Monthly Archives: September 2023

25 09, 2023

Electric Vehicles and Solar Energy – Their Role in Climate Change Mitigation

By |2023-09-18T16:29:12-07:00September 25th, 2023|Categories: Articles|

By Tom Mommsen (SSREC)

1 – Preamble

As made perfectly clear in the recent reports from the IPCC, the world must stop burning stuff. Not in 2025 or 2030. Now. When emissions reductions were discussed in the early noughts, an annual 4% decrease – mainly of carbon dioxide (CO2) – would have put the lethal climate crisis monster back on its chain. Lots of talk, hardly any actions and increasing emissions followed, especially in Canada. By 2020, that number had increased to 7.6% emissions reductions per year and must include methane; instead, the earth’s atmosphere has seen a global increase of 6% in 2021, while still ignoring most large sources of methane. The planet has about seven years to get it together. No more delays. No more waiting for pies in the sky offering the perfect solutions.

CO2 mitigation curves 1.5 degrees C

Luckily, many powerful tools to mitigate the climate crisis, to decarbonize and to diminish its effects are already available: trees, eel grasses, mangroves, methane-munching bacteria, electricity from solar and wind, and electrified transportation, including electric vehicles (EVs), and of course, energy conservation, public transport, energy-saving housing and, first and foremost, abandoning the world’s addiction to fossil fuels.

It’s imperative to use as many of these tools as possible and use them wisely and properly. And, fortunately, they are not prohibitively expensive, especially considering what is at stake. In fact, one could argue that they are absolutely essential, considering what is at stake. However, none of these decarbonization routes support the status quo since they are clearly disruptive to business as usual. Thus, they are reviled by industries and their enablers busily perpetuating fairy tales about their own environmental prowess, banging on about transition fuels, praying at the altar of incrementalism, and by seeding misleading myths about their actions and the energy transition.

The globe has already experienced global warming exceeding 1.1 °C, while people are being deluged with inventively named, but frighteningly real, climate-change phenomena like atmospheric rivers, rain bombs, heat domes, derechos, fire clouds, together with more traditional ones – all reaching unprecedented extremes – like hurricanes, typhoons, water spouts, droughts, tornadoes and forest fires. And, of course, sea level rise and just for the record, the continuously rising atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane, two of the most potent global warming agents. The one newly […]

18 09, 2023

Solar Energy and Battery Storage – A Primer

By |2023-09-18T15:55:00-07:00September 18th, 2023|Categories: Articles|

by Tom Mommsen, SSREC

Solar modules combined with batteries are increasingly popular – if somewhat expensive – because they allow homeowners and small businesses to generate and store their own emission-free electricity while saving on their electricity costs. Without battery backup, solar has two drawbacks: 1. it doesn’t generate any energy in the dark and 2. it stops generating electricity the moment the grid is interrupted. In a grid blackout, you’ll be sitting in the electrical dark, even though the sun may be shining. A small battery bank (and a smart inverter) solves both problems – for a price.

Why consider a battery?

Why should one consider a battery with a solar array purchase or post-solar purchase? A few reasons come to mind immediately, and they all have slightly different repercussions on battery demands and design.

  1. Use solar energy when the sun does not shine. It’s a daily event, where you will store excess solar energy in the battery and call upon that energy in the evening and at night. If the day wasn’t sunny enough to fill the battery, the battery could be topped up from the grid (for a price). This will cycle the battery daily, but the amount of energy stored should match or exceed your power demand (kW – i.e. how much power?) and length of time for your energy demand (kWh, i.e. for how long?).
  2. Backup during grid interruption. Extreme climate change events are increasingly creating havoc with grid reliability and grid interruptions are becoming more frequent and ever longer in duration. In this case, the batteries are called on relatively infrequently and for unknown periods. The 24 interruptions of 2022 in the Gulf Islands of BC, where the authors reside, ranged from a few minutes to three days. However, in one catastrophic interruption (in winter 2018), the grid was unavailable for 12 days. Such extremes are hard to handle with a battery.Focusing on the ‘minutes to 3-day’ interruptions, battery capacity should match the (reduced) demand during an emergency supporting freezers, fridge, router and some other devices (definitely not a plasma TV; not really the best time to fire up an electric sauna or dry your hair either!), where 3-5 kW power output should suffice, and perhaps 5-8 kWh per day may get you through the power outage – don’t forget that […]
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