Exotic Renewable Energy Plants: Tidal Energy

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Tidal Energy power plants are definitely some kind of an exotic form for energy production. That’s because most tidal power plants are just pilot projects that are only build for research purposes and do not create a very big amount of energy in their lifetime. Tidal energy is one form of hydropower energy that gets obtained from tides and is then converted in useful electricity. In ancient times and in the middle ages tide mills have been used to mill grain, and nowadays axial or cross flow turbines are used to produce the electrical energy that is needed in modern times. As the gravitational attraction of the moon moves huge amounts of ocean water on certain coastlines or trough lagoons, tidal power plants were build in this strategic positions, there are 4 main types of tidal power generators: Tidal stream generatorstidal barragesdynamic tidal power and a tidal lagoon.

Unfortunately the issues that come with tidal energy are fairly big, from environmental concerns on marine life (also given the danger of blade strikes and the acoustic output). From a technical and maintenance point of view corrosion in salt water and fouling have a big impact on the plants and make them hardly economically efficient.

Even tough there are some massive problems to face when it comes to significant tidal power generation, there are some steps in the right direction, like a 3,4 MW tidal power generator in the East China Sea.

Check out tidalenergytoday.com for more news on the argument!

 

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Life transitions can help to instil better environmental behaviours

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You are most likely to change your habits if you are changing your city, a job or even a country. Maybe that’s why people say that their life changed once they moved to some other country. Different language, people or food can have a very positive effect on you. At least the researchers of University of Bath (Bath?! Really??) think so too.

“The study tested the habit discontinuity hypothesis, which states that the behavior change interventions are more effective when delivered in the context of life course changes. This assumption was that when habits are (temporarily) disturbed, people are more sensitive to new information and adopt a mind-set that is conducive to behavior change. A field experiment was conducted among 800 participants, who received either an intervention promoting sustainable behavior, or were in a no-intervention control condition. In both conditions half of the households had recently relocated, and were matched with households that had not relocated. Self-reported frequencies of twenty-five environment-related behaviors were assessed at baseline and eight weeks later. While controlling for past behavior, habit strength, intentions, perceived control, biospheric values, personal norms, and personal involvement, the intervention was more effective among recently relocated participants. The results suggested that the duration of the ‘window of opportunity’ was three months after relocation.”

Check the link below to read the actual scientific paper for more details.

We all can’t move to other location but we can try to change our lifestyle to be more sustainable. Maybe following Meatless Monday’s or going to office twice in a week by public transport, walking more or using less plastic.

Source: ScienceDirect, University of Bath

Is the Earth full?

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If you enjoy TED Talks as much as I do then you will certainly enjoy the following speech by Paul Gilding, a famous author (The Great Disruption) and consultant in the field of sustainability and resources.

Although this TED is from 2012 it is still accurate today, when he states that human mankind uses Earths resources in a way that is not sustainable citing the outcomes from the resources of the Global Footprint Network, according to whom 1.5 Earths would be needed to sustain our current economy and will grow even more over the next decades. The Australian former executive director of Greenpeace International claims that it is not possible that ongoing growth will lead to a disruptions all over the world, and that only a big crisis can change the actual situation. Unfortunately his speech is quite general and gives not clear answers on the question “how could humanity grow up and leave this area of no limits?”.

Personally I do not agree with Gilding on most of his statements because I think that he sees a lot of things in a very negative way (e.g. when he talks about the carbon bubble bursting or upcoming wars). What also bothered me while watching his speech was the necessity of a crisis from here earth and society should rise (somehow) like a phoenix from the ashes.

I suggest you to watch the TED and let me know what you think about this thoughts of impact people like Gilding think on our planets future!

Extreme weather is due to Climate Change. Really?!

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Every once in a while, I meet someone who doesn’t believe in climate change. They say that all the changes are happening since the beginning of the time and will continue to be so it is quite normal for the Earth to be so warm or to be so cold. Well, I always partially agree with them. But since last century we can see more and more storms all over the world. Maybe 2 of them you might think as a normal phenomenon but we saw in UK,China and India among other countries made it clear that it is indeed happening due to Climate Change.
If you still do not agree, read this post where the scientist in UK did some research and Carbon Brief did further research on that research and then followed up some Question and Answers session to understand these disasters happening all over the world. Why I can a storm a disaster? Well, it completes ruins your city and daily routine and not to mention the financial problem it causes the government in the matter of days.

A series of storms – first Desmond, then Eva, and finally Frank – dumped 230mm of rain on the UK during December, triggering flooding across much of Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland. The preliminary results – from three different approaches – indicate the human impact on climate was as large, or even larger, than the impact of natural fluctuations in the Atlantic and Pacific ocean – even during a strong El Niño event. Climate change and ocean variability each made the record rainfall totals 50-75% more likely, the researchers say, and doubled the chances of such a warm month. Random variability in weather also contributed to the severe conditions.

Do you still feel that Climate Change isn’t happening? Is Yes, then I am sure you believe that Santa Claus exist too!

Source: Carbon Brief, Climate Prediction

Sustainable Transport – step by step reducing impacts caused by transport

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It was never easier then now to reach the most remote places on earth, or to get the most exotic fruits from the furthest South American rainforest, and no end is in sight. In fact, transport will be growing strongly in the upcoming decades; with the progressing globalization and cheaper technologies, the transport of persons and goods will reach much higher levels then nowadays, where transport systems have a significant impact on the environment accounting for between 20% – 25% of world energy consumption and CO2 emissions.  All this traffic will have a huge impact on the environment of the whole planet, so one way to avoid some very bad pollution, accidents, commuting problems ecc.. could be to make transport more sustainable in the sense of social, environmental and climate impacts. Obviously all this should happen in a framework where it is possible to take up the opportunities offered by increased mobility.

So which are the possibilities to reach this goals? One way are Green vehicles that have less envirmonmental impact than equivalent standard vehicles, speaking electric/hybrid vehicles for private use but also in public transport. In urban planning there is another way of keeping city centres sustainable in transport: increasing pedestrian areas and bicycle lanes as those two are the most sustainable ways of transport, but also carsharing are good ways to reduce the different kinds of impacts. The fast progressing electrification of cars can help substantially to keep cities and the environment in general clean.

If you want to see some empirical application of the stuff above check out Denmarks Campaign “State of Green” where they show how things are done in Denmark.