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On Now : Stephen Nolan
25/04/2015
BBC Radio 5 live
The 5 live blog

Phil Critchlow, director of TBI Media, which is producing 5 live's Energy Day, explains how 5 live's studio will be powered.

5 live's Energy Day relies on a ‘micro grid’ or ‘power generation node’ fed by renewable energy sources to produce the power required to run the 5 live studio. From the word go it was clear that there would be a degree of compromise in creating this ‘model’ of the national grid. With the best will in the world, the climate in one part of Salford, on one day in September 2013 would hardly be representative of the UK average as a whole across a given year. Wind, as one example, is particularly disrupted by the buildings on the site. But, allowing for this, and with a clear understanding that our objective was to be illustrative rather than ‘laboratory proof’ we began

Likely energy required

The 5 live studio is in an inflatable dome ‘tent’ on the MediaCityUK piazza providing cover for our kinetic bikes, and a marquee which, as well as providing cover from the weather for the production team, will also hold up to 100 people seated as a studio audience.

Three principal areas of energy requirement emerged. By combining these it became clear that we will need to generate an average of approximately 7 kilowatts of power to create the approximately 84 kilowatt hours needed across the day.

Equipment Watts kWh

1 – BBC Broadcast Equipment 750 9.00
2 – Dome – Fans for the inflatable structure 2400 28.80
3 – Dome – Lights 3800 45.60

NB : The kilowatt hour (symbol kW·h, kW h or kWh) is a unit of energy equal to 1000 watt hours or 3.6 mega joules. For constant power, energy in watt hours is the product of power in watts and time in hours. The kilowatt hour is most commonly known as a billing unit for energy delivered to consumers.

Likely energy generated

When it came to powering the studio we have tried, as far as is practical - to replicate the kind of proportions of energy generated in the UK in 2012.

2012 UK Electricity generated breakdown

Coal 39%
Gas 28%
Nuclear 19%
TOTAL 86%

Renewables 11.3%
Other Sources 2.7%
TOTAL 14 %

So 86% of the energy generated in the UK last year come from power stations using coal, gas and nuclear reactors, with around 14% coming from renewable and other sources.

We have replaced the power supplied to the national grid by coal, gas and nuclear with a similar proportion (86.3%) created, for our grid, by a biodiesel generator using treated Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) from the BBC canteen in Salford.

The rest will be supplied by small scale solar, wind and kinetic (or human) power.

Energy Day – Energy production estimates

Biodiesel 86.3 %
TOTAL 86.3%

Solar 8.4 %
Wind 0.6 %
Kinetic 4.7 %
TOTAL 13.7 %

All the sources will simultaneously charge a very large battery system or hybrid power generator, and the studio will be powered by the energy stored in that system. As with the national grid this will allow a degree of fluctuation over the 12 hour period.

All we then have to do is create a system to measure the various energy sources across the day, and make sure the energy we will be drawing from the battery is ultimately going to be less than we generate in Kilowatt Hours (kWh) across the day.

Sensors have been built to measure the energy generated and software written to allow the four sources (Solar/Wind/Kinetic/Bio) to be represented graphically, both on the big screen in the MediaCityUK Piazza and on the BBC Radio 5 live website.

With the ‘Y’ axis measuring up to 7 Kilowatts and the ‘X’ axis showing 12 hours, we also decided to show the total power being generated ‘now’ and a countdown in Kilowatt Hours of the energy used across the day, starting at 7am from 84 kW h and reaching zero kW h - hopefully before 7pm.

So that’s the methodology. Due to the nature of the subject estimates have clearly been made along the way, but at the heart of the idea is a concept which we hope will help illustrate many of the points in discussion during the day.

5 live's Energy Day is Thursday 5 September. Listen live throughout the day.

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Comments

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  • Comment number 45. Posted by Jackstumps

    on 7 Sept 2013 16:44

    Well that woke everybody up didn't it? Where's Robbie Savage when you don't need him?

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  • Comment number 44. Posted by aussepom

    on 5 Sept 2013 16:23

    Hi, I am sorry did not want to break your rules but the new technology uses water as its main fuel so there are no harmful emissions it is used as a replacement for the heat source in boilers. This technology is being developed in Australia and so coal would be replaced as a fuel and the same for natural gas in power generation as the process has no harmful emissions and can provide much cheaper power. The harm done by fracking and the low noise irritations from the wind power generators I cannot understand why people are duped into this type of generation. The plasma output of the new technology has temperatures over 10,000C and can be used in several ways, the prototype is still under testing. This is not advertising but informing your station of new exciting technology.

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  • Comment number 43. Posted by KT

    on 5 Sept 2013 16:10

    ve been listening to the Energy debate on and off throughout and the day and I am particularly interested as my current MSc research assignment is to investigate public acceptance/rejection of renewable energies in their local environment.
    Earlier the major power Chief executive claimed that electricity costs would be passed onto the consumer due to 20% of power plants approaching the end of life span and that replacement renewable energies would have set up costs. I do not buy the argument that all the costs should be passed onto the consumer, because the UK Government does offer and allocate renewable obligation bid grants. The general public should be made aware of this arrangement. My question is exactly how much consumer money is used towards developing renewable energy technology plants versa amounts invested by UK grants?
    However, whilst in principle the grants sounds like a good solution, there are examples of withdrawn grant money. One example from 2004 was the proposed 21.5MW biomass plant at a disused airfield in a rural Devon village called Winkleigh, this would cost 36M where the Department of trade and Industry (DTI) had awarded the developers Peninsular Power 11.6Million, nearly one third of the total costs. The planning proposal and later appeal was rejected by the local council and DTI withdrew their funding. Similarly Ambient Energy Limited were awarded a Government Renewable Obligation grant (sorry I do not know the exact cost) to build a 5MW biomass plant at Cricklade North Wilshire, and again this particular planning proposal was rejected by the local council and the funds withdrawn.

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  • Comment number 42. Posted by Stuart -Horsham

    on 5 Sept 2013 15:35

    That's 300 tonnes per day since meltdown. Why are there French troops in Mali? yeah you guessed it Uranium. With over 75% of French power coming from nuclear of course they are there.

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  • Comment number 41. Posted by Stuart -Horsham

    on 5 Sept 2013 15:17

    Nuclear using Uranium isn't sustainable and we still haven't found a way of disposing the spent fuel. I was living on the West coast of Canada when Fukushima went into meltdown. All across the west coast scientists were finding hot particles in the air filters of cars. The Weather was terrible from April to June that year with plenty of rain, that's the last thing we wanted. 300 tonnes of contaminated water has leaked into the Pacific Ocean since the meltdown.

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  • Comment number 40. Posted by birty

    on 5 Sept 2013 15:04

    The requirements for the studio demonstrate the heart of the problem: you needed 750 watts to get the job done (broadcast the signal), apparantly needed 2400+3800 just for the 'comforts'. This could be drastically reduced with better planning - a rigid tent eliminates the fans and 3.8KW for lights is ludicrous. What about LED lighting! This same problem occurs throughout the industry. The first step in renewables is to reduce and rethink your energy requirements with better up front planning, THEN work out how to meet the need.

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  • Comment number 39. Posted by Micoh

    on 5 Sept 2013 14:44

    The problem with energy production is not the technology required to produce it but with The problem with energy production is not the technology required to produce it but with governments, in collusion with the energy companies, not allowing the use of them.

    Watch this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeoCUB8bRO4
    of evidence being given to congress in May this year.

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  • Comment number 38. Posted by robert rushton

    on 5 Sept 2013 14:41

    dear minister
    i had a greendeal assessment carried out on the 22 feb 2013,paid my £130,since that time i have not been able to get a provider,no matter how hard i try,could you please give me information of where i could go to get a provider,i have tried at least eight providers on a list i was given,and no one has confirmed that they can help me, thanks bob.

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  • Comment number 37. Posted by lindzen4pm

    on 5 Sept 2013 14:01

    Here is what happens when you go down the green route, as espoused by all the activists, eco-types, troughers, profiteers and other assorted vested interests that the BBC is so keen to promote. Germany is well ahead of us with their renewable energy policy, which has resulted in

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/high-costs-and-errors-of-german-transition-to-renewable-energy-a-920288.html

    Not very pretty. That is your green future. I'll stick with cheap reliable energy thanks, that powers everything, when we want it. If you don't, you're either a hypocrite, or living in a cave.

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  • Comment number 36. Posted by lindzen4pm

    on 5 Sept 2013 13:33

    Germany is not cutting down its power stations. It is much further down the road in terms of wind power, but, pertinently, is now building coal fired power stations using Lignite, a very dirty answer. Why? Because their energy bills are eye-wateringly expensive, and over 600,000 are now in fuel poverty. Even Mrs. Merkel realises her green dream has turned into a nightmare for many of her countrymen. Not that the green BBC would ever publish or broadcast that, dear me no.

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