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Open energy project

Environmental issues, energy and global warming are all the news recently, and these things matter to all of us. Any way of saving energy not only helps the environment, but also helps keep your utility bills down, so there’s a real incentive for all of us to do the right thing. There’s the obvious moral standpoint; whereby you try to preach the need for conservation, and there’s the consumer standpoint; where to a large degree our hands are tied and we’re sick of people preaching to us.

Over here in Britain, the government have set some ambitious targets to make better use of renewable energy sources. We’re an island nation, and what we lack in sunlight, we more than make up for in wind and sea.

That’s where our future renewable energy lies. Incidentally, I did recently publish 10 top energy-saving tips to help the environment, which you might find useful.

However, waiting for legislative guidance is either too slow or too ineffective for some. While for others, there’s money to be made by being the pioneer.

Borehole Thermal Energy Storage, or (BTES) for short, is: “an underground structure for storing large quantities of solar heat collected in summer for use later in winter. It is basically a large, underground heat exchanger.

A BTES consists of an array of boreholes resembling standard drilled wells. After drilling, a plastic pipe with a ‘U’ bend at the bottom is inserted down the borehole. To provide good thermal contact with the surrounding soil, the borehole is then filled with a high thermal conductivity grouting material. ”

But there are some limitations, if only in the short term:

“Even with sunny Alberta weather, it will take approximately three years to fully charge the BTES field.”

I imagine these systems aren’t cheap to implement or maintain, either. So a solid feasibility study would be needed, first. Also, such systems aren’t entirely practical if you’re living in rented accommodation.

So unless such systems are adopted by local authorities and rolled out as part of new developments, or as part of upgrades to existing developments, Borehole Thermal Energy Storage is a niche renewable energy system.

Energy Tower, which is: “is a project to design and build a system that uses indirect solar collection to generate electricity and store thermal energy in a economical, environmentally friendly, scalable, reliable, efficient and location independent manner using common construction materials.”

These aren’t new ideas, but what is both new and intriguing is the philosophy behind the project:

“The project is being managed with a similar methodology to Open Source Software Development and the ideas and contributions are being published openly on the Internet without an attempt to secure patents. The hope is that with an open philosophy that the project shows similar Rapid Application Development and success as Linux and other Open Source Software projects and provides a system that can meet future energy requirements in a sustainable manner.”

The article also includes descriptions of other green energy projects out there in the wild, such as the Chena Hot Springs Geothermal Projects, which are: “self-sufficient community in terms of energy, food, heating and fuel use to the greatest extent possible. To attain this goal, Chena is developing numerous renewable energy and sustainable development projects which are detailed in this website. Chena is also forming partnerships within our community and across the U.S. to promote and implement renewable technologies.”

This is an ambitious set of goals, but the benefits are enormous. Also, I can see this working, too.

I’ve had good reason to talk of a possible future where resources becomes more local and very decentralized. Such a future seems more likely now than every before, if we now take into account renewable energy resources as replacements to fossil fuels and the like.

Renewable resources isn’t just about energy, it’s about a whole range of things, which the Chena projects seem to encompass.

My father isn’t as optimistic for the long-term survival of our species as I am.

We distinguish ourselves through our capacity to learn quickly from our mistakes. We’re still making mistakes, and those generations that are responsible for those mistakes are fewer in number with every passing year.

The future role of the human race is that of custodians of this Earth, and as such, our mistakes now will be the lessons for our children…

In related news: Energy targets ‘could be beaten’

What good there is to be made from notoriously bad weather to be milked like a prize cow up there in Scotland:

“More than half of Scotland’s electricity demand could be met from green energy, Scottish Renewables has told MSPs.

The industry forum said independent research showed it could exceed Scottish Executive targets. It took its case to Holyrood on Tuesday.

The executive wants 18% of power generated by renewables such as the wind by the end of the decade.

But Scottish Renewables said it could almost double that figure.

The executive hopes that by 2020, 40% of power will come from green technology but the forum said it could deliver 54%.”

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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