V2G is like “buy one get one free” (Canva)

I have been a long-time fan of electric vehicle-to-grid technology — V2G — because it kind of feels like buy one get one free. We buy electric cars to clean up transport system. And we get the freebie of extra electricity storage to help solve some of the big challenges related to an electricity grid supplied by a lot of variable renewables. But even though the technology holds a lot of potential, it isn’t being used on a large scale yet. That made me question: If V2G is so great, why isn’t anyone using it?

I recently had the chance…

Background image from Veritasium on YouTube
If you never heard of downwind faster than the wind then watch this first

I recently watched Veritasium’s video on the Blackbird vehicle. A strange-looking thing that sort of resembles a wind turbine on a go-cart. To summarise it in case you haven’t seen the video yet, there is a cart with a propeller on it, and it’s travelling downwind. The wheels of the cart turn the propeller which creates thrust that pushes the cart along… And it can go faster than the speed of the wind.

Now if you find that hard to believe then you are not the…

And why it’s a good idea

An old coal gasification plant (Canva)

Could you come up with a more emissions-intensive way to generate electricity than the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC)’s newly operating pilot plant? Situated in Australia’s Latrobe Valley in Victoria, they take brown coal, gasify it to make hydrogen, and release the CO2* into the atmosphere without carbon capture. Then they truck the hydrogen gas to a port 160 km away, use one-third of its energy contents to liquify it, and ship the liquid hydrogen 8000 km to Kobe, Japan where the eventual plan is to use whatever hydrogen remains after conversion losses** and leakage to run fuel cell cars…

Is blue hydrogen a transition technology or a dead end?

How blue hydrogen is made from natural gas (Image Rosemary Barnes)

Hydrogen, hydrogen, hydrogen! The world is obsessed and by now I think I might be too. I started analysing and writing about hydrogen technologies because I wanted to understand the hype surrounding green hydrogen — that’s hydrogen made using renewable electricity to split water — but along the way I came to realise that green hydrogen isn’t the only flavour that governments are including in their “clean” hydrogen plans. …

Technology Readiness Levels Explained

Airbus’ hydrogen aircraft concept — looks ready but how long should we expect to wait?

This is something that annoys me about the way that energy technology is covered in the media:

A scientific or technical advance is reported, the reporter tells us all about the problems with existing alternative technologies and the amazing potential of the new technology.

Electricity from coal produces 200 times as much solid waste as electricity from wind

There has been a lot of focus on wind turbines’ end of life recently. You may have seen posts and articles like the one above popping up in your social media feeds. Photos like these raise questions about whether you can really call wind turbines “green” if they create so much non-recyclable waste. Does burying tonnes of fiberglass at the end of a turbine’s life undo all the good work done by the clean energy generated over its lifetime?

These are completely reasonable questions, and I want to know the answers too.

But one thing that I noticed was…

What are the applications with real potential, and what is just hot air?


What is the go with hydrogen these days? Everyone is talking about it all of a sudden! It is literally the most abundant element in the universe, and also plentiful on earth, making up 2/3 of the atoms in water and present in vast volumes of organic compounds. Hydrogen was first produced artificially in 1671 and discovered as an element in 1766. It has been quietly going about its business for hundreds of years before suddenly a couple of years ago, people started to pay attention. …

Anyone can learn to apply the first two laws of thermodynamics to separate actual developments from perpetual motion machines.

Popular Science cover 1920 Norman Rockwell / Public domain

I’ve been a professional engineer for 15 years, and I can’t stand the way that engineering is communicated to the public. Engineering shapes the world we live in, and it is incredible to me that we still haven’t figured out how to communicate engineering developments in a way that the general public can understand and would be attractive to them, but also getting the technical part correct. Writers are so concerned to make engineering reporting sound exciting that they often sacrifice accuracy or even plausibility. It doesn’t need to be this way.

One topic that is especially prone to misrepresentation…

The engineering principle of design lifetime explained by a wind energy engineer.

Wind turbine failure: a wind turbine with a broken blade
Wind turbine failure: a wind turbine with a broken blade
Did an engineer design it like this on purpose? (Image: Shutterstock)

Sometimes when I am talking to people about wind energy, I will say something like “wind turbines are designed to last 20–30 years” and the person I’m talking to gets a kind of shocked look on their face (if they are pro-renewables) or a kind of “gotcha” look (if they are anti-renewables). I can see what they are thinking: are wind turbines designed to purposely fall apart? Perhaps so that “big wind” can rake in the profits as hapless wind farm owners have to buy new turbines? The truth is less dramatic than that. The principle of design lifetime is…

5 Lessons I Learned from Backcountry Skiing

The author hiking a snowy backcountry ridge (Photo: Ryan Gormly)

I remember when I was learning to ski, I had to find the balance between trying to stay in control, yet being relaxed enough to respond to unexpected obstacles as they arose. The first time I found that balance, the exhilaration I felt proved addictive and skiing has been an important part of my life ever since. I especially love to go backcountry skiing, where I can get away from the crowds and use my own power to climb mountains and ski untouched slopes.

The tension between control and agility is something I strive to balance in my work too…

Rosemary Barnes

Clean technology development consultant | “Engineering with Rosie” on YouTube bit.ly/3hVkrLb

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