The sustainable Matrix

Disclaimer: This is a forward looking post where I’m not using scientific research. Instead it’s  hypothetical and can be found unrealistic. However, I find it worth to share to imagine a possible future.

For sure you have seen the Matrix, but probably long ago. Watching it again in 2016 made me think about the future of sustainable energy, artificial intelligence and Virtual reality.

What if the Matrix was not conceived to harvest human energy (which has no sense as an energy cycle) but to reduce the energy consumption of humanity and maximize the number of humans?


Imagen from Xaver trokis in

I’m convinced that we will live in abundant energy in the near future, and possibly with the harnessing of fusion, this will be even more. The problem will not be energy but other more limited resources such as food and water, if more than 100 billion humans are to live in the planet.

Will it be necessary to create a matrix, where we live in virtual reality, but consume the minimum water and food per human? Would that be necessarily a choice for each individual to live in the virtual reality / simulation, instead of real live with restricted access to resources?

If the goal of the human species is to multiply and increase species resilience by becoming interplanetary, virtual reality life paired with lowest resource consumption can allow to live in the mind and multiply anywhere.

In fact, if Artificial Intelligence has the goal of maximizing the number of humans, that is the path we might take, don’t you think?

Regarding interplanetary travel, it might be the solution for several generations to travel while living in virtual reality, until another livable planet 1000 years apart is reached.

However, this theory could be completely wrong if there is an evolution towards cyborg humans where minds become artificial and undying…

NZEB + EV: The decarb combo

Are you aware of these stats?

  1. Buildings account for 40 % of energy consumption and 36 % of energy emissions (EU data)
  2. Road transport accounts for 25 % of energy consumption and 20 % of energy emissions (EU data and EU stats)

Then, what happens when we combine NZEB buildings (net Zero Energy Buildings) with local renewable generation and EVs (Electric Vehicles) charging in these NZEB?

NZEB & EV.png

It’s obvious… -> We can decarbonize 65 % of the energy system!* Sigue leyendo

The battery gap

I explained to a friend this week my concept of “battery gap”.

He thinks batteries will not “be enough”, are “too far away” and “too expensive” for grid energy storage… Well, we’ve heard that old story before.

We heard that old belief that solar energy would never be competitive or only represent a small portion of energy generation, right? Or the one that grids had an inherent limit for absorbing renewable power (yes, some people once said it was 15%) Or that to reach a high degree of renewable penetration, the land use would not leave space to grow food… And such.

Well, the DOE has published an update on the accelerated escalation of LEDs, wind, solar, EVs and batteries. The graphs and the facts are impressive.

The difference in price for renewable energy Vs conventional grows quickly. So there is growing “space” to pay for energy storage. We could represent as follows: Sigue leyendo

Sailing 100% renewable

You might have read an old post on electric boats and sea energy harvesting before. I described then, electrifying boat transport as one of the ways to make islands 100% renewable.

Electric sailboats have a lot of sense, and are becoming more and more popular. It’s a fantastic sensation to sail, without the sound of a motor, and for many of us, turning the diesel engine on is to be avoided as much as possible. Moreover, even when the engine is only used for a little time, we strongly feel the pollution.

Precisely because for a sailboat the engine is not used that much, having electric propulsion and battery storage is very reasonable. It can be charged at the normal port outlet, regenerating while sailing, or with a small wind generator and solar panels. Compared to the need of refueling at a port gas-station, the convenience is increased greatly, and also the cost to the owner.

Maintenance of an electric motor is simpler because of less moving parts, the size of the motor is reduced, and the battery can be placed as ballast, incorporated in the hull. Sailboats already have batteries and often the motors have to run just to charge them. By increasing the size of the batteries and having renewable charging (solar/wind), this is automatically taken care of.

Besides, the performance is increased, having more torque at lower rpm, and electric motors are more efficient that the internal combustion counterparts.

Finally, regarding the noise, see this video comparing the diesel engines to electric. Together with the smoke/pollution, this is the most dramatic difference.

In summary, it will amaze me if in 5 or ten years all 95% of all new sailboats are electric. And I hope to sail on one of those soon.

20160730 Sunset desde barco

Sunset near Cala D’Or in Mallorca

If Energythaca were an island, sailing there would be on a sailboat. That was the image on my first post on the blog.

I guess it is an appropriate post arriving from vacations…

Upcycling sun-tennas

The following picture was taken in Casablanca from the Kenzi Tower one month ago. It isn’t the best example, though, for example, in Cairo, it strikes more to the eye.

What do you see?…

Antenas techo

Actually, there are approximately 200 TV antennas on the roof-tops. Let’s zoom in a bit:

Antennas 25 In this portion, corresponding to one building alone, you have around 25 units.

With the advent of cable television, wireless video streaming and other technology, these antennas could soon become stranded assets in many countries. Imagine how many could be left useless and need recycling. While thinking about asset utilization and the sharing economy, I couldn’t help but think:

What can they be used for instead?… Sigue leyendo

Publication: PV on water channels. Avoiding evaporation through power generation

We recently got published the following article on Elsevier’s Solar Energy:

Solar Energy  Water canal use for the implementation and efficiency optimization of photovoltaic facilities: Tajo-Segura transfer scenario

Solar Energy, Volume 126 , March 2016, Pages 168-194 A. Colmenar-Santos, Ángel Buendía, Carlos de Palacio, David Borge-Diez,tRczt1q

(Note: The article can be accessed for free for a short time!)

FI 2014:  3.469

You might want to have a look at the results… Sigue leyendo

Not so sustainable, after all?

Finally sold my car!

Yes, I was considering to buy an EV, as I discussed in the post “To EV or not to EV”. But, for the moment I just sold my car and will try to be “car-less person”. At the end of the day, using public transport, car-sharing (we now have car2go in Madrid and it works great) and the bike is clearly more sustainable than owning any vehicle. (Well, and also borrowing my wife’s car sometimes…)

Parte trasera coche fino

But: I sold it. Which means my 15-year-old diesel guzzling 7-series BMW will still be consuming +15 l/100 km and emitting lots of particles and CO2 pollution. Depending on the distance the new owner will drive, it might be more ecological than him buying a new, more efficient, one. That’s because of increased asset utilization and vehicle construction sunken emissions. However, it might be that the most ecological and sustainable would be  Sigue leyendo