The Transit Elevated Bus  

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AUtoblog has a post on a futuristic Chinese bus concept that aims to improve public transit.

Dawn of the hyperloop  

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Startup Hyperloop Technologies has started shooting magnetically levitated capsules along a track in Las Vegas to demonstrate their idea for the future of freight and mass transit.

Their first demonstration was performed a few weeks ago and met with limited enthusiasm. Tech Review declared it "The Hyperloop’s Underwhelming First Public Test". The Guardian asked "Hyperloop or over-hyped? Latest demo does little to ease doubts. TreeHugger got a little romantic, saying "The Hyperloop is transportation's mysterious new girlfriend".

Regardless of the limited excitement engendered by the first demo, interest in the idea is still growing with both Russia and Scandinavia exploring the idea.

UNSW engineers set solar energy world record  

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The ABC has a report on a new solar power energy efficiency record being set by the team at UNSW - University of New South Wales engineers set solar energy world record.

The device converts almost 35% of the sunlight it receives to electricity - a 44% increase on the previous record of 24%.

ReNew Economy says that it "sets the scene for another step change in the cost of solar (already falling below US3c/kWh in the Middle East), and is set to become unbeatable in terms of levellised cost of energy across all energy sources".

AGL Energy's Andy Vesey sees batteries 'changing the world'  

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The SMH has an article on local utility AGL Energy's Andy Vesey and his belief that battery energy storage will "change the world" - AGL Energy's Andy Vesey sees batteries 'changing the world'.

AGL is expecting a 60 per cent reduction in the cost of batteries over the next five years, and that performance will improve as investment is poured into the chemistry and material science underpinning the technology.

Vortex: Bladeless Wind Turbines  

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Spanish startup Vortex has an interesting bladeless wind turbine design that generated quite a lot of publicity last year as they went through a crowdfunding phase.

Technology Review explains that the turbines harness "vorticity" - the spinning motion of air or other fluids.

When wind passes one of the cylindrical turbines, it shears off the downwind side of the cylinder in a spinning whirlpool or vortex. That vortex then exerts force on the cylinder, causing it to vibrate. The kinetic energy of the oscillating cylinder is converted to electricity through a linear generator similar to those used to harness wave energy.

The TR author warns that the "turbine looks intriguing, but it may not solve wind power’s challenges".

Wired reports the company founders claim their Vortex Mini, which stands at around 41 feet tall, can capture up to 40 percent of the wind’s power during ideal conditions (this is when the wind is blowing at around 26 miles per hour).

Based on field testing, the Mini ultimately captures 30 percent less than conventional wind turbines, but that shortcoming is compensated by the fact that you can put double the Vortex turbines into the same space as a propeller turbine.

Apple exploring charging stations for electric vehicles ?  

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Reuters reports that Apple have been poking around looking for opportunities in electric car recharging - Apple explores charging stations for electric vehicles.

Whether or not they are going to produce their own electric cars still remains uncertain.

The report notes that California will need about 20 times the roughly 8,000 work and public chargers it currently has by 2020 to support a projected 1 million zero-emission vehicles on the road.

Portugal runs on 100% renewables for 4 days  

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CleanTechnica reports that portugal has produced more renewable energy than it has consumed for an extended run of days - Portugal runs on 100% renewables for 4 days. In April, 80% of Portugal’s electricity came from renewables. The figure is 75% for the first 4 months of 2016.

We're seeing this more and more in the more advanced energy producing countries these days - now it is just a matter of counting down the days until the entire planet uses renewable energy only.

Did Germany just surpass 100% renewable electricity?  

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ReNew Economy has an update on the increasing penetration of renewables into the German electricity market - Did Germany just surpass 100% renewable electricity?.

Twister  

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Via Climate crocks.

April breaks global temperature record, marking seven months of new highs  

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The Guardian has a report on the latest global temperature measurements - April breaks global temperature record, marking seven months of new highs. Another month, another record...

Inside the Gigafactory  

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Bloomberg has a progress report on the construction of Tesla's battery Gigafactory (now 14% complete) - Inside the Gigafactory That Will Decide Tesla’s Fate.

Elon Musk is also getting attention by announcing a sped-up production schedule that calls for a half-million electric vehicles per year by 2018 (advancing from 2020). Bloomberg noptes - "For a company that delivered just 50,658 vehicles in 2015, the ramp looks like a hockey stick".

There has been a lot of speculation about why Elon does the opposite of "over promising and under delivering" when it comes to announcing release dates, with one observer describing it thusly - "It goes something like this: People do paradigm-shifting work only when they're under tremendous pressure, so the key is to ensure deadlines are always impossible. This could help explain why Musk has never launched a product on time, yet no one seems able to keep up with him. It drives Wall Street nuts."

Whenever I see photos of the Gigafactory landscape I always wonder if Walter White is wandering around in the wastelands beyond...

Britain goes coal power free – for first time since 1882  

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ReNew Economy has a post on Britain's slow walk away from coal fired power - Britain goes coal power free – for first time since 1882.

The Magic Mountain  

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John Michael Greer's Archdruid Report racked up its 10th anniversary recently.

While I rarely agree with Greer's theories I have enjoyed a lot of his analysis over the years (admittedly I only rarely pass by there) and some of his recent writing on the Trump circus was fun to ponder - Where On The Titanic Would You Like Your Deck Chair, Ma’am?.

Michael Lynch's Revenge  

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Forbes has an article from long time peak oil skeptic Michael Lynch, in which he appears quite chuffed at the demise of the peak oil doomers - Saudi Oil Confounds The Skeptics (Who Remain Unrepentant).

Lynch concentrates on the non-peaking of Saudi oil production (dissing Matt Simmons, James Hamilton and Stuart Staniford along the way) and note that the peak oil pessimists all assumed that inaccurate oil reserve data was over-estimated - however in the case of he large oil producers like Saudi and Iraq it has seemingly been under-estimated...

Simmons is probably rolling in his grave when Lynch quotes one of his many dire predictions - "[Simmons] said the previous peak of 144 thousand barrels per day in 1981 for the Khurais field was “likely Khurais’ all-time peak output.” It restarted five years later at 1.2 million barrels a day."

Ouch.

Cape Grim  

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The SMH has a report on the looming 400 ppm "milestone" for atmospheric CO2 levels. Levels are measured at Tasmania's "Cape Grim" - Global warming milestone about to be passed and there's no going back.

America's Berlusconi ?  

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I'm still slightly shocked that Donald Trump (would be seizer of Iraq's oil) has managed to clinch the Republican nomination for the presidential election.

One of the more interesting pieces of commentary on Trump in recent weeks was Andrew Sullivan's elitist article in NYMag, declaring "right now, America is a breeding ground for tyranny" - Democracies end when they are too democratic (criticised here and here and here).

Another observer of the Trump circus act has been Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams, who has long been arguing that Trump is much smarter than he looks or acts, as he is focusing on persuading people rather than appealing to logic (however he admires Trump for it rather than despising him as Sullivan does).

One person who seems less alarmed about Trump than almost everyone else is Bruce Sterling (perhaps because he is far better at imagining dystopias than your average political journalist). Chairman Bruce thinks Trump will be America's Berlusconi rather than its Mussolini - a circus clown act to distract the masses while the pillaging continues apace.

The Battle Of Kirkuk  

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OilPrice.com has an article on the battle between the Iraqi government, the Iraqi Kurds and ISIS for the oil fields of northern Iraq - The Battle Is On For Control Of Iraq’s Oil-Rich Kirkuk.

New Record Set for World's Cheapest Solar Power  

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10 years ago making solar power cheaper than coal seemed like a very long term goal. Now it is reality. I wonder if the dudes at Google who gave up on this goal feel a bit embarrassed now ?

Bloomberg reports that the developers bid as little as 2.99 cents a kilowatt-hour to develop 800 MW of solar power projects for the Dubai utility company - 15% below than the previous record set in Mexico. The lowest priced solar power has plunged around 50% in the past year - New Record Set for World's Cheapest Solar, Now Undercutting Coal.

Shenhua signs up for 1,000MW of solar thermal power  

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Solar thermal power is struggling to compete with solar PV at this stage of its development cycle but projects still seem to be getting over the line regardless.

ReNew Economy reports that China's Shenhua has signed up for 1GW of solar thermal power projects to be built by US company SolarReserve - World’s biggest coal supplier signs up for 1,000MW of solar thermal power.

GCL Poly takes on Tesla in home energy storage  

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ReNew Economy reports that Tesla and Redflow have been joined by GCL Poly in the home energy storage market - GCL Poly takes on Tesla with multi-coloured 5.6kWh battery storage. GCL Poly is the world’s biggest manufacturer of silicon and solar cells and will be selling a lithium ion battery based unit.

Fort McMurray On Fire  

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I guess nature has a black sense of humour, with Canadian tar sands capital Fort McMurray baking in temperatures 22 degrees above average and its residents having to be evacuated because of forest fires. Climate Central has a report - Here’s the Climate Context For the Fort McMurray Wildfire.

US Natural Gas Prices To Double Over the Next Year ?  

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Art Berman has an article prophesying that US natural gas prices are going to come out of their slump and double over the next year - Natural Gas Prices Should Double. His reasoning is that the supply surplus is ending (supplies have declined since October 2015 because gas production is flat, imports are decreasing and exports are increasing - shale gas production has stopped growing and conventional gas has been in long term decline for the past 15 years) and will move into deficit in November.

The fusion of Amazon and Microsoft  

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The BBC has a report on technology billionaires funding a variety of "moonshot" style startups trying to finally come up with a way of producing commercial quantities of power from fusion, such as General Fusion and Tri Alpha - The secretive, billionaire-backed plans to harness fusion.

Advanced Rail Energy Storage ?  

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Utility Drive has an article on a weird but interesting energy storgae idea but put into practice by a California startup called ARES (Advanced Energy Rail Storage) - First-of-its-kind rail energy storage project targets role in CAISO ancillary services market. the scheme is a land based variation on pumped hydro storage - when electricity is cheap, a locomotive hauls a heavy load up hill. When energy prices are high, the cars are released to roll down the hill and the electric motor runs in reverse to generate electricity.

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