Solar Research is Thriving
Solar photovoltaics is one of the most actively researched fields in the world today. The challenge is to increase solar cell efficiency and sustainability, while lowering production costs. Monocrystalline silicon still dominates the market but thin-film techniques, and organic and hybrid types of solar cells, called perovskites, are gaining ground. This photo features researchers at Saule Technologies in Wroclaw, Poland.
Photovoltaics’ Latest Stellar Performers: Perovskistes
A mix of mineral and organic materials (made from carbon), perovskites are hybrid solar cells that are disrupting photovoltaic research. Polish researcher, Olga Malinkiewicz, has developed a cutting-edge printing technique for producing perovskite solar cells at low temperatures. Her company in Wroclaw, Saule Technologies, aims to produce low cost perovskite cells with high electrical efficiency.
Concentrated Solar Power takes root in South America
The first concentrated solar power plant to produce heat and then electricity, was inaugurated at the end of February 2019 in the Antofagasta region in Chile. Mirrors track the sun (see photo) and focus its rays on a central tower that heats a transfer fluid. Chile’s ambitious energy program targets an electricity generation mix entirely from renewable energy sources by 2040.
Wind Turbine Mechanical Energy
Wind turbines work by capturing wind power to create mechanical energy, which is transferred to a turbo generator that converts it into electricity. Pictured here are the giant cogged wheels that make this energy transition possible. They are displayed by Frierichshafen, a German company and the world’s third largest manufacturer of automotive and other mechanical equipment, like wind turbines.
Hydrogen-Powered Trains Make their Entrance
Germany is the first country to operate a rail service with a hydrogen-powered train built by French manufacturer, Alstom. The train is equipped with fuel cells, which convert hydrogen into electricity without generating air pollutants or CO2 emissions. It commutes between Leipzig and Grimma in the Saxony region at a maximum speed of 140 kilometers per hour.
The City Car of Tomorrow
Car manufacturers are working to define the urban mobility vehicle of the future. At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spanish company SEAT presented Minimo, an all-electric quadricycle seating two passengers, which takes up 3.1 square meters of space, compared to 7.2 for a normal car, and can be parked in a space for motorbikes. Its battery is not rechargeable but could be replaced with a fully-charged one at designated stations.
The Minimalist Car
At the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show, Citroen unveiled the AMI One, a 100% electric and “minimalist” car built with the strict minimum of mostly symmetrical parts. The hood and trunk are therefore identical and the car itself weighs only 425 kilos. The steering wheel, (sorry, “driver pod”) works in tandem with the driver’s mobile phone, which projects the basic information needed (speed, indicators and battery power remaining) onscreen in front of the driver.
A Novel Approach to “Green” Awareness Raising
How can we raise people’s awareness about the importance of sorting waste? Why not by inviting them for a cup of tea or a fruit juice at an incineration plant for residual household waste? That's the idea behind the “Gomi (waste) Pit” bar in Tokyo. Its founders hope that their customers will become more conscious of how much waste they produce.
The Tallest Building in the World ... in Wood
In March 2019, Norway inaugurated the “Mjos Tower”, an 18-storey building over 85 meters tall, in the town of Brummundal, 100 kilometers north of Oslo. Its developers are keen to emphasize how the use of wood, compared to the standard building material, concrete, considerably reduces CO2 emissions. The tower is designed to resist fire and has beaten the previous record set by the 49-meter Treet building in Norway’s city of Bergen.
The United States: Soon to be the World Number 2 in LNG Production
With its vast quantities of shale gas, the United States, which is now an LNG (liquefied natural gas) exporter, has plans to build a number of plants on the Texas-Louisiana coast to produce LNG for loading on LNG carriers. The United States is poised to become the world’s second LNG exporter, after Qatar and before Australia. The photo shows hundreds of workers leaving the liquefaction plant in Cameron, near Lake Charles, in the state of Louisiana.
Behind the Wheel of an LNG Carrier
An LNG carrier is a very specific type of vessel designed to transport liquid gas at a temperature of -163°C, generally in huge, spherical tanks. The largest carriers are over 300 meters long. This photo shows the bridge of the Arctic Lady, a Norwegian LNG carrier, with Captain Oivind Hansen in the background.
Bringing Gas to All Corners of the World
Unlike onshore pipelines, which transport gas between connected points, liquid gas transportation enables easy distribution worldwide. Once it has arrived, the liquid gas is regasified at an LNG port. Pictured here is the new Tornio site in the north of Finland. Several projects are underway in the north of Europe, as competition increases between LNG exported by the United States and Russian gas distributed via pipelines under the Baltic Sea.
Great Western Mediterranean Gas Field
A huge floating crane deposits part of the platform that will enable Israel to produce gas from the Leviathan field, 130 kilometers off the shores of Haifa. Large natural gas reserves lie beneath the seabed in the western Mediterranean region shared between Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey. Though they only represent 2% of the world’s reserves, their location at the gateway to Europe makes them strategically significant.
Central Tower Tumbles
Although Germany still relies heavily on coal to produce electricity, it is already preparing its exit from coal, planned for 2038, by demolishing its oldest power plants. Here, one of the cooling towers implodes at the Gustav Knepper power plant in the city of Castrop-Rauxel, near Dortmund, on February 17, 2019.
Another symbol and another method ... Germany has decided to phase out nuclear power completely and has begun to dismantle its nuclear power plants. The photo shows a machine perched on the cooling tower of the Mülheim-Kärlich nuclear power plant near the town of Coblence. The picture, taken by a drone, shows the remote-controlled machine eating away at the concrete.