People power!

Every now and again there is news about a new way of generating electricity using normal everyday people, which sounds like a good idea to me! One in particular that I recently read involves using an outdoor gym to produce power. This gym is located in Hull and is the first of its kind. Currently the gym only powers the LED lighting for the site, but there is potential for other gyms to be build which would connect to the main grid. The company, called The Great Outdoor Gym Company, wants to install 100 new sites over the next five years, which they estimate would be used by 2.5 million people. The equipment can produce between 50 and 400W of electricity, although the average user would only produce around 100W of electricity.

According to the Energy Saving Blog, a Russel Hobbs kettle uses a minimum of 2800W to boil water for one cup of tea. Assuming that 2.5 million people produced 100W of electricity each after a gym session, a total of 250 million watts of electricity would be produced. That’s enough energy to make 89286 cups of tea. It seems like quite a lot, but its not enough to make a cup of tea for each of the people who did the exercise. Still, its a step in the right direction!

Another way to utilise the power of people are pavements which contain microsensors which produce energy when they are stepped on. There was a trial of these sensors in Toulouse, and it was found that a set of 8 modules would power a nearby street lamp. The modules were initially developed for use in nightclubs and the company which creates them (Sustainable Dance Club) will have an exhibition at the London Olympics.

At the moment, the modules are not widely used as they are expensive, however there is growing interest in them, for example by Rotterdam Football Stadium who signed up for a pilot scheme. The article about this was from 2010, however this kind of pavement technology keeps reoccurring in the news, so there is hopefully potential for it to be widely used in the future, provided that the cost of the modules can be reduced.



European supergrid and geothermal energy from Iceland

Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden and Ireland and the UK  are all working on a Europe wide supergrid of renewable energy. One of the main problems with renewable energy is that it relies on a particular kind of weather (depending on the type of renewable energy used) to be effective and a supergrid would help prevent the unreliability of renewable energy by combining different sources. The countries involved are investing in high voltage direct current cables rather than alternating current cables, as less energy is lost over long distances using the direct current cables.

Only a couple of cables have been constructed so far – one between the UK and the Netherlands, and one between the UK and France. A cable between Ireland and England is also due to be operational by autumn 2012.

The image below is taken from the article by the Guardian (link below) and shows the existing and proposed cables.

The UK is currently in talks with Iceland about adding their geothermal energy to this European supergrid. The cables to reach Iceland would need to be 1000-1500 km in length, which would make them the longest in the world.

To me, this seems like a really good idea, as even though the start up costs are expensive, having a system linking different sources of renewable energy will help to keep energy prices stable and (hopefully) reduce the need for countries to depend on coal, oil and gas as a main energy source.



I am a student studying at the University of Birmingham. At the time of writing I am just finishing my third year of an MSci in Geology with an international year. My international year was at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada.

This is mostly a blog for me to keep track of environmental/ green news that I find interesting. My plan at the moment is to have a link to an article with a brief description of the contents, so my blogs will be short for the most part.