The world of green technology is evolving fast. We’ve been taking a look at the cleverest new kit, and what it can do for people and the planet.
Claimed to be the world's first artificially functioning leaves, the design is able to replicate the photosynthesis process. The possibilities are endless. Not only could it have a huge impact on long distance space travel - the ability to continually produce oxygen would mean that space flights wouldn't be limited to the time it takes to deplete reserves - but there is also talk of integrating the technology into building designs, essentially turning skyscrapers into 90 floor trees. Unbe-leaf-able!
Spray on solar technology has been in the works for a while, but this year scientists in Sheffield announced that they had taken a huge step towards making it viable. Using a new material, the clever so-and sos have created a solar paint that can be sprayed onto surfaces, potentially making ugly and cumbersome panels a thing of the past.
The possibilities are endless. Imagine electric cars coated in order to keep their batteries going, or energy-efficient buildings using solar walls to keep their lights on. It could even - brace yourselves - give us the holy grail of technology: a smartphone that never dies.
The Bosco Verticale (vertical forest) is a pair of residential towers in Milan - one of the most polluted cities in Italy - that are home to more than 900 trees, 5,000 shrubs and 11,000 floral plants. The greenery not only makes the buildings a lovely place to live, but also provides much needed urban habitats for birds and insects, produces oxygen, and absorbs dust and CO2 from Milan's smoggy atmosphere. It's hoped that the development will lead to more innovative integration between urban architecture and plant life, both in Milan and further afield. One day the term concrete jungle might mean something completely different.
Ever since the first steel skyscraper sprang up in 1884 in Chicago, we haven't been able to stop building higher and higher. a new skyscraper is topped off in China ever five days, while in the UK - according to The Guardian - 47 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions are generated from buildings. With ten per cent of CO2 emissions coming from construction materials, it's safe to say that all this building is no good for the environment. But a new innovation might see us return to the oldest - and greenest - building material of all: good old reliable wood. Thanks to a new type of super-plywood, architects around the world are suddenly able to use wood as a viable construction material for high-rise buildings. By gluing layers of low-grade softwood together to create super-strength timber panels, this 'engineered timber' can be made more than strong enough to support a multi-storey structure.
Since wood continues to absorb carbon dioxide even when part of a building, wooden 'plyscrapers' could potentially be a huge benefit to the environment. In fact, the difference between the carbon produced by a 20-storey concrete building and a 20-storey wooden building could be equivalent to taking 900 cars off the road for a year.
We might not like to think about it, but there's a lot of power in poo. Treatment plants have long burnt up some of the bio-methane gas that is a byproduct of sewage to power onsite electricity power plants. Now, however, new gas-to-grid systems have been installed which will allow water firms including Severn Trent, Wessex Water and Northumbrian to pipe a continuous supply of biomethane gas directly from their plants onto the National Grid, and into our homes. That means that the methane generated at sewage works - which is potentially 25 times more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide - won't be released into the environment but will instead be put to good use, like frying bacon and heating showers. All this means that water companies could finally make the move from greenhouse-gas emitters into renewable energy providers. I'm sure they're flushed with pride.
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Additional terms and conditions
Please see below for full terms and conditions on 33% renewable electricity, 3% interest rewards, exit fees and saving claims.
1Monthly cost - Representative monthly direct debit costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying in advance by direct debit, including online discount. All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
2Weekly cost - Representative weekly costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas). All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
3Pay Monthly Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYM OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
4Pay As You Go Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYG OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
We include almost twice as much renewable electricity as the national average: At least 33% of electricity in all of our tariffs comes from renewable sources. The national average, according to Ofgem as at March 2014 was 16.7%. For more information please visit this page.
33% of your electricity comes from renewable sources: 33% renewable electricity as standard as of 1st April 2015. Renewable electricity is generated from wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogas.
3% interest: Calculated at 3% per year, paid monthly based on number of days in credit and the amount left in your account after you’ve paid your bill. OVO Interest Reward is capped at 12 times the amount of the current direct debit amount and is available to customers paying by advance direct debit. Terms apply: http://www.ovoenergy.com/terms/
95% of new customers save when switching to OVO: Based on all new customer signups between 01/02/2016 and 31/07/2016
94% of surveyed customers would recommend us: OVO conducted a survey of their customers in between 1st January 2016 and 15th April 2016. Out of 15,312 customers who responded, over 94% rated OVO 6+ when asked 'how likely would you be to recommend us to a friend and family, on a scale of 1 to 10.
Britain's top rated energy provider: Britain's top rated energy provider in the Which? 2015 satisfaction survey. Survey conducted in October 2015. Awarded in January 2016.