Sustainability

EV charging stations becoming more common
July 25, 2013 06:12 AM - MOVEFORWARD, Electric Forum

As the race to the mass market continues it seems as though the thoughts of electric vehicle drivers are now turning towards charging stations in their area. If you read the motoring press you will see much focus upon battery journey capacity when in reality there are now more charging stations than ever before, with recharging times now falling dramatically, a 30 minutes recharge while you shop could be all it takes to get you home. It will be interesting to see as and when the EV industry moves on to promote charging stations more aggressively to the wider public. Initially there were concerns about electric vehicle technology, this then switched to battery technology and while it would be wrong to say these two issues have been resolved conclusively there is no doubt that great progress has been made.

Electric Vehicles outpacing hybrids
July 23, 2013 04:36 PM - MOVEFORWARD, Electric Forum

The US Department of Energy has this week released a very interesting graph which shows the early-stage development of the hybrid market compared to the electric plug-in market. Many people have been of the opinion that hybrids offer an interesting steppingstone for the electric vehicle market but if sales forecasts are anything to go by the electric vehicle market is likely to outperform its hybrid counterpart. The graph took into account sales of electric vehicles and hybrids over the first three years of the technology. The start date for hybrids was 2000 and the start date for electric vehicles was 2011 — while some will point at an earlier Tesla Roadster Model made available before 2011 this was not designed for the main market.

Gravity-powered lamp to enter field tests
July 23, 2013 08:47 AM - Editor, SciDevNet

A cheap new light that could provide an alternative to kerosene and solar lamps in rural areas will enter field testing in Africa and Asia this year. The device, a gravity-powered LED lamp called 'GravityLight', works by attaching a weighted bag below it from a cord. As the bag slowly descends, gears convert the weight into energy — providing users with up to 30 minutes of light, depending on the weight of the bag. There are also settings to provide brighter light for a shorter period.

Long-term health of Congo forests threatened by human activity
July 23, 2013 06:40 AM - Rhett A. Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Unsustainable hunting of forest elephants, gorillas, forest antelopes, and other seed-dispersers could have long-term impacts on the health and resilience of Congo Basin rainforests, warns a study published today in a special issue of the journal Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B. Conducting a review of more than 160 papers and reports on trends in wildlife populations, hunting, and land use in the Congo Basin, a team of researchers from Oxford University, the University of Queensland, the University of Stirling, and the Wildlife Conservation Society conclude that unless effective management plans are put into place, hunting pressure in the region is likely to increase, with knock-on ecological effects.

Did Earthquake damage Iranian Nuclear Power Plant?
July 22, 2013 04:52 PM - Editor ENN, SciDevNet

Arab Gulf states have raised concerns about the safety of an Iranian nuclear power station built in an earthquake-prone coastal area. The concerns about the Bushehr plant, which officially opened in 2011, were raised during a meeting of the 35-nation board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria, last month (3-7 June). The reactor lies on the north-east coast of the Arabian Gulf. Any leak of radioactive material could therefore affect coastal regions of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman's Musandam Peninsula.

Should GM Lose Sleep Over Tesla?
July 22, 2013 12:43 PM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

Should GM fret at the thought of Tesla? The Big 3 automakers had sneered at electric vehicles (EVs) for years, but a slow shift is underway. Ford has its plug-ins with the Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi; Chrysler, thanks to Fiat, has a little toe in the EV waters with the 500e on California roads; and GM touts the Volt and Spark EV.

Antarctica Ice Sheet less stable than previously thought
July 22, 2013 06:36 AM - Carolyn Gramling, Science

Earth continues to hit temperature and greenhouse gas milestones—just a couple of months ago, multiple stations measured carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere of 400 parts per million, the highest in several million years. Many studies have tried to estimate how much and how rapidly the two great ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica might melt—and the one reassuring point has been the apparent relative stability of the eastern (and, by far, larger) half of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Now, a new study of past melting in East Antarctica suggests that over the long haul, the "stable" ice sheet may be more vulnerable to warming than thought. To study possible future melting of the ice sheets, many scientists look to the past. Current warm temperatures and high greenhouse gas conditions are reminiscent of the warm Pliocene Epoch that lasted from 5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago. "Early and middle Pliocene global temperatures and greenhouse gas concentrations are probably the closest analog in Earth's history to the present climate on this planet and the climate conditions we will encounter before the end of this century," says Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, a sedimentologist at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, U.K., who was not involved in the study.

World Population Growing Fast & Unevenly
July 20, 2013 07:40 AM - Population Matters from International Business Times

It's no secret that the world's population growth is heavily skewed by region — so much so that the changes expected for the next century will radically change the world as we know it. But according to projections recently revised by the United Nations Population Program, those changes will come even faster than we thought. The UN has dispensed with the old estimate that Africa's population will triple within 90 years — instead, it could very well quadruple.

US electric cars out sell hybrids in first half of 2013
July 19, 2013 01:37 PM - Editor, Electric Forum

In a surprising move for the US electric car industry, the Electric Drive Transportation Association has released figures which show that US electric cars outsold their hybrid counterparts in the first half of 2013 by 22,712 to 18,335. This is a resounding result for the electric car industry although the momentum which led to this switchover will need to be maintained in the longer term as the industry sets its sights on the mass market. There may be a number of one-offs which have assisted this switch in momentum but the fact remains that electric vehicles are now more popular in the US than they ever have been.

Volta River and Climate Change
July 19, 2013 11:44 AM - Editor ENN

A new study released today finds that so much water may be lost in the Volta River Basin due to climate change that planned hydroelectric projects to boost energy and food production may only tread water in keeping up with actual demand. Some 24 million people in Ghana, Burkina Faso and four other neighboring countries depend on the Volta River and its tributaries as their principal source of water. Specifically, the researchers with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and their partners concluded that the combined effects of higher temperatures and diminished rain could mean that by the year 2100, all of the current and planned hydroelectric projects in the basin would not even generate as much power as existing facilities do now. Meanwhile, there would only be enough water to meet about a third of irrigation demand.

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