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New green electricity projects to be trialed in the UK

Ecologist

1st March, 2009

The problem with renewable energy is not that there isn’t enough, it’s how to bring that power to where it’s needed, when it’s needed.

To that end, two new projects are set to help make the most of green electricity.

The first aims to exploit the tremendous tidal energy of Scotland’s Pentland Firth by using it to run a series of underwater turbines, generating enough electricity to power an internet data centre built on the shore in Caithness. The project’s developers, IVI and Atlantis Resources, hope to harness the waste heat from the energy-efficient computers in the data centre to warm greenhouses at the nearby Castle of Mey.

What makes this project different is that rather than having to join a lengthy and expensive queue to await connection to the National Grid, the team behind the ‘Blue’ data centre is taking the energy user to the source, relying only on existing internet connections. When a grid connection eventually becomes available, the turbines will be able to sell any excess power to other consumers.

Meanwhile in Hemsby, Norfolk, energy company EDF is planning to install a bank of lithium-ion batteries to help even out the power supply from the region’s wind farms.

By storing energy generated during periods of low demand, the batteries can then supply extra electricity when it is needed. The project’s developers, Swiss firm ABB, says that the facility will not only make renewably generated electricity more versatile but also will provide a useful test-bed for similar projects in the future.

 

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