5 of the Best TED Talks About Renewable Energy

2. Rich in Antioxidants

<p>Parsley contains many powerful <a href=”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-antioxidants” target=”_blank”>antioxidants</a> that can benefit your health.</p><p>Antioxidants are compounds that prevent cellular damage from molecules called free radicals. Your body requires a healthy balance of antioxidants and free radicals to maintain optimal health (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/” target=”_blank”>6</a>).</p><p>The main antioxidants in parsley are (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25340982″ target=”_blank”>7</a>, <a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27075296″ target=”_blank”>8</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”http://www.foodandnutritionjournal.org/vol04nospl-issue-conf-october-2016/antioxidant-properties-of-a-parsley-petroselinum-crispum-juice-rich-in-polyphenols-and-nitrites/”>9</a>):</p><ul><li>flavonoids</li><li>carotenoids</li><li>vitamin C</li></ul><p>The fragrant herb is particularly rich in a class of antioxidants known as flavonoids. The two main flavonoids include myricetin and apigenin.</p><p>Studies show that diets rich in flavonoids may lower your risk of conditions, including colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30041489″ target=”_blank”>10</a>, <a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23591151″ target=”_blank”>11</a>, <a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23953879″ target=”_blank”>12</a>).</p><p>Furthermore, beta carotene and lutein are two antioxidants known as carotenoids. Many studies associate higher intake of carotenoids with a reduced risk of certain diseases, including lung cancer (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24473231″ target=”_blank”>13</a>).</p><p>Vitamin C also has strong antioxidant effects and plays an important role in supporting <a href=”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/does-vitamin-c-help-with-colds” target=”_blank”>immune health</a> and protecting against chronic disease (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3783921/” target=”_blank”>14</a>).</p><p>Interestingly, dried parsley may be higher in antioxidants than fresh sprigs. In fact, one study found that the dried herb had 17 times more antioxidant content than its fresh counterpart (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25340982″ target=”_blank”>7</a>).</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Parsley contains many powerful antioxidants, which may help prevent cell damage and lower your risk of certain diseases.</p>

3. Supports Bone Health

<p>Your bones need certain vitamins and minerals in varying amounts to remain healthy and strong.</p><p>Parsley is packed with vitamin K — an essential nutrient for <a href=”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/build-healthy-bones” target=”_blank”>bone health</a>. A 1/2 cup (30 grams) provides an impressive 547% of the RDI (<a href=”https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/” target=”_blank”>3</a>).</p><p>Vitamin K helps build stronger bones by supporting bone-building cells called osteoblasts. This vitamin also activates certain proteins that increase bone mineral density — a measure of the amount of minerals present in your bones (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30050932″ target=”_blank”>15</a>).</p><p>Bone density is important, as a lower bone mineral density is associated with an increased risk of fractures — especially in older adults (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22178778″ target=”_blank”>16</a>).</p><p>Some studies suggest that eating foods high in vitamin K may reduce your risk of fractures. One study found that higher vitamin K intake was associated with a 22% lower risk of fractures (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28445289″ target=”_blank”>17</a>, <a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29263734″ target=”_blank”>18</a>).</p><p>Typical dietary intakes of vitamin K may be below the levels needed to improve bone mineral density and reduce fracture risk. Therefore, eating foods like parsley may benefit bone health (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17906277″ target=”_blank”>19</a>).</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Parsley is rich in vitamin K, which is an essential nutrient for optimal bone health. Eating foods high in this nutrient has been linked to a reduced risk of fractures and improved bone mineral density.</p>

4. Contains Cancer-Fighting Substances

<p>Parsley contains plant compounds that may have <a href=”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cancer-fighting-foods” target=”_blank”>anticancer effects</a>.</p><p>Oxidative stress — a condition characterized by an imbalance in levels of antioxidants and free radicals — is associated with the development of certain chronic diseases, including cancer (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25340982″ target=”_blank”>7</a>, <a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29731617″ target=”_blank”>20</a>).</p><p>Parsley is particularly rich in flavonoid antioxidants and vitamin C, which reduce oxidative stress in your body and may lower your risk of certain cancers.</p><p>For example, high dietary intake of flavonoids may reduce colon cancer risk by up to a 30% (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30041489″ target=”_blank”>21</a>).</p><p>Additionally, subgroups of certain flavonoids in parsley — such as myricetin and apigenin — have shown anticancer activity in test-tube and animal studies (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25738871″ target=”_blank”>22</a>, <a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24818105″ target=”_blank”>23</a>).</p><p>Plus, eating foods rich in <a href=”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-c-foods” target=”_blank”>vitamin C</a> may reduce your risk of cancer as well. A 1/2 cup (30 grams) of parsley provides 53% of the RDI for this nutrient.</p><p>One study found that increasing vitamin C by 100 mg per day reduced the risk of overall cancer by 7%. Moreover, increasing dietary vitamin C by 150 mg per day may lower prostate cancer risk by up to 21% (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30475962″ target=”_blank”>24</a>, <a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4532989/” target=”_blank”>25</a>)</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Parsley contains various antioxidants — like flavonoids and vitamin C — that may provide cancer-fighting benefits.</p>

5. Rich in Nutrients That Protect Your Eyes

<p>Lutein, beta carotene and zeaxanthin are three carotenoids in parsley that help protect your eyes and promote healthy vision. Carotenoids are pigments found in plants that have powerful antioxidant activity (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23571649″ target=”_blank”>26</a>, <a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24473231″ target=”_blank”>27</a>).</p><p><a href=”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/lutein-and-zeaxanthin” target=”_blank”>Lutein and zeaxanthin</a> may prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an incurable eye disease and a leading cause of blindness around the world.</p><p>In fact, eating foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce your risk of late AMD by up to 26% (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23571649″ target=”_blank”>28</a>, <a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30231532″ target=”_blank”>29</a>, <a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21899805″ target=”_blank”>30</a>).</p><p>beta carotene is another carotenoid that supports eye health. This carotenoid can be converted into vitamin A in your body (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20200262″ target=”_blank”>31</a>).</p><p>This conversion of beta carotene explains why parsley is very rich in vitamin A. A 1/2 cup (30 grams) of freshly chopped leaves provides 108% of the RDI for this vitamin (<a href=”https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/” target=”_blank”>3</a>).</p><p>Vitamin A is <a href=”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-nutrients-for-eyes” target=”_blank”>essential for eye health</a>, as it helps protect the cornea — the outermost layer of your eye — as well as the conjunctiva — the thin membrane covering the front of your eye and the inside of your eyelids (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26840172″ target=”_blank”>32</a>).</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Parsley contains lutein, zeaxanthin and beta carotene, plant compounds that protect eye health and may reduce your risk of certain age-related eye conditions like AMD.</p>

6. May Improve Heart Health

<p>Parsley is a nutrient-dense herb that may improve <a href=”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/heart-healthy-foods” target=”_blank”>heart health</a>. For example, it’s a good source of the B vitamin folate — with 1/2 cup (30 grams) providing 11% of the RDI (<a href=”https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/” target=”_blank”>3</a>).</p><p>High intakes of dietary folate may reduce heart disease risk in certain populations. A large study in over 58,000 people found that the highest intake of folate was associated with a 38% reduced risk of heart disease (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20395608″ target=”_blank”>33</a>).</p><p>Conversely, low intake of folate may increase your risk of heart disease. One study in 1,980 men observed a 55% increase in heart disease risk in those with the lowest intake of this nutrient (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11390336″ target=”_blank”>34</a>).</p><p>Some experts hypothesize that <a href=”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-folate-folic-acid” target=”_blank”>folate</a> benefits heart health by lowering levels of the amino acid homocysteine. High homocysteine levels have been linked to a higher risk of heart disease in some studies.</p><p>Homocysteine may negatively affect heart health by altering the structure and function of your arteries. However, the connection between this amino acid and heart disease still remains controversial (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20937919″ target=”_blank”>35</a>, <a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25577237″ target=”_blank”>36</a>).</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Parsley is rich in folate, a B vitamin that protects your heart and may reduce your risk of heart disease.</p>

7. Parsley Extract Has Antibacterial Properties

<p>Parsley may have antibacterial benefits when used as an extract.</p><p>For example, a test-tube study demonstrated that the extract showed significant antibacterial activity against <a href=”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/5-diet-tips-against-candida” target=”_blank”>yeast</a>, molds, and a common, infection-causing bacteria known as <em>S. aureus </em>(<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441868/” target=”_blank”>37</a>, <a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19919287/” target=”_blank”>38</a>).</p><p>The extract may also prevent the growth of bacteria in food. Another test-tube study found it prevented the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, such as <em>Listeria</em> and <em>Salmonella</em> — both known to cause <a href=”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-cause-food-poisoning” target=”_blank”>food poisoning</a> (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21637036″ target=”_blank”>39</a>, <a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5918639/” target=”_blank”>40</a>, <a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28527368″ target=”_blank”>41</a>).</p><p>Though the extract shows antibacterial potential in test-tube studies, these benefits have not yet been studied in humans.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Parsley extract has been shown to have antibacterial properties in test-tube studies. Still, more research is needed.</p>

8. Easy to Add to Your Diet

<p>Parsley is an extremely versatile and inexpensive flavoring option.</p><p>You can use the dried version as an ingredient in various recipes. It can enhance the flavor of soups, stews and tomato sauces. Additionally, it’s often combined with <a href=”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-healthy-herbs-and-spices” target=”_blank”>other herbs</a> in Italian-inspired recipes.</p><p>Fresh parsley is also a great addition to homemade salad dressings, marinades, and seafood recipes. Many people use fresh sprigs in recipes that don’t require cooking or add the herb at the end of the cooking period.</p><p>Here are a few more ways to add parsley to your diet:</p><ul> <li>Stir fresh leaves into a homemade chimichurri sauce.</li></ul><ul> <li>Mix finely chopped leaves into your salad dressings.</li></ul><ul> <li>Sprinkle fresh or dried leaves on top of a <a href=”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-benefits-of-salmon” target=”_blank”>salmon</a> dish.</li></ul><ul> <li>Finely chop the stems and add to a potato salad for an extra crunch.</li></ul><ul><li>Simmer dried flakes in a homemade tomato sauce.</li></ul><p>Interestingly, the herb may act as a natural breath freshener, so you can also chew on a sprig while cooking to freshen up your breath (<a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4606616/” target=”_blank”>42</a>).</p><p>To extend the life of fresh parsley, wrap the bunch in a damp paper towel and store it in a closed container in the refrigerator.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Parsley can be used as a dried spice or fresh herb. Dried flakes are usually added to hot dishes like soup and pasta, while the fresh herb is a great addition to salads and dressings.</p>

The Bottom Line

<p>Parsley is a versatile herb that provides a concentrated source of nutrients. It’s particularly rich in vitamins A, C and K.</p><p>The vitamins and beneficial plant compounds in <a href=”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/parsley” target=”_blank”>parsley</a> may improve bone health, protect against chronic diseases and provide antioxidant benefits.</p><p>You can incorporate dried or fresh leaves easily into your diet by adding them to soups, salads, marinades and sauces.</p>

Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.

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The Virtual Energy System Of The Future Is Coming To Life In The Orkney Isles

Orkney continues to be at the center of the United Kingdom’s renewable energy plans, with the Scottish archipelago unveiling the ReFLEX (Responsive Flexibility) Orkney project earlier this week. Orkney is a net exporter of renewable energy, and the project will see a range of technology implemented across the archipelago in a bid to maximize the islands’ energy production. ReFLEX will link together local renewable electricity generation, transport as well as heat networks through a digital interface that will is part of the Virtual Energy System (VES).

The Standing Stones of Stenness is a Neolithic monument five miles northeast of Stromness on the mainland of Orkney, Scotland. This may be the oldest henge site in the British Isles.

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This £28.5 million project aims to create a ‘smart energy island’ with renewable energy at the forefront. By linking together Orkney’s energy production, local consumption demands, and electrified transportation through a single grid network, it will not only help further promote the benefits of clean energy but could also serve as a framework for future development.

The Future Of Energy Systems

The ReFLEX project is seen as the future of energy systems, as it is expected to reduce and replace fossil fuel energy production , with the UK’s Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry saying: “What we are seeing here on Orkney is a test bed for the energy system of the future. These smart systems are a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy and will provide cheaper, greener and more flexible access to energy for everyone. What we learn from these innovations could one day be rolled out across the UK and exported around the world and we’ll be able to say it was ‘Made in Orkney’.”

 Read Also: The European Union Is Helping These Islands To Go Renewable

Funded by the United Kingdom Research & Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the project will be led by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) which has been a leading figure in Orkney’s renewable energy research. Along with several other partners, the EMEC will look to diversify the archipelago’s energy demands by implementing a range of different technologies including:

  • Up to 500 domestic batteries;
  • Up to 100 business and large-scale batteries;
  • Up to 200 Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) chargers;
  • Up to 600 new electrical vehicles (EVs);
  • An island community-powered electric bus and e-bike integrated transport system;
  • Up to 100 flexible heating systems; and
  • A Doosan industrial-scale hydrogen fuel cell.

Capitalizing On Renewable Energy

The ReFLEX project will help maximize the output of Orkney’s rich renewable resource production. Solo Energy, which is one of the partners involved in the projects, will roll out their FlexiGrid software platform to be able to monitor and control power generation in real-time. The new batteries will be charged during peak power generation and the energy stored within released when demand exceeds production. Orkney has been the location of some big innovations in renewable energy, making it the ideal place to host the ReFLEX project.

 Read Also: Life After Brexit: Sustainability And The European Regional Development Fund

Employees work on a section of the Pelamis P2 Wave Energy Converter sits in the water at Leith docks in Edinburgh, Scotland. The unit is now owned by Orkney Islands Council.

BLOOMBERG NEWS

By capitalizing on Orkney’s renewable energy, the VES and ReFLEX are expected to ensure higher quality and more affordable energy services to its’ inhabitants. As such, it could provide a framework for future implementation on the mainland, with UK Government Minister Lord Duncan pointing out that: “Scotland is at the forefront of smart energy which is key to the UK Government’s modern Industrial Strategy. With £14.3 million of UK Government funding going to the ReFLEX project in Orkney, we are helping to establish the Scottish Islands as an energy powerhouse. We need cheaper, cleaner and flexible energy and Orkney will be at the heart of this.”

Framework For The Future

Apart from implementing an energy system that could have a wide-ranging effect on how the energy industry operates, VES and ReFLEX will also be promoting the use of renewable energy. Countries around the world have been striving to reduce their carbon footprint and look to various technologies to help accomplish their goals. Renewable energy has always been at the forefront of any sustainable development plans, and along with new advancements in technology, it has continued to expand its reach and overall use.

On top of reducing the islands’ carbon emissions and pioneering a new form of energy system, the project is also expected to help drive job growth and investments in the renewable energy and smart software sectors, as Rob Saunders, Deputy Challenge Director, Prospering from the Energy Revolution, UKRI explained: “We all need energy systems that are cheaper, cleaner and consumer-friendly. We have a great opportunity with the ReFLEX project to show just how innovation can deliver this energy ambition for the future. Supported by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, ReFLEX can drive investment, create high-quality jobs and grow companies with export potential.”

 Read Also: Orkney Is Leading The Drive For Hydrogen Energy

With islands worldwide leading the charge in renewable energy transitions and smart technology, this latest project will go a long way in cementing the importance of islands as incubators for innovation. As Orkney tests out the VES and the ReFLEX project, it will not only be working towards the creation of a flexible electricity grid and advancing cheaper renewable energy, but also be part of a roadmap for the rest of the United Kingdom to follow.

Apple shares progress report on supplier usage of clean energy

Apple announced that there are now 44 suppliers that have committed to use clean energy for Apple production. It doesn’t mean all suppliers are using renewable energy; it also doesn’t mean that they use 100 percent clean energy for all their clients. But it’s still good news.

All Apple facilities already run on clean energy, such as offices, retails stores and data centers. But Apple is well aware that it manufactures a ton of devices and works with a ton of suppliers. That’s why the company has created a fund to help finance renewable energy projects in China. Apple is also allocating $2.5 billion in green bonds.

Thanks to these initiatives, Apple has financed solar rooftops in Japan, a custom alloy made of recycled aluminum that you can find on the MacBook Air and Mac Mini and more.

Overall, Apple expects to reach its 2020 goal of injecting 4 gigawatts of renewable energy into its supply chain well before 2020. In fact, the company now says that it will indirectly generate around 5 gigawatts of clean energy.

Suppliers in the program include Foxconn, Wistron, TSMC, Corning, STMicroelectronics and dozens of names that are mostly unknown to end customers.

Historic New Law to Transform Puerto Rico into Clean Energy Powerhouse

Statement from EDF President Fred Krupp

April 11, 2019

Debora Schneider, (212) 616-1377, dschneider@edf.org

(NEW YORK, NY – Apr. 11, 2019) Gov. Ricardo Rosselló today signed into law a landmark bill that creates a pathway for Puerto Rico to move to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. The new law, “Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act,” (SB 1121), will spur the development of clean distributed electricity sources that include solar power, low-carbon microgrids and energy storage, and remove the barriers for connecting these systems into the island’s electric grid. Importantly, the law also strengthens oversight authority of Puerto Rico’s Energy Bureau.

“Gov. Rosselló’s resolve for Puerto Rico to emerge as a clean energy powerhouse is exactly what the island needs to transform into a better version of itself. With this new law, Puerto Rico incentivizes the development and use of more affordable clean energy that will improve the quality of life and environment for all of its residents.

“This law makes clean energy a cornerstone of Puerto Rico’s reimagined energy economy. Swift implementation is a critical next step for the island to reap the full benefits. We stand ready to help Puerto Rico restore and reboot its electricity system to build a future that is economically and environmentally sustainable for all.”

Environmental Defense Fund is developing an innovative project to demonstrate the feasibility of low-carbon microgrids. These mini-energy service stations will fuel up on solar power and run backed by battery storage and intelligent software. Linked to the larger grid — ensuring the delivery of affordable, clean and reliable energy every day — these systems will be designed to also separate from the grid during emergencies, like Hurricane Maria, to keep the lights on in remote parts of the island. For more information, visit www.edf.org/PuertoRico.

 

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Marrying two types of solar cells draws more power from the sun

Silicon solar cells could get a boost in electrical output with a coating of perovskite materials.

Lena Ason/Alamy Stock Photo

ORLANDO, FLORIDA—The promising solar cell materials called perovskites need a partner. Researchers marry a layer of perovskite, which absorbs high-energy blue photons in sunlight, with standard silicon, which gobbles up lower-energy light. In theory, such tandem cells should deliver a double dose of power, with electricity coming from both layers. But building two complete solar cells, one atop the other, adds cost and other challenges. Last week, a team reported advancing a potentially simpler, cheaper way to make a tandem.

The team’s perovskite converts light instead of generating current, transforming blue photons to near-infrared (near-IR) photons, which the silicon cell below then turns into electricity. The researchers say the design could boost the efficiency of silicon solar cells by nearly 20%. If it does, it could be key to realizing the promise of perovskites, a class of compounds that share a crystal structure and are made from common elements such as lead, bromine, and chlorine.

“This is one of the most exciting results I’ve seen in a long time,” says Michael McGehee, a perovskite expert at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. “The boost in efficiency they are claiming is very significant.” Silicon solar cell–makers, a $30 billion a year industry in 2016, grasp at every tenth of a percentage point gain in efficiency.

Silicon dominates the solar industry not because it’s the best solar converter, but because it’s serviceable and relatively cheap. Still, manufacturers must use expensive clean rooms to purify and prepare it. Perovskites, in contrast, are easy to coax into a thin, powerfully light-absorbing layer. Most perovskites are best at absorbing blue light, so they must be paired with other materials to snag the full solar spectrum.

The solar industry is racing to commercialize perovskites by placing them atop conventional silicon modules, which discard much of the energy in bluer light photons, releasing it as heat rather than electric current. But in addition to the expense of adding device layers, manufacturers must also grapple with practical challenges such as designing tandems so the amount of current coming out of each cell is the same. If they don’t, the overall current is limited by the weaker of the two cells.

A perfect match

A new tandem solar cell design uses a perovskite layer (pink), which absorbs energy from blue and purple photons and re-emits it as near-infrared (near-IR) photons. Along with other colors of light, these photons are absorbed by a silicon (gray) solar cell and converted to electricity.

In this perovskite’s arrangementof atoms, ytterbium atoms (yellow)work with a vacant site (white) toconvert blue light to near-IR. Perovskite Silicon Electrode Light Near-IR photons Electricity flows out

V. Altounian/Science

Two years ago, researchers led by electrical engineer Hongwei Song at Jilin University in Changchun, China, reported a way around these challenges. By sprinkling a small amount of the rare earth metal ytterbium into a standard cesium- and lead-based perovskite, they found they could build a perovskite tandem with a different, simpler architecture. Like conventional perovskites, the ytterbium-doped version absorbs blue photons, energizing electrons in the material. But these electrons aren’t turned into current. Instead, they immediately pass their energy to the ytterbium atoms, which re-emit virtually all of it as near-IR light. Most of these photons zip into the silicon cell below, which absorbs nearly all their energy and efficiently converts it to electricity, losing very little as heat. “For solar energy conversion, this combination of materials is almost exactly what you want,” says Daniel Gamelin, a chemist at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The perovskites Song’s team created were nanoparticles, however, which are hard to lay down uniformly on a silicon cell. The challenge is acute with the best-performing commercial cells, in which silicon is topped with a protective layer of glass that is intentionally roughened. The miniature glass mountains help light enter the cell instead of reflecting off its top surface, but the perovskite nanoparticles don’t always form an even layer on the rough surface.

At last week’s American Chemical Society meeting here, Gamelin reported that he and his colleagues have solved this problem. They used a common solar cell–growing technique known as vacuum deposition to create thin, smooth layers of ytterbium-doped perovskite on roughly 14-centimeter silicon solar cells. The technique coats the miniature glass mountain range with an even perovskite film.

In the resulting tandem, nearly all the blue light absorbed by the perovskite is converted to near-IR photons, Gamelin reported. As a result, he predicts, topping a high-end silicon cell with the ytterbium perovskite should enable it to convert 32.2% of the energy it absorbs as sunlight into electricity, up from 27%—a 19.2% boost. Gamelin’s team is doing experiments now to confirm those predictions. “I am a little skeptical of the numbers,” McGehee says. But even a fraction of that increase “would be a big deal,” he says.

Michael Graetzel, a photovoltaic expert at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, agrees. But he says practical concerns such as emitted near-IR photons escaping may limit gains to less than 10%.

Last month, Gamelin and his colleagues launched a startup, BlueDot, to commercialize the technology. They have plenty of competition. Perovskite startups such as Oxford PV in the United Kingdom and Saule Technologies in Warsaw are already field testing their perovskite-silicon tandems or preparing to do so. But BlueDot hopes to leapfrog the other companies, because its simpler tandem design should enable standard silicon solar cell manufacturers to integrate perovskites into their manufacturing lines more easily—and get perovskites onto the roofs of the world.

Batteries are key to clean energy — and they just got much cheaper

Batteries are critical for our clean energy future. Luckily, their cost has dropped so low, we might be much closer to this future than we previously thought.

In a little less than a year, the cost of lithium-ion batteries has fallen by 35 percent, according to a new Bloomberg New Energy Finance report. Cheaper batteries mean we can store more solar and wind power even when the sun isn’t shining or wind isn’t blowing. This is a major boost to renewables, helping them compete with fossil fuel-generated power, even without subsidies in some places, according to the report. Massive solar-plus-storage projects are already being built in places like Florida and California to replace natural gas, and many more are on the way.

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The new battery prices are “staggering improvements,” according to Elena Giannakopoulou, who leads the energy economics group at Bloomberg NEF. Previous estimates anticipated this breakthrough moment for batteries to arrive in late 2020, not early 2019.

According to the report, the cost of wind and solar generation is also down sharply — by between 10 to 24 percent since just last year, depending on the technology. These numbers are based on real projects under construction in 46 countries around the world.

The lower battery prices have big implications for electric cars, too. There’s a key cost threshold of about $100 per kilowatt hour, the point at which electric vehicles would be cheap enough to quickly supplant gasoline. At this rate, we’ll reach that in less than five years.

Now that cheap batteries are finally here, we’re well on our way to electric modes of transportation and always-on renewable energy — and not a moment too soon.

What’s driving the plunge? Giannakopoulou cites “technology innovation, economies of scale, stiff price competition and manufacturing experience.” Other storage methods, like pumped hydro, still account for the vast majority of energy storage capacity, but lithium-ion batteries are much more flexible and don’t require specific locations or environmental conditions to work. Like everything in the built environment, lithium-ion batteries also require mining and manufacturing. There’s still a chance that some new exotic battery technology will quickly supplant lithium-ion, but its ubiquity and — now — cheapness will be hard to beat.

Electric vehicles will become cheaper to own and operate than gas ones. In places like California, Texas, and Germany, electricity prices have occasionally dropped below zero — a sign that the grid wasn’t yet ready to handle the glut of renewable energy produced there. Now, more of that cheap power will be stored and passed on to consumers. This could be the moment when renewable energy starts to shut down fossil fuel for good.

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Amazon Web Services adds more clean energy to its cloud with three new wind farm deals

An AWS wind farm in Fowler Ridge, Ind. (AWS Photo)

More than 229 megawatts of clean power will be added to Amazon Web Services’ data centers by the end of 2021 through three new wind farm deals announced Monday by the cloud computing giant.

The farms in Ireland, Sweden, and Southern California will bolster the clean energy supplies that run AWS’s worldwide network of data centers, which used clean energy for 50 percent of their power needs in 2018. The wind farm in Ireland will generate 91.2 megawatts of power for AWS when it is complete by the end of 2021, and farms in Sweden and outside Bakersfield, Calif. will add 91 megawatts and 47 megawatts, respectively, by the end of next year, AWS said in a press release.

AWS was relatively quiet on the clean-energy front during 2018, which prompted complaints from Greenpeace in February that the cloud computing market share leader wasn’t committed to its eventual goal of running everything on its network with clean energy. Rivals Microsoft and Google signed several major deals for clean energy plants and farms during the year, and The Information reported in December that AWS had backed out of a proposed wind farm deal in Ohio over cost concerns.

The company reiterated Monday its goal of eventually using 100 percent renewable energy to power its data centers in the press release, but it’s not ready to give itself a deadline.

With General Assembly Vote, Maryland Passes Clean Energy Jobs Act

Annapolis, M.D.–The Maryland General Assembly just passed the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) and has subsequently sent the bill to the Governor’s desk for signature.  The bill will accelerate the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030, including a huge leap in solar energy combined with quadrupling the state’s commitment to offshore wind. Additionally, the bill will provide millions of dollars to workforce development programs, and require the state to create a plan and complete a robust analysis in order to accomplish the goal of Maryland going 100% clean energy by 2040.

In response, Josh Tulkin, Director of the Sierra Club Maryland Chapter, released the following statement:  

“Today the General Assembly made a significant step in clean energy investments and climate action. The Clean Energy Jobs Act requires major new commitments to new clean energy in Maryland, provides local, good-paying jobs to many through workforce development programs and helps the state transition away from harmful fossil fuels like coal.

“The bombshell Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published in the fall of 2018 made it clear that at every level of government, business, and community, we need to act on climate as quickly and as aggressively as possible. Maryland is still home to six large coal-fired power plants, but this bill marks a moment in history for Maryland as it charts a more ambitious climate platform. We must continue to fight and push for more clean energy and fewer fossil fuels.

“The growth of clean energy under this bill is critical for Maryland’s fight against climate change, but we are disappointed that the bill allows a polluting technology like trash incineration to remain as a qualifying renewable resource and requires the state to study the potential role of nuclear energy in our clean energy program. We will continue to push for cleaning up our definition of renewable energy and ensure that our clean energy incentives are put toward new, additional, clean energy projects, not providing financial hand-outs to facilities that were online decades before the launch of the RPS.”

In the Face of Climate Change, Cities and States Continue to Lead On Clean Energy

As we continue to see a complete lack of action on climate change from the Trump administration, we’re inspired to demonstrate, yet again, that states and cities are leading the way. This is happening across the spectrum, including in so-called red states: people are experiencing first-hand the devastating effects of climate change and are rising together to advocate that their communities move to solar and wind power.

This week Boise, Idaho became the first city in Idaho and 115th city nationally to commit to 100 percent clean, renewable energy. With this commitment, Boise joins numerous other cities in traditionally conservative states that are bucking the mainstream narrative by prioritizing and working to implement clean energy. For years, the Idaho Chapter of the Sierra Club, in coordination with the Ready for 100 campaign, has worked with local activists in Boise — including some inspiring students with the Climate Justice League — to build the grassroots support for moving away from fossil fuels. After years of meeting with city council members, collecting petitions, making countless phone calls, and enlisting support from local businesses, Boisians have finally seen their efforts realized in “Boise’s Energy Future,” a plan making a community-wide commitment to 100 percent clean energy.

In July 2018, students with the Climate Justice League joined the Idaho Sierra Club in delivering over 1300 postcards to Councilmember Lauren McLean in support of 100 percent clean energy for the city.

Families, small business owners, people of faith, and so many others are lending their voices to move these cities and county councils away from fossil fuels. They feel first-hand the effects of using dirty fuels and now they’re the ones pushing their communities towards clean energy. Idaho has experienced more than 10 times as many large fires (larger than 1000 acres) per season and an average 21 more wildfires per season, both since 1970. The state has also seen a 1.72 degree F increase in average spring and summer temperatures and 78 percent less precipitation falling at high elevations — again, both since the 1970s. For many these changes mean a loss of lands, home, stability, and work.

It’s past time for change — the people are demanding action and showing officials the economic and quality-of-life benefits that investment in an equitable clean energy system can provide.

Because of these powerful grassroots leaders, utilities are making major moves away from fossil fuels as well. This Boise announcement comes on the heels of a recent announcement by Idaho Power. The company will provide 100 percent carbon-free electricity to customers by 2045 because of customers demanding it! This makes Idaho Power the first major Pacific Northwest utility to commit to move away from fossil fuels, and following MidAmerican in 2016 and Colorado-based Xcel Energy last December. Now, we need to make sure they deliver on that commitment.

Climate Justice League activists in Boise show off their hard work in the local paper.

Admittedly, we bristle a little at the term “red states” because we know that the advocates and the values in these places are not monolithic. But it’s still worth noting that a lot of states that have recently voted along conservative lines have also been making big progress on climate and clean energy. Idaho isn’t the only red state turning green. Just to the south, activists in Utah are also moving their communities to commit to 100 percent clean energy including Salt Lake City, Park City, Moab, Cottonwood Heights, and Summit County.

Last March, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill that sets the entire state on the path to 100 percent carbon-free energy!

Last month, New Mexico passed the “Energy Transition Act,” a bill to move the state to 100% carbon-free electricity.

And other clean energy commitments in so-called red states include Buncombe County, North Carolina; Wake County, North Carolina; Hillsborough, North Carolina; Dunedin, Florida; Clarkston, Georgia; Tallahassee, Florida; Gainesville, Florida; and Norman, Oklahoma.

Climate action and clean energy progress is happening everywhere, in states of all persuasions, thanks to grassroots leadership at the state and local level. We can and will meet this crisis together. Join us.

A new way to generate hydrogen fuel from seawater | Stanford News

By Erin I. Garcia de Jesus

Stanford researchers have devised a way to generate hydrogen fuel using solar power, electrodes and saltwater from San Francisco Bay.

Hongjie Dai and his research lab at Stanford University have developed a prototype that can generate hydrogen fuel from seawater. (Image credit: Courtesy of H. Dai, Yun Kuang, Michael Kenney)

The findings, published March 18 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrate a new way of separating hydrogen and oxygen gas from seawater via electricity. Existing water-splitting methods rely on highly purified water, which is a precious resource and costly to produce.

Theoretically, to power cities and cars, “you need so much hydrogen it is not conceivable to use purified water,” said Hongjie Dai, J.G. Jackson and C.J. Wood professor in chemistry in Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences and co-senior author on the paper. “We barely have enough water for our current needs in California.”

Hydrogen is an appealing option for fuel because it doesn’t emit carbon dioxide, Dai said. Burning hydrogen produces only water and should ease worsening climate change problems.

Dai said his lab showed proof-of-concept with a demo, but the researchers will leave it up to manufacturers to scale and mass produce the design.

Tackling corrosion

As a concept, splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen with electricity – called electrolysis – is a simple and old idea: a power source connects to two electrodes placed in water. When power turns on, hydrogen gas bubbles out of the negative end – called the cathode – and breathable oxygen emerges at the positive end – the anode.

But negatively charged chloride in seawater salt can corrode the positive end, limiting the system’s lifespan. Dai and his team wanted to find a way to stop those seawater components from breaking down the submerged anodes.

The researchers discovered that if they coated the anode with layers that were rich in negative charges, the layers repelled chloride and slowed down the decay of the underlying metal.

They layered nickel-iron hydroxide on top of nickel sulfide, which covers a nickel foam core. The nickel foam acts as a conductor – transporting electricity from the power source – and the nickel-iron hydroxide sparks the electrolysis, separating water into oxygen and hydrogen. During electrolysis, the nickel sulfide evolves into a negatively charged layer that protects the anode. Just as the negative ends of two magnets push against one another, the negatively charged layer repels chloride and prevents it from reaching the core metal.

Without the negatively charged coating, the anode only works for around 12 hours in seawater, according to Michael Kenney, a graduate student in the Dai lab and co-lead author on the paper. “The whole electrode falls apart into a crumble,” Kenney said. “But with this layer, it is able to go more than a thousand hours.”

Previous studies attempting to split seawater for hydrogen fuel had run low amounts of electric current, because corrosion occurs at higher currents. But Dai, Kenney and their colleagues were able to conduct up to 10 times more electricity through their multi-layer device, which helps it generate hydrogen from seawater at a faster rate.

“I think we set a record on the current to split seawater,” Dai said.

The team members conducted most of their tests in controlled laboratory conditions, where they could regulate the amount of electricity entering the system. But they also designed a solar-powered demonstration machine that produced hydrogen and oxygen gas from seawater collected from San Francisco Bay.

And without the risk of corrosion from salts, the device matched current technologies that use purified water. “The impressive thing about this study was that we were able to operate at electrical currents that are the same as what is used in industry today,” Kenney said.

Surprisingly simple

Looking back, Dai and Kenney can see the simplicity of their design. “If we had a crystal ball three years ago, it would have been done in a month,” Dai said. But now that the basic recipe is figured out for electrolysis with seawater, the new method will open doors for increasing the availability of hydrogen fuel powered by solar or wind energy.

In the future, the technology could be used for purposes beyond generating energy. Since the process also produces breathable oxygen, divers or submarines could bring devices into the ocean and generate oxygen down below without having to surface for air.

In terms of transferring the technology, “one could just use these elements in existing electrolyzer systems and that could be pretty quick,” Dai said. “It’s not like starting from zero – it’s more like starting from 80 or 90 percent.”

Other co-lead authors include visiting scientist Yun Kuang from Beijing University of Chemical Technology and Yongtao Meng of Shandong University of Science and Technology. Additional authors include Wei-Hsuan Hung, Yijin Liu, Jianan Erick Huang, Rohit Prasanna and Michael McGehee.

This work was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, National Science Foundation of China and the National Key Research and Development Project of China.

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