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6 weird alternative energy sources

Everybody knows that dirty fossil fuels have had their day, but it’s great that scientists aren’t stopping at solar panels and wind turbines in their quest to find ever more efficient and effective renewables. Even if some of the new kids on the energy sources block are really quite...well...gross.

OVO Energy, a supplier who deals with the less nauseating side of renewable energy, like good old wind, tide, and solar energy have picked some favourites:

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1. Faeces and urine

Step away from the flush. Scientists in Australia have found a way to harness the power of methane found in human faeces in order to power a VW Beetle. Hop over to Pennsylvania, and an entrepreneurial dairy farmer is using the 18,000 gallons of manure his 600 cows produce everyday to generate heating, bedding, electricity and fuel – saving $60,000 a year.

Meanwhile, in ‘wee bonny’ Scotland, scientists at Heriot-Watt University's School of Engineering and Physical Sciences are looking to produce the world’s first urine-powered fuel cells. And, across the Atlantic in San Francisco and Cambridge, Massachusetts, dog walkers are being encouraged to drop off dog poo bags into a container called a ‘digester’, which then uses bacteria to break down the matter to produce methane which powers lights.

2. Bacteria and bugs

Bacteria is also being used to help produce biodiesel – a fuel made using vegetable or seed oil and alcohol. The snag is that its production process demands loads of external energy, which means that scientists are considering other cheaper, and more efficient ways of producing oil – including using insects.

 

3. Dead bodies

‘Throw another leg on the fire will you love’ are words none of us wish to utter. But the icky truth is that body parts have recently been discovered as fuel. One UK company has gone so far as suggesting that bodies could be used at funerals to warm up grieving mourners, but as of yet, this macabre thought hasn’t been brought to *cough* life yet.

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4. Live bodies! (via the London Underground)

Anybody who travels on the London Underground regularly knows that it’s a smorgasbord of sweaty armpits, sticky trousers and red faces – particularly in summer when temperatures sit well above 30C. Now, there are plans to capture this subterranean heat and pipe it into a North London power network that supplies more than 700 homes in Islington with greener heating and could cut residents’ energy bills by 10%.

5. Moving bodies

Whenever we walk, run, work-out or move in any way, we create energy – which is why some gyms in Hong Kong are now powered by humans. This innovative, people-powered technology has even been used in Rotterdam to create a Sustainable Dance Club, where the energy created by booty-shaking dancers is being used to fire up the lights, spin the decks and more.

6. Bovine flatulence

Bless cows. They give us milk, steak, leather – and picture-perfect scenes of the English countryside. Unfortunately their methane-heavy farts contribute to climate change, so it’s a good job that scientists in California have developed a way to extract methane from cow poo and convert it into biogas. Researchers in Argentina have even developed a bovine backpack that captures a cow's emissions via a tube attached to the stomach, with each animal producing a whopping 800 to 1,000 litres of gas each day.  

 

Not yet ready to heat your home with cow poo? Then get a free quote for OVO – the Which? top rated energy supplier* that could save you up to £156. Every plan comes with 33% renewable electricity too.

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*Achieved the highest score of 78% in the Which? Satisfaction Survey conducted in September and October 2016. 

1Saving based on the estimated annual cost of OVO Two year fixed tariff for a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying monthly in advance by direct debit, including online discount. Comparisons made against the average of the Big 6 standard variable tariffs with equivalent features. All rates correct as of 04/10/2017.“The Big 6” are British Gas, Scottish Power, SSE, Npower, E.ON and EDF.