New project could see UK electric trains powered by off-grid solar

January 11, 2017 by  
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In what’s being hailed as a “completely unique” idea that could have “wide impact with commercial applications on electrified rail networks all over the world,” a new project in the UK could see electric trains powered by trackside solar panels that work independently from the main power grid. The Guardian reports that Imperial College London has teamed up with climate change charity 10:10 to look into using trackside solar panels to power trains. As part of the project, researchers will investigate connecting solar panels directly to power lines that supply trains, in an effort to bypass the larger power grid and more efficiently manage power demand from trains. Along with the aforementioned worldwide commercial applications, Imperial College said in a statement that if the research is successful, it would “also open up thousands of new sites to small and medium-scale renewable developments by removing the need to connect to the grid. Related: Wind power now runs all electric passenger trains in the Netherlands The Guardian notes that state-owned Network Rail is already investing billions of dollars toward electrifying railways in the UK, in an effort to get rid of polluting trains that run on diesel fuel. According to 10:10, this effort, combined with the growing production of renewable power in the country could add up to significantly less carbon emissions by 2050. As many trains in the country run through rural areas where the electricity grid is tough to access, the plan to power trains with solar panels not connected to the grid could have widespread applications. The project’s first goal is to look at the feasibility of converting “third rail systems” that supply electricity through power lines close to the ground, which are used on about one third of the country’s tracks. “I don’t think you get a better fit for PPA than a train line,” said Leo Murray of 10:10. “A rural train line even more so, the project would open up many investment opportunities across the country and further afield.” Via The Guardian Images via Sunil060902 and Siemens UK

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New project could see UK electric trains powered by off-grid solar

Off-grid solar could power all of Myanmar by 2030

December 6, 2016 by  
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Only 16 percent of rural houses in Myanmar have access to electricity , but that’s about to change. A government-led project aided by private companies could power up the entire country using off-grid solar energy . The electricity could irrigate rice farms, provide lighting in homes, and save lives. Off-grid solar could energize communities all across Myanmar. As traditional alternative power sources like diesel generators are far too expensive for many people who live in poverty in the country, government-funded off-grid solar could offer cost-effective, clean electricity for more people. Related: Off-grid healthcare housing is powered entirely by solar in Burundi Non-profit organizations are financing Myanmar solar projects too. With charity funds via Mitsui & Co. , electronics company Panasonic recently installed a Power Supply Container in the settlement of Yin Ma Chaung. The off-grid station generates 2.82 kilowatts of energy for the settlement and nearby villages. This power is critical for Yin Ma Chaung, an area populated with deadly snakes. Lifesaving antivenom must be refrigerated, but many people were losing their lives before obtaining solar power since the community previously only had coolers that frequently broke down. A portion of the newly installed solar power systems will provide energy for a community center refrigerator filled with the antivenom, allowing locals to breathe easier as they go about their daily lives. That’s just one project among thousands, according to The Guardian. Renewable energy company Sunlabob set up 11 solar mini-grids that will provide power for nearly 1,000 homes. Another renewable energy company, Myanmar Eco Solutions , installed a solar-fueled irrigation system for rice farmers in remote Myanmar. Out of 188 countries on the United Nation’s benchmark development index, Myanmar is 148. Although citizens there still wrestle with poverty, clean, renewable electricity could provide the boost the country needs to develop. Via The Guardian Images via Sunlabob Facebook and Panasonic

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Off-grid solar could power all of Myanmar by 2030

These crazy CarTubes could move city traffic underground

December 6, 2016 by  
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Imagine how peaceful our cities would be we took honking, idling cars off the road and put them underground. PLP Architecture is proposing we do just that – their CarTube project proposes a network of underground tubes with massive conveyor belts that move vehicles from one place to another. They’re proposing we do away with above-ground roads altogether, freeing up space for parks and recreation. Check out the cool simulation video below. https://vimeo.com/193911357 According to The Architects’ Journal , PLP has called their CarTube the “next best thing since teleportation,” by integrating the existing roadways in large cities into a network of small underground tunnels. Once there, the automatic cars would be moved along by what’s called a “platoon system,” which basically means they travel in groups that are controlled using artificial intelligence. This means the cars can travel closer quarters since the distance required for a human reaction isn’t needed. Thus, the tunnels can accommodate a higher capacity. With that in mind, PLP claims such a tube system would double a city’s transport capacity for about the same investment as your average public transit system – while also cutting down travel time by as much as 75 percent. According to The Architects’ Journal, PLP director of research, Lars Hesselgren said the CarTube concept is a “direct response” to mass transit and traffic congestion in the world’s largest cities. “CarTube has the potential to be the next best thing to teleportation,’ he said. ‘It will revolutionize existing cities and allow for unprecedented urban forms.” Related: PLP Architecture unveils the design for London’s first timber tower The system already has at least one critic, Francesca Perry of the Guardian, who, according to Tree Hugger , says such a system is expensive, and would have a hard time finding a home amongst the sewers pipes, building foundations and other underground infrastructure. She also notes that such a system is a massive technical challenge, and questions whether a not a system based on car-based city transport is the way to go. Via TreeHugger and Architects’ Journal Image and video via PLP Architecture Vimeo

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These crazy CarTubes could move city traffic underground

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