The politics of Norway’s energy supply is not something that many people often think a lot about. However, in recent months a discussion about whether Norway should increase its production of renewable energy, and extend more cables to neighbouring countries to become Europe’s “green battery”, has started. Here, I will try to discuss the issue of an increased power exchange with the rest of Europe, by looking at what average electricity users think about these questions.
But first, what is the idea behind the “green battery”? Well, Europe is rapidly increasing its adoption of renewable energy, with Denmark now being 40 % renewable, and Germany approaching 20 %. This is mostly good news, as this power replaces more polluting sources of electricity, or at least keeps some coal or gas plants from being built. However, renewable energy is less stable than fossil fuel energy, because it relies more directly on the current weather conditions. When it is windy, Spain can get two thirds of its power from wind turbines, but when it is not it needs to get power from somewhere else.
This is where Norway and the idea of a green battery come in. With its large supply of hydropower, which is stable, and can be turned on or off in a matter of minutes, Norway is an ideal candidate to act as a regulating instance in an electricity grid where renewables is an increasing part of the mix. It is also a potential source of income for Norwegian electricity companies and the Norwegian municipalities that mostly own these utilities, as well as the Norwegian state, which gets more tax revenue from it.
Because of its beneficial environmental effects, several environmental organisations, such as Zero and Bellona, strongly support the adoption of more renewables in the Norwegian energy mix. They are lobbying for increased power exchange with other European countries. Local governments in the south of Norway (link in Norwegian) have also voiced support for the scheme, wishing to benefit from increased exports.
Two master students in computer science from NTNU are this summer working on “police apps”, which could change the way we communicate with the police, and make it easier for the police to locate us, in case of an emergency.
On 2 August, Bergen Tidende published an article about the students Eirik Mildestveit Hammerstad and Esben Aarseth, which are working on two “police apps”. The apps will be tested in Finnmark, Norway, and the Finnmark police are looking forward testing them out, saying the apps will give unlimited opportunities.
The sooner the police can form the best possible picture of different situations happening from the operation center, the better. Esben’s app could be an important tool here. He is working on a “112-app” which uploads the caller’s exact location when calling the emergency number. As of today, if the police get an emergency phone, they do not have the information to locate the person calling. The call could be traced, but this is very expensive. The app also has an “emergency chat” which gives you the opportunity to communicate with the police without having to call. In addition, it will be possible for people to send pictures to the police at the operating center. The ability to receive pictures can help the police to better know what missions to prioritize.
Eirik is working on a web-app where it should be possible to book an appointment with the police, renew your passport, submit a report, and deliver a police complaint.
The prototypes of the apps are almost finished. If the police like the apps after testing them, it is possible that the two student’s summer projects will be realized.
We cross our fingers, and hope the apps will be a success!
Do you have an idea to an app of public utility?
Rjukan, a small Norwegian city, is situated in a deep valley. The sun is gone for 6 months every year. A big solar mirror will now give Rjukan sun throughout the year.
May 2013: After years of planning, the work on installing a big solar mirror, a heliostat, with a surface of 100 square meters, began on a hillside over the city. When the construction is completed, it will adjust the sun’s movements, reflect the sunlight, and transmit light to a fixed spot in the city centre throughout the year. A computer program will make sure that the mirror adjusts the sun’s movements.
The construction weighs 14 ton, and every part is moved up on the hillside by a helicopter. In Italy you can find a similar construction, but it is not nearly as large and complex as the one in Rjukan.
However, the idea to use a big mirror to reflect the sun in Rjukan is not at all new. In 1913, a worker, Oscar Kittelsen, suggested that Rjukan should install a mirror up on a hillside so that the sun would reach the city centre during the winter. Now, finally, a hundred years later Kittelsen’s dream is coming to life (nrk.no).
To see how the solar mirror works, click here
Photo by: Kjell Jøran Hansen (CC)
A new research project seeks to investigate whether precision fertilisation may lead to lowering farming costs and reducing climate gas emissions. How? By using a fertiliser drone.
You’ve probably seen lawn mover drones getting more popular as they have become cheaper and more efficient. A similar, though way more advanced drone prototype has been developed by the Norwegian mechatronics company Adigo. The drone moves regularly across the fields and measure which areas need increased fertilisation. Researchers from SINTEF have developed the measuring system based on the gas measurement system SINTEF has developed for the International Space Station.
Over-fertilisation is not only expensive for the farmer, but also bad for the environment. The fertilisation used in the spring time contains nitrogen, which may be transformed into nitrous oxide (NOx). NOx gases are particularly damaging for the local and regional environment.
The fertiliser drone is used as a part of an ongoing international research project administered by Bioforsk. For further reading (in Norwegian), check out Gemini’s article.
What do you think, can increased use of drones be the future for farming?