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Endangered eels likely to benefit from new work revealing how they swim up the Thames estuary

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A traditional London delicacy, the humble eel now faces even more pressing threats than fishing. Scientists from engineering consultancy HR Wallingford and the Universities of Southampton and Nottingham are working with ZSL (Zoological Society of London) in a bid to advance conservation efforts, and it is hoped that a new study, published in February, will help.

eels
Understanding the way eels swim up the Thames could help conservation efforts.

The European eel is a mysterious and often overlooked creature. After starting their lives at an unknown location in the Sargasso Sea, near Bermuda, the eels drift across the Atlantic on oceanic currents and then navigate up the rivers of Europe, including the Thames, to feed and grow. The eels live in the river for up to 30 years before waiting for a stormy night in autumn to begin the long journey back to their spawning grounds.

However, since the 1980s, eel numbers have seen a decline of around 95% and have been placed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s ‘Red List’. The drop in numbers is believed to be for a number of reasons, but one of the major problems in rivers is that eels are unable to migrate to their important freshwater habitats past hazards and barriers, such as weirs, sluice gates, power station intake pipes, hydropower devices and dams.

Demystifying how the eels migrate through the estuaries will allow both conservationists and engineers to design measures to support the recovery of this species of cultural and ecological importance. The new science, published in the journal Ecological Modelling can also seemingly help with selecting eel-friendly sites for new developments, and designing low-impact infrastructure. The method can be applied anywhere in the world that eels are in danger from human structures such as tidal turbines, power stations and factories, say the researchers.

Dr Tom Benson, senior scientist at HR Wallingford explained: “To build the model we took information about the eels’ swimming habits, such as the fact that they follow freshwater and swim at different depths during the day and night, alongside information about the river, such as direction of the tide and the salinity gradient. We then checked the results against the actual numbers of eels caught in eel traps at Brentford Lock, which are monitored by ZSL’s team of citizen scientists.”

Alison Debney, Conservation Programme Manager at ZSL said: “We’re delighted that our information will help conserve this critically endangered species and help with the good management of our river systems. Once again, our citizen scientists have helped shape cutting-edge science, in this case ensuring effective mitigation measures for eels, and helping humans and wildlife to coexist.”

Professor Paul Kemp of the University of Southampton, and the principal investigator on the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded project “Vaccinating the Nexus” under which this research was conducted said: “It is really great that this interdisciplinary research, which involves engineers, mathematicians and biologists, is providing the information needed to help protect this species of high cultural and ecological value.”

Dr Markus Owen of the University of Nottingham sad: “It was fascinating and great fun to work with Tom and the team to turn our understanding of eel behaviours and knowledge of river flows into predictive models. Exploring various assumptions allowed us to work out which combinations of swimming behaviour were consistent with the data from ZSL.”

The full paper is available at: http://bit.ly/GlassEelsPaper.

The post Endangered eels likely to benefit from new work revealing how they swim up the Thames estuary first appeared on Envirotec. Source: https://envirotecmagazine.com/2021/03/01/endangered-eels-likely-to-benefit-from-new-work-revealing-how-they-swim-up-the-thames-estuary/

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Tesla Powerwall To Get Huge Boost Via Software Update Next Month

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Just following news that Tesla solar power systems (Tesla solar panels and Tesla solar roofs) will only come bundled with Powerwalls starting with orders placed next week, Tesla CEO & Technoking Elon Musk added that some huge improvements are coming to Tesla Powerwalls, via a software update of course.

The core of it is that power output will be given a big boost when it’s not too hot or too cold outside.

Elon notes that the update will come after years of Tesla collecting operational data on owner Powerwalls and seeing that they can indeed push out a lot more power — both on a steady output basis and in times of peak output.

One owner, Anner Bonilla, noted that he had noticed output from his 7.6 kW inverter was actually going up to 7.9 kW, and Elon replied that new Powerwalls can probably do 10 kW continuously and 20 kW at peak if ambient temperature is 30°C.

Will these significant increases in power output lead to a lot more Powerwall sales? I was going to say that we’ll have to wait for a conference call Q&A or a tweet to get an answer on that. However, I think no one will actually be able to tease that out of the data since this information comes at the same time as the other announcements about the required solar + Powerwall pairing.

On the other hand, people now have one week to order solar without a Powerwall, so one would expect a surge in solar sales but not Powerwall sales in response to that. If there’s also a surge in Powerwall sales, that could be due to this announcement about improved performance. Or it could just be from all the tweeting and articles and increased attention to the topic….

If you’d like to order Tesla solar and get a $100 discount, feel free to use my referral code: ts.la/zachary63404

Or not.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/04/22/tesla-powerwall-to-get-huge-boost-via-software-update-next-month/

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Hot News: Last Week To Get Tesla Solar Without Powerwall

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Many people want both Tesla solar (the conventional solar panels or the solar tile roof) and a Tesla Powerwall. Many just want the solar. If you are in the latter camp, you have just one week left to place your order.

Tesla CEO and Technoking Elon Musk just tweeted that Tesla solar products will only come combined with a Powerwall (or more than one Powerwall) starting next week.

Tesla glass solar roof tiles Tesla Model 3 red

Tesla Solar Roof with red Tesla Model 3 in front. Image courtesy of Tesla.

Tesla Solar Plus Powerwall Only - No Solo Solar

At first, that tweet was a bit bewildering to me, for a few reasons.

First of all, a Powerwall costs several thousand dollars ($7000+). That’s going to immediately price some people out of the market. Also, many buyers have no need for one or feel no need for one. Frankly, it’s very hard to get your money back on the product from electricity arbitrage alone (as always, though, it depends on your circumstances). Its greater usefulness is probably keeping the power running in the event of a blackout, but not everyone is in need of that or feels that’s worth several thousand dollars. (When I was a kid, we just lit candles if the lights went out for a bit, and we didn’t rely so much on this newfangled TikTok and internet nonsense.) Thirdly, one of Tesla’s biggest challenges in the electric vehicle arena is lack of batteries, so why force people going solar to get a Powerwall? (Yes, I’m aware that the Powerwall uses a different chemistry than the batteries in electric vehicles. Still, there are shared minerals and production capacity choices that must have some cross impact.)

However, Elon seems to have explained — at least in part — what is bringing this change. He writes: “Solar power will feed exclusively to Powerwall. Powerwall will interface only between utility meter & house main breaker panel, enabling super simple install & seamless whole house backup during utility dropouts.”

Tesla Solar Solo not allowed

So, first of all, the move seems aimed at simplifying solar installations across the board. Hooking solar up to a Powerwall and hooking the Powerwall up to a utility meter is actually simpler than hooking solar up to the grid itself. The Powerwall “middle man” helps to reduce utility interconnection costs and delays.

Tesla Solar Roof on California home. The home also has Tesla Powerwalls and electricity flows seamlessly even in the case of a grid blackout. Photo by Kyle Field, CleanTechnica.

Tesla Solar Roof on California home. The home also has Tesla Powerwalls and electricity flows seamlessly even in the case of a grid blackout. Photo by Kyle Field, CleanTechnica.

Secondly, Elon emphasizes that this specific setup is what keeps your house running in the event of a utility power outage. That is something many people don’t realize — that if your solar system is connected to the grid (not via a battery), it may be useless during a grid power outage. The utility probably won’t let it operate. Don’t believe me? Sunrun, the largest residential solar installed in the United States, tells us the same thing. “Solar panels alone won’t work during a power outage—but when paired with solar battery storage, they can,” the company puts in a big, bold subheading at the top of an article titled, “Will Solar Panels Work During a Power Outage?” Sunrun adds, “Currently, the electric grid will shut down during extreme weather conditions or if consumer demand overloads the system. This power outage would include your solar panel system. Utilities can also shut down if they think the grid will become overloaded.

“One of the reasons for a shutdown is to protect utility technicians who are sent to fix damaged power lines. The other reason is that your solar panel system is connected to the grid via a solar inverter (or ‘grid-tied solar’). The inverter runs to a smart meter that records the amount of energy you use, and also the excess solar energy that is sent back to the utility. So if the grid shuts down, so will your solar panels.”

With that context, two things come to mind regarding Tesla’s new policy. First of all, the company may have found that a lot of solar customers thought their battery-less solar system would work in a blackout, only to be disappointed when it didn’t. I think that is a common misconception (hence Sunrun’s article noted above). Another possibility is that most Tesla shoppers were explicitly eager to get protection against blackouts and it just made sense to streamline the offerings and only offer the paired technologies. This makes sense in the wake of the horrible wildfires and blackouts in California in recent years as well as the disastrous blackout that just occurred in Texas.

Tesla Solar plus Powerwall battery

Tesla Solar + battery now the only way to go — well, starting next week. Photo by Kyle Field, CleanTechnica.

Additionally, it’s been clear that Tesla has far more solar power demand than it can quickly satisfy. So, perhaps the company sees this as a way to both get the most out of a customer order (sell the most product) and get demand and supply to match up a little better.

Tesla glass solar roof tiles Tesla Model 3 red

Tesla Solar Roof with red Tesla Model 3 in front. Image courtesy of Tesla.

Solar permitting appears to be the biggest bottleneck in the US rooftop solar industry. (Though, I have a fun and fascinating CleanTech Talk podcast publishing on a top solution to this in one week, on April 29. Stay tuned!) As hinted above, it may largely be that Tesla can get projects permitted much easier and quicker if there’s a Powerwall included in the project. Or that’s just wild and incorrect speculation. I’m not sure if that affects the speed or ease of the permitting process at all.

Overall, I’m still a little confused why you wouldn’t sell rooftop solar panels or rooftop solar tiles (“Solar Roofs”) to people who want solar power but don’t want a battery connected, but all of my thoughts for why that might make sense are above. Clearly, Technoking Elon sees a practical and financial benefit to the change, and you shouldn’t question a Technoking about this kind of thing.

Tesla glass solar roof tiles Tesla Model 3 blue

Tesla Solar Roof with red Tesla Model 3 in front. Image courtesy of Tesla.

In the end, though, I think this also opens up some interesting new market dynamics. As I’ve mentioned for months, Tesla solar is apparently now the cheapest rooftop solar power you can get in the United States. And Elon Musk explained to CleanTechnica why that is. By eliminating its solar-only option, Tesla is now leaving more space in the market for other companies offering rooftop solar, like Sunrun, SunPower, Vivint Solar, and countless local solar installers. Well, not now — starting next week. If you want to order rooftop solar power from Tesla right now and don’t want to tag batteries on, then you have a few days to place your order. After that, it looks like you will have to forever hold your peace and find solar elsewhere.

If you’d like to order Tesla solar and get a $100 discount, feel free to use my referral code: ts.la/zachary63404

Update: Elon just added this tweet and this tweet as well:


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/04/22/hot-news-last-week-to-get-tesla-solar-without-powerwall/

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Charger Reliability Is The Next Challenge For The EV Industry

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In past articles, I’ve covered many of the challenges that come with expanding EV charging networks. I’ve watched Electrify America’s successful struggle to add stations in the Southwest US. I’ve struggled myself taking road trips to rural national parks in my short-range 2018 Nissan LEAF. I’ve also applied what I’ve learned to come up with helpful ideas for the Biden administration as they work toward building 500,000 new stations.

However, there’s one element of the EV driver experience that I’ve neglected to date: reliability. 

As an EV driver, I experience reliability issues on occasion. On a recent trip around Arizona and New Mexico, I came across a number of chargers that gave errors. In Flagstaff, I had a cable fault. I lucked out because I was able to pull on the cable with my luggage and keep it working, but it was the only charger for 100 miles. At the Petrified Forest, I found one dead charger and one that only worked for a few minutes at a time unless I pushed the cable to the side. Had things been just a little worse, I would have been stranded, and a tow back to the nearest town with a charger would have cost hundreds of dollars.

Experiences like these are what have led me to believe that charger reliability, as much as network coverage, are the next hurdle to tackle in pushing forward electric vehicles as a safe and viable alternative to the traditional gas-powered car.

As an EV driver, a busted station on a charging network is in some ways worse than no charger at all. With the rollout of charging infrastructure still in its infancy, many EV drivers carefully plan longer trips and, as a rule, if you don’t see any stations along a certain stretch of your route, you find an alternate path. But if you trek towards a station shown as operating, either via a charging network or third party app, only to find out the station is down when you arrive? Well, that’s a great way to ensure that EV adoption happens slowly or, for some drivers, not at all. 

The good news for EV drivers is that while charger reliability issues do exist, solutions providers in the industry are aware of these issues and taking steps to remedy them. It’s not all doom and gloom, so to speak! Companies like FLO, a North American leader in smart charging solutions and manager of one of our largest charging networks, has made the issue of reliability central to its corporate strategy. Not only is FLO looking to talk about charger reliability, but it’s looking to do something about it, by both improving its own hardware and software solutions and lobbying others in the industry to do the same. 

Smart EV charger

Photo courtesy of FLO.

How Do We Prevent Charger Anxiety? 

Making sure we don’t end up with stranded EV drivers is a real challenge for people running charging networks. Between my anecdotal experience and the things I’ve recently learned from speaking with FLO, there’s a lot of work to be done, and even figuring out where to point the finger when it comes to charging station reliability can prove to be a challenge.

While some charging solutions providers like FLO are vertically integrated and manage the charging experience from start to finish, others feature differing own & operate models which can make applying accountability for reliability more difficult. Networks like EVgo and Electrify America own their own stations, and are thus responsible for their maintenance and upkeep. Broken stations means no income from them, so they have no choice but to get things fixed up ASAP. These networks tend to be more reliable. Networks with decentralized ownership, like Nissan’s dealers or many ChargePoint stations, are having a harder time because there’s no way to hold the owners accountable for broken equipment or their slothfulness in getting around to fixing them. 

They would not be smiling if their charger wasn’t working. Photo courtesy of FLO.

While there’s no easy fix to a large-scale issue like charging reliability, implementing industry-wide quality of services metrics in an industry that is increasingly recognized as critical infrastructure would be a good place to start. As Utility Dive points out, there are many different ways to measure reliability, the best of which is uptime, a statistic which measures the overall percentage of time in which a charging station is operational and available for drivers. However, as with all statistics, we need to be careful in our understanding of them — 95% uptime sounds great at first, but it’s over two weeks of downtime for a single station. Extrapolate those figures across an entire charging network, and you’ve created a shifting minefield for EV drivers to navigate. Arrive at the wrong station on the wrong day, and you’re stuck.

Conversely, at 99% uptime, a station would be down just four days in a calendar year, and those are the kind of metrics we should be striving for if we’re to ask the general population to transition to electric as quickly as possible. And while there is certainly room for debate as to the best means of measuring uptime, there can be little dispute that charging infrastructure, increasingly critical to serving the needs of a growing segment of drivers and often funded with public grants and incentives, should be subject to reliability standards which ensure that stations are available when drivers need them. And whatever the metrics we decide to measure by, we can’t forget that the goal is real-world performance, not just getting a good looking number.

EV charging station reliability makes EV drivers happy

EV charging station reliability makes EV drivers happy. Photo courtesy of FLO.

A Great Opportunity

The good news here is that we have an opportunity to build national charging networks in the United States and Canada that include reliability and quality of service standards. As provincial, state, and federal funds continue to be distributed in an effort to push forward electrification, we can push for the consistency and transparency we so desperately need in the future. The current patchwork of solutions, like PlugShare’s station ratings or the mobile apps for various charging networks, just isn’t going to cut it. With these taxpayer funds should come a requirement to use a consistent set of metrics that are always available to the public at stations, on the web, and in mobile applications.

reliable EV chargers make happy drivers

Photo courtesy of FLO

With everyone playing the same game on the same field, charging networks will have to compete with each other to be the best choice for drivers. They can also be made to compete for future funding, with only the best vendors being selected to install more stations. If we do this, charging reliability can only go up.

As a driver, if you’re looking for a legit and reliable charging partner, be sure to look into FLO. It has deployed stations coast to coast, from Los Angeles to New York, and from Vancouver to Halifax. It focuses on building durable and adaptable stations, and a membership with FLO gives you seamless access to over 60,000 stations across multiple charging networks in the United States and Canada, as if they were one reliable network. 

*This article is supported by FLO.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/04/21/charger-reliability-is-the-next-challenge-for-the-ev-industry/

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Mine Workers Union Announces Conditional Support For Clean Energy Transition

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The United Mine Workers of America, the country’s largest coal miners’ union, will support a “true energy transition” away from coal and fossil fuels that includes jobs for “anybody that loses their job because of a transition in this country,” Cecil Roberts, the UMWA president, said Monday. The union’s support, though qualified, could be a major boost for President Biden’s efforts to fight climate change, in large part because of the power held by West Virginia senator Joe Manchin.

Manchin, who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, joined Roberts for the announcement. The UMWA announcement also included a plan outlining its calls for numerous provisions to give preference to dislocated miners in renewable energy hiring, full funding for programs plugging and cleaning up abandoned oil and gas wells and coal mines, and investment in carbon capture and sequestration technology. Manchin also announced his support for the union-backed PRO Act and called for directing clean energy tax credits to states where fossil fuels jobs have been lost.

“We talk about a ‘just transition’ all the time,” Roberts added. “I wish people would quit using that. There’s never been a just transition in the history of the United States.”

Sources: APE&E $, Politico Pro $, The HillReutersNBCAl JazeeraNew York Times $, ViceGrist; Commentary: Washington Post, Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent analysis 

Courtesy of Nexus Media.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/04/21/mine-workers-union-announces-conditional-support-for-clean-energy-transition/

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