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A wave-powered prototype device is aiming to produce drinking water from the ocean

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Ocean Oasis’ Gaia system has been designed to use wave power to desalinate water.

Ocean Oasis

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Plans to use marine energy to desalinate water received a further boost this week, after a Norwegian firm presented a system that will be put through its paces in waters off Gran Canaria.

In a statement Monday, Oslo-headquartered Ocean Oasis said its wave-powered prototype device, which it described as being an “offshore floating desalination plant,” was called Gaia.

The plant — which has a height of 10 meters, a diameter of 7 meters and weighs roughly 100 tons — was put together in Las Palmas and will undergo testing at the Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands.

Ocean Oasis said its technology would enable “the production of fresh water from ocean waters by harnessing the energy of the waves to carry out a desalination process and pump potable water to coastal users.”

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The company said the development of its prototype had received financial backing from a range of organizations including Innovation Norway and the Gran Canaria Economic Promotion Society.

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The main investor in Ocean Oasis is Grieg Maritime Group, which is headquartered in Bergen, Norway.

Desalination

The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. According to the Canary Islands Institute of Technology, the islands have been “a pioneer in the production of desalinated water at affordable cost.”

A presentation from the ITC highlights some of the reasons why. Describing the Canary Islands’ “water singularities,” it refers to a “structural water deficit due to low rainfall, high soil permeability and aquifer overexploitation.”

While desalination — which multinational energy firm Iberdrola describes as “the process by which the dissolved mineral salts in water are removed” — is seen as a useful tool when it comes to providing drinking water to countries where supply is an issue, the U.N. has noted there are significant environmental challenges linked to it.

It says that “the fossil fuels normally used in the energy-intensive desalination process contribute to global warming, and the toxic brine it produces pollutes coastal ecosystems.”

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With the above in mind, projects looking to desalinate water in a more sustainable way will become increasingly important in the years ahead.

The idea of using waves to power desalination is not unique to the project being undertaken in the Canaries. In April, for example, the U.S. Department of Energy revealed the winners of the last stage of a competition focused on wave-powered desalination.

Back on the Canary Islands, Ocean Oasis said it would be looking to construct a second installation after testing at the PLOCAN facility had taken place. “In this phase, the prototype will be scaled with the capacity to produce water for consumption,” the company said.

While there is excitement about the potential of marine energy, the footprint of wave and tidal stream projects remains very small compared to other renewables.

In data released in March 2022, Ocean Energy Europe said 2.2 megawatts of tidal stream capacity was installed in Europe last year, compared to just 260 kilowatts in 2020.

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For wave energy, 681 kW was installed, which OEE said was a threefold increase. Globally, 1.38 MW of wave energy came online in 2021, while 3.12 MW of tidal stream capacity was installed.

By way of comparison, Europe installed 17.4 gigawatts of wind power capacity in 2021, according to figures from industry body WindEurope.



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Cramer’s lightning round: AGNC Investment is not a buy

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Paramount Global: “Too cheap to believe. … I don’t know where it bottoms, but it sure isn’t close to the top.”

Hasbro Inc: “I don’t like the earnings, and I think that Mattel‘s actually cheaper.”

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Citigroup Inc: “The book value is so different from where the common stock is, the price. Something is very wrong there.”

Cramer's lightning round: AGNC Investment is not a buy

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Jim Cramer says not to fear bearish economic talk from bank CEOs – there’s no ‘financial apocalypse’

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Jim Cramer says not to fear bearish economic talk from bank CEOs
CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Wednesday told investors that they should take gloomy economic commentary from bank executives with a grain of salt. 

“Don’t panic the next time you hear one of these bank CEOs say something terrifying — they don’t know the impact of their words,” he said, adding, “Sure, we’ve got plenty of problems, but they’re not financial apocalypse problems.”

The S&P 500 slipped for a fifth trading session on Wednesday as investors mulled the possibility of a recession.

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Adding to investors’ worries, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said on Tuesday that inflation is eating away at consumers’ pocketbooks and could create a recession. 

The chief executives of Bank of America and Wells Fargo also warned that the economy is slowing down as Americans cut back on spending.

“Memo to America’s bankers: Don’t try to frighten us. Don’t try to get us to sell everything,” Cramer said. “Don’t be Grinches telling us a hurricane could be coming.”

He urged the chief executives to remind investors of what’s going right in the Fed’s fight against inflation, and gave an example of what he believes one of the CEOs should have said: 

“There will come a day when the Fed will be done tightening, although that may be when the S&P 500 is a good bit lower. But I don’t know if I want to take the chance of possibly missing the [next] big rally. Hey, maybe buy small,” he said.

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Disclaimer: Cramer’s Charitable Trust owns shares of Wells Fargo.

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Mortgage demand falls again even as rates sink further

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A “For Sale” sign in front of a home in Sacramento, California, on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

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Lower mortgage rates are pulling some current homeowners back to the refinance market, but not enough to offset the drop in demand from homebuyers.

Mortgage application volume fell 1.9% last week compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($647,200 or less) decreased to 6.41% from 6.49%, with points decreasing to 0.63 from 0.68 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20% down payment. That is 73 basis points lower than it was a month ago but still more than three full percentage points higher than it was a year ago.

Applications to refinance a home loan rose 5% for the week but were still 86% lower than the same week one year ago. There are still precious few current borrowers who can benefit from a refinance at today’s higher interest rates. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 28.7% of total applications from 26.1% the previous week.

Housing has a fair amount of room to fall, says Morgan Stanley's Egan

Mortgage applications to purchase a home fell 3% for the week and were 40% lower than the same week one year ago.

“Purchase activity slowed last week, with a drop in conventional purchase applications partially offset by an increase in FHA and USDA loan applications,” noted Joel Kan, an MBA economist in a release.

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The average loan size for homebuyer applications decreased to $387,300 — its lowest level since January 2021, which is consistent with slightly stronger government applications and a rapidly cooling home-price environment, according to Kan.

Mortgage rates haven’t moved much this week, with no significant economic news making headlines. The next big shift will likely come next week, with the much-anticipated monthly read on inflation.



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