YOUR NEXT PLANE WILL BE A VOLT:

Electric Flying Taxis Are Quietly Sneaking Up on Us (STEVEN ASHLEY, 6/14/24, Scientific American)


When the electric air taxi revolution arrives, you probably won’t it hear coming. A remarkable feature of an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft is how quietly it flies, scarcely noticeable amid typical city traffic sounds. Unlike a helicopter, there’s no pounding, 90-decibel “thwop, thwop, thwop.” In contrast, eVTOL aircraft use multiple small propellers that spin half as fast as a chopper’s rotor—avoiding the annoying, low-frequency sound pulses created by the big whirling blades.

Electric motors, which are quieter than helicopters’ turbine engines, also help keep any racket to a minimum. “The latest air taxi designs, such as those from leading builders like Joby and Archer, deliver a 20- to 25-decibel reduction in noise levels compared to helicopters,” says Mark Moore, the trailblazing engineer who led the development of NASA’s X-57 Maxwell electric airplane. That means that eVTOLs could be four or five times less noisy to nearby listeners. Beyond offering quieter flights, these new machines should also be significantly safer, greener and cheaper to fly than helicopters. Moore maintains that electric air taxis are uniquely suited for what the aviation industry calls urban air mobility (UAM) services, enabling normally gridlocked travelers to “take advantage of the third dimension to escape the ant trails on the ground.”

More than two dozen major eVTOL builders have been founded in the past decade, and a few are nearing commercial certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration or its European counterpart, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The future always happens faster than you expect it to.

GREEN TRUMPS RED:

Giant batteries are transforming the way the US uses electricity (Leslie Sattler, June 10, 2024, The Cool Down)

Over the past three years, the number of these game-changing batteries connected to the electricity grid has grown by 10 times. And this year, that capacity is expected to nearly double again, with Texas, California, and Arizona leading the charge, per the Times.

Resembling giant shipping containers, the batteries work by soaking up excess solar and wind energy when it’s plentiful, like during sunny or windy days.

Then, they release that carbon-free electricity back to the grid in the evenings, when energy demand spikes but solar and wind power drop off.

The Right can’t stop the laws of economics by hating environmentalists.

THANKS, VLAD!:

New report reveals historic milestone as Portugal meets 95% of its electricity needs with clean energy (Ella Hutcherson, May 30, 2024, The Cool Down)

In April 2024, 95% of Portugal’s electricity came from renewable sources, making it a clean energy leader in Europe and for the rest of the world.

Per Euronews Green, this inspiring statistic is just one victory within an overall “continental shift” — in April, “fossil fuels provided less than a quarter of the EU’s energy for the first time ever.”

That was easy.

THE FUTURE ALWAYS HAPPENS FASTER THAN YOU EXPECT:

Heat battery system hits record efficiency for grid-scale energy storage (Michael Irving, May 27, 2024, New Atlas)

A new heat battery design has reached a record power conversion efficiency of 44%. This thermophotovoltaic cell is a major step on the way to sustainable grid-scale energy storage from renewable sources.

With renewable energy prices dropping fast, the barrier now is their intermittency – the first point any renewable energy skeptic will throw at you is “but what happens at night or when the wind isn’t blowing?” A little thing called “batteries” can help there, and there’s no shortage of grid-scale storage systems that can save energy for (literally) rainy days. […]

“We’re not yet at the efficiency limit of this technology,” said Stephen Forrest, contributing author of the study. “I am confident that we will get higher than 44% and be pushing 50% in the not-too-distant future.”

ECONOMICS TRUMPS IDEOLOGY:

How we know the energy transition is here (Amy Harder, 4/15/24, Cipher)

[S]everal recent data points suggest the energy transition is happening, often faster than even some experts have predicted.

Take this wild stat about arguably the most recognizable climate technology: electric cars.

“In 2020, around one in 25 cars sold worldwide were electric; just a few years later, in 2023, it was one in five,” wrote Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, in a March Financial Times article.

IT REALLY IS ALL FLUFFY PINK BUNNIES…:

Batteries the biggest player again as renewable records smashed in California, reach 156 pct of load (Giles Parkinson, Apr 22, 2024, Renew Economy)

The astonishing pace of the green energy transition in California appears to be hitting hyper-drive this spring, as big batteries once again emerge as the dominant player in the state’s evening power peaks, and as renewables smash all previous records.

Last week Renew Economy reported on the milestone when battery storage became, for the first time, the largest supply source in the evening peak of what is one of the world’s largest grids. On Tuesday, it discharged more than 6 GW for the first time, providing up to a 25 per cent share of supply, and was the biggest provider on the grid for two hours.

…AND CHEAPER…:

NYC is testing window-mounted devices that could cut heating costs by over 50%: ‘This is the way to do that’ (Stephen ProctorApril 7, 2024, Renew Economy)

These heat pumps are special because they are essentially the same size as a window-mounted air conditioning unit.

These heat pumps will similarly be installed on windowsills, from which they’ll heat apartments in the winter and cool them in the summer. Heat pumps have become increasingly popular across the country, but until now they were only for homeowners with space for the larger prototypical design.

Gradient, one of the companies awarded funding for this experiment, says that on the coldest days, the window heat pumps can reduce heating costs by 15-55% compared to gas-powered steam heat and 51-74% compared to oil-powered steam heat.

Notably, many New York City residents rely on such heat, which the NYCHA calls “19th-century technology incompatible with 21st-century needs.”

PITY THE POOR PETROPHILES:

Scientists make ‘major finding’ with nanodevices that can seemingly produce energy out of thin air: ‘Contradicting prior understanding’ (Jeremiah Budin, April 2, 2024, The Cool Down)

Giulia Tagliabue, the head of the laboratory, and Tarique Anwar, a PhD student, focused their research on hydrovoltaic effects, which can harness the power of evaporation to provide a continuous flow of energy in order to harvest electricity using specialized nanodevices.

In less technical terms: It’s a way to create clean energy using the power of evaporation. And scientists are taking interest in it due to its planet-friendliness.