Tag Archives: Olympics

The road to a low carbon future- miles to go before we sleep?

London’s hopes of producing “the greenest Olympics ever”- potentially by generating enough renewable energy to cover the amount of energy the event will consume- might not quite measure up against their ambition sustainability goals, but not for lack of effort.

Understandably, London’s olympic organisers intended to showcase the region’s commitment to sustainability.

In a number of areas, England and the Uk have been pulling ahead in the race towards a low-carbon/clean energy future- recently ranking first among 12 of the world’s major economies.

There are other challenges still ahead. Plans for rolling out smart meters over the next couple of years is meeting opposition, and despite reports in the paper, The Independent, that “Britain is being powered by record levels of green energy (an increase in excess of 3% for the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period of 2011), draft legislation under review in London could spell cuts to onshore wind energy programs- making onshore wind more expensive, leading to higher consumer bills.

We’re not alone in our predicament. Similar issues have arisen in the U.S, where smart meter installation has, in one instance, been met with extreme opposition as Thelma Taormina (55), resident of Harris County, pulled a gun on a CenterPoint Energy worker in order to prevent the installation of a smart meter on her property. Concern over the future of wind energy rings in the air as well, with the Production Tax Credit (PTC) due to expire later this year, and with their economic concerns, new tax incentives for renewables are looking less likely to be around the corner.

The Uk is still currently leading in offshore wind capacity, and aims to generate about 15% of our overall energy from renewable sources (such as wind, solar, and biomass) by 2020- and the road to a low-carbon, greener future looks to be more of a marathon than a sprint.

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.