Just to put a dampener on your Valentine’s Day, those roses you just bought your girlfriend have helped contribute some 9,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions. Up to 100 million roses are grown each year for Valentine’s Day, contributing more in carbon emissions than most other crops. This is mainly due to the fact that they have to be grown in tropical climates, flown around the world, then transported in temperature-controlled trucks before they can reach your loved one. It doesn’t even make a difference if you buy closer to home. A study at the University of Cranfield, England, has shown that 12,000 roses from Kenya emit 13,200 pounds of CO2, while the same amount grown in nearby Holland are responsible for 77,150 pounds of the gas. Let’s not even get started on the amount of water they consume, and the fertilizers used to make them grow fast and strong.
British designed and made micro turbine, the Urbine, looks set to take off. Ecotricity, Britain’s first green energy company, has turned towards micro wind turbines after the poor design and performance of regular wind turbines has threatened the future of wind energy as a reliable alternative energy source. The micro turbine should be up to 40% times more efficient than its bigger brothers, provided it passes the next six months of rigorous testing planned for it in the UK. Not only would its success give the wind energy sector an ego boost, but also the flailing British economy. It is estimated that in the last ten years, almost 12,000 jobs were created in this sector.
NRG Energy Inc has unveiled a solar photovoltaic installation at the new NRG Playground. Taking centre stage at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School for Science and Technology in New Orleans, the installation is intended to enhance the learning experience for children studying at the school. It includes 397 solar panels, which can generate 112 kilowatts of power – around 1/3 of the school’s energy needs. On the fun and functional side, it also has drinking fountains, an irrigation system, prisms and ‘inspirational sayings’ for teachers and students.
As part of its eco-friendly delivery scheme, UPS is putting 100 new electric trucks on Californian roads. It already has 30 electric trucks delivering goods on the roads of Europe and New York, as well as 2,500 alternative fuel vehicles – run on electricity, hybrids, natural gas and such like – in its worldwide fleet. The latest vehicles will take goods as far as Cali’s West Coast cities of Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento and San Bernardino. With each vehicle boasting 75 miles per charge, let’s hope they don’t run out before they reach their destinations. No-one likes to receive dead flowers or melted ice cream on their doorstep!
Hungarian not-for-profit organization, Antro, has developed an eco friendly fold away scooter – the MOVEO. It has taken five years for Antro to get the prototype on the road, and it is still not expected to go into full production until 2014, which makes me hope that the scooter itself is a little faster than its producers. At present, the scooter’s top speed is 28mph. It weighs 55lbs and has a battery life of 21.75miles per recharge. Aside from the absence of polluting exhaust fumes and fossil fuel consumption, the MOVEO’s fold away design means parking hassles are removed. Antro claim it takes approx 2 minutes to fold the MOVEO into its draggable form, which is small enough to take into your office and store in a corner somewhere. The estimated price tag of the MOVEO is between $3,100 and $4,600.
Artificial photosynthesis has been on our minds for some time now. We first reported developments in this area back in 2008. Now, Panasonic is working on an artificial photosynthesis system which works on a level with real plants used for biomass energy. It works exactly like natural photosynthesis, using sunlight to make oxygen and water and CO2 to make organic materials. The materials produced artificially can also be manipulated to suit different needs. In the future, Panasonic plans to build artificial photosynthesis plants to absorb CO2 emitted by whole factories.
Three floating research labs are being powered by concentrated solar power (CSP) in an effort to discover whether CSP on water could be a viable energy source. Each lab has 100 panels, which always face the sun, as the anchored labs can revolve to face it. The watery location also means that solar energy captivation is maximized. Plus, all parts can be recycled after the 25 year life expectancy has passed. Swiss energy company Viteos is investing over $108 million in the project in the hope that more than 80 million kilowatt hours if energy will be produced by CSP on water in the next decade.
The Clean Wind Energy Downdraft Tower is a skyscraper-sized wind power plant powered by solar energy. It has close to zero carbon footprint, produces almost no waste and consumes virtually no fuel. By harnessing the power of the sun to make wind energy, it can be used in areas with little breeze of its own. It works like this: a fine mist of water is sprayed across the top of the hollow tower to cool hot air as it enters, as it cools, it falls more heavily and faster, so by the time it reaches wind turbines at the bottom, it is powerful enough to generate electricity. This first tower in Arizona could make up to 1000 megawatts of energy per hour, approximately 600 megawatts of which would go back into the national grid.
Always at the cutting edge of car design, German car manufacturers, Audi, have now announced plans to produce e-gas – a fuel made out of solar power, wind power and captured CO2 (which is carbon free). Audi are currently building a huge synthetic natural gas plant, from where they will conduct research to prove that this will be an efficient, effective and economically viable product. They plan to produce the fuel like this: wind turbines will generate electricity, which will produce hydrogen by electrolysis. This will then be combined with the CO2 captured from the atmosphere – their plant can capture almost 3,000 metric tons every year – to produce methane, or as Audi call it: e-gas. Sounds simple, right? Let’s see if Audi can pull it off!
Instead of tackling the dreadful fossil fuel and smog problem blanketing China right now, the Chinese are resorting to buying air in cans! A clever businessman has started selling fresh air in drinks cans as levels of pollution in China continue to raise danger alarms. The concentration of PM2.5 particles, which are the smallest and deadliest have gone off the scale twice this year, already. The Air Quality Index is showing numbers 20 times more dangerous than US Environmental Protection Agency ‘safe’ standards.