Finland is a Nordic country in the far north of Europe. It borders Russia and Sweden and is the most sparsely populated country in Europe. It has no natural coal resources, some hydropower capabilities, and a lot of forest. One-third of its energy comes from renewable sources (wood, hydropower), 18% from nuclear power, and the remaining 50% comes from imported fossil fuels.
And it wants to be the first country in Europe to become coal-free. The plan is to phase out several large coal plants by 2025 and begin investing in renewable energy. There were also discussions of subsidies and tax breaks in government documents.
Right now the country imports 5 million metric tons of coal every year, mostly from Poland and Russia. In some years that can cost $388 million, a real hit to the country’s GDP of $266 billion. Keeping that money at home with renewable energy offers significant benefits for the country – energy independence, new jobs, improved trade balance, and cutting emissions.
The country is a strong supporter of the Kyoto Protocol and has worked very hard to meet emission reductions. As of 2008, it was 1% below the target reduction.
Being coal-free is a smart financial and ecological move for the country, and maybe one other’s in Europe could follow.
Sometimes it helps to have the facts. They present their own story and make it easier for you to understand the problem.
Here are two sets of facts from the EPA’s 2012 Inventory on United States Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The first shows emissions by source:
- Energy – 87%
- Agriculture – 6.3%
- Industrial Process – 4.4%
- Waste (landfills) – 1.9%
- Solvents and other produces – 0.1%
Probably not what you expected. Our dominant method of creating energy is the problem. And that is through the use fossil fuels for electricity generation and transportation. To get global warming under control we need a massive shift in energy policy (i.e. clean energy).
That’s important but if you look at emissions by end user a different story emerges:
- Manufacturing – 30%
- Homes – 18%
- Personal Cars – 17%
- Business – 17%
- Farming – 8%
- Freight Trucks – 6%
- Airplanes – 2%
To understand this you need to keep in mind that it’s the person buying the product or driving the car that is ultimately responsible for the emission. That is what these numbers show and they are often overlooked. Which is sad because they convey what you can do, right now, to have an impact.
It is not about cars and electricity like most think. Although they still are important. Rather, it’s the stuff we buy (manufacturing) and our habits at home and at work that cover 2/3 of greenhouse gas emissions.
This is why I like the facts. They tell their own story. In this case, it’s that you – one person – can change your habits and have a huge impact on global warming.
Liquid Metal Battery Corporation, an MIT spin out that’s developing new technologies for electricity storage, has raised $15 million in funding from Khosla Ventures, Total and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. The technology behind the company was developed by Dr. Donald Sadoway (his famous TED Talk), a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was recently named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
“Large-scale electricity storage will be a critical part of reinventing the global electric grid infrastructure, and LMBC has developed the most innovative chemically-based solution that we’ve seen,” said Andrew Chung of Khosla Ventures.
Bill believes that creating large-scale batteries to store energy is a critical problem to solve if solar and wind energy are to become mainstream. In this video, Bill and MIT Professor Donald Sadoway discuss the importance of new battery storage technology and Sadoway’s focus on the development of a “liquid metal” battery.
via Gates Notes
To get more technical, the liquid in the all-liquid battery is molten salt and liquid metal, which:
“…avoids cycle-to-cycle capacity fade because the liquid electrodes are reconstituted with each charge – similar systems have operated in a lab environment for more than 17 months with daily cycling and no reduction in performance. The molten salt electrolyte combines high conductivity with abuse tolerance at low cost. Self-segregation due to three immiscible liquid phases of different densities (e.g. oil and water separation) allows for robust operation and ease of manufacture. Together, these attributes will enable the liquid metal battery to exceed 70% round-trip AC efficiency for over a decade without degradation.”
Learn more on the – 2-page information sheet from LMBC (pdf)