Visualizing Energy Generated from Wind

Renewable energy debates can suffer obfuscation through abstraction and disingenuous allegations like renewable is limited in it’s generation times. For example, wind power is often argued to be useless because we cannot control the wind. We can’t control it, but we can predict it.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of wind power in the UK a new digital design company created a demonstration of using visualization to impact how people think of wind power.

We wanted to make MWh something more tangible, so we’ve taken some data* on the average energy usage of domestic products to hopefully bring those big numbers to life.

We also wanted to show the increasing importance of wind in the energy mix over time and the graph allows us to do that in a simple way as well as giving us a means of navigating across time. You can change the date range on the graph to show longer term trends.

We are aware that numbers can be used to tell all sorts of stories, and that this is just one narrative among many possible ones. We choose to shine a positive light on the amount of energy being generated by wind. For a more rigorous interpretation of energy data, you should read David Mackay’s Sustainable Energy – Without Hot Air.

Check it out!
Thanks to Fraser!

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Green Roofs Assist in Flood Prevention

Yesterday Toronto got more rain in two hours than it normally does in a month which meant some serious flooding happened. This got me thinking of a program that Toronto (alleged crackhead) Mayor (busted for DUI) Rob (loves pollution) Ford (reads while driving) cancelled. The cancelled program promoted green roofs to help with flood control while lessening wear on existing infrastructure.

So the ineptitude of the current Toronto mayor got me thinking of how things could have been different with forethought of climate change. It’s worth noting that Rob Ford spent the flood idling in his SUV:

I gathered some example of other cities and areas that are using green roofs (and similar) to curb their flooding problems.

In Singapore they have combined recreation with flood prevention:

The barrage is part of a comprehensive system of flood control to decrease flooding in the low-lying areas in the busy quarters of the city. During the heavy rains, a series of nine crest gates activate to release excess storm water into the sea when the tide is low. When high tide comes in, giant pumps drain excess storm water at at a rate of one Olympic-size swimming pool per minute.

In New York they are looking into a variety of solutions, which we looked at before.

In Rotterdam, the city’s green roof initiative has proven to be effective in flood alleviation.

Although large areas of green roofs have many benefits for cities, such as reducing air pollution and helping to combat the heat island effect, Rotterdam’s priority was for water retention, since the city has a shortage of areas where water can be stored following heavy rainfall. Water management has always been a major concern in the Netherlands, since approximately 60% of the country lies below sea level. The analysis of the potential of green roofs in Rotterdam that preceded the introduction of the subsidies focused heavily on their capacity for water storage in order to reduce peak water discharge following a rain storm and help prevent flooding.

Over in the UK, the Green Roof Centre has quite a lot of information on how green roofs can help flood management:

Once established a green roof can significantly reduce both peak flow rates and total runoff volume of rainwater from the roof compared to a conventional roof. Green roofs store rainwater in the plants and substrate and release water back into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration.

The amount of water that is stored on a green roof, and then evapotranspired into the atmosphere, is dependent on the depth and type of growing medium, type of drainage layer, vegetation used and regional weather. The FLL Guidelines should be followed to ensure that actual runoff will be in accordance with calculated runoff.

A green roof can easily be designed to prevent runoff from all rainfall events of up to 5 mm and as part of a SuDS strategy, should reduce the volume of surface or underground attenuation required at the site boundary. In summer, green roofs can retain 70–80% of rainfall and in winter they retain 10–35% depending on their build-up (Green roofs benefits and cost implications, Livingroofs.org In association with ecologyconsultancy, March 2004). The difference is due to a combination of more winter rainfall and less evapotranspiration by the plants because growth is not as vigorous during the winter months.

Edit:
I like this tweet from Toronto’s chief planner Jennifer Keesmat as a good conclusion to this post:

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Tidal Power in UK is Promising

The UK is looking into ways to make their power grid more environmentally sustainable and being an island nation they have looked into using tides. Tidal flows are predictable and reliable which means that power companies can predict energy generated from tide-powered turbines, unlike with unpredictable wind. A new study reveals that the latent energy in tides can be used to supply a lot of the nations electric needs.

“From tidal barrages you can reasonably expect you can get 15% of UK electricity needs, that’s a very solid number,” co-author Dr Nicholas Yates from the National Oceanography Centre told BBC News.

“On top of that there is a 5% tidal stream figure, and with future technological development that is likely to be an underestimate in my view,” he said.

Read more at the BBC.

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World’s Largest Bra is up for Auction

Today is Wear it Pink Day in the UK, which is a fundraising initiative to fund breast cancer research, and to make this year unique the organizers are auctioning off the world’s largest bra. Anyone can bid on the bra which is available for bidding on eBay, the bra it’s currently at £2051.00 (approximately US $3,287.55). There are only two days left to bid so you should act fast!

It’s a fun way to get attention for raising money for cancer research. Just imagine all the fun things you can do with a massive bra!

Find out more at World Record Bra and bid on it here.

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Renewable Energy Boosts Profits for UK Farmers

Farmers in the UK have benefited from complimenting their growing of crops with renewable energy production. Some farmers have installed wind turbines and others solar, but the result is the same: farmers can keep farming and profit from energy production.

Renewable energy is promising to overtake rural tourism as a secondary income for the agricultural sector, with 200 megawatts of power – enough for 40,000 households – installed, according to joint research by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and NatWest bank.

They found that one in six farmers will have solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in place by the middle of this year and one in five will be producing clean electricity by this date. If this trend continues, as much as 15% of all UK electricity from renewable sources come from the land by the end of this decade, they believe.

Read more.

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