Posts tagged ‘wind energy’

October 20, 2015

Let’s go fly a kite…

Wind turbines are becoming an increasingly controversial topic: many people oppose them claiming to spoil the landscape, whilst others praise them for bringing clean energy. Wind power is still abundant and as related costs are on the way down, it is one of the best renewable resources available today. Despite claims of it being unreliable, wind does have calculable and predictable patterns, which can be utilised to our advantage.

A number of companies are now working on how to harness wind energy at an even higher level – up in the skies.

Kite Power Solutions  is working on the concept of flying kites over the sea in formation. The idea is to anchor three kites, which could then fly in a circular path – similar to the tips of the turbine blades. The kites pull a winch on the ground that is linked to an electric generator, and the circular motion of the kites helps generating electricity.

© Kite Power Solutions Ltd 2015

© Kite Power Solutions Ltd 2015

Makani also believes in kites for harnessing electricity and their “energy kites” would be connected to the ground station through a tether, and it would also be supplied with an intelligent computer system to reach maximum output.

A similar approach is to use glider planes (Ampyx Power), again pulling on the tether and hence generating electricity on the ground.

Kites have already been trialled for lowering the consumption of ships, but using them on a wider scale of energy generation could bring more efficiency than conventional wind turbines –  at the fraction of the expenses.

Some solutions could eliminate the costs for expensive concrete and the use of specialised construction boats for installation, and could just be attached to a floating platform. Also, flying kites could reach heights with more powerful winds than current wind turbines, therefore harnessing more energy.

These innovations come with integrated sophisticated technology and computer systems, which can design the best set-up for the most efficient operation at any given time, while reacting faster to suddent changes in the weather or environment – for example by detecting approaching storms.

And those, who still believe in wind turbines – Altaeros Energias has been testing a floating wind turbine, where a helium-filled shell houses the turbine and which can be lifted up to 600 metres – about twice as high as the tallest current wind turbines. AltaerosEnergias

Image sources: Altaeros Energias and Kite Power Solutions

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January 22, 2013

Energy co-operatives

Co-operatives are traditionally an efficient and successful way for communities that aim to live or work with certain benefits through co-operation. Co-operatives are usually created by people working, living together or by those consuming products or services as a group.

Utility co-operatives have been around in the US since the New Deal but recently there are more and more such co-operatives set up all around the world, which focus on green and alternative energy usage.

These co-ops provide an opportunity for local people to invest into various projects, for example setting up new solar panels or a wind turbine. Then, the co-operative provides interest for these investors from feed-in-tariffs or by selling electricity.

In Germany, the number of energy co-operatives has tripled to more than 600 in two years, with over 80,000 active members. The largest of these is EWS, where 99.2 per cent of the electricity comes from renewable sources and 0.8 per cent is from the co-generation of heat and power (CHP).

But Germany is not alone. In the UK, there are also an increasing number of such community initiatives.

Brixton Energy already has two existing solar projects in the Loughborough Estate with hundreds of square metres of solar panels, while Community Energy Warwick raised enough money for solar panels to be placed on the roofs of the Stratford upon Avon and Warwick hospitals. Meanwhile, the Brighton Energy Co-op recently set up “the largest solar system in Sussex”, with installations in Shoreham-by-sea, Portslade and Brighton.

But the list goes on: Leominster Community Solar, Ovesco, Bath & West Community Energy, Westmill Wind Farm, Baywind Energy, Hockerton Housing Project, Boyndie Wind Farm, and many others – with a total of 75 utility co-ops listed with Co-operatives UK.

Renewable energy co-operatives thus could mean the future for renewables with local communities joining forces to gain access to cheap (or free) energy sources by working together.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse 

February 29, 2012

A New Way of Carbon Capture? Let’s Plant Artificial Trees

Trees lock away and store carbon-dioxide for hundreds of years. Scientists now want to mimic this feature by creating artificial trees for our parks, which could even act as street lights and harness wind power.

The key scientist behind the idea is Dr. Klaus Lackner from the Earth Institute at the Columbia University. His “synthetic trees”resemble real trees with trunks and branches, which are in fact arrays with sorbent chemicals for capturing the carbon-dioxide.

Synthethic Trees

Leaves can be more dense than on normal trees, increasing efficiency. Also, the collected carbon dioxide could be utilised and not only stored, for instance in agricultural processes.

Another concept is the so-called uTree, a photovoltaic tree that would soak up the sun during the day, then fed into the electricity grid or even stored inside – for instance for lighting spaces.

Some artificial tree ideas go further and try to merge the various capabilities. Some may harvest rainwater and generate electricity via solar panels at the same time. Some others act like solar street lights, or create a whole park with saving rainwater and even using wind energy.

Challenges for artificial trees are the high initial investment, long-term maintenance costs and some worries about the actual efficiency of small artificial leaves compared to solar panels, but if these can be overcome, walking in the park could have a new meaning in the future. [6]

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

Image: BBC Online

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