Sometimes it takes a student to teach the sensei. A design competition for students has produced various ways to capture wind power by retrofitting highways and roadways with wind turbines. The simple [and brilliant] design captures the normally lost kinetic energy of vehicular traffic as it cruises along the PCH or GSP going 55-85mph.
I’m sure it will be a few years before we see such infrastructure actually implemented – but its about time designers start to think outside the box when it comes to creating ‘green’ technologies. We need to generate more great ideas like this: where energy is created through a simple and aesthetically pleasing device that that can be fitted within existing structures – like these jersey barrier turbines [shown below], which we covered here and here on MNP.
[original article appeared on architecture.mnp - and was written by Arco]
The Spanish government has announced that El Hierro, one of the smallest of Spain’s Canary Islands, “will be the first island in the world totally supplied by renewable energy.”Â The island of 10,500 residents will rely on a combination of hydroelectric and wind power.
“Using this system, we can transform a intermittent energy source into a controlled and constant supply of electricity,” the ministry said of the 54.3 million euro (65 million dollar) scheme which is designed to cut the island’s annual carbon dioxide emissions by 18,700 tonnes.
The island’s wind farm will generate electricity for the pumping station that will pump water to the two reservoirs that feed the hydroelectric stations, which will provide the bulk of El Hierro’s power.Â Excess wind energy will be used to power two desalination plants.Â An existing diesel-powered plant on the island will be maintained for emergencies if water and wind supplies run short.
Interior Minister Joan Clos Tuesday said the government would be adopting a range of incentive measures to encourage windfarms.Â Spain, where the energy market was deregulated in 1998, is second only to Germany in Europe in terms of installed wind power capacity, at 8,155 MW in December 2004, compared with 14,000 MW for Germany.
Related: Spain’s Navarra region embraces green energy
Engineers at the University of Hong Kong and a private renewable energy company have developed a new micro wind turbine that can generate electricity even if wind speeds are as low as two meters per second.Â Lucien Gambarota , the main inventor of the technology, says this is its advantage over conventional small wind turbines, which only work about 40 percent of the time because of low wind speed.
Gambarota says the small turbines are ideal for crowded cities such as Hong Kong because they can be installed on rooftops and balconies.
Their design is simple: plastic gearwheels, each about 25 centimeters in diameter, are linked to one another and turn, moved by the wind. Groups of gearwheels can be arranged in an array of shapes and sizes, ranging from about two up to thousands of square meters, depending on how much energy is needed and how much space is available. The energy generated by the turbines is stored in a battery, which then powers electrical appliances.
The wind turbine is easy to install and comparatively cheap. At the moment, a set of 20 gearwheels costs about $25. Gambarota says the price will go down once the turbines are being mass-produced, making them a good option for consumers who want to cut down on their energy costs.
“Let’s say if you have good conditions, five, six meters [of wind] per second, if you are a family with one kid you need most probably three, four square meters of that then you can most probably cover at least 60, 70 percent of your [energy] needs.”
[TreeHugger::via::ChoSun, Plastics News]
In September Chevron announced the discovery of a field containing up to 15 billion barrels of oil beneath the Gulf of Mexico, touting it as “a platform for growth for years to come.” Read the fine print, though, and you get a different story. To recover the first samples of oil there in 2004, engineers floating 175 miles off the Louisiana coast had to send drill gear into 7,000-foot-deep water and penetrate four miles of rock. The company spent tens of millions of dollars on computer modeling, cutting-edge seismological tools, and exploratory drilling; just renting the drill rig cost Chevron and its partners more than $200,000 a day. The results suggest that oil from the new reservoir, called Jack 2, could cost three to four times as much to extract as oil from traditional locations
The upside of stratospheric oil prices is reflected in what is happening on the other side of the balance sheet. The past year looks like the turning point when alternatives to fossil fuelsâ€”everything from solar energy, wind turbines, ethanol, and the hybrid carâ€”finally hit the mainstream. “We’ll look back and say this is the year where people rallied together to start down the irreversible path of becoming less dependent on oil,” says Samir Kaul, a partner in venture capital firm Khosla Ventures, which invests in energy and other tech startups.
Meanwhile, the markets are voting with their dollars. By the summer, the stock market value of all renewable energy firms larger than $40 million doubled, to total $50 billion. Venture capitalists, big banks, and even old-school bond peddlers jumped in. This past year, 39 French and German wind farms bought nearly $600 million in bonds in May from Italian Bank UniCredit’s HVB Groupâ€”a deal that would have been unheard of even two years ago…
Even Big Oil is jumping headlong into the renewables market.
More at the link below:
“At the moment, less than 7% of Europe’s needs are covered by wind power, biofuels or solar energy.
But in the Navarra region, in north-eastern Spain, almost 70% of the electricity comes from the wind and the sun.
You do not have to look far in Navarra to see a windmill. Not the sort that Don Quixote fought, but the hi-tech turbines that provide much of the electricity here.
With no coal, oil or gas of its own, this mountainous region deliberately went for renewable energy in the late 1980s.Â The first wind farm was built in full view of the regional capital Pamplona, so that people could get used to it.
Now, with some 1,100 windmills dotted all over Navarra, this tiny region is capable of generating more electricity from renewable sources than big EU countries like France or Poland.”
Renewable Energy goes from distributed generation to utility-scale power plants (although this has been going on for years now):
â€œSMALL is beautiful,â€ wrote the economist E. F. Schumacher almost 35 years ago. In most areas of the economy, he reasoned, production had become too big and too centralized.
But he might have been wrong about the subject he knew most about: energy. When it comes to alternative ways of generating power, big may be better.
Wind, solar and other renewable-energy technologies that were once considered more appropriate for single homes or small communities are reaching levels of scale and centralizing that were formerly the province of coal- and gas-fired plants and nuclear reactors. In other words, green is going giant.
The companies that are building or dreaming up large projects argue that there are economies of scale to be gained.
Infrared monitoring shows that savvy seabirds steer clear of wind turbines:
Uncertainty surrounding wind power’s impact on wildlife–particularly the potential for deadly collisions between birds and turbines–has tarnished its image and even delayed some wind farms. Indeed, the first large offshore wind farm proposed for U.S. waters–the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts’s Nantucket Sound–has been held up in part by concerns that its 130 turbines could kill thousands of seabirds annually. Now a simple infrared collision-detection system developed by Denmark’s National Environmental Research Institute is helping clear the air.
Thanks to Ian for this post – do you have suggestions for green.mnp?Â Email them to us.Â