Posts Tagged 'Power'

SERIOUS MONDAY: NEW GREEN CODE FOR DATE CENTRES

 

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As more and more people begin to use computers and the internet, the amount of energy needed to power them all is growing on a daily basis.

So it’s good to hear that the UK government is supporting a new European code of conduct for Data Centres.

Many organisations now have data centres – rooms or building where their computer servers are based – and they are used for everything from websites to financial transactions or online gaming. 

Currently, data centres account for almost three per cent of total electricity used in the UK – and this figure is expected to double within the next few years.

Ministers are urging data centre operators to adopt the code and Lord Hunt, Minister for Sustainable Development and Energy Innovation, says: “If we are to tackle dangerous climate change, we need to reduce emissions and the decision businesses make plays a key role in meeting this challenge. 

By signing up to the code, companies can save energy and save money too, which goes to show that what’s good for the environment is good for business.”

The code was developed in collaboration with industry bodies including the British Computer Society (BCS). 

Those signing up to it will have to implement best practice for energy efficiency, put minimum purchasing standards into place and report their energy use each year.  It is likely to lead to actions like the decommissioning of older servers, reducing air conditioning and maximising server use by running  multiple applications.

It is hoped the code will help to save almost five million tonnes of C02 over the next six years –  equivalent to taking more than a million cars off the road.

Already, a number of major organisations have hinted that they plan to adopt the code – including BT, Microsoft and Quest Software.

More information on the new code is available from Defra here.

Susan
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SERIOUS MONDAY: POWER FROM RUBBISH

Every cloud has a silver lining so they say ….. and it seems the old expression applies even to the much-maligned landfill site.

In America, gas from landfill sites is now being used as an alternative form of energy for around a million homes.

And as demand grows for alternative energy sources, experts predict that its use will become much more widespread.

Landfill gas is produced by the breaking down of organic matter in waste dumped in a landfill site and is made up of both methane and carbon dioxide.

Waste Management companies are now building special plants that can convert the gas into energy for household use and it is estimated that many landfill sites have sufficient gas to run for around 20 years.

In the UK alone, around 100 million tonnes of waste goes to landfill every year and if the gas it produces is simply left for release into the atmosphere, it is a potent greenhouse gas. There is also a danger that it could leak offsite to nearby buildings and cause explosions.

So, using it as a form of renewable energy actually avoids two potential problems in addition to saving fossil fuels!

This summer, sustainable energy company, ENER-G will open the UK’s first waste gasification plant on the Isle of Wight, generating enough power to serve around 3000 homes.

Planning permission has also been given for another plant in Irvine, Scotland where building is due to begin later this year and the company is also hoping to build a smaller plant on Merseyside. This would generate enough electricity for over 10,000 homes and produce heat for use by neighbouring businesses.

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: COULD THE UK GET ALL ITS POWER FROM SCOTLAND?

Scotland’s first minister claims that Scotland could produce enough power from renewable resources to provide electricity for the whole of the UK.

Speaking at a conference in the USA, Alex Salmond said he wants Scotland to become a global advocate for renewable energy and he announced that the Scottish government is putting an incredible £10 million towards a worldwide prize for innovation in marine-generated power from waves or tides.

But there are strings attached to the huge Saltire Prize – the winning entrant must have developed the solution in Scotland.

Mr Salmond says Scotland may be a small nation but it doesn’t need to think small and it has the potential from renewables to create more than 10 times its peak energy demand.

There are already many renewable projects in Scotland. Check out plans for this one – which people in Fintry are keen to take part in.

Meanwhile, it has just been announced that the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped 2% in 2007, keeping it on track to meet Kyoto Protocol targets.

The reduction has been attributed to lower fossil fuel consumption by both household and industry and the switch from coal to natural gas for electricity generation.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said: “That’s 11 million tonnes less CO2 from the UK in the atmosphere. But we need to do more, and we need to make absolutely certain that we will deliver the reductions we need.”

He said we still need to see major changes across the whole of the UK economy if we are to meet the ambitious emissions reduction targets set in the Climate Change Bill.

And to help in this, the government will develop carbon markets and promote the development of low carbon technology, while continuing to work to get international agreement on global emissions targets.”
Susan hunt

CRAZY WEDNESDAY: KITE WIND GENERATOR

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This great contraption looks like a mash-up of children’s toys – a wonderful merry-go-round dragged round by kites, but actually it’s a really promising idea from a group of researchers in Italy. Called the Kite Wind Generator, or KiteGen, they actually believe that it might be able to produce as much energy as a nuclear power plant.

Maybe that’s a bit hard to swallow, but on their great website it was refreshing to be able to access well written, peer reviewed papers detailing the basis of their optimism. Kites spring from the ends of long poles in response to being hit by wind, each kite having a pair of high-resistance cables that control the direction and the angle to the wind. The kites are large – about the size of a windsurfer, and are made light and strong enough to fly at up to 2,000 meters.

As the kites twirl in the wind, KiteGen’s core is set in motion, which in turn activates large alternators, which then produce electric current. the whole system is linked to a special computer which is programmed to optimise the configuration automatically 24 hours a day, enabling the most possible energy to be generated at all times. A radar system scans for any obstacles – planes for instance – and repositions the kites within seconds if anything is detected.

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Sequoia Automation, near Turin, who have developed KiteGen, have some really fascinating projections – including an output of one gigaWatt of power costing only 1.5 euros per megaWatt-hour. The current average cost in Europe for power generation is 43 euros per megawatt hour, over 30 times the estimated cost of KiteGen. As well as this, the carousel itself takes up only a fraction of the space that would be needed for conventional win turbines, and costs only 360,000 euros. If you think about it, that’s only the price of a family house in the UK – which is quite incredible for effectively an entire power station.

Sequoia expect to be able to build their first full-scale facility, probably in Italy, in about two years’ time. Unbelievable as the whole thing may sound, their website actually contains a real wealth of information, which seems pretty solid, scientifically. When I first saw it, I was sceptical, but I actually think it might work, and it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.

Amanda

CRAZY WEDNESDAY: PEDAL-POWERED CRAZINESS

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Innovate or Die is a bit of a grim sounding name for a competition that has produced some surprising and diverse innovations. Sponsored by Google, the challenge was to develop something new that is powered by a bicycle, and that can be shown to benefit the planet in some way.

One of the most outstanding ideas, and also the winning entry, Aquaduct is a mobile, pedal powered water filtration system, designed to use human energy to provide drinking water anywhere in the world, particularly in places that do not have grid electricity. This innovative bike was the winning submission in the Innovate or Die competition. Built as a tricycle, it has a large reservoir to hold the impure water. When you start pedalling, this water is pumped out of the reservoir, and through a series of filters, ending up in the transparent container at the front.

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It means that you can generate and carry drinkable water during a journey, but it also has the facility to disengage a clutch mechanism, so that the pedals power only the filtration system and not the wheels. The whole unit then becomes a stationary, human powered water filtration system that needs no electricity.

The competition website is very pretty but not ever so informative. The best overview of the entries is on the competition’s YouTube channel, where you can see stuff that ranges from brilliant to truly crazy. I think my favourite is probably the wonderful Renotee and his gondola – or, as he put it, “California’s (if not world’s) first electrically assisted recumbent pedicab” – love the wicked laugh near the end of the video:

I also loved the cardboard pedal – or paddle – boat, and particularly its name, “My Magic Swirling Ship”:

All the entries are worth looking at – there are bicycles driving carousels, coffee grinders, washing machines and even welding machines. It’s pretty inspiring, especially as by saving electricity I might also manage to burn off some of my post-Christmas flab.

Amanda

CRAZY WEDNESDAY: A FESTIVE SONG, RECYCLED AND RE-USED JUST FOR YOU

A very happy boxing day to all!

I couldn’t resist recycling another Christmas favourite, this time with videos of some of the things I didn’t cover on other Crazy Wednesdays. I promise this is my last parody for now – but I hope you enjoy it.

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

On the first day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Alternative en-ergy!

On the second day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Power from above,

And alternative en-ergy!

On the third day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Hy-dro-gen,

Power from above,
And alternative en-ergy!

On the fourth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Well-meaning words,

Hy-dro-gen,
Power from above,
And alternative en-ergy!
On the fifth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Five green rings,

Well-meaning words,
Hy-dro-gen,
Power from above,
And alternative en-ergy!
On the sixth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Wind-up music playing,

Five green rings,
Well-meaning words,
Hy-dro-gen,
Power from above,
And alternative en-ergy!

On the seventh day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Eco-challenge winning,

Wind-up music playing,
Five green rings,
Well-meaning words,
Hy-dro-gen,
Power from above,
And alternative en-ergy!
On the eighth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Carbon neutral twinkling,

Eco-challenge winning,
Wind-up music playing,
Five green rings,
Well-meaning words,
Hy-dro-gen,
Power from above,
And alternative en-ergy!
On the ninth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Skyscrapers dancing,

Carbon neutral twinkling,
Eco-challenge winning,
Wind-up music playing,
Five green rings,
Well-meaning words,
Hy-dro-gen,
Power from above,
And alternative en-ergy!
On the tenth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Biofuels for reaping,

Skyscrapers dancing, 
Carbon neutral twinkling,
Eco-challenge winning,
Wind-up music playing,
Five green rings,
Well-meaning words,
Hy-dro-gen,
Power from above,
And alternative en-ergy!
On the eleventh day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Grey water piping,

Biofuels for reaping,
Skyscrapers dancing, 
Carbon neutral twinkling,
Eco-challenge winning,
Wind-up music playing,
Five green rings,
Well-meaning words,
Hy-dro-gen,
Power from above,
And alternative en-ergy!
On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Green Hummers humming,

Grey water piping,
Biofuels for reaping,
Skyscrapers dancing, 
Carbon neutral twinkling,
Eco-challenge winning,
Wind-up music playing,
Five green rings,
Well-meaning words,
Hy-dro-gen,
Power from above,
And alternative en-ergy!

Amanda

LAZY FRIDAY: GIVING IS GOOD

Christmas is a time for giving so if you can afford it, help to make the festive season a little brighter for those in need.

Many large shopping centres now invite people to donate a new gift by handing it in a collection point or placing it around the tree.  Often, the collections are on behalf of children’s charities so you need to say on a gift tag whether it’s for a boy or girl and the age range that it’s suited to.

The Salvation Army and shelters for the homeless also welcome gifts or cash donations to help in their work so be generous if you can. (If you can’t, then remember it’s the thought that counts and even a small gift will be appreciated.)

And of course, giving doesn’t always mean spending money.   An elderly or lonely neighbour might appreciate the chance to have a cuppa and a chat  – or someone to carry their shopping home.

And while we’re all rushing around buying last minute gifts, we should remember that Christmas can be one of the saddest times of year for those who have lost someone close to them and giving them a little of your time is probably the most welcome gift of all.

Christmas is also a time for giving thanks and provides the opportunity to give something back to our wonderful planet.  Feed the birds, donate some tinned food to an animal refuge, get the children involved in a litter pick or take them to a local farm to buy fresh produce like eggs and meat.

Make sure that children know about global warming and encourage them to get involved in recycling. I try to get my eight-year-old to think about the 3 Rs.  Last Christmas she wrapped up two of her favourite items and presented them to me as gifts so hopefully the message is getting through!  (The fact that I have no use whatsoever for a pink pony with swirling blue tail and diamond eyes or a see-through cosmetics box – aka a transparent briefcase -is quite beyond the point.)  And I refuse to believe her father’s theory that she was just trying to hang onto her pocket money 🙂

Over the holidays, think about the power you’re using and try to find a way to save at least 10 per cent of the gas or electricity you normally use over Christmas.

And most important of all – don’t be lonely this Christmas. If you don’t have friends or family living close, then do yourself and the needy a favour.  Volunteer to visit elderly or sick people who need some company, help out at a shelter or offer to help in a community centre or charity shop.

Notice boards in libraries, doctors surgeries and community centres are all great places to start looking for ways to get involved in something worthwhile.

Have a great Christmas – and since the young people in our house are desperate for some of the white stuff, this seemed a perfect way to sign off:

Susan