Congratulations are in order for Rock Port, Missouri – it just became the first town to have its complete energy supply needs met by wind power. [via Slashdot]
Granted, Missouri is a windy region, and wind power wouldn’t suit every town. Plus Rock Port has a population of just 1,300 … but it’s encouraging to see ordinary people waking up to the economic realities of alternative energy sources. [image by Michael Tyas]
The Guardian has this interesting snippet of an article that makes sense to me on so many levels. Professor Andy Hopper of the University of Cambridge has been looking at the power usage of computers and made an astute suggestion: locate large processing servers near sources of alternative energy like solar or wind farms. When the power is flowing through the turbine or photovoltaic, computers all around the world can tap into the processors of the server farm. When there’s no wind or sun in one location, the network can call on the processors of somewhere there is.
This kind of synergy is fascinating and I think it’ll be a major feature in our future working lives. Flash drives getting bigger, faster and cheaper all the time and programs like Portable Firefox run straight off a portable drive. I’m writing this post on my portable usb, using only the processor and screen of the laptop I’m borrowing time on. Sooner or later all our computers will be a usb-style stick with all our programs, data and settings stored on it. Plug it into a nearby screen (or project your own), whack out your laser keyboard and dial into any heavy processing power from an external server. Who needs a big computer tower in your room when you can fit it in your pocket?
[story via the Guardian, image by Brent Danley]
The Oil Drum Australia has a great post this week about tidal power construction all across the world, including the attractive ‘Energy Island’ concept pictured. The article talks about tidal, ocean current and wave projects from the UK, US, New Zealand, Taiwan and Canada, amongst many others. The UK could potentially derive 25% of its power just from wave energy, not to mention its huge resources of tidal power in the Severn Estuary and on the coasts of Scotland. Also discussed is OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion), which creates power from the heat differential between warm surface water and cold deep water.
In other news, Oil has never been higher priced in history than it is today, at $102.08 a barrel. Looks like we’re going to need a lot of this alternative energy supply. One of the projects mentioned at the bottom of the Oil Drum article is for floating islands of power generation producing hydrogen to fuel passing ships. Neat.
[via The Oil Drum]
The Secretary of State for Business, John Hutton is announcing a huge sea-change in the UK’s approach towards future power plants, with a massive 25Gw of offshore wind proposed to add to an existing 8GW of planned construction. This vast increase in wind power, in addition to the wave and tidal projects being tested in the Orkney islands, could power all of the UK’s homes by 2020.
It’s interesting to see this being portrayed not only as an environment issue but as a security issue, with Hutton saying:
“I do not want in 20 years’ time to find that whether the lights go on in the morning is down to some foreign government or someone else.”
With the North Sea oil and gas fields decreasing rapidly in production, the UK is losing its resource power. By investing in new renewable technology it can continue to be an important world power. Denmark invested in wind over the last decade and now has a £2billion industry. If only more nations would have this level of foresight.
[story and picture via European Tribune]
UPDATE: As requested in the comments, here is a more up to date (and more detailed) analysis of Danish wind power and their plans up to 2030.
The weather is a fickle thing. Typically, riding my bicycle to work is hard going and easy coming home because of wind patterns, but sometimes the wind decides to switch, or perhaps not blow at all, really messing with my commute. Thus the problems with wind energy. The wind doesn’t blow all the time, and it may decide to quit right at peak hours, or blow up a storm when no one’s using electricity. So what to do?
A test wind park in Iowa, as described by Environmental Science & Technology, proposes to help solve these problems by using excess wind energy to store compressed air in underground aquifers until such time that demand rises. This maximizes the turbines’ efficiency and allows companies to sell energy when they can make the most from it and when demand is highest – peak hours.
This could be a real boon to wind farms, making it more economical than it already has become to run turbines.
(via SciTechDaily) (image from article)