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25/01/2015
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Can a radio studio be powered only by renewable energy?

Editor BBC Radio 5 live

On Thursday 5th September we’ll find out, as we fill the public piazza at BBC North with solar panels, wind turbines, processed chip fat for biofuel and enough exercise bikes to keep Richard Bacon’s show on-air by pedal-power…if our guests and listeners can cycle fast enough!

It all starts at 7am when we switch on a specially constructed mini-grid. For the next 12 hours a temporary outside studio in the piazza will be powered only by renewable energy.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed for sun, the “right type of wind” for the turbines and that the likes of British Cycling’s Chris Boardman can motivate every passer-by to get peddling to keep the needles wagging.


So why attempt this?

By 2020 a quarter of Britain’s capacity to generate power will be shut down, as old coal and nuclear power stations are due to close down. At the same time, our demand for power increases:



The energy regulator Ofgem has warned that if we don’t find solutions soon, we could face blackouts and our energy bills may go up dramatically. Politicians accept there is an issue, but there’s disagreement over what the solution might be, as the recent protests about fracking have shown.


What power sources will 5 live be using?

Britain has a legally binding target to produce 15% of all energy from renewables by 2020. On Energy Day 5 live will be harnessing solar power (solar panels), wind power (turbines), bio fuel (processing waste vegetable oil from the BBC North canteen) and human power (presenters and guests on exercise bikes, roundabouts and see-saws connected to the grid).

The energy debate goes much further than renewable energy though, so throughout the day we will also be discussing the role of non-renewable energy sources. The future role of nuclear, coal, gas and processes such as fracking will all be investigated:

Watch our video reports here


Who will be on-air?

5 live Breakfast will be reporting live from the piazza. Nicky Campbell will host “Your Call” in front of an audience with the Energy Secretary Ed Davey taking listeners questions about the energy debate.

Shelagh Fogarty’s Consumer Team will have an energy prices special, finding out how you can save money on your bills.

Richard Bacon’s programme will be pedal-powered, with guests and listeners cycling on bikes connected to our mini-grid. Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman will join Richard and set the bar on our cycling leaderboard.

5 live Drive will invite industry experts to debate how we keep the lights on in Britain and looking at what solutions may have been found in Europe.

Our TV colleagues from BBC Breakfast, the BBC News Channel and Blue Peter are also joining in our Energy Day and an advisor from Rip Off Britain will be on hand to share money saving tips on your energy bills.

We’d love for you to come and join in the debate, and pedal to help us stay on air, so to be part of Energy Day come along to BBC North, Media City, Salford on Thursday 5th September.

Comments

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  • Comment number 14. Posted by roger

    on 3 Sept 2013 12:43

    any chance of answering this question:- Why does fracking get tax breaks to ultimately keep energy bills low and renewables get subsidies which have to be paid for by increased energy bills

    until renewables and fossil fuels are allowed to compete on a level playing field renewables will always be playing catch up to fossil fuels

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  • Comment number 13. Posted by tomo

    on 3 Sept 2013 10:36

    Great to see the BBC are dragging this energy shortage crisis into the light, excuse the pun, but the government of the day have there head in the sand, keep cutting tariffs that encourage renewable generation, they know one day power cuts are inevitable but no one wants to talk about it, well done Radio 5

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  • Comment number 12. Posted by Paul

    on 3 Sept 2013 09:09

    What is this supposed to prove, a huge effort will be needed to generate the minimal power to run a few amplifiers and monitors? Probably be doing more harm than good for the renewable causes as it will show the massive gap between what renewables are able to deliver and the energy requirements of even the tiniest operation. Perhaps the anti-coal / nuclear / fracking brigades will wake up when the power cuts start as renewables cannot possibly deliver the requirements of a burgeoning population hungry for power. There are about 5,000 wind turbines which, as I write this, are producing 2.1% of the country's energy needs - so we only need another 233,000 to be built and that will meet the energy needs - but of course only when the wind is blowing!

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  • Comment number 11. Posted by marianne birkby

    on 2 Sept 2013 21:57

    Ask Ed Davey how nuclear wastes will be cooled into eternity ..government says says Nuclear is carbon free ...this is a big fat lie. here in Cumbria Sellafield stopped producing electricity in 2006. Sellafield uses more fossil fuel yearly than all the households of Whitehaven and Workington combined, in 2009 it was £30M, a staggering amount of fossil fuel and they get it on the cheap from the public purse! Carbon free? Fossil fuel is required to cool the wastes (necessary) and reprocess spent fuel (unecessary and adds to the high level liquid wastes) , a stoppage of power to the cooling ponds would lead to catastrophe, the evacuation of people from Glasgow to Liverpool and pollution of neighbouring countries. Carbon Free it ain't, even if was, it is killing us, literally..why continue with the insane plan for more? http://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/what-sellafield-doesnt-want-you-to-know-while-gas-prices-rise/

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  • Comment number 10. Posted by LadyEcon

    on 2 Sept 2013 21:48

    Surely the power that Richard Bacon generates to drive his ego combined with all the hot air he pumps out is perfectly sufficient to run a radio show!

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  • Comment number 9. Posted by TooOldToCount

    on 2 Sept 2013 16:00

    You'll be able to power an outside broadcast truck with used canteen oil -> bio-diesel all day as long as you've already converted an ample supply beforehand. (I'd do so in case your other sources fail.)
    How many needed chips per hour of programming ?

    As an aside, here is a group of free on-line courses (MOOCS) which provide some serious background to the subject :
    Sustainability :: https://www.coursera.org/course/sustain

    Energy Systems (eDx starts next week) ::
    https://www.coursera.org/course/energy101
    https://www.edx.org/course/utaustin/ut-1-01x/energy-101/667

    Solar Power :: https://www.edx.org/course/delft-university-technology/et3034tux/solar-energy/770

    Nuclear Power :: https://www.coursera.org/course/nuclearscience

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  • Comment number 8. Posted by Fedster

    on 2 Sept 2013 12:20

    This Blog must be the most irrelevant thing on the station, no one cares about it, Will it appears asks people to Blog, when they dont want to, and then they dont bother answering any Questions, what about topics in the news about 5live, Chiles returning for one, no coverage of the super cup another.

    Whats the point in this Blog?

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  • Comment number 7. Posted by fjpickett

    on 2 Sept 2013 11:16

    I take it that the transmitters (which use real power) are still connected to the main grid..?

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  • Comment number 6. Posted by Will

    on 2 Sept 2013 10:58

    Pedal power can not be considered to be a renewable resource. Vast quantities of oil are consumed in the production of food, which indirectly powers those pedalling. Indeed, one environmental analysis of this issue is entitled "eating oil". Without fossil fuels it would be simply impossible to feed a population of 60 million living in a small country the size of the UK.
    The BBC has long championed wind energy - perhaps it should attempt to power "Energy Day" using wind turbines alone !

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  • Comment number 5. Posted by Andrew

    on 30 Aug 2013 11:18

    'Richard Bacon’s programme will be pedal-powered, with guests and listeners cycling on bikes connected to our mini-grid'. Right, I'm off to Wilkinsons to bulk buy some tacks and I'll be back just prior to 2PM.

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