Subject:                          FW: Future Energy eNews




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February 2017


Future Energy eNews







At the AAAS Meeting in Boston last week, protestors were picketing for science . Rush Holt, AAAS chief executive, stated that  it will "sometimes require courage". Dr. Oreskes from Harvard argued that scientists must speak out on climate change rather than hope the findings will speak for themselves. The biggest concern was the fear that scientists are being intimidated and muzzled (e.g., DOE, EPA).  I think that I have signed at least a half dozen petitions that were emailed to me from environmental and energy groups in the past month. IRI encourages you to do your part to make a statement for future renewable energy or else we may have to stop the Future Energy eNews for any number of unthinkable reasons.


On a lighter note, in the energy arena, Tesla is building 5 more Gigafactories  for energy storage batteries, electric cars, and rooftop solar. This seems to be in keeping with MIT Technology Review who reported that Solar Installations Soared in the U.S. in 2016  in Story #3, while Household Energy Costs Hit 50-year Low.


How about Bioenergetics Lessons on Aging Well? What better tutor than a105-year old cyclist- Or the latest study from Nature Communications that translates to fasting once a week and extends lifespan by an average monthly calorie restriction (which is what my wife and I do every Sunday). We recommend it for many reasons. 


Story #1 leads us into the future with a train that will connect all of Europe. Called the Hyperloop, It combines magnetic levitation (maglev) technology with reduced-pressure tubes for a smoother and faster ride and was originally proposed by Elon Musk with a top speed of 800 mph (1200 km/h). Video is included.


Story #2 surprises everyone with the emergence of a Star Trek Tricorder XPRIZE, sponsored by Qualcomm. Now two teams are advancing to the Final Round to capture the $10 million prize later this year. You can also help shape the future by getting on their email list.


Story #3 mentioned above, shows the increase of combined capacity of solar and wind went from 26 GW in 2008 to 123 GW in less than ten years.


Story #4 should be our lead story since it is so revolutionary, with Ireland making the bold statement to outlaw ALL coal and fossil fuels investments by Parliamentary bill  as part of a multi-billion euro government fund While the White House is going backwards by approving a redundant Keystone XL pipeline in parallel to the already existing Keystone pipeline to bring expensive shale oil into the US, Ireland "will send out a powerful message...acknowledging what the overwhelming majority of people already know...combat catastrophic climate change." Interestingly, a Divest Invest Initiative already has $5.2 TRILLION in fossil fuel divestment pledges from 76 countries!


Story #5 shows us what to expect in the not too distant future. With millions of dollars of investment capital, the appearance of Floating Cities will very soon become common place, as it is going to be in French Polynesia. This is the only guaranteed therapy for rising seas as landlocked ice from Greenland and Antarctica accelerate their dissolution into the world’s oceans. Woe to the sea level cities on the coastline. Venice Italy is their future.



Onward and upward,


Thomas Valone,  Editor









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1) The Hyperloop: Train of the Future?



By Dom Galeon, February 2017


The Hyperloop has been dubbed 'the train of the future.' With active projects already in Dubai, Canada, and Russia, the futuristic pod is now coming to France via Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT).


Recently, HTT launched a new deal with Slovakia and the Czech Republic to build a Hyperloop system that will connect Bratislava and Brno. It's a first step toward the plan to connect all of Europe with a Hyperloop. A 3,000 square meter facility (roughly 38,000 sq ft) at Francazal Airport in Toulouse will act as the company's base.


Toulouse is at the very heart of the European aerospace industry, and is centrally located for manufacturing the Hyperloop trains to be used in the Central European line. HTT, one of two companies actively working on these futuristic pods, recently announced a $108 million funding round, with the company raising $31 million in cash


The Hyperloop is a train-like transportation system that uses specially designed pods or capsules to transport people and cargo. It combines magnetic levitation (maglev) technology with reduced-pressure tubes for a smoother and faster ride. The idea for a Hyperloop was first proposed by Elon Musk in 2013. Since then, a good number of people, institutions, and companies were quick to jump on the idea.


How fast will it go?  Well that really depends on which engineer you ask, but it's believed that a Hyperloop could go as fast as 1,200 km/h (800 mph). Designs show that it could also work either underground or  aboveground. In fact, one of the Hyperloop plans in Dubai envisions a central hub that connects Hyperloops traveling on their cylinder tubes to the streets. On top of it being fast, a Hyperloop is also green, capable of running using solar energy.



From a sci-fi inspired concept in 2013, to a super-fast train that will someday connect all of Europe, it looks like the Hyperloop is becoming a reality.



2) Medical Tricorder inspired by Star Trek created from XPrize



By John Sung  New Atlas 2017


Five years ago, Dr. Sonny Kohli found himself in the dust of post-earthquake Haiti with a couple of engineers cobbling together a 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) machine with guitar strings when he thought: "I could really use a tricorder right about now." A fan of the original Star Trek series, he'd always been a great admirer of Dr. Leonard McCoy's frontier medicine approach, unafraid to step into what the Canadian-born Dr. Kohli calls "a dog's breakfast of problems" and roll up his sleeves. "I was working in what was their most modern hospital at the time by default since the rest of them had been destroyed. There was a lady who came in who was a smoker, [she'd] had angina previously, and was having chest pains. The first thing you think is, 'Are they having a heart attack?' And the first tool a physician utilizes is a 12-lead ECG: we capture the electrical activity of the heart using 12 different stickers that go on the chest and arms-and while that's something considered standard-issue in the Western world, we didn't have one available. 


Fortunately, I met two engineers there who happened to be volunteering who said 'Hey, we'll help you MacGyver this broken ECG machine with guitar string.' We were able to diagnose her not with a heart attack, but a related condition that we could treat in Haiti. Afterward, over very cheap Haitian beer, we were sitting around saying, 'The world needs a tricorder; let's start with a 12-lead ECG.'"

Fast-forward to 2013: Dr. Kohli got a phone call from Robert Kaul, then CEO of a medical device company in Toronto. Would he be interested in taking part in a team going after the $10M Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE? It didn't take much thinking over, and Team Cloud DX was born.

"There are so many use cases for a tricorder," says Dr. Kohli. "If, for instance, I were to take off my doctor hat and just be a father: checking on my children, or on my parents who live 4,000 miles away, being able to do things remotely and throw up flags if their vital signs are off or a disease ends up being positive-that would be very cool to me. Or just as a person: here in Canada, we have public health care, and sometimes there are long waits at the clinic or the ER, and we don't want to burden the system unnecessarily; there's a rationale for wanting to be able to check yourself out at home. And then when I put on my doctor hat, I've got a million and one use cases: in disaster zones, in remote areas, even in space." As a flight surgeon and one-time finalist candidate for the Canadian Space Agency's astronaut program, Dr. Kohli is delighted to see interest in Cloud DX's technology from companies in the suborbital and space tourism fields.





3) Solar Installations Soared in 2016


By James Condlife  MIT Technology Review, February  2017


Solar installations are soaring in the U.S., almost doubling in 2016-and new tax incentives mean that wind power may also see a surge by 2020.


Figures published by the Solar Energy Industries Association show that 14,626 megawatts worth of photovoltaic installations went online in 2016. That's up from 7,493 megawatts of capacity that were added in 2015-a 95 percent increase year-on-year.


In fact, a new report written by Bloomberg New Energy Finance for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, an industry group, shows that solar accounts for much of the growth in low-carbon energy production over the past few years. New wind capacity, meanwhile, arrived in the same quantity in 2016 as it did in 2015.


The same report notes that a set of tax credits were made available for wind power projects at the end of 2015 for projects that start construction by 2019. That means that there should be a surge in wind installations in the coming years, predicted to peak in 2020, according to BNEF.

It's worth noting that capacity alone isn't necessarily that useful. Without the right supporting grid infrastructure to carry generated power to users, the capacity to convert sunlight or wind into electricity is wasted. Texas is a prime example of how the correct grid technology can facilitate the growth of renewables, but many regions can't afford the billions of dollars required to make it happen at such scale.


Still, that problem can be surmounted, and the overall trend in installations is overwhelmingly upward. Since 2008, combined capacity of solar and wind in the U.S. has risen from 26 gigawatts to 123 gigawatts.


Such strong momentum will be useful in the coming years, given the Trump administration's disdain for renewables-though it by no means guarantees that the trend will last. If the White House chooses to abandon tax credits for renewables, it could make clean-energy installations less attractive to investors.


Not everyone is pessimistic, though. Barack Obama has argued that the world's transition to a renewable energy future is by this point "irreversible."  Let's hope he's right.



4) Ireland To Rid  Themselves of Fossil Fuels 



By February 2017


  • Ireland's Parliament has passed a bill that stops the country from investing in fossil fuels as part of an €8 billion government fund.
  • Ireland's divestment is the most aggressive move taken against fossil fuels to date, but they are certainly not alone in their efforts to move towards clean energy.



Ireland has made history by passing a bill that will stop all investments in coal and oil. The legislation gathered the majority vote (90 to 53) in favor of fully divesting fossil fuel investments from the eight billion pound Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.


As Trócaire Executive Director Eamonn Meehan shared in a statement:


This move by elected representatives in Ireland will send out a powerful message. The Irish political system is now finally acknowledging what the overwhelming majority of people already know: That to have a fighting chance to combat catastrophic climate change we must phase out fossil fuels and stop the growth of the industry that is driving this crisis


The bill, introduced by Deputy Thomas Pringle, will now be reviewed by a financial committee before it is passed into law in the next few months. Once it passes, Ireland will become the first nation to completely remove funding for fossil fuel sources.


Given its size, Ireland's move won't necessarily have a major effect on the environment; but the decision stands as a benchmark for countries who want to strengthen their stance against climate change and show support for renewable energy.


Ireland's divestment is the most aggressive move taken against fossil fuels to date, but the government is certainly not alone in its efforts to move towards clean energy. By December of 2016, The Divest Invest Initiative had already gathered almost $5.2 trillion in fossil fuel divestment pledges from 76 countries. Norway has also set a national target to be carbon neutral by 2030; while China announced its plan to shut down 104 coal-fired projects across 13 provinces as part of their anti-coal stance.


Collectively, these initiatives could make a real difference in our effort to address climate change




5) Floating Cities, the Only Answer to Rising Seas


By Stephanie L. Miller, Dezba G. Coughlin, Dezba G. Coughlin, Erik I. Waldorff, James T. Ryaby, Jeffrey C. Lotz,


You might call it a Noah's Ark for an era of melting polar ice sheets.

An audacious plan to respond to climate change by building a city of floating islands in the South Pacific is moving forward, with the government of French Polynesia agreeing to consider hosting the islands in a tropical lagoon.


The project is being put forward by a California nonprofit, the Seasteading Institute, which has raised about $2.5 million from more than 1,000 interested donors. Randolph Hencken, the group's executive director, said work on the project could start in French Polynesia as early as next year, pending the results of some environmental and economic feasibility studies.

"We have a vision that we're going to create an industry that provides floating islands to people who are threatened by rising sea levels," Mr. Hencken said.


The group's original founders included Peter Thiel, a billionaire investor and prominent supporter of President Trump, although Mr. Thiel is no longer donating to the institute, Mr. Hencken said.


Mr. Hencken said that the project's pilot islands would cost a total of $10 million to $50 million and house a few dozen people and that the initial residents would most likely be middle-income buyers from the developed world. He added that the institute was seeking to build the islands in what would be a nautical version of a special economic zone and that it would showcase innovations in solar power, sustainable aquaculture and ocean-based wind farms.







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