Do you love chocolate, jellyfish, being warm or even ducks? Sounds like a weird Saturday night, right? But these are actually just examples of some strange but totally renewable energy resources!
So, although the Scandinavians are not particularly known for the warmth of their countries, Stockholm has shocked us with this amazing source of renewable energy: body heat! Stockholm railway station, with its 250,000 commuters passing through everyday, is Scandinavia’s biggest travel hub. The heat generated by the plentiful population is captured by the stations ventilation system and used to warm water in underground tanks. The water is then redirected into nearby offices ventilation systems, heating the entire block! Who knew body heat could be so beneficial!
But it’s not just the Scandinavians who have thought of this! The British are onto it as well. They don’t typically have the best weather either. I don’t think the Brits bother to watch the weather announcements anymore… “There’s a slight chance of rain, again”. However, there is hope! If you’ve ever been on the London Underground you’ll understand how unbearably warm it gets down there. The former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said that the excess heat from the subway tunnels will be funneled into British homes! Win, win!
Tell me you don’t like chocolate and I’ll call you a liar. But who knew chocolate was useful in non-post-break up situations? The ‘waste’ left over from chocolate factories, if we haven’t already eaten it all, can be fed to E-Coli bacteria and that leads to the creation of hydrogen. The only byproduct of hydrogen is water, so it’s one of the worlds cleanest fuels! But that’s not all, don’t underestimate the chocolate… the fat in chocolate also be converted to bio-fuel! This fuel has multiple uses, it can be used as an additive to reduce vehicle emissions (usually by around 20%) or can even fuel race cars getting them up to 130mph!
Now, we know what you’re thinking, how can a ‘squishy’ have anything to do with renewable energy? (We hope there are some Finding Nemo fans reading) Jellyfish that glow in the dark, which is pretty cool already, have the ‘ingredients’ if you will, for a new kind of fuel cell.
Let’s get a bit sciency; the glow is produced by green fluorescent protein, commonly known in the science world as GFP (green flourescent protein). A Swedish University technology team put GFP on aluminum electrodes and then put that under ultraviolet light. The protein released electrons, which travel a circuit to produce electricity! So electricity can be generated without an external light source. Who knew jelly fish could come in so handy? The green lean mean green protein has been used to make fuel cells! These can be used on small devices that could be inserted into a human body to diagnose or treat a disease.
Another one of our strange sources is an unlikely animal… a duck! ‘Energy Duck’ has recently been introduced, it is an art project shaped like a giant duck! The structure is made from special panels which generate solar power called ‘PV’ (photovoltaic) panels. There is already a similar sculpture in Copenhagen. The sheer size of the duck is so large that it is perfect for gathering solar power! This idea has not yet been funded in the UK but artists are looking for donations!
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However, that's not all!
Renewable energy accounted for 86% of all new EU power installations in 2016, so of course these weird and wacky resources aren’t the only ones available to use. The normal wind and solar energy resources are still thriving in the world today.
Wind energy is mainly used to generate electricity and wind farms were installed more than any other form of power generation in Europe in 2016!
Solar energy comes in a number of forms; people have used solar radiation for thousands of years for warmth and to dry meat, fruit, and grains. Since then, people created forms of technology to collect solar energy for heat and to convert it into electricity. For example, photovoltaic systems, otherwise known as solar cells, which convert sunlight to electricity. The great thing about using solar energy is that it does not produce air pollutants or carbon dioxide.