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Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

The power of Algae – innovative building facade

Posted in Models by Jessica Bird on April 18th, 2013

Source: DesignBuild Source

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Image from Arup

From the Arup media release “World first bio-reactive façade debuts in Hamburg

The BIQ [Bio Intelligence Quotient] house will become the world’s first pilot project to showcase a bioreactive façade […] With 200m² of integrated photo-bioreactors, this passive-energy house generates biomass and heat as renewable energy resources. At the same time, the system integrates additional functionality such as dynamic shading, thermal insulation and noise abatement, highlighting the full potential of this technology.

The microalgae used in the façades are cultivated in flat panel glass bioreactors measuring 2.5m x 0.7m. In total, 129 bioreactors have been installed on the south west and south east faces of the four-storey residential building. The heart of the system is the fully automated energy management centre where solar thermal heat and algae are harvested in a closed loop to be stored and used to generate hot water. […]

“Using bio-chemical processes in the façade of a building to create shade and energy is a really innovative concept. It might well become a sustainable solution for energy production in urban areas, so it is great to see it being tested in a real-life scenario.” — Jan Wurm, Arup’s Europe Research Leader

The system will be officially presented to the media on 25 April 2013 when the biofaçade system goes into operation for the first time.

>>> You can read the original media release on the Arup Website.
>>> You can see more images of the building and read more about it on DesignBuildSource.com.au


(Em)Powering Communities: SolarKiosk

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on February 15th, 2013

 Source: TransitionsFF

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Photo from SolarKiosk.

From ‘SolarKiosk: mobile modular power for really remote areas” on Good.is

For those who’ve grown up constantly plugged into the power grid, it’s almost impossible to think of life without an endless supply of outlets, power cords, and technology. But for an estimated 1.5 billion people around the world, power—from cutting and burning firewood to lighting kerosene lamps, paraffin, and candles—doesn’t come easy. According to the United Nations Foundation, almost 3 billion people rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating, about 1.5 billion have no access to electricity, and 1 billion more have access only to unreliable electricity networks. Smoke from polluting and inefficient cooking, lighting, and heating devices kills nearly two million people a year and causes a range of chronic illnesses and other health impacts.

In an effort to tackle health and development-related obstacles in developing countries, a company based in Germany and Ethiopia is bringing clean energy to “off-grid areas” around the world. Housed in a metal hut topped with a solar panel-filled roof, the designers have named their creation a “SolarKiosk,” a small-scale power source for communities without electricity. Each SolarKiosk is expected to provide enough power for villagers to charge their mobile phones and car batteries, run a computer, or power up a solar fridge. Goods sold from the Kiosk include solar lanterns, mobile phones, and cards to top-up cellular devices. Considering that the Kiosk’s fridge may be the community’s only one, it could be used to house everything from medication to chilled drinks. The kiosk could also provide television, music, and internet depending on the locale. The creators project that a larger-size SolarKiosk could even produce enough energy to run a telecom tower reliably, while also providing security and maintenance. It will even be possible to connect multiple kiosks to create a local grid.

The world’s first SolarKiosk set up shop on July 15 [2012] near Lake Langana in Ethiopia. Designed by Graft Architects, the project not only provides clean energy solutions to “off-grid” countries, but once installed, becomes a power-generating shop and business hub, providing jobs to community members and education on how solar products work. It also becomes a glowing, solar-powered light source at night. Each kiosk comes in a lightweight, DIY kit, making it is easy to transport and build a kiosk in off-road, rural areas—the package could even be carried to its target location on the back of a donkey. With the exception of pre-manufactured electrical components, the kiosk’s parts can be constructed from a range of local materials including bamboo, wood, adobe, stone, metal, or even recycled goods. Post-assembly, the entire structure is firmly anchored in the ground. […]

NB. The second SolarKiosk was installed in Teppi, Ethiopia, in November last year. – [JB]

>>> You can read the full article on Good.is.
>>> You can learn more about SolarKiosk on their website.


Energy Independence: A Rural Town in Germany

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on March 14th, 2012


Photo: Matt Biddulph via Flickr CC

From “A Power Grid of Their Own: German Village Becomes Model for Renewable Energy” by Renuka Rayasam:

Werner Frohwitter drives his white Prius into Feldheim, parking halfway down the village’s one street in front of what looks like a shipping container. Behind the street is a field where 43 giant wind turbines loom over the village’s 37 houses. Frohwitter works for Energiequelle Gmbh, which owns the wind park. He greets a Russian camera crew and ushers them into the chilly container, which has become Feldheim’s impromptu visitor’s center. It’s the only sign of life in this otherwise quiet village. Inside, he uses posters on the wall to explain the town’s energy transformation for the Russian crew’s renewable energy documentary.

This town of 150 inhabitants, tucked away in the Brandenburg countryside some 60 kilometers (37.2 miles) southwest of Berlin seems like an unlikely tourist hotspot. It has no bars, museums or restaurants. But since the Fukushima nuclear disaster one year ago, Feldheim has become a beacon for cities across the world that want to shift their energy mix toward renewables.

Feldheim is the only town in Germany that started its own energy grid and gets all of its electricity and heating through local renewable sources, primarily wind and biogas. This mix of energy self-sufficiency and reliance on renewables attracted 3,000 visitors in 2011. Visitors came from North and South Korea, South America, Canada, Iran, Iraq and Australia. About half of the visitors are from Japan. Eri Otsu served as a translator for a group of Japanese energy analysts and politicians who came to Germany to see Feldheim. “Feldheim is not a charming Bavarian village; it is gray and they have little,” says Otsu, an organic farmer in southern Japan. Still, the group found Feldheim the most impressive of the three German villages they visited because it is energy independent and uses renewables. “They were amazed and said they had never seen anything like that,” Otsu says.

A Mayor’s Work
“People are here almost every day,” says Michael Knape, shifting through a stack of business cards on his desk. He sighs, saying that he can’t keep track of all the visitors. The 41-year-old, with dark hair and wide eyes that make his young face look even more boyish, is the mayor of Treuenbrietzen, the larger municipality where Feldheim sits. In many ways Knape’s work is typical of a small town mayor, dealing with residents when snow is not cleared fast enough and sometimes answering the phone at the city hall. What makes Knape different is that he is also a patient ambassador for Feldheim, convinced that investing in renewables is the only answer to the country’s energy dilemma.

After the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, Chancellor Angela Merkel planned a phase-out for Germany’s nuclear power plants and set the goal of requiring 35 percent of Germany’s energy to come from renewables by 2020, up from 20 percent at the time. Yet the federal government is now cutting funding for renewable energy projects and phasing out solar subsidies. […]

A Series of Coincidences
It started with a few windmills in 1995. A series of coincidences transformed Feldheim from a backwater town in eastern Germany into a model renewable energy city. “Back in the 1990s no one expected it would get this far,” says Frohwitter. Feldheim’s strong wind and abundant land are pretty much the only reason that Michael Raschermann, head of Energiequelle Gmbh, decided to install a wind turbine in the village. Now the wind park has more turbines than the village has houses.

By 2008, after two years of planning, Feldheim built a €1.7 million biogas factory to be used for heat and fueled by slurry of unused corn and pig manure. The village received about half of the startup costs from a European Union program. Because farmers in Feldheim already grew corn and raised pigs, the biogas factory also benefits local agriculture. A furnace burning wood chips left over from felled trees in the local forest serves as a backup heat source when the temperature dips.

In 2008 Feldheim decided to take control of its own grid. Cutting out the middleman was a natural step since the town was producing all of its own energy right in its backyard. But when E.on refused to sell or lease its energy grid, Feldheim, with help from Energiequelle, had to build its own smart grid. They completed the grid in October 2010 with each villager contributing €3,000 ($3,972). Now Feldheimers pay about 31 percent less for electricity and 10 percent less for heating. The project has created about 30 jobs in Feldheim. […]

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Sharing Energy Makeover Costs

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on November 28th, 2011

Source: Climate Spectator


Photo by Yemisi Blake via flickr CC

From “Free energy makeovers drive growth for Siemens” by Natalia Drozdiak (Reuters):

One of Berlin’s most famous universities is getting a free green makeover that will slash its energy bill by nearly a third under an increasingly popular type of efficiency contract.

With engineering companies looking for new ways to drive growth in a tough economic environment, and the public sector finding it difficult to invest on stretched budgets, the deal between Siemens and the University of the Arts is a template for more. Under a ‘buy now pay later’ scheme, worth about 1.1 million euros, the UdK has turned its heating, cooling and lighting over to Siemens to renovate. In return Siemens gets to keep a substantial part of the savings that the scheme generates: since 2004 it has cut energy consumption by about 28 percent each year, reaping annual savings of about 240,000 euros. After the 10-year contract expires and the renovation has been paid for, the university gets to keep all the savings.

Read the full article by Natalia Drozdiak.


Using Price to Improve Recycling Rates

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on March 30th, 2011

Source: guardian.co.uk via Awake

What’s “rubbish”?  Image: haemengine via flickr CC

From “A small town in Germany where recycling pays” by Leo Hickman:
A car towing a trailer full of construction waste pulls up at the weigh-station by the entrance gate. Weiss wanders over to inspect the contents. “This weighs about half of tonne. If will cost €270 to dump it as it is. Or if the car owner sorts it into separate types of waste — timber, paper, plasterboard etc — it will cost him just €17. That, in summary, is our system. We provide a major incentive to recycle.”

The citizens of Neustadt an der Weinstrasse take their recycling very seriously. So much so that there is even a collection point at the recycling depot for dead animals. “People bring their dead dogs here,” says Stefan Weiss, one of the town’s waste managers, as he steps into a refrigerated shed and opens the lid on a wheelie bin containing a deer’s head recently deposited by a local hunter. “All these animals get rendered down at a nearby facility for their fat. It then gets used to produce things like this.” Weiss pulls a tube of lip balm from his pocket.

Located in the south-western state of Rheinland-Pfalz and set in the heart of Palatinate wine-growing region, the predominantly middle-class, medieval town of Neustadt boasts the best recycling rates in Germany. Over the past 30 years, the town has nurtured and refined a system that means it now recycles about 70% of its waste – 16% higher than the state target. By comparison, UK recycling rates average about 40% – up from just 5% in the mid-1990s.

The reason for Neustadt’s success is simple, says Weiss. “It’s all about providing financial incentives and education. We don’t charge citizens anything for the recycled waste they leave out. And the less waste you put out for incineration – we’ve had no landfill in Germany since 2005 – the less you pay. Having no incentive to reduce waste is poisonous to your aims. We have a separate, visible fee that is intentionally not embedded within a local tax.”

For example, the majority of Neustadt’s 28,000 households opt for a 60-litre bin for their non-recycled waste. This is collected once a fortnight and costs the household €6.60 in collection fees. If a household opts for a 40l bin, the fee falls to €5.30. Conversely, if they opt for a 240l bin (the standard wheelie bin volume in the UK), the fee rises to €24, or €48 if they want it collected weekly. If they produce higher than expected waste due to, say, having a party, they can buy special 60l plastic sacks for €3 and leave them out by their bins for collection.

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