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A wind turbine photographed in, Camelford, Cornwall, at sunset.
Ashley Cooper | Corbis | Getty Images

This year’s G-7 summit will be held in the county of Cornwall, a part of southwest England known for its stunning coastline, historic fishing communities and natural beauty.

As well as being a popular destination for tourists — the county’s beaches are thronged with holidaymakers during the summer — Cornwall is also becoming something of a hub for companies working on projects focused on renewables and innovation.  

This week, a number of these developments took significant steps forward. On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson installed the first solar panels at a facility described as the United Kingdom’s “first utility-scale energy park.”

According to energy firm ScottishPower, which is a subsidiary of Spain’s Iberdrola, 10,000 panels will be installed at the site. The 10 megawatt solar farm will supplement a 20 MW wind farm that’s already in operation and a 1 MW battery storage system.

ScottishPower said the energy park at Carland Cross would be able to generate enough energy “to power the equivalent of 15,000 homes.”

While Johnson is keen to be seen as someone who embraces renewables and prioritizes sustainability, the fact he flew to Cornwall rather than take an alternative form of transport drew stinging criticism from some quarters.

In a response to his detractors that was widely reported by the U.K. media, Johnson is quoted as saying: “If you attack my arrival by plane, I respectfully point out the U.K. is actually in the lead in developing sustainable aviation fuel, and one of the points in the 10 point plan of our green industrial revolution is to get to ‘jet zero’ as well.”

As well as wind and solar projects, Cornwall is also home to a fledgling geothermal energy sector. A company called Geothermal Engineering Limited is working on a number of projects, including a geothermal swimming pool in the town of Penzance.

The business is also developing the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project near the town of Redruth.

Focused on the creation of a geothermal power plant, the United Downs project has been years in the making and is centered around two wells which are 5,275 and 2,393 meters (17,306 and 7,851 feet respectively) deep.

On Monday, a firm called Cornish Lithium announced it had successfully built a geothermal water test site at United Downs. The company’s aim is to trial direct lithium extraction technologies on shallow and deep geothermal waters.

In a statement issued alongside the announcement Cornish Lithium’s CEO, Jeremy Wrathall, said his company’s test site at United Downs provided it with “an opportunity to demonstrate what modern, low-carbon mineral extraction looks like.” The results, he added, would “inform the development” of a larger pilot plant.

As sales of electric cars increase and the planet’s hunger for tech grows, materials such as lithium will be important in the years ahead, a point Cornish Lithium makes on its website.

“As vital components of batteries used for electric vehicles and energy storage,” it says, “the potential opportunity to extract metals such as lithium, tin and cobalt in Cornwall could represent a significant strategic advantage for the United Kingdom.”

While Cornwall is home to a number of land-based energy projects, nearby waters also offer scope for development.

In April, for instance, it was announced that a research project focused on the potential of tidal, wave and floating wind technology had secured support from Marine-i, a program centered around innovation in areas such as marine energy.

The project will be based on the Isles of Scilly, an archipelago located off the Cornish coast, and led by Isles of Scilly Community Venture, Planet A Energy and Waves4Power.

According to Marine-i, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the overarching aim of the Isles of Scilly project is to “build a new databank of wave and tidal resource data.”

This data will include information on a range of metrics including wave height, wind speed and tidal stream velocities.

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Tesla Model 3 prototype spotted ahead of rumored design refresh

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Tesla Model 3 prototype spotted ahead of rumored design refresh

A new Tesla Model 3 prototype with camouflage has been spotted in California ahead of a rumored refresh coming next year.

Over the last week, there have been rumors that Tesla is working on a Model 3 refresh that would come during the second half of 2023.

The project is reportedly codenamed ‘Highland’.

For a few years now, Tesla has been integrating its large casting technology into Model Y with single large casting parts replacing dozens of parts in the electric SUV.

This new technology has enabled Tesla to greatly improve manufacturing efficiency with Model Y compared to Model 3. CEO Elon Musk said that Tesla will bring the same technology to Model 3 eventually, but he couldn’t exactly say when.

The problem is that such an update to the Model 3 would temporarily slow down production and Tesla couldn’t afford that while it was still ramping up Model Y production.

However, Model Y production is now starting to exceed Model 3 production and it could be good timing for Tesla to update the Model 3 and use a design refresh to introduce the large from and rear casting.

Now a new Model 3 prototype has been spotted in Santa Cruz, California by Twitter user omg_Tesla/Rivian:

The Model 3 is equipped with manufacturer plates, which would indicate that it is owned by Tesla, and combined with the heavy camouflage in the front and back of the vehicle, it likely points to the automaker testing an updated version of the electric sedan.

However, not much can be discerned from the pictures thanks to the camouflage, which even covers large parts of the headlights.

Nonetheless, some commenters on Twitter did notice what could potentially be a camera embedded in the corner of the front right headlight:

It’s barely visible and therefore unconfirmed, but it would make sense to place a camera around that spot since Tesla’s current self-driving sensor suite has a blind spot around the bumper and it could also help with the creeping forward to see traffic before taking a turn in Full Self-Driving – something FSD Beta has issues with right now.

Tesla has always said that it would keep improving its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving hardware, but current owners who bought vehicles with the promise that self-driving will be enabled through software updates are concerned that Tesla might find that it would need a new sensor suite to achieve the promise.

What do you think about this Tesla Model 3 prototype? Is the camouflage hiding a Model 3 design refresh? A new Autopilot sensor suite? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

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OPEC+ agrees to stick to its existing policy of reducing oil production ahead of Russia sanctions

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OPEC+ agrees to stick to its existing policy of reducing oil production ahead of Russia sanctions

Led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, OPEC+ agreed in early October to reduce production by 2 million barrels per day from November.

Vladimir Simicek | Afp | Getty Images

An influential alliance of oil producers on Sunday agreed to stay the course on output policy ahead of a pending ban from the European Union on Russian crude.

OPEC and non-OPEC producers, a group of 23 oil-producing nations known as OPEC+, decided to stick to its existing policy of reducing oil production by 2 million barrels per day, or about 2% of world demand, from November until the end of 2023.

Energy analysts had expected OPEC+ to consider fresh price-supporting production cuts ahead of a possible double blow to Russia’s oil revenues.

The European Union is poised to ban all imports of Russian seaborne crude from Monday, while the U.S. and other members of the G-7 will impose a price cap on the oil Russia sells to countries around the world.

The Kremlin has previously warned that any attempt to impose a price cap on Russian oil will cause more harm than good.

Oil prices have fallen to below $90 a barrel from more than $120 in early June ahead of potentially disruptive sanctions on Russian oil, weakening crude demand in China and mounting fears of a recession.

Led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, OPEC+ agreed in early October to reduce production by 2 million barrels per day from November. It came despite calls from the U.S. for the group to pump more to lower fuel prices and help the global economy.

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What’s the status of California’s upcoming $10M electric bike rebate program?

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What's the status of California's upcoming M electric bike rebate program?

California allocated $10 million for a rebate program to help make electric bikes more affordable. But hang on there; it’s not active quite yet.

The move is part of a years-long effort to help reduce the price of expensive electric bicycles for state residents. The ultimate goal is to make it easier for commuters to switch from car transportation to e-bike transportation.

It makes sense when you consider the long list of benefits. From cleaner air to reduced traffic and improved health/fitness, electric bikes solve many of the problems plaguing California (and the rest of the country).

But the path towards a statewide incentive program to reduce e-bike prices hasn’t been quick or easy.

specialized globe haul st e-bike

California has earmarked over $1 billion this year as incentives for electric cars and charging infrastructure, according to Streetsblog. That’s in addition to the billions already put into electric car incentives.

Back in 2019 electric bikes finally got the attention they deserved from lawmakers when California’s S.B. 400 was passed, which included a section that permitted electric bikes to be included in future clean air vehicle incentive programs.

That paved the way for the possibility of statewide e-bike rebate programs, but it didn’t actually create any.

Last year California got one step closer to that goal when it included a $10M allocation in the state budget for an e-bike rebate program. As Assemblymember Boerner Horvath said at the time:

“Making e-bikes more affordable is one of the most effective ways to get Californians out of their cars and reduce emissions. I’m thrilled that the full funding I requested for purchase incentives, education, and training is included in the budget we approved. This program represents a priority shift in the right direction and, once implemented, will help folks from all backgrounds choose a healthier, happier way to get around.”

That was another huge step in the right direction, but it hasn’t yet resulted in an active program.

That’s expected to begin in early 2023, with a number of key guidelines for California’s first statewide e-bike voucher program already laid out.

According to the California Bicycle Association, the program will create a $750 voucher for a standard electric bicycle and a $1,500 voucher for a cargo electric bicycle. There will be additional incentives for anyone whose income is under 225% of the federal poverty level (FPL) or who lives in disadvantaged communities.

But in order to qualify for the voucher, participants’ household income must be below 400% of the FPL, which amounts to $51,000 for a single person and $106,000 for a family of four at current figures.

The program will include Class 1 electric bikes (pedal assist up to 20 mph or 32 km/h) and Class 2 electric bikes (pedal assist and/or throttle up to 20 mph or 32 km/h), but will NOT include Class 3 e-bikes (pedal assist up to 28 mph).

Qualifying bikes must also either be purchased at a local bike shop in California, or online from a company that has “a business location in California”.

The move could see California align with other states that have created or already implemented electric bicycle incentives. Vermont became the first state in the US to offer a statewide e-bike rebate program. Oregon is also working on creating an e-bike incentive program that could soon become law, as New York attempts to do the same.

Many cities such as Denver, Colorado have also implemented their own local programs, though the funding is usually much smaller than statewide programs.

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