By Robert Guthrie
MACYNLLYTH,Wales, United Kingdom – People andorganisations throughout the world are researching ways of saving energy,preserving resources and guaranteeing a sustainable environment for futuregenerations.
One such organizationis the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales.Located in avillage with a typically Welsh name – Macynllyth – CAT is approximately 50miles from Caernarvon Castle, the site of the investiture of the Prince ofWales, heir to the throne.
Centers like CATcould change how we live and work over the next decades. Scientists are alwaysdiscovering new ways to make energy and conserve the environment in anecological way, using renewable energy.
Environmentalpioneer Robert Morgan-Greenwood founded CAT in 1974. Many different Welsh resourceswere used in creating it, including slate, timber, glass and plastics.
The centeris in a remote, rural location. Firstly, you have to travel to the top of thebig slate hill that the whole center is built on.
You can justwalk to the top along a steep pathway. However, you can also use an ingeniouslysimple means of transport – a water-balanced cliff railway.
|A water-balanced train carriage can transport up to 17|
people to the Centre for Advanced Technology in Wales.
Here, water iscollected from a man-made pond to fill up the base of a railway-type carriage. Itis connected to a carriage at the top, and once the water levels in both areequal, they start to move – one going up, the other going down. Thus, they arepulling each other up or down.The CAT railwayis one of the steepest cliff railways in the world with a 34-degree gradient.
Robert Guthrie / youthjournalism.orgThe steep track for the trains
Next, the CATshows how solar power can provide a sustainable, renewable source of energy.The sun’s energy can be used to heat water and power appliances, not to mentionpowering an entire home. It is amazing to find that families can save thousandson their electricity bills.
Solar energy isused a lot around CAT. The proper name for this power is called PV, or photovoltaic.
All of the solarpanels are made up of PV circles. These collect light, store it in a largebattery and it can then be either used there and then, or saved for later.
|The solar dome at the Centre for Advanced Technology, where|
sunlight is trapped and stored as power inside a battery
A solar panel measuring60 square meters wide could make 6.5 kilowatts of power. Another systemshown at CAT is a solar dome, a glass building which receives light and trapsit inside. A battery can be used to store the energy.
|Robert Guthrie / youthjournalism.org|
An electric motorcycle at CAT
Electricvehicles are another example of groundbreaking new technology to help theplanet. They are charged from a main supply, use environmentally-friendlybatteries and are more ecological to use instead of fossil fuel-powered engines,which are more expensive and emit more ozone-damaging carbon monoxide into theatmosphere.A rechargeableelectric motorcycle, is fully ready to go after being plugged in to a localcharging station for three hours, is also on display at CAT. These systems arealready being tried in the British city of Birmingham and more are planned.
A realtrailblazer, CAT has come up with solutions to key energy problems since 1974.The centertackles the challenging question of what the world’s population will do whenoil and gas supplies run out.
One day we willhave to find solutions and CAT is proving that some are being discovered now.
Other groundbreaking ideas will surely follow in the future.