Former Nazi Bunker Transformed into Green Energy Power Plant

By Adam Williams

 

The Energy Bunker was originally constructed in 1943 to serve as a Nazi anti-aircraft bunker during WWII (Photo: IBA Hamburg GmbH / Bernadette Grimmenstein)

 

Energy and utilities company Hamburg Energie has joined forces with IBA Hamburg to transform a former Nazi anti-aircraft flak bunker into a green energy power plant. The Hamburg-based “Energy Bunker” has already begun producing energy for the local community, but once running at full capacity will provide up to 3,000 homes with heating, and another 1,000 homes with electricity.

Originally constructed in 1943 to serve as an anti-aircraft bunker, complete with gun turrets, the 42 m (137 ft) -high building also sheltered local people from Allied bombing raids during WWII. Though the British Army made an attempt to demolish the building on the war’s close, blowing up its massively thick walls was deemed too dangerous to nearby buildings. The British ultimately settled on destroying much of the interior, and the bunker remained in this neglected state for over 60 years.

Plans to transform the building into a green energy hub first arose in 2006, with the renovation proper commencing in 2011, following extensive safety tests. The total cost of the project came to €26.7 million (roughly US$36.5 million) and was funded by both the the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Hamburg Climate Protection Concept.

The Energy Bunker is outfitted with several sustainable technologies. The main feature is a 2 million liter (528,000 US gallon) water reservoir that acts as a large heat store and plugs into the existing Reiherstieg district heating network. The reservoir itself is heated by several methods: a biomass power plant and wood chip burning unit which feed into a large boiler, a solar thermal array installed on the roof of the bunker, and waste heat produced by a nearby industrial plant.

A large photovoltaic system is installed on the south-facing facade of the building to produce electricity, and the wood chip burning unit is also used to produce electricity. A peak-load boiler and large battery array ensure that the energy output is kept steady at all times.

In addition to the production of green energy, Energy Bunker also contains a war memorial, cafe, and visitors center, where people can learn more about the building’s history.

Courtesy: http://www.gizmag.com/energy-bunker-iba-hamburg/30786/

A Solar Orb: Will the Face of PV Panels Change in the Near Future?

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solarorb

As the need for solar energy efficiency improvement continues to weigh heavily on the minds of developers, many innovative designs are coming into the spotlight. Recently, André Broessel posted a new project on Indiegogo to fuel his research and development of an orb solar energy device. Theoretically, the giant glass orb is more than 35-percent more efficient than the latest photovoltaic panels. What makes this device of his such a monumental accomplishment should it be produced in mass quantity?

1. Concentrated Light – Contrary to what some people believe, solar energy does not rely on the power of the Sun in order to work. Technically, it is the intensity of light that fuels a photovoltaic panel. It just happens that our closest star is the most prominent provider of that light. The orb design concentrates the light from the Sun much like a magnifying glass. This means that fewer panels can be used in order to produce more power.

2. X and Y Axis Tracking – One method of collecting as much sunlight as possible is through the use of a tracking system. These devices essentially detect when the Sun is moving across the sky and commands the panels to follow. Normally, these tracking devices are only operating at side-to-side capacities. In the invention of the Rawlemon solar device, this tracking can be done with minimal space while maintaining exact focus on the Sun itself using X and Y axis rotation. Instead of merely tracking what direction the most light is coming from, the orb can maintain pin-point accuracy regardless of where the Sun is in the sky vastly increasing the overall efficiency in the watts produced throughout any given day.

3. Fewer Panels in use – By focusing the light onto a smaller point, fewer panels are in use when collecting energy. This means that the cost of the unit could be significantly less than a standardized array. This isn’t considering the fact that the unit will also take up less square footage while utilizing increased efficiency of collecting light. If André Broessel is successful in mass production and marketing of his solar orb, it could change the backdrop from a sea of black-ish panels collecting light to a gigantic display of bubbles across the landscape.

4. Aesthetics – Truly, the solar orb looks like something out of a futuristic science fiction movie. Many have commented how the sheer aesthetics of the device are superior to the drab, but functional, panels that are in use today. Often times, simplicity of a product is the result of its functionality. However, there are some devices that simply had the look to accompany the effectiveness.

5. Carbon Footprint of Development – Although solar panels have no carbon emissions when collecting light to turn into electricity, the development of those panels is very toxic. While this byproduct is still a minute level when compared to the emissions of coal and oil fired power plants, the solar orb would require a far less demand on the environment during development. Fewer and smaller panels are used within the collector creating less waste from the ground, up.

In 2013, there were many scientists looking into ways to further increase the efficiency of solar collection. Paint additives, photovoltaic materials and more have been investigated. Could a giant marble with a special tracking system outshine them all in the near future?

Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.

World’s First Entirely Renewable-Energy Place: Wind-Swept Scottish Island

Eigg, an island in Hebrides off the coast of Scotland. [Photo by Flickr user kevinzim]

If you’re looking to unplug from the grid, you might want to head to Eigg, a small island off the coast of Scotland.

Eigg intends to become the first island to rely entirely on renewable energy sources, Al Jazeera reports.

The island–part of the Hebrides archipelago–is in the process of creating a network of solar panels, wind turbines, and hydroelectric plants to replace the individual diesel generators that previously served as its primary source of electricity.

Those generators were used to power individual homes; the island had no electricity grid until a few years ago.

Eigg Electric activated the island’s first electric-utility grid in 2008. It cost around $2.6 million to implement, and was funded by the European Union and certain agencies of the U.K. government.

Eigg’s position on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean is considered ideal for renewable energy, because of the more-extreme weather.

While frequent rainstorms may seem like a drawback, they can help the island’s hydroelectric stations generate a surplus of power.

Excess power is stored in batteries, or routed to heaters in public buildings to help keep structures dry and at a pleasant temperature.

However, electricity is also rationed to ensure a steady supply when the weather is less cooperative.

Residents are limited to 5 kilowatts at a time, while businesses can draw up to 10 kilowatts.

Each of those residents has a say in how the renewable-energy program is implemented.

Eigg was previously owned by a single landlord, but since 1997 it has been owned by the islanders themselves.

Anyone who has lived on Eigg for more than six months is made a member of the residents’ committee, which is in charge of infrastructure.

So it would be wrong to say that Eigg’s embrace of green technology did not have popular support.

Renewable energy currently accounts for 85 percent of Eigg’s power needs, while the remaining 15 percent still comes from diesel generators.

Courtesy: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1090339_worlds-first-entirely-renewable-energy-place-wind-swept-scottish-island

10 AMAZING FACTS ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY

Solar panels are becoming more common here in the UK as we attempt to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions and make the move towards a cleaner, greener energy solution. Although we don’t enjoy as much sunshine here as we would like, solar power is still a viable option. Here are some amazing facts about solar energy:

1. We’ve already been using solar power throughout history – it’s used for heating, for drying clothes and textiles and is used in desalination processes to remove salt from sea water to render it safe to use and drink.
2. Solar cells are already being widely used to power portable devices like mobile phones and tablets. Recent innovations have included solar powered rucksacks that will charge a laptop PC and even solar power clothing that will charge a phone!
3. An electrical engineer in Idaho has come up with the idea of a solar powered roadway made from super strong glass instead of the usual asphalt or concrete. This solar technology could clear the roads of snow and ice and save billions on the cost of gritting, snow removal and weather damage (no more potholes appearing in our roads after the harsh winter weather). Plans are already underway in the USA to install solar roadway prototypes.
4. Google is getting in on the solar act and has recently launched what it describes as the “world’s largest solar power project” on the California/Nevada border. Google has invested $168 million (£101m) into the plant which it’s estimated should save around 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Google is committed to promoting the company’s green credentials and last year it topped Greenpeace’s ‘Green IT League Table’.
5. A UK company has come up with a glow in the dark bike lane that is solar powered. Dubbed “Starpath”, the surface material absorbs UV rays from the sun and stores them as energy in luminous particles. The light from the path is designed to allow pedestrians and cyclists to see the way ahead in the dark. This innovative technology is already in use in a park in Cambridge – it’s easy to install using paint sprayers and rollers.
6. A company in the United States is supplying solar flooring – a walkable PV (photovoltaic) non-slip glass surface designed to aid in integrating solar energy into buildings. Compliant with anti-slip regulations and able to support 400 kg in point load tests, the flooring can be used with a LED backlit system to enhance the aesthetic appeal while greatly reducing the building’s environmental impact.
7. Swedish home furnishings giant, IKEA is set to offer solar panels in 17 of its UK stores this coming spring. In a bid to shift to renewable energy in its stores by 2020, IKEA plans on investing millions of dollars in solar and wind-power generation in order to cover 70% of its energy use by 2015.
8. A Japanese construction company has come up with a “lunar solar power generation concept” to solve Japan’s energy problem by installing a giant belt of solar panels around the moon’s equator!
9. Space missions have been using solar power since as far back as 1958. Spacecraft in the inner solar system use photovoltaic solar panels to use energy from sunlight to power sensors, heating, cooling and telemetry. Amazingly, solar-electric propulsion is used to provide propulsion power for the spacecraft.
10. Our sun is in the top 5% of stars in the Milky Way in terms of both size and brightness. Although the sun is more than 90 million miles away from Earth, it takes less than 10 minutes for light to cross that distance.

Written in partnership with Energy Bonds a brand of  CBD Energy Limited. If you are interested in investing in solar energy visit Energybonds.co.uk to discover how you can earn money from the sun.

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Solar Power for Your Home – A Bright Idea

By Chase Ezell

Project in Nieuwland Amersfoort consists of solar panels on over 500 homes and utility buildings. Photo: flickr/enecomedia

Homeowners looking to lower their utility bill and environmental footprint are finding a bright idea in solar power generation. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Americans added more solar power generating capacity during the third quarter of 2013 than ever before – 186 megawatts, up almost 50% year over year! Increased consumer demand and advancements in technology are leading homeowners to strongly consider installation.

For some homeowners, solar panels are still simply too expensive. However, you shouldn’t let initial sticker shock scare you off. Some retailers and utility companies offer lease (vs. buy) options, lessening the upfront investment costs. According to a recent Fox Business personal finance article, ‘Experts say the leasing process of a solar panel system is similar to leasing a car or even getting cable service. Most don’t require a down payment, but will lock in a rate homeowners will pay each month for as long as 20 years. The rate may be fixed over the contract period or it may rise on an annualized basis. Either way, experts say the savings compared to consumers’ current and future electricity rates will be greater during the life of the contract. The solar panel company or installer is responsible for any panel maintenance or repairs.’

DSIRE, the Database of State Incentives for Renewable & Efficiency, offers comprehensive information about federal and state incentive programs for implementing solar and other renewable energy projects at home. Tax credits, rebates and other incentives may be available in your area so check out this important resource.

Some utility providers even allow homeowners to sell unused solar power generation back to the grid, also helping offset costs of implementation.

CNNMoney Editor-at-large David Whitford recently installed a 15-panel, 3.75 kilowatt system on the roof of his Boston home. He shares that the system replaces about 80% of his family’s grid draw. And, over the promised 25 year life span of the equipment, the system will cut his household’s footprint by 62 tons of CO2 – not to mention the $25,000 in utility bill savings. Whitford’s total upfront cost was just under $13,000. But, thanks to state and federal incentives, his ROI will be less than five years.

In a newly formed partnership, Phoenix home builder Taylor Morrison and retailer SolarCity announced a solar option on all new Phoenix-area homes. The partners outline that homeowners can reap the benefits of solar power generation for little to no upfront costs. The partnership will make it possible for home buyers to save up to thousands on their utility bills, and will also enable them to lock in their solar electricity costs for decades into the future. Taylor Morison is the first national home builder in Arizona to offer SolarCity’s solar systems to home buyers without increasing the purchase price of their homes.

Courtesy: http://earth911.com/home-garden/solar-power-for-your-home-a-bright-idea/