Giant Water Battery Cuts University's Energy Costs by $100 Million Over Next 25 Years
A giant water battery that stands three-stories high will help The University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia reach its goal to be carbon neutral by 2025.
The Queensland university's ambitious target date got a boon from the success of the experimental battery, which was turned on in September and now generates enough power to power the campus' air conditioning system, reducing dependence on the grid by 40 percent, as New Atlas reported.
The giant battery harnesses power from over 6,000 solar panels that line the rooftops of the campus's buildings. It then uses that power to cool water, which is then used in the school's air conditioning system. The battery is expected to save $100 million electricity costs over the next 25 years and to prevent 100,000 tons of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The University of the Sunshine Coast partnered with the resource management company Veolia to create the enormous battery. Veolia, a French transnational company that specializes in water and energy management funded and engineered the battery. Veolia and the university wanted to take advantage of the regions abundant sunshine and to cut down on the air conditioning systems' outsized reliance on the grid, as New Atlas reported.
"The University of the Sunshine Coast has a plan to be completely carbon neutral by 2025, which is a challenge to any budget because it requires significant changes to the way energy is captured and consumed," said Chief Operating Officer Scott Snyder, in a university press release. "So, we really did have to think out of the box, and by forming a partnership with Veolia, we were able to negotiate a 10-year plan that suited us both and delivered major energy savings to the University.
According to Veolia, the system, which is essentially a huge thermal energy storage tank, is reducing the carbon footprint of the university by 42 percent, as New Atlas reported.
"Universities have a very large energy footprint and we wanted to tackle that and reduce that expense," said Dennis Frost, the university's infrastructure and energy manager, who received the award in Iceland. He added that the project provides great fodder for teaching students about using solar power, since it is a real world example of a renewable energy source cutting down on emissions and saving money. "I think it is exciting because we have the opportunity to teach the younger generation that the environmental challenges that are faced by the planet can be solved," he said, as the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Queensland, in the northeast corner of Australia and home to the Great Barrier Reef, has ramped up its production of solar power. Last month, the Queensland Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said that solar panels in Queensland generated twice as much energy as the state's biggest power station.
Queensland has 30 solar farms. Their power coupled with solar panels on homes and businesses produced 4,000 megawatts of power. By contrast, the region's largest power plant produced 1,680 megawatts of power, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>