At the RenewableUK conference in Glasgow this week, Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond announced that the countries renewable targets were being realigned to take into account faster than expected growth. The initial target was for Scotland to produce 50% of its energy from renewable power by 2020, however, the figure is currently standing at 35%, ahead of the 31% that was forecast initially. The new target is to achieve 50% renewable power by 2015, which the First Minister described as ‘ambitious but also achievable’ – hinting that more renewable projects are due to come onstream in the next few years.
What is your opinion of these new targets? Are they achievable for Scotland? Answer our exciting poll!
Cambridge is often referred to as the “City of Cycling”. Over 20% of trips in Cambridge are made by bike. The question is how other cities in the country can achieve a figure even close to this amidst a primarily automotive backdrop.
At first glance Cambridge just looks like any other quaint tourist town in the UK, lovely views, period architecture and the odd pedestrianised area. That is, until you look a bit closer and begin to see cyclists, bike parking and bike shops everywhere you go. However possibly the biggest shock is the courtesy and respect shown to cyclists by the drivers in Cambridge. There is a distinct lack of aggressive bus drivers or abusive motorists everyone just seems to get along.
Upon touring the city centre bikes truly are parked everywhere; chained to railings, bike stands or even with just a wheel lock. It turns out Cambridge really does have a large amount of dedicated parking for cyclists. There is even an example of a multi-storey carpark which has the ground floor solely for cyclists.
One theory is that the large student population is partly responsible for the number of cyclists as undergrads aren’t allowed a parking permit unless there are special circumstances. Now so you can put that to scale Cambridge has a population of around 120,000 and the student body accounts for approximately 45,000 of that. Thus in broad terms over 30% of the population of Cambridge have no real use for a car.
According to the Cambridge Cycling Campaign spokesperson, Cambridge was extremely fortunate during the 60s and 70s when most cities were in a rush to increase their motor traffic and automotive facilities. Yet the whole thing just seemed to bypass Cambridge and therefore people simply continued to cycle.
However it takes more than luck for an idealistic idea to last this long, credit must also be attributed to the people who teach and encourage the next generation to cycle and continue it as part of normal life. If anything Cambridge should be held up as a model of what we should be trying to implement in any modern city.
Well, it’s definitely been a big couple of weeks in the news as far as energy is concerned. The tidal wave in Japan and its effect on the Fukushima nuclear plant have made many reconsider their position on nuclear power. Some people are now against nuclear and some, like george Monbiot in teh Guardian, are claiming that they now are in favour.
For a seasoned energy watcher like myself it was difficult not to think back to Ukraine 1986 but of course these are very different incidents. The Ukrainain plant was from a different era, and the reactor was built from different materials. Comparing Fukushima with Chernobyl isn’t enlightening.
What is the likely outcome? Well, in situations like these, valuable lessons are learned. One of the reasons that Japanese construction is as safe as it is comes from centuries of earthquakes. Japan is highly unlikely to pull the plug on nuclear power just yet.
Nuclear will remain part of the mix for some time yet, I think. Probably even for the rest of our lifetimes to one extent or another. But this doesn’t mean that nuclear was anything other than a transitional technology. It’s just that transitions take time.
Have you ever wondered how they make sure the UK has enough power supplied to it over the course of a day? Managing the grid means taking decisions to keep supply levels up, but not generating too much electricity – a fine balancing act. Modern technology means that extra electricity can be created at the push of a button, (and release of lots of water from a dam).
The electricity supply is obviously vital to the country, so it’s interesting to see this device that gauges the current state of the grid. Although as it states on the site – the ‘danger zones’ at either side are in reality much further away = they’ve just been squeezed in so that you can see that they’re there.
Battersea Power Station is probably the most famous decommissioned power station in the world. Its upturned table design has featured in films and on LP covers, making it a real focal point of the landscape south of the River Thames. Just try and read anything on the subject of Battersea Power Station (including this here blog post) that doesn’t use the adjective “iconic”.
The BSP has sat unused now for nearly 30 years. For some reason I always thought it was going to get turned into a museum or art gallery, but it now looks like it’s going to become part of a new development which has been approved by the local authority, Wandsworth Council.
Since it’s a listed building, the power station thankfully can’t be demolished, and so has now been earmarked for this new multibillion pound redevelopment. The plans are pretty expansive, with talk of over 3,000 homes (presumably flats) being made there, with thousands of jobs created, and even its own tube station.
While there’s bound to be some opposition to the scheme, it can only be a good thing that such a potentially vibrant new community is now likely to thrive where once there was just a tourist photo opportunity.
With all the talk going round right now about smart meters, I thought I’d do a little post here to make clear the distinction between a smart meter and a smart energy display.
A smart meter is the next generation of energy meter. The current ones for electricity with the rotating metal disc have been around for a long, long time. The smart meter will be the one that’s officially installed (eventually) to replace the existing type.
A smart energy display on the other hand, is a device that you can buy which monitors your electricity use, and by connecting to your computer means you can set energy saving targets, plan energy use, and so on.
Getting in early and getting a smart energy display now is a good idea because it gives you more control over your energy use, and provides much more detailed information than simply how much power was used over the course of a quarter.
The introduction of smart meters will revolutionise the energy industry. Since smart meters can communicate with the central computer system of the utility companies, it will mean that they have a far better picture of energy use and they’ll be able to generate more accurate amounts, meaning little or no wastage.
Your electricity company should have a smart energy display system available – well worth a look.
This advert for the C5 is pretty cool. It truly was one of the first green machines. But look how cleverly the advert depicts the vehicle – it’s shown first on an animated roadway, then when they show it in the live action sequence, it appears to be trundling merrily along a footpath in the middle of a park. Not on a road. Not even on a road in a quiet village. In a park. Can you imagine what it would be like to drive a C5 through heavy traffic – an articulated lorry and a 4×4 in front, in heavy rain, cyclists whipping past at a fair old clip, then trying to find a space at Tesco’s car park. No. It was a good machine, or ptentially a good machine, for using as a toy on your country estate, but not a lot more.
Some pretty cool news over at UberGizmo, in the shape of nothing less, ladies’n'gen’lemen, than the world’s first wireless charging system for cars.
Just a few years back, electricity only ever travelled down wires and through plugs. Well, other than lightning, I mean… Anyway this is a significant wheelturn forward for electric cars, and it’s things like this that can really help with the uptake of this type of vehicle. There was always something a bit daft about the thought of going to a service station to plug your car in and get a coffee. parking your car over a magical electricity (and data) transmitter pad is much more 21st century, and I can’t wait to see one of these in action (probably via YouTube) soon. I’ll post anything here as and when I find it.
This will be big news for the electricity companies, and bigger still for the filling stations. Imagine going to a service station, and rather than the usual scenario – getting petrol or diesel – you just park over the inductive power doohickey – one day possibly even paying automatically as you do so, then heading into the shop for the usual packet of sarnies and bottle of water. Cool.