Tag Archives: Future cities

IBM Research – Ireland

Ireland is the proud host of the one and only IBM Smarter Cities Technology Centre. This lab conducts research in water, energy, marine environments, city fabric, transportation and computing offering such features as Smarter Water, Smarter Transportation and Smarter Energy.

The lab is led by top researchers from leading academic institutions including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Cambridge University, the Australian National University, and Trinity College Dublin. Additionally, the lab is directed and managed by individuals with significant experience at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center.

The research lab conducts research in collaboration with leading universities, cities, and industry partners and focuses on science and technology for intelligent urban and environmental systems considering such areas as analytics, optimizations, and systems for sustainable energy, urban water management, transportation, and the underlying city fabric that assimilates and shares data and models for these domains. Even though it has been operating for over a year now, it still belongs to the pioneers in the field. A most interesting research centre.

As an example, we have added a link to IBM’s activities in the “Smart Water” space.

Smarter water

 

 

South Africa – Energising Alternatives

In an attempt to reduce the negative environmental externalities related to heavy-coal-fired electricity generation, South Africa is stepping up efforts to increase the role renewable energy plays in its progressively overstretched electricity sector, pushing ahead with a series of programmes aimed at harvesting the nation’s infinite alternate resources.

The government has moved to bring the agencies charged with promoting this new sustainable energy use under one roof, launching the South African national energy development institute (SANEDI) on July 19. The new organisation, which will power the research and development of indigenous green-energy innovations in partnership with science councils, universities and private industry, combines two previous bodies, the National Energy Efficiency Agency and the South African National Energy Institute.

The country is already adapting to reinforce the contribution of renewables to its energy sector. The Department of Energy (DoE) is in the final stages of sealing up to 28 renewable energy proposals that were first accepted back in December 2011, with the signing of implementation, connection and power purchase agreements for a raft of projects set for August.

The initial projects – the first part of the department’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPPP) – is comprised of 18 solar photovoltaic projects with a total capacity of 631.53 MW; two concentrated solar power projects, with 150 MW of combined capacity; and eight onshore wind developments, representing 633.9 MW.

An addition round of 19 projects were assessed in May and a call for the third series of proposals will be issued in the near term, part of the government’s programme to be creating at least 3725 MW of renewable energy and have the tools installed by 2016, with the first projected forecast to come online by 2014.

While the government is keen to promote renewable energy, the delays in its first round of REIPPP projects do highlight difficulties, including financial backing for less-conventional and smaller-scale developments.  Investors may take a renewed outlook on later generations of renewable power generation depending on how successful these initial round of REIPPP projects can prove to be.

However, while SANEDI and schemes such as REIPPP represent the government’s commitment to green energy, the country is keen to maintain as diversified a portfolio as possible, not only to avoid repeats of the load=shedding issues it faced in 2008 but also to reduce exposure to potential swings in commodity prices.

This is most evident in the government’s continued efforts to expand nuclear power generation in the country. Dipuo Peters, the minister of energy, used the introduction  of the new SANEDI agency to underscore the government’s commitment to nuclear energy, as well as with the more traditional use of coal as an energy source.

“We need to use and will continue using nuclear energy for feeding, healing, energy and water provision,” Peters said.

South Africa has plans to construct nuclear power stations with a combined capacity of 9.6 GW by 2030, with at least six such plants being considered along with the sole station already in operation, with their output dwarfing that of the proposed alternative energy programme. Firms from Russia, China and South Korea are among the contenders for the lucrative contracts that will stem from South Africa’s atomic energy programme, with Russian state-owned nuclear energy group Rosatom opening a local office in mid-July to promote its interests.

Coal currently dominates South Africa’s energy mix accounting for 73.4% of primary energy and 90% of electricity in 2010, whilst diversification is a primary, the carbon-based fuel will likely maintain it’s primary position for decades to come. The DoE estimate that coal will continue to be used for the next 100 years, with the minister saying it was indispensable, “as long as we want to keep the lights on”.

South Africa’s push for the promotion of renewable energy is attracting interest from abroad as Chinese firm Powerway Renewable Energy announced it would be investing $1.2m to build several factories and produce mounting and tracking systems for solar photovoltaic plans in July.

Benson Wu, the CEO of Powerway, said the investment aimed to take advantage of the anticipated growth in solar energy in the South African market, with his firm foreseeing the need to supply mounting structures for over 500 MW of solar farms annually.

If the government can sustain the private sectors thirst for alternative energy projects and lure financers in to back such schemes more developments will get up and running in the years to come. However, the challenge will ensure the survival of the project through to its formative and stages and the ability to expand into businesses that generate profits, as well as power.

 

United Kingdom working to become the avant-garden in green technologies

Both public and private sectors are working together to make our country one of the first regarding low carbon vehicles. A total amount of £56 million, (27 million coming from public funding and 29 million from the private sector) will be provided for that aim.
Among the private companies that support this challenge we can find some international ones, such as Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover and Nissan, as well as other SMEs that will contribute to the development of seventeen plans.
The projects were elected on an initial competition where several proposals covering a wide range of technologies were presented. Transport Minister, Norman Baker, said. “It is great to see such a positive response from industry to this competition”.
As a result of these scheduled projects, UK will have several advantages, not only environmental but also economical:
· This initiative will make it easy to achieve climate change challenges.

· New jobs will be created at technological and industrial sectors.

· New business opportunities for the UK will be feasible not only in our country, but also overseas.

· UK will lead in low carbon vehicle technologies.

All these will have positive repercussions for the UK in a long term period.
Business and Enterprise Minister Marc Prisk MB, emphasized “the hard work with Industry to invest in innovative research and development” to put the UK at the cutting edge of low carbon vehicle technologies.

Qualcomm Halo – The New Angel of EV Charging?


Qualcomm – changing the way we think about electric vehicles?

Electric cars and hybrids are fast becoming a normal and popular choice of transport for many ethically-minded people across the UK and rest of the world. As this demand is increasing, so too is the pressure to keep up with the technologies necessary to facilitate the battery charging that these vehicles require. Currently, the only charging facilities available are Electric Vehicle (EV) charger points, where the owner has to physically ‘plug in’ their car to an electricity supply. This obviously has its inconveniences, and there are a number of companies seeking to change this problem.

With regards to the UK, Qualcomm Inc. – a Californian company – appear to be taking the lead in this domain. They have created a partnership with various businesses including Renault, Addison Lee (the UK’s best know and largest minicab business), Delta Motorsport and Chargemaster (who are a provider of EV charging implementation) for a field trial of wireless electric car charging.

Qualcomm plan to use their Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) technology, named ‘Halo,’ on Renault vehicles as part of an upcoming trial in London. Halo makes use of inductive charging via a transmitting pad located on the ground and a receiving pad placed on the underside of the chosen vehicle. Halo’s technology has been based on two decades worth of research from the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Mark Klerer, Senior Director of Technology at Qualcomm, considers the technology developed by his company as a major selling point for the EV industry, as currently the major off-putting factor and reason for lack of adoption for consumers is the hassle of having to manually plug cars in. He’s not the only one who thinks this – numerous scientists believe that this type of wireless charging could be implemented into roads in the future.

So while the charging in this trial will take place while the car is parked up, the on-board technology is apparently suitable for in-motion charging if the facility was to be available. This would mean vehicles charging themselves as they were being driven, and that could be very big game-changer indeed.

Award Winning Technology in The UK

Company HRS Heat Exchangers ‘scraped surface vacuum evaporator’ recently earned them an award at the National Recycling Awards for ‘Best Energy from Waste Initiative.’ The device was installed at an Anaerobic Digestion plant in Barkip, North Ayrshire, Scotland.

The Barkip plant, run by SSE, was opened in May this year and boasts the biggest combined organic waste treatment and energy generating service in the whole of Scotland. It can treat around 75,000 tonnes of organic waste in just one year, and can generate 2.2 megawatts of electricity from using the biogas that is combusted in its gas engines. As well as generating electricity, the heat that is created from this process is trapped and is added to the liquid fraction of the digestate to concentrate into a liquid, which can then be used as an agricultural fertiliser.

The plant makes use of organic matter such as food waste from a range of industries including food retail, food/alcohol production, and agriculture. The waste that is provided then undergoes a process of being broken down by bacteria, which in turn creates the biogas.

HRS is now renowned for demonstrating an innovate resolution for waste minimisation with the success of a good business strategy.

For more information on the other winners at the National Recycling Awards, please click here.