Earlier this month Swiss company Climeworks began operating the world’s first carbon capture plant—a machine designed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The company hopes to capture 1% of the global carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels by 2025. The company estimates that the plant will remove some 900 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere every year. Located near the Swiss village of Hinwil on the roof of a garbage incinerator, the CO2 is redirected to a greenhouse where it will help grow vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers. The carbon boost could improve the lettuce harvest by up to 20%, according to the company. To achieve their goal of 1%, the company estimates it will need 250,000 plants the same size as the Hinwil unit.

Despite the efforts by OPEC over the past 9 months to cut back on crude oil supplies to keep world prices high, fracking technology in the US is undermining this strategy. US output is now back to August 2015 levels as the current cost levels of fracking is putting a lid on how high world prices can rise. This comes from investment bank Goldman Sachs which forecasts world oil prices to remain below $65 a barrel. The key point is that the dominant petroleum technology now is the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing that have revolutionized crude oil and natural gas production in the US. This technology now sets the upper price levels for world oil prices. Only Canadian oil sands will be unable to compete at this price. Oil companies have found ways of lowering the price of deepwater oil from $95 a barrel to $45 a barrel through re-engineering.

The top five oil consuming nations are the US, China, Japan, India, and Russia. Combined they consume 40 million barrels per day or 41% of total world consumption of 98 million barrels per day by 206 countries. On a per capita basis, however, Gibraltar is the highest oil consumer with an average daily consumption rate of 86,106 b/d  per 1,000 people. Just behind it are the tiny nations of Montserrat, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and Nauru.

The world’s oldest windmills are located in Nashtifan in Razavi Khorasan Province in northeastern Iran. Some 30 windmills, 50 to 60 feet tall, have been operating for over 1000 years turning a grindstone to turn grain into flour. It is thought they date back to sometime between 500 to 900 AD. While neither modern or efficient, there is no shortage of wind in this area and so the windmills were maintained and used by local people over the centuries as an important part of their culture and history. (See photos and video)

Commercial vehicles operated by the Finnish city of Helsinki and bus services commissioned by Helsinki Region Transport will fully convert to waste and residue-based biofuels by 2020. Helsinki Transport operates 1400 buses.

Czech company Nirvana Systems has created the first in the vehicle in world authorised to operate both on roads and in the air. (See photo above)  The”GyroDrive” is a mini helicopter you can drive. A petrol engine propels the rotors and an electric engine drives the wheels. The two-seat vehicle has a maximum driving speed of 40 kph (25 mph) and can take its crew of two on short drives to a petrol station or a hotel. Its flying range is 600 kilometres. It needs less than 100 metres to take off and reaches a top speed of 180 kph in the air. After landing, the pilot only has to fix the main rotor blades along the axis of the GyroDrive and pull out a built-in licence plate to transform it into a road vehicle. Prices start at 1.5 million koruna (57,000 euros, $63,500), but they can reach four million koruna, depending on specifications.

In neighbouring Slovakia, the AeroMobil company says it has received dozens of orders from customers for a flying car expected to be ready for the market in 2020. AeroMobil initially plans to produce 500 units of its vehicle, which uses a turbo propeller to get off the ground. It is expected to reach a top ground speed of 160 kph and up to 360 kph in the air, with a flying and driving range of some 700 kilometres.  At a price of 1.2-1.5 million euros ($1.35-1.7 million) per unit, it is expected to become more like a flying Uber.

The African island nation of Cape Verde wants to power the entire country with 100% renewable energy by 2020. The country of 550,000 has an abundance of sun and wind.


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