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August 17, 2011 • Energy Efficiency, Sustainability, Travel & Leisure

Happy “low carbon” summer holidays!

by Sara Hoefkens

About two weeks ago, as I was sipping from a cocktail on a white-pebbled beach in a Greek bay with crystal blue clear water, I started thinking about the enormous amount of energy that is used every year in making people’s summer holidays happen. Holidays account for a surprising amount of the energy we use each year, with flights, driving, hotel stays and added extras like boat trips all contributing to our carbon footprint. continue

June 20, 2011 • Emerging Technology, Energy Generation, Energy Innovation, Perspectives

The power of the ocean

by Sara Hoefkens

Those of you who read one of my previous blog posts (“About Sailing and Energy Management”) will remember my adoration for ocean sailing. With all these years and miles of sailing, my respect and love for the ocean has grown very strong. That’s why I could not let the month pass by without remembering the annual “World Oceans Day,” celebrated on June 8.

World Oceans Day (WOD) is an opportunity every year to honor the ocean, celebrate the products the ocean provides and appreciate its own intrinsic value. WOD was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2008, and since then it has been coordinated internationally by The Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network with greater success each year in participation and building awareness of how our lives depend on the ocean. It’s actually amazing to consider, but the ocean helps generate most of the oxygen we breathe, feeds us, regulates our climate, cleans the water we drink, offers us a pharmacopoeia of potential medicines and last but not least, forms an inexhaustible source of renewable energy! continue

April 26, 2011 • Current Events, Electricity, Energy Innovation, Natural Gas

One step closer to a European single energy market

by Sara Hoefkens

Did you know that Europe is the world’s second-smallest continent by surface area, covering “only” about 10,180,000 square kilometres (3,930,000 square miles) or a merely 2% of the Earth’s surface and about 6.8% of its land area?

In spite of being so “tiny” though, one of the coolest aspects about living on the European continent is, without any doubt, the enormous diversity of the people, cultures and long history of its 50 member states. It makes Europe one of the most fascinating continents to live on, travel and explore!

Now, in the midst of all this variety and cultural differences, Europe at the same time continuously strives toward unification and cross-country standardization. To capture joint economic and political possibilities, the European Union and its 27 member states have developed a single market through a standardised system of laws that applies in all member states, including the abolition of passport controls within the Schengen area and the implementation of the eurozone in 1999 in seventeen member states.

Recently, the EU made another move toward unification, on the energy front (!), with the inauguration in Slovenia of ACER, the EU’s new Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, as new legislation for liberalising the EU’s internal energy market came into force. continue

March 22, 2011 • Perspectives

It’s a (energy) data-driven world …

by Sara Hoefkens

We live in a world that is increasingly data-rich. Each day, we use data, we generate data and we access countless different data sources and information. Most of these, we access via the web: online newspapers, bank accounts, travel arrangements, social networking, etc. But we also use data outside of the web, for instance through our gps system in the car. Imagining our lives without having access to various data sources has simply become very hard, not to say unthinkable.

And at the end of the day, it’s what we DO with these data that makes them so important and valuable. Simply said, it’s all about the VALUE we efficiently extract out of the information we have.

Some people take this motto very seriously and go as far as to apply it in their daily routine in order to obtain self-knowledge through numbers – which is called “self-tracking.” They use a computer, mobile phone, electronic gadget, or pen and paper to record work, sleep, exercise, diet, mood, or anything else…. continue

February 16, 2011 • Travel & Leisure

About sailing and energy management

by Sara Hoefkens

My favourite sport is sailing. They always say that when you go sailing for the first time, you either hate it or you love it. Well, I’ve definitely fallen into that last category. Since I set foot aboard a sailing yacht about 10 years ago, I must have sailed more than 80,000 nautical miles, including 9 transatlantic crossings, on big yachts, on dinghies, in the Caribbean, in the Med, on the North Sea, you name it. I’m seriously hooked!

And come to think of it, I must have been hooked on energy management without ever even realizing it since the day I took on sailing!

Now, what on earth does sailing have to do with energy management? Well, everything. Think about it. Sailing requires energy to make your yacht sail forward. This energy is delivered in the form of wind (and to some extent waves and current), gets transferred to your sailing yacht, and with the right on-board energy management programme (right choice of sails and surface, trim of sails, steering at the right wind angle, tacking, gibing, navigating charts… ) your yacht starts to sail! continue

January 19, 2011 • Energy Efficiency, Perspectives, Sustainability

If 2 is a party, but 3 is a crowd, what is 7 billion?!

by Sara Hoefkens

A new study by the Population Reference Bureau (PRB)  shows that in 2011 the entire world population will hit 7 billion people, assuming that 2.6 new babies are entering our world every second. Twelve  years ago we hit 6 billion people, and 24 years ago we hit  5 billion people. And … fasten your seat belts because the PRB predicts that the entire world population will double itself by 2050!

Reflecting on this enormous boom in world population, a team of experts has prophesied how this possibly could impact – for good or bad – Earth’s energy sources in the next 25 years. Providing sufficient energy to allow everyone to lead decent lives will be an enormous challenge whilst returning to a world that relies on human and animal muscle power is not an option. continue

December 8, 2010 • Energy Generation, Energy Innovation, Sustainability

Always the Sun

by Sara Hoefkens

I was going through my CD music collection last weekend and came across the Stranglers’ “Dreamtime” album. I put on the CD, and the first song  “Always the Sun” filled the room. It had been a hit throughout Europe during the late 80s. When the Stranglers, one of the longest-surviving and most successful bands from the UK punk scene, wrote this song in 1986, they probably didn’t suspect their song had a big energy sustainability message. continue

November 18, 2010 • Energy Efficiency, Energy's Lighter Side, Sustainability

Do the energy sustainability dance.

by Sara Hoefkens

For those of you that like to host a party or hit the dancefloor from time to time, there is now a great energy efficient way to do this by capturing the energy of you and your friend’s dancing feet.

Teamed up with a team of engineers, a Dutch organization driving energy sustainability projects, has developed the“sustainable dance floor”, which in addition to flashing and changing its colour has the distinctive feature of converting the steps of the dancers in energy that can be directly used by the party host for lighting and other systems. Integrated energy metering monitors the energy and encourages you and your friends to dance even more – doing your bit for the environment doesn’t have to be boring! continue

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