Category Archives: Energy

LED lights, lightning technology of the future.

In 1879, Thomas Edison invented the conventional light bulb. But nowadays, the efficiency of this bulb has changed. These traditional bulbs work on the simple premise that when metal is heated enough, it lights up. And to heat up this metal, electricity is used. This all sounds very good, but unfortunately, only a small 10 per cent of the electricity needed to heat up the metal is actually converted into light. The rest is all used to produce the heat. So this makes for a lot of energy loss and new, more efficient ways to create light are needed.

This is all especially interesting with all the concerns for the environment that go around these days. The world decided to look for better energy saving options and that’s why the whole world searched for a better technology that efficiently converts energy to light. An example of a new and more efficient way to create light is the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL). There is less energy loss but the downside here is that this technology is very hostile to the environment. They contain for example mercury, which is poisonous. So disposal of such lamps created a challenge that is an environmental nightmare.

With CFLs and fluorescent light bulbs being at the peak of their technology curve in terms of energy efficiency, the need arose to create again a new technology. This new technology has all the answers to energy efficiency and doesn’t have the downside of environmental issues. This fast emerging technology is called light emitting diodes, better known as LED. It is believed that this will become the next major shift in lightening standards worldwide.

When this technology was first commercialized, it was associated with lighting signs, architectural and decorative lights, and the back lightening for TV’s, computers and mobile phones. But today, LED technology has taken a quantum leap and products using LED technology are being produced for public, industrial, commercial and household use.

Lee Choo Boo, Group MD and CEO of ItraMAS Group Malaysia, says that for the last few years, there has been a global shift towards pursuing better technologies that promote energy efficiency. That’s why better energy saving options for the incandescent bulbs were needed and that’s why CFL and LED are new technologies that are very welcome.

In Malaysia, the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water, announced the phasing out of the traditional, incandescent bulbs. This will culminate in a ban for these light bulbs in 2014. This is in line with the worldwide trend and it shows the commitment of the Malaysian government to energy efficiency and savings.

ItraMAS, a home-grown Malaysian company, says that it will be difficult for Malaysians to shift their mindset to the new LED lights. They say that people in Malaysia are wary of change. That’s why knowledge and awareness of LEDs is very important.

So one of the most important things to know is how these LED lights work and what the advantages are. They create light by converting electricity, this is what all the light bulbs do. But it is important to realize that LED lights consumer far less energy than any other form of lightening. The conversion of electricity into light happens much more efficient than any other lightening technology because LEDs use semiconductor materials. That’s why they use only 20 per cent of the electricity a traditional incandescent light uses. So this also translates into a 80 per cent less energy cost.

Another advantage is that LED lights last longer. They can last for up to 20 years . Other advantages are that they generate little or no heat and are mercury-free and therefore completely safe for the environment.

There is only one more issues that needs to be addressed and that is that when you are choosing between different LED lights, the packages label the bulb’s brightness in lumens. S you need to know and understand this term if you want to find a light bulb that suits you the most. Lumens are a measurement of the total amounts of light while watts, which people generally associate with light, measure how much energy is used by the light bulb.

So a change today is that when people select lights, they have to choose by brightness and not by energy use. The desirable light is probably one with a high lumens and a low wattage. This means more light for every watt put in, and this is called efficacy in the LED industry. So the higher the efficacy, the more energy saving. And another important thing to know is the higher the lumen count, the brighter the light.

A downside, especially for people that don’t like change, is that the LED lights look very expensive at first. But you have to realize that they have a lifespan of 20 years and that they cut electricity bills. So the money you pay extra on your bulbs is quickly recouped. In the long run, this technology will save money for individuals, businesses and societies as a whole.

Smart alternative energy sources

The whole world is looking for alternative energy sources since traditional sources are getting exhausted, are polluting the world, or for other reasons. The world is already using renewable energy sources like solar panels,  wind turbines and biofuels.  These are becoming more and more popular and so widely used that they can’t be called alternative sources anymore. And what we want to talk about now are some truly alternative fuels that are being developed. The following technologies show some promises for the future as renewable energy sources but it must be said that most of them aren’t ready yet for commercial use.

How efficient would it be if human energy can be used to power personal devices. That’s where a lot of research is going to for the moment. There already are some inventions that allow you to create energy just by wearing something. For example a knee brace that can convert the kinetic energy of the moving leg into useable electricity. Or a backpack that can create energy from the motion of walking. And a very good example of a smart, new technology is the newly built Westfield Stratford City Mall that’s built for the London Olympics. The paving stones of this mall absorb kinetic energy from peoples footsteps and can create energy out of this.

Some other energy sources that are being developed are small generators that can create electricity from viruses or a t-shirt battery which will be able to store enough energy to power small electronic devices. But all these technologies are still in the early stages of development. So it will probably take years before they can be used in a large scale. However, there are some alternative electricity generating systems that are already, or almost in production.

An example is hydrogen, which has been considered a potential energy source from sometime now. Another great example is a robotic jellyfish, created by scientists at Virginia Tec. This robotic jellyfish can take hydrogen from the water to create the power it needs. So this effectively gives it an unlimited power source. Researchers at Harvard also recently created a hydrogen fuel cell which can create energy from hydrogen and store it like a battery. The prototype can now store about three and a half minutes worth of power but the researchers have the next couple of years to think about ways to increase this.

Smart Cities in Action

The world’s first total-concept smart grid deployment project, PowerMatching City, has been placed on the Sustainia 100list of solutions. Sustainia 100 describes itself as “More than a model and a vision, Sustainia aims to be the world’s one-stop toolbox for sustainable solutions.”

PowerMatching City, The Netherlands, is the first real-life smart grid community in the world which delivers the world’s first results from a total concept smart grid deployment project.

The city currently involves 25 households connected with each other and fitted with fully functioning micro combined heat and power systems (CHP). Systems in place include high efficiency boilers, hybrid pumps, smart meters, PV panels, electric vehicle charging stations and other smart household appliances which when combined together make up the smart energy system.

“With the share of renewable energy going up strongly over the next decades, the rising demand for electricity, and consumers who are increasingly providing their own energy supply, it is evident that smart grids will have an essential position in our future energy system. PowerMatching City plays a pioneering role in the development of smart grids and in the transition towards a sustainable energy system,” said Frits Bliek, Program Coordinator, PowerMatching City.

It is hoped that the grid will continue to grow, with the next phase set to include a further 70 homes. Follow the link below for the video!

PowerMatching City (www.PowerMatchingCity.nl)

 

 

Can the UK offer a clean, secure and affordable power sector?

The UK Government has a plan to save energy in homes by overhauling the electricity market.  But they are warned that this overhaul will not ensure the UK has a secure, clean and affordable power sector. If they overhaul energy provision, they will probably want to reform the market. This will bring in long-term contracts that pay a steady rate of return for energy from new low-carbon generators. But this is needed to deliver the billions of pounds of investment needed for energy infrastructure to keep the lights on.

The upfront costs of energy efficiency measures for homes can be covered by a ‘green deal’ that has been brought in. This also includes companies providing energy-saving measures for poor households.

But some consumer, industry and environmental organizations like the University of Exeter, energy giant SSE, Consumer Focus and environmental charity WWF issued a warning that the measures were inadequate. They said that government policies will not deliver the large energy savings that are needed to cut greenhouse emissions and secure that UK’s suppliers are secure.

They said that developing low carbon power and energy efficiency measures would hit consumers, and in particular the people on a low income. The renewable energy sector in the UK would not have the certainty it needs to deliver investments and jobs in the UK with the plans that the government has now.  They said one of the main efforts of the government should be to try and make energy more affordable for everyone.

Energy efficient measures should be funded by the revenues raised through carbon floor prices. So energy companies have to pay a minimum price for the credits they have purchased to cover their pollution.

So it was needed for the long-term contract for low-carbon electricity to be reviewed. They have to make sure that the contracts are suitable for renewable energy, as the scheme has been primarily designed to support new nuclear reactors.

Nick Molho, of WWF-UK, said that everyone is coming at this from different perspectives, but everyone wants the UK to succeed in developing a clean, secure and affordable power sector. They are deeply concerned that Government proposals now are just not up to the job.