Monthly Archives: May 2011

UK’s first solar town on the way

The residents of the small town of Wadebridge, Cornwall, are aiming to become the first solar- and renewable-energy powered town in the UK. It has an ambitious short-term goal of generating 30% of its electricity from renewables by 2015, which is about a third of the town’s electricity supply. The town’s struggle is being shown on Youtube as a four part mini-series.

With the UK government pledging 50% emissions cut by 2025, new solar initiatives are popping up all through the country.The Wadebridge campaign to convert to renewable energy is being led by the Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN), – a not-for-profit co-operative. The plan is to put thousands of panels on the roofs of local homes, schools and businesses, allowing them to use the clean electricity, and collect the feed-in tariff for their community fund.

WREN is starting installations with 100 homes, half of which will be buying the systems themselves, and half of which will be funded through a partnership between solar provider Solarcentury and Triodos Bank But the controversial proposals by the British government to limit the Feed-In-Tariff (payment for generating electricity) to small-scale projects are in danger of altering the town’s plans.

Stephen Frankel Founder of WREN said:“Now the feed-in tariff is here, we could turn that dream into a reality with the finance generated. However we do need to use as much space as possible to meet our needs, the Governments proposals to limit the feed-in tariff to 50kWp means we can’t go ahead with our larger projects which would bring much needed income into our community fund. The problem with PV arrays is not their size, but who receives the benefits. It makes no sense that the Government wants to pull the plug on communities that seek to generate meaningful amounts of energy.”

The first episode was uploaded to YouTube on May 20 and outlines the aims of the project and the difficulties involved in winning over some of Wadebridge’s residents. The next episode wll be made avaiulable in two week.

Watch the first episode:

Via:The Independent

Power cars with the oil from cornish pasties

Cornish pasties are to be used to power cars after a green fuel company in the UK’s North East Lincolnshire announced plans to use them to make biodiesel.

The fuel firm Greenergy is to take pasties, pies, crisps and other food which are past their sell-by date, overcooked or misshapen and extract the oil they contain. The food waste that is not suitable for sale and will otherwise end up at the landfill is now purified and mixed with diesel. These food products, which can contain between 25% and 30% oil and fat, are sourced from a variety of food manufacturers in the UK.

The company, which produces 10 billion litres of biodiesel and diesel annually, is investing £50million in its production facility in Immingham, Lincolnshire, to process used cooking oils . The company’s chief executive, Andrew Owens, said: “We’ve always tried to find ways of reducing the environmental impact of our fuel and as oil prices continue to rise, it’s obviously important to develop alternative sources of fuel. “The quantities of biodiesel that we’re currently producing from solid food waste are small, but we’re expecting to scale up so that this soon becomes a significant proportion of our biodiesel”, he added.

via: BBC News

Improved solar thermoelectric generator converts heat directly and more efficient

A team of researchers from the Boston College and MIT have developed a flat panel solar thermoelectric generator that can heat water and produce electricity at the same time and is said to be seven to eight times more efficient than current solar-thermal technologies on the market today.

In solar thermal power plants the heat of the sun makes steam and the steam turns a turbine which produces electricity. The new experimental device converts solar heat directly into power via the Seebeck effect. The Seebeck effect is the conversion of temperature differences directly into electricity. No are mirrors required. Instead the solar absorber, operating in a vacuum, concentrates the heat via conduction onto thermoelectric materials set upon a copper plate. The device requires a difference in temperature of around 200 degrees Celsius, but is apparently more efficient than other, similar experimental devices.

The device features two innovations: a better light-absorbing surface, obtained through the use of “enhanced nanostructured thermoelectric materials” and its placement within an energy-trapping, vacuum-sealed flat panel.
Because of the new ability to generate valuable electricity, the system promises to give users a quicker payback on their investment. This new technology can shorten the payback time by one third, according to Boston College Professor of Physics Zhifeng Ren.

The report was published in the journal Nature Materials at the beginning of this week.