Green energy is a subject everyone is talking about lately, and as interest grows, the powers-that-be look for more ways to misinform people and squeeze an extra penny out of them. This is a great example in the UK. Supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s have announced they have opened a “people powered,” store in Gloucester, which will utilize energy from passing cars to power the checkout tills.
The idea is that every time a car rolls over a plate set into the road, a small amount of kinetic energy will be transferred through the plates which power a generator to produce the electricity, which, according to Sainsbury’s representative and the makers of the system is totally “free.”
Which it is – to them. Unless some clever devil sneakily changed the laws of physics while no one was looking, this “free,” energy merely steals a tiny bit of energy from the passing car, causing a tiny increase in fuel consumption and a tiny increase in pollution emissions. Sainsbury’s coincidentally is one of the UK’s biggest suppliers of fuel.
Yet the newspapers are full of stories about how “green,” this development is. And presumably the Lord who runs the company had a word with the Lord who screws millions out of the taxpayer at the BBC to give this some good press, because the BBC are all over it. There is a diagram of how the system is designed to work on the right.
Certainly the amount of fuel stolen from each passing motorist will be barely noticed, but that is not the point. According to all the bullshit press releases, the system will apparently produce 30 kW of energy per hour, but it is certainly not green and it most definitely is not free. Sainsbury’s are not paying for it, but free energy? Pull the other one.
I imagine the ongoing maintenance costs of this system must surely outweigh the cost savings. I can’t really decide what the point of this is – cars are not exactly the most efficient way of producing energy, and this will merely serve to slow them down a tad and make them slightly less efficient. There is an argument that if these plates are positioned in such a place as cars are already braking, it will be taking energy that would have been wasted anyway, but from what I have seen, the plates are on a flat surface and the only reason to brake is for the plates.
Yet another piece of disinformation to add to the collection of rubbish I already have in my head. It certainly looks to be a rather inefficient way of generating electricity but as usual – the ones who will end up paying for it are the ones who do not get any benefit. I guess my real issue with this is that it is an obvious attempt to portray the company as environmentally aware while doing the opposite. If Sainsbury’s really cared about the environment, they would stop flying in wild Alaskan hoojimawhotsits from outer Mongolia and start refusing to sell products that are heavily over-packaged. But there isn’t any money in that. In the meantime, I will be driving around any mysterious plates in the road.