Couldn’t Tweet Today? Don’t Beat Yourself Up Over It

Frustrated because you haven’t blogged in a week or a month? Barely tweeting in Twitter? Haven’t checked out LinkedIn for too long? Missing face time in Facebook? Stop fretting. Social media won’t come crashing down if you get bogged down with work or take a vacation.

Quick Tip: Prolong Your MacBook Battery Life

firmware_updater_icon

Having a laptop battery that drains quickly is one of the most annoying things I can think of. I bought a laptop over a desktop so I could use my computer anywhere and expect the battery to last enough time to get a decent amount of work done. Whenever I find something that can increase my battery life, I get excited. I recently stumbled across a firmware patch for MacBooks that does just that.

The patch was released in March 2009, but I did not find it until just now. According to Apple (s aapl): “This update improves the ability of MacBook batteries to maintain a charge when the system is shut down and not used for an extended period of time. For more information about this update, please visit this web site: About Battery Update 1.4.” Read More about Quick Tip: Prolong Your MacBook Battery Life

Data Centers Hit the Coast and Tap the Tides

Given that most of the world’s data centers are built smack in the middle of large swaths of land, the notion of powering data centers with tidal power sounds about as smart as tapping into solar power undersea. But some early adopters, like Atlantis Resources — which said earlier this week that it’s raised $14 million in funding — are planning on using tidal turbines to feed power to data centers located on or near coastlines. Atlantis wants to plug into two data centers that are being planned in Scotland, one on the coast of the Pentland Firth in Caithness, the other further southwest, in Dumfries and Galloway.
Oliver Williams, a spokesman for Atlantis in the UK, told us that if the company wanted to connect its tidal tubines to the grid, it could take about 10 years to get approval in Scotland, but hooking up to a data center could happen right away — as early as 2011. Atlantis, backed by Morgan Stanley and Statkraft, inherited the first data center project, called Blue Datacenter, from Morgan Stanley as part of a deal with the investment bank last September. The second data center, called Alba 1, comes from Internet Villages International, which teamed up with Atlantis earlier this year.

atlantis_nereus_turbine

Read More about Data Centers Hit the Coast and Tap the Tides

Firms Chosen for 6GW of Scottish Offshore Wind Projects

The Crown Estate, which manages property in the UK, has picked 10 projects today for offshore wind development in Scotland, paving the way for up to 6 gigawatts of renewable power for the UK grid. But the nine companies and organizations involved in the projects, including E.ON, Airtricity, and Scottish Power, still have some hurdles to get over before any deals are final.

airtricity_turbines

The Crown Estate controls the rights to lease the seabed around the UK for renewable energy projects, but has so far only awarded so-called exclusivity agreements for the projects. The Scottish government still has to look at the environmental impact of the proposed wind farms, and the exclusivity agreements allow the developers to start their initial surveys and consultations in meantime. The Crown Estate can only award leases for the sites once the Strategic Environmental Assessment is complete, and that’s not expected until January 2010.

The biggest project is from Scottish Power, part of Spain’s Iberdrola. The Argyll Array, sited west of Argyll and the island of Tiree, could produce 1.5 GW, with the turbines spread over a 224 square mile area.
Read More about Firms Chosen for 6GW of Scottish Offshore Wind Projects

Energy Mapping Comes to Marine Power

Following in the footsteps of the wind industry, marine power is getting its own power map. The government of Scotland, home to the world’s only open sea testing facility for wave and tidal power, has launched a project to map out the potential of renewable energy to the north of the region, in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters.

There weren’t too many details on the so-called Marine Spatial Plan from the government, but it will likely be similar to wind resource maps that are becoming common in the wind industry. Instead of gauging wind gusts, the marine power map will look at the tides and waves, and likely other environmental factors such as the seabed, water depth, and distance to shore.
Read More about Energy Mapping Comes to Marine Power

Ocean Energy Groups Line Up for Scotland’s Saltire Prize

There’s a cash prize in them thar waters! The government of Scotland said today that its £10 million ($14.5 million) Saltire Prize for ocean energy has pulled in 33 registrations of interest from around the world. Scotland, already a major hub for wave and tidal power research, raised its ocean energy profile when it announced the creation of the Saltire Prize in April.

At the time, the Scottish government called it the world’s largest single prize for marine power technology. Although it’s open to groups from other countries, they must prove the commercial viability of their technology in Scotland’s waters.

The registrations of interest follow the release earlier this month of some criteria for the competition. The prize will be awarded to the team that can demonstrate a commercially viable wave or tidal power system that generates at least 100 gigawatt hours of power over two years. The technology will also be judged based on cost, environmental sustainability and safety.

The government did not disclose which groups registered interest in the prize, but it’s likely a who’s-who of the ocean energy industry. In a statement, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond would only say that the interest comes from “some of the great companies and best minds in the world,” including groups from the U.S., Australia, South Africa, India, Mexico, Italy, France, Norway and Spain, as well as Scotland and England.
Read More about Ocean Energy Groups Line Up for Scotland’s Saltire Prize

Scotland Looks at Seaweed for Biofuel

Don’t try stuffing seaweed into your car just yet, but a new project in Europe just received £5 million ($7.5 million) to help turn marine plants into biofuel. The BioMara project will be led by scientists at the Scottish Association for Marine Science and include researchers from Ireland and Northern Ireland to look at producing biofuel from marine biomass as an alternative to production from land-based plants.

Seaweed is a type of algae, and a significant amount of funding has already gone into developing biofuel from algae, with San Diego’s HR BioPetroleum making a deal earlier this year to build a commercial-scale plant in Hawaii. Other algae-to-biofuel startups include Massachusetts-based GreenFuel Technologies, San Francisco’s Solazyme, and New Zealand’s Aquaflow Bionomic.
Read More about Scotland Looks at Seaweed for Biofuel

Scotland Snubbing England in Supergrid Plans?

The Scottish government believes the North Sea could become host to an underwater renewable energy grid, supplying power from wind, wave and tidal power across Europe, but England could be left out in the cold. A new study from Scotland looks at the possibility of a supergrid between Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, but doesn’t mention Scotland’s big neighbor to the south.
Yes, Scotland is still part of the UK, and most of England’s east coast is also on the North Sea, but the word “England” doesn’t even show up once in the 21-page study and “UK” is only used in a couple of footnotes. It might just be an oversight, but the possible snub comes during the same week in which the UK government made a filing with the Commission on Scottish Devolution questioning the Scottish government’s powers covering energy.
Political wrangling aside, there’s a big push for wind and marine power in the UK, not just in Scotland, so the area could become a hub for renewable energy in the region. In October, the UK government said it surpassed Denmark to take the top spot in offshore wind power in the world, boasting 590 megawatts of offshore wind vs. Denmark’s 423 megawatts.
Read More about Scotland Snubbing England in Supergrid Plans?