Renewable Energy

Viewing posts tagged Renewable Energy

Self sustaining floating home

We all need some time to relax and get away from everyday troubles and worries. Traveling is undoubtedly one of the best ways to escape from the routine of daily life. What can be more calming and relaxing than a weekend spent somewhere quiet in nature? It seems that there is a new innovation that could interest the lovers of quiet getaways, as well as off-grid enthusiasts.

A new innovative design called Floatwing allows you to enjoy a perfect off-grid getaway! Floatwing is essentially a floating mobile home which can move at a speed of 3 kt (3.5 mph / 5.6 km/h) using two small outboard motors. It has been designed using a modular design so it can be built to individual specifications from 7 to 15 meters in length.

Created by the Portuguese engineering company Friday, this amazing self-sufficient home is aimed to achieve maximum energy efficiency by using environmentally friendly materials and taking advantage of green energy. Thanks to this, the Floatwing has a very low carbon footprint and covers 85% of its energy needs through renewable sources, mainly solar power. In fact, it can generate up to 100% of its annual energy demand in just six months. When fully charged, the watercraft is completely self-sufficient for at least seven days, including the energy needed to power the onboard appliances.

No word yet as to how the Floatwing will perform in non-perfect conditions but it’s safe to assume sea crossings will be out of the question!

Fossil Free Electricity for 75 days

Zero Carbon for 75 days

Costa Rica managed to do without electricity from Fossil fuels for the first 75 days of 2015, the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) announced last month.

Above average rainfall has enabled Costa Rica’s hydroelectricity power stations to supply the bulk of the electricity required by the country (68%), with Geothermal plants providing about 15%, wind power 5% and the rest made up from Solar and Biomass.  In 2009 Costa Rica announced its goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2021 – and with 88% of its energy requirements being fulfilled by renewable energy already, this doesn’t seem far-fetched.

Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly approved a geothermal project last year valued at $958m, which the Japanese International Cooperation Agency and the European Investment Bank are helping to pay for, and in 2012 ICE announced projects to develop 100 MW worth of wind farms and 40 MW of hydroelectric plants during 2015.

Costa Rica leads the way on other environmental protection and conservation issues too, in 2010 the country was awarded the Future Policy Award for policies that use funds from fees and taxes to preserve natural spaces.  Costa Rica also remunerates landowners to plant trees and not cut down existing forests – helping to expand forest coverage from 24% in 1985 to 46% in 2010.

Of course, all this infrastructure requires funding, and since Costa Rica abolished its military in 1948, funds have been available for matters closer to home, such as Education, Healthcare and the environment.

The biggest barrier to becoming carbon neutral as a nation will be the switch for things that don’t run on electricity, such as transportation – but, according to Monica Araya, of Costa Rican think tank Nivela, it can be done – and with the government leading the way, and a 12% reduction in consumer energy costs from using renewable energy for their electricity – you can understand her conviction.

Solar Impulse Round the World flight

Swiss pilots Betrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg are hoping to write themselves into the history books with the first solar powered, all electric flight around the world which took off from Abu Dhabi this week.

Over the next five months the zero emissions aircraft will fly through Oman, India and China, where it will then cross the Pacific ocean and call in at Hawaii and the USA before crossing the Atlantic into Europe or North Africa before finally landing back in Abu Dhabi.

Solar Impulse weighs just 2,300Kg and has a 72 metre wingspan, some 3.5 metres longer than the latest Boeing 747-8I.  It has a speed range of 20kts (22mph) to 77kts (47mph) and is made of very light carbon fibre.  Whilst it has the potential to fly non-stop it is limited by human endurance abilities, and can carry a single pilot and no passengers.  As an electrically powered aircraft, using only energy stored from its solar panels it has zero emissions – 0g of CO2 per Kilometre.

As a comparison, a 747-8I has a maximum take-off weight of 448,000Kg and has a cruising speed of Mach 0.855 (570mph at 35,000ft).  It has a range of 9,210 miles with 467 passengers and baggage.  The B747-8 is one of the greenest aircraft manufactured today and produces approximately 35Kg of CO2 per Kilometre*.

On this epic trip round the world, the pilots are only able to take naps lasting 20 minutes every two to four hours, and are using specially developed light emitting glasses to help them sleep.  The lights are programmed to flash in very precise patterns to send the pilot into a deep sleep very quickly, and bring them out very quickly too.  Another difficulty is the size of the aircraft.  In order to save weight the pilots are restricted to their chair, which acts as a seat, bed and toilet throughout the flights, which will last up to 5 or 6 days and nights in a row on the “long-haul” legs of the trip.  In order to save weight the cockpit is unpressurised and unheated, although the cockpit structure does employ high density thermal insulation.

At the time of writing the aircraft had recently landed in Ahmedabad having covered the 1,465Km from Oman in 16 hours.

It’s safe to say that Solar Impulse is uncomfortable, impractical and slow – but with huge potential for increasing global awareness of solar energy and showcasing the cutting edge technology involved in this 12 year-in-the-making adventure, the Solar-Impulse team will be hoping their pioneering flight is a success.


Keep up to date with the mission progress at


*Based on 100% load.  And if you think 75g per passenger kilometre is a lot, the greenest 1.4L TSI VWs produce upwards of 85g per kilometre.