MIT Technology Review has an article about robots mining 24 hours a day. Mining companies are rolling out autonomous trucks, drills, and trains, which will boost efficiency but also reduce the need for human employees. Mining companies are well placed to expand automation rapidly, because they have already invested in centralized control systems that use software to coordinate and monitor their equipment.

China plans to spend $1 trillion on rail and high speed rail by 2020 to improve connectivity across the country. The high-speed rail network will span more than 30,000 kilometers (18,650 miles) and cover 80% of major cities in the Asian country. China will also add 3,000 kilometers to its urban rail transit system. At the end of 2015, China had 121,000 kilometers of railway lines, including 19,000 kilometers of high-speed tracks, according to a transportation white paper issued this week.

Grand View Research, Inc. predicts that by 2025 the carbon capture and storage market could be worth almost $9 billion. The market will be primarily driven by carbon demand from the crude oil sector, which pumps CO2 into older fields to increase production in a process known as enhanced oil recovery. That market alone should be worth close to $6.2 billion a year by 2025.

Elon Musk says there needs to be 200,000 gigawatt-hours of batteries to make the world go solar. This would need about 300-900 gigafactory battery factories in order to produce the required batteries in about 40 years.

China is cutting subsidies to wind by 15% and solar by 19% in 2017. This move comes as average solar panel prices have fallen 30% this year, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, resulting in a lowering of the bids that solar developers offer to build projects. China will also encourage local authorities to continue making use of auctions to select renewable energy developers, in order to further lower power prices.

The International Energy Agency says hydro accounts for 16% of electricity generation worldwide and about 85% of global renewable electricity. New hydro capacity additions since 2005 generate more electricity than all other renewables combined. Hydroelectricity’s many advantages include reliability, proven technology, large storage capacity, and very low operating and maintenance costs. In addition, hydropower plants provide flood control, irrigation, navigation and freshwater supply. About 1000 terawatt hours of hydro power was added over the last ten years and another 500 terawatt hours will be added over the next 5 years. (A terawatt hour is 1 billion hours of electricity.)

The African country of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity announced plans to launch mega renewable energy projects generating over 5 gigawatts in 2017. Preparations have been finalized to begin the construction of 19 hydro-power, solar, wind and geothermal energy projects in Oromia, Amhara, SNNP, Tigray and Somali states. Apart from meeting the nation’s energy demand, the projects would enable the country to become east Africa’s renewable energy hub.

Africa is exploring a new biofuel that grows on trees. The croton megalocarpus tree is common throughout much of East and Central Africa, and until now it has been used for little more than firewood. The nuts of the tree contain high concentrations of oil and protein and are now being used to produce a fuel that could serve as a clean alternative to diesel. Producing croton nut oil is a low-tech, low-energy process compared with traditional fuel manufacturing. One company, Eco Fuels Kenya, sells its fuel to local businesses that run generators, such as tourist camps. The company plans to create up to five new factories in Kenya and several more in neighboring countries such as Tanzania in the coming years. In addition it is looking at an “orchard model” of planting its own trees on a 500-acre plot in 2017, that will allow the company to test and push the limits of croton capacity.

 

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