Tag Archives: future city

Small hydropower plants- on the rise.

Some parts of the world may be as yet unfamiliar will hydropower as an option for producing clean energy. Those that do may still be underplaying the role it could well play in a greener future.

It’s kind of understandable that hydropower may have been overlooked when you consider that hydropower, like any method of production, comes with a number of stern disadvantages: -

- They’re extremely expensive to build to begin with, and the standard to which they must be built is notably high.
-Their high construction costs mean that dams are an investment- in our future, yes. But dams must also operate for years before they become profitable.

-There’s also the environmental cost (go figure!) as they require large areas to be flooded at the expense of part of the natural environment- or even the relocation of any any towns/villages in the valley where the dam is to be constructed.
-Geological damage is also an issue where large dams of concerned- the construction of the Hoover dam, for example, triggered a number of earthquakes.

Hydropower does come with its own plus points though: -

-Once constructed, electricity can be produced at a constant rate.

-Dams have an impressive lifespan, and so contribute to electricity production, potentially, for decades.
-The lake that forms behind the dam can be used for the purpose of irrigation
-The build up of water in the lake can be stored until needed- the sluice gates can be shut when demand is low, thereby saving the water for use when demand is high.
-Electricity that dams produce do not contribute to the pollution of the atmosphere with greenhouse gases.

-Large dams have a tendency to become quite the tourist attraction- look at the Hoover dam again- and can be used for a host of water-sports/leisure activities.

Small hydropower plants, on the other hand, are considered to be more reliable and affordable than their larger counterparts, which is a fair indicator of their rising popularity. They don’t have the same environmental impact- rise in water levels, deforestation, or damage to the local environment.

Faster construction, cheaper costs, and a smaller impact on the environment. It’s really no surprise at all that the use of small hydropower plants is on the rise.

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 Appliances for a Smarter City

Appliances with multiple functions have become the norm. Appliances that are energy conscious are becoming the need. Whereas the innovative had once been the ability to program your coffee machine to help you wake up each morning, or VHS/DVD combo, smart appliances stand ready to be absorbed into our day-to-day lives.

A smart appliance is a product that uses electricity, and also has the ability to interpret, and act on signals it receives from a utility such as a wireless device, which then modifies it’s operating behavior or energy consumption (e.g. a water heater that only heats the water based on the pattern by which you typically need it).

Smart appliances are going to play a critical role in moving from the current to a Smart Grid infrastructure. While smart appliances are sold as standalone products, typically on the basis of their low-energy consumption and semi-autonomous capabilities, their are further benefits if the Smart Grid becomes more widely adopted. The growth trend for smart appliances in the global market, however, shows a correlation with the successful development of a larger electric Smart Grid.

Though some consumers buy smart appliances for their addition functions, or to reap the potential economic savings that go with, many are reluctant to alter their behavior without proper incentives from utilities companies and appliance manufacturers.

By connecting smart appliances to a Home Energy Management System- which maximises the use of home electricity- while not being a requirement in order to use smart appliance owners, carry with them the potential for a 15% reduction to annual electric bills.

Malaysia- A green public transport system

With the increasing number of vehicles on the roads in Malaysia, the pollution they will create is sparking a great deal of discussion about the future of Malaysia’s transport, both public and private. On the one hand, the option of creating an improved network of connections- particularly for the capital city- is a potential solution. On the other hand, green transportation may be the way forward.

The Acting CEO, Ahmad Zairin Ismail, of the Malaysian Green Technology Corporation (GreenTech Malaysia) believes that green transportation is extremely important to Malaysia’s economy. It stands to reason that, given that the transportation sector is second only to the energy section sector in the production of CO2, and that the transportation sector is closely linked to the subsidy of fuel, that improvements made in fuel efficiency will reduce the economic burden of the fuel subsidy in the future.

A green alternative may be the only realistic and long-term solution to tackle the current problems in the system. While the government endeavours to improve public transportation systems, its clear that the issue of carbon emissions and climate change cannot be ignored.

Ahmad has indicated that a number of parties are looking to improve the public transport system, both in terms of improving the system’s convenience, and a reduction in energy consumption, stating as well that the public bus system has been looking into more advanced concepts and technologies, and that with a greener public transport system, a more green-conscious society will begin to emerge.

It starts with the buses. By introducing electric buses, which do not contribute directly to the carbon emission total as with diesel buses, they will also reduce noise pollution as well.

This is being taken even further. Malaysia’s Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water has appointed GreenTech Malaysia to coordinate the development of an Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Roadmap. The idea is to replace the internal combustion engine with non-emission vehicles, which brings with it additional opportunities in the area of energy production- such as solar and biomass. GreenTech has consulted with various players with experience in the industry, and studied best-practices from developed nations with more mature electric vehicle policies while developing their own.

Their goal is for 10% of vehicles to be electric by 2020 (100,000 vehicles in the country), and plan to take full advantage of Malaysia’s own car manufacturer, and vibrant automotive, electronics & ICT industries in helping their electric vehicle industry mature.

Pilot demonstration projects are already well underway, and the completion of the roadmap is slated for next year, with the implementation of the roadmap scheduled to follow thereafter.
The regulatory framework that will allow electric cars to be driven on Malaysian roads is already in place. Pilot tests on the electric buses are underway, and the framework that will enable them to operate in Malaysia is being developed.

One of their focuses is the infrastructure for charging the buses when the system is in full effect. A mix of standard charging equipment, fast charging & battery swapping will be used, but must be set up and used in a highly visible way so as to alleviate any fears or anxieties about electric vehicles and their range. A number of internationally accepted standards are being considered for adoption.