In the developed world, folks tend to go off-grid for ideological reasons. But in the developing world the main reason people need off-grid electricity is to power their mobile phones, says a new report out this week.
The study by computer firm Cisco found that the explosion in mobile phone use is a prime factor driving tens of millions people in the developing world to set up off grid power, says the study. (more…)
Anaerobic Digestion could transform the economics of livestock production and save energy at the same time, according to a packed workshop at the 2010 British Pig & Poultry Fair.
Across Europe there are more than 4,000 anaerobic digester plants, but only 25 of those are in the UK. The latest UK plant to be given planning permission last year, in Higher Fraddon, Cornwall, has yet to be built.
The UK Green Party manifesto for the upcoming general election explicitly attacks the idea of centralised power and promises to take from the rich and give to the poor.
Speaking before the launch of the manifesto, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas (pictured) promised a “signifcant increase in decentralised energy.” Arguing against the inefficiencies of the grid she said, “many centralised power station waste as much of two thirds of their energy in heat through their cooling towers and in distribution losses.” (more…)
Reading, learning, it’s what I enjoy doing. Before the internet, I would go to the three local libraries in my hometown, I would check out as many books as each on would allow, take them all home, read-read-read until I had gotten through all of them, then I return the books to their respective homes and start all over again. I tended to read non-fiction, I preferred them over fiction most of the time. With the exception of a few notable authors such as Stephen King, Jean M. Auel, and such…
With the advent of the internet and ebooks, I mostly read what I can get in digital format, including audiobooks. So these last couple of books I’ve read, I have held in my hand, turned pages, it was quite old-school for me. J I love it. Now, on to the book review. (more…)
I typically do reviews on eBooks, but a while back I was contacted by James Ballou to do a review of a hard copy, Makeshift Workshop Skills for Survival and Self-Reliance, published by Paladin Press. Of course I was thrilled to review his book; honestly I had seen it previously and had been interested in reading it, so I jumped at the chance. It turns out that my instincts were correct, this is a great and useful book! (more…)
It beats plugging movies Off-Grid actress Daryl Hannah has been arrested during an anti-coal protest in West Virginia.
The Splash star,who has off-grid homes in the Rockies and Malibu, was taken into custody after she and others blocked a road into a coal mine in Raleigh County, Tuesday.
Daryl, 48, was protesting against plans to use controversial method of mountaintop removal mining, which involves blasting the mountain summit off to expose coal seams. She was arrested on misdemeanour charges of obstruction and impeding traffic, and not for the first time.
Hidden costs of the GridUS utility companies are trying to cut the large amount of power wasted as it goes down the line to customers. They say they are acting because of looming limits on greenhouse-gas emissions in the US.
The greedy and slothful companies are in fact motivated by billions of economic stimulus dollars being handed out. The stimulus money could be used more effectively installing renewable power and microgrids in local communities.
Harvesting extra efficiency from the national grid could postpone the next power plant, but so could introducing widespread household-level renewables. Installing micro-grids everywhere would cut down on the losses made in transmission.
“It could be a bigger factor in reducing emissions than retraining customers on how to use their electricity,” said Thomas Jobes, the director of distribution reliability for American Electric Power Company Inc. (AEP), a Columbus, Ohio, electric utility. Well he would say that wouldn’t he? It depends how badly you retrain the customers. Mr Jobes did not explain why the mooted efficiencies have not already been implemented.
Transmission and distribution lines are imperfect conductors, with over 10% of power lost as heat. If these so-called line losses were reduced by a tenth on the distribution system alone, the power saved would equal all the wind generation installed in the U.S. in 2006, according to the industry’s Electric Power Research Institute, or EPRI. That’s 2,454 megawatts, or approximately the equivalent of three typical coal-fired power plants.
However the biggest losses are made in the generating stations where a vast amount of heat energy is wasted.
The lazy energy companies have known for decades that they are losing (our) money this way, but in their near-monopoly position there was no incentive to do anything about it. Now they are siezing on President Obama’s stimulus money to do the things they ought to be paying for out of their profits.
AEP has demonstration projects under way that use sensors placed on distribution lines to help the utility manage the power system more effectively. Line losses grow as voltage on a line increases, but utilities can cut grid inefficiency by balancing voltage across the system so one line doesn’t carry a much larger electrical load than a nearby line does.
AEP told Dow Jones news service it plans to seek federal funding for the demonstration projects under the economic-stimulus legislation passed in February. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act set aside $11 billion for the creation of a smart grid, which utilizes digital communications to increase efficiency. Of the $11 billion, $615 million has been set aside for demonstration projects like AEP’s.
“Smart-grid technology can help regulate the voltage of the distribution system,” said Omar Siddiqui, who spent a decade working for power companies before joining the EPRI, based in Palo Alto, Calif.
Utilities are also exploring ways to make the power lines themselves more conductive. In 2007, New York’s Consolidated Edison Inc. (ED) signed an agreement with American Superconductor Corp. (AMSC) to test a line using wires cooled by liquid nitrogen, which eliminates the electric resistance on the line and allows it to carry up to 10 times more power than standard copper cables.
Smart Grid or Dumb Grid?
Smart-grid and superconductor technologies are at an early developmental phase, with further research required (again, to be funded by our stimulus money). Most utilities are sticking to traditional methods of reducing grid inefficiencies, such as replacing older equipment, including the power lines themselves, with newer models.
“Most of what we can do right now is with the equipment,” said George Bartlett, the director of transmission operation for Entergy Corp. (ETR). “Conceivably, when the smart grid is implemented, you could better balance power flows over the lines to reduce losses.”
Still, efforts to lower line losses with smart-grid technology are gathering steam. Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. (PEG) and FirstEnergy Corp. (FE) are among the utilities participating in EPRI’s “green circuits” initiative, an 18-month research-and-development project launched last year that aims to improve distribution-system efficiency. The project involves field tests of smart-grid technology.
Standard electric-grid equipment is designed to ensure that the system stays within required voltage levels at times of peak demand, such as on hot summer days when many customers run their air conditioners. But the grid is less efficient during off-peak periods.
Although projects like EPRI’s and AEP’s haven’t yet been deployed on a commercial scale, they could help utilities maintain the optimal voltage levels across the grid at different times of the year, decreasing line losses and allowing utilities to defer the construction of power plants that run on fossil fuels, said Paul Dorvel, a project manager with R.W. Beck, a Seattle-based technical consulting firm that has a dependency relationship on the Utility companies.
“Depending on what generation source would be selected, the reduction in losses and improvement in efficiency could defer that amount of CO2 emissions from a [natural gas] or coal facility,” Dorvel said.
He can, but will he?“The world has changed; America must change with it,” says the new President. But will the new administration change its existing environmental pledges, or stick to their promised policies?
The stated policy is as follows.
? Help create 5 million new jobs by investing $150 billion over 10 years in clean energy initiatives
? Increase the nation’s use of electricity from renewable sources to 10 percent of our total use by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025
? Institute a national cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. (more…)
Ed Miliband, climate change ministerThe UK government has backed down in the face of utility company opposition and introduced an Energy Bill which stops short of guaranteeing householders can sell their renewable energy back to the Grid.
Although the British administration tabled an amendment to its own bill that would allow people to generate enough power to serve a community of more than 1,000 people, it does not yet require the energy companies to take a feed from their customers. (more…)
Have you decided to go off the grid and looking to make the move?
We can help you find the ideal off-grid community and want to film you as you make the transition.
If you’re interested, submit a short video (3 minutes) .here: http://www.off-grid.net/videos/ - in the video give answers to the questions below:
Can you tell us about yourself - work, home etc?
Where you live now – city and country – and where you want to live? Why you want to make this move now?
What will be hardest to leave behind?
What you most look forward to leaving behind?
Who will be making the move – just you/ friends/ family etc?
What could you offer your off the grid community i.e. special skills/ resources?
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Do you rely on your own healing powers when you are ill? Or is there an unqualified nurse in your local community?
We want to hear from people who do their own doctoring - using their own herbs and remedies, setting their own broken bones, dealing with their own bodies.
Why do you do it? How do you do it? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Off-Grid.net is investigating the Utility companies --power, water and waste.
Do the water companies conceal their knowledge of the pollution of the water supply? Do the power companies conceal the wasted energy inside the system, and their excessive profits?
We need help to find the smoking guns: memos, SEC filings,confidential legal advice internal emails..... send to email@example.com. Anonymity guaranteed
Can you handle a video camera? Or a cellphone camera that can upload to our youtube channel?
We are looking for people who currently live off-grid anywhere in the world, and for people who want to live off-grid and are about to do so. This might be in a community or an individual situation
Please send us your videos and photos - you can upload videos on off-grid.net/videos - or feel free to write about yourself for the web site. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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