Day Three at WREC 2014
By Dan Cash
07 August 2014
WREC2014 Day 3
Dania Gonzalez Couret from Havana opened day 3 of WREC 2014 with a great presentation titled Cuban Contradictions. She described how vernacular Cuban architecture, which evolved to suit the local climate, has been usurped in recent decades by fully glazed buildings. These are viewed as a symbol of development, but have had detrimental effects on the local energy infrastructure.
Also discussed was the effect that attitudes and awareness have on energy consumption. It was explored in more detail during discussions on the ‘rebound effect’ of energy efficiency. When we improve efficiency and save money on fuel costs, where do those savings go?
Other presentations include Reinhard Haas from Austria. He relayed his thoughts on exposing consumers to cost fluctuations in energy. Would you pay premiums to have energy available to you whenever you want? Or would you make savings by reducing your use when required by the energy system? Opening up the pricing of energy in this way is potentially the first step in a wave of products and technologies for our homes. This means they can carry out tasks in response to fluctuations in energy cost. However, in a future with a higher amount of renewable energy, if the wind energy availability drops, our devices will turn off and not be useable again until energy is available.
Several papers on Ocean Power Technologies were presented. Latest estimates show that there is 40GW of tidal power available off the coast of Wales alone. This is around two thirds of current UK peak demand. However there are still many proposals competing for this resource which, coupled with the sheer magnitude of the violent forces with offshore devices, they may result in the slowing down of progress. Perhaps if the Swansea Lagoon (http://www.tidallagoonswanseabay.com/) receives approval, the landscape will change.
Finally, more intricate research is being undertaken in Qatar to modify catalysts. This implies that solar radiation can be used to process CO2 to produce Methane. If successful then this could be deployed in countries with large amounts of solar radiation to allow them to produce and export fuel for transport and power. This research is still only conceptual and perhaps feels too good to be true but if deliverable at a large scale will be an important factor in the energy landscape.
Stay tuned for day four.