Tag

clean energy

Browsing

Check out this amazing Hydrogen fuel cell train

From the first train to carry goods across Canada to the creation of a railroad system that allows people to travel across the city quickly, the train has done it yet again — they have embraced the modern green energy movement.

Alstom, a French manufacturer, has introduced the hydrogen powered passenger rail train known as the Coradia iLint. The train will launch in December 2017 in Germany and run a 60 km link from Buxtehude, located just outside of Hamburg, to Cuxhaven.  The project is intended to provide a green alternative to remote areas where electrified trains would be difficult to put in.

How does this work? Hydrogen is stored at the top of the train and is combined with oxygen to produce electricity. That energy is then converted using fuel cells, which charges batteries stored below the train. This creates electricity to run the train. Additionally, extra unused energy is stored in lithium batteries and allows the train to be more efficient because it doesn’t have any waste energy. The train will carry up to 300 passengers and can run at 140 miles per hour for an 800 km stretch.

The train was created by French, German, and Canadian technologies. The Canadian company, Hydrogenics, provided the fuel cell that would run the train. Hydrogenics is invested in creating hydrogen fuel cells that could help run clean energy through a variety of transportation options including electric vehicles. The company is also invested in fuel cell installations for freestanding electrical power plants.

The new hydro train is an alternative to electrified trains, another popular green energy option in transit where electrification is hard to reach. The train is considered carbon neutral because it takes hydrogen already in the environment and re-uses it. Though electrification doesn’t have any carbon output, hydrogen fuel cells are able to provide more flexibility in hard-to-reach places because they don’t require a lot of infrastructure to build, a common issue on train routes. The hydro train is a welcome example of a type of transportation that can be adopted in Canada to cut costs from new carbon tax measures that will be implemented under the liberal government next year.

Hydrogen fuel cells are the way of the future and provide a more productive use of the energy potential of the chemical. Hydro trains are ground-breaking and provide alternatives to diesel run trains, which are still the main form of transport for CN Rail in Canada. Transportation can be green and the Coradia iLint is the way of the future for trains.

Is Ontario moving towards clean energy?

What is Ontario’s position on clean energy?

The province has been one of North America’s leaders in clean energy, but lately has been demonstrating that clean energy may be less important than saving a few quick dollars. It appears the province may be advocating for clean energy and climate change initiatives at the same time they are cutting budgets involving green incentives.

Ontario is now launching its third Long-term Energy Plan (LTEP), which will be released in 2017. The various regulations and laws in the Clean Energy Act (originally launched in 2009) is daunting to sort through. Alternatively, the Planning Ontario’s Energy Future lays out the current state of energy in the province today pretty clearly.

The Clean Energy act was closely followed by the LTEP in 2010, and was updated in 2013. The newest version of the LTEP is set to reassess clean energy goals set in The Climate Change Action Plan. Ontario promotes clean energy and when considering electricity, it is growing green. In the report, Ontario specifies that it has approximately 18,000 MW of wind, solar, bioenergy and hydroelectricity on-line or under contract. Ontario electricity production in 2015 consists of 58 per cent nuclear energy, 10 per cent natural gas, 23 per cent water, nine per cent solar/wind/bioenergy and no coal production as of 2014. Clean energy has increased in the last 10 years, but more work is left to be done.

Comparatively, clean fuel is moving much more slowly. Ontario residents use fuel for heating, transportation, electricity generation, and industrial production. It also provides energy for the production of plastics, fertilizers, and chemicals. Currently, natural gas is the leading fuel type at 36 per cent. Wood and biomass is at three per cent, which has only grown two per cent since 2006. Coal is also still used as one per cent of fuel, despite the fact that one of the most unsustainable energy sources and has since been abandoned as a source of electricity in the province.

This is significant because three quarters of homes are heated by natural gas, which is substantially cheaper than electricity. Though electricity is moving in a green direction, fuel distribution still remains as a central energy source. Ontario has set conservation targets for natural gas, but has yet to push Ontarians to move way from relying on this fossil fuel in their homes. It comes down to a question of building the infrastructure to provide renewable energy to homes effectively and efficiently. The infrastructure has been designed to carry natural gas into homes, and it is an expensive but necessary undertaking to move away from fossil fuels entirely.

Instead of tackling how to heat homes using renewable resources, Ontario decided to move in the opposite direction. The government recently decided to suspend the second round of Large Renewable Procurement, which is the green investment funding that supports large renewable energy contracts, which will apparently save taxpayers $3.8 billion in electricity system costs. This stops more renewable projects from going forward, but it will save residents $2.48 on their monthly energy bills. The initiative ultimately prevents more biomass producers from producing fuel, wind and solar from growing further, and keeps some of the less environmentally fuel sources in place.

Ontario has ambitious climate change goals to lower carbon emissions by 15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, 37 per cent by 2030 and 2050. Suspending important renewables contracts and pushing forward natural gas infrastructure is not a promotion of clean energy. Biofuels need to be used to heat homes.  Overall, the province needs to pick a side and stick with it.

Public consultations are being held across the province and online throughout the months of October and November as Ontario reaches out the public to help build energy’s future.

Ontario is on its way to clean energy

How clean is Ontario’s electricity?

Toronto and the rest of the province is avidly working towards embracing clean energy, but it has a long road ahead to catch up to other cities such as Reykjavik, Iceland, who leads the world in clean electricity through their use of geothermal and hydro energy.

Toronto produced 20,313,061 metric tonnes of CO2 last year. The city is involved in lowering greenhouse emissions, and the Ontario Green Energy Act (GEA) will help towards this goal. According to a report published by the Carbon Disclosure Project, a partner of AECOM, cities worldwide produce 78 per cent of energy emissions. But, the easiest way to reduce carbon emissions is by reducing your personal energy consumption.

Since the province decided to draw away from electricity fuelled by coal, other forms of energy have increased in Toronto that are more green and sustainable — also known as clean energy.  Nuclear energy produces 53 per cent of Toronto’s electricity, followed by Hydro at 26 per cent. Wind power only produces 11 per cent of the city’s energy, and solar power and biomass yield less than one per cent. Currently, the total capacity of renewable electricity is 40 MW, which generates 23,816 MWh annually. The City of Toronto is working towards incorporating more renewable energy into the grid through solar photovoltaic, wind and bioenergy in various programs such as green roofs.

Though nuclear energy is not officially considered a renewable energy resource, nuclear fusion could be considered sustainable if it were harnessed and used safely. We use nuclear fission, a secondary process of nuclear that produces mass amounts of energy and synthesizes easily with other renewable energy sources. On the other hand, nuclear fusion is replete with issues because if it isn’t harnessed correctly, it could be catastrophic (as exemplified in Chernobyl). If there was a way to use nuclear fusion with no threat of harming people or the planet, it could become the primary renewable energy source because its energy potential is limitless.

Another kind of renewable energy is biomass, which is created by burning left-over scraps taken from forests and agricultural operations and capturing the carbon energy that is released as an energy source. Though burning has faced criticism as a clean energy source, it helps use left-over materials to produce fuels that can power vehicles.

Ontario doesn’t use coal because it is unsustainable and produces high levels of carbon emissions. Two of these coal plants were transferred into biomass fuel plants and have been quite successful at producing energy. Atikokan and Thunderbay Generating Stations have been converted to biomass plants because the process requires a similar fuel storage and handling system to coal, and it allowed people to keep their jobs supporting a more sustainable energy source.

Many people in Ontario have been complaining about their rising hydro costs, but what they need to realize is they are paying into the future. The Clean Energy Act is paving the way for Ontario to successfully meet climate change targets, and there is a cost to going green. But, there is still so much to do! Ontario should be providing strong incentive programs for people who are struggling to pay their hydro bills. Currently aid programs exist for low-income residents, but more substantial incentives and education could help Ontario residents hop on board the green road to clean energy.

Toronto Transit Alliance shortlisted for ‘Best Clean Capitalism Project of the Year’

The Transit Alliance, led by Women’s Post publisher Sarah Thomson along with Sarah Patterson, has been shortlisted for the Clean50 award for Best Clean Capitalism Project for the year.

The purpose of the Clean50, created by Delta Management Group, is “to identify and recognize 50 individuals (or small teams) who have made the greatest contributions to sustainable development or clean capitalism in Canada.”

The group allows the public to choose the winner from the shortlisted top fifteen projects on their website.

 

 

 

For more information on the the Transit Alliance check out UnlockGridlock.ca

You can follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.