The April 28 (2008) issue of MacLean’s had a great environmental article on Ten Ideas That Work that consisted of ten mini-articles that is definitely worth a read. Today we are going to cover the last five. They were:
- Windmills Under the Sea
Tidal Turbine Mania
This summer, Northern Ireland will be the first country to deploy massive underwater turbines to generate electricity. Developed by Vancouver-based Clean Current Power Systems, this initial system will power 1,000 homes. A second project is being undertaken in Nova Scotia, Canada in the Bay of Fundy and will be operational next year. It will be the largest commercial-scale unit in the world.
While the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow fast enough to power a windmill, tides are always on the move. This technology has enormous potential. For example, Clean Current estimates that the tides between Vancouver Island and the mainland is sufficient to power 500,000 homes annually! Worldwide, tidal power has the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 120 M tons annually, and this is likely a low estimate. This technology should be seriously considered by any costal, or island, state or country. While it doesn’t solve the energy problem as a whole, in some parts of the world, it can make quite a dent!
- Orbit City Abu Dhabi
Last month, cranes began to dig the foundations for one of the world’s first eco-cities, which is to be situated 20 miles to the southeast of Abu Dhabi. Being built with money from the Emirati government, Masdar will be a carbon-neutral, zero-waste city of 50,000 that will encompass a university specializing in energy and sustainability issues and economic zones devoted to green industry and research. The entire city will be powered by photovoltaic cells, wind power, and biogas. Water will be conserved with vacuum toilets and high-tech treatment plants that will convert sewage into household water. And cars will be banned, as residents will be whisked about in Jetson-like driverless pods. Shaded walkways and narrow streets will be everywhere to provide cover from the hot sun.
- One Sheet to the Wind
Lake Lagoda, the largest lake in Europe, might soon be home to a massive wind-dam if an innovative British design firm (by the name of Chetwood Associates) has it’s way. The lake has a number of rocky gorges that act as wind funnels, and it is expected that a single 25m x 75m Kevlar sail will capture enough wind energy to produce 120 megawatts of electricity per year, enough to power 35 houses. It’s not a lot of power, but it’s cheap power, and sails can be hoisted wherever windy conditions prevail. The advantage is that, unlike conventional propellor wind-farms, it doesn’t let any wind-power escape.
- The Power of Garbage
Plasma Conversion Power Plants that run on Garbage
Plasco recently threw the switch on a new energy conversion plant outside of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on a new demonstration power-generating garbage plant that is believed to be the first functioning power plant in the world that runs on zero-emissions plasma conversion. Unsorted household garbage can be fed into a chamber that contains superheated plasma gas (in excess of 8000 C). The chamber breaks garbage down into its atomic components and cools it to produce a synthetic gas that is capable of being burned in a low-emission internal combustion engines. Furthermore, most of the by-products are usable. Every ton of household waste produces 150 kg of a clean, glass-like material that can be used by construction, potable water, small amounts of sulphur (a component of fertilizer) and salt, and a little over 1 kg of non-reusable waste that has to be landfilled. In other words, landfill requirements are reduced 900%!
- Zero Carbon Footprints in the Sand
Carbon Neutral Resorts
Costa-Rica is aiming to be carbon-neutral by 2021 in an attempt to be the number one vacation spot for the carbon-couting grippie (green hippy) who wants a guilt-free vacation. Already, more than 80% of its energy comes from renewable sources such as wind and water. It’s airline, that uses transitional fuel technology, buys offsets every time it flies, and it’s public transportation system is extensive. It also has a significant re-forestation initiative, which will eat the small amount of carbon it intends to produce in the future.