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green technology & eco friendly homes

Airships - the future of eco friendly air travel?

Airships have one major advantage over conventional passenger airliners and that is that the environmental cost could be reduced almost to zero.
Even when burning fossil fuels, the total climate-changing impact of an airship, according to researchers at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, is 80 - 90per cent smaller than that of ordinary aircraft. The airship is also the only form of transport that can easily store hydrogen fuel, the most likely replacement for fossil fuels.
Most new airship designs make use of aerodynamic lift as well as buoyancy and they are shaped like planes complete with small wings or tails, albeit less aerodynamic. They are heavier and more stable than the old airships and can land without help on the ground. They can land on and take off from almost any flat surface, including water.
Airships have some considerable disadvantages or challenges which innovation in the technology must overcome:
• The maximum speed of an airship is roughly 150 kph. At an average speed of 130kph, the journey from London to New York would take 43 hours. A large commercial airliner cruises at about 900 kilometres per hour completing the journey in around 8 hours.
• Airships are more sensitive to wind than aeroplanes, which means that flights are more likely to be delayed.
• Safety. The history of airships is littered with high profile and fatal disasters.
• Airships become lighter, and therefore harder to control as fuel is consumed. One potential solution is to inflate a hydrogen bladder inside the helium balloon. In this case the craft would become heavier as the journey progressed . Thus by burning both gaseous and liquid hydrogen the weight of the craft could be kept constant.

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From 2016 onwards, UK house builders will be forced by government legislation to build only zero-carbon eco friendly houses. Pictured above is Barratt Developments' zero-carbon house. According to Barratt (one of the UK's biggest house builders) it is the UK's first zero-carbon house built by a volume house builder. The new home achieves code level 6, which is the top grade, awarded to competely zero-carbon homes.

Features :
1. Rooftop planting with rainwater harvesting system collects water for use in flushing toilets
2. Automatic shutters slide across the windows to prevent the house getting too hot in the summer
3. Heat Exchanger recycles heat from stale air
4. Interactive controls
5. Automatic controls
6. Solar panels. Photovoltaic cells power air-source heat pump, while solar thermal panels generate hot water
7. Controlled Ventilation
8. Super Insulation
9. Insulated Floors
10. Triple Glazing

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BetterPlace Electric Car Network
San Francisco, USA, a state with a reputation for being more progressive in green terms than many other American states, is looking to encourage the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. A company called Better Place has been given official permission to begin building a network of 250,000 charging ports, 200 battery-exchange stations and a control center to coordinate the system, to be completed by 2012.
The project is expected to cost $1 billion and will be funded with an incentive plan directed at companies who install the chargers. Building permits will also be expedited to help move things along. Better Place will also be working with Renault-Nissan to distribute electric vehicles in a similar way to telecoms companies distributing mobile phones. Customers will subscribe to drive a certain number of miles and get an electric vehicle at a discounted price. Better Place will own the battery.
Better Place already has similar systems working in countries such as Denmark and Israel amongst others. read more

Biochar
Biochar is a charcoal-like material created when biomass is heated in the absence of air or with very small, controlled amounts of oxygen. It can be used to capture and store carbon. This is because charcoal is a stable solid and rich in carbon content, and thus, can be used to lock carbon in the soil. Biochar also acts as a soil improver.
A sewage plant in Germany heats sewage to create biochar. The process is so successful that the plant is carbon negative - actually locking away carbon that would otherwise be in circulation. read more

Biorock Eco Friendly Sewage Treatment Plants
Biorock Eco Friendly Sewage Recycling Treatment Plants are the first treatment unit in the world not to cut out electricity or any moving parts.
BIOROCK Septic Tanks range in size and capacity from a single house to multiple house developments, holiday chalets, restaurants, hotels, schools, caravan sites, shopping malls.
There are 3 smaller size septic tanks servicing 5, 10 and 15 person respectively. If installed in pararell they can cater for 30, 45 and 60 person equivalant.
The larger BIOROCK septic tanks have a maximum capacity of 300 person. These tanks can also be used in paralell accommodating very large capacities. The units have a very low lifetime cost. Biorock tanks are supplied complete for simple installation in an excavation with prepared base slab.
Biorock sewage tanks have a low carbon footprint.
Septic Tank Conversion units are available.
Biorock sewage tanks have a superb effluent quality.
Biorock sewage tanks have a minimum visual impact.
Biorock sewage tanks require no wet concrete.
Biorock sewage tanks have a solar power option.
Biorock sewage tanks are EN 12566-3:2005 certified.
Biorock sewage tanks are prEN 12566-7:2006 tested.
Click here to learn more about Biorock. read more

Carbon Capture Power Stations
Despite attempts to develop alternatives technologies to fossil fuels, coal is expected to remain one of the world's major sources of energy for the next 50 years. One potential way to mitigate some of the harm caused by burning fossil fuels such as coal in power stations would be to fit carbon dioxide capturing technology.
Carbon capturing systems extract carbon dioxide from power station fumes and pump the captured gas into deep underground cavities or into the ocean.
The government believes carbon dioxide capturing technology could remove 90 per cent of the CO2 released by Britain's fossil fuel power stations, and alone achieve almost one third of the country's emission-cut targets. Carbon capture technology is, however, still unproven at industrial scale. read more

Left: Gary Nevilles Eco Friendly Home

Manchester United football star Gary Neville has revealed plans to build an underground "eco-bunker" (above) .The zero carbon development at the star's home in Lancashire is expected to cost around £8m, and is designed to merge seamlessly with the surrounding moorland.

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One problem with the the solar cell industry is that the production of photovoltaic solar panels is reliant on relatively expensive materials such as copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) and cadmium telluride. To compound the problem, as these natural resources become depleted their cost will only rise. Electricity from even the most commercially viable solar cells is already five times the price of that from coal plants making it less economically sound and less likely to be adopted on a large scale.
The solar power industry is, therefore, turning to cheaper alternatives such as pyrite and copper oxide. For example engineers at Berkeley have created solar cells using cheap copper oxide and zinc oxide. These prototype cells are inefficient compared to their more expensive counterparts, but their low cost means they only need to produce a third as much power to become commercially viable.
Other innovations in solar technology such as nano coatings increasing the efficiency of solar panels are also already increasing the economic efficiency of solar technology.

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Chevrolet Volt Free Charging
Before the widescale adoption of electric cars, owners will require convenient access to power supplies. This imperative has led to a US government initiative that will see 4,400 Chevrolet Volt owners offered free charging stations, with installation included. It is estimated that this could provide savings of $2,000.
The Chevrolet Volt can be plugged into a standard US 120-volt electrical outlet, however this program makes owners eligible for 240-volt charge stations and home installation. The Department of Energy are funding the initiative, which it is hoped will promote the use of clean energy vehicles, and will enable the government monitor usage patterns to help plan the future grid of charge stations.
Availability will depend on an application process and eligibility requirements. read more

A group of the UK's most promising new clean technology companies, have formed a trade mission, christened Clean & Cool 2010. Their aim is to bring their products and services to the attention of a global audience, starting with the USA.
Leading companies include EVO Electric's hybrid trains, Aquamarine's "Oyster" wave power generator, and Passiv Energy's home energy management system. All the participants are listed on the Clean & Cool website.
The trade mission to the US is being seen as an opportunity for the companies to showcase their world-leading green innovations, and exchange knowledge, expertise and contacts with American counterparts.

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Combined heat and power units
The basic principle behind combined heat and power units, is that energy generation generally creates heat, and in large scale power stations this heat is usually wasted. For example, most large power stations in the UK are fitted with huge cooling towers, to allow the excess heat to escape into the air. But what if this waste heat could be utilised? It cannot be transported to households easily, so instead, combined heat and power units generate the electricity within the household itself, and all excess heat that is a by product is used to for heating and hot water etc.
There are many types of fuels and sources of heat that may be considered for micro-combined heat and power units. The properties of these sources vary in terms of cost, heat cost, environmental effects, convenience, ease of transportation and storage, system maintenance, and system life.
Some of the heat sources and fuels being considered for use with micro-combined heat and power units include: biomass, woodgas, solar thermal, and natural gas, as well as multi-fuel systems. The energy sources with the lowest emissions of particulates and net-carbon dioxide, include solar power, biomass (with two-stage gasification), and natural gas. read more

Compostable Stretch Fabric
The above eco-friendly stretchy fabric is made by the Swiss company Rohner Textil AG. It contains wool and ramie and unlike most stretch fabrics, which are made of synthetic materials like lycra, it can be fully composted. read more

Concentrated Solar Power Plants
The newly opened Archimede solar plant in Sicily is able to generate electricity after the sun goes down, via innovative use of salt to store up heat for later use.
The solar plant generates electricity at night by using what is known as Concentrated Solar Power, absorbing the sun's heat and later using it to boil water and drive electricity-generating turbines. Concentrated Solar Power plants differ from photovoltaic plants, which generate power directly from sunlight.
It is more common for Concentrated Solar Power plants use a synthetic oil to store heat, but Archimede uses molten salt, which possesses a heat capacity able to drive its temperature up over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Even when the sun starts goes down, the salt is still hot enough to continue to boil water throughout the night. read more

Distributed Solar Power
Many larger solar farms projects throughout the world have been slowed by the realities of planning and politics. So instead of waiting around for the power output from these plants to become available, utilities are increasingly turning to smaller, more flexible 'distributed' solar farms that can be quickly and easily constructed close to power lines or on rooftops.
For example, in California, USA, over the period of a few weeks, around 1,300 megawatts of distributed solar deals and initiatives have been announced or approved. At peak output that represents the equivalent of a big nuclear power plant.
Regulators approved utility Southern California Edison's program to install solar panels on commercial rooftops cabable of generating 500 megawatts, and Pacific Gas and Electric's plan for a 500-megawatt project to install ground-mounted photovoltaic arrays near electrical substations and urban areas. read more

Drax - a Biomass Power Station
A project has been launched at Drax, Britain's largest power station, that aims to replace 10 per cent of the coal burned there with biomass. Materials such as wood chips, sunflower husks or grasses are to be mixed with coal and burned to generate electricity. It is calculated that this 'co-firing' technology could reduce the power station's annual carbon dioxide emissions by several million tonnes.
Drax generates some 7 per cent of Britain's electricity and is one of the country's biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. read more

Eco Friendly Plastic
Many products are made using petroleum-based chemicals, with up to a quarter of the oil consumed in some regions of the United States going into petrochemical production. However, a number of new eco businesses are working to develop green chemicals that take the petro out of petrochemicals and eliminate the environmental damage from manufacturing industrial chemicals.
Genomatica, based in San Diego, USA, have developed a eco friendly version of a chemical compound called 1,4?butanediol, or BDO (used in the production of wheels, training shoes, golf balls, and other products).
Genomatica scientists have bioengineered a microorganism that eats water and sugar and spits out BDO, eliminating hydrocarbons, in favour of less damaging carbohydrates. Genomatica has also bioengineered a benign version of an industrial solvent called methyl ethyl ketone, or MEK. read more

3D Printers are machines that can make any 3D objects, much like we use inkjet printers today for two-dimensional paper objects. Read Printers 3D for more.

This technology will change manufacturing worldwide. Currently the manufacture of products is costly time and in terms of the carbon released by the process: a design team creates an object, which is then manufactured in a far-away factory and physically shipped from the factory to a distribution center, where they await customer orders. Upon order receipt, the item is shipped typically to a retail location, where it sits again until a buyer travels to the store and finally picks it up off the shelf and transports it home, where it can be used.

With the introduction of 3D printers this could change significantly in the future: A design team creates an object, but merely stores the 3D design in an online repository. The client purchases access to the design and loads it into an in-home 3D printer. The printer reproduces the object to the specifications in the 3D design and the object can be used.

No more inventory, no more shipping, no more big boxes and packaging. This change would almost completely negate carbon emissions due to the shipping of all these 3D printed objects.

Not only will objects be possible to produce on such devices, but food as well. Many food items are simply physical arrangements of ingredients, and this will be quite possible to prepare using standard or modified 3D printing devices. Just as highly complex objects can be printed, so can normally impossible food items to produce with traditional approaches.

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Eco Friendly Homes showcase at Grand Designs Live London
These are a selection of the eco-friendly homes on show at the Grand Designs Live London, which ran from May 3-11.
1. Eco Pod
Eco Pod build environmentally friendly pods which achieve a zero carbon rating with minimal impact on the environment. The pods utilise green technology such as wind power, photovoltaic cells, solar water heating, efficient insulation and hot-air recovery, cutting energy requirements and heating costs by up to 90 per cent, producing virtually zero CO2 emissions. And it looks fun!
2. The Grand Village
The grand village consisted of four houses situated just outside ExCeL in London.
3. No 1 Lower Carbon Drive
No.1 Lower Carbon Drive is a life-size building, modelled after a typical, pre-war London terrace house. The exhibit demonstrates ways in which we can tackle climate change. It is divided into six different zones focused on energy, ventilation, appliances, water, recycling and insulation. It is part of the green homes service launched by the London Development Agency.
4. The Log House
The Log House Company Ltd, built this traditional eco friendly home from sustainable Douglas fir trees, from managed woodland in Suffolk. Manufactured by the first company in the UK to comply with new building regulations for residential buildings, the log house is both pretty to look at and environmentally friendly.
5. The Clear Glass House
Eco Friendly company, Clear Glass Structures has developed a sustainable, easy-to-construct glass pod. The double-glazed panels can be assembled without the need for planning permission, making it a suitable modern garden office or summerhouse. The glass house comes in three sizes with a self-levelling base and living roof. read more

Ecosystem Solar Electric Corp Mojave desert solar park
US company Ecosystem Solar Electric Corp have announced that it plans to build a solar park in the Mojave desert capable of generating ten gigawatts of electricity. This would be enough to power 10 million US homes.
The company expects to move quickly and has estimated that the plant could be operational within six years. read more

The UK's most eco friendly homes to date have been completed at Redhill, Surrey. Built by the Raven Housing Trust, the local housing association, they are the first inhabited flats to achieve "level 5" on the Code for Sustainable Homes scorecard. That's just one level short of being zero carbon (code level 6).
Features:
• The walls of the flats are highly insulated and then covered with natural brick and clay tiles.
• The windows are triple-glazed.
• The homes are heated by under-floor heating and there are no radiators.
• A "heat-recovery ventilation system" utilises any heat generated within the home, for instance by electrical equipment, a boiling kettle or human activity, and returns it back into the flats along with fresh air.
• There are solar panels on the roof
• A biomass boiler runs off wood pellets (plugged into the National Grid, just in case).
• Rainwater harvesting, low-flush toilets.
• Low-flow taps and showers all encourage water consumption (about half the average).
• Small baths are designed to conserve water.
The cost of building the two level five Raven flats is just over £300,000, but the housing association received support from the local council and other organisations. The flats were built by the construction firm Osborne.

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The Scottish Government are set to relax planning laws to encourage eco friendly home improvements, such as the addition of solar panels, wind turbines and other renewable devices, as part of their plans to reduce emmissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
At present, many improvements require planning permission which can prove to be a lengthy and costly process. But under the new scheme planning permission will be granted automatically. There are some provisos. For example, to qualify for exemption solar panels must cover no more than 60 per cent of total roof area, ground and water source heat pumps must be hidden and wind turbines must be at least 100m away from the nearest property.

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Are you looking to invest your money in eco friendly projects and make a return? Ethical bank Triodos is offering people the chance to become shareholders in Triodos Renewables. Triodos Renewables is a public limited company launched thirteen years ago (under the name 'the Wind Fund').
The company plans to use the money raised to double the amount of green electricity it produces in the next two to three years. It is issuing up to 5.5m new shares at £1.65 per share.
The minimum investment is £825 (500 shares) and its estimated that an investment of £2,970 will produce renewable energy output equivalent to the average person's annual carbon footprint.

Triodos Renewables invests in:
• Small and medium-sized wind farms
• Hydroelectric schemes
• Emerging renewable energy technology companies in the UK.

Triodos Renewables owns or has a stake in the following:
• Two wind farms (Caton Moor in Lancashire and Haverigg II in Cumbria)
• Two single turbines (Gulliver in Lowestoft, Suffolk and Sigurd in the Orkney Islands)
• Beochlich hydroelectric project in Argyll, Scotland
• Marine Current Turbines (a tidal energy company whose first commercial turbine will begin operating off the coast of Northern Ireland later this year
• Connective Energy (developing ways to capture and re-use waste heat from industry)


Call 0845 478 6361 for a share issue prospectus.

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Airplane travel is nature's way of making you look like your passport photo.
Al Gore


One minute some impressive figure like Al Gore would be telling me to switch lights off; the next, I would see the Spice Girls appearing at Live Earth, and think "Well, maybe the human race doesn't deserve anywhere to live."
Mark Watson


How many climate sceptics does it take to change a lightbulb? A: None. It's too early to say if the light bulb needs changing.

Robert Butler, environmental blogger
Q

President Bush says he's really going to buckle down now and fight global warming. As a matter of fact, he announced today he's sending 20,000 troops to the sun.

David Letterman


They say if the warming trend continues, by 2015 Hillary Clinton might actually thaw out.

Jay Leno


President Bush has a plan [to fight global warming]. We can lower the temperature dramatically just by switching from Fahrenheit to Celsius.
Jimmy Kimmel




President Bush is starting to get concerned about global warning, which is why he's trying to rekindle the COLD war.

Jay Leno


A parish priest is to offer ‘eco-sinners’ the chance to confess in what is thought to be the first ‘green’ confessional booth.  Obviously you can’t confess all your sins in one go but must separate bottle, paper and plastic confessions. 
mygreenweek.com

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Left: The 7.83 Hz house created by design house Youmeheshe

There are now more than 50 proposals in the pipeline for Eco Towns. These are large scale developments including homes, business premises and schools employing the latest innovation in green technology to be low or zero carbon emitting. It is expected that by 2016 there will be at least five of these eco towns in existence.
Barratt plans to build 200 of its zero-carbon homes on the site of Hanham Hall Hospital near Bristol. A third of these will be affordable by lower income buyers. All will be code level 6 - the top grade awarded to zero-carbon homes. They should be completed in 2011.

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Electric Car Motorway
Interstate 5, crossing Washington state from Oregon to Canada is set to become the first US electric car motorway. This means 10 Level-3 electric charging stations will be installed every 80 miles along the route. Each station can charge at 400 volts and 30 amps, enough to fill up an electric vehicle to eighty percent in half an hour.
The project is funded by a $1.32 million federal grant. read more

Audi A1 project Quattro concept electric Car

Audi have joined the race to develop a viable electric car, confirming that they plan to launch a range of electric cars within the next five to ten years.
They recently unveiled their A1 project Quattro concept electric car (pictured above).
The Audi A1 follows hot on the heels of the Audi R-Zéro - a battery-powered super car.

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First Mass Produced Plug in Hybrid Car
The F3DM, the world's first mass produced plug-in hybrid car, has gone on general sale in China.
The F3 Dual Mode made by BYD Auto has a $22,000 price tag, aimed initially at the Chinese government agencies and other corporate entities. The hybrid plugs into any normal plug socket, and has a range of 60 miles on a full charge. It fully charges in 7 hours. It can be half charged in 10 minutes at special stations. As a hybrid, it also has a 1.0 litre petrol engine that can be used to recharge the batteries when a power outlet is not available.
Many other car makers have announced plans to sell a plug-in hybrid, none have actually brought one to market, with the nearest release date not until 2010. read more

Feed in Tariffs
Feed-in tariff systems set a guaranteed above market price for renewable electricity fed into the national grid. It is argued that feed-in tariffs would improve Britain's take up of renewable energy, make big carbon savings and create thousands of new jobs. Germany, for example, since introducing such tariffs, has massively increased the new green technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines, ground-source heat pumps, both at the domestic and industrial levels, creating new industries with the ascociated new jobs and economic expansion. Feed-in tariffs have been introduced in around 50 countries.
Britain has been slow to adopt new green technologies and lags behind almost every EU country in its use of renewables, producing just 2 per cent of its energy in this way.
The campaign to bring feed-in tariffs into legislation in the UK has been backed by engineers, trade unions, farmers and house builders, as well as traditional advocates of green innovation like Friends of the Earth, the Renewable Energy Association and pop stars including Lilly Allen. read more

Floating Wind Turbines
A number of companies including British based Blue H are competing to develop the world's first floating wind turbines. These turbines benefit from more powerful winds out at sea yet avoid many of the issues that afflict existing wind farms.
Floating wind farms are potentially more economical than fixed wind turbines as they avoid the cost of constructing fixed foundations in the seabed. They could also circumvent problems with planning, as well as having less impact on shipping, military radar and coastal seabird populations.
Other proposed non-permanent maritime wind turbine solutions currently being developed including Hywind, where conventional turbines fixed to a concrete buoy, anchored to the sea bed with three cables, and the Sway turbine - an elongated floating mast, the bulk of which sits below the water, connected to the seabed by a metal tube. read more

Free insulation for more Scots homes
The Scottish Government is doubling its efforts to provide free or discounted insulation for a further 900,000 homes. This £15 million scheme will provide funding for loft and cavity wall insulation in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and cut soaring fuel bills. These measures will cut average energy bills by £61 a year.

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Generate Hydrogen at Home

One of the biggest factors preventing the widescale adoption of hydrogen as a fuel is the lack of infrastructure. For instance, hydrogen is not available at most gas stations. The Hydrofill home hydrogen power station kit represents one small step to rectify this, enabling anyone to produce hydrogen fuel at home. The kit extracts hydrogen from water that can be used in hydrogen fuel cells.
It uses electricity from solar panels (or from the mains), and produces hydrogen that can then be stored in refillable cartridges. The cells can generate approximatly 2.5 watts of power.
The Hydrofillkit is made by Singapore-based Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies, who are also releasing a range of products which can use the cartridges to power up smartphones, lights and other devices.
From Home Hydrogen Power Station

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The Micro Generation Certification website features an excellent installer search that helps you to find approved installers of wind turbines, heat pumps, biomass, PV solar panels, solar water panels and micro CHP systems.

Click here for the installer search

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Green Computers

Dell have announced that they are following Asus in bringing out a wooden computer! Actually, only the case is made from wood - sustainable Bamboo in fact. These products will join a whole range of computing products made from bamboo.
The new Dell computers are expected to cost between £250 and £350

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Green Driving
Green driving is to be included in the driving test from September as part of the government's campaign to cut carbon emissions. Candidates will be tested on how eco friendly their driving is - including not accelerating or braking sharply, and knowledge of other tips such as checking tyre pressures and avoiding unnecessary baggage in the back. read more

Green Eco Friendly China
China has announced ambitious plans to transform its energy generation infrastructure, greatly increasing the use of wind and solar power. By 2020 China aims to produce 20 percent of it energy requirements from renewable sources, matching the targets set by Europe.
The 2020 target for wind energy generation is 30 gigawatts and solar power 3GW (a 75-fold increase). The countries solar heating systems are to be expanded (China is already a world leader with 130m square metres of solar heating arrays). There is a plan to install 100m energy-efficient light bulbs by the end of 2009.
China hopes to achieve these targets by directly investing $30bn of its $590bn economic stimulus package in environmental projects and schemes that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition it is expected that investment in carbon-efficient transport and electricity transmission systems, will have an even greater impact.
So confident are authorities that these ambitious targets will be met, some leading government figures are considering targets more than three times higher. read more

Green Gadget Remote Control

Remote control manufacturer, OneForAll, have created the ‘Energy Saver’ remote control which promises to help you reduce your carbon footprint and at the same time reduce your energy bills. The remote comes with a special power plug which you attach to all the appliances you’d like to turn off at night or when not in use.
The remote control is pre-programmed to control the plug, meaning you can turn everything off or back on again at the press of a button providing an energy saving of around 90 per cent. This could represent 44kg of carbon dioxide or 74.34 kilowatts per year.
The remote itself can also control up to four devices and is future proof in that it can be wirelessly upgraded with any new devices over the Internet.
The devices retail at £39.99 from major stockists like Dixons and John Lewis.

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10 Eco Friendly Investment Tips

1. Decide what you mean by Eco Friendly
Are you opposed to nuclear energy, or do you see it as a practical solution to global warming? How do you feel about biofuels with all the ethical and environmental questions they raise? Do you wish to discriminate on grounds other than environmental - many ecofriendly funds are also ethical funds and screen out businesses involved in alcohol, tobacco, pornography and animal testing. Are these causes that you feel strongly about?

2. Do your research
A number of fund managers have strong teams looking at Eco Friendly investing including Aegon, F&C, Jupiter, Legal & General, Norwich Union and Standard Life.
Some of these funds have a list of companies that they will not invest in because they are polluters or their environmental track record is not good. Other Eco Friendly funds will actively invest in companies working in socially responsible areas such as pollution control and clean fuels. Blackrock New Energy investment trust and Triodos Renewable Energy fund are "pure-play" environmental funds.

3. Find an ethical IFA
A good adviser should draw up your personal eco profile before recommending any funds.

4. Consider your attitude to risk
Renewable energy start-ups can be high-risk. If you're a low-risk investor you might want to avoid stocks and shares altogether. To reduce risk, don't put all your money into one fund or sector. Instead spread it between different funds, sectors and geographical areas around the world.

5. Use your tax breaks
Most eco friendly investment funds can be held inside your annual £7,200 Isa wrapper, which means you escape most income tax and all capital gains tax on the money you make. Ecology building society, Triodos offer eco-friendly cash Isas.
Ecology's Earthwise cash Isa currently pays 5.1 per cent, provided you make no more than one withdrawal a year - otherwise the rate is 4.1 per cent. The Triodos cash Isa pays 4.4 per cent and Co-operative Bank's cash Isa pays 4.75 per cent.

6. Choose an eco-friendly pension
Plenty of pension companies offer ethical funds, but do some research to see if their investments are green. Many have holdings in large mining corporations, oil giants like BP, Shell, Total and other environmentally questionable companies.

7. Choose your manager carefully
Does your fund managers approach look rigorous and does the fund have a specialist team. A green fund manager should be looking for new investment opportunities in areas such as organic food, climate change, and waste and water.

8. Manage your expectations
Environmentally friendly funds are at a disadvantage when competing against those funds that are free to invest in any company, and are likely to see smaller returns.

9. Monitor performance
Strike a balance between principles and profit. Don't just examine where the fund invests - check how it has performed (but remember, past performance is no guarantee of future returns).

10. Our Tip
The Aegon Ethical Equity fund has very strict investment criteria but has also performed strongly.

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Green Kitchen
Philips have unveiled their prototype concept for an ecologically friendly Green Cuisine kitchen. The company's future kitchen is focused around a single table that can cook things anywhere on its surface using sensors to heat directly underneath a pot or pan. The system also features a water temperature selector, an under-the-table composter for left-overs and a tabletop herb garden. read more

Green Party Milestone
The Green Party reached a milestone in its development in the May 2008 UK Local Elections when they became the second largest party in Norwich.
The Greens become the main challenger to Labour on the city council, with thirteen councillors to Labour's 15.
The move continues a rise in the fortunes of the Greens which last year saw the party increase its share of council seats by 20 per cent. read more

Green Speed Limits
Slow down to save the planet! Spain has launched an ambitious plan to reduce the energy they use and save millions of euros on oil imports by cutting the speed limit to 50 mph. read more

For a long time green technology been associated with austerity and a dour sense of kill-joy-ism! A new wave of funky green innovation is set to change all that and perhaps no green innovation is as sexy as the eco-friendly sports car. The eco-friendly car has been with us for some time in the shape of the Toyota Prius etc, but they had a slightly geeky reputation, despite celebrity endorsement. Now a number of car manufacturers are beginning to develop more glamorous sports cars and roadsters with green credentials.

The Tesla P1 Roadster
Manufactured in San Carlos, California, USA, the Tesla is an electric car. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds, reaching speeds of around 125mph. An average charge takes 3.5 hours and that should give enough power to travel 220 miles.
The Tesla is taken for a spin by the Top Gear Team in the following video:


The Morgan Lifecar
Manufactured and designed in the UK by a consortium of UK companies and universities, the Morgan is a hydrogen powered car. Its only emission is some water vapour. It is capable of speeds of up to 90 mph, and can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 7 seconds. A full tank of hydrogen will take you 250 miles. The Morgan Lifecar is constructed using an imaginative combination of material including aluminium and wood!

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HiPER Laser Fusion Project
The $1.7-billion HiPER facility (high power laser energy research) has begun operating and the hope is that research on the installation will eventually lead to the production of limitless clean energy. Too good to be true?
In theory 2lb of fusion fuel could be capable of producing the same amount of energy as 10,000 tonnes of fossil fuel. read more

If a substantial number of UK homes were fitted with micro energy generating equipment such as solar panels and wind turbines it could generate as much electricity as five nuclear power stations. So concluded a report commissioned by the governments' Department for Business, Energy and Regulatory Reform (DBERR)
This could be achieved through a combination of loans, grants and incentives and could lead to nearly 10m microgeneration systems being installed by 2020, and could save 30m tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent of nearly 5 per cent of all UK electricity.
Here is a selection of Home Energy Generation Technologies:

• Solar thermal
Solar thermal panels are the most popular green technology in Britain. They use sunlight to directly heat water flowing through a network of tubes across the surface of the panels. Fitted to roofs they can provide cheap, carbon neutral hot water.

• Combined heat and power units
The basic principle behind combined heat and power units, is that by generating your power requirements 'on-site' you are able to utilise waste heat from the energy generation process, for heating and hot water etc. See Combined heat and power units for more information. Combined heat and power units can be very eco friendly if the technology used to create the electricity produces very little carbon such as a biomass boiler or stove (see below).

• Biomass boilers and stoves
Biomass boilers and stoves burn wood chips and pellets to provide heat and power.

• Heat pumps
Heat pumps utilise the difference between underground temperatures and those in buildings to act like a fridge in reverse. Heat from underground is transferred into the home. Heat pumps are common in Scandinavia and the technology is growing fast in the UK.

• Micro-hydro
The ancient technology of the water wheel is coming back into common usage with energy from running water converted to electricity. These units are being fitted to old mill races, and are being installed in rivers. Depending on flow, they can provide enough electricity for hundreds of houses.

• Solar photovoltaic panels and film
Solar photovoltaic panels and film convert sunlight directly into electricity. The technology is developing rapidly as billions of dollars are invested in it in the US. It is hoped that the price of solar panels will fall as China takes over production lines and economies of scale in production become possible.

• Micro-wind
Small scale wind turbines can generate enough electricity for companies and householders to become self-sufficient. An attractive proposition as electricity prices rise.

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Honda Low Emission Mobility Devices
The theme of the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show was low-emission concept cars. Honda revealed a range of mobility devices, including small cars and scooters. read more

Indian Solar Farm in Gujarat
The Business Standard, an Indian broadsheet, has announced plans by the Clinton Foundation to fund what would be the world's largest solar farm in Gujarat.
The farm could generate five gigawatts of electricity. This figure compares favorably with the 45 megawatts to be generated by the solar farm in Moura in Portugal to be completed later this year in Moura in Portugal - some 1000 times less, yet still enough to power 30,000 European homes. read more

Japanese Space Solar Power
Conventional solar panels have two main problems: 1) Solar energy bounces off the atmosphere, especially on cloudy days, and 2) they provide zero power at night.
Thats why Japanese engineers have proposed to put solar collectors in geostationary orbit, some 22,300 miles/35,700 km in space, where they'll get direct sunlight 24 hours a day, and beam the energy back to earth using microwaves. They expect to be able to achieve this within the next 30 years. read more

Kit-of-Parts Eco Friendly House Construction
Project Frog are a San Francisco construction company who utilise an easy to assemble kit-of-parts to construct eco friendly homes and buildings. Thanks to the high-tech fabrication process of the kit of components, Frog buildings are easy to install and are delivered on time and on budget.
What's more, this approach leads to greener buildings. Project Frog's pre-engineered kit has been thoughtfully designed with measurable environmental performance in mind. As a result Frog buildings meet the most stringent green certification criteria, including LEED. The buildings generate 1/6 the on-site waste of traditionally designed and constructed buildings and their suppliers recycle almost all excess materials back into their manufacturing process. They use environmentally responsible materials made from recycled, renewable, and re-used content. High quality products are integrated to reduce their carbon footprint and save resources like water and energy.
In fact, a life cycle assessment shows that for a 50-year building lifetime, a net zero energy Frog causes approximately 87% less fossil fuel use, 85% less climate change, 82% less air pollution, and 73% less water pollution than a comparable average building with average energy use. If an existing building like that were torn down and replaced with a net zero energy Frog building, the Frog building would achieve carbon payback in just 6.5 years. read more

Wealthy oil firm Shell has decided to sell its 33 per cent stake in the £2bn London Array offshore wind farm off the coast of Kent . The move has thrown into doubt the future of the UK's flagship and world's largest offshore wind farm.
Analysts blame the high price of oil (about $120 a barrel) for Shell's return to hydrocarbons at a time when they reported a first quarter profit for 2008 of £4bn. Shell has also sold off much of its solar business while moving more into Canada's carbon-heavy tar sands.
Shell's partner, E.ON, confirmed that they remain committed to the scheme, but warned that Shell's move had endangered the project.

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Audi A5 3.0 TDI - Low Emission Diesel Car
Partly as response to climate change concerns, but mainly due to high oil prices, car manufacturers are producing increasing quantities of low-emission diesel cars. These are a cheaper and greener alternative, but could they be described as green?
Many do 65 miles per gallon (mpg), but this figure is likely to improve very quickly with models that return 70-plus mpg within the year. All will qualify for London's new low-emission zone, and a lucrative government tax break. The CO2 emissions of these engines can be less than 100g/km. By comparison, the Toyota Prius, widely seen as the world's greenest mass production car, switching from electric to petrol, clocks around 105g/km of CO2. The Smart Car generates 90g and the average of cars in the UK is 164g.
UPDATE
What Car? magazine's award for the greenest car of 2009 has been won by the Volvo S40 DRIVe. It has carbon emissions on a par with Toyota's Prius. read more

A new nano-coating developed by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute looks set to dramatically increase the efficiency of photovoltaic solar panels. See Nano-technology Solar Panels for more details.

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Nissan Land Glider
The Nissan Land Glider concept is designed to tilt much like a bike. The Land Glider is a slim two-seater tandem, making it supremely aerodynamic and therefore more fuel efficient. read more

Nissan Leaf - leading, environmentally friendly, affordable, family car
The above Nissan Leaf represents a step forward in the field of green motoring. Nissan has confidently predicted that the Leaf will be the world's first mass-marketed zero-emission and affordable car. Leaf stands for leading, environmentally friendly, affordable, family car. read more

Thousands of UK jobs to be created in offshore wind energy
Scotland, as “the windiest country in Europe” is to benefit significantly as a result of the UK government’s announcement that it will be investing over £75 billion in offshore wind energy and a marine renewable electricity source.
The Moray Firth in particular will be a major beneficiary of these developments with substantial plans for the provision of wind and marine energy.

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Thanet Offshore Wind Farm is currently the world's largest wind farm. When conditions are right (i.e. there is wind!) the facility should produce enough electricity to power 240,000 homes, the equivalent of half the county of Kent. The Thanet offshore wind farm cost around £780 million ($1.2b) to build.
The farm consists of around a hundred huge wind turbines - each up to two and a half times the height of Nelson's Column at Trafalgar Square.
The UK aims to generate at least 20 percent of its total power requirements using wind turbines.

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Paper Bottles
The 360 is a paper bottle created by the designers Brand Image. It is molded from 100 per cent recyclable, food-safe, paper. The 360 is cheap and easy to produce, stackable and re-sealable, making it a viable alternative to plastic bottles. read more

Drivers can now participate in a real-time personal carbon trading scheme. Up to 1,000 volunteering motorists will be able to use their Nectar shopping loyalty cards at any BP garage to record how much fuel they have purchased - and, as a result, create an electronic record of how much carbon dioxide they emmit.
Each volunteer will be given a monthly allowance of carbon credits which they will then be able to trade with other volunteers using an online trading system named the CarbonDAQ. Volunteers who drive less and use less petrol can sell their spare credits to those needing to drive further than their allowance allows.
Visit www.carbondaq.rsacarbonlimited.org for more details.

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The theme of the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show was low emission cars and eco friendly motoring. Toyota displayed their plug-in hybrid Prius car. read more

Portable Hydro Electric Power Plant
The above backpack contains a generating hydroelectric plant able to genarate 500-watts of electricity (the equivalent of some 60 solar panels). The system named BPP-2 is made by Bourne Energy and is aimed at developing countries, where a portable generator of this size could provide power to inaccessible areas.
The BPP-2 can generate electricity in any stream deeper than four feet. Two trenches are dug on opposite sides of a river and a lightweight anchor is inserted into each, connecting a synthetic rope between the anchors and the BPP. The civilian BPP is designed for streams moving 7.5 feet per second and is expected to cost around $3,000. read more

Prefab Eco Friendly House
The Dwell on Design Expo in Los Angeles features many of the best new sustainable ideas including this sustainable prefab house.
The prefab house, designed by architect Jonathan Davis, with interiors by sustainability expert Zem Joaquin, consists of 520 square feet and was sold on eBay with proceeds going to Global Green USA.
Other great eco-friendly design ideas include solid cork stools and coffee tables, linen made of seaweed, walnut plaster and flatpack furniture. read more

This prefab house was assembled in Cedeira, Spain, by Madrid firm MYCC in just 3 days!.

The roof and the side facades were covered with Viroc®, a prefabricated mixture of cement and wood shavings that has a great strength efficiency in spite of being light and, therefore, is easy to maintain and move.

The house is a mixture of modular three dimensional components for the ground floor and prefabricated trusses for the attic. The exterior walls are composed of a three inch thick aluminum and polyurethane sandwich panel with rock wool added to the interior.

The prefab house was assembled in the factory to check the construction, disassembled and shipped to the site and reassembled in three days, with about two weeks of final fitting.

The prefab house has high standards of energy efficiency with the speedy construction minimising emissions and making good use of limited resources available.

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Rainwater collection is one of the simplest and most energy efficient ways of saving water. The water used for flushing toilets, washing clothes, cleaning the car and other outside cleaning can be collected in tanks when it is raining and then filtered.

Rainwater collectors capture and store large quantities of rainwater for you to use in toilets, washing machines and in the garden. Many systems are easy and quick to install.

Households can expect to save up to 50% of their water consumption by installing a rainwater harvesting system.

Companies such as Hutchinson Environmental Solutions provide eco friendly rainwater harvesting tanks.

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Grand Designs Kevin McCloud has come up with ten top tips to green your home. From carpets made from old car tyres to solar panels which generate hot water as well as electricity the home design guru is keen to increase our awareness of the importance of considering green issues in home design.
Carpets made from old tyres are a big hit with McCloud:
These carpets are not only beautiful, but they’re amazingly durable” and their use would help dissolve the problem of landfill space being used up with almost half a million tonnes of old tyres dumped each year.

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Recycled Plastic Concrete
Concrete is not the most environmentally friendly material, so any innovation to mitigate its impact is welcome.
Architect and engineer Henry Miller has developed a process to make concrete using two-thirds granulated plastic, which it is as strong as conventional concrete.
Concrete is usually 60% to 75% aggregate, consisting of sand, gravel or crushed stone. In Miller's process waste plastic that would otherwise end up in landfill or heat-related processing, is ground up and then mixed with pure concrete. This process has the added environmental advantage of avoiding the use of mined gravel or sand. Bricks made using this process can withstand 3000 to 5000 psi. read more

petrol prices are encouraging increasing numbers of motorists to produce their own fuel from recycled material. The process can be quite simple. Waste cooking oil or another such material is poured into a fairly low tech biodiesel "reactor" that purifies, filters, refines and adds a few chemicals. Within twenty-four hours the waste oil is ready to be used in any diesel car.
Instead of paying £1.25p a litre at the local supermarket, this fuel costs around 15p, leading to savings of nearly £100 a month for an average family with two cars - as well as 90% of the greenhouse gases normally emitted whilst driving. Companies making biodiesel "reactors" report blossoming sales and ever increasing demand.
Ecotec Resources, based in Lancashire, are one such company. They sell biodiesel reactor kits and produce 100,000 litres of recycled fuel a year.
By law you can produce 2,500 litres a year for personal own use, but according to some sources a thriving black market in recycled biodiesel has developed with gangs fighting "fuel wars" to get their hands on the valuable waste oil. One fish and chip shop in Southend suffered a break in, aparently, just to steal the waste oil!
Larger organisations are also beginning to see the potential of recycled biodeisel and the Borough of Richmond is tendering for a £3.5m contract to run all its 300 council vehicles on recycled vegetable oil for the next three years. The council estimates that it could save nearly £100,000 and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by several thousand tons.

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Retro-fitting Eco-Friendly Home!
The government has set a target for all new houses to be zero-carbon by 2016. But what of the existing housing stock? More than 21m homes - 86 per cent of the current total - will still be in use in 2050 and industry experts acknowledge big efforts will be needed to improve the energy performance of these houses.
And this is why E.ON, one of Britain's biggest energy companies, is teaming up with the University of Nottingham to build a replica 1930s house.. The three-bedroomed semi-detached house on the university's Green Close will function as a guinea pig for research technologies aimed at reducing the energy consumption associated with existing homes.
The house will use up to date green technology to generate and conserve energy within the house and will have an extension designed to make the maximum use of solar panels.
The move highlights the fact that if the UK is serious about reducing carbon emissions we'll need to retro-fit low-carbon measures to existing homes. Retro-fitting is more costly and complicated than building new eco-friendly houses from scratch. read more

Sanya Skypump Electric Vehicle Charging Station
The Sanya Skypump is a hybrid solar and wind turbine-powered charging station for electric vehicles, featuring a 150-watt solar panel. The Skypump system is based on Sanya's Streetlamp. read more

Aberdeenshire farmer and ice cream giant Maitland Mackie is putting forward a proposal to create a rolling fund of £10 million to help rural areas in Scotland to benefit by as much as £1 billion from the huge profits of wind energy. This ultimate figure is twice the revenue created by farming in Scotland.
He wants farmers rather than multinational energy companies to reap the profits from the best wind farm sites and is working with The Community Renewable Implementation Group (Crig) to consider the availability of grants to help local initiatives to negotiate the minefield of complicated planning processes.

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Solar Paint
A team from Swansea University have developed a paint which, when applied in layers to steel cladding, can convert 5% of solar energy to electricity. The project is easily scaleable and a consortium led by Swansea University is working on a process to cover steel sheets with the paint at up to 40 square metres per minute. read more

PlanetSolar - Solar Powered Boat
PlanetSolar is perhaps the world's largest solar boat. It is powered by around 500 square metres of photovoltaic solar panels that generate 103.4 kW of solar energy to power its efficient engine. The craft only requires 20kW, to achieve an average speed of eight knots (15kph or 9mph).
PlanetSolar is 31m long, 15m wide, weighs 60 tonnes and has a top speed of around 16 knots (30kph or 18mph). The craft cost 18 million euro ($24.4 million USD) to develop and build at the Knierim Yacht Club in Kiel in northern Germany. read more

Solar-Powered Gadget Charger
It is claimed that the Joos Orange Solar-Powered Gadget Charger offered 6 to 20 times more sun-to-power conversion than its competitors.
The Joos Orange Solar-Powered Gadget Charger is rugged, easy to store and carry, works in weak light and can charge an iPhone four times with just one full charge. The unit is quite heavy.
The Joos Orange Solar-Powered Gadget Charger comes with seven of the most popular ones adaptors and will be available soon for $100. read more

Solar Thermal Power Plants
The solar thermal power plant, Abengoa Solar in Gila Bend, Arizona is expected to begin contributing to the USA electrical grid in 2011, and should generate 280 megawatts. That should be enough to provide energy for 70,000 homes.
Solar thermal power stations of this kind use mirrors to focus the sun's rays into tanks of heat-transfer oil, heating it to about 400 read more

Solar Panel Boat
PlanetSolar's TURANOR is boat covered with 5,380 square feet of solar panels. The solar panels are durable enough to hold the weight of passengers, providing decked areas for the boat.
The solar panels power two electric motors that can accelerate the 101 foot long and 49 foot wide craft to a speed of 15 miles an hour. A large lithium-ion battery can power the boat for three days without sun. read more

Chinese Solar Car
The Chineese Zhejiang 001's electric mini car can fully charge its battery in 30 hours, using its roof mounted solar panels, giving it a 93-mile range. According to the engineer, it can only transform 14 to 17 percent of the sun light, which is the usual. The car is cheap with a price tag of $5,560 and no gas or electricity costs to contend with. read more

Solar Panel Roads
The US Federal Highways Administration is funding research to develop toughened Photo Voltaic cells that can replace asphalt on road surfaces.
According to figures from the American Geophysical Union, roads, highways and open-air parking lots in the lower 48 US states cover more than 100,000 square kilometres of surface area.
The plan is to create 3.7-metre square photo voltaic panels (the US interstate highway system standard lane width) that connect together, linking up through junction boxes. Its estimated that these panels would generate an average of 7.6 kilowatt-hours of energy a day. This could either be fed into the grid or stored locally to allow electric vehicles to recharge through roadside plug-in points.
The project faces some challenges, such as the expense - an estimated four times the current cost of laying asphalt, however that calculation does not include the electricity produced.
The toughening process has not yet been perfected, and also the issue of tyre grip on the smooth surface of the photo voltaic cells has not been resolved. read more

The world's largest solar photovoltaic farm is being constructed near Moura in Portugal. The project will Cost £250m and will be twice the size of any other similar project in the world. It is expected that the complex will generate 45MW of electricity each year, enough to power 30,000 homes.
The scheme is part of the Portuguese Government's ambitious plans to generate 31 per cent of its energy from clean sources by 2020. Central Government has also invested wind power, constructing the world's biggest wind farm (with more than 130 turbines) on mountainous Spanish border, and wave power with the world's first commercial wave farm, being assembled near Porto.

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Solar Impulse - Round the World Airplane
The creators of the Solar Impulse airplane aim to create a vehicle that can take off and fly round the world, without fuel or pollution, powered entirely by solar energy. For the team to achieve this they will have to push back the current technological limits in a number of fields.
Specifications
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Solar Windows
Solar windows look like conventional windows but they are coated in a transparent dye. The dye captures, concentrates and redirects light along the surface of the glass to photovoltaic cells in the frame. These photovoltaic cells convert the light into electricity.
Photo voltaic cell that have been incorporated into this system generate approximately ten times the amount of energy than if they would stood alone. Potentially solar windows will not be particularly expensive to produce as glass. Much of the technology is already in place with glass routinely coated. read more

Stone Paper
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Ambitious plans to create super cycleways across the UK's capital city, London, are at an advanced stage. The initial cycleways are to link major residential areas like Hackney, Clapham and Kilburn to London's city centre. Local government has set itself a target to increase cycling in the capital by 400 per cent by 2025.
The investment in cycling infrastructure is necessary if the government is serious about getting people to use cars less as it's estimated that a drop of 5 per cent of car trips could increase the number of cycle trips by 1.7 million.
The super cycleway scheme will coincide with the introduction of bike hire schemes, free for short journeys for those who have signed up to the scheme.
The cycle network scheme, if successful, is to be rolled out to out lying suburban town centres such as Richmond and Croydon. read more

Swift Rooftop Wind Energy System
Green Technology is set to become big business in the near future. This was demonstrated recently when Edinburgh based Renewable Devices, a company specialising in read more

Texan Wind Farm
T Boone Pickens, an oil magnate and founder of Texan oil company, Mesa Petroleum, has launched a project to build 500 wind turbines at a cost of $2m each. His aim is to build the world's biggest wind farm.
The plan is expected to take four years. 2,700 turbines will be constructed on 200,000 acres of the Texan countryside.
The finished wind farm will be five times the size of the world's current largest wind farm, and will supply 4,000 megawatts of electricity. That's enough to power about one million homes.
The scheme is expected to cost around $10bn
Texas has been identified as the perfect location for the scheme with its wide-open spaces, low population and steady south-westerly winds read more

Toyota FT-EV II electric car
The theme of the 2009 Tokyo Car Show was low emission, greener vehicles. Toyota revealed their FT-EV II electric concept care. The FT-EV II can run 90km on a single charge. read more

Toyota Solar Powered Car
Sources at The Nikkei have reported that, car maker, Toyota, is currently developing a solar-powered car.
Initially, some of the car's energy is likely to come from a fixed, non portable solar array situated at a central location, for instance, mounted on one's house, which will be used to charge the car when not in use. The rest of the car's power will be generated by solar panels mounted on the bodywork.
According to The Nikkei, Toyota is eventually aiming to manufacture a solar car whose entire power requirement is generated on-board. read more

UK wind farms have now reached a gigawatt – one billion watts – in energy provision with the completion of the giant Robin Rigg wind farm in the Solway Firth.
This has the capability of powering 700,000 homes making the UK a world leader in providing energy from its eleven coastal wind farms.

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USA Leading Wind Power Producer of 2008
The U.S.A. was the world's biggest producer of wind power in 2008, generating 25GW of electricity through wind turbines. Germany, the previous world leader generated 25GW.
New wind projects made up 42 percent of the U.S.A.'s total new power-producing capacity added in 2008r, contributing 8.4GW into the grid.
These figures are expected to increase as President Obama has promised more clean energy initiatives, and the Senate Finance Committee has approved a $31 billion in tax breaks to boost green energy supplies and efficiency. read more

The Vauxhall Building Sky Garden
The Vauxhall Building, a 130m skyscraper that has received planning permission to be built in London, incorporates two three-story Sky Gardens. These storeys are given over to create green spaces with plants and trees creating a space for social interaction and fostering micro communities. The concept is designed to make dense urban buildings more eco friendly. The gardens will cover about 2,500 square meters in total. read more

Wave Power in Portugal
The world's first commercial wave farm has gone live off the coast of Portugal, Agucadoura near Porto.
Giant sea snakes tethered some three miles from the coast will generate electricity. They are made up of a series of tubes, each about the size of a train, linked together, and pointed in the direction of the waves. The waves travel down the tubes, causing them to bob up and down, and a hydraulic system harnesses this movement to generate electricity.
The aim is to construct several hundred machines generating 500MW of electricity, enough to light up 350,000 homes. The scheme has been developed by the Edinburgh-based company Pelamis. read more

Wind Powered Car
The Wind Explorer is a German-made electric car powered in two ways: 1) a motor running on an internal battery that can be charged by the mains supply or a portable wind turbine 2) kites tethered to the vehicle pull it (wind direction permitting). The turbine is a 20-foot-high telescopic bamboo mast that can be errected in half an hour.
Wind Explorer has proved its credentials by driving across Australia using around $13 of electricity on its 18-day trip. read more

Wind Powered Battery Charger
The Febot, design by Ji-yun Kim, Soon-young Yang and Hwan-ju Jeon of Korea, can be suction-mounted to a window where it utilises the wind to recharge a single AA battery inside. read more

Wind Ships and Sail Power
With the cost of marine diesel fuel rocketing, engineers are beginning to re-examine green technologies in ship design that have a long heritage.
A team of Danish naval architects led by Knud E. Hansen are working on a new design for a 50,000-tonne cargo ship whose diesel engine will be augmented by a set of high-tech Aerofoil sails set on six masts mounting. In Denmark, wind ship projects like these are supported by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency.
Modern windships take advantage of new technologies and materials borrowed from the aerospace industry. Using high performance steel for the masts they do not need stays to hold them upright, and the sail itself is made of fibreglass, with a profile like an aircraft wing. Unlike traditional sails, these fibreglass wings do not need a large crew to operate them, and are controlled hydraulically from the bridge. An important downside of sails however is that they exert aerodynamic drag which negates some of the fuel savings from having them there in the first place.
Hamburg company, SkySails, are developing high-tech kites which pull a ship across the ocean by utilising winds high above it. The kites would complement a conventional diesel engine and, providing the wind is blowing in a favorable direction, the team at SkySails believe their use can halve the amount of fuel a ship burns.
With the SkySails aerodynamic drag is not a problem as the system harnesses the winds higher above the ocean with an inflatable aerofoil - a kite designed to fly at a height of 100 to 500 metres, towing the ship on a cable fastened to the hull. At this height winds are often stronger and more dependable. And if winds are unfavourable the kite can simply be winched into the ship and stored. read more

X-Prize Green Technology Award
The X-Prize Foundation is running a $25,000 competition with a prize $10m+ going to the person who comes up with the best idea for a scheme to produce clean energy and help the environment. The X-Prize Foundation has asked web users to submit two-minute videos, available on You Tube, pitching their ideas. read more

A new generation of Zeppelin airships are being constructed in Germany. The Zeppelin NT are funded through endowment money left behind by German airship pioneer Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. At the moment the airships are making test flights around Friedrichshafen, but it is expected that they will soon make the trip over to London, where plans are in place to offer tourist joy rides over the capital for £150 a time.
For more information about airships and their green credentials click here: Information about airships

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Zero Carbon Homes Defined
Environmentalists and construction firms have been debating how to define zero carbon homes for some time now. Environmentalists generally want each house to be zero carbon, while the housebuilders generally argue that this could be too expensive and impracticable, and they should have the flexibility to invest in offshore wind farms, for example, as part of their commitment to renewable energy on their developments.
The UK Green Building Council (GBC) has come down in favour of the environmentalists definition, with all houses being zero carbon, albeit with some provision for district heating schemes or housebuilders could, in certain circumstances, pay into a community energy pot to fund local projects. This definition will allow for a single combined heat and power (CHP) plant to power several adjacent homes.
Potentially zero-carbon homes should be so well insulated they would require a minimum of heating. They would have appliances consuming tiny quantities of electricity to be provided by solar photovoltaic panels or local CHP plants. read more

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