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Posted by on Dec 29, 2019 in Energy, Holidays, Humor, Science & Technology | 0 comments

Santa and Green Energy

Santa Claus brags about the fact that his sleigh is powered by “green energy” because it is pulled by reindeer.

Well, Santa may be getting a new mode of transportation after what happened during this year’s Christmas Eve.

Click here to see what happened.

Anyway, green energy has both its advocates and its opponents.

Advocates correctly point out that the use of green energy is better for the climate than the use of fossil fuels.

Opponents claim that green energy is unreliable. They cite for example an electrical black-out that took place in Australia’s Northern Territory. The black-out affected “12,000 customers for between 30 minutes and 10 hours.”

That particular black-out affected an electrical system that relies on solar power. Yes, cloud cover triggered the black-out, but it shouldn’t have. Engineers designed the system to keep supplying electricity even when no sunlight reaches the system’s solar panels. The black-out was the result of human incompetence, not cloud cover.

Opponents of green energy point out that batteries are needed in order to make green energy reliable 24/7 and that current batteries rely on heavy metals that are scarce and that damage the environment.

That won’t necessarily be the case in the future.

From Gizmodo: IBM Research Created a New Battery That Outperforms Lithium-Ion—No Problematic Heavy Metals Required

“As a potential solution, scientists at IBM Research’s Battery Lab came up with a new design that replaces the need for cobalt and nickel in the cathode, and also uses a new liquid electrolyte (the material in a battery that helps ions move from one end to the other) with a high flash point. The combination of the new cathode and the electrolyte materials was also found to limit the creation of lithium dendrites which are spiky structures that often develop in lithium-ion batteries that can lead to short circuits. So not only would this new battery have less of an impact on the environment to manufacture, but it would also be considerably safer to use, with a drastically reduced risk of fire or explosions.”

CNN Business reports on another breakthrough in the use of solar energy:

“A secretive startup backed by Bill Gates has achieved a solar breakthrough aimed at saving the planet.

Heliogen, a clean energy company that emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday, said it has discovered a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it generates extreme heat above 1,000 degrees Celsius.

Essentially, Heliogen created a solar oven — one capable of reaching temperatures that are roughly a quarter of what you’d find on the surface of the sun.

The breakthrough means that, for the first time, concentrated solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other words, carbon-free sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavy carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by the clean energy revolution.”

Granted, Santa might not be able to use solar energy to power his sleigh, but he might be able to use solar energy to raise a better breed of reindeer.

Right, Rudolph?

Featured Image in Public Domain