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Science
COSTING THE EARTH
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Thursday 21:00-21:30
Costing the Earth tells stories which touch all our lives, looking at man's effect on the environment and at how the environment reacts. It questions accepted truths, challenges the people in charge and reports on progress towards improving the world we live in.
LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 5 August
PRESENTER
MIRIAM O'REILLY
Miriam O'Reilly
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Thursday 5 August 2004
The Norwegian Island of Utsira
An unlikely starting point for an energy revolution

Island Power

Fans of the Shipping Forecast might be familiar with the tiny island of Utsira (famously surrounded by sea areas North Utsira and South Utsira) but few could place it on a map. That, however, may be about to change. The people of Utsira are to become the first community in Western Europe to cut off the power. They’re going to voluntarily cut their links with the mainland electricity grid.
A wind turbine

There’s no shortage of wind on this stretch of the Norwegian coast so the engineering company Norsk-Hydro have lashed two traditional wind generators to a state-of-the-art hydrogen fuel cell. When the wind blows the residents get their electricity and the fuel cell gets charged. On the rare days when the wind drops the fully-charged fuel cell can keep the power flowing. The result should be a constant flow of cheap electricity, no longer reliant on an over-stretched grid or expensive imports of oil or gas.

In ‘Costing the Earth’ Miriam O’Reilly finds out how the people of Utsira feel about cutting their connections to the mainland and asks if this tiny North Sea rock could provide a model of self-sufficiency for island and rural communities around the world.
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