Utility Week

Utility Week 11th October 2013

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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Community Disconnector Don't sweat it If Red Ed has his way, we'll all be eating our dinner by candlelight in five years' time because he'll have closed down all the power stations, at least according to The Daily Mail, probably because he HATES BRITAIN (like his Dad). Well, we can have the last laugh on the commie-lover by showing a bit of British gumption and generating the stuff ourselves by the sweat of our own brow. Literally. Yup, boffins have come up with a way of generating electricity from the machines used in gyms. That means you can buff yourself up and help save the planet at the same time, which presumably will make the already insufferably smug types who use gyms even more pleased with themselves. The first installation has been made at a gym in Congresbury, near Bristol. Cadbury House uses 42 bikes, cross-trainers and "vario" machines, named ARTIS and supplied by Technogym, to each feed about 100W per hour of electricity back into the system. The resistance machines such as weights consoles generate enough electricity to power their own information screens. The equipment also allows users to connect to the machines using their smart phones via Unity, an interactive console. This high-tech kit allows users to access apps and social networks such as Facebook while training, and even to make Skype calls. Say what? Honestly, making a video call while you're red-faced and panting on a treadmill? You must really, really want the guy on the other end of the line to know you go to the gym. And you must really, really hope you don't collapse in the middle of the call. A striking idea While putting all the effort expended in a gym to some practical use is a neat idea, at the end of the day all we're talking about is a dynamo and a clever arrangement of gears. If you want to get really ingenious, why not tap into electricity p rovided free by nature? No, no, we're not talking about the sun here. That's old hat, and it requires a photovoltaic cell to arbitrate between God and man. Why not go straight to the source? Lightning! Researchers at Southampton University have done just that. Working in collaboration with Nokia, the team used a transformer to recreate a lightning bolt in the lab by passing 200,000V across a 30cm air gap. With it, they managed to charge a mobile phone handset from the aforementioned Finnish (soon to be US) company. "We were amazed to see that the Nokia circuitry somehow stabilised the noisy signal, allowing the battery to be charged," said Neil Palmer of the University of Southampton's high-voltage laboratory. Of course, it's still at the proof-of-concept stage and Palmer was keen to warn that mobile phone users "shouldn't try this at home". Which makes him a bit of a spoilsport in Disconnector's book. For the past month, the internet's been awash with the anguished cries of iPhone users claiming their lives are not worth living now the latest upgrade of Apple's mobile operating system has left them with unsatisfactory icons. Disconnector thinks it might do them good to run around in a lightning storm waving their mobile phones in the air. A little Darwinian natural selection might help them regain a sense of perspective. Fishy story You've got to be ready for any eventuality working for a utility. Okay, so Red Ed caught most of us off-guard, but our sense of surprise can have been nothing compared with how engineers at Oskarshamn nuclear power station in Sweden felt when they had to shut down one of their reactors because of jellyfish. Disconnector kids you not. Oskarshamn is the world's biggest boiling water reactor with a capacity of 1.4GW, but that did not stop tonnes of moon jellyfish descending on the plant like a biblical plague. They blocked an essential cooling pipe feeding the plant and engineers had to turn off reactor number three for two days while they cleared them out. Editor:  Ellen Bennett, t: 01342 332084, e: ellen.bennett@fav-house.com; Energy editor:  Megan Darby, t: 01342 332087, e: megan.darby@fav-house.com; Features editor:  Karma Ockenden, t: 01342 332086, e: karma.ockenden@fav-house. com; Reporter:  Mathew Beech, t: 01342 332082, e: mathew.beech@fav-house.com; Reporter:  Conor McGlone, t: 01342 332083, e: conor.mcglone@fav-house.com; Production editor:  Paul Newton, t: 01342 332085; Business development manager: Ed Roberts, t: 01342 332067, e: ed.roberts@fav-house.com; Sales executive: Nicky Shaw, t: 01342 332070, e: nicky.shaw@fav-house.com; Publisher:  Amanda Barnes, e: amanda.barnes@fav-house.com. General enquiries:  01342 332000; Subscriptions:  UK £543 per year, Overseas £655 per year, t: 01342 332011. ISSN: 1356-5532. Registered as a newspaper at the Post Office. Printed by: Buxton Press, Palace Road, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 6AE. Published by:  Faversham House Ltd, Windsor Court, Wood Street, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 1UZ It all depends how you look at it, Disconnector supposes. National Grid's winter outlook met with, erm, varied responses this week. On its website, ITV thought the company had said: "Britain's gas and electricity supply 'enough for winter'". The Guardian concurred: "Energy supplies are sufficient for winter, says National Grid". But The Daily Telegraph and The Mirror weren't fooled. "Blackout Britain", both declared, with The Mirror saying we faced the worst threat for a decade while The Telegraph opted for the neater "biggest threat in a decade". Out of sight… When energy minister Greg Barker went on a fact-finding mission to the US at the end of last month to see fracking up close and personal for himself, things didn't quite go according to plan. He was meant to visit Noble Energy's wells in fields in Colorado, but flooding there resulted in numerous oil and gas leaks, so at the last minute the location had to be switched 1,500 miles away to Pittsburgh where the sun was still shining and the gas wasn't running free. Subscriptions:  UK £543 per year, Overseas £655 per year fhcustomerservices@ abacusemedia.com 3,580 Average circulation Jan–Dec 2012 UTILITY WEEK | 11th - 17th October 2013 | 31

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