Research by UK energy firm Opus Energy has shown that British businesses are more interested in generating renewable power than two years ago.
It says 39 per cent of UK businesses are now interested in generating their own renewable energy. This is a considerable uptick since 2011, when just 32% said they would invest in wind turbines, solar panels, hydro power or anaerobic digestion. Back then, business leaders also expected it would take them at least five years to get renewable power generators up and running, which is now no longer the case.
Perhaps most remarkable is the fact that nearly half of UK businesses aren’t just keen on the idea of generating renewable energy – they plan to be doing it within the next two years. Companies are eager to be self-sufficient when it comes to their energy, and generating renewable energy seems to be a good place to start. This is why more than a quarter of the businesses interested in generating renewable power see that as the main benefit. A slightly smaller number, 23 per cent, see it as an opportunity to make extra revenue through power purchase agreements, according to the Opus Energy research.
Self interest is still a bigger factor than concern for the environment, as only 17 per cent of businesses were motivated by a feeling of responsibility to cut carbon emissions. Or as David Pepper, Managing Director of renewable heat manufacturing firm Lochinvar calls it, “good old British commercial pragmatism.”
Do you find yourself sitting in the dark, even if it’s bright and sunny outside? Well, speaking from experience, regular exposure to sunlight can really make you feel better both mentally and physically. But if the Sun isn’t hitting your windows you might be missing out on its radiant glow. With the help of this device, you can now automatically reflect the Sun into your rooms.
Designed by an engineer named “Mr. Lim” the Sunflower is a compact version of a heliostat you can place in your yard. It automatically follows the Sun throughout the day and reflects it into a location of your choice. It uses a solar panel along with a motorized array of mirrors to ensure the light is always reflected to a specific point you aim it at – like your living room window.
Each Sunflower is handmade in Concord, Massachusetts by One Sunny Home.
Green technology is often seen as one of the leading industries in the future. Many governments are increasing their spending on technology and science sectors that are leading the research into these technologies; while business owners are investing in products that could revolutionise eco-friendly living. This financial input means that green technology has gone beyond solar panels and biofuels, and is being used by industries that are normally thought of being environmental bad guys, rather than leading the way for innovative green technologies.
Some of these industries are already using green technologies to reduce their impact on the environment, while others have inspired the creation of products and technologies that could revolutionise the way we live in the future. Here are three surprising industries that are embracing green technologies:
Oil and gas
Often considered the environment’s leading enemy, the oil and gas industry has in fact embraced a range of green technologies. The oil and gas industry is tightly regulated, not only in terms of health and safety, but also to minimise their activities’ impact on the environment. One way they are meeting regulations is through contracting waste management companies, who often offer a range of services from decommissioning offshore oil rigs to water management. The UK-based waste management company, Enviroco, for example, works with numerous oil companies that are drilling in the North Sea and provides a number of services that use technology to reduce their environmental impact, including establishing a drilling mud treatment plant. This plant utilises advanced drilling mud treatments technologies to safely dispose of drilling mud – a substance that is used during the process of drilling for oil and gas.
Another industry that is normally seen as an environmental bad guy, but which has inspired innovative green technology is the construction industry. Cement is often used as the foundation of most buildings, however cement alone is thought to emit 2 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere a year. This has led the invention of ‘carbon negative’ cement, which through mixing magnesium oxide with high-purity sand is said to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. It has been reported that the rights to this technology has been sold for several hundred thousands of pounds to an unnamed Australian company. It is believed that the ‘carbon negative’ cement will make a fortune for the buyer, while also revolutionizing the building industry.
Transport and travel
The transport and travel sectors are also often cited as environmental harmful industries, however they have been leading the way in green technology for years. Hybrid cars are now common on many car dealer forecourts, while alternative fuels are being used to power everything from buses to trains. However, aviation is still known for emitting tonnes of emissions every year, but investment into eco-friendly aviation research is helping to make the future of environmentally friendly flying a realistic possibility. NASA, for example, has set a goal of simultaneously reducing the fuel consumption, emissions and noise caused by aircrafts. Through its Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project, NASA is looking at creating advanced engines and composite materials, along with innovative airframe and engine integration designs to create a new-breed of eco-friendly aircrafts.
Written by Derin Clark, a writer, editor and blogger
Imagine a future where solar panels speed off the presses, like newspaper. Australian scientists have brought us one step closer to that reality.
Researchers from the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) have developed a printer that can print 10 metres of flexible solar cells a minute. Unlike traditional silicon solar cells, printed solar cells are made using organic semi-conducting polymers, which can be dissolved in a solvent and used like an ink, allowing solar cells to be printed.
Not only can the VICOSC machine print flexible A3 solar cells, the machine can print directly on to steel, opening up the possibility for solar cells to be embedded directly into building materials.
“Eventually we see these being laminated to windows that line skyscrapers,” said David Jones, a researcher at University of Melbourne who is involved with the work. “By printing directly to materials like steel, we’ll also be able to embed cells onto roofing materials.”
The news comes just a month before Harvard’s Clean Energy Project plans to make public in June a giant database of compounds that can be used for printing solar cells. The list of 20,000 organic compounds may help scientists develop computer models for more efficient and less expensive printable solar cells.
Solar energy received another boost on the opposite side of the world as Elon Musk‘s rooftop solar energy company, SolarCity, received backing from Goldman Sachs. The $500 million (£330 million) deal will provide leases for SolarCity customers, 90 percent of whom lease the solar panels rather than buy them outright.
In 2010, a team at MIT unveiled a paper solar cell that could be folded into a paper aeroplane and still function.
Efficiency is still an issue for printable solar cells. The VICOSC team say that their cells can generate up to 50 watts of power per square metre, meaning you would need two metres squared to safely power a 15-inch MacBook Pro.
Before you gets carried away with notions of printing your own solar cells at home, it should be noted that VICOSC’s printer currently costs A$200,000 (£128,000).