The Dutch Are Testing LED Crosswalk Lines to Prevent Pedestrians From Getting Run Over

HIG via The Verge

When your nose is buried in a smartphone while crossing busy city streets, you’re going to get hit by a car. To limit that, a Dutch city is testing a system that lights up a line on the ground informing pedestrians when it is safe to cross the street.

Together with HIG Traffic Systems, the Dutch city of Bodegraven is testing Lightlines, or Lichtlijn. The system illuminates a strip of LEDs strategically placed in the line of sight of those who would otherwise be distracted by their phones while crossing the street. The lights turn red or green with the walk signals.

“Social media, games, WhatsApp and music are major distractions in traffic,” said town alderman Kees Oskam to Dutch News. “We may not be able to change this trend, but we can anticipate problems.”

Currently, the lights are installed at just one crossing that is located near a handful of schools. If the test is successful, HIG will try to expand by working with other town governments.

Check out the video below for some shots of the light strips in action.


SaskPower Moving Forward with 10 MW Solar Energy Project

By: David Giles

Thirty-four companies are interested in developing a 10 megawatt solar energy project for SaskPower. Dave Chidley / The Canadian Press

SaskPower is going ahead with a utility sized solar energy project, the only one outside of Ontario.

The Crown corporation has announced plans for a 10 megawatt (MW) project to be located somewhere in Saskatchewan.

“This solar power project is part of our government’s commitment to reach 50 per cent renewable energy capacity by 2030,” Gordon Wyant, the minister responsible for SaskPower, said in a statement.

“As we move forward with this commitment, we will continue to invest in renewables such as wind and solar.”

SaskPower has put out a call for tenders, and 34 companies are interested.

While the exact location of the project has not yet been determined, SaskPower said it has been evaluating a site in southern Saskatchewan.

The long-term goal is to produce 60 MW of power using solar energy.

“To meet this goal, SaskPower will also be looking at community-based projects and a partnership with First Nations Power Authority for utility-scale projects,” SaskPower president and CEO Mike Marsh said.

The project is expected to be operational by the end of 2018.


Liquid Battery Could Last for Over 10 Years

It might be an ideal form of energy storage for solar and wind power.

By: Jon Fingas

Reuters/Mike Blake

Modern batteries aren’t hampered so much by their capacity as their long-term lifespan — a lithium-ion pack can easily become useless after a few years of heavy use. That’s bad enough for your phone, but it’s worse for energy storage systems that may have to stick around for the long haul. If Harvard researchers have their way, you may not have to worry about replacing power backs quite so often. They’ve developed a flow battery(that is, a battery that stores energy in liquid solutions) which should last for over a decade. The trick was to modify the molecules in the electrolytes, ferrocene and viologen, so that they’re stable, water-soluble and resistant to degradation. When they’re dissolved in neutral water, the resulting solution only loses 1 percent of its capacity every 1,000 cycles. It could be several years before you even notice a slight dropoff in performance.

The use of water is also great news for both the environment and your bank account. As it’s not corrosive or toxic, you don’t have to worry about wrecking your home if the battery leaks — you might just need a mop. The safer materials are also less expensive than the polymers you usually need in flow batteries, and wouldn’t require exotic pumps and tanks to withstand harsher chemicals. It needs less maintenance than other flow designs, too.

There’s no concrete roadmap for bringing this battery tech to the real world. There’s definitely a market for it, though. Renewable energy is becoming increasingly cost-effective, and inexpensive, long-lasting batteries would only help that. You could install solar power at home knowing that the cost of energy storage won’t wipe out the money you save on your electricity bill.


Biomass with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)-Too Good to be True??

By: Michael Ryan

The solution to decarbonising our future energy demands does not lie with one individual technology. Rather, the solution lies in a portfolio of green technologies. The use of wind, solar and tidal, along with developments in hydrogen fuel cells and next gen batteries, will lessen our dependence on fossil fuels over time.

A crucial component of this green portfolio will be biomass, with this article focusing on plant based forms. There are challenges to be overcome. Land use is one. Where will we find room to grow these crops when our agricultural land use is already creaking at the seams? Crops such as willow, miscanthus and reed can provide a unique solution. They thrive in ‘badlands’, or areas deemed unsuitable for agricultural use. These crops also have bio regenerative properties. Areas experiencing a contamination of the water table have found the effects alleviated, and in some cases, reversed.

But what of the technical aspects of biomass? A detailed thermodynamic analysis of willow, for example, show it to have a higher calorific value to that of peat, but lower than that of coal. The particulates it releases during combustion contain less harmful NOX and SOX. But, far more foreign particles are present too. This can result in fouling and slagging in the boilers and tubes of modern powerstations. What does this mean in practical terms? Coal powerplants converted to biomass would need vast more quantities of fuel processed to produce the same amount of energy. This extra provision would put a massive strain on conveyors and loading systems.

What of peat powerplants? The powers that be recognise that peat conversion to biomass is a more workable method of large scale biomass power generation. The CAPEX costs of building a uniquely biomass powerstation would drive the cost per megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity of this form skywards. So, at present, the focus is on the conversion of existing plants. And, as it has a higher calorific value than peat, less of it is required.

You can see reader, there are challenges to be overcome. But challenges are the basis of engineering. Biomass could potentially provide a fully indigenous portion of future energy demand. The creation of rural jobs and the repurposing of aging powerplants are some of the benefits. Biomass fuelled power generation is a ‘carbon neutral’ form of energy. The amount of carbon absorbed by the plants during their growing cycle is the same at that released during combustion. Thus, no extra carbon gets released into the atmosphere. But what if you wanted to go a step further? What if you wanted a ‘carbon-negative’ energy source?

This is where CCS comes in.

The science is simple. Flue gases pass through a scrubbing amine solution that isolates and collects CO2. The compressed CO2 then travels, in its supercritical state, via pipeline to a subsea aquifer (cavernous rock formation suitable for carbon injection). Essentially, it is propelled back from whence it came. There are issues with CCS. The parasitic load requirement for the thermodynamic processes impacts on overall plant efficiency. It also complicates powerstation design and operation. But as with any burgeoning technology, these issues will be reduced over time. For now, biomass power generation is a workable and relatively well used technology. 100% indigenous fuelled biomass generation is the next logical step. The prospect of biomass and CCS together producing a part of the nation’s energy need is a fascinating one. It is a technology worth pursuing. Not only is it a means of achieving energy independence, it is a way of removing carbon from the atmosphere while producing electricity. How amazing is that?

Author’s Bio:
Alumni of the National University of Ireland, Galway, Michael graduated with a bachelors’ degree in mechanical engineering that latterly specialised in renewable energy generation. Having spent the past six months in Canada with a micro-tunnelling company, Michael returned to pursue opportunities in the renewable sector. ‘Maximise the working efficiency of what we already have, maximise the commercial feasibility of what’s to come.’

Medicine Turns to Solar Energy



SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Medical Care Systems is going solar.

The corporate parent of Springfield Hospital and the Springfield Health Center has completed its first solar project, with the installation of four solar panels in front of the entrance of the health center at One Hundred River Street.

Larry Kraft, a hospital spokesman, said the hospital will build a full solar array on land adjacent to the hospital later this year.

Kraft said Friday the two solar systems were different: One would produce hot water for use for the doctors and patients at the health center, and the larger system at the hospital would produce electricity to offset the hospital’s usage.

He said the original intent of the project was to install a system on the rooftop, but the center’s engineers determined the roof was not suitable.

But he said a portion of the building near the river is sheltered and receives what he called “excellent sunlight,” and the panels were installed there.

The four panels were installed before the onset of winter and have already started decreasing the center’s use of fossil fuels, he said.

During the next 10 years, the hot water system will offset the use of 2,500 gallons of propane, which would ordinarily heat the 600,000 gallons of water used annually by staff members, patients and visitors to the health center. He said the total cost of the system was $30,000, and panels were installed by Springfield Heating and Ventilating Co. The system was paid for by donors, including a grant from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation. Kraft said that while a rooftop installation was originally considered, it was determined that the system would produce more electricity from the ground. He said the solar installation would be built on “unbuildable ground” farther up Ridgewood Road and across the road from the hospital. He said the site is currently wooded.

“We will produce electricity,” he said, with a netmetering project, rather than hot water at the health center system.

Under a net-metering project, the hospital will receive credits for the electricity it generates, and those credits will be used to offset its electric bill.