Offshore wind power is cheaper than new nuclear power in the UK

September 12, 2017 by  
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Offshore wind power has pulled ahead of nuclear power in the United Kingdom . Energy from offshore wind farms will be less expensive than power from a new nuclear project for the first time, based on subsidy figures via the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy after an auction. Emma Pinchbeck of Renewable UK said the figures were “truly astonishing.” Two firms said they’d construct offshore wind farms for a subsidy of £57.50, around $76, per megawatt-hour for 2022-23, according to the BBC, which noted these figures are around half the subsidy costs in a 2015 auction. Compare £57.50 with the subsidy secured by new nuclear plant Hinkley Point C , which is £92.50, or around $122, per megawatt-hour. Related: Is this $26 billion UK nuclear power plant worth its ludicrous cost? Pinchbeck told the BBC, “We still think nuclear can be part of the mix – but our industry has shown how to drive costs down, and now they need to do the same.” The BBC listed larger turbines , foundations that cost less, and higher voltage cables as components that have helped reduce prices for offshore wind, along with UK supply chain growth and the oil and gas industry downturn. An example of those larger turbines are new eight-megawatt ones that are nearly 656 feet tall – and Pinchbeck suggested turbines could double in size during the 2020’s. The nuclear industry said nuclear power is still necessary for times when the wind isn’t blowing. Nuclear Industry Association chief executive Tom Greatrex said, “It doesn’t matter how low the price of offshore wind is. On last year’s figures it only produced electricity for 36 percent of the time.” The subsidies for the wind farms will come from a consumer bill levy, and will run for 15 years, according to the BBC. Hinkley Point C’s subsidies will run for 35 years. Minister for Energy and Industry Richard Harrington said the offshore wind projects would create thousands of new jobs . Via the BBC Images via Wikimedia Commons and NHD-INFO on Flickr

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Offshore wind power is cheaper than new nuclear power in the UK

Sweden is putting stressed-out people in tiny glass ‘chillout cabins’

September 12, 2017 by  
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Can nature really be the cure for stress? Sweden wants to find out – so it’s sending five people in extremely stressful professions to spend three glorious days in beautiful glass-enclosed “ chillout cabins ” on an idyllic island. The 72 Hour Cabin program seeks to investigate the effects of nature on people’s well-being. Led by researchers Walter Osika and Cecilia Stenfors from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, the case study explores how Allemansrätten (freedom to roam) affects people’s mental and physical health. The aim of the study is to spread awareness of the unique relationship the Swedish population has with nature , and encourage people around the world to spend more time bonding with Mother Nature. Related: Artist builds incredible stained-glass cabin in the middle of the woods “Year after year, Sweden takes first place in international rankings of countries with the best life quality. Swedish nature, which is clean, vast and easy to take part in, is a part of the secret.” the 72-hour website reads. “The Swedes’ unique relationship with nature is an important part of their well-being, which is why Sweden has created ‘The 72 Hour Cabin’. With the initiative, Sweden wants to acquaint visitors with the special bond that Swedes have with their natural environment, and invite the world to experience it themselves.” The lucky participants include a London broadcaster, a Parisian taxi driver, an event planner from New York, a German police officer, and a British travel journalist. Each will spend three days in their own cabin located on Henriksholm island in West Sweden, experiencing the Swedish “close to nature” lifestyle. All communication with the outside world will be forbidden. For the most part, the participants will be able to hike, fish, cook, swim, and generally enjoy their peaceful surroundings. Researchers will be on-site to measure their well-being based on stress levels, problem-solving ability, and creativity. The results of the study will be presented in October. The glass cabins were designed by Jeanna Berger and built with the help of Fridh & Hells Bygg AB Construction Company . Berger grew up on the island and used the beautiful area as inspiration for the design. The wood-framed structures – which are placed on pillars in order to leave a light footprint – were inspired by the traditional barns found in the area. + 72 Hour Cabin Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Maja Flink  

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Sweden is putting stressed-out people in tiny glass ‘chillout cabins’

New refrigerator camera takes aim at food waste

August 17, 2017 by  
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We know food waste is an issue, but often it’s all too easy to forget about that bag of lettuce in the back of your refrigerator until it rots. It turns out 40 percent of the salad British families buy each year ends up in the trash – but a new refrigerator camera could help slash that waste. The Smarter FridgeCam helps people monitor expiration dates and even suggests recipes – for far less than the price of a smart refrigerator. London-based company Smarter says their FridgeCam can turn any refrigerator into a smart one for £99.99, or $129.50. The wireless FridgeCam allows users to monitor what’s in their fridge from anywhere using an app . But the product doesn’t just snap a fridge selfie. It also tracks expiration dates, notifies users when it’s time to buy more of a product, and offers recipes to help them use up food . Related: Peek inside the zero-waste kitchen of the future Smart refrigerators can cost thousands of dollars, but according to Smarter, the FridgeCam could save users as much as £400, or around $518, every year – meaning the device pays for itself in around three months. The company says their product will work with any refrigerator on the market right now, and their app works for iOS and Android. Smarter founder Christian Lane told The Guardian, “The supermarkets tell us that the way we shop has fundamentally changed. People are shopping little and often and using different shops. The more we developed and trialed this technology, the more we found that it could not just help reduce food waste but it also encourages people to shop in a smarter and more efficient way.” The FridgeCam is currently available for pre-order here . It’s slated for a September launch, and Smarter says free shipping is available for the United Kingdom and United States. + Smarter FridgeCam Via The Guardian Images via Smarter Facebook

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New refrigerator camera takes aim at food waste

Fully-furnished shipping containers form unique prefab hotel in Manchester

August 7, 2017 by  
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Architecture firm Chapman Taylor unveiled images of the recently completed Holiday Inn Express at Manchester’s Trafford City – the first hotel in the North West to be built using a special type of volumetric modular construction based on steel shipping containers . The hotel was built off-site, as separate modules, and assembled on-site in under a month. The architects worked with the main contractor, Bowmer & Kirkland, to develop a detailed design of the hotel with a focus on exploring modular options. Related: This shipping container hotel is so cool you’ll forget its a shipping container All 220 guest rooms were completed before off-site, and include interior furniture, fixtures and fittings, carpets, curtains, wallpaper and floor-to-ceiling windows . A team of workers then stacked the first 125 modules on a podium structure upon their arrival at Trafford City – in less than one month. The use of a comprehensive BIM model helped inform the detailed design and enable off-site fabrication. Every container features a vapor control layer and pre-finished rain-screen cladding that make them watertight. + Chapman Taylor Via World Architecture News

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Fully-furnished shipping containers form unique prefab hotel in Manchester

Tesla to TRIPLE number of Superchargers by end of 2018

August 7, 2017 by  
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For those who are still giddy over the newly-released Tesla Model 3 , prepare for even more good news. By the end of 2018, Tesla will install three times more superchargers — the plug-in electricity pumps required to charge Tesla batteries — around the world. The news was announced during the Model 3 ’s unveiling. While debuting the Model 3 At the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California, Musk announced that the company is hoping to achieve its first affordably-priced electric vehicle. He then acknowledged that more Superchargers will be required, as the factory will be producing a total of 500,000 Model 3s — an eventual rate of 10,000 cars a week — annually. “By the end of next year, there will be three times as many Superchargers as there are today. So that should really help out a lot,” said Musk. As Inverse reports, there are presently about 6,124 Superchargers around the world. By the end of next year, there will be over 18,000 worldwide. Tesla’s CEO said, “Eventually you’ll be able to go anywhere on Earth” using the Superchargers. Related: BMW to rival the Tesla Model 3 with an all-electric 3 Series Of course, one will still be able to charge their electric vehicle in other nations even if a Supercharger isn’t available. The stations make the task easier, however. This is because Superchargers add 170 miles of range in 30 minutes. Home wall chargers, on the other hand, only add about 26 miles in the same timeframe. Supercharger stations are presently located in North America , Europe, Asia and the Middle East. 889 are presently open for business but in no time at all, thousands more will dot roadways. + Tesla Via Inverse Images via Tesla

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Tesla to TRIPLE number of Superchargers by end of 2018

Researchers turn recycled aluminum foil into cheaper, eco-friendlier biofuels

August 1, 2017 by  
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Don’t toss your bagel wrapper in the trash just yet; scientists at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland say they have discovered a way to turn used aluminum foil into a catalyst to create cheaper, eco-friendlier biofuels . Working with engineers from the university, Ahmed Osman, an early career researcher at the school of chemistry and chemical engineering, has developed a technique that extracts 100 percent pure single crystals of aluminum salts from contaminated foil, without creating harmful emissions or waste. The salts can be used to kickstart the preparation of alumina catalyst, which can then be used to produce dimethyl ether, a nontoxic, clean-burning fuel that is typically manufactured from plant-based biomass. This process has a couple of distinct advantages, Osman said. Current methods of creating this type of alumina involves bauxite ore, the mining of which causes appreciable environmental damage in countries such as West Africa, the West Indies, and Australia. Related: Breakthrough algae strain produces twice as much biofuel There’s also the abundance of aluminum foil packaging waste. Because grease in used foil can muck up recycling equipment, nearly 20,000 tons of the stuff—enough to reach the moon and back—is either landfilled or incinerated in the United Kingdom alone. Osman plans to fine-tune his research so he can explore opportunities for commercialization, whether for biofuel production or the use of the modified alumina catalyst in the catalytic converters of natural-gas vehicles. “This breakthrough is significant as not only is the alumina more pure than its commercial counterpart, it could also reduce the amount of aluminum foil going to landfill while also sidestepping the environmental damage associated with mining bauxite,” Osman said in a statement . + Queen’s University Belfast Via New Atlas Photo by blikss/Flickr

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Madrid’s new ‘Desert City’ is a spectacular home for over 400 species of cacti

August 1, 2017 by  
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Madrid’s dry heat may not bode well for lush flower gardens, but the hundreds of cacti in the city’s new cactus park are sure to thrive. Designed by GarciaGerman Arquitectos , the massive 54,000-square-feet Desert City is an educational, sustainable , and ecological complex aimed at educating visitors about the vibrant world of the xerophytic plants. Located on a formerly vacant lot in the Madrid suburb of San Seastián de los Reyes, the expansive complex includes a large garden space as well a massive indoor greenhouse . The park – one of Europe’s largest spaces dedicated to cacti – grows over 400 xerophytic species. The complex also includes exhibition space as well as a shop and a restaurant. Related: Cactus Park in Taiwan draws architectural inspiration from prickly succulents At the heart of the complex is an extended glazed “billboard building,” which is elevated over the ground level. It connects the greenhouse space to a cloister-like outdoor garden with a shallow water pond. Additional spaces located in the greenhouse will be used for presentations, exhibitions, workshops, etc. The architects used a number of green building strategies in the park’s construction such as prefabricated materials, photovoltaic glass, and geothermal power. The greenhouse and gardens were also installed with a high-tech water recovery system that helps the park reduce its water usage. + Desert City + GarciaGerman Arquitectos Via Curbed Images and video courtesy of Imagen Subliminal

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Madrid’s new ‘Desert City’ is a spectacular home for over 400 species of cacti

Britain drives ban of fossil-fuel car sales by 2040

July 28, 2017 by  
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The internal combustion engine’s days are numbered in the United Kingdom, but will the ban come too late?

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Britain drives ban of fossil-fuel car sales by 2040

London scientists want to revive plants buried in ‘ghost ponds’

July 24, 2017 by  
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Life will find a way, even if that way is winding and submerged under layers of organic matter and water . According to a recent study by a scientific team at University College London , uncovering hidden habitats buried under so-called “ghost ponds,” ponds that have been filled in with soil and vegetation but not fully drained, could prove decisive in restoring ecosystems and may even hold the key to reviving extinct plant species. “We have shown that ghost ponds can be resurrected, and remarkably wetland plants lost for centuries can be brought back to life from preserved seeds,” declared lead researcher Emily Alderton. To the untrained eye, a potential treasure trove of ecological richness that is a ghost pond may go unnoticed. They manifest as damp areas of land, on which plants have difficulty growing and the soil may appear discolored in contrast to the ground around it. Ghost ponds are usually created by farmers who apply plants and soil to small ponds as they seek to create more arable land. “Small ponds were not drained, but were filled in while they were still wet. We think this is likely to have contributed to the survival of the seeds buried within the historic pond sediments,” said Alderton. Related: Scientists Bring Extinct Mouth-Brooding Frog Back to Life After 30 Years Researchers at UCL analyzed survey maps and historical records in order to track down nondescript ghost ponds of interest. “We also suspected that ghost was the right word as it hints at some form of life still hanging on and this is exactly what we have,” said Carl Sayer, study co-author and director of the UCL Pond Restoration Research Group. “The species that lived in the past pond are still alive, dormant and waiting!” From three sites in the UK, the team has so far recovered and revived eight different plant species. Researchers are now urging conservation groups and policymakers to place greater emphasis on ghost ponds and their role in ecological restoration. “For plants to grow back after being buried for over 150 years is remarkable,” said Christopher Hassall of the University of Leeds, who was not involved in the study. “Ponds are often neglected compared to lakes and rivers because of their small size, but they punch above their weight in terms of the number of species that they contain.” Via ScienceAlert Images via University College London/Carl Sayer and Felix Neumann

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Solar-powered prefab homes for struggling millennials can be set up in a day

July 19, 2017 by  
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An increasing number of people in the United Kingdom make too much money to qualify for social housing, but struggle to afford high rent prices. Prefabricated homes manufactured at the Legal & General Leeds factory could meet housing needs for that group, largely millennials, and the first houses from the factory recently popped up in the London area. Called LaunchPod , the 280-square-foot homes were ordered by housing association RHP , and designed by architecture firm Wimshurst Pelleriti . They’ll be available to rent for less than the average cost of a nearby one-bedroom apartment. Legal & General is an insurance company which is now churning homes out of a new factory – at a rate of 3,500 flats and houses a year. Their modular homes arrive at a location nearly finished and can be set up in one day. The homes are energy efficient, made out of cross laminated timber (CLT), and can be built to Passivhaus standards. A kitchen, curtains, fitted carpet, bathroom, and even furniture can be part of the home arriving on site. Legal & General says they can manufacture homes from detached houses to apartments 20 stories high. Related: Six factories will supply the UK with 25,000 prefab houses every year RHP nabbed the first houses out of the factory for a site in Richmond, a town southwest of London. A LaunchPod makes creative use of space to sneak in features that would more commonly be found in a larger flat, according to Wimshurst Pelleriti. But they said RHP didn’t want to resort to space-saving gimmicks like fold-down beds. Instead, features like raised mezzanine beds hide storage beneath, and the height of the homes, which are taller than normal, make them feel spacious. A LaunchPod is equipped with a luxury kitchen and lounge, bedroom, bathroom, and veranda. They have underfloor heating and are solar-powered , so residents will only pay around $13 a year in electricity. Neither Legal & General nor RHP would say how much the units cost, according to The Guardian. But RHP did say the price is around 15 percent less than the £2,600 to £3,000 per square meter cost common to conventional homes in the area, suggesting a LaunchPod could cost around £60,000 to £70,000, or around $78,155 to $91,182. But these particular modular homes will be rented, and as opposed to the typical rent of a one-bedroom flat in the area, which is a little over $1,300, the LaunchPods will be rented for between $782 and $912 a month. + Wimshurst Pelleriti + RHP + Legal & General Via The Guardian Images via Andrew Holt/Wimshurst Pelleriti

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