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Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion: A renewable source of base load power?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 29 August 2017 at 11:10 am

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion: A renewable source of base load power?

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is a renewable energy technology which generates electricity using sea water. 71% of the world’s surface is covered by ocean [1]. This means that a large amount of solar energy is constantly warming the upper layers of the oceans. This creates a strong…

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Should cogeneration be considered a green energy technology?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 22 June 2017 at 3:01 pm

Should cogeneration be considered a green energy technology?

We consume energy in two main ways, as electricity and as heat. These are produced, distributed and used in very different ways. Most electricity is generated by centralised power stations, with a relatively small fraction being produced at the point of use. It is then distributed, potentially ov…

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How do you assess the efficiency of a ground source heat pump?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 13 June 2017 at 10:57 am

How do you assess the efficiency of a ground source heat pump?

Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) extract heat from the ground, and use it to produce hot water. The temperature in the subsurface remains around 11-12oC throughout the year [1]. By burying pipes just a few metres below the ground you can take advantage of this readily available supply of thermal e…

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Solar Chimneys: Passive solar ventilation and electricity generation.

Posted by Alex Barrett on 7 June 2017 at 3:15 pm

Solar Chimneys: Passive solar ventilation and electricity generation.

The solar chimney is designed to harness the fact that hot air rises, providing passive ventilation for a building. A solar chimney can be used to cool a house during warm weather, and generate heat during cold times of the year. There have also been efforts to build industrial scale solar chimne…

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Are Infrared panel heaters a good way to heat a room?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 9 May 2017 at 2:50 pm

Are Infrared panel heaters a good way to heat a room?

Infrared panel heaters are a relatively new way to heat your house. They work very differently to radiators, and have some advantages when it comes to energy efficiency. Infrared panel heaters use radiation to heat the room instead of convection. This means that they deliver heat directly to …

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How green is Hydroelectricity?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 5 May 2017 at 4:24 pm

How green is Hydroelectricity?

Large hydropower schemes account for the majority of the world’s renewable energy supply. Unlike wind and solar, hydroelectricity can provide a constant stream of renewable power, regardless of the weather or the time of year. Hydroelectric dams can be used to store power, and can quickly b…

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Which devices are the most energy intensive?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 25 April 2017 at 3:31 pm

Which devices are the most energy intensive?

We live our lives surrounded by devices. We work on computers, carry phones and tablets with us wherever we go. Kitchens are full of fridges, freezers, microwaves and washing machines. Some are more energy intensive than others, but all of them are contributing to high energy bills, and higher ca…

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How important is solar shading to passive solar building design?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 24 April 2017 at 12:10 pm

How important is solar shading to passive solar building design?

Trying to get indoor spaces to be the right temperature is a constant struggle. During cold parts of the year we use large amounts of energy for heating, but when warm weather arrives we suddenly want to cool down our buildings, either with fans or air conditioning. There seem to be relatively fe…

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What is the most energy efficient form of transport?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 12 April 2017 at 1:40 pm

What is the most energy efficient form of transport?

Many of you will be planning a long journey this bank holiday weekend and it’s worth considering which method of transport will be the most environmentally friendly. As you are probably aware, some transport methods are much more energy intensive than others and some have higher greenhouse …

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Thermal Storage: How much could you save?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 10 April 2017 at 2:34 pm

Thermal Storage: How much could you save?

Storing the energy produced by solar panels is a hot topic. Developments in battery storage for solar photovoltaic systems are constantly improving, but when it comes to storing energy, thermal systems have a lot of advantages. Solar thermal systems work by pumping a mix of water and antifree…

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Can living in a Smart House help us save energy?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 3 April 2017 at 3:30 pm

Can living in a Smart House help us save energy?

With the spread of smart phones a variety of options now exist to remotely control how electricity is used throughout your home. It is now possible to create a “smart house”, where all appliances and devices are connected to a wireless network, so that they can be monitored and contro…

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How Green are Biofuels?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 22 March 2017 at 5:15 pm

How Green are Biofuels?

Our society is addicted to oil. The International Energy Agency estimates that the world will use 96 million barrels of oil (152 billion litres) a day throughout 2016 [1]. Our oil usage shows no sign of slowing down, so we desperately need an alternative for this non-renewable resource.   …

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What should you consider when going off the grid?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 13 March 2017 at 10:45 am

What should you consider when going off the grid?

Every wanted to cut your ties with the electricity grid and rely entirely on renewable power? In this article we’ll consider a few of the things to consider before setting up an off grid system. The first thing to consider is why you want to go off grid in the first place. Off grid syst…

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Solar PV-T systems - what are the pros and cons?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 10 March 2017 at 10:45 am

Solar PV-T systems - what are the pros and cons?

There are two main ways to collect energy from sunlight. Both have their advantages and both are increasingly being used by households and industry across the world. A hybrid or PV-T system combines the two approaches into the same panel. Solar PV Solar Photovoltaics (Solar PV) are possib…

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Can nanotechnology make solar PV 80% efficient?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 28 February 2017 at 10:05 am

Can nanotechnology make solar PV 80% efficient?

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems are a great way to produce renewable power by converting the energy in sunlight into electricity. However sunlight comes in a wide range of wavelengths, both visible and invisible. The current generation of solar panels are only able to harness a fraction of the po…

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Why zone your heating?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 24 February 2017 at 10:40 am

Why zone your heating?

Central heating systems are great for keeping the house warm during the cold winter months. Even in the spring and summer they can frequently come in handy. But it does cost a lot of energy to heat your home. As much as 60% of domestic energy consumption is used for space heating [1]. So how can …

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Will tomorrow's solar panels generate electricity from rain?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 24 January 2017 at 10:15 am

Will tomorrow's solar panels generate electricity from rain?

There are potential sources of energy all around us. Any natural system contains energy and in theory we can tap into that energy to generate electricity or work. Something that we don’t currently harness is rain. Unfortunately rainfall doesn’t generate a sufficient volume of water to…

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What does embodied energy mean?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 9 January 2017 at 1:30 pm

What does embodied energy mean?

We often worry about how much energy it takes to use an appliance or gadget. We can save a considerable amount of energy by being careful how we use our devices, but domestic energy use is just one part of a much larger problem. What about the energy it takes to make that gadget in the first plac…

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Does filling your fridge make it more efficient?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 6 January 2017 at 5:10 pm

Does filling your fridge make it more efficient?

It has been suggested that a full fridge is more energy efficient than an empty one. Many advice sites actually recommend filling up the excess space in your fridge with bottles of water in order to make it run more efficiently. Unfortunately this is a myth. Let’s examine why this is, and w…

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House inside a greenhouse adds solar gain in winter

Posted by Alex Barrett on 19 December 2016 at 11:15 am

House inside a greenhouse adds solar gain in winter

Many of us use greenhouses to keep our plants warm through the winter. It turns out we could use the same technology to keep warm ourselves. Marie Granmar and Charles Sacilotto live near Stockholm in Sweden. They have built a massive greenhouse that entirely surrounds their home. This keeps the h…

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