A revolutionary solar power generating film has won the Broads Bright Sparks Green Energy challenge to find the best innovation for generating green energy in the Broads.
The Broads Authority teamed up with 4NRg, a Lowestoft based research and development company to run a competition which inspires innovative ways to generate energy in a renewable way.
The winner is Jody Chatterjee, director of Polysolar Ltd, Cambridge, an award winning developer and producer of transparent thin-film photovoltaic glazing. His idea is to use the film as part of the structure of buildings, such as greenhouses and bus shelters, rather than add-ons to existing structures. The solar PV greenhouse is billed as an environmental cost effective solution which will not only keep your plants warm but will independently power your home.
4NRG Director Mark Aspinall said “The film has the potential for new uses in the Broads that will not adversely affect the high landscape quality. The idea of using it on greenhouses could be very exciting and perhaps there are opportunities within the boat-building industry as well”.
The three runners up are Russell Wilson, Broads Authority Waterways and Recreation Officer from Poringland, Peter Worsley, a web designer from Norwich and Richard Featherstone, a naval architect from Gosport, Hants. They will be helped by 4NRG to develop their ideas into commercially viable products with technical guidance and marketing advice to turn their dream into reality.
The prizes include six months membership of Cambridge Cleantech, where they can meet other businesses and hopefully find partners to help them develop their ideas, and consultancy from Michael Ellis, Director, Ellis IP Ltd, to ensure that they are able to robustly protect their invention through patenting.
Russell Wilson came up with the idea of gel filled strips placed across roads in the Broads to harness energy from road traffic movements. Each time the gel strip is compressed it would lift a weight in a windmill tower or a commissioned piece of street art with the resultant energy perhaps converted into electric charging points at moorings. He says bridges near redundant windmill towers and the busy Acle Straight would be ideal locations. The invention would also create a new use for mills.
Peter Worsley devised an automatic wingsail system with a “tail” controlled by a non-electronic system that takes the effort and challenge out of conventional sailing. He says when the control lever is moved to the forward position the rig finds the wind and provides optimum drive. It will also go into reverse. “The system makes sure that clean free wind power is much more frequently used and it will greatly reduce reliance on motor power with a subsequent reduction in pollution and waste of fossil fuel,” he said. A Swedish catamaran company has built prototypes and report that they are very successful.
Richard Featherstone had the concept of a floating anaerobic digester which allows waste to be collected, stored, converted to biogas and transported to consumers aboard a barge. Tidal and solar power are used to aid the digestion. The gas, within a gasometer, can be taken off as required and at the end of the process the digestate can be pumped onto arable land.
Simon Hooton, Head of Strategy and Projects at the Broads Authority and one of the judges said “In a sensitive landscape a plethora of wind turbines may be intrusive. But we need to rapidly find alternatives to fossil fuel as an energy source and so this competition sought to stimulate people to identify renewable energy generation options in keeping with a protected landscape. Most ideas are at an early stage and the prizes should help people take their ideas further”.
The Broads Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund has donated £17,200 to the £34,000 project which is part of a wider ambition to explore the potential for renewable energy in the Broads. The project seeks to promote sustainable, low carbon living within the Broads and support local businesses and innovators.
The judges joining Simon Hooton were David Watson, 4 NRG’s in-house design and development engineer, John Balch, Managing Director of Nautilus Associates, Michael Ellis, and Martin Garrett and Chief Executive Cambridge Cleantech.