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Las Vegas To Go Green With Solar-Kinetic Street Lights

10 Mar

Las Vegas are making waves in the renewable energy market as they plan to install the world’s first solar-kinetic street lights at Boulder Plaza in the city of Las Vegas. Around the world today, there are more than 300 million street lights, many of which are powered by electricity generated from high carbon sources such as coal. Now, Las Vegas isn’t new to the renewable energy game, they recently installed a massive new solar plant in the Nevada desert. The Crescent Dunes concentrated solar power project is providing power to Sin City around the clock.

Around 40% of the energy used is wasted through poor lighting efficiency; contributing to another environmental problem, light pollution. Now, light pollution is not something to be ignored, it can lead to a change in the migration and reproductive activities of some animals and boost air pollution through light’s interaction with certain chemicals. Light doesn’t respect boundaries, it can spread for miles from the source and blurs the distinction between town and country. Light spilling up into the night sky is also a waste of energy and money. In the UK local authorities were estimated to spend £616 million on street lighting in 2013-14, and the lights can account for between 15-30% of a council’s carbon emissions. Efficient solar powered lighting can provide a solution to some of these issues.

EnGoPlanet is set to install the solar-kinetic lights at Boulder Plaza, which it claims will be the first ever installation in the world of the technology. They are powered by combining energy harvested from pedestrian’s footsteps and the sun. In short, when a pedestrian steps on a kinetic tile situated near the base of the light, energy is created that then charges a battery. 180 watts or 360 watts of high-efficiency solar cells are placed on top of each LED street light, along with motion sensors that allow for light on demand.

The product does more than just provide light. As Petar Microvic (CEO of EnGoPlanet) went on to say, “If you look at traditional street light poles, you will see that they are useless. They simply hold the lighting,” He added, ” With our solution, we’ve changed that by incorporating useful features into the pole and transforming it into a free service spot where people can rest, charge their portable devices, or connect to WiFi.”

The lights will also have smart sensors that observe air quality and traffic as well as video surveillance. The LED lights can change colours for special occasions and there is a wireless charging and WiFi hot spot for smart devices, along with two USB ports.

“Currently, street lights in the world release more than 100 million tons of CO2 per year. Our generation has the moral responsibility to transform our energy system. EnGoPlanet’s Street Light will revolutionise the way we illuminate streets. It will reduce CO2 emission, lower maintenance bills and with many new features, it will make cities smarter,” Petar Mirovic said in a statement.

Solar lighting isn’t just green – it can save money. EnGoPlanet mentions the example of Odessa College in Odessa, Texas, which installed solar lights and saved around 20 percent of the cost of a conventional system due to the avoidance of wiring and trenching works. The College is now saving more than £5600 per year.

Solar Kinetic Light

A New Energy Plant In Hawaii Generates Power From Different Ocean Temperatures

27 Aug

Hawaii must be our most blogged about country but we are not ashamed…we love Hawaii and if you do too, then this one is for you…

Hawaii has a habit of being at the forefront of renewable energy projects as the state relays heavily on imported fuel to provide most of its power. They have implemented a plan to use 100% renewable energy by 2045 and have already installed wind power plants, smart grid systems, and a number of solar installations.

They now plan to embrace their home islands water boarders by implementing a fully closed cycle ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC)…that one doesn’t roll off the tongue that easy. In short an OTEC is a method of using temperature difference between the warm ocean surfaces heated by the sun with that of much colder deeper water below in an effort to create electricity. Due to the exchange of heat, steam will power a turbine and produce electricity at an onshore power station. Sounds easy right?

This type of technology is much easier to harness compared with that of wave power as it is much less stable. A further benefit of the technology is that it can always produce energy regardless of whether its day or night. It also has a capacity of 105kW, enough to power 120 Hawaiian homes every day!

The plant was designed by Makai, who have also signed to produce another plant on the island of Kyushu in Japan. Here it will develop a 1MW plant. Makai publically flipped the switch of its Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion power plant on Hawaii during a dedication ceremony on Friday.

With Hawaii’s temperature stable waters year round, the process provides a steady power stream. The fuel is free, and as the OTEC technology is perfected, the price of electricity will decrease.

Gov. David Ige said in a press release; “Today marks the launch of the world’s largest operational ocean thermal power plant,” Ige said. “This plant provides a much-needed test bed to commercialize ocean thermal energy conversion technology and bolster innovation, and it serves as a stepping stone to larger plants that will provide meaningful amounts of stable, clean power to Hawaii and other locations in Asia Pacific such as Okinawa in the near future.”

The Hawaiian site will serve as a demo site called the Ocean Energy Research Centre to prove the prospects of this type of technology and to inspire other places in the region like Okinawa and Guam to install something similar.

Eventually, Makai hopes to move their operations offshore, to head directly to the source of the deep, cold water needed to power the OTEC plant. They hope that this planned expansion will generate enough energy to power 120,000 homes every year. They estimate that it could be sold at only 20 cents per kWh which is a huge bonus for the green minded state.

It isn’t only Hawaii and Japan that could benefit from this type of technology. Makai have named Brazil, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and West African Nations as potential locations for an OTEC plant. These nations are very well suited to the plants and would get a majority of their energy needs from ocean thermal energy.

makai ocean energy research center

In France All New Commercial Buildings Must Install Green Roofs or Solar Panels

26 Jun

France has introduced a new building requirement in its commercial zones. It calls for all roofs to be partially covered in either solar panels or plants. This is just a recent green headline to come from France following the Eiffel Tower wind turbines and the tree shaped wind turbines that are being installed in the capital.

Green roofs have been around for centuries in different corners of the world. We have seen an increase in green roof interest due to growing concerns surrounding climate change, carbon footprints and sustainability. It is not only roof’s that can be covered; walls can also have a green makeover. They offer many advantages to the public and private sectors ranging from waste diversion to energy efficiency.

A further benefit of a green roof is its isolating effect which allows buildings to better retain their heat during the winter months while reflecting and absorbing solar radiation during the summer months, allowing buildings to remain cooler.

They can help reduce the distribution of dust and particle matter through cities to combat the smog issue. They play a huge role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and help adapt urban areas to predicted future climates with warmer summers.

Green roofs also have the ability to reduce sound from outside by up to 40 decibels. They have excellent noise reduction, especially for low frequency sounds.

Originally, French environmental activists had asked for all rooftops to be 100% green. The Socialist government convinced activists to limit the scope of the law to just commercial buildings.

By giving businesses the option to install solar panels rather than green roofs, France could catch up some with its neighbours when it comes to solar energy.

Germany currently has the highest installed capacity of solar and shows no signs of slowing down. Think Progress recently reported that France had only five gigawatts of photovoltaics implemented as of last summer, accounting for only one percent of all energy production.

Since 2009, Toronto Canada has had a similar mandatory green roof law in place, requiring green roofs on new buildings. Preliminary studies suggested that the city could save hundreds of millions of dollars in energy costs. France is making an investment in energy independence, efficiency, and stability.

Maybe we should all be looking at green roofs in our cities?

green-roofs-france

 

Why going solar may be right up your street

5 Jun

Are you thinking of investing in a solar powered future for you and your family? Increasing numbers of homeowners around the world are going solar, and the green energy investment not only saves money in the long run, but also helps the environment. What’s not to love?

In terms of global installed capacity, solar is the 3rd most important renewable energy source sitting just behind hydro and wind respectively. Solar panels don’t need direct sunlight to work; they can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day. The cells convert the sunlight into electricity, which can be used to run household appliances and lighting.

The benefits of going solar

  1. Once the panels have been installed there is no need for any fuels to be consumed. What could be greener than that?
  2. In terms of your local community – By reducing the impact on the power grid (with your house being self-efficient) power is conserved for other locations around the community.
  3. The sun must be the most reliable source of power due to the fact it will be around for the next several billion years. An abundant power source if you ask us.
  4. Get paid for generating electricity. The government’s Feed-In Tariffs pay you for the electricity you generate – even if you use it!
  5. SUNLIGHT IS FREE! So once you have paid for the initial installation your energy costs will be reduced.
  6. You could sell electricity back to the grid. Basically, if your system is producing more electricity than you use, you can sell the surplus back to the grid.
  7. A typical home which operates under solar power could save over a tonne of carbon dioxide per year. You could be the greenest person you know considering you could save more than 30 tonnes over its lifetime!

Solar power around the world

You might be surprised to know that in 2010 Germany had the highest capacity of solar photovoltaic power in the world and still does to this day. Despite a slowdown in 2013, Germany is expected to remain the top solar market in Europe for the coming years, and still boasts a quarter of the world’s installed PV capacity 26 percent, compared to the 13 percent held by each of the next two countries, Italy and China.

China is second on the list. Coupled with a commitment to cut its coal use, the world’s biggest carbon polluter could soon also be the country powered with the greenest energy. It helps that China is a major solar panel manufacturer, and the government has had to repeatedly raise its renewable energy targets — from a plan of 20 GW by 2020 to 20-30 GW by 2020 to the current target of an astounding 70 GW of solar by 2017.

Rounding off the top three is Italy. Rising from fifth place in 2010 to third place as of the end of 2013, Italy generates more of its energy from solar than any other nation, with 7.8 percent of its energy coming from solar, compared to 6.2 percent for Germany.

As for the little island called the United Kingdom, we come at an impressive 10th. In 2013, the U.K nearly doubled its solar capacity, installing more even than Italy, the current 5th-place holder. Pretty impressive!

Frequently asked questions

  • A popular question asked by someone wanting to go solar is what happens when they move home. In short, ownership of the technology is linked to the site and, therefore, in the case where a building or homeownership changes, the ownership of the technology would also transfer to the new owner.
  • Another popular subject is the questionable amount of sunshine in the UK. Well, solar panels work using light, and not necessarily sun light. This means that a solar PV or solar thermal system can function in cooler and often cloudier countries. However you will of course generate more energy at sunnier times of the year.
  • And finally, where should you installed your solar panels – Maximum output comes from south facing systems between 30-40 degrees from horizontal. Although most systems are installed on a roof, they can be installed on any surface such as facades, sunshades, garages or ground mounted. They are normally installed in locations that receive sunshine through most of the day.

If you would like any more information regarding solar power call us on 020 8883 4595. One of our dedicated team members will be happy to help!

Wind Energy Production Has A Record Breaking 2014 Across The Globe

7 May

It’s good news on the renewable energy front. It has been reported by The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) that global wind energy production increased by 44% in 2014. It appears the world’s energy worries may be actually blowing in the wind as a total 51,477 megawatts worth of wind capacity was installed around the globe.

It has taken around 40 years to get here but the total global wind capacity now stands at a huge 369,553 megawatts. 2014’s total is about one seventh of the total installed which is a good indication of how popular wind power has become.

At the end of 2013, the expectations for wind power market growth were uncertain, as continued economic slowdown in Europe and political uncertainty in the US made it difficult to make projections for 2014. Thus, you can imagine the surprise of the 2014 results.

Green news outlet, Treehugger said “This means that, in theory, even without acceleration in the rate of growth, we could double wind capacity during the next seven years.” They also speculate that the figure would double again in just five years.

China has had the largest overall market for wind power generation since 2009 and due to another remarkable year has retained the top spot in 2014. Europe had a good year earning them runner up, followed by North American, a distant third.

Zoom into Europe and we find that Germany had a brilliant year in 2014 both onshore and offshore – but rest assured, the United Kingdom also had a great year earning us second place for wind in Europe by installing a total 1,736MW, of which 923 MW was onshore and 813 MW was offshore. The UK is the largest offshore wind market in the world with total installations of almost 4,494 MW, accounting for over half of the global offshore market. The UK now generates enough wind energy to supply the needs of more than 6.7 million UK households. Not bad for a small island!

When it comes to the present a new report from GlobalData has found that Germany is set to overtake the UK as global leader for annual offshore wind turbine installations in 2015, with an estimated 2,071 MW set to be added this year. “Germany’s huge increase in offshore installations is attributable to several offshore wind projects scheduled to come online in 2015,” said Ankit Mathur, GlobalData’s Practice Head for Power.

China is also springing into action and will jump into second place, leaving the UK in third position. Ankit Mathur also went on to say;

“China is also planning an array of offshore wind projects this year, which will see it overtake the UK for annual installations.”

“Additionally, the next few years will see China maintain its annual offshore wind installations around the 1 Gigawatt mark, while the UK will observe relatively lower installations until 2018, when the country’s next offshore growth spurt is expected.”

Chin up UK – this is one race where it doesn’t really matter who comes in first because everyone’s a winner.

The power of walking to power rural villages in Africa

27 Mar

Pavegen is a clean technology company that develop paving slabs to convert energy from people’s footsteps into electrical power. As part of the ‘What If I Can’ campaign sponsored by Samsung, they plan to place a 68 tile walkway in Sandton City Shopping Mall located in Johannesburg. The tiles have the ability to collect kinetic motion and store this as energy. In addition, the walkway consists of an interactive data screen displaying a leader board of real-time footfall data and providing an immediate visual payback.

Sandton City, Johannesburg has received acclaim for its great location. Every month over two million footsteps walk through the shopping centre which is enough to generate a considerably large amount of energy. The power created will be used to deliver disadvantaged communities in South Africa with simple amenities for example lighting and heating.

The ‘What If I Can’ campaign which runs from March to the end of May, is supported by Samsung as they look to boost their green credentials through community initiatives and product manufacturing. Samsung is on an operation to increase awareness and use innovation and technology to overcome region-specific problems. The campaign helps shift ideals towards a more positive, proactive way of thinking. By providing shoppers with the means to generate renewable energy through a simple act of movement, it is hoped that the campaign will highlight the fact that one person can impact the lives of others.

In an effort to spread contribution beyond the Sandton City walkway, Samsung has created a simple step-counting mobile application. The app will allow thousands of people across Africa to power solutions that benefit the less fortunate by basically walking. The app will be available from the Google Play Store.

The Director of Public Affairs and Corporate Citizenship at Samsung Electronics Africa, Ntutule Tshenye said:

“We feel that a consumer facing campaign such as ‘What If I Can’ is both complementary and even gives credit to our innovate solutions such as Solar Powered Internet Schools and Solar Powered Digital Villages. Both initiatives work to empower people by delivering revolutionary solutions designed to overcome local challenges and take communities into the future; impacting the lives of people around the world.”

Within the first 20 days of the campaign at least 400 million steps have been accrued. The difference this technology could make is outstanding as in less fortunate regions of Africa they are without power. A blog posted last week described the problems within refugee camps, with people getting attacked at night when carrying out the most simplest of tasks, for example going to the toilet. If we were able to harness this technology correctly we could all benefit from this clean, green power.

Winter Vs Renewable Energy

21 Nov

Winter is tapping on the front door just waiting to come in, the leaves are falling, pesky frost is appearing on car windows and temperatures are slowly but surely dropping. What does this mean for renewable energy, could we survive winter purely using clean energy methods? And more importantly who will come out on top, winter or renewable energy?

 

Solar

Did you know that solar panels are actually more efficient in colder temperatures? During the winter months solar panels energy production can increase by up to 15% because the panels capture energy from photovoltaic light, not the suns heat. Heat actually reduces the efficiency of a solar panel. Although this is a winning situation for solar, winter months have fewer daylight hours and therefore the amount of energy produced will be lower than that of other times in the year.

Winter = Nil

Renewable Energy = Nil

 

Wind

Is the answer blowing in the wind? It could very well be as the winter months generally bring stronger winds. These stronger winds could help offset the loss of production seen from solar. This same balanced system design can also be applied to differences between night and day, where solar panels create energy from light during the day and wind turbines take benefit from night-time winds.

 

Winter = Nil

Renewable Energy = 1

 

Location

Coal and natural gas power plants have the capability to create energy regardless of their location. Unfortunately for wind and solar, they require a strategic placement which is also very dependent on the time of year.

Renewable energy system designers plan for these changes, using weather data, anemometers, and modelling software to ensure the system is reliable and efficient all year round. Often this means designing a system based on the historically least sunny and windy day of the year.

Renewable energy systems are most productive and cost effective when they are customised to their unique environment. For example, Polar Regions have very little sun during the winter months thus being a good location for wind but not solar.

Winter = 1 (We gave this due to the natural power of the winter months, they could heavily push the cost of renewable energy up, by means of more expensive planning and deployment).

Renewable Energy = 1

 

Snow!

Ah snow, some love it, some hate it and some love to hate it. Personally I’m a sucker for snow – snowball fights, snowmen, yellow snow…erm not so much, but how does this effect renewable energy?  Snow does prevent the technology from absorbing light, but can easily be brushed off or will melt quickly in the sun.

Snow and ice can cause added load on solar panels, so this possibility should be factored into structural design as well as energy production estimates for the winter season.

Winter = 2

Renewable energy = 1

 

Peak power demand

During the winter months we all use more energy to heat our homes. This can lead to energy shortages which cause natural gas prices to rise. With the increase in demand we also see an increase in power outages. The good news for renewable energy systems is that they are designed for off the grid use and can provide us with uninterrupted electricity even if the power lines go down.

Winter = 2

Renewable energy  = 2

 

There you have it, it’s a draw. Renewable energy technology is quickly advancing before our very eyes for example solar panels can now self-cleaning…who knew? At this moment in time it’s hard to pick a clear winner and the power of winter remains a strong opponent, but who knows what will happen in the next five years!

 

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