This month Horizon looks at the latest technology to turn on power in places which are off the grid. We learn about solar power tech that's being used to clean water, bring internet to mobile phones and even sustain temporary housing pods after a disaster. We also hear from Michael Gera, who’s investing in off-grid energy companies in Africa, so that businesses can stay open and children can study after the sun goes down.
A new breed of emergency shelter with built-in solar power, a backpack that gives access to mobile charging and a bag that converts manure into cooking gas are among the new generation of emergency response kits that could help people survive in the wake of a disaster that knocks out their energy supply.
Mini-grids, mobile payments and smart meters are all helping to create an off-grid model of electricity provision in Africa, helped by bottom-up funding and low-cost solar power, according to Michael Gera, managing partner and co-founder of specialist venture capitalist firm Energy Access Ventures (EAV).
Dumped waste, from used nappies to industrial by-products, have long wound up in landfills and can take hundreds of years to decay. In October we speak to the scientists figuring out how to keep such items in use to reduce rubbish and create a so-called circular economy. We learn about new efforts to mine industrial waste for the rare metals that go into making aircraft parts, pacemakers and bicycle gears, and find out about the culture shift needed to develop a zero-waste society. We also speak to the researchers building a biorefinery to turn soiled nappies into fertilisers and raw materials, and look at whether seaweed could become the next plastic.
The model of our universe as expanding at an accelerated rate has given rise to theoretical constructs such as dark energy and dark matter, which scientists believe could make up 95% of the universe. In September, Horizon takes a deeper look at what we really know about the expanding universe. We speak to Prof. Subir Sarkar, who believes that the Nobel-winning discovery that universe expansion acceleration could be a fluke, and the scientists who are trying to answer the question by allowing us to better measure the expansion rate. We also look at the significance of accurately measuring gravity in deep space, and what dark matter haloes can tell us about the existence of dark energy.
As wind turbines become increasingly familiar sights along shorelines, developers of offshore floating platforms, which harness the powerful winds further out to sea, are seeking to establish their technologies as a major viable source of clean energy.
Bill Gates and the European Commission have launched a €100 million investment fund designed to bring radical clean energy technologies more quickly to market in order to promote energy efficiency and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Floating wind turbines could be a clean energy game changer.
Europe's leadership 'more important than ever', says Gates.
A circular economy needs new business models and reusable products, says Felipe Maya.