Weekly Geek

The (Not Very) Weekly Geek: Wave power

Posted by bex — 29 September 2008 at 11:48am - Comments

EfficienCity - wave power

A screengrab from our virtual, climate-friendly town, EfficienCity

With the UK government apparently bending over backwards to stop renewable energy development at the moment, it's refreshing to hear some good news from elsewhere in Europe; the world's first commercial wave power farm has gone live in Portugal.

The Weekly Geek: combined heat and power (CHP)

Posted by bex — 7 March 2008 at 1:22pm - Comments

The ROCA 3 CHP plant in Rotterdam provides electricty and heat to 400,000 homes

The ROCA 3 CHP plant in Rotterdam provides electricty and heat to 400,000 homes

Due to popular demand (well, demand anyway), The Weekly Geek now has its very own RSS feed.

Back in 1882, Thomas Edison built the United States' first electric power plant. Pearl Street Station, which supplied the good folks of Lower Manhattan with electricity for lighting and steam for manufacturing, was around 50 per cent efficient.

125 years on, the typical UK power plant is just 38 per cent efficient. But those modern power plants that have been built on the same principles as Edison's are reaching efficiency levels of up to 95 per cent.

So how did Edison do it? And where are we going so wrong?

In this week's slightly tardy Weekly Geek, we're looking at combined heat and power (CHP): the system Edison was using, and the heart of any truly clean and efficient decentralised energy system. (Those who read the first Weekly Geek on decentralised energy may notice a fair bit of crossover.)

The Weekly Geek: micro-hydro power

Posted by bex — 27 February 2008 at 9:23pm - Comments

It's Weekly Geek time, and this week we're looking at micro-hydro power: a truly reliable, highly efficient, and extremely clean (it has no direct carbon emissions) way of generating electricity.

It needs no fuel but offers a constant supply of electricity which often increases in winter, along with demand. It has a long life cycle (typically 25 years or more). It can have low implementation and maintenance costs. And, unlike some large scale hydroelectric power schemes, it has minimal environmental and visual impacts.

The Weekly Geek: anaerobic digestion

Posted by bex — 20 February 2008 at 12:59pm - Comments

Ken Livingstone wants it for London, Hilary Benn is giving money to it and Adam and Debbie are bringing it to Ambridge. After a couple of millennia in the sidelines, anaerobic digestion has finally hit the big time (well, The Archers, anyway) - which is why we've chosen it for this second edition of the Weekly Geek.

Every year, we bury thousands of tonnes of waste food in landfill sites around the UK. We produce almost one and a half million tonnes of sewage a year (don't do the maths - it's disturbing), which is mostly spread on land, incinerated or buried as landfill. And we produce enormous amounts of agricultural waste on our farms. All of this waste breaks down to release greenhouse gases as it decomposes.

Welcome to The Weekly Geek: decentralised energy

Posted by bex — 13 February 2008 at 3:16pm - Comments

This CHP plant in Denmark is 95 per cent efficient

This combined heat and power plant in Denmark is up to 95 per cent efficient

To celebrate our launch of EfficienCity, we're starting a new, weekly column for all the closet energy geeks out there. Every week, we'll take an in-depth look at one of the technologies we feature in EfficienCity - tidal power, wave power, wind energy, combined heat and power, micro-hydro power, anaerobic digestion, biomass and the rest. We'll also be looking at issues like baseload and the regulatory context for decentralised energy.

So remember to check back each Wednesday and, if you have any suggestions for energy solutions to climate change you'd like to see us cover, just post a comment at the bottom of this page and we'll try to slot it in.

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