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Fund for the conservation of biodiversity of Kazakhstan

Will the green economy help to overcome the threat of global warming? How will the rise in temperature affect the economy and why do we need a transition to low-carbon development?

This and other things we talk with the Director of the Department of Kyoto Protocol of the Ministry of environmental protection Telebeam Akjigitova by Adilov.

– Why is the transition to low-carbon development important for Kazakhstan? What opportunities and prospects are opening up for Kazakhstan?

– Climate change has become the main challenge for humanity, and we need to prepare for the present and future risks and threats, because this problem will affect not only the environment, but also the socio-economic development of the country. According to experts, the consequences of climate change in Kazakhstan will be the shift to the North of the boundaries of humidification zones, the increase in desert, degraded lands, the reduction of biological diversity. Already, the area of glaciers is rapidly decreasing, mudflow and landslide activity is increasing.

Kazakhstan has made voluntary commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 and 25 per cent by 2020 and 2050, respectively, compared to the baseline year of 1992. The development of renewable energy sources-water, sun, wind and biomass – will not only reduce the environmental burden, but will give impetus to new wind, hydro, solar, service companies. The production of goods and services with high added value will increase, new green jobs will be created. The strengthening of energy efficiency and energy saving standards in production, transport, housing and communal services will always have a positive impact on the quality and cost of goods and services. Development and implementation of low-carbon technologies will open a huge potential for Kazakhstan’s business, attract investment in the country.

Many developed countries have already developed national strategies for low-carbon development, and Kazakhstan should be involved in the international process of setting new standards and norms for resource conservation.

The relevance of low-carbon development is emphasized in the world at the highest political level: meetings of the Group of 20, The G8, the Conference of the parties to the UN framework Convention on climate change, and other international meetings. This is confirmed by the 7th pan-European conference of environment Ministers, which was held in Astana on September 21-23 this year.

– How will the decisions taken at the 7th pan-European conference of environment Ministers affect the prospects of low-carbon development in Kazakhstan?

– The conference adopted the Ministerial Declaration ” Save water-take care of nature!”, in which the countries of Europe, North America, Caucasus and Central Asia were called upon to close environmental cooperation in the management of water resources, improvement of water supply, sanitation, as well as to intensify the transition to an environmental economy. The countries were offered mechanisms of “greening” of the economy, the possibility of resource efficiency for sustainable development, attracting investment in the green economy. The delegates of the conference approved the green bridge partnership program, and for the first time within the framework of the environment for Europe program, 20 countries and 4 organizations committed to 75 specific actions to improve water resources, which are aimed at solving the problems of water and ecosystems, water and health, access to water and sanitation, adaptation to climate change.

Kazakhstan’s participation in the European process makes it possible to receive intellectual, technological and financial assistance not only from developed countries, but also from international organizations. For example, the United Nations development Programme supports our efforts to develop strategic documents that enable a smooth transition from a brown to a green economy. At the international level, financial assistance will be provided to countries through the emerging global carbon Fund.

Kazakhstan’s participation in the interregional and global movement for greening the economy will contribute to a radically new attitude of the state, business, society to natural resources as a source of economic and social benefits.

– What can be said about the Astana initiative “Green bridge”?

The Astana initiative can be called an analogue of the concept of low-carbon development, but at the interregional level. Therefore, the goals, objectives and activities of the initiative fully coincide with the priorities of the low-carbon economy of Kazakhstan. Within the framework of the Astana initiative, it is planned to create an international center and a regional network of green technology transfers. This is a unique opportunity for developing countries, including Kazakhstan, to obtain resource-saving technologies, best practices and scientific knowledge for low-carbon development. In addition, our country can receive advice from leading experts in the preparation and implementation of long-term programs of “green” business in various sectors of the economy, national strategies on climate change and its consequences.

The theme of low-carbon economy was devoted to a side event “Astana initiative: Kazakhstan and low-carbon development”, organized by the Ministry of environmental protection of Kazakhstan and the UN development Programme in the framework of the 7th Ministerial conference of the environment. The participants were presented the directions of the Astana initiative, the Plan of low-carbon development of Kazakhstan until 2050, as well as the Russian experience in the field of energy efficiency as the main engine of resource saving.

– Is our state, business and society ready to support the idea of “green” growth?

– At the international and state level, Kazakhstan has already supported the idea of “green” growth. This is confirmed by the active participation and holding of two Ministerial conferences of the Asia-Pacific region in 2010 and the European one in 2011, as well as the nomination of the Astana initiative “Green bridge”. The idea of ” green growth “is implemented by the state program” Zhasyl Damu”, laws on energy efficiency, development of renewable energy. Also, A plan for low-carbon development of Kazakhstan until 2050 has been developed, reflecting the main directions of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is obvious that significant financial resources will be needed to promote the idea of green growth. But the long-term prospect of obtaining social and economic benefits in the form of improving the quality of life of Kazakhstan and the stability of the economy should be decisive.

Business should also be interested in the idea of “green” growth, because it is associated with improving the efficiency of resource allocation, the creation of new “green” jobs and industries with high added value, the development of advanced production technologies.

Many advanced countries are gradually abandoning the import of coal and oil in favor of clean energy – wind, sun. Therefore, in the future, the volume of Kazakhstan’s exports of fossil fuels can be significantly reduced. And business takes this into account. At the same time, there is already a great interest of foreign investors in the development of renewable energy in Kazakhstan. We expect that the projects will be implemented in the near future as soon as the tariff policy is approved.

Civil society, through representatives of non-governmental organizations, is also involved in the development of green growth policies. Representatives of environmental NGOs participated in the development of the Astana initiative. Environmental NGOs were also among the official delegates of the 7th European Ministerial conference.

Ordinary citizens of our country are indirectly involved in resource saving through the system of differentiation of utility tariffs. But this is not enough, it is necessary from a young age to cultivate a policy of “green growth”. Each person at his level can contribute, starting with careful consumption of water, heat and electricity.

Ayman Tynyshpaeva, Astana
Source: the website of the newspaper”Liter” Astana initiative can be called an analogue of the concept of low-carbon development, but at the interregional level. Therefore, the goals, objectives and activities of the initiative fully coincide with the priorities of the low-carbon economy of Kazakhstan. Within the framework of the Astana initiative, it is planned to create an international center and a regional network of green technology transfers. This is a unique opportunity for developing countries, including Kazakhstan, to obtain resource-saving technologies, best practices and scientific knowledge for low-carbon development. In addition, our country can receive advice from leading experts in the preparation and implementation of long-term programs of “green” business in various sectors of the economy, national strategies on climate change and its consequences.

The theme of low-carbon economy was devoted to a side event “Astana initiative: Kazakhstan and low-carbon development”, organized by the Ministry of environmental protection of Kazakhstan and the UN development Programme in the framework of the 7th Ministerial conference of the environment. The participants were presented the directions of the Astana initiative, the Plan of low-carbon development of Kazakhstan until 2050, as well as the Russian experience in the field of energy efficiency as the main engine of resource saving.

– Is our state, business and society ready to support the idea of “green” growth?

– At the international and state level, Kazakhstan has already supported the idea of “green” growth. This is confirmed by the active participation and holding of two Ministerial conferences of the Asia-Pacific region in 2010 and the European one in 2011, as well as the nomination of the Astana initiative “Green bridge”. The idea of ” green growth “is implemented by the state program” Zhasyl Damu”, laws on energy efficiency, development of renewable energy. Also, A plan for low-carbon development of Kazakhstan until 2050 has been developed, reflecting the main directions of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is obvious that significant financial resources will be needed to promote the idea of green growth. But the long-term prospect of obtaining social and economic benefits in the form of improving the quality of life of Kazakhstan and the stability of the economy should be decisive.

Business should also be interested in the idea of “green” growth, because it is associated with improving the efficiency of resource allocation, the creation of new “green” jobs and industries with high added value, the development of advanced production technologies.

Many advanced countries are gradually abandoning the import of coal and oil in favor of clean energy – wind, sun. Therefore, in the future, the volume of Kazakhstan’s exports of fossil fuels can be significantly reduced. And business takes this into account. At the same time, there is already a great interest of foreign investors in the development of renewable energy in Kazakhstan. We expect that the projects will be implemented in the near future as soon as the tariff policy is approved.

Civil society, through representatives of non-governmental organizations, is also involved in the development of green growth policies. Representatives of environmental NGOs participated in the development of the Astana initiative. Environmental NGOs were also among the official delegates of the 7th European Ministerial conference.

Ordinary citizens of our country are indirectly involved in resource saving through the system of differentiation of utility tariffs. But this is not enough, it is necessary from a young age to cultivate a policy of “green growth”. Each person at his level can contribute, starting with careful consumption of water, heat and electricity.

Ayman Tynyshpaeva, Astana
Source: Website of the newspaper “Liter»

“Green” energy of the country of lakes

Modern “smart” power stations, research in the field of ecology and many ideas come to reality in Finland. And some of them are already being implemented by Finnish companies in Kazakhstan.

Edge of fluffy pines

When the plane descends below the layer of clouds, the first thing you see in the window is an emerald sea of pines, green hills, and at their foot – neat, like painted houses. A magical country of Scandinavian fairy tales – this seemed to Finland from the side of the liner to the participants of the press tour dedicated to the “green” energy and organized by the Ministry of foreign Affairs of this country and the company Finnfacts.

There is really a lot of amazing, but it is not an old legend, and a fairy tale of the XXI century.

From the airport to the Central station of Helsinki high-speed and comfortable train rushes through the dense coniferous forest. Perhaps it is for the endless forest Finland got its Swedish name – Finland – “hunting land”, from Norse fin – the hunter and the Swedish land – “land, country”.

The very name of Finland-Suomi – according to one version comes from suoma – “swampy place”. And indeed, swamps, lakes, canals and canals here a great many. No wonder the state is called “the country of thousands of lakes”: it is estimated that there are about 190,000 large and small natural reservoirs, which occupy 9% of the territory.

And another quarter of Suomi’s territory is located beyond The Arctic circle, and in this part of the country in winter comes the polar night, which lasts in some places up to two months. Despite this, the climate in Finland is generally quite mild, the icy breath of the North is warmed by westerly winds and currents from the Atlantic.

At the time of the warm winds came and our trip. The coolness was almost affectionate, if not drizzly drizzle. However, the cloudy sky with beautifully shaded residential neighborhoods of the suburbs. Urban development here harmoniously “gets used” to natural landscapes, cozily wrapped in the forest, which in Finland, by the way, 20 million hectares, or 60% of the country.

It is this careful attitude of the Finns to nature and the technologies developed in this country for waste processing and energy production were one of the main topics of discussion during the recent official visit of the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev to Finland. In particular, the Head of our state spoke about the plans to introduce the best Finnish solutions in the field of “green” economy in various regions of Kazakhstan and stressed that the priority areas of cooperation were identified by the parties as processing industries, innovative and high-tech enterprises, as well as export-oriented production.

-We agreed to improve the efficiency of the Kazakh-Finnish intergovernmental Commission on trade and economic cooperation, as well as to accelerate the launch of the working groups created within its framework in such areas as energy, transport, agriculture and education, Nursultan Nazarbayev said after negotiations with the President of Finland Sauli Niinisto. We also discussed the possibility of the presence of the Finnish capital and technology in the projects on modernization of the Kazakh economy.

One of the companies ready to offer its services to Kazakhstan became the starting point of our press tour. It studies the environmental situation in different countries, the situation of waste processing and energy generation and is called the “national research and development Fund Sitra”.

With the support of the Fund, “road maps” for the development of a new type called “cyclical economy”are being developed. It involves the creation of closed loops. An example of such a cycle: extraction of raw materials-processing-production of waste-their processing-obtaining energy from processing and sending it to the extraction of raw materials or its processing. It is supposed to minimize carbon emissions and harmful substances into the atmosphere.

– This is a very important tool to curb climate change,-said the leading specialist of the Fund for carbon-neutral economy of the closed cycle Mika Sulkin. – The world is already full of waste. At the same time, the demand for primary materials – raw materials and resources-is growing very strongly. Most of the products and goods we consume only once, after which they become waste. And if we talk about food products, one third of raw materials is lost in their production. At the same time, the need for land, according to experts, will grow by 2 times over the next few years to provide food to the inhabitants of the Earth.

As a result, experts in Finland came to the conclusion that it is impossible to further improve the welfare of society by producing more and more products from the conveyor. Then there was an idea to develop a cyclical economy and move away from the previously existing linear model of “raw material – product – consumption – waste”.

The world’s first cyclical economic strategy was developed by the Finnish government in cooperation with business and non-profit organizations in 2016. It assumes that the materials will be used as long as possible, and instead of the goods will be sold “smart” solutions.

Finland recognizes that the cyclical economy is the key to achieving the objectives of the Paris agreement. It will help reduce carbon emissions and waste.

– The greatest potential is no longer in the flow of waste or raw materials, – said the representative of the Fund. – Today, the greatest opportunities are in the service sector-in the maintenance of machinery and equipment, their modernization.

Sitra considers the maximum use of existing opportunities in creating its strategies. Thus, one of the models is “extension of the life cycle of the finished product”. It covers all possible types of products, from household items to machinery and equipment. One example of its implementation is the repair and restoration of gearboxes for tractors.

According to experts of the Fund, such a recovery program allows not only to save on the purchase of new equipment of the company using the tractor. The effect is much wider, it is-less need for raw materials, products of metallurgical enterprises, and therefore-less harm to nature.

Another option is the product-related service model. Very popular in Finland, thanks to this strategy, have become the services associated with the process of separate collection and processing of garbage. This includes the installation of sensors, detector devices on the tanks for the collection of household waste, and optimization of waste streams, automated systems for processing plants and much more.

One of the important models is “renewability”. Oil refineries are introducing a line of production of diesel fuel from waste food industry. According to experts of the Fund, in the process of cooking a lot of vegetable oil is lost. Now it is collected, and a large “secondary flow”is already formed from it. Produced” oil ” diesel is used both independently and as an additive to fuel produced from oil.

In Finland, the Fund has created a list of” 100 most interesting enterprises”, which actively apply the principles of cyclical economy and” green ” technologies. Now this list has become so popular that large companies in the country tend to get into it.

Coming to other countries, Sitra offers strategies based on strengths and traditional industries. Representatives of the Fund said that they are ready to come to Kazakhstan, to study the conditions of our country. Of course, negotiations and signing of documents will be required.

Such cooperation seems quite real, taking into account the fact that, as it was noted during the official visit of Nursultan Nazarbayev,
Finland views Kazakhstan as a key partner in ensuring stability and creating conditions for sustainable development in Central Asia. During the years of independence, Suomi has invested more than 300 million dollars in our country, about 100 enterprises with the participation of Finnish capital in various fields have been registered in our country.

Resort oil refining


In recent decades, Finland is known throughout the world as a country-the standard of environmental cleanliness. In Helsinki and many other cities of Suomi you can drink tap water directly from the tap. There is practically no garbage here, energy is obtained from it.

By the way, today in Finland about 35% of the energy consumed is obtained from renewable sources, mainly (80%) is wood pulp or wood waste. The country’s carbon emissions target is to reach zero by 2045.

The fact that these are not just fictitious figures, we have seen clearly in the city of Porvoo near Helsinki – in one of the final points of the press tour. At first glance it seemed that we arrived at the resort. The forest, picturesque granite hills, the air is so clean that it seems sweet to taste. And then, at the next turn – metal construction, intertwining tubes of different diameters and colors, large capacity…

“Resort” turned out to be an oil refinery Neste. Just emissions from this enterprise are so small that it is possible to open sanatoriums nearby.

In addition to oil refining, diesel fuel is also produced here from recycled waste vegetable oil from the food industry. At the same time, the company has high standards of diesel production, which leaves a minimum “carbon footprint”.

“Our goal as a company is to fight climate change,” said Marco Peccola, Deputy Director General for production. – Past generations, in our opinion, unnecessarily consumed resources. And we believe that we can change this tradition, shift consumption in a more efficient and reasonable way.

According to him, now the company produces about 80% of its products from renewable raw materials from waste of animal or vegetable origin. At the same time, the company directs 70% of the cost of research and development to the study of new types of renewable raw materials and the creation of new methods of its processing.

Responsible use of resources and respect for nature – these two principles form the basis of the development strategies of many of Finland’s largest companies. The same principles are followed by the already well – known in our country Ensto-manufacturer of “smart” power supply systems. It is with this company during the official visit of Nursultan Nazarbayev in Finland signed a Memorandum of cooperation, the second party was the East Kazakhstan regional electricity distribution company.

The Finnish side will supply “smart” technologies to Kazakhstan, which in the event of an accident in the power grid will localize it, so as not to disconnect several blocks at once, but to de-energize only the place of damage.

Another active company in the Kazakhstan market is KPA Unicon-a supplier of” smart ” heating systems and boilers, as well as power plants for large industrial enterprises. Their exhaust gas treatment plant, in particular, has been working at the ArcelorMittal Temirtau plant for about 3 years.

– We see that Kazakhstan is a very promising country for the development of clean technologies, and we could bring our technologies and investments to you. We need to study this issue, ” Pekka Kovanen, Chairman of the Board OF kPa Unicon Group, shared his plans.

In the field of” green “energy and” smart ” economy, Kazakhstan and Finland have been actively cooperating for several years. According to the Ministry of energy of Kazakhstan, only in the last 2 years within the Kazakh-Finnish intergovernmental Commission 4 working groups have been created – on energy, transport, education and agriculture. Two Finnish companies are involved in the implementation of projects for sorting and processing of municipal solid waste in West Kazakhstan, Karaganda regions, as well as in Almaty and Taldykorgan.

– In Finland, the highest culture of garbage processing, 90% is utilized, – noted during the official visit of the Kazakh President to Finland, Minister of energy of Kazakhstan Kanat Bozumbayev. – Kazakhstan has accumulated tens of millions of tons of waste at landfills, and this is a serious problem. The level of processing of solid waste by the end of the year should be 10.5–11%. Three years ago, it was only at 2.6%, but thanks to the concept of a” green ” economy, decisive measures were taken. At the same time, we must set ambitious goals – to dispose of at least 50%, and for this we need to do a lot.

Finnish companies have expressed their willingness to” do a lot ” and offer a lot. The Suomi country exports its technology all over the world. And we hope that in Kazakhstan these “smart” and “green” solutions will take root and take root. Then the future generations of Kazakhstan will get the blue sky, clean air and not littered with previous generations expanses of the great steppe. Where our bright minds will test their developments, too, “smart” and “green”, and then, perhaps, the Republic will also become an exporter of technology.

And our journey was coming to an end. The plane again overcame the layer of clouds, and together with the warm winds of the Atlantic began to carry us to the East. Left behind a country of clean air, forests and lakes, and, as he said to our interpreter, suvi Latamore, “the country of happy people”. Indeed, in the world report on happiness-2018, published by the UN, Finland took first place.

AUTHOR:
Anastasia Prilepskaya

Renewable energy: a new revolution or another bubble

“Green” energy is too expensive compared to traditional energy, and it develops only thanks to state support. The high share of debt financing in RES projects (up to 80%) and its growing cost can lead to bankruptcy of companies or to the need to allocate an increasing amount of state support
News about the records in the field of renewable energy do not go with the news feeds in the last few years. According to the international renewable energy Agency (IRENA), in the period 2013-2015, the share of renewable energy in the new capacity in the electricity sector is already 60%. It is expected that even before 2030, renewable coal will shift to second place and will become a leader in the balance of electricity generation (according to the IEA forecast, a third of electricity by this year will be produced by RES). Taking into account the dynamics of new capacities, this figure does not look too fantastic — in 2014, the share of renewable energy in world electricity production was 22.6%, and in 2015 — 23.7%.

However, under the General term RES there are very different sources of energy. On the one hand, it has long been successfully exploited large hydropower, and on the other — relatively new types — such as solar energy, wind, geothermal sources and even very exotic energy of ocean waves. The share of hydropower in electricity generation in the world remains stable-18.1% in 1990, 16.4% in 2014 and about the same figure in the forecast for 2030. The engine of the rapid growth of renewable energy over the past 25 years has been “new” types of energy (primarily solar and wind energy) — their share increased from 1.5% in 1990 to 6.3% in 2014 and is expected to catch up with hydropower in 2030, reaching 16.3%.

Despite such rapid rates of RES development, there are still a lot of skeptics who doubt the sustainability of this trend. For example, Per Wimmer, a former employee of the investment Bank Goldman Sachs, and now the founder and head of his own investment consulting company Wimmer Financial LLP, believes that RES is a “green bubble”, similar to the dot-com bubble of 2000 and the mortgage crisis in the United States in 2007-2008. It is interesting that Per Wimmer is a citizen of Denmark, a country that has long been a leader in the wind energy sector (in 2015, Danish wind farms produced 42% of the country’s electricity consumption) and seeks to become the “greenest” state, if not in the world, then certainly in Europe. Denmark plans to phase out the use of fossil fuels by 2050.

The main argument of Wimmer is that RES energy is commercially uncompetitive, and projects with its use — unstable in the long term. That is, “green” energy is too expensive compared to traditional energy, and it develops only thanks to state support. The high share of debt financing in renewable energy projects (up to 80%) and its growing cost will, according to the expert, either lead to the bankruptcy of companies implementing projects in the field of “green” energy, or to the need to allocate an increasing amount of state support to keep them afloat. However, Per Wimmer does not deny that RES should play a role in the energy supply of the planet, but offers state support only to those technologies that have a chance to become commercially viable within the next 7-10 years.

Vimmer’s doubts are not groundless. Perhaps one of the most dramatic examples is SunEdison, which filed for bankruptcy in April 2016. Up to this point, SunEdison was one of the fastest growing U.S. companies in the field of renewable energy, the value of which in the summer of 2015 was estimated at $10 billion Only in the three years preceding the bankruptcy, the company invested in new acquisitions of $18 billion, and a total of $24 billion of equity and debt capital.

The turning point for investors came when SunEdison unsuccessfully tried to absorb for $2.2 billion the company Vivint Solar Inc, engaged in the installation of solar panels on the roofs of houses, which coincided with a decrease in oil prices. As a result, the price of SunEdison shares fell from its peak (over $33 in 2015) to 34 cents at the time of filing for bankruptcy. The history of SunEdison is an alarming, but not an unambiguous signal for the industry. According to analysts, the company’s projects were “good”, and the reason for the bankruptcy was too fast growth and large debts.

However, the dynamics of the MAC Global Solar energy Stock Index (an index that tracks the change in stock prices of more than 20 public companies operating in the solar energy sector with headquarters in the US, Europe and Asia) over the past four years also does not inspire optimism.

The issue of subsidies is also controversial. On the one hand, the volume of state support for renewable energy in the world is growing every year (in 2015, according to the IEA, it approached $150 billion, 120 of which were in the electricity sector, excluding hydropower). On the other hand, fossil energy sources are also subsidized by States on a much larger scale. In 2015, the volume of such subsidies was estimated by IEA at $325 billion, and in 2014 — at $500 billion. At the same time, the efficiency of subsidies for renewable energy technologies is gradually increasing (subsidies in 2015 increased by 6%, and the volume of new installed capacity — by 8%).

Also, the competitiveness of RES is growing rapidly due to the reduction in the cost of electricity production. To compare the cost of different sources of electricity is often used indicator LCOE (levelized cost of electricity — the total present value of electricity), in the calculation of which takes into account all the costs of both investment and operational nature of the full life cycle of the power plant of the appropriate type. According to Lazard, which annually produces estimates of LCOE for different fuels, for the wind, this figure has decreased by 66% over the past 7 years, and for the sun — by 85%.

At the same time, the lower levels of the LCOE assessment range for wind and solar power plants of industrial scale are already comparable or even lower than the values of this parameter for gas and coal. Despite the fact that the LCOE methodology does not allow to take into account all the system effects and the need for additional investments (networks, basic reserve capacity, etc.), this means that projects in wind and solar energy become competitive compared to traditional fuels and without state support.

Another characteristic of this trend is the rate of decline in prices claimed by energy companies at auctions for the purchase of large amounts of electricity through PPA (power purchase agreement — electricity supply agreement). For example, another record for solar energy of 2.42 cents per kWh was set by a consortium consisting of Chinese panel manufacturer JinkoSolar and Japanese developer Marubeni, in 2016 in the United Arab Emirates. As recently as in 2014, the lowest bid at such auctions was worth more than 6 cents per sq/h.

In conclusion, we should once again recall the key reasons for the rapid development of RES in the world. The main factor that stimulates the development of renewable — is still decarbonization, that is, the adoption of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming. This was the aim of the Paris agreement on climate change adopted on December 12, 2015 and entered into force on November 4, 2016.

Other benefits of the transition to renewable energy include the improvement of the environmental situation, the supply of energy-scarce and remote areas, as well as the development of technologies and the creation of new jobs. Over the past few years, the use of RES has stimulated the creation of one of the most high-tech industries in the world. The volume of investments in this industry in 2015 was estimated at $ 288 billion. 70% of all investments in electricity generation were made in the renewable energy sector. This sector (excluding hydropower) employs more than 8 million people worldwide (for example, 3.5 million in China).

Today, the development of renewable energy sources should be considered not in isolation, but as part of a broader process of Energy Transition — “energy transition”, a long-term change in the structure of energy systems. This process is characterized by other important changes, many of which strengthen the “green” energy, increasing its chances of success. One such change is the development of energy storage technologies. For RES depending on weather conditions and time of day, the emergence of such commercially attractive technologies will obviously be a great help. The global process of new energy development is irreversible, but a clear answer to the question of its place and role in the Russian fuel and energy sector has yet to be formulated. The main thing now: do not miss the window of opportunity — the stakes in this race are quite high.

How to switch to a green economy if a country is massively “fueled” with coal?

Investments in the “green” energy sector are increasing, but Kazakhstan’s desire to switch to environmentally friendly sources of energy rests on economic difficulties.

2018 will be Kazakhstan’s record for investments in environmental protection. For 10 months they amounted to 61.1 billion tenge, almost three times exceeding the figures for 2017 (23 billion tenge).

What is being done?

Kazakhstan is moving toward a green economy in the framework of the state green investment program, developed jointly with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

In Shymkent and Kustanai, they are starting to implement the “Environmentally Friendly Public Transport” program. In general, in the country in the next two years they are going to build solar and biogas stations. The construction of 4 hydroelectric power stations with a total capacity of over 20 MW is planned.

For the implementation of projects are going to attract foreign investors. To all other,

within the framework of the green economy, local executive bodies will be able to issue green bonds through the AIX Stock Exchange (Astana)

to attract international capital to urban projects. It is noteworthy that in 2018 16 akimats issued government securities totaling 110.9 billion tenge (a year earlier – 94.8 billion). This tool is also aimed at attracting foreign investment.

Devaluations draw back from green technologies

Meanwhile, according to economist Rustem Zhanseitov, the success of introducing green technologies is inextricably linked with the level of economic development.

Rustem Zhanseitov, source: Atameken Business Channel

– Kazakhstan has a weak economy. Both the population and the state today use cheap energy sources. We still have two thirds of the country burning coal. Because the standard of living is low, the income is meager, so they have to do it. How else? If the state begins to increase environmental requirements, where will people go? They will not be able to switch to other sources.

More environmentally friendly fuels use rich countries

to which we are still far away, especially after a series of past devaluations, which threw us back 20 years ago. “We lost a lot in recent devaluations,” the economist says.

What will fix the situation?

Economist Aset Nauryzbayev, in turn, is convinced that Kazakhstan is moving in the right direction, increasing investment in a green economy.

Aset Nauryzbayev

– The only question is speed. It is still low, because people here earn little. This is because they do little.

Now, if our economy produced more, the movement in the “green” direction would go faster

We need to modernize the economy as a whole, and not just perform point tasks. For this you need:

  • creating a good legal field – high-quality independent courts,
  • protection of property rights,
  • demonopolization of markets,
  • interest rate reduction
  • availability of loans
  • availability of capital.

Too risky tool for investors

At the same time, according to the economist, attracting foreign investors through the issuance of green bonds in a weak economy is a very strange tool.

– The risks in Kazakhstan are quite high, about the same as in Russia.

Securities may depreciate at any time, they may not pay money, or default may occur.

Given this, investors want high returns. This tool could be effective if our economy were more independent, he concludes.

Goodbye, oil…Will “green” energy kill the economy of Kazakhstan?

The European Bank for reconstruction and development predicted hard times for Kazakhstan in the event that there will not begin structural reforms to diversify the economy.

In its latest report on our country, the EBRD predicts that it has only 10 years of relatively stable life left, because green energy is coming and will displace traditional fuel. Will Kazakhstan be able to rebuild the economy and fit into the “green revolution”? We talked about this with experts.

Yaroslav Kabakov, strategy Director of FINAM investment company: “traditional fuels will be in demand in the Country for a long time»

In this report we are talking about the displacement of conventional fuels, instead of their instant replacement. This means that oil, gas, coal and products of their processing will continue to be in demand in the market, and not the fact that they will consume less. After all, now there are countries and peoples in the world that consume very few different energy resources, and they can increase their consumption, which will give Kazakhstan the opportunity to expand the range of buyers. In addition, within the country, traditional fuels will be in demand for a long time, which will support their production and production.

Not everything is so simple and with energy based on renewable energy sources (RES). With the expansion of its use comes the understanding that it also affects the environment, and not always this influence is harmless. Yes, for example, solar power plants produce electricity without burning fuel, but they need a lot of space, which means that they will either have to withdraw land from agricultural circulation, or increase pressure on the surrounding flora and fauna, reduce their habitats.

Or take wind farms, which, according to various estimates, can cause significant harm to the health of animals, birds, fish and even kill them. And it is not a fact that the further development of “green” energy will be cloudless, that some other circumstances will not be clarified, which can lead, if not to refusal, then to a revision of the rate of its spread and increase.

Finally, the technologies of extraction and processing of traditional raw materials do not stand still, they are improving, and it is possible, over time, the harm from all activities with their use will be significantly reduced, which will prolong their use in the global economy, and therefore will provide income for the Republic.

Yes, it is necessary to develop energy on the basis of RES – first of all, in order to comply with global trends, to download their own education, science and industry. But this does not mean that the country should completely abandon the oil, gas and coal industries, because they provide a profitable part of the budget and can bring much more in the future, not only money.

It is obvious that the interests of the country oblige to gradually develop alternative energy, not to abandon traditional energy resources at once, as this can exacerbate social problems, cause a serious blow to the national economy. Renewable energy and traditional energy sources may well coexist, and this is the best scenario for the future of the Republic.

Anna Bodrova, senior analyst, Alpari investment company: “there is No need to break the system-its elements need to be gradually changed»

The transition to alternative energy sources is a stressful moment for the economy of any country, not just the raw materials sector of Kazakhstan.

The main thing that should be taken in this case as an axiom is the introduction of energy alternatives gradually, without unnecessary race and haste. Then the energy sector will be able to flexibly adapt to changing conditions.

If the abandonment of traditional fuels will be gradual, systematic, no crisis moments in the economy will not be formed.

Speaking about the energy paradigm of Kazakhstan, we need to understand that we are considering a system that has been built for decades. It does not need to be broken – its elements need to be gradually changed, and then the structure will be rebuilt as gently as possible.

It is worth paying attention to the fact that alternative energy is not only the sun and wind. It is also water, hydroelectric power plants, as well as generation facilities for biofuels and biogas. These are the broadest prospects. Given that the new approach to energy will contribute to the change of the whole society, the economy will also be able to get a new impetus.

Kanstantsin Zhukouski, development Director of the company ARUM Capital: “For Kazakhstan, the transition to renewable energy sources looks pretty difficult»

The international energy Agency predicts an increase in the share of renewable energy sources by 30% by 2023, AK 2030-MU RES will shift coal to the second place and take a leading position in the issue of electricity production. And it looks quite plausible: in 2014, the share of RES was 22.5%, and in 2017, their share in the number of new capacities reached 57% . In other words, more than half of the new power equipment is alternative.

Even exporting countries, such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Canada, Russia, have set goals for the development of a new industry. Moreover, the process of transition to renewable energy has accelerated only in the last decade, which was facilitated by the influx of cheap equipment from China. Due to this, it becomes economically more profitable to install wind and solar stations than TPP and nuclear power plants.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to understand the serious role of state support: the share of debt financing of RES accounts for about 80%, and the bankruptcy of “green” companies is not so rare. For example, SunEdison, which was estimated at $10 billion and was considered one of the leaders of the American market, was forced to go through bankruptcy in 2016.

For Kazakhstan, the transition to renewable energy looks quite difficult because of too cheap coal prices-the country ranks eighth in the world in terms of its reserves, while the use of alternative energy sources is more expensive.

In our country, the industry has just started to develop: according to some estimates, renewable energy accounts for only 1% of existing capacity. However, with due desire, the government will be able to set a goal to reach 4.5% by 2025, following the example of the Russian Federation. First, this will be facilitated by the capital of Western partners like the EBRD, which is actively investing in Kazakhstan. Secondly, the market is already well developed, which makes it possible to use the most cost-effective and modern tools.

In the absence of changes in energy issues, the collapse of the economy in the next 10 years should not be expected. But if Kazakhstan plans to keep pace with technology and continue to compete successfully with other countries, the transition must begin now.

The European Bank for reconstruction and development predicted hard times for Kazakhstan in the event that there will not begin structural reforms to diversify the economy.

In its latest report on our country, the EBRD predicts that it has only 10 years of relatively stable life left, because green energy is coming and will displace traditional fuel. Will Kazakhstan be able to rebuild the economy and fit into the “green revolution”? We talked about this with experts.

Yaroslav Kabakov, strategy Director of FINAM investment company: “traditional fuels will be in demand in the Country for a long time»

In this report we are talking about the displacement of conventional fuels, instead of their instant replacement. This means that oil, gas, coal and products of their processing will continue to be in demand in the market, and not the fact that they will consume less. After all, now there are countries and peoples in the world that consume very few different energy resources, and they can increase their consumption, which will give Kazakhstan the opportunity to expand the range of buyers. In addition, within the country, traditional fuels will be in demand for a long time, which will support their production and production.

Not everything is so simple and with energy based on renewable energy sources (RES). With the expansion of its use comes the understanding that it also affects the environment, and not always this influence is harmless. Yes, for example, solar power plants produce electricity without burning fuel, but they need a lot of space, which means that they will either have to withdraw land from agricultural circulation, or increase pressure on the surrounding flora and fauna, reduce their habitats.

Or take wind farms, which, according to various estimates, can cause significant harm to the health of animals, birds, fish and even kill them. And it is not a fact that the further development of “green” energy will be cloudless, that some other circumstances will not be clarified, which can lead, if not to refusal, then to a revision of the rate of its spread and increase.

Finally, the technologies of extraction and processing of traditional raw materials do not stand still, they are improving, and it is possible, over time, the harm from all activities with their use will be significantly reduced, which will prolong their use in the global economy, and therefore will provide income for the Republic.

Yes, it is necessary to develop energy on the basis of RES – first of all, in order to comply with global trends, to download their own education, science and industry. But this does not mean that the country should completely abandon the oil, gas and coal industries, because they provide a profitable part of the budget and can bring much more in the future, not only money.

It is obvious that the interests of the country oblige to gradually develop alternative energy, not to abandon traditional energy resources at once, as this can exacerbate social problems, cause a serious blow to the national economy. Renewable energy and traditional energy sources may well coexist, and this is the best scenario for the future of the Republic.

Anna Bodrova, senior analyst, Alpari investment company: “there is No need to break the system-its elements need to be gradually changed»

The transition to alternative energy sources is a stressful moment for the economy of any country, not just the raw materials sector of Kazakhstan.

The main thing that should be taken in this case as an axiom is the introduction of energy alternatives gradually, without unnecessary race and haste. Then the energy sector will be able to flexibly adapt to changing conditions.

If the abandonment of traditional fuels will be gradual, systematic, no crisis moments in the economy will not be formed.

Speaking about the energy paradigm of Kazakhstan, we need to understand that we are considering a system that has been built for decades. It does not need to be broken – its elements need to be gradually changed, and then the structure will be rebuilt as gently as possible.

It is worth paying attention to the fact that alternative energy is not only the sun and wind. It is also water, hydroelectric power plants, as well as generation facilities for biofuels and biogas. These are the broadest prospects. Given that the new approach to energy will contribute to the change of the whole society, the economy will also be able to get a new impetus.

Kanstantsin Zhukouski, development Director of the company ARUM Capital: “For Kazakhstan, the transition to renewable energy sources looks pretty difficult»

The international energy Agency predicts an increase in the share of renewable energy sources by 30% by 2023, AK 2030-MU RES will shift coal to the second place and take a leading position in the issue of electricity production. And it looks quite plausible: in 2014, the share of RES was 22.5%, and in 2017, their share in the number of new capacities reached 57% . In other words, more than half of the new power equipment is alternative.

Even exporting countries, such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Canada, Russia, have set goals for the development of a new industry. Moreover, the process of transition to renewable energy has accelerated only in the last decade, which was facilitated by the influx of cheap equipment from China. Due to this, it becomes economically more profitable to install wind and solar stations than TPP and nuclear power plants.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to understand the serious role of state support: the share of debt financing of RES accounts for about 80%, and the bankruptcy of “green” companies is not so rare. For example, SunEdison, which was estimated at $10 billion and was considered one of the leaders of the American market, was forced to go through bankruptcy in 2016.

For Kazakhstan, the transition to renewable energy looks quite difficult because of too cheap coal prices-the country ranks eighth in the world in terms of its reserves, while the use of alternative energy sources is more expensive.

In our country, the industry has just started to develop: according to some estimates, renewable energy accounts for only 1% of existing capacity. However, with due desire, the government will be able to set a goal to reach 4.5% by 2025, following the example of the Russian Federation. First, this will be facilitated by the capital of Western partners like the EBRD, which is actively investing in Kazakhstan. Secondly, the market is already well developed, which makes it possible to use the most cost-effective and modern tools.

In the absence of changes in energy issues, the collapse of the economy in the next 10 years should not be expected. But if Kazakhstan plans to keep pace with technology and continue to compete successfully with other countries, the transition must begin now.

The global review of actions to combat climate change points to increasing dynamics, shifting burdens, lost opportunities

NAIROBI, September 10, 2018 – New accounting for global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the fight against climate change has revealed a wide range of commitments made by non-state and subnational parties that can support and ultimately surpass governments to reduce emissions.

A comprehensive review from the UN-Environment, published earlier today, in anticipation of the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS), emphasizes the important role of non-state actors in reducing emissions and achieving climate targets.

Starting from the city, state and regional government to companies, investors, institutions of higher education and public organizations, non-state actors are increasingly committed to addressing climate change. While most national governments have not yet fulfilled the promised efforts to improve climate change legislation, as promised in the Paris Agreement, non-state actors are becoming an increasingly important condition for achieving global emission reduction goals.

According to the report, these commitments constitute a projected reduction of 1.5-2.2 gigatons of emissions in carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) until 2030.

But along with encouraging growth potential, the report also points to some difficulties associated with monitoring, accounting and coordination. The lack of government participation and support only further limits the overall effect of these commitments to reducing global CO2 levels.

A generalized review of global commitments demonstrates that three years after the signing of the Paris Agreement, the framework and pace of efforts to combat climate change among subnational actors have increased to unprecedented levels. In general, the study examines data from more than 183 international cooperative initiatives and thousands of non-state actors located in 7,000 cities, 133 countries and carried out by more than 6,000 private companies. After analyzing the geographical, sectoral and functional distribution, the report indicates a huge potential, constrained by limited implementation.

“Cities, countries, civil societies and the private sector can be the very resource that will help the world make the last leap to victory in our fight to reduce CO2 emissions,” said UN-Environment head Eric Solheim.

“To the governments and legislators who are ready to support this movement, I want to say the following: The time of political rhetoric is over. The world urgently needs leaders with political courage to act. Non-state actors are stepping up, but they need government support to bridge the gap in emissions. It is time to put all the efforts together and finally seriously address the issue of our new climate reality. ”

In addition to direct emission reductions, the study highlights the growing role of non-state actors as incubators and accelerators for new low-emission strategies. The authors found that in an environment where there is no sufficiently coordinated structure in the industry, individual initiatives are increasingly becoming platforms for the demonstration, testing and dissemination of technology.

Non-state actors often take action to tackle climate change through a range of networks that combine individual climate commitments and stocks (for example, the Urban Group on Climate Issues, C40, Cities for Climate Leadership), or resorting to broader coalitions at the national or international levels. Over the past two decades, the number of such coalitions has increased significantly, the growth of their number is usually comparable to key climate events, such as the 2014 Climate Summit and the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.

Most often, such coalitions of non-state actors are engaged in those sectors that are designated, as such, with high potential for reducing climate change, for example: energy, industry, forestry, transport, agriculture and construction.

The authors of the report emphasize that for the success of non-state actors and the formation of a certain level of trust, their obligations and the surrounding management must follow good faith practices in combating climate change: participants must have the necessary capacity to achieve goals, management must be effective, funding – sustainable, and goals clearly defined. Finally, in order to monitor performance, efficiency and reliability, transparency is essential.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

About the study:

Bridging the Emissions Gap: The Role of Non-State and Subnational Subjects (Bridging the Emission Gap: The Role of Non-State and Subnational Actors) is the preliminary version of the chapter on non-state and subnational actors of the upcoming UN-Environment Report. 2018 emissions ”

Download a full version of the assessment

About the United Nations Environment Program

The United Nations Environment Program is the leading global forum for discussing environmental issues. It plays a leading role and encourages the development of partnerships for the sake of environmental protection by encouraging, informing and empowering countries and peoples in order to improve their quality of life without harming future generations. The UN program works with governments, the private sector, civil society, as well as other UN agencies and international organizations around the world.

Green technology. Review of new scientific and technical developments

Nowadays, the proliferation of digital technologies has become a powerful factor that has given new impetus to the progress in the direction of the growing needs of mankind: 3D modeling, 3D scanning, bulk printing and robotization. But in order for an innovative product to fit organically into the multidimensional space of the future, at the present stage of development of society, the environmental component of any innovation comes to the fore, that is, innovation, among other things, must be environmentally acceptable. According to numerous experts, environmental technologies, commonly referred to as “green technologies,” will lead the development of the world economy in the 21st century. The experts’ conclusions have appeared not from scratch – in recent years, under the conditions of implementing an environmentally oriented growth strategy, “green technologies” in the civilized world have been developing at an accelerated pace. The most important growth stimuli are various government policies, as well as new opportunities opening up for businesses on the ecological market, which is rapidly growing under the influence of consumer demand.

The change of the technological paradigm and the diversification of production towards low-cost, low-waste, low-toxic “green technologies” occurred at the end of the 20th century and affected almost all existing and just developed technologies. In this regard, in developed countries, citizens together with governments set the task and accept national and international programs to protect the environment and man from himself, realizing that the time has come to save the planet from ourselves, unwisely, excessively exploiting and stressing nature. The answer to these challenges was a new direction of science and practice called “green technologies”.

It should be noted that there is no single definition of the concept of “green” or environmentally friendly technologies. The general approach involves achieving their main goal – reducing the negative impact on the environment by reducing the amount of resources consumed, reducing waste to their full return to production through deep processing, using mechanisms and principles “working” in nature in production processes, improving energy efficiency production and life, improving the properties of materials from the standpoint of environmental safety.

According to the classification of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), “green technologies” cover the following areas:

– General environmental management (waste management, pollution control of water, air, land restoration);

– production of energy from renewable sources (solar energy, biofuels, etc.), mitigation of the effects of climate change, reduction of harmful emissions into the atmosphere, improving fuel efficiency, as well as energy efficiency of buildings and household appliances.

If we expand this concise formula, we get that “green technologies” essentially cover all areas of human activity and are aimed at:

– sustainable development of modern society for the benefit of future generations with the solution of global challenges: preventing the depletion of resources, establishing rational environmental management, improving demography, eliminating production toxicity;

– production of non-toxic products in a closed cycle: production – recycling – new production (from birth to birth – “cradle to cradle”, instead of the current “grave to grave” – from grave to grave);

– maximum, down to zero, reduction of waste due to innovations in technology and in the structure of consumption;

– fundamental modification of hazardous industries and replacing them with harmless ones using natural technologies created by nature for millions of years;

– replacement of non-renewable natural resources with alternative renewable sources of raw materials and energy;

– exclusion of the use of harmful synthetic chemicals in agriculture, the introduction of biotechnology in agriculture, animal husbandry and the processing of agricultural products.

Currently, “green technologies” are being introduced in

the whole chain of companies’ activities, including, in addition to production, consumption, management and methods of organizing production, in the name of solving global challenges for the sustainable development of modern and future society, namely:

– modification and replacement of hazardous industries;

– development of new alternative types of energy and new types of fuel;

– search for new approaches to safe and affordable food and water;

– protection from pollution of the atmosphere, soil, fresh water and the world ocean;

– reasonable regulation of demography.

In a number of developed countries, there are large-scale government plans and programs to stimulate the development of environmental technologies and innovations, and special research centers and funds are being created. Standards, taxes, subsidies and other government policies are a significant incentive for the development of green technologies. Many programs aimed at encouraging the development of environmental technologies operate in the United States, and in the EU in accordance with the seventh framework program of scientific and technological activities in 2007-2013, the development of environmentally friendly technologies spent 10 billion euros.

The trend of recent years is the increased attention to environmental technologies from rapidly developing countries. For example, significant amounts for their development are allocated in China and India. In China, there are more than 1,600 state incubators and science parks, most of which are involved in projects to develop environmentally friendly technologies. Due to this, China occupies one of the leading positions in the world in patents in six main areas, including wind energy, biofuel production and environmentally friendly use of coal.

The main part of “green technologies” is concentrated in a relatively small number of countries, with different countries specializing in various types of technologies. Technologies to combat water and air pollution, waste management are actively developing in the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): in Australia – to combat water pollution, in Denmark – for renewable (primarily wind) energy, in Germany – to combat air pollution, in Spain – on solar energy. Significant progress in the development of “green technologies” is also noted in the BRIICS countries: Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China, and South Africa are developing technologies for waste management, pollution control and renewable energy.

An important role in conducting research and development in the field of “green technologies” is played by private companies (including small and medium-sized businesses), which see them as an opportunity to increase production efficiency and, as a result, their competitive advantages. Venture capital companies are showing significant activity in this area. One of the main indicators of the development of “green technologies” is patent activity. In the 2000s, climate change mitigation technologies showed significant growth. The number of patents in the field of renewable energy and air pollution control increased most rapidly. Thus, in comparison with 1997–1999, the number of patents in the field of solar energy has increased threefold. The number of patent applications in the field of energy storage and materials processing is growing much slower. European countries continue to lead in inventive activity in the production of energy from renewable and non-fossil sources: in the late 2000s they accounted for 37% of patents in this area, followed by the United States and Japan. China in this form of patents ranked eighth. In some areas, the main developers are other countries. For example, the United States has leading positions in the number of patents in the field of electric and hybrid automobiles, the Netherlands in energy efficiency in buildings and lighting.

Green Technologies is a vivid manifestation of the modern trend of the effectiveness of an interdisciplinary approach to solving complex problems. They do not replace, but combine ecology, economy, social technology, based on all the modern achievements of science and technology. In 2015, the American Company Nanotech Industries, Inc. received the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award. and the Israeli company Polymate Ltd. for the development and development of the production of non-isocyanate polyurethanes and hybrid materials based on them. Specialists of the Israeli company Polymate Ltd. For the first time, an industrial technology was developed for the production of coatings, monolithic floors and foamed polyurethanes that do not contain toxic and carcinogenic isocyanates at all stages of the technological process. The award-winning work was carried out under the direction of the author of the book, while the director for science and development of Polymate Ltd, Professor Oleg Figovsky. The prize award report noted: “As a recipient of this prestigious award, you are distinguished.”

In the process of developing a “green technology” for the production of coatings, monolithic floors and foamed polyurethanes that do not contain toxic and carcinogenic isocyanates, Polymate Ltd. developed several new technologies protected by more than 10 patents from the USA, Europe and Canada. Non-isocyanate polyurethanes are obtained by the reaction of oligomeric cyclocarbonates, including those based on vegetable oils and oligomeric primary amines. Such polyurethanes have high strength, impact and wear resistance, as well as hydrolytic stability. The same company developed the original technology of nano-reinforcement of solid materials (metals, polymers, ceramics) by a unique method of superdeep penetration. The theme of environmentally friendly (Environment Friendly) industrial nanotechnologies is the main research topic of the International Nanotechnology Research Center Polymate (Israel), which has created more than ten such technologies protected by US patents.

The creation of polyurethanes without toxic isocyanates, awarded by the President of the United States Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award – a reflection of the current trend of “green chemistry”: “Not instead, but together!”

Among the modern areas of development of “green technology” is the key energy. The main directions of its “greening” – improving energy efficiency and the development of new energy sources, especially alternative ones.

While most alternative energy concepts are not new, only in the last few decades has this issue finally become topical. Thanks to the improvement of energy production technologies, the cost of most forms of alternative energy has decreased, while efficiency has grown. As with many other technical concepts, there are some debates about what “alternative energy” means and what this term can be applied to.

On the one hand, this term can be attributed to forms of energy that do not lead to an increase in the carbon footprint of humanity. Therefore, it may include nuclear facilities, hydroelectric power stations, and even natural gas and “clean coal”.

On the other hand, this term is also used to refer to what is currently considered unconventional energy methods – solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and other energy production methods. Such a classification excludes such methods of energy production as hydroelectric power stations, which have existed for more than a hundred years and are a fairly common phenomenon in some regions of the world. In addition, alternative energy sources should be “clean”, not produce harmful pollutants. As already noted, this implies most often carbon dioxide, but it can also apply to other emissions — carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, and others. According to these parameters, nuclear energy is not considered an alternative source of energy, since it produces radioactive waste that is highly toxic and should be stored appropriately.

In all cases, however, this term is used to designate the types of energy that will replace fossil fuels and coal as the predominant form of energy production in the coming decade.

Strictly speaking, there are many types of alternative energy. Again, here the definitions come t

o a standstill, because in the past, “alternative energy” was called methods, the use of which was not considered basic or reasonable. But if we take the definition in a broad sense, it will include some or all of these points:

Hydropower. This is the energy produced by hydroelectric dams when the falling and flowing water (in rivers, canals, waterfalls) passes through a device that rotates the turbines and generates electricity.

Nuclear power. The energy that is produced during slow fission reactions. Uranium rods or other radioactive elements heat water, turning it into steam, and steam turns turbines, generating electricity.

Solar energy The energy that is obtained directly from the sun: photovoltaic cells (usually consisting of a silicon substrate, arranged in large arrays) convert the rays of the sun directly into electrical energy. In some cases, the heat produced by sunlight is used to produce electricity, this is known as solar thermal energy.

Wind energy. The energy generated by the air flow: giant wind turbines rotate under the action of the wind and generate electricity.

 

Geothermal energy. This energy is produced by heat and steam, produced by geological activity in the crust. In most cases, pipes passing steam through turbines are placed in the ground above the geologically active zones, thereby generating electricity.

Tidal energy. Tidal currents off the coastline can also be used to generate electricity. A daily change in tides causes water to flow back and forth through the turbines. Electricity is generated, which is transmitted to coastal power plants.

Biomass. This refers to the fuel that is obtained from plants and biological sources – ethanol, glucose, algae, fungi, bacteria. They could replace gasoline as a fuel source.

Hydrogen. Energy derived from processes involving hydrogen gas. This includes catalytic converters, in which water molecules break apart and reunite during electrolysis; hydrogen fuel cells in which gas is used to power an internal combustion engine or to rotate a heated turbine; nuclear fusion, in which the hydrogen atoms merge under controlled conditions, releasing an incredible amount of energy.

In many cases, alternative energy sources are also renewable. However, these terms are not completely interchangeable, since many forms of alternative energy sources rely on a limited resource. For example, nuclear power relies on uranium or other heavy elements that must first be mined.

At the same time, wind, solar, tidal, geothermal and hydropower rely on sources that are completely renewable. The rays of the sun – the most abundant source of energy of all and, although limited by weather and time of day, is inexhaustible from an industrial point of view. The wind also does not disappear anywhere, due to changes in pressure in our atmosphere and the rotation of the Earth.

Currently, alternative energy is still experiencing its youth. But this picture is rapidly changing under the influence of political pressure, global environmental disasters (droughts, famines, floods) and improvements in renewable energy technologies. Not the last role in the accelerated development of alternative energy in our time is played by the energy crisis.

The energy crisis in which mankind is located has two reasons. The first is the limitations of existing fossil fuels. The second is environmental pollution. And if the first of these reasons is geopolitical rather than the real shortage of natural hydrocarbons today (proven oil reserves, even taking into account the boom in consumption in Asia, will last at least 30-40 years, natural gas for 80 years, coal will not less than a century and a half), the second threatens with possible cataclysms (hurricanes, changes in the direction of ocean currents, melting ice, changes in the composition of the atmosphere, global warming and climate change) in the very near future. At the same time, the possibility of phase transitions (that is, those at which small changes in parameters entail global consequences) is not at all excluded — and no one knows what the critical values ​​of the parameters are and when abrupt changes occur.

The cause of global cataclysms, both future and already coming, lies in the very nature of human civilization, which does not fit and does not try to fit into the structure of the surrounding world. Until the XIX century, people lived in an incomparably greater balance with nature than after the industrial revolution. For millions of years, nature has created production technologies for everything that a person needs to stay in this world (otherwise we wouldn’t live here), but we need to be quicker and simpler in order to become more and cheaper while increasing production and sales volumes, and even with the desired consumer properties.

Natural technologies, according to our understanding, would be more accurate to say – a misunderstanding – too slow and abstruse, we have no idea, we don’t want to choose two of the three: “quickly, cheaply, tasty” – serve us all at once. As a result, today a multitude of industries and an increasing accumulation of a wide variety of wastes make the global imbalance of civilization and nature inevitable. The energy industry of the 21st century makes a huge contribution to the destabilizing processes. For example, in California, greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles account for about half of the total emissions. The invention of a steam engine, and then an internal combustion engine with the possibility of converting steam energy into electric energy, increased the amount of burned hydrocarbons thousands of times and at the same time emitted combustion products into the atmosphere. In this sense, the path from a fire in the forest to the localization of fire by a person (where it was possible to fry food, burn pots, which frightened predators, warmed the rooms) is longer than from a fire in a cave to a car engine, and the idea is essentially the same .

The main hopes in solving the most acute environmental problems (including resource ones) are pinned today on technological breakthroughs. In recent years, developed countries have reoriented their development towards the implementation of an environmentally-oriented growth strategy, one of the main components of which has become “green technologies”. Developing economies are also becoming increasingly involved in this process – it’s the turn to tell us directly about technological breakthroughs, about achievements of innovative systems affecting “green technologies”. In this case, in the descriptions of “green technologies” we manage without quotes.

Let’s start with solar and wind power plants. In 2015, renewable energy came in first place in terms of installed capacity among all types of fuel, when the number of daily installed solar panels in the world exceeded 500,000, and in China the number of wind turbines launched reached two per hour. Before our eyes, an unprecedented green revolution is taking place that will radically change the balance of power in the energy market. The pace of installation of solar panels beat all records. And this is only the beginning, because the cost of wind turbines, and especially solar panels, is constantly decreasing.

“We are witnessing a transformation of global energy markets under the influence of renewable sources,” admitted Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency. He agreed that the increase was partly caused by a drastic drop in prices for equipment for solar and wind power plants. Such prices as it was impossible to imagine five years ago. Thus, the cost of installing a wind power plant from 2010 to 2015 has fallen by 30%, and the cost of solar power plants has tripled.

The International Energy Agency predicts a further reduction in the cost of wind turbines and solar power plants over the next five years: by 15% and 25%, respectively. Apparently, this is a rather conservative estimate. It is quite possible, the forecasts will again have to be revised due to the even more rapid growth of solar and wind energy. The report Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2016 is dedicated to the time period from 2015 to 2021. The forecast for this segment was revised upwards by 13%. According to experts, installed capacity for this segment will increase not by 730 GW, but by 825 GW. This is due to the adoption of stricter legislation in the United States, China, India and Mexico.

In 2015, the world installed 153 GW of power in the energy sector. More than half of them are solar stations (49 GW) and wind stations (63 GW). Has more capacity been commissioned than some G-8 countries generate? for example, Canada. Solar and wind power stations have added more power over the year than coal, gas and nuclear power plants. This achievement allowed renewable natural resources to bypass coal and reach the first place in the world in terms of installed capacity. “Installed capacity” in alternative energy? This is a fairly conventional indicator. The sun does not shine around the clock, and the wind blows with variable speed in different directions. Therefore, the actual production of electricity from renewable resources is much lower than the installed capacity. According to this indicator, renewable sources are very far behind. To all appearances, in order to outrun fossil fuels in terms of electricity generation, it is necessary to install several times more generated power than they do now.

According to the International Energy Agency, in 2015, coal provided 39% of global electricity generation, and all renewable sources, including hydroelectric power plants, only 23%. According to the forecast, the share of renewable sources by 2021 will grow to 28%. In this case, renewable resources will generate more than 7,600 TWh – more electricity than the United States and the European Union countries are now generating together.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) report for 2017 shows how clearly the PRC is striving to become the leader in the production of energy from renewable sources. The published documents state that China’s total investment in clean energy production projects in 2017 amounted to more than $ 44 billion, which significantly exceeds the figure for 2016 – $ 32 billion. According to Tim Buckley, lead author of the report, head of energy finance research at IEEFA, the US’s decision to abandon the Paris Agreement was an important catalyst for China’s growth in the growing global market for renewable energy: leadership as a result of the abandonment of the Paris Agreement, but it will definitely provide the country with technological superiority and financial capabilities, allowing it to dominate Some high-growth sectors like solar energy, electric cars and battery manufacturing. ”

The construction of solar power plants (SES) requires solar panels that effectively convert sunlight into electricity. And here the Chinese are at the forefront of scientific and technological progress. An example of this is the development of Hanergy, the largest manufacturer of thin-film solar cells, whose solar energy conversion technology broke three world energy efficiency records. According to the new technology, the subsidiaries Hanergy: Alta Devices, Solibro and MiaSole created three types of panels: single-segment solar module GaAs, double glass solar modules CIGS and solar modules CIGS on a flexible substrate, which have a record energy conversion efficiency of 25.1%, 18.72% and 17.88%, respectively. These solar panels can be used for unmanned aerial vehicles, on the roofs of houses, in electric vehicles and various electronics. According to the company, the possibilities of using their technology are endless, as it can be used in almost all innovative areas. In confirmation of its claims, Hanergy has launched a solar-powered drone. Without recharging, it is able to stay in the air for up to 10 hours, whereas the operating time of UAVs equipped only with lithium-ion batteries is no more than two hours.

One of the promising areas of research for efficient converters of solar light into electricity is thin film structures. In this section, the Oxford research team has proposed a new way to create thin-film solar cells, the energy conversion efficiency of which exceeds 15%. Devices are created based on material known as perovskite. Solar cells have a simple architecture and can easily be reproduced on a commercial scale, since the vapor deposition process used to produce them can easily compete with traditional methods of processing materials used to create solar cells in their simplicity.

British researchers have demonstrated that perovskites not only absorb light, but can also provide for the transport of electrons and conduction holes. This means that the previously used complex nanostructure is not necessary to create dye-sensitized solar cells. In the device proposed by them, the light-absorbing perovskite layer is simply sandwiched between electrodes sensitive to holes and electrons. In fact, with its simplicity, the installation resembles in many ways the usual flat contact solar panels. At the same time, the device provides high efficiency of conversion of solar energy into electricity (up to 15.4%), despite the thickness of only 330 nm. It is worth noting that the device also creates a potential difference of 1.07 V (which is more than twice the potential difference created by silicon plates 0.15 mm thick). This means that it takes quite a bit of perovskite to create solar cells with excellent performance.

Photosynthesis in our time is the basis of alternative energy, but it attracts the attention of researchers in other areas of human activity, in particular in the synthesis of new materials. Existing technologies for the synthesis of chemical compounds are based on the use of toxic substances (as catalysts) and are extremely energy-intensive. In addition, the synthesis can only be carried out in clean rooms, which makes it expensive, time consuming and limits the possibilities for working under natural light. Therefore, scientists are looking for alternative methods of catalysis of chemical reactions, for example, using visible radiation.

In nature, photocatalysis is used by plant

s – sunlight with the participation of chlorophyll provides photosynthesis. However, until recently, photocatalysis could not be reproduced artificially due to the lack of suitable materials. American researchers have developed such a material – a luminescent solar concentrator (LCS). With the help of luminescent objects, the device absorbed sunlight and redirected it to the photovoltaic cells. In their work, scientists from the Technical University of Eindhoven used LCSs (in the form of leaves), which were doped with a fluorescent dye polydimethylsiloxane. The surface of the object included a network of microchannels for entering liquids with the necessary chemicals, and under the action of sunlight the molecules reacted. Thus, the device repeated the principle of operation of antennas of photosynthetic organisms.

Professor of chemistry Fernando Uribe-Romo of the University of Central Florida managed to combine photosynthesis and the production of environmentally friendly fuel, who, together with his students, developed a new synthetic material that converts carbon dioxide into fuel under the influence of photons of light. Such material solves two problems at once: it reduces the amount of greenhouse gas and gives environmentally friendly fuel. And most importantly, for its manufacture does not need precious metals. It uses titanium, which is sold in kilograms and is almost a thousand times cheaper than platinum or iridium.

Chemicalization of agriculture. The struggle for crop yields and increasing livestock productivity, including egg production in chickens. Achievements are obvious. Failures also: the degeneration of soil fertility, due to an overdose of fertilizers in pursuit of higher and higher yields; overabundance of chemistry in agricultural products; environmental pollution, for which man-made chemical fertilizers are foreign bodies.

The indisputable advantage of using biological products in agriculture over chemical products is their ecological purity. Products manufactured by biotechnology do not contain unnatural chemical compounds. They do not have any excess of nitrates, phosphates and other “satellites” of the chemicalization of agriculture. In addition, strict adherence to the technology of application of agricultural biopreparations leads to an increase in the yield of many agricultural crops. But the most weighty arguments for consumers of biopreparations may be, in the end, the cheapness of their use: per hectare of biotechnology investments is several times cheaper than chemical technologies.

Among the agricultural biopreparations can be identified:

– biological fertilizers are introduced into the soil before sowing plants and during their fertilization, provide an increase in crop yield;

– growth biostimulants, used during plant growth, fruit ovary and ripening of the crop;

– means of combating diseases and pests, used for pre-sowing seed treatment and during the period of the appearance of pests;

– means of composting plant material, used for processing plant materials remaining after harvesting and used to enrich the soil before planting.

According to many experts, the future belongs to biological farming, the principle of which is to maintain the soil in a viable, biologically active state. The basis of biological farming is the activation of soil microfauna. Soil-microbiological processes occur with the desired intensity only when their inhabitants are in an active state.

In the root zone of a soil layer, there is always a community of bacteria, fungi, and other protozoa that have developed over millions of years. Paradoxically, but the bulk of the biosphere consists of these microscopic creatures. In the course of their livelihoods, they have created and are constantly increasing the fertility of the planet’s soils. Among the microorganisms that inhabit the soil, there are beneficial and harmful. In turn, among the beneficial microorganisms of the same species there are individuals of high metabolic activity. These are the only ones and are of practical interest. They are isolated in a pure culture, they study the beneficial properties, then they combine to create a consortium of natural, environmentally friendly products. Agricultural products are obtained.

Chemical plant protection products suppress not only harmful, but also useful soil microflora. As a result, the processes of decomposition and mineralization of plant residues are slowed down. The removal of nutrients exceeds the natural growth. Soils quickly lose their fertility.

To prevent further soil depletion, agricultural biopreparations with unique properties are developed. For example, soil composition unifiers and yield stabilizers. The first lead the soil composition to a standard set of microorganisms for the unification of the process of further work with soils, regardless of climatic zones. The latter stabilize the crop depending on the specific weather conditions at the moment in the region: in case of drought, they retain moisture in the soil and absorb it from the atmosphere, in case of rains absorb excess moisture from the soil and directly from agricultural crops. The use of biological products in the composting of plant residues allows to obtain organic organic fertilizer. Waste-free technologies for processing waste from the fermentation, oil mill, sugar, flour milling industry using biologics transform waste from a contaminating factor into high-quality organic fertilizer or raw materials for the production of biological plant protection products.

Another “profession” of agricultural biopreparations is land reclamation. Around modern large enterprises are vast fields of alienated disturbed lands that have lost their fertility. Such exotic landscapes resemble lunar landscapes. This may be ash dumps of the combines, dumps of the mining of ore and non-metallic minerals, oil pollution of various origins. Traditional reclamation offers the following methods of accelerated return of disturbed land: application of a fertile layer, use of household supplies with subsequent plowing, and the introduction of peat ash.

Biological recultivation of disturbed lands makes it possible, at the time of sowing endemic herbs, to provide their seeds with necessary and sufficient nutrients, with the necessary groups of soil microorganisms that assimilate nitrogen from the air and ensure their nutrition. In fact, when seed germinates, its microagrocenosis forms around the root. Preliminary and subsequent introduction of soil-improving and agro-useful microorganisms, as well as the combination of a variety of micro-agrocenoses of developing plants, leads to the formation of a continuous thin layer of humus – the basis of the beginning of the formation of a normal fruiting layer.

As a result of the use of biopreparations, in the first year of reclamation, it is possible to get a good growth of herbs. This dramatically increases the number of soil microflora, especially those groups of microorganisms that are actively involved in primary soil formation. As a result, humus is formed already in the second year of reclamation. In the third year, its content reaches 1.3-1.5%. Without the use of biological methods, the content of humus by this time is 0.1%. The cost of reclamation with the help of microorganisms that make up agricultural biopreparations are reduced by 5-8 times compared with traditional methods.

Agricultural biopreparations are used not only by agricultural producers, but also by urban utilities: to improve human living conditions in the megalopolis, agricultural methods are used with the use of biological products that ensure the restoration of soil fertility and its biological activity. As a result, the decorative properties of plants are improved, and the survival rate of seedlings increases (5-7 times). The consumption of mineral fertilizers is reduced by 2-3 times, and in some cases, you can completely abandon their use, in addition, the pathogenic microflora is suppressed.

Concluding the conversation about green technologies in the format of agricultural biopreparations, it should be emphasized that the cost of agricultural biopreparations is an order of magnitude higher than the cost of the same chemical fertilizers, but the consumption is two orders of magnitude lower. As a result, savings for agricultural producers are an order of magnitude compared with chemical agricultural preparations. Plus ecological purity of agricultural products. The technology is very, very promising, both in the agricultural aspect and in commercial terms, and it is gaining more and more new positions in the agriculture of developed countries.

According to scientists, the use of nanotechnology in agriculture (in the cultivation of grain, vegetables, plants and animals) and in food production (in processing and packaging) will lead to the birth of a completely new class of food products – nanoproducts, which over time will displace genetically modified products.

The story about the achievements of green technologies cannot do without genetic engineering, which opens up ways for humankind to solve the problem of depleting resources and sets them up for rational use of natural resources.

In this regard, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Israel have learned to change the DNA structure of fruits and vegetables to improve their appearance and taste. The main characteristics of the fruit does not change. The method of Israeli scientists is the most accurate of all existing today and is of great interest to gardeners. Until now, any changes in the DNA structure of fruits produced an unpredictable result, since in addition to taste and appearance, they accidentally affected other signs of plants.

The new method is based on the principle of homologous recombination – a method of eliminating double-stranded or single-stranded DNA damage using repeated copying of signs, which is most often used by cells. Genetics have learned to use this process for their own purposes. They select the necessary trait and “cut off” the DNA in such a way that, when the cells regenerate naturally, they themselves insert it into molecules.

For a demonstration experiment, scientists have tried to change the color of the tomatoes. So the result of the study could be easily traced visually. As a result, homologous recombination occurred in 14% of cases, which is considered a high indicator of accuracy.

“Now that we have shown that intentionally induced homologous recombination occurs at such a high frequency, gardeners can start using this mechanism. The method allows not only editing, but rewriting the plant’s genome to combine the necessary properties, including taste, size, yield and disease resistance, ”said Professor Abraham Levy, under whose guidance the study was conducted.

And a little bit about the “blue economy”. In the last decade the powerful scientific and practical direction “The Blue Economy” (“blue economy” or the economy of seafood) has been dynamically developing. Hundreds of publications and patents are devoted to this area, new technologies have been developed, hundreds of research and production companies in different countries have been created.

One of the very important areas of the “blue economy” is deep industrial processing of algae from sea, river, lake and artificial reservoirs in order to obtain a wide range of valuable products. One of the most popular algae processing products are alginate-based fibers (alginate is the main substance of algae, a polysaccharide similar in chemical structure to cellulose). However, as it turned out in recent years, different types of biofuels and simple organic substances can be produced from algae as raw materials for more complex products: oils, biologically active substances, and drugs. At the same time, it is not necessary to drill wells and climb into the remote corners of the planet, destroy the Arctic shelf – there is enough water under the algae and sunlight for their nutrition and reproduction.

The most promising from the point of view of cultivation and production of various useful and valuable products is the type of algae Spirulina. These algae are easily grown, give a big crop, contain a significant amount of potential useful raw materials. The most profitable, taking into account the situation on the world market of fuel consumption and the realizable direction, is the cultivation of algae for the production of biofuels and the production of different types of biofuels from algae. At the same time, from one ton of wet biomass of algae you can get up to two hundred liters of oil, from which biodiesel and a number of valuable organic substances can be obtained from simple technologies: triglycerides, fatty acids, lipids, long-chain hydrocarbons, carbohydrates (sugar, starch, alginate) , ethanol and other alcohols, cellulose, other valuable products.

Experts note the high profitability of obtaining biofuels from algae in comparison with other methods of obtaining biofuels from plants (rapeseed, corn, palm fruits, etc.) and predict a sharp increase in the use of algae in the coming years. Experts evaluate the benefits of biofuel from algae for the following reasons:

– fuel is potentially produced directly in algae using solar energy;

– no need to occupy the area occupied by the cultivation of crops;

– the production process is easily scaled;

– prices of finished products are comparable with prices for conventional fuel;

– ecological cleanliness of production.

In general, a powerful promising scientific and technical movement has emerged in the world – the “blue revolution” —effective use of plants and animals of the seas, rivers and lakes in various important areas of human activity: from studying the functioning mechanism of plants and animals of various types of water to creating new technologies and products on this basis (bionics) and “domestication” of growing aquatic plants – algae for the production of biofuels, fibers, carbohydrates, polysaccharides, foodstuffs, food wok, drugs, other valuable products. At the same time, “blue technologies” are economical (solar energy is directly transformed into biofuel and other valuable products) and environmentally friendly (they do not occupy land, do not increase carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere).

At the end of our short review of the achievements of green technologies is a little exotic. Green technology – greener you can imagine.

In an attempt to find an environmental alternative for creating electric batteries, researchers at the University of California at Riverside have developed a battery using two-button mushrooms. According to scientists, their offspring can not only reduce the economic and environmental costs in the production of batteries, but also lead to the creation of batteries, the power of which does not fall, but, on the contrary, increases over time. Innovative batteries consist of three main elements: a negative pole (cathode), a positive pole (anode) and a solid or liquid separator (electrolyte). Synthetic graphite is used as an anode in lithium-ion batteries, but this material requires the use of aggressive chemicals for cleaning and preparation.

These processes are not just expensive by themselves. Their byproduct is hazardous waste harmful to the environment. Scientists decided to use champignon mushrooms as a substitute for graphite for two reasons. First, earlier studies have shown that these mushrooms are very porous, and this property is important when creating a battery (more holes allow you to store and transfer more energy, which increases productivity). Secondly, they contain a lot of potassium salts, which means they can lead to the creation of batteries that are active for a long time, in fact, even increase their own power over time. “With similar materials, future mobile phone batteries will not be discharged faster with time, but on the contrary, they will hold the charge longer due to the activation of pores inside the carbon structures,” comments Brennan Campbell, a graduate student at the University of California at Riverside and one of the co-authors.

Luke Bowser, who works at the University of Leeds, in the UK, and his colleagues wondered if the squirrels created to strengthen animal skeletons can be used to grow new electronics. His team chose silicateins, proteins that build the skeletons of sea sponges, as the basis for their work. Using DNA reproduction methods, scientists have grown millions of DNA mutations that encode silicateins. Mutations arose naturally during the growth process, with the result that there were a lot of protein variants. And this led to the fact that some silicateins acquired the ability to build various mineral crystal structures.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have created a new environmentally friendly fire retardant from a substance that is found in marine mussels. Existing flame retardants are often toxic and can accumulate over time in the environment and living organisms, including humans. Fire retardant additives are included in the composition of modern furniture, car upholstery and many other consumer products. Over time, these chemicals can release toxic substances into the environment and have a detrimental effect on human health. The researchers found that a synthetic coating of polydopamine derived from dopamine, has very effective flame retardant properties. Researchers believe that their coating can be used instead of conventional flame retardants. It was found that the use of polydopamine coatings for foams resulted in a significant reduction in flame intensity. The possibility of fire retardant coatings of polydopamine to reduce the intensity of the fire is 20% better than that of existing flame retardants, while a relatively small amount of polypodamine is needed to protect combustible materials from fire.

Scientists from the University of Cardiff (UK) have come up with an innovative way to extract hydrogen from ordinary fescue, which can greatly affect the energy sector in general. Hydrogen has long been recognized as an extremely promising alternative fuel: having a high energy content, it does not emit greenhouse gases during combustion. However, the process of obtaining this fuel in itself is not environmentally friendly, moreover, it is expensive, since it consumes huge reserves of natural gas and coal. These facts force scientists to invent alternative and safer ways to produce hydrogen. One of the most promising research conducted by scientists from Cardiff University in the UK, who collaborate with researchers from Queen’s University in Belfast. In the course of their research, scientists are developing an efficient way to produce hydrogen from cellulose using sunlight and a catalyst. According to the researchers, the use of cheap catalyst in the form of nickel and ordinary grass to produce hydrogen makes of their research truly innovative.

Chemists from the University of Bath synthesized bioplastic, using a substance that is contained in the resin of coniferous trees. The researchers hope that the material obtained entirely from renewable resources will be used as food packaging, as well as for the creation of medical implants. The raw materials for the production of environmentally friendly materials, such as polylactide (polylactic acid), are renewable resources: corn and sugarcane. In addition to this advantage, polylactides also have good biocompatibility, which allows them to be used as medical implants. However, one of the major drawbacks of polymers of lactic acid is their low strength and elasticity. To make the polylactide more flexible, add caprolactone, derived from petroleum. Such an additive makes the bioplastic an incompletely renewable material. Now chemists from England have replaced caprolactone with pinene – a cyclic substance belonging to the class of terpenes, which is obtained from the resin of coniferous trees. That pinen gives spruce its characteristic flavor. Their work will help produce bioplastics entirely from renewable resources. So far, scientists have received only a few grams of environmentally friendly material, but chemists are working to create a methodology that will allow the transfer of bioplastic synthesis from the laboratory to large-scale production.

In the US, Dr. Malcolm Brown, a professor at the University of Texas, presented a revolutionary way to “grow” nanocellulose, which he believes is one of the most important discoveries in plant biology. Nanocellulose is a material that is a set of nanoscale cellulose fibers with a high ratio of length to diameter. The typical diameter of such a fiber is 5-20 nm, and the length varies from 10 nm to several microns. The material has the property of pseudoplasticity, i.e. it is viscous under normal conditions and behaves like a liquid upon physical impact (shaking, agitating, etc.). The amazing properties of nanocellulose allow you to create on its basis of ultra-light and heavy-duty materials, such as airgel. Professor Brown’s method is much more efficient and environmentally friendly. The only thing needed for it is water, sunlight and algae. The scientist “introduced” genes isolated from acetobacteria into blue-green algae, forcing them to produce nanocellulose. Potentially, this method will allow the creation of whole organic plants for the production of material on an industrial scale. There will be farms that produce nanocellulose in large quantities and inexpensively, and even with the absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Then nanocellulose can become a raw material for the production of biofuels, and many areas of its application will become cost-effective.

A group of biochemists led by James Liao from the University of California in Los Angeles has created a special strain of bacteria from the genus Ralstonia, which absorb carbon dioxide and process it into butanol and other simple alcohols that can be used as biofuel. This bacillus belongs to a special class of bacteria that can feed on hydrogen and do not need oxygen or other special environmental conditions for survival. Enzymes from the hydrogenase family of hydrogen oxidants are a key element of the microbe for its survival. James Liao and his colleagues inserted several genes into the Ralstonia eutropha genome, forcing her to convert excess energy into butanol and other organic alcohols. It remains to find a reliable and safe source of hydrogen – the use of pure hydrogen would be extremely dangerous, as any leakage can turn into a powerful explosion. Scientists have used the fact that the bacterium is able to use formic acid molecules as a source of hydrogen. Ralstonia eutropha absorbs acid molecules, splits it into a molecule of hydrogen and carbon dioxide and uses the first as a “fuel”, and the second – as the “building materials” of the cell. At the same time, formic acid is fairly easy to obtain if carbon dioxide and electric current are passed through the water at the same time. According to the project manager, this design allows the colony to grow, produces an acceptable amount of biofuels and can be used to obtain biofuels from electricity produced by solar panels, wind turbines and other renewable energy sources.

In any case, in any information you can find rational grains, if headlong to the case or information to approach. The scientist’s brain is so arranged that he is looking for answers to his questions in everything if he seriously breaks his head over some problem. Even in a dream. Even when reading any nonsense, when the charge of the creator on the solution suddenly highlights the problem, it will appear in a completely different light, and there will be a way out of the impasse. Just a little side. Not in the direction where the scientific routine sucked. Scientific research often follows parallel paths. Inquisitive minds fight at the same problem in several institutes and laboratories at once. Especially if the problem is claimed by society.

Summing up, it is worth repeating again that one of the most important areas of modern development of scientific and technological progress is a paradigm shift: from extensive to sustainable development with an emphasis on maximum preservation of nature and its most active member – man, whose destructive activity in relation to nature has reached critical level. The anthropogenic factor in the violation of ecobalance with all the negative consequences resulting from this has become dominant. In this regard, in developed countries, society and governments set the task and adopt programs of national and international nature for the protection of the environment. It is time to save the planet from unreasonable excessive exploitation of its resources by man. In response to this challenge of time, at the end of the 20th century, a new direction of science and practice called “green technologies” has developed and continues to develop, covering almost all spheres of human activity.

In the future, further accelerated development of a wide range of environmentally friendly technologies is expected. Climate change, access to quality water and other resources, and loss of biodiversity are among the most pressing global environmental problems today, so we can assume that the development of technologies will be aimed at solving them. At the same time, “green technologies” are not limited to particular cases. “Green technologies” are both ecologically safe raw materials, and ecologically safe final products, and ecologically safe production technologies.

Added: 29.11.2018
Modifited: 11.12.2018