Good news on the alternative energy front: researcher Baidya Roy has found solutions to some problems with wind energy. There’s also an article here on wind-farm co-operatives in the UK:
The cooperative, which began production in March, is the first wind farm to be wholly owned by individuals in Britain, which with gales sweeping in from the Atlantic has the best wind resources in Europe.
“We have produced energy every day since then,” Adam Twine, a farmer who started the project 15 years ago on his plot of land by installing five wind turbines 49 metres (160 feet) in height.
Overall, the project cost eight million pounds (8.9 million euros, 11.9 million dollars), nearly 60 percent of which came from individual shareholders, with the remainder being funded by a bank loan that is to be repaid over the next eight to 10 years.
CO2 emissions resulting from the production, installation and the lifetime of the turbine, which stretches 25 years, will be offset in just six months.
This is quite a heartening story: it combines the best elements of top-down (government subsidy) and bottom-up (locally-owned co-operative organisation) energy solutions.
[from Physorg][image from pierreyves0 on flickr]
Sails on boats? Using wind to move ships? My God, what will they think of next!?
Our own Tomas Martin brought up this novel concept back in January. Now that the Beluga has completed the first leg of its voyage and the costs have been calculated, it turns out that the savings estimates of 20%/day (roughly $1500, or 3 euros and a handful of beans on the exchange market) were spot on. To put it in perspective, the normal fuel budget is around $7500/day. That’s a big chunk of change, and a boon to an industry that has been found to be even more damaging in terms of carbon emissions.
(via Dailytech, image from Skysails website)
The Oil Drum has a fascinating article on the new developments by the German company SkySails. Their system flies a kite the size of a football field above a normal cargo vessel or tanker. The kites fly around 1000 metres up, where winds are higher and can help pull the ship along, cutting fuel needs and increasing speed. A German cargo firm, Beluga, will be making the first voyage using a SkySail this month.
“It marks the beginning of a revolution in the way that ships are powered,” said Stephan Wrage, the inventor of the SkySails idea. “We calculate that the sails can reduce fuel consumption by between 30 and 50 per cent, depending on the wind conditions. “The system could be applied to about 60,000 vessels out of the 100,000 or so listed in the Lloyd’s register. Bulk carriers, tankers — they could all benefit from the flying sails.”
The kite is computer controlled to get the best of the wind available and is attached to a rail running around the edge of the ship’s hull. The first test will use a 160 square metre sail and aim to save around 15% of available fuel. In later products the company aims to scale up to sails as big as 5000 square metres able to boost the speed of the biggest cargo vessel. With the kite sail pulling, the ship is able to spend less on the increasingly costly bunker fuel needed for engines. A US company, KiteSail, also produces a similar technology aimed more at the leisure market.
[via The Oil Drum]
Now this is very positive. Last week there was talk of a giant ‘supergrid’ connecting much of Europe to wind turbines across the continent, to take advantage of whenever the wind was blowing.
Now the Guardian reports on Desertec, the plans to put hundreds of solar concentrating plants on the North African coasts and in the Middle East. Two thirds of the estimated 100 Billion Watts would stay in the countries producing the energy, with another 30 Billion Watts (around of all of Europe’s use) being pumped via underwater cables to the EU, which would provide a chunk of the funding for the project. With the Bali talks now underway to find a new version of the Kyoto treaty, projects like this could be a major facet of reducing carbon emissions. German energy expert Gregor Czeich reckons with new higher efficiency power lines a 100% renewable powered Europe could be possible in the near future without costing much more than the current fossil fuel system.
[via the guardian, picture by TREC]