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Oz Questions On Clear Aviation & Delivery: Sensible Power Council Presentation Q&A


The opposite day I had the chance to speak with just a few hundred principally Australian members in a Sensible Power Council webinar. It was organized to take advantage of my uncommon timezone alignment with Oz as I spend just a few weeks in New Zealand as a digital nomad. Over 600 signed up, many from different time zones to get entry to the recording, and over 300 attended. 

Naturally, there have been far too many inquiries to reply throughout the occasion itself. As such, the organizer Steve Blume, former long-standing President of the Council, and I assumed it could be helpful to reply most of them right here and share with the registrants as effectively. That is the primary of some articles with responses, which shall be aggregated and shared by the Council as effectively for members.

The framing of my ready remarks was the Radical Electrification of Transportation. I’ve revealed lots on the topic as I’ve dug by means of most modes over the previous 15 years.

Intro slide to Michael Barnard presentation to Australian Smart Energy Council webinar

Intro slide to Michael Barnard presentation to Australian Sensible Power Council webinar

To summarize my presentation, all floor transportation will electrify. That’s vehicles, vehicles, buses, utility automobiles, trains and mining automobiles. All inland delivery and two-thirds of brief sea delivery will electrify, with solely the longest routes requiring biofuels. Delivery and rail can even drop in tonnage because of elimination of bulk fossil fuels from masses. Aviation shall be disrupted by electrical regional air mobility, autonomous flight, and digital air visitors management, and solely trans-oceanic flights would require biofuels in 50 years. 

Meaning the billions of tons of fossil fuels per yr requirement for extraction, processing, refinement, and distribution are going away and being changed by tens of hundreds of thousands of tons of expertise metals equivalent to lithium and cobalt, in addition to just a few hundred million tons of biofuels for aviation and maritime delivery. That’s all very doable.

The ready remarks skimmed over all of that in half-hour or so, leaving far too little time for questions, and so I’ve chosen to answer most of them in writing.

Marine Delivery

Given electrification is the longer term, certainly there shall be a world delivery enhance for transporting batteries?

Sure, however rechargeable, reusable, and recyclable batteries are a rounding error when it comes to mass in comparison with present fossil gasoline demand.

Disparity between fossil fuel annual extraction of one-time use fuels vs reusable and recyclable high-tech minerals required for electrification

Disparity between fossil gasoline annual extraction of one-time use fuels vs reusable and recyclable high-tech minerals required for electrification. Embedded infographics courtesy Visible Capitalist

Extract oil, course of, refine it, ship it, and burn it, and you’re left with carbon dioxide and different air air pollution. Generate electrical energy with wind and photo voltaic, run it by means of transmission and distribution infrastructure that lasts many years, cost a battery with it just a few thousand occasions, then reuse the battery for grid storage, then scrap it for metals recycling. One ton of battery minerals lasts for hundreds or tens of hundreds of makes use of, whereas one ton of fossil fuels lasts for one use. Batteries and the upper worth minerals in them shall be containerized, not shipped in huge bulk carriers, and are accommodated as a load within the projected container delivery enhance.

Do you’ve a lot hope for wind/sail powered bulk carriers, per the current revelation from the mighty Cargill?

I don’t suppose that wind vitality has a lot of a play in cargo delivery. The owner-operator enterprise mannequin battle is an enormous drawback, however so is making certain cargo ships combine with current loading and unloading applied sciences at ports, the place large masts that stick up are contraindicated. I believe that the most probably possibility is bow-mounted parafoils, however even they’ve been combating the owner-operator battle.

There are considerations about engineering, draft, and crew prices to be thought-about as effectively. For extra on my perspective, I occurred to have pushed an article for publication simply earlier than presenting: Will Excessive-Tech Stable Folding Wings For Cargo Ships Scale Up To Massive Ships?

Which sources of biofuels shall be vital sooner or later? Algae appears to have been deserted, corn has a significant market however considerations relating to land utilization (competing with crops).

I’ve performed a number of work on this house to know feedstock sources. There are ten of them, and most of them are waste biomass from our current agriculture and meals methods. Diverting the two.5 billion tons of meals waste into biofuels, as one instance, reduces anthropogenic methane emissions considerably, because the meals doesn’t rot in landfills. Ditto the 1.4 billion tons of livestock dung in Europe alone yearly. Biofuels aren’t a local weather drawback, they’re a local weather resolution.

Can’t sea journey be nuclear? 

Positive, but it surely runs into a lot worse headwinds than wind energy for ships. The price projections for small modular reactors are laughably naive and shall be picked up completely by the homeowners of the ships. Non-proliferation treaties are an enormous drawback for business nuclear era for a superb purpose, so crusing a nuclear reactor round our oceans with out an enormous armed flotilla protecting it intact isn’t a actuality. Most SMRs thought-about for nuclear business ships require excessive assay, low-enrichment uranium, a nuclear gasoline solely out there from Russia proper now. Full evaluation in this text

Any progress relating to laws, and worth penalties to restrict large ship emissions?

Sure. As soon as once more, Europe is main. Its emissions buying and selling scheme consists of extra maritime fuels now, in order that’s forcing change.

And the Worldwide Maritime Group has been rather more energetic than its sibling the Worldwide Civil Aviation Group at searching for options. They’re clearly signaling what they’re desirous about seeing nations create laws round to mitigate and get rid of emissions, simply as they did round huge sulfur emissions.


Waste-to-Methanol to Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF): What’s your view?

Methanol processes which are remotely financial require a supply of methane. That fuel is a large greenhouse fuel drawback, and I’m not enamored of creating extra of it deliberately from biomass. Methanol itself is a local weather change drawback as it’s at present, with international CO2e emissions above 500 million tons yearly. Job one is fixing methanol, not multiplying the issue. 

Waste-to-ethanol to SAF I’m a fan of, as with pyrolysis and some different supply + expertise pairs.

I learn that contrails are literally good for reflecting daylight away from earth. Ought to they be saved and even enhanced?

Contrails fluctuate lots. About 5% of contrails are huge heating forcers. A number of p.c are minor albedo increasers reflecting daylight. The common is that 35% of aviation’s international warming forcing is from contrails. The aviation business and tech giants like Google are teaming as much as discover easy operational flight modifications that radically cut back contrail formation with minor gasoline utilization will increase which are very reasonably priced. And electrical aviation creates no contrails.

We positively shouldn’t be rising contrails. They aren’t a profit. Oddly, we do have an issue like that with maritime emissions. A number of the smokestack emissions from ships do mirror extra vitality again, and that’s been masking CO2e warming impacts. That’s true for diesel emissions on land as effectively. As we clear up transportation air pollution, we’re going to get an undesirable facet impact of a bit extra heating, however that doesn’t imply we shouldn’t clear up transportation, it means we have to cease burning fossil fuels.

Attention-grabbing level about decarbonized lengthy haul air transport prone to come at (unsurprisingly) elevated value. I’m desirous about what financial mechanism has been assumed to make it occur?

A elementary premise in my projections is that we’ll handle local weather change. That may embody pricing carbon a technique or one other. There isn’t a pathway the place aviation fuels shall be as low-cost as fossil fuels once we are allowed to make use of the ambiance as an open sewer, however that doesn’t imply options gained’t be cheaper as soon as we appropriately worth carbon.

The current barely perceptible motion by the ICAO and the higher progress by IATA counsel the aviation business is lastly realizing it truly has to vary. The inclusion of most aviation fuels within the EU’s emissions buying and selling scheme and elimination of indulgences has much more tooth, and can begin to actually chunk with the carbon border adjustment. 

Coming quickly, questions on hydrogen, minerals worth add in Australia, geopolitics, and extra. Watch this house.


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