BBC to use bicycle generators to keep power on during Energy Day broadcast

Silicon Republic reports:

Renewable energy will power BBC’s live news and sport radio station 5Live on Energy Day on 5 September in Manchester, England, to highlight concerns over how the UK will meet binding climate targets in the coming years.

Biofuels, solar panels, portable wind turbines, mini hydro and bicycle-driven generators will keep the lights on and programming on air at a specially designed low-energy studio at the 5Live headquarters.

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23 thoughts on “BBC to use bicycle generators to keep power on during Energy Day broadcast”

  1. They are running an outside broadcast radio studio. A mixer and possibly a microwave uplink to the transmitter network. Probably intended to be powered by a truck battery in the first place.

  2. Seems to me I recall that the top Tour de France riders average under 750 watts output over the 3 week Tour. So a 1 bhp motor could win the TdF? As another poster has said, this scheme will backfire and instead demonstrate the vast benefits and efficiency of carbon-based and atomic-based electricity generation.

  3. I can’t do anything useful while moving, but some people can. My father claims he needs a long walk to think properly. When I walk or even move my hands, my thoughts shut down and that entire time is wasted.

    And you’re right, I can’t sustain a 200W load for a long time — not unless I’m paid for it. It is possible, but it gets boring very quickly. And there are simply not enough 5% climbs in this country that wouldn’t turn downhill or flat in less that 10 minutes. It was just to give you an idea of the upper range of cycling power.

    Here’s the kind of load I don’t notice, even if I do it for a long time (on the order of 10 hours):

    It amounts to a 60-watt average energy loss, according to Bryton’s calorimetry, which is based on statistics and is not particularly accurate, but not grossly wrong either. An average person would probably spend about two-thirds of what I spend traveling on a near-level surface like this.

    There is a bit of wisdom in these calculations, possibly useful to many folks who think they can lose weight by exercising. If that’s the goal, cycling is the last thing you want to do. It’s way too efficient: it only takes a couple cookies to transport me (130 kg + bike) to the next town 15 miles away. Shovelling coal is better.

  4. There’s another dirty secret. The carbon you can plausibly offset by walking or using a bike is far too small to be worth offsetting.

  5. That’s the kind of pricing “progressives” want.
    I’m doing a personal sewing project. The materials cost less than $2 per unit but I sew slowly (and poorly). Even at minimum wage, they’d cost around $23 each and nobody would buy them. But they’re intended as gifts and door prizes anyway.

  6. Okay, they are using bike generators but what is the carbon output of the cyclist? I guess they will need to plant a tree or two to compensate.

  7. You are pretty fit. You think the average person can maintain, over twice the average wattage for the day for long periods. I doubt it.

    Also if you are exerting yourself that much, can you do much else other than focus on the activity. I know if I am on a treadmill or a bike in the gym, I could not do an active activity like dictate a report, or look at financials, program lines of code. Passive – watch TV, listen to the radio sure.

  8. They say 2 amps ?
    “5Live has contingency plans in place, just in case the renewable energy sources fail to deliver the estimated 2 amps of power the station needs to remain operational.”
    … I bet they mean KiloAmps 2000Amps. I don’t think they really power the entire IT system lighting aircon, kettle, fridge, phone system off 2 plugs. Perhaps they mean just the actual studio not what is just the other side of the glass.
    (2 amps X 240volts = 480Watts .. 1 kettle is 1200W)
    – OR by studio power they ONLY mean the lightbulbs and the presenters laptop
    – Their transmitter network probably run into millions of watts of consumption. They have a network of 23 AM transmitters some drawing 225KW .. I estimate at least 1million watts total consuption so that’s 4000 Amps. So whatever they have to power the studio they need 2000 fold for transmitters.

  9. For me, the cost of climbing a 5% grade on my bike at 10 km/h is more than 200W. My weight + bike’s weight + produce in the backpack I had when I did the measurement amounted to about 150 kg. Two hundred watts was just the useful mechanical power required for the climb at that speed; the actual cost must have been a bit higher.

  10. I read once that an athletic human can generate about 0.25 BHP at peak, and about 0.125 BHP sustained. That means about 10 bicyclists per kilowatt. A 50 Kw broadcasting station would need about 500 bicyclists with 500 bicycles connected to 500 DC generators, all synchronized. I’m visualizing a trireme-like seating scheme, with a barbarian on a kettledrum to keep them all in step.

  11. Maybe they can run the studio, but I don’t see them generating enough power to broadcast. 50,000 Watts from bicycles?

    Next day, ask them if they want to continue doing it every day, or go back to using fossil fuel? What they are demonstrating is the VALUE of fossil fuels.

  12. I wonder how much a person can comfortably generate on a bicycle. Typical person has an average instantaneous energy use ~=90 watts throughout the day.

    I would guess one person per 13watt CFL would be tops.

  13. And if the day is overcast and still, those bike riders will have a lot more to do. The Beeb’s foolishness is legendary.

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