Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Yes it’s a plane…a solar energy plane to be precise. If you haven’t seen the plane in action, it sort of looks like a gigantic mosquito, to me at least!
Just a few days ago, the impressive Solar Impulse completed an intercontinental flight. This is particularly notable because it is the first time this kind of flight has ever been made, entirely powered by the sun. Of course the technology is very much in its infancy but if this is possible, who knows what the future holds? Could there really be some kind of viable renewable energy air travel on the distant horizon?
The flight, piloted by Bertrand Piccard, from Madrid in Spain to Rabat in Morocco, took 19 hours to complete. The project founder of the Impulse, Andre Borschberg, spoke to interested reporters and said, “The aircraft can now fly day and night. It’s quite a show … It’s a technology we can trust.”
The pilot Mr Piccard spoke about the flight, saying, “The flight was absolutely wonderful but I almost did not enjoy it because I told myself that Andre and I have the responsibility to bring this aircraft to Morocco.”
The first intercontinental flight is the result of 9 years hard work and 90 million Euros of investment.
Although this was the first flight to cross from one continent to another (it flew across a narrow portion of the Gibraltar Strait), it actually had it debut flight back in 2010 and following that, completed a 26 hour flight, which remains a record for a solar powered aircraft.
To make everything happen, the plane is fitted with 12,000 solar panels. Those involved in the project are hoping to take the Impulse on a World Tour in 2013.
With an increase of all renewable energy aspects continuing and with the trend likely to go on well into the future, it has been reported that a company based in Germany called, Kronos Solar are hoping to build a solar park in Pembrokeshire, south west Wales, which will cost in the region of £20 million and will include an incredible 60,000 solar panels.
The plans have apparently been submitted to the local council and if successful the location will be a 25 acre site at a place called West Farm in Cosheston.
A company director, Dr Alexander Arcache, told the BBC that the site was a good choice and “not very visible”. Of course, visibility of large scale projects such as this always raises concern with local people and is perhaps one of the biggest hurdles for the future of these kinds of enterprises.
The company believe that the land, which is agricultural, could still be used for grazing when the installation is complete. It is believed that the Pembrokeshire authorities have been asked for comment.
Dr Arcache went on to say that public support is important and that it was crucial to get, “people behind renewables by taking away their fears”. If the project goes ahead, it is likely to be covered by the Renewables Obligation Certificate System. The system obligates UK electricity suppliers to seek out more renewable energy sources of energy for it electricity output.
The draft energy bill is creating plenty of debate amongst the powers that be with some of the finer points and inner workings of the bill still to be revealed. The draft bill is set to become an “actual” bill sometime during the autumn of 2012.
Most consumers will be wondering if there is any good news in the bill that might bring the cost of fuel down. As with many of these things, there seems to be no definitive answer, but critics of the bill are suggesting that the likelihood is that energy prices will go up, not down!
Speaking to the BBC, Ed Davey, Energy Secretary had to concede that prices may indeed rise on the back of the bill being implemented but countered that if the measures of the bill were not pursued that prices would rise further still.
The focus of the bill appears to be the long term contracts that will be offered as an incentive for energy companies to invest into the future of renewable energy sources.
Mr Davey told the BBC, “With nuclear capacity and coal capacity coming offline, we need a market structure to keep the lights on. To get investment, we need to give investors certainty that will lower the cost of capital. There will be no blank cheque for nuclear – unless they are price competitive, nuclear projects will not go ahead.”
So, it seems the jury is still out…not only on the bill itself but also on what the future holds for the humble energy consumer.
A north Wales based eco renewable firm’s helped a Liverpool business go greener, just in time for Green Office Week.
Box Studios lets office space, meeting facilities and storage units in Liverpool. They’ve recently spent £60,000 with Flintshire company AllbriteUK Ltd on “going green”.
They’ve erected 52 solar panels across the roof, a biomass boiler and a water recycling unit in a ground floor brewery. They expect the facilities to pay for themselves within 7 years.
Now in its fourth year, Green Office Week is a national initiative aimed at addressing green issues in the workplace. It runs from 14th-18th May.
The scheme aims to encourage workplaces to think about the environment. Organisers of Green Office Week said: “Whether it’s to introduce a new policy, start recycling, reduce your carbon footprint or buy eco products, there will be a small change you can make”.
Liz Rothwell from Box Studios said they want to make their offices state-of-the-art and help protect the environment.
“We wanted to be greener and the government incentive was running at the time and the landlords here are keen for us to go green. We had a blank canvas to do what we wanted.”
The 31-year-old mother-of-one said Allbrite had helped them every step of the way and the company’s boss, Russell White has visited the site on a number of occasions.
“They’ve been fantastic,” she said.
Ms Rothwell said there were a number of reasons why they decided to make the changes: “It’s very important for our business. It’s more economical and it’s better for the environment.
It’s a good selling point and people are fascinated. Plus, the changes will save us money in the long run,” she added.
For Box Studios, their relationship with “going green” isn’t over and they’ve pledged to look at other areas of the business in the future.
Russell White, Director of Allbrite said he fully supports initiatives such as Green Office Week.
“If it helps people think about the environment and make positive changes to their homes and workplaces then it’s got to be a good thing,” he said.
Wednesday 9th May is Pass On A Smile Day in a Flintshire market town.
Shoppers in Mold, which is where eco renewable company Allbrite is based, will be greeted by smiling shopkeepers and handed smiley stickers to put a spring in their step for the day.
Local schoolchildren will parade through the town before hanging “smiley” pictures in the local park for visitors to see.
Organisers have planned the event to encourage people to shop in Mold and see what a welcoming town it is.
Here at Allbrite, we couldn’t agree more!