Thursday, October 10, 2013

CUEN Welcome Squash
19:00 Tuesday, 15th October 2013. Cambridge Union Society.

The Annual Squash Event will be held on the 15th October 2013 at 7pm at the Cambridge Union Society (Round Church). After a short introduction into our activities, we will have the opportunity to network. Drinks and nibbles provided 

We are looking forward to meeting you there.

The CUEN Committee

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

CUEN kicks off academic year 2013/2014

CUEN @ The Society Fair 8/9 October 2013

As every year, CUEN will have a stall at the Society Fair at Kelsey Kerridge (Stall HD09 in the Main Hall). You will have the chance to get to know CUEN, the committee and the opportunities to be engaged in the society yourself. We are looking forward to meeting many of you.

 The CUEN Committee

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Are smart cities the answer to rising populations?

New smart cities are seen by some as the answer to rising populations and fewer resources – but others believe existing infrastructure holds the key

28 January 2013 

Masdar city cars

Self-driving electric cars will be a feature of Masdar City, Abu Dhabi. But is it the answer to rising populations and fewer resources? Photograph: Kamran Jebreili/AP
Meeting the twin global challenges of more people and dwindling resources requires dramatic solutions. One answer is to build entirely new "smart cities", using the latest in technology and construction techniques. 

The most well-know of this kind of project is Masdar City, which is being build on a spare square mile of desert by Abu Dhabi international airport and due to be completed in 2025 (pushed back from 2016). The city will be raised metres above a concrete base to maximize its exposure to cooling winds, petrol cars banned and replaced by a fleet of self-driving electric cars in specially-built tunnels, and low-energy appliances and insulation mean the city will use only a quarter of the energy of a traditional city its size (an expected 40,000 residents and 50,000 commuters), almost all of which will be provided by a solar farm positioned outside the city limits.

What's not to like? Well, according to some of the world's leading thinkers in urban design and architecture, quite a lot. Bjarke Ingels, the Danish architect [...] thinks that Masdar is "not exactly very practical. It's an extreme prestige project that doesn't really work in conventional economical terms." The price tag for Masdar has been reported as $22bn (£14bn). [...] "The majority of the cities that will be our cities of the future are already here", continues Ingels. "Cities evolve in gradual increments. Even a city like Shenzhen, that grew from being a fisherman's village 30 years ago to being 40 million people at the last count, is developing on a series of existing conditions."

Adam Greenfield, founder and managing director of New York urban technology company Urbanscale, and working on the book The City is Here For You to Use, agrees with Ingels. "Instead of building smart cites, we need to ... help cities do what they already do," he says. "To remain supple enough in our technological and budgetary commitments that we can respond." [...] 
In other words, the technology of a brand new city may begin as cutting edge, but could be outdated even before completion, and that of existing cities may be outdated, but the infrastructure is already there to build upon and retrofit.

"We do need a radical new approach, but the radical new approach may be hiding right under our noses," says Greenfield. "Retrofitting means an acknowledgement of and an adaptation to reality. Habits and patterns of sociability change – we cannot begin to know, when we layout a plan for a new city, what use people are going to make of it. The street literally does find its own use for things." [...] 

However, if retrofitting is the answer, is it happening? There are a handful of positive examples, such as the Bristol retrofit city initiative. Or poster child projects such as the Tate Modern's regeneration of the Bankside power station, or New York's High Line park giving new life to the former central railroad.Ingels also points to the transformation of industrial river waterfronts into the Hudson River Park and the East River Park in New York, a trend that can be seen from Oslo to Newcastle. "These are radical developments that have occurred relatively invisibly over the past 10 years but are massively changing how the city feels and how it is to inhabit ... It's a continual re-investment and upgrade of existing cities." [...] 
"You will see many more such examples in the future: major public investments in energy or transport that won't be the evil overpass that creates shadowy wastelands underneath, but more carefully considered urban interventions ... Once completed, our project will open up the possibility for other cities to continue this development."
Not so much out with the old and in with the new, then, but the old and new working together.


Saturday, December 01, 2012

Energy Bill 2012 finally out!

On 29th November 2012, the long-awaited Energy Bill was published, raising mostly optimistic reactions from the energy businesses and industry. On the other hand, the feedback from the public is rather sceptical, yet arguably understandable since there must be a price to pay if the government urges green energy resources to play more important role in the UK energy generation in the future. 

As Ed Davey, the Energy Minister, claimed in his speech, the Bill is about to transform the energy landscape with the aim for the UK to shift into 'low carbon economy'.  Apart from the emphasised criticism by energy customers facing higher prices for the electricity bills by 2020 and no definite stand on setting the decarbonisation limits in 2020s/2030s, no other flaws have appeared to be seen. Energy business professionals reacted calmly, highly anticipating incentives and governmental support to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, take energy-reducing measures and implement and sustain greener technologies.

For enthusiasts, please do read through the Guardian article with a perfect summary of what the Bill is about, and the feedback it has generated from the whole spectrum of people involved, including UK citizens, energy business and industry professionals, environmental groups. 

The Energy Bill 2012 can be downloaded from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change official website.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Green bank launched in Edinburgh

As BBC reports, as of today the UK's new Green Investment Bank has been officially launched in Edinburgh. With its major presence in London, the bank will invest in areas such as renewable energy, carbon capture and storage and energy efficiency measures. 

Green banks are designed to aid environmentally conscious businesses and consumers through offering better loan rates and other incentives. Skim through the article here

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Energy Bill 2012

(part 1.)

aka. paying more for green power?

Count the days UK citizens!

The Energy Bill 2012 is to be published next week. It will summarise the measures the government will be taking to optimise the electricity and gas systems in the UK, making them more efficient and emphasise the increasing role of clean technologies in the UK power generation.

It will cover the policies undertaken to target UK climate change, carbon footprint limits, decarbonization and carbon dioxide emissions. As summarised by DamianCarrington, the Head of Environment section, Guardian, UK, the bill assesses government's energy plans which set out how Britain will power itself for the next decades. He pointed out clearly that the energy plan estimates how much money will be taken from each taxpayers' electricity and gas bill to pay for renewables/nuclear power generation/cleaner technologies and energy efficiency maintenance. Electricity and gas bills will increase roughly up to 95 pounds per household in 2020. Thus, every taxpayer will pay more for green power. The major issue that is not clearly addressed within the bill is the estimation target how much contribution the clear energy technology will make to the overall power generation in the UK in 2020s/2030s.

On the other hand, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change MP Edward Davey, claimed, talking to BBC, that all the assumed targets either have been so far or will be met by 2020, including setting limits on carbon emissions, increased role of renewables in the UK energy generation, etc..

Also, it was confirmed that although the increase in electicity and gas bills is inevitable, more investments will be put into energy savings.

Lastly, he expressed hope that the higher contribution of clear technologies into power generation will be boosting local economies which in turn will deliver more 'green' jobs.

For enthusiasts, it is worth taking a glimpse over Guardian/BBC pages on discussion over the Energy Bill 2012 and have a read. Excitingly looking forward to seeing the Energy Bill 2012 finally out to the public and will find out how much controversy it will bring!

Stay tuned next week.

Friday, November 23, 2012

To what extent is the smart grid technology feasible in the UK?

Answers to this and other smart grid technology-related questions will be given at the upcoming conference in London, on 27-28th November 2012. Speakers include Dr Mark Osbourne, Director of National Grid, UK; Laurence Carpanini, Director of Smartmeters and Smart Grids at IBM UK, Hayley Dunlop, Smart Grid Director at GE, UK and many other prominent smart grid technology professionals. More information can be found on the conference website: There is still time to register and attend the conference, even though, to be honest the registration fees may scare you off. 

Let me explain why a smart grid technology is such a sizzling hottie on the energy market right now. In general, a smart grid technology is a socio-economic initiative to modernise technology and equipment to make our electrical systems more efficient, reliable and secure. It is a vision to make people aware of a new far more efficient manner of producing, using, consuming and storing energy. Multiple factors, that include: future projections of increased electricity demand, the world running out of the conventional major energy sources, such as oil and natural gas, unsure fate of nuclear power generation, etc. are in favour of implementing the smart grid technology. 

For instance, Denmark seems to be a pioneering country introducing the smart grid technology with a success. This video showing the smart grid system in Denmark proves the feasibility of the smart grid concept. 

Thus, the open question is: will the smart grid technology be working well in the UK? Hopefully, the summary from the London conference next week will be published online so everyone interested will be able to take a look and have a good read. 

Do not worry, smart grid enthusiasts, if you miss the London conference next week. There is an exciting conference on the same topic in Brussels, Belgium, lining up in January next year ('European Conference on Smart Grid Standardization Achievements'). Open to the general public and no registration fees, lucky students!, some of us may actually  have a trip to the EU capital and network with Smart Grid European professionals.