Sunday, January 23, 2011

Energy for Energy

This afternoon I sat for a good couple of hours in The Stromness Cafe in the port watching fishing vessels coming in absorbed by The Sunday Times, which fortunately arrives after lunch so I allowed myself a long lie in.

In the energy and environment section there are 2 fascinating stories. The first regarding the fuel quotas which will need to be enforced in the very foreseeable future and the second regarding a smart city!

Both have electric car use at the fore of their discussion. Most pressing is the cross party group of MPs who last week published a 60-page report calling for the introduction of personal energy quotas as the best way to “radically and rapidly restructure our society” to deal “with the reality of diminishing access to energy.”
The parliamentary groups’ central argument is simple: It believes the global oil production has already passed its peak.

 An energy crisis is inevitable at some point in the future, and so we should get a system in place now so that; when it does hit, we are already well down the road of shifting away from fossil fuels towards low-carbon alternatives.

Why when there is already a cost efficient and effective alternative aren’t the MPs turning around and advocating electric cars? Electric cars not only provide us with a cost effective solution to the majority of our transport needs but also have the potential to play a valuable part in our electricity infrastructure.  Electric cars can crop peaks and fill troughs in renewable energy delivery by absorbing the oversupply on windy days for example and potentially act as storage contributing 10% of their capacity to the grid in peak demand scenarios.

Just as the world moved on from steam, we will move on from oil by necessity and design. 

The second article was regarding a green pioneering project called “Living Planit” this is the love child of Microsoft’s Steve Lewis and Malcolm Hutchinson a 10 billion euro construction project for 225,00people. Ambitious I thought at first until I read that they have already secured funding from some major powerhouses including Matrix property fund management and companies like Siemens, Accenture and Cisco are partnering the project.

They are to develop a “smart home city” which aims at cutting property developers costs and producing energy efficient buildings. Old hat you may think? They have gone one step further..... The city will be run by an urban operating system – A software platform (hence the Microsoft part) that will manage different services from energy use to security. Sensors will be mixed into concrete used in the buildings. They will send information to the central operating system about the amount of heat, water and oxygen being absorbed. Like smartphone (hence smart city) buildings will be installed with applications that residence can access through the network and use to control their overall carbon footprint. Through a subsidiary company, Planit Utilities, the city will treat its own water, manage its waste and process biomass to extract fuels such as butanol, which can be used as car fuel!

The reality is that while still in their infancy and trail stages huge advances are being made in cost effective alternatives to petrol, gasoline, diesel whatever fossil fuel your car uses hopefully by the time time catches up with us we will all be driving in a different direction so to speak.

Following my espressos and shared cherry cake with Kevin I cycled home and prepared for my run. I am starting to track my runs there is a great app called which tracks your run and even has a platform to meet other runners. Sadly there is only one other running in the surrounding 20 miles and I have a sneaky feeling it is my lecturer Sandy Kerr!

I have started running to Billia Croo which is in Outerwaith and the round trip along the coast from my house is 10.5km. This is EMEC (European Marine Energy Centres) test site for marine devices.
When Paulo and I were in Geneva every time we walked past a bookstore he would stop say a short prayer and give “good vibrations” to the book store.

 I feel that by running to the wave test site that I can give my own energy to the energy so to speak and enjoy seeing the development change. As I was running down the track to the coast almost at the substation a huge 4x4 (ironically!)came towards me. The chap explained that it was a dead end..... Dead end I said this is the new world!

 I explained to him that I was studying Renewable Energy and I enjoyed watching the developments down there. He then explained to me he was the site manager and started telling me about the new substation and different pipes and grid structures which are coming in. We have agreed to have dinner later in the week........... So not only am I getting fit I am getting inside information aswell!


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