HUMAN POWER IS ANOTHER STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Microgeneration and Energy Drop
Human power is generated by the end-user. You can charge your mobile phone with the results of your own physical effort, or a gym can power its premises with the efforts of its members. The energy hasn’t had to travel far at all.
That’s not usually the case. Often electricity will have to travel many miles between the source of its generation (a power plant, for example) and the place where it’s needed (home or business).
Power losses are inevitable over larger networks. In the UK, the average is somewhere between 8 and 15%. Much of this loss comes from the Joule effect where energy dissipates as heat inside the conductors.
Generating energy on-site reduces these losses. It also negates any need for the expensive infrastructure required to build and support a modern energy network where electricity must travel over long distances.
Compare that to the energy generated in the flywheel of an indoor bike. The power is transferred to the on-site batteries or to the Ohm battery unit ready to be used.
But it’s not only non-renewable power that requires expansive networks of infrastructure. For the UK to be entirely dependent on solar panels it would need to cover 12% of its landmass with solar arrays. Wind turbines require open flat land, hills or positions close to the coast to be efficient; they need land, too. Hydroelectric power dams can devastate local populations (both wildlife and human). But human power inside a gym space or within a home requires only a small footprint.
Know Where Your Energy is Coming From
With microgeneration, you know where your electricity has come from. Users of the RE:GEN generate it themselves. Members generate power for gyms. But what about when our electricity comes from the network?
Most of us understand the environmental consequences of generating electricity from non-renewable energy sources. Burning fossil fuels has had (and continues to have) a devastating effect on the environment, so you don’t have to be a card-carrying placard-wielding Greenpeace activist to know that clean energy is a good thing.
Power companies see this as an opportunity to tap into a more environmentally conscious market. They can attract new customers and will often charge a higher rate for switching people to a green tariff.
The UK doesn’t generate enough clean energy to run the entire network on renewable power alone. Power companies must still rely on the electricity generated from coal-fired stations or nuclear power plants to supply demand. So, on a green tariff, a power company will promise either to offset all or a proportion of a customer’s energy use by matching that amount with renewable energy. It creates the illusion that power companies are investing in clean energy options.
But can we be sure that the energy we’re getting is green?
Green energy comes with a certificate that proves its eco-credentials. Unfortunately, it’s easy to separate these certificates from the original source and then repurpose them to certify non-renewable energy. This is known as greenwashing: when a company pretends to be eco-friendlier than it is. This is relatively widespread across the industry.
Campaigners want to close this loophole and insist on regulation. They argue energy suppliers should be honest about where their power comes from so that energy consumers can use their buying power to help the environment rather than undermine it. Generating your own power is one way of always knowing where your power has come from.
You can hold the electricity in your hands or keep it inside the battery to use later.