Tag Archives: Sustainable Power

Ciralight’s Suntracker: Green Commercial Daylighting!

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has a working sustainability program in place and which keeps adding new green products to lessen its impact on the environment. In one of the updates we receive at the zoo about what was being done to lessen its Carbon foot print, a green product caught my eye – Ciralight’s Suntracker daylighting system – The speaker introduced it as “Skylights on Steroids!”

The zoo has installed Suntracker systems in the warehouse and the before and after pictures were stunning! Check them out below:

I found it very interesting especially the difference in the lighting, and the positive impact it would make on the environment. Once I got home it was one of the first things I looked up on the web.

What is Suntracker?

Ciralight Global, Inc. headquartered in Irvine, California, aims at bringing natural solar day-lighting indoors using their patented “Intelligent skylight” concept that utilizes a GPS unit that tracks the sun and a lens and mirror design that tracks, captures and magnifies the natural light produced from the sun at a level of intensity and clarity that makes electric lighting unnecessary during daylight hours. The result is a FREE green natural light source during daylight hours, which will lower utility bills, save energy, improve customer and employee satisfaction and enhanced performance in schools, factories and businesses that use the system.

All large scale stores like Sams Club, Home Depot etc School Gyms, Indoor stadiums etc. any building that needs to have lights on throughout the day can benefit from the Suntracker. The Suntracker like the name suggests tracks and uses the Free source of energy “the Sun” – and the light sensors help to turn your electrical powered lights off during daytime hours allowing you to conserve energy, save money and meet today’s energy efficiency standards. All buildings receive some amount of daylight, however, the term ‘daylit’ refers to buildings specifically designed or retrofitted to efficiently capture and distribute daylight as their primary lighting source. Up until now, that has been a very passive technique. Today, Ciralight has the innovative technology to bring daylight into a building in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible.

How does it work?

The Suntracker has a state-of-the-art solar powered GPS rotation control system to track the sun with a single mirror that effectively reflects sunlight into the building. The light passes through a thermal barrier, through a light well and a bottom light diffuser to effectively spread the light throughout the building.

The SunTracker tracks the sun from an hour after sunrise to an hour before sunset allowing the end user to turn the lights OFF during daylight hours.

Unlike the standard skylights the Suntracker Daylighting system keeps the light even throughout the day by tracking the sun. Compared to electric lighting, it produces illumination equivalent to 800 watts of fluorescent lighting, or more than a 1,000 watt metal halide lamp. Since it does not draw any line voltage, electricity costs for lighting drop to zero during the average of 10.5 hours a day that it reflects light indoors.

The combination of lumen performance, low operating cost, long life cycle and much lower heat generation is what makes the system so energy and maintenance efficient. The system is warranted for 10 years.

I am one of those who keeps up with the sun and grey skies make me dreary, so do dark rooms; love to keep windows open and the blinds pulled up, to let the sun in. Remember how there is always a tug of war for that corner cabin with windows! Scientific evidence shows that people feel, work and learn better with daylight than with electric lighting.

The zoo website reports that the environmental impact of the warehouse skylight installation is as follows:

The environmental impacts of this one project are:

  • Annual Carbon Emissions Reduction: 220,605 Lbs.
  • Annual Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) Emissions Reduction: 866 Lbs.
  • Annual Nitrogen Oxide (NO,NO2) Reduction: 425 Lbs.
  • Coal Burning Avoided: 47 Tons
  • Atmospheric Mercury Contamination Avoided: 2,227 Mg
  • Equivalent Acres of Forest Added: 27 Acres
  • Equivalent Number of Cars Removed From the Road: 19 Cars

The essence is that Ciralight Virtually eliminates the need for electric lighting during the daylight hours. Daylighting  reduces pollution and improves human output. Ciralight’s SunTracker high performance daylighting system produces up to ten times more light than a passive skylight and distributes light more evenly and over a wider area. Imagine what an impact it can make if a majority of the large store chains changed their lighting to Suntrack Daylighting systems! Green is the way to live.

Check out how it works here: Ciralight Demo
Check out a video about Suntracker from Ciralight Global


Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Sustainability Program

Ciralight Global Website

Zero Race: The Renewable Energy Car Race Around the World

On 16th August 2010 started a race of 4 teams with vehicles running on renewable energy which the organizers are calling Zero Race! The Zero Race Adventure draws inspiration from Jules Verne’s “Around the world in 80 days” by racing around the world in 80 days! The Race will cover 18,650 miles across the continents. The Sponsor’s include United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Sustainable Energy Europe etc…

The cars starting from Geneva Switzerland heading eastward will cross Berlin, Moscow and Shanghai and then travel by ship to Vancouver. From there they will continue along the west coast of North America all the way to Cancun, Mexico. In December, the vehicles will be shipped again to Portugal, and travel over southwest Europe to complete the final leg of the global journey. After 80 days, 30,000 kilometers through 16 countries and 150 city stopovers the race will be completed at the end of January 2011, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Swiss man behind “The Zero race” Louis Palmer is the first man ever to travel around the world in an electric car, he did it in 534 days which he named the Solar Taxi.

The mission of “The ZERO Race” is to educate, raise public awareness, inspire and help governments and people to take action towards a sustainable future.
(1) AWARENESS to prove that electric cars running on renewable energies provide a reliable and ecological solution for human transport and mobility.
(2) EDUCATION to raise public awareness worldwide about ZERO-emission technology and involve major government stakeholders.
(3) INSPIRATION to create new ways of thinking about mobility, cars and renewable energy.
(4) ACTION to show that practical solutions exist towards protecting the future of the planet and its inhabitants.

The ZERO Race will involve many public events, press conferences and spread the following messages on its global tour:

  • This is a race to save the world; it is a race for clean technology.
  • This is a race to Cancun to Seal the Deal at the UN Climate Change Conference.
  • This is a race towards the future and the future is Green.
  • This race stands for an ecological, economical and efficient lifestyle change: it is possible!Check out the route of the ZERO RACE:

The Teams:

  1. Orlikon Solar Racing Team from Switzerland
  2. Power Plaza Team From South Korea
  3. Team Trev from Australia
  4. Vectrix Team from GermanyWatch the TED Talk by Louis Palmer in Geneva 2009:

    Interesting Facts about the race:
  • The cars are required to carry two passengers and drive at least 250 kilometers at an average speed of at least 80 kilometers an hour.
  • This is the longest race of its kind.
  • The ZERO Race is a 100% carbon neutral event. All unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions generated in its planning and implementation will be compensated by purchasing offsets from a credible organization.

  • Competition Criteria
  • Reliability – based on vehicle performance assessed by the number of breakdowns or repairs needed during the Zero Race
  • Power and Speed – based on acceleration and range capacity to complete the Zero Race track (evaluation by a panel of race car drivers)
  • Energy efficiency – based on assessments by vehicle manufacturers and various other experts
  • Popularity of the vehicle, based on the judgment of the general public
  • Safety – based on evaluations by transport engineers
  • Design – based on opinion polls by spectators and the general public along the way

Louis Palmer aims to hold this race every two years, watch the website to see if the race passes your city. What a green concept to have a zero emissions race across the world!

The icing on the cake for me was when I read that the teams have also chosen an endangered animal from their respective countries to highlight the threat to biodiversity and raise awareness as 2010 is the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity.

The Korean team picked the Amur Tiger which has disappeared from their wilderness. The Swiss team picked a Dragon fly Sombre Goldenring,  The Australians picked the Golden green frog and the Germans have chosen a bird (will have to find out which one and will update that part 🙂 )

Check out their website for more details HERE

The Ultimate winner as the Zero Race team says will be Planet Earth! 🙂

The AK1000™: World’s Largest Marine Turbine

Atlantis Resources Corporation one of the world’s leading developers of Marine Power Systems, unveiled the largest and most powerful tidal power turbine ever built, the AK1000™ on August 11th 2010 at Invergordon, Scotland. The AK1000™ is due for installation at a dedicated berth at the European Marine Energy Centre (“EMEC”), located in Orkney, Scotland later this summer.

The AK1000™ is seventy three feet tall and weighs one hundred and thirty tons. According to the CEO Timothy Cornelius “The turbines turn at six to eight revolutions per minute, so are incredibly slow turning and will have zero impact on the surrounding environment.” Hypothetically therefore the turbine rotors should cause no harm to the marine environment and its residents.

Timothy Cornelius added: “The unveiling and installation of the AK1000™ is an important milestone, not only for Atlantis, but for the marine power industry in the United Kingdom. The AK1000™ is capable of unlocking the economic potential of the marine energy industry in Scotland and will greatly boost Scotland’s renewable generation capacity in the years to come.”

So what is Tidal Current Power?

Tidal current technology is a form of hydropower and harnesses the energy in tides and converts it into usable power.

Tidal current power is different from wave power. Wave power harnesses power of the waves while Tidal Current technology extracts energy from the high tide bulge created by the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun moving horizontally around the Earth’s surface.

As per the Atlantis, Sea water, which is 832 times denser than air, gives a 5 knot ocean current more kinetic energy than a 350 km/h wind; therefore ocean currents have a very high energy density. Hence a smaller device is required to harness tidal current energy than to harness wind energy.

Tidal Power and Tidal current power differ in that, Tidal power requires the building of barrages to manage and direct the flow of the current etc… the civil construction cost and impact on the environment is much higher in the tidal power barrage systems.

Tidal Power facts:

  • The first large scale tidal power system the Rance Tidal Power station in Brittany, France, started functioning in 1966! It is still the largest tidal power station based on installed capacity.
  • Tidal power stations were first developed and tested in the 1970’s; they harness the water masses that periodically flow into sea bays and drive conventional hydro turbines when the tide goes out. The disadvantage of this technology is that they require large barrages in the sea.
  • Unless taken to extremes, Tidal Current power system does not require blocking of any waterways, and hence does not have the adverse environmental effects associated with Tidal Barrages.
  • Tidal current energy takes the kinetic energy available in currents and converts it into renewable electricity.
  • As oceans cover over 70% of Earth’s surface, ocean energy (including wave power, tidal current power and ocean thermal energy conversion) represents a vast source of energy, estimated at between 2,000 and 4,000 TWh per year, enough energy to continuously light between 2 and 4 billion 11W low-energy light bulbs.
  • USA and UK could produce 15% of power they need from the Ocean itself.

On the whole the project sounds and looks really good and it has been working in Australia. Will wait to see how it works out in Orkney, Scotland.

If what they say about no impact on the environment proves to be true, this is definitely another way to harness green energy and keep the environment clean simultaneously. Live Green!

Read the Press release from Atlantis HERE

Check out the video of Tidal Turbines in Manhattan:

Links of Interest:

Source of pictures and Info Atlantis Website

Voith Hydro

There is a study going on the effect of tidal power systems in Orkney read the press release here

Suggested reading from Amazon:

Ocean, Tidal, and Wave Energy: Power from the Sea (Energy Revolution)