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Tripling renewable energy by 2030 ‘ambitious but doable’

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Tripling renewable energy by 2030 ‘ambitious but doable’


Tripling renewable energy by 2030 ‘ambitious but doable’

By Catherine HOURS

Paris (AFP) Nov 30, 2023






Host United Arab Emirates wants nearly 200 nations attending the COP28 climate summit starting Thursday to commit to tripling installed renewable energy capacity worldwide by 2030, a goal experts say is “ambitious but achievable”.

If the UN forum sets that target in stone, it could become a key marker of COP28’s success, especially if coupled with a pledge to drawn down fossil fuel use.

– Why triple renewable energy? –

In September, the G20 — accounting for 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions — broke new ground in endorsing the goal of tripling renewable energy capacity by the end of the decade.

The club of major economies remained silent, however, on the need to reduce fossil fuel use, which will also be on the table during the two-week meeting in Dubai.

For Dave Jones, an expert with think tank Ember, the G20’s statement has helped push renewables back to centre stage.

“We were too busy worrying about hydrogen and carbon capture,” he told AFP. “Those technologies are going to help solve the problem, but they are not going to be the driving force behind the solution.”

All credible pathways for achieving global carbon neutrality by mid-century depend on massively scaling up wind, solar, hydroelectric and other renewable energies, such as biomass.

This is “the single most important lever” for reducing carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels, and capping warming under the Paris Agreement threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with the pre-industrial period, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said.

“Achieving net zero emissions from the energy sector by 2050 rests on the world’s ability to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030,” the intergovernmental body said in a recent report.

Doing so would avoid some seven billion tonnes of CO2 emissions over the next seven years, putting a big dent in the 37 billion tonnes that the world currently emits every year.

Rapid expansion of renewables would cover skyrocketing demand for electricity linked to transport, heating and especially air conditioning.

It would also cut in half the amount of electricity generated by coal, the number one source of CO2.

– How much energy? –

“Concretely, we’d need to increase from 3,600 gigawatts (GW) from renewables at the end of 2022 to 11,000 GW in 2030,” explained Jones.

That would mean adding 1,500 GW of new installed capacity every year by 2030, up from 300 GW in 2022 and an estimated 500 GW in this year.

Progress is visible. Between 2015 and 2022, renewable capacity increased 11 percent per year, on average.

Against a backdrop of soaring oil prices and energy insecurity linked to the war in Ukraine, the IEA forecasts unprecedented growth of about 30 percent in 2023.

China could reach its 2030 target of 1,200 GW capacity from photovoltaics five years early. A surge in the supply of components — mostly from China — could help ensure an additional 1,000 GW of solar capacity by the end of next year, Jones said.

Wind power, however, has hit obstacles in the form of rising costs and interest rates.

Not all countries will have to make the same efforts to slash emissions. Of 57 nations analysed, more than half were on track to meet or exceed their 2030 targets, the Ember analysis points out.

But other large emitters such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and United Arab Emirates still have lots of room for improvement.

– How can this be achieved? –

Last year, 1,000 GW of wind and solar power capacity in the pipeline failed to materialise due to underdeveloped electricity grids and obstacles to permitting, according to the Ren21 research network.

Another bottleneck is finance. Wind and solar are the cheapest way to generate energy and are quick to deploy, but require investment to get off the ground, particularly in emerging and developing countries.

And yet only two percent of energy transition investment between 2000 and 2020 went to Africa, where half the population still lacks electricity, according to the Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).

“We need four trillion dollars a year and we’re a long way from that,” said Ren21 director Rana Adib. “We know that the energy transition also means stopping new investment in fossil fuels”.

In 2022, hydrocarbons were subsidised twice as much as in 2021 to the tune of nearly $1.3 trillion in G20 countries alone, according to BloombergNEF.

This “could have financed 1,900 GW of solar power plants, or ten times the capacity installed by the G20 last year,” the energy think tanks calculated.

The consequence of this situation is clear, insisted Adib, with oil, gas and coal still accounting for more than 80 percent of the world’s final energy consumption, a rate that has not changed for years.

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Research team achieves significant solar cell efficiency milestone

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Research team achieves significant solar cell efficiency milestone


Research team achieves significant solar cell efficiency milestone

by Simon Mansfield

Sydney, Australia (SPX) May 26, 2024






A research team has created a tandem solar cell using antimony selenide as the bottom cell material and a hybrid perovskite material as the top cell, achieving over 20 percent power conversion efficiency. This advancement highlights antimony selenide’s potential for bottom cell applications.

Photovoltaic technology converts sunlight into electricity, offering a clean energy source. Scientists aim to enhance the efficiency of solar cells, achieving over 20 percent in conventional single-junction cells. Surpassing the Shockley-Queisser limit in these cells would be costly, but tandem solar cells can overcome this limit by stacking materials.



The team focused on antimony selenide for tandem cells, traditionally used in single-junction cells. “Antimony selenide is a suitable bottom cell material for tandem solar cells. However, because of the rarity of reported tandem solar cells using it as a bottom cell, little attention has been paid to its application. We assembled a tandem solar cell with high conversion efficiency using it as the bottom cell to demonstrate the potential of this material,” said Tao Chen, professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Science and Technology of China.



Tandem cells absorb more sunlight than single-junction cells, converting more light into electricity. The team created perovskite/antimony selenide tandem cells with a transparent conducting electrode, optimizing the spectral response and achieving over 17 percent efficiency. By optimizing the antimony selenide bottom cell, they reached 7.58 percent efficiency.



The assembled four-terminal tandem cell achieved 20.58 percent efficiency, higher than independent subcells. The tandem cell is stable and uses nontoxic elements. “This work provides a new tandem device structure and demonstrates that antimony selenide is a promising absorber material for bottom cell applications in tandem solar cells,” said Chen.



The team aims to develop an integrated two-terminal tandem cell and further improve performance. “The high stability of antimony selenide provides great convenience for the preparation of two-terminal tandem solar cell, which means that it may have good results when paired with quite a few different types of top cell materials.”



Research Report:Sb2Se3 as a bottom cell material for efficient perovskite/Sb2Se3 tandem solar cells


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Flower or power? Campaigners fear lithium mine could kill rare plant

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Flower or power? Campaigners fear lithium mine could kill rare plant


Flower or power? Campaigners fear lithium mine could kill rare plant

By Romain FONSEGRIVES

Rhyolite Ridge, United States (AFP) May 23, 2024






Delicate pink buds sway in the desert breeze, pregnant with yellow pompoms whose explosion will carpet the dusty corner of Nevada that is the only place on Earth where they exist.

Under their roots lie vast reserves of lithium, vital for the rechargeable electric car batteries that will reduce planet-heating pollution.

But campaigners fear the extraction of the precious metal could destroy the flower’s tiny habitat.

“This mine is going to cause extinction,” says Patrick Donnelly, an environmentalist who works at the Center for Biological Diversity, a non-governmental organization.

“They somehow claim that they’re not harming the (plant). But can you imagine if someone built an open-pit mine 200 feet from your house? Wouldn’t that affect your life profoundly?”

The plant in question is Tiehm’s buckwheat.

There are only around 20,000 known specimens, growing in a few very specific places on a total surface area equivalent to around five soccer fields.

In 2022, the wildflower was classified as endangered by US federal authorities, with mining cited as a major threat to its survival.

The plant and the lithium reserve on which it grows embody one of the key challenges and contradictions of the global climate struggle: how much damage can we inflict on the natural world as we seek to halt or reverse the problems we have already created?

– ‘Coexist’ –

Bernard Rowe, boss of Australian miner Ioneer, which holds the mineral rights to the area, says the lithium produced at Rhyolite Ridge “will be sufficient to provide batteries for about 370,000 vehicles” a year.

“We’ll do that year-on-year for 26 years,” he said.

Those nearly 10 million vehicles will go a long way towards meeting the goal President Joe Biden has set of cutting down the nation’s fleet of gas-guzzlers as a way to slash US production of planet-warming pollutants.

So-called zero-emission cars make up around 7.5 percent of new vehicle sales in the United States today — more than double the percentage just a few years earlier.

In California, the figure is more than 20 percent.

And while expansion in the sector has slowed, the category remains the fastest-growing, according to Kelley Blue Book.

And it’s not only in the United States: Global demand for lithium will increase five to seven times by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency.

The difficulty for US manufacturers is that much of the world’s lithium supply is dominated by strategic rival China, as well as Australia and Chile.

“The United States has very, very little domestic production,” said Rowe.

“So it’s important to develop a domestic supply chain to allow for that energy transition, and Rhyolite Ridge will be an integral part of that.”

Ioneer’s plans show that over the years the mine is in operation — it is projected to start producing lithium in late 2027 — around a fifth of the plant’s habitat will be directly affected.

But the company, which has spent $2.5 million researching the plant, says mining will not affect its survival; it is already growing well in greenhouses and biologists think it can be replanted.

“We’re very confident that the mine and Tiehm’s buckwheat can coexist,” Rowe said.

– ‘Greenwashing’ –

Donnelly counters that Ioneer is “basically greenwashing extinction.”

“They’re saying. ‘We’re going to save this plant,’ when actually they are going to send it to its doom,” he said.

Under the company’s plans, the strip mine will use hundreds of trucks, which Donnelly says will raise clouds of dust that will affect photosynthesis and harm the insects that pollinate the plants.

Ioneer says it has already planned mitigation methods, like dust curtains, and keeping the roads wet.

Still, Donnelly says, why not just move the mine? But Rowe counters that it’s not as simple as just digging somewhere else.

Ioneer has invested $170 million since 2016 to demonstrate the feasibility of this site, which it believes is one of the best around.

“Many of these other deposits haven’t had that amount of work, so they’re not viable alternatives to a project like this,” he said.

The US Department of Energy has offered Ioneer a $700 million loan for the project, if the Bureau of Land Management signs off on an operating permit.

Donnelly insists the issue is not just the future of one obscure wildflower, but rather just one example of large-scale biodiversity loss that is threatening millions of plants and animals.

“If we solve the climate crisis, but we drive everything extinct while we do it, we’re still going to lose our world,” he said.

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Tesla breaks ground on huge Shanghai battery plant

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Tesla breaks ground on huge Shanghai battery plant


Tesla breaks ground on huge Shanghai battery plant

by AFP Staff Writers

Shanghai (AFP) May 23, 2024






Tesla broke ground on a massive battery factory in Shanghai on Thursday, Chinese state media reported, making it the US electric car giant’s second plant in the financial hub.

The project was announced last April after boss Elon Musk presented a vague but ambitious plan to investors to turbocharge growth.

However, the company last month reported a 55 percent drop in quarterly earnings, reflecting a decline in EV sales in an intensively competitive market.

The new Shanghai factory should make 10,000 units per year of Tesla’s Megapack batteries, state news agency Xinhua said.

Tesla says Megapacks are intended to store energy and stabilise supply for power grids, with each unit able to store more than three megawatt-hours of power.

The factory is expected to start mass production in 2025, state media said in May.

“I believe the new plant is a milestone for both Shanghai and Tesla,” the company’s vice president Tao Lin told Xinhua.

“In a more open environment, we can… supply the global market with large-scale energy-storage batteries manufactured in China.”

Musk has extensive business interests in China and is a fairly frequent visitor.

In April, he met Chinese Premier Li Qiang, and received a key security clearance for Tesla’s locally produced EVs.

Musk’s interests in China have long raised eyebrows in Washington — President Joe Biden has said in the past that his links to foreign countries were “worthy” of scrutiny.

The battery plant will be Tesla’s second in the Chinese city after its enormous Shanghai Gigafactory, which broke ground in 2019.

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