The options we have now-a- days for alternate energy seem to be expanding at a fierce pace. A typical home solar installation can generate between two and four kilowatts, while Google’s solar array at its corporate headquarters–considered the largest in the U.S.–is 1.6 megawatts. Now a company called ElectraTherm has developed a 50-kilowatt machine that uses industrial waste heat as its “fuel.”The machine uses an organic Rankine cycle to heat liquids which are turned into a vapor that turns a turbine to make electricity. The thermoelectric effect has been known since the early 19th century. But the idea of making electricity from heat appears to be getting more attention.
No one knows lighting like the Italians, its no wonder that the best chandeliers are from Italy. The countries energy requirements are rising, like the rest of the world, but it hasn’t been able to get on the solar power bandwagon yet. The hindrance has so far been the confusion over prices and maintenance cost involved. However the mayor in a small town in Milan has managed to light up a cemetery with a photovoltaic plant composed of 18 solar panels, providing the cemetery with free lighting and saving 20% on the billing cost. Enel SpA, Italy’s largest utility, and Sharp Corp., a leader in solar power technologies have joined hands to set up joint solar power generation plants in Italy, which are expected to have an output capacity of more than 160 megawatts by the end of 2011 and supply 81.500 Italian families with energy.
State-controlled Norwegian oil company StatoilHydro has decided to build the world’s first full scale floating wind turbine, Hywind, and test it over a two-year period offshore Karmøy. StatoilHydro has developed HyWind based on floating concrete constructions familiar from North Sea oil installations. The rotor blades on the floating wind turbine will have a diameter of 80 metres, and the nacelle will tower some 65 metres above the sea surface. The floatation element will have a draft of some 100 metres below the sea surface, and will be moored to the seabed using three anchor points. The wind turbine can be located in waters with depths ranging from 120 to 700 metres.
Environmentalists today want giant corporations to look for alternative energy resources in trash. Until now, looking for bio fuel meant that precious food crops could become scarce since corporations would want to make the most from it. The best alternative suggested is in converting garbage into bio-fuel, taking care that agricultural waste is only used. Startups like US based Mascoma and Coskata and in Brazil by Brenco and KiOR have already set up refineries that refine waste products like corn stover and sugarcane bagassedo. Coskata’s first biorefineries will use currently available feedstock — wood chips, sugarcane waste and municipal trash. The company estimates that municipal waste could be used to produce 8-10 billion gallons of fuel annually. Industrial waste gases off of steel mills could provide another 10 billion gallons, those gases are exactly what Coskata’s microbes could eat. They’re burning bug food. Coskata is actively approaching steel producers to turn those gases into fuel.
Not everyone knows about the massive amount of energy that is needed to keep websites online and active. In 2006 U.S. Servers and Data Centers Gobbled Up 61 billion kWh, now that’s a lot considering that most users that time didn’t go beyond checking their emails and maybe watch a few YouTube videos. Today however YouTube isn’t a recent discovery, it now has many competitors diving for attention. Microsoft Research’s Networked Embedded Computing group is working on a very promising concept: A combination of physical sensors in the server room and software algorithms to make individual computers sleep or wake up depending on demand.
David Murray from north Texas has been doing something that most of us could easily envy. The self-described computer geek from Kennedale bought a 1993 Eagle Talon from a junkyard for just $750. He then converted it into an all electric vehicle, spent about $4,000 more to convert the gas-guzzler to run on electricity alone, doing all the work himself in his garage at home.
Until now the electric cars presented to u have been rather crude in design, both in looks and functionality. So only the Toyota Prius has made it to the popularity list that too not as a fully electric, rather as a hybrid which is powered by the petrol engine for the vast majority of normal driving, with an electric motor kicking in at low speeds or to provide extra power for acceleration. Two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, who struck up a deal with internet tycoon Elon Musk – founder of the internet payment system PayPal – to design and produce the world’s first ‘green’ sports car. We are guessing they even contributed their cash via PayPal for goodwill. Their first production model, the Tesla Roadster, is based on the design of the Lotus Elise, and is assembled at the Lotus production line in Norwich, using parts from all over the world. But what make the car so special are the lithium-ion batteries that power it. These batteries are essentially a giant version of the sort you can find in your mobile phone have never been used in electric vehicles before, and are what give the Tesla its astonishingly zippy performance.
Climate change has become firmly established as an accelerant to many of the factors which have put one in eight of the world’s birds at risk of extinction, 2008 IUCN Bird Red List warns that long-term droughts and extreme weather puts additional stress on key habitats. The assessment lists 1,226 species as threatened with extinction – one-in-eight of all bird species. In the revised Red List, eight species have been added to the “critically endangered” category. One of them is the Floreana mockingbird (Nesomimus trifasciatus), which is confined to two islets in the Galapagos Islands has reduced from 150 in 1960 to less than 60 today. Another example of a species being affected by shifts in the climate was the akekee (Loxops caeruleirostris), a Hawaiian honey-creeper. It’s being negatively impacted by prolonged heavy rain causing nesting failures, but they are extremely threatened by introduced diseases, which are carried by invasive mosquitoes. The mosquitoes have been restricted to lower altitudes, so the birds do best at heights above which the mosquitoes can go and pass on avian malaria. But because of climate change, the temperature zones are shifting. It is getting warmer at higher altitudes, so the mosquitoes can now move higher. This is eliminating the mosquito-free zone that the birds used to occupy.
For those who still think that electric powered vehicles have a long way to go, think again. The Vectrix is a very powerful electric powered scooter that accelerates faster than cars at stop signs and claims to go upto 68mph at top speed. The Vectrix is powered by a low-mounted, 3.7 kilowatt NiMH battery pack that re-charges to 80 or 90 percent of capacity in two hours. Three hours is usually enough for a full charge, four if you start from flat empty.
While most of us are happy having a solar cell in our calculators and often dream of owning enough solar cells to power our home, a small village in Korea has already done it. The village Donggwang gets 100% of its power from the sun. The village is located on the semi-tropical island of Jeju-do. Near the village, Halla Mountain, a volcano and the tallest mountain in South Korea, rises from the island’s center amidst a patchwork of small farms. The village’s forty houses and the school all have large solar panels covering their roofs. A typical roof will have a two kilowatt solar installation. In 2004, the government subsidized the solar systems in Donggwang, paying 70% of the installation fees. Now if only our govt realizes the harm to the environment the older forms of energy production make and lose its selfish obsession with making money providing the most basic of energy requirements.