted to the wheels. This doubles the loss factor, leaving just 7% efficiency. As our car is not as aerodynamic as it could be either, the ultimate energy efficiency comes to a mere 3 to 5%. But this is only taking the technology into account, which brings us to the worst part: our car weighs about 1,000 kilos. So we are actually moving more than 1,000 kilos of car to transport, in my case, roughly 100 kilos of passenger.

which finally brings us to the depressing conclusion that travelling by car, has an energy efficiency of less than 1%.  Owning A Doorbell Now for the legendary example of the doorbell. The doorbell is a model example of the many devices that spend most of their time inactive, while still consuming electricity. Our doorbell is hardly ever used; we would need numerous friends and ring- and-run children to get just one hour’s constant use per year out of our doorbell. However, a transformer is on permanent stand-by, waiting to see if anybody presses the doorbell button. Although the transformer admittedly uses very little energy, about 5-10 Watt, this still adds up to some 50 kWh in the course of a year. And it’s all wasted energy, as the energy efficiency is lower than 1%.

So how much energy do you think all our doorbells use when added together? In the EU, we have an estimated 200 million doorbells. Assuming they Another loss of a factor 10, all use an average of 50




There are only two forms of renewable energy that are truly different and not derived from the sun; tidal energy and geothermal heat.

kWh, we are consuming around 10 billion kWh per year for doorbells.

tiny amount of electricity, which can be stored in a capacitor.

This means that 2 big coal power stations of 600 MW are permanently running to generate the necessary electricity for our doorbells.

It is now a solar cell that is waiting for someone to ring the bell. And when someone does, the transformer is activated. So the solar cell does not produce 50 kWh per year; it annually saves 50 kWh. ďżźďżź

Of course we could produce this electricity sustainably, on large wind farms, but then we would need more than 20 Princess Amalia offshore wind farms of 120 MW each. It is certainly a sustainable option, but it’s also a very expensive way of producing a commodity that we are wasting. Surely there must be another solution? How can we look at this differently? Many people respond by saying that we should use old-fashioned knockers, as they are the most sustainable. True, but they are not of much use to the countless people who live on the third floor or higher. If you take a different approach to the problem, one solution would be to attach a small solar cell to the doorbell. This solar cell, about the size of a fingernail, generates a


1 hour The second observation is that we do not actually have an energy problem, as we have an enormous and infinite source of energy, our sun. Just look up, and there it is. An infinitesimal small amount of the energy generated in this nuclear fusion reactor, namely one/two billionths, reaches the Earth. This still represents a respectable amount of energy; 5,450,000 EJ per 18 year (1 EJ is 10 J). The total global energy consumption in 2010 came to just 535 EJ. So the sun gives us more energy in an hour than the whole world uses in a year. Energy from the sun is the source of nearly all forms of renewable energy. Wind


Energy power, hydropower, wave energy and biomass are all in some way derived from solar energy.

earth attract each other. Geothermal heat is the result of radioactive decay in the Earth’s inner core.

For example, the evaporation of water from our oceans and lakes takes a little less than a quarter of all solar energy that reaches Earth. The water that evaporates then returns to earth in the form of precipitation.


We have a highly energyinefficient energy supply system. The sun provides a great deal of energy. And renewable energy is readily available everywhere we look; in the heat from the sun, the We collect the precipitation wind that blows around in the mountains and our house, the plants and allow it to fall downwards trees that surround us through a turbine. In other and the energy in our own words, the electricity we movement. So what’s the generate from hydropower problem? is actually a derivative of solar energy. There are many reasons There are only two forms for the delay in changing of renewable energy that to a sustainable energy are truly different and not supply. But in essence, the derived from the sun; tidal fundamentally different energy and geothermal character of renewable heat. energy sources is the main stumbling block. Tides are caused by the gravitational force, Renewable energy is whereby the moon and the actually a ‘diluted’ form of


energy, less concentrated than fossil fuels. Although renewable energy is all around us, it is not easy to transport to where it is needed. And renewable sources tend to have a ‘mind’ of their own; they are not always there when you need them. Energy chain  We need a paradigm shift in the way we think about our energy supply. We must learn to look at our energy system from a different angle and find new ways of developing and converting them. In the current system, we approach energy from the traditional energy chain perspective; from energy source to energy service. This chain begins with a source; we delve into the ground and bring oil, gas or coal to the surface.

We process it, before transporting it through pipelines or by ship. We then take it to an electricity power station, refinery or another type of conversion plant and turn it into useful forms of energy such as petrol, steam, warm water or electricity. We distribute it to consumers via a grid or tanker, where it is supplied through a meter or in the tanks at filling stations. The final conversion takes place when we fill our petrol tanks and drive off, turn on our electric lights, or use gas to boil our egg. This final step is the energy service; a warm house, a boiled egg.  The renewable energy chain But in a renewable energy chain, we must look and think differently. As

consumers, we are not interested in energy itself, but rather in the energy service; our boiled egg or a nice warm house.


In next month’s issue of 2050, Prof. dr. Ad J.M. van Wijk outlines his plans for So this is where we should a Green Campus at Delft begin. By designing an University of Technology, optimally efficient product to demonstrate the benefits or system that will provide that can be achieved when the required energy service we learn to look differently and which integrates and think differently about sustainable energy our energy supplies. conversion technology if possible already at this Professor van Wijk is also stage. the author of the highly acclaimed book, ‘How to After all, if renewable boil an egg’ which can be energy is everywhere, why purchased from amazon. not use it everywhere too? com or via his website: The next step is to work  out how you and your neighbors or community can exchange energy services or energy. Only then should you start thinking about the energy services and/or energy you need to buy at the supermarket, IKEA, the bank, via Google or maybe even from your energy


Energy in Buildings

EMPIRE STATE BUILDING RETROFIT SURPASSES ENERGY SAVINGS EXPECTATIONS Kelly Vaughn, the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Senior Public Relations Coordinator, reports on the first year energy consumption figures for the post-retrofit Empire State Building

Now, one year after the core retrofit is complete, the Empire State Building story is not only inspirational, but also very real. 48

The energy efficiency retrofit of the Empire State Building had the makings of a great story right from the start. Visionary building owner Tony Malkin, in an effort to revive the 2.7 million-square foot New York landmark, assembled a team of leading organizations— Rocky Mountain Institute, Johnson Controls, Jones Lang LaSalle, and the Clinton Climate Initiative—to develop a retrofit program that would not only maximize energy savings, but build a strong economic case, saving 38 percent of the building’s energy and $4.4 million annually—and created 252 jobs to boot.

(See to learn about the savings in detail)

fundamentally disrupt the market.

What ultimately set the Empire State Building apart are integrated design, and a ‘right-steps in the right-order’ model that can be applied to any building of any size.

“We knew that by retrofitting the Empire State Building, we would catch the world’s attention,” Malkin said.

“Through this project, we set out to prove or disprove “There aren’t a lot of people energy efficiency retrofits’ who give thought to what economic viability. The we should be designing. program is designed to RMI’s involvement was the be open source, free, and special sauce. widely available—so please rip us off.” “Looking at things differently from the preWith the balance of ordained fashion that most the project still to be people have been trained finished as new tenants in,” Malkin said. fit out high-performance workspaces, not only is “They helped take this the building already more project and turn it into a energy efficient, but it is language that anyone— also estimated to have liberal or conservative— saved 4,000 metric tons of can understand, which carbon, the equivalent of Now, one year after the is: make an investment, that offset by 750 acres of core retrofit is complete, get a return; the return pine forests. the Empire State also happens to produce Building story is not only a better overall result Once all tenant spaces are inspirational, but also very without compromise.” upgraded, the building will real. save $4.4 million a year, According to Amory a 38 percent reduction Today, Malkin and Lovins, RMI’s chief of energy use that will partners announced that scientist, RMI achieved this cut carbon emissions by the building exceeded by working with powerful 105,000 metric tons over its energy-efficiency partners who have tough the next 15 years. guarantee by five percent, problems. saving $2.4 million and In dense urban settings establishing a commercial The decision to reposition like New York City, real estate model for the world’s most commercial buildings reducing costs, maximizing famous office building account for up to 75 return on investment, as a leading example percent of energy used. increasing real estate of an economically If every commercial value, and protecting the viable, energy-efficient building in New York City environment. commercial retrofit was followed this blueprint, made for its potential to carbon emissions would


Energy in Buildings

If you want a sound solution to the coal issue, you need to get serious about designing and running buildings very differently.

be reduced by 4 million tons—the equivalent to that generated by a typical coal-fired power plant.

use energy efficiency to accomplish these goals. We now have a proven model that works.”

“If you want a sound solution to the coal issue, you need to get serious about designing and running buildings very differently,” said Amory Lovins, RMI chairman and chief scientist. “This is not a problem of technology and economics, but of adoption. We need to take to scale what is done.”

Several measures in particular helped to ensure an informed financial decision-making process and ensure a sound economic outcome. These included:

Making the Business Case “First and foremost, making the Empire State Building energy efficient was a sound business decision that saves millions of dollars each year,” said Malkin. “Building owners and operators who are looking to cut costs while improving the value of their buildings can


The use of Life Cycle Cost Analysis Piggybacking energy upgrades on planned improvements Incorporating energy modeling into the design process to identify options of energy efficiency measures Using a hybrid of the ESCO model and owner investments to finance the upgrades

“All portfolio managers and real estate owners to some extent have been concerned with energy efficiency, and they’ve done small things,” said Clay Nesler, VP of global energy and sustainability with Johnson Controls. “What this project shows is that it actually makes sense to make large and significant energy efficiency improvements, not the five- to-10 percent type things, but the 20 to 30 percent and more type of improvements, and that there is a business case for doing so,” In-Depth: Behind the Savings

A total of eight efficiency measures performed jointly by Johnson Controls and Jones Lang LaSalle were responsible for total firstIncorporating tenant year savings that added up energy reduction measures. to $4,393,796.


Energy in Buildings

include a suspended coated and Demand Control film and gas fill. Ventilation Total savings: $858,305 This more than tripled the insulating value of This measure involved each window, increasing upgrading the existing occupant comfort, blocking piecemeal and primarily Radiator Insulation winter heat loss threepneumatic control systems and Steam Trap times better than the old at the Empire State Savings windows, reducing heating Building to comprehensive, Total savings: $491,191 and cooling loads, blocking consistent digital controls, ultraviolet rays to protect and the installation of More than 6,000 insulated occupants and furnishings, CO2 sensors for control of reflective barriers were and enhancing daylighting. outside air introduction to installed behind radiator the air-handling units. units located on the In addition, the advanced perimeter of the building. glazing along with Benefits include reducing Prior to this upgrade, improved lighting and cooling and heating about half of the heat office equipment cut the demand, monitoring radiated into the usable building’s peak cooling of indoor air quality, space, while the other half load by one-third. The old increased occupant helped to heat New York chiller plant could then comfort, and reduced City. This barrier reflects be renovated, rather than energy bills. back most of the heat into replaced and expanded— occupied space—where it saving more than $17 Chiller Plant Retrofit is intended to go. million of budgeted capital Total savings: $675,714 expenditure. That capital Windows Retrofit cost saving helped pay for The chiller plant retrofit Total savings: $338,508 other projects and cut the project included the overall incremental simple improvement of four The buildings 6,500 payback for the retrofit to industrial electric chillers existing double-hung three years. in addition to upgrades to windows were dismantled controls, variable speed and rebuilt onsite to Direct Digital Controls drives, and primary loop Here’s how it all breaks down according to a report produced by Johnson Controls, Jones Lang LaSalle, and W&H Properties.

The buildings 6,500 existing double-hung windows were dismantled and rebuilt onsite to include a suspended coated film and gas fill.



tenant spaces, by installing dimmable ballasts and Tenant Energy photosensors for perimeter Management spaces and provided Total savings: $386,709 occupants with a plug load occupancy sensor for their This project provides personal workstations. tenants with access to online energy and Benefits include reduced benchmarking information, utility costs for tenants, as well as sustainability lower cooling demand due tips and updates. Tenants to less heat from electric in the Empire State lights and equipment, and Building have access to a improved visual quality. digital dashboard showing energy use in real time, VAV Air Handling and comparing it to past Units use and other tenants. Total Savings: $702,507 Tenant Daylighting, lighting and plugs Total savings: $940,862 This measure—the biggest energy saver—reduced lighting power density in

As tenant turnover occurs, existing constant volume units are replaced with variable air volume units, using a new air-handling layout (two floor-mounted

units per floor instead of four ceiling-hung units). VAV air handlers are more intelligent, and provide greater control—leading to not only costs savings, but also other benefits including greater occupant comfort and control, and reduced electricity demand. “Until now, the energy savings were all theoretical and all based on careful energy modeling,” said Eric Harrington, analyst with RMI’s buildings practice. “Now that we have a year of utility data, the Empire State Building deep energy retrofit story is proven to work.”


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