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Feel Good Friday - Sharing positive Earth news...

  • 3 September 2021
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Feel Good Friday - Sharing positive Earth news...

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It’s Friday

Why not …

There are many forms of privilege, and living with a sea view is not the least of them - especially on a day like today: a clear view over the horizon, a few of the not-yet-generating turbines of the East Anglia ONE North offshore wind farm silhouetted against the rising sun …

As a rule, “Don’t look directly at the sun, and especially not through binoculars!” is very good advice (*).

But, provided you time it right and pay careful attention to how @Transparent the atmosphere is, the view when you break that rule can be stunning. FWIW on this occasion, the air was rather clear and that very thin line that first appeared was rather bright, and I quickly swapped my eyes for the smartphone camera.

(With apologies to Transparent for the irresistible pun on their @)

East Anglia ONE North is interesting. Those turbines (one blade of one turbine is clearly visible in the lower left photo and also in the two smaller photos - the blades were rotating, slowly) are not much less than 300 m tall, and between 40 km and 60 km away from here. Their construction has been going on for a couple of years (more?) but the planning process, permission for the essential onshore stuff to get all that power into the grid, well that’s very much still in progress. And if you follow the link above, you’ll find that Scottish Power describe the project as if it’s still hardly more than a twinkle in their eye.

But it’s not. There have been dozens and dozens of turbines visible from here, on a clear day, for well over a year now. Good stuff.

 

(*) In case you’re interested, mine are 20x80, relatively cheap Russian ones.

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@Jess_OVO  wrote:

Where exactly is the energy in the lemons coming from?

It’s using the citric acid within the fruit as the electrolyte. The voltage obtained depends on the metal of the electrodes you select.

The most common experiments use zinc (a galvanised nail) for the anode and copper for the cathode. This yields 0.9v due to the relative positions of zinc and copper in the electro-chemical series.

electro-chemical series for common electrode materials

Substituting magnesium for zinc at the anode will produce around 1.6v - still not quite enough to illuminate an LED.

From the table above can you see why Lithium batteries are so attractive?

Note to self: Why is it so much easier to understand this now, instead of when I was 14 years old and facing a test next week?

 

Great to see an organic battery taking shape here too:

Well that’s a very interesting idea.

With major advances in bio-engineering, have you considered the possibility of a future storage battery being grown using genetically-synthesised organisms?

It would bring a whole new meaning to the concept of putting the cells in series. :wink:

Nobel Prize anyone? :nerd:

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PS - A quick call out here to the Global Day of Action For Climate Justice - happening tomorrow. Banners at the ready!

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That’s so great, @Transparent!

 

At the risk of admitting another gap in my energy knowledge - Where exactly is the energy in the lemons coming from? The fructose?

 

Great to see an organic battery taking shape here too:

 

 

 

 

This puts my cherry-less coffee plant to shame!

 

I’m going to top off what’s be a great week for me personally with a bit of youth climate action hope. My 5 year old nephew asked me why I didn’t eat meat this week which really got me thinking about the challenges we face explaining the climate crisis to the next generation and the importance of doing so in a way that inspires rather than scares. If you’re in need of any top-tips on getting the balance right, our content team has written this great guide and I also found this Women’s hour clip really helpful.

 

Safe to say there's already some incredible youth climate activists, understanding and communicating the issues in ways many adults struggle to - Yemi Yohannes’s spoken word at today's COP fringe event left me awe-inspired.

 

So if one thing positive can come out of COP26 I’m hopeful that the kids have got this! :earth_asia:

 

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Do you remember when the Royal Institute Christmas Lecture broke the world record by building a lemon-battery producing over 1000v?  :nerd:

 

Could this be implemented as a perpetual battery if the lemons were still growing on the tree rather than first being harvested?

It would bring a whole new perspective to OVO’s  Plant a Tree campaign. :slight_smile:

What about:

Save the Planet - Plant a dozen lemon trees - Take part in our next Storage Trial

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My lemon bush is feeling particularly positive about life in general:

 

It’s the first week of November, and just look at the blooming thing! :sunglasses:

 

So - just a reminder that the marmalade season is upon us once more

 

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The participants on the OVO Zero Carbon Heating Trial are reporting lots of cycling with their Heat pumps.

Unfortunately that’s not a positive attribution because it lowers the COP (well below 26).

I realise this topic is meant to all positive, but it isn’t yet Friday and I didn’t want @knight to throw in so many puns without exercising my right of reply :sunglasses:

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Great to see some ‘Good news’ appreciation, @knight - I agree, can’t go wrong with a bit of ‘upcycling’ (particularly if it’s on an electric bike!) :bike:

 

Keep your eyes out for any other recycling or green initiatives that are worth sharing here tomorrow - We always love to end the week feeling positive! :blush:

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Not sure if it’s got quite the same narrative style as @Transparent’s tale there, but I spotted a great re-use potential for wind turbine blades this week.

 

Once they’re finished with the important work of generating clean energy, a Denmark design-agency has re-purposed the blades into some groovy looking bicycle hangers, further encouraging greener living by keeping those important bike saddles dry! :bike: A great example of Reduce Reuse Recycle in action! :recycle:

 

How would our other cycling members feel about having one of these in in their local area? - @Cwriggers@Jeffus@hecate@knight@david8 

I’d love to see those dotted around Sheffield :grinning: Nice example of “up cycling” (several puns intended).

Sheffield, despite the hills, is very much a cycling city with the Peak District on the doorstep and many great cycling shops. The central railway station also has a great shop with lots of enclosed cycle storage for commuters.

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But I do have some good news of progress on another front:

Here’s a photo of the power supply module for the DIY Energy Monitor unit I’m building.

 

From this angle I’m feeling pretty positive about the battery…

but I guess that depends on your point of view.  :wink:

 

Guessing this is a bit of an electricity/magnet pun - love it! 

 

And some great progress on the energy monitoring front. Will the bat hostel include some 3D printed elements too? 

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Bat hostel had little progress this wet week, @Jess_OVO

But I do have some good news of progress on another front:

Here’s a photo of the power supply module for the DIY Energy Monitor unit I’m building.

 

From this angle I’m feeling pretty positive about the battery…

but I guess that depends on your point of view.  :wink:

 

This 3D printed unit is effectively a mini- Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) which should enable data to be gathered during grid-faults.

All sorts of interesting things happen on the mains as it recovers from an outage, and I’d really like to record these. Here’s one I captured on my smartphone in March’21

It’s great to have the power back on, but we seem to be missing a few volts!

 

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It’s my favourite time of the week - Positivity time!

 

As we’ve started publishing some of the answers that Rebecca Heaton gave during our recent AMA I thought this would prime time to drop a link to my very own question, which she answered superbly and reignited my hope just in time for COP!:

 

 

On a personal note I’ve also taken some action of my own this week - finally got round to ordering my very first veg box! All sustainably and locally sourced there’s been some cracking veg in there this week (hello roasted cauliflower recipe - which I’ll be having a bash at this weekend)!

 

Any one else taking mini climate action steps this week? How is the bat hostel coming on, @Transparent?

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Great to see the roof is developing into quite the safe-haven for little critters, @Transparent - Can’t wait to see the bat bunk-beds (or would they prefer hammocks?) as well! :bat:

 

Some more ‘close to home’ Feel good news from Earthwatch’s Tiny Forest project (which the OVO Foundation helps support). They’ve just wrapped up the 2021 planting season with 17 tiny forests planted around the UK this year, including several Wee Forests in Glasgow just in time for COP26 and this one a stone’s throw from our Bristol HQ:


 

 

 

Not only does each of these forests do some great carbon-capturing (roughly 450 - 600 kgs per year once matured), they also provide a great outdoor classroom and a biodiverse pocket in urban areas - The city equivalent of your Bug-Hotel, @Transparent  :deciduous_tree:

 

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Whilst fixing the oak fascia to my new porch this week, a knot fell out of the end, leaving a hole the size of my finger.

It wouldn’t be easily visible because it’s covered by the lead-flashing above. But it would allow wildlife to enter space above the rafters with potential damage to the waterproof breather-membrane.

My solution was to cap the void between the fascia and the wall-plate, thereby turning it into a slate-roofed bug-hotel :beetle:

I’m still working on accommodation for the bats...

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If OVO are happy to splash out on some fancy work-wear, might I suggest that a couple of Arc-flash proof overalls and hard-hats would be really useful.

We can then get you two access to some of the more interesting parts of the Distribution Grid.

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Those are some fancy jumpers there. I wouldn’t mind having one you know!

 

Hahaha - Great thinking there, @Blastoise186!

 

We may or may not have some community incentives up our (new jumper) sleeves - Watch this space! 

 

Energy sector in crisis - just the one tumbler of wine between the two of them!

 

Happy to say the energy crisis hasn’t hit our cider funds yet (my glass was hidden just out of shot!) :beers:

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Energy sector in crisis - just the one tumbler of wine between the two of them!

 

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Those are some fancy jumpers there. I wouldn’t mind having one you know!

Not so sure about the photo though. It seems a little overexposed to me. I might fire up Samurott in a bit, since I think I can fix that. :stuck_out_tongue:

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bats
solitary (bumble) bees
swallows
moths

owls ?

rats
mice
wasps
wood-boring beetles
fungi

 

 

 

This is fantastic. I love this approach, I’d agree with your Ins and Outs, and I’m keen to see some more pictures soon!

 

Trevor the puppy looks like an absolute star. Best of luck to you and your housemate whilst he settles into to his new home. :)

 

Love the social snap, and agreed, I really enjoyed hearing from Rebecca, and I’m enjoying listening back as we get on with transcribing some of those Q&A!

 

Some good news for fans of live music in Glasgow:

 

 

The SSE Hydro, one of Scotland's top live entertainment venues, has officially been rebranded the OVO Hydro. It is expected to welcome over 1.2 million visitors next year thanks to a record-breaking schedule of shows. ⁠

OVO Energy said that it is committed to supporting the venue in further reducing the environmental impact of its world-class entertainment programme. OVO’s head of sponsorship & partnerships, Colin Banks said: "At OVO, we want to develop purposeful partnerships which reflect our commitment to make zero carbon living a reality - not just in the home, but in the things we love doing too, like going to see our favourite band or comedian." ⁠

 

Source: The Scotsman

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Nice to see your ever-growing Makita family and groovy looking porch, @Transparent.

 

I love that you’re factoring in the habitat potential of the roof as well - are you thinking a little bat front door too? :bat:

 

I had a new addition to my household as well this week - Meet Trevor my housemate’s new little bundle of fluff:

 

If he isn’t good news, I don’t know what is!

 

On a more energy-related topic I was amazed to read about this solar-powered campervan created by some students in the Netherlands with enough juice for a cross-continent trip - Wonder how long before you or I get our hands on one of these, @Jeffus.

 

Just wanted to take this opportunity to say how much I personally enjoyed our latest online event with Rebecca - she certainly managed to boost my positivity and I’m really looking forward to making some of her great answers into forum comments for you all to read. Here’s a little insight to how me and @Tim_OVO celebrated after the event (rocking our new OVO jumpers!):

 

 

 

Have a great weekend everyone! :smiley:

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I’ve been building myself a new oak porch, which has now reached the roofing stage.

 

The observant amongst you will notice that my original Makita combi-drill has now become a breeding colony.

On which note I must now decide how to complete the roof such that it provides a suitable wildlife habitat without threatening the lifetime of the structure. My shortlist currently looks like this:

 

 

bats
solitary (bumble) bees
swallows
moths

owls ?

rats
mice
wasps
wood-boring beetles
fungi

 

 

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Not sure if it’s got quite the same narrative style as @Transparent’s tale there, but I spotted a great re-use potential for wind turbine blades this week.

 

Once they’re finished with the important work of generating clean energy, a Denmark design-agency has re-purposed the blades into some groovy looking bicycle hangers, further encouraging greener living by keeping those important bike saddles dry! :bike: A great example of Reduce Reuse Recycle in action! :recycle:

 

How would our other cycling members feel about having one of these in in their local area? - @Cwriggers, @Jeffus, @hecate, @knight, @david8 

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You’ve clearly never worked in customer service, @Transparent - poor Chris. 

 

However I must say that this had me laughing out loud. Especially the backroom, head round the corner chat.

 

So, Watts and Amps…..  watts the difference? 

 

:cowboy:

 

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Over here we've been discussing how much electricity gets wasted by leaving chargers plugged in and other domestic appliances on standby. It reminded me of the very first flat screen TV we bought.

 

There we were in Currys looking at four shelves of flat screen TVs when the archetypal young, over-eager salesman made us aware of his presence.

Having established that we wanted a screen of around 30-inch and that it was for wall-mounting, he strode between the most expensive models, giving each one a 5-star report on its impressive list of features.

At last I could take no more.

"How many watts to they take on stand-by?" I asked.

He was momentarily struck dumb as he tried to understand the question.

"You don't need to worry about that, Sir," he explained. "These are LCD screens. They don't take anything like the electricity of the old sort of TVs."

"That's great," I replied. "So what do they take on stand-by?"

He was clearly flumoxed and began looking at the feature-card beside each TV in the hope that the answer would magically appear. "It'll be in the manual," he eventually announced triumphantly.

"Wonderful," I responded. "So could you please go and look it up?"

"Which model are you interested in?" he asked.

I pointed out half a dozen of the better-known brands... his face growing more despondent as the list grew.

"I'll just be a moment," he said. "I'll need to find the boxes in the stock-room."

As he left us standing there, it became apparent that the stock-room was the space behind the display stand, through which we could hear every word.

A ladder was being dragged across the floor, followed by the sound of cardboard boxes being moved, opened and thrown to the floor.

"What are you doing, Chris?" another voice chimed in.

"I'm looking for the manuals," Chris replied.

"What do you want to know?"

"Sodding customer wants to know how much they take on stand-by..."

"You mean, when they're not switched on?" said the voice.

"I dunno. I s'pose so. Give us a hand will yer?"

"Who the hell wants to know how much it takes when it's not f*#&g working?

"Well that's what they've asked," said Chris in exasperation.

A face appeared around stock-room door about a dozen paces away to my left, stared at me for a moment and then ducked back inside again.

"Jeez, Chris," said the voice. "He's winding you up mate!"

"So what if 'e isn't?" replied Chris. "What if he's been sent down by Management to see how we're doing?"

The face appeared again momentarily.

"Nah; He's pulling your bells. Got you good'n'proper!"

Chris arrived back, his shirt pulled halfway out from his belt, and his tie sideways. He held out a couple of manuals.

"It's probably here somewhere," he said hopefully.

I took them, quickly flicked to the specification pages and learned that the Sony took over twice as much as the Samsung in standby mode.

"Here it is," I pointed out to him. "The Samsung takes 6 watts."

"Oh!" exclaimed Chris, reading the words standby current in one manual and standby power in the other. "So you want the Sony do you?"

"No," I explained. "I want the Samsung."

Chris was well and truly confused. "You want the one with the higher number then?" he asked.

"No. I want the one with the lower power consumption."

Chris was about to ask why, when he thought the better of it. "I'll get the box," he suggested, and dived back to the stock-room..


I know what you're thinking. I could've asked for the manager.

But then I wouldn't have had the entertainment value of listening to Chris trying to explain to his colleague what was the difference between watts and amps as we left carrying the Samsung.

No, of course it made no sense to either of them - a fact confirmed as the doors closed behind us with the 'voice' exclaiming "It's not switched on, Chris, you f*#&g idiot!"

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Some citrus blossom doesn’t emit any fragrance during the night. :thinking:

I have absolutely no idea how plant chemistry works to achieve this phenomenon… and nor does the internet apparently.

 

Extraordinary. Nature generally is. 

 

And some good news for the natural world was reposted by OVO Newswire this week:

 

Nine philanthropic organisations have collectively pledged to provide $5bn for projects that advance progress towards a goal of protecting 30 percent of land and ocean by 2030, in a donation that has been touted as the largest-ever private funding commitment for biodiversity 🌎

Together forming the ‘Protecting Our Planet Challenge', the Bezos Earth Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Rob and Melani Walton Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Nia Tero, and Arcadia, Re:Wild, Wyss Foundation and Rainforest Trust have collectively pledged to provide billions of dollars of investment over the next 10 years towards the goal, by strengthening and expanding protected areas and supporting Indigenous stewardship of traditional territories.⁠
-⁠
Full story at ovonewswire.com⁠

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