Carbon Farming, Super Electric Cars and Harnessing Tornado Energy

Carbon Farming, Super Electric Cars and Harnessing Tornado Energy

Good news on the clean energy front: Funding a start-up aimed at harnessing the energy of tornadoes to generate cheap, emission-free energy. Tesla Motors is ramping up production of its Model S electric super car vehicle in Europe. And an Australian project to sequester CO2 through tree take roots in the state of Queensland starting with 20 hectares of native conifers, expanding to 1,500 hectares, with 100 year commitment from landowners. Read more

Peter Thiel Invests In Human-Made Tornadoes To Generate Clean Energy

by Mandy Adwell (17 December 2012):

Paypal co-founder and first major investor in Facebook Peter Thiel is now no newbie to environmental investments, recently investing in projects such as 3D bioprinted meat and an energy storage startup. One of his most recent investments is a small grant of $300,000 to a Canadian inventor who has dedicated years to harnessing human-made tornadoes to produce power.

The funding was made through Thiel’s Breakout Labs, part of the Thiel Foundation, which provides funding opportunities for “cutting-edge, early-stage science and technology research ideas.”

Louis Michaud, the Canadian engineer behind the project, has a startup called AVEtec, with technology called the Atmospheric Vortex Engine (AVE) that he has been working on for the past several years. The design introduces warm, humid air to a circular station, where it turns into a controlled tornado. The idea is that this will drive multiple power turbines. This process can be shut off at any time by removing the warm air source.

The energy delivered from the vortex is carbon emission-free, costing only 3 cents per kilowatt hour, which is pretty cheap compared to coal’s price, which can be as high as 5 cents per kilowatt hour – with exceptionally high emissions in comparison.

The only problem is that a large power plant is needed to create a usable amount of power, and an appropriate building has yet to be built and tested. The tornado column in a plant designed for commercial use would have to be 130 feet tall. That would be quite a tornado.

In terms of energy input, Michaud’s plan is to create tornadoes using waste heat from plants and factories, harnessing energy from the vortexes they create. He will be working with Lambton College in Ontario to develop a prototype with Thiel’s funding.

It seems that Thiel is becoming a decent source of funding for very early-tage, cutting-edge cleantech products that have serious potential. The grant issued to AVEtec sounds like just what it needed to get noticed and take the next steps. Do you think a project like this could really work?


Tesla Motors Plans European Assembly, Distribution In 2013

17 December 2012:

Now that manufacturing and deliveries of the Tesla Model S are ramping-up, the company is preparing to open a European assembly and distribution facility. The 200,000 square-foot center in Tilburg, Holland will assemble left-hand drive versions of the Model S beginning as early as March 2013.

While Tesla has a pre-order waiting list for the Model S of a reported 13,000 cars, the company is planning to also ship Model S and Tesla Roadster parts to the new facility. Apparently, this could help Tesla avoid expensive tariffs on whole cars, although it may mean there is a VAT tax applicable. The facility in Holland will involve around 50 jobs.


Good news stories: Carbon project sows seeds for climate change fight

By Kirsty Nancarrow for ABC (17 December 2012)

A far north Queensland project has become the first of its kind in Australia to be approved for carbon farming by the Federal Government.

SelectCarbon says it is partnering with a landowner near Ravenshoe on the Tablelands, south-west of Cairns, to plant 20 hectares of native conifers for carbon credits.

The company’s director, Daryl Kilin, says the first plantings should happen in about 12 months.

“These native conifers have been around for a couple of hundred million years,” he said.

“They’ve actually been through climate change and they’ve proven to be resilient to significant changes in climate over the last 200 million years, which is pretty significant.

“That’s why we think that they’re going to have a major role to play in climate change mitigation in north Queensland.”

He says the project involves a 100-year commitment from the landowner.

“We think that we can get around about 1,500 hectares in the long run planted to native conifers and that will be all over the southern Atherton Tablelands,” he said.

“We’ll be working with landowners to run this program over the next seven years.

“What this means is this is now an approved project that we can then take to a carbon tax emitter in theory and they can offset their emissions by investing in this project.”


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