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White Christmas, going … gone

In Germany, we seem to remember White Christmas from fairy tales only. Now there is also scientific evidence that winter snow cover in Europe is thinning. Thanks to global warming, the snow cover decrease accelerated

The research group behind Dr. Fontrodona Bach of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute in De Bilt analyzed snow cover and climate data from six decades from thousands of weather stations across Europe. The researchers found that the mean snow depth, with the exception of some local extremely cold spots, has been decreasing since 1951 at 12% per decade. The researchers recently published their research results in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The amount of “extreme” snow cover affecting local infrastructure has declined more slowly.

The observed decline, which accelerated after the 80s, is the result of a combination of rising temperatures and the impact of climate change on precipitation. The decreasing snow cover can reduce the availability of fresh water during the spring melt, the authors noted.

(Photo: Doris Wulf)

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What is bio energy? Why do we need bio fuels for energy production?

Bioenergy is the form of energy that is stored in the biological matter or ‘biomasses. It is available in abundance in our world and it is the world’s most important source of renewable energy. Biomass is a versatile source of energy that is used for the production of heat, power, and transport fuels. Biofuels also have the potential to significantly mitigate global warming, also known as climate change. Bioenergy and biofuels encompass energy products derived from plants or animals or organic materials.

Biodiesel, for example, does not only have a positive impact on the environment, it also improves economic activity. As part of our energy mix, biodiesel is not meant to replace fossil fuel but contributes to energy security and benefits local communities.

Good reasons to use biodiesel:

The ease of use

One of the main reasons to use biofuels is that it can be used in combustion engines of vehicles and that it integrates well into existing infrastructures without the need to make changes. It is the fuel that can be stored, burned and pumped the same way as petroleum diesel fuel. It can also be used in pure forms.

The form of energy is providing security

 Energy security of supply as well as affordability rank highest among consumers, as well as in the industry. The economic risks for the biofuel industry are, as for all commodities, energy price hikes, which can disrupt the supply of fossil fuels as fuel becomes an overall limited resource.

Economic development is possible via the use of biofuels

The increase in investment in biofuels will result boosts economic growth, especially for local markets involved in its production and processing. It means that there will be more job opportunities and the developing countries realizing this market opportunity will benefit hugely from the economic growth resulting from global energy demand

Greenhouse gas and emission reduction

Appropriate methods of biofuel production can mitigate significant amounts of greenhouse gases which are currently produced from fossil fuels. It leads to the potential of addressing the important challenges regarding fuel quality and emission. Biodiesel is also the successful alternative to compete with the rigorous emission.

It helps in energy balance

The energy balance refers to the ratio of how much energy is required to produce, manufacture, and distribute of fuel compared to the amount of energy that is released when fuel is burned. Biofuels generally improve the energy security and the energy balance through domestic energy crops.

It is recyclable and biodegradable

Biofuel is less toxic as its attributes make it less likely to harm the environment and cost less damage. It is safer to handle than petroleum fuel due to its low volatility. The recycled oils create multiple benefits to a thriving market and benefit hugely to the growing economies.

But the use of biomass faces criticism due to its costs, both economically and in terms of its energy carbon balance. It is expensive compared to other forms of low carbon energy, for example, natural gas. It drives up the cost of wood in other markets, for example in manufacturing and construction. Finally, it sometimes fails to deliver greenhouse gas savings over meaningful timescales relevant to the climate change targets. When managed sustainably, biomass is an essential part of the portfolio of renewable energy technologies, delivering low-cost carbon heat and power.

Some of the environmental benefits of bioenergy

  • It helps the reduction of pressure on finite natural resources
  • The release of greenhouse emissions gets reduced significantly with the use as fossil fuel addition or even substitution
  • The removal of the need for specialist food crops
  • Reduction of landfill waste and associated issues
  • Provision to thermal, electrical, and mechanical energy services
  • The handling of contaminated wastes
  • The removal of carbon from wastes
  • The increase of reservoirs and terrestrial carbon sinks
  • The reduction of dryland salinity and protection of ground water supplies
  • The maintenance of logging sites
  • The return of land into production with enhanced biodiversity

There are also other forms of energy that are being considered sources of energy for future use. For example, hydro-electric energy is used for peak and base-load power production, while nuclear power can deliver base-load power. Each of the technologies faces planning and cost barriers that are likely to stunt the future growth. Biomass is already an affordable form of energy that will meet the energy demands of the future.

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You Can Have the Pie and Eat It

In Paris, humanity has set itself the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C. Most people believe that this will be accompanied by significant sacrifice of quality of life. That is one reason why climate protection is simply rejected by many people, even to the point of outright denial. At Frontis Energy, we think we can protect the climate and live better. The latest study published in Nature Energy by a research group around Arnulf Grubler of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, has now shown that we have good reasons.

The team used computer models to explore the potential of technological trends to reduce energy consumption. Among other things, the researchers said that the use of shared car services will increase and that fossil fuels will give way to solar energy and other forms of renewable energy. Their results show that global energy consumption would decrease by about 40% regardless of population, income, and economic growth. Air pollution and demand for biofuels would also decrease, which would improve health and food supplies.

In contrast to many previous assessments, the group’s findings suggest that humans can limit the temperature rise to 1.5 °C above preindustrial levels without resorting to drastic strategies to extract CO2 from the atmosphere later in the century.

Now, one can argue whether shared car services do not cut quality of life. Nevertheless, we think that individual mobility can be maintained while protecting our climate. CO2 recovery for the production of fuels (CO2 recycling that is) is such a possibility. The Power-to-Gas technology is the most advanced version of CO2 recycling and should certainly be considered in future studies. An example of such an assessment of the power-to-gas technology was published by a Swiss research group headed by Frédéric Meylan, who found that the carbon footprint can be neutralized with conventional technology after just a few cycles.

(Picture: Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Land of Cockaigne, Wikipedia)

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Why CO2 Emissions Reduction?

It is important to reduce the flow of greenhouse gases which is spurring global warming. The reduction of carbon emissions could prevent up to 3 million premature deaths annually by the year 2100. The carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere is increasing at an alarming rate and it has harmful & severe detrimental effects. The world needs to act fast and effectively to reduce the CO2 emissions and protect millions of lives.

Carbon emissions are directly responsible for climate change and global warming is a very pertinent issue these days. The problems are many from rising water levels to seasons changing at unusual times. We are able to view the unfavorable conditions right now in the world today and there is the need to act fast and instantly for quick solutions.

What is a greenhouse effect?

The greenhouse effect is the process which traps hot air within the earth’s atmosphere. While some of the hot air is useful for maintaining the optimal temperatures for survival on the planet, unfortunately accumulated CO2 in the atmosphere traps heat which causes global warming. The Industrial Revolution has led the world to surge in carbon dioxide levels resulting in overall warming of the planet.

Burning fossil fuel is generating CO2 and other air pollutants that are harmful to human health. The global warming caused due to carbon emission is changing the topology of the world. Carbon dioxide is a gas which is used when burning fossil fuel with oxygen. Reducing carbon emissions protects mankind from various health risks. It is therefore essential to control and reduce the levels of carbon dioxide emission and this must be done at the earliest.

The use of Green Technology for Reducing the Greenhouse Effect

Green technology is using non-pollutant practices to produce materials which are non toxic. It is taking help of modern innovation for solving carbon emission issues. World leaders have agreed to reduce carbon emissions and green technology is key to fulfill current requirements. Green technology includes sewage treatment, energy production, green chemistry, and construction of environmentally friendly buildings.

The goal of the green technology include –

  • The use of natural resources in a conservative manner
  • Create products that are recyclable or reusable
  • Alternatives environmental practices
  • Education and change of humans behavior
  • Reduce waste and pollution to bring change in the production pattern

There are different ways to reduce or global carbon footprint of which one is the use of bio mass instead of fossil fuels. This organic material is produced by living organisms by using sunlight. This chemical energy is then stored by these photosynthetic microorganisms. It is stored as a form of chemical energy and it can be burned directly. This fuel is produced from biomass in solid, liquid or gaseous.

While combustion of biomass produces about the same amount of CO2 as fossil fuels, bio fuels are produced in the present day and their combustion does not release additional CO2 into the atmosphere. Bio fuels such as bio ethanol can also be used as fuel additives to reduce carbon emissions from gasoline prices. But there are also vehicles that are powered mainly by bio fuels. Bio ethanol and bio methane are widespread in India and Brazil. The control and reduction in the levels of dioxide emission will reduce the levels of carbon dioxide emission.

The future is dependent on the hand of innovators and the people in power.

What is Green technology used for?

Green and sustainable technologies are quick and efficient in solving different problems related to carbon emissions. Future economic activities will depend on creating products that are safer and more beneficial to the environment.

Green Energy Production is an area where green technology has the major applications. The green technology uses the conversion of energy from new sources using new methods as well as bringing energy efficiency. It includes the development of different alternative sources of energy to reduce the use of fossil fuels which are damaging the environment. Green energy production sources from renewable products can reduce the dependency on the fossil resources like petroleum, coal etc. It includes also non-polluting methods that produce energy from various alternative sources like wind, biomass sunlight etc. Green technology is used to improve the energy efficiency of the buildings using appropriate design and location for the construction of buildings.

The Future of Green Technology

It is expected that in the coming years the use of green technology will extend into more areas. Future economic activities will depend on creating products that are safer and more beneficial to the environment. The governments of various countries recognize the need for using green technology and promote the use of items produced using green technology that is environmentally friendly. There will be new careers opening up which are centered on green technology. Creating awareness among people about the use of green energy and environmentally friendly products will improve the scope of this technology.

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The Photosynthetic CO2 Race − Plants vs. Algae

Algae store CO2 but also release it. Some of us may know that. However, so far it was unknown that algae may release additional CO2 due to global warming. That’s what researcher Chao Song and his colleagues of the University of Georgia in Athens, GA, found out.

As they published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the metabolism of algae and other microbes is accelerated by higher water temperatures in large streams. This could lead to some rivers releasing more CO2 than they do now. This could, in turn, further accelerate global warming. Although photosynthesis in algae would accelerate, plants along the river banks would be even faster. Decomposition of the plant material would immediately release the so fixed CO2. With extra nutrients from plants, competing microorganisms would overgrow the river algae or the algae would degrade the plant material themselves.

To calculate the CO2 net effect, scientists monitored temperature, dissolved oxygen, and other parameters in 70 rivers worldwide. Then they used their data for computer models. These models suggest that over time, accelerated photosynthesis in some rivers may not keep pace with plant growth. This net increase of 24% of the CO2 released from rivers could mean an additional global temperature increase of 1 °C.

However, the computer model still lacks some data. For example, the sedimentation rates are not taken into account. In addition, not all banks grow plants. Many rivers pass only sparsely vegetated land. As always, more research is needed to get better answers.

(Photo: Wikipedia)