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Dropping the Ball

NYE2013ballDon’t make the wrong assumption. This is great:

The Citi Bike Pedal Power Station will be located on the Southeast corner of 7th Avenue and 42nd Street. It will be open to New Yorkers and visitors on Saturday, December 28th and Sunday December 29th from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM and on Monday, December 30th from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Citi Bike brand ambassadors will be on-site taking photos of participating riders. Participants will receive a free Citi Bike day pass and they will be sent a digital photo of them helping power the Ball that they can save and share via social media.

The six bikes at the Citi Bike Pedal Power Station will be connected to 12-volt deep cycle batteries. Each bike is expected to generate an average of 75 watts per hour. The Times Square New Year's Eve Ball is lit by more than 30,000 LEDs. Throughout the three-day event, a power meter at the Citi Bike Pedal Power Station will show how much energy has been generated.

A lot of this press release is a super hard sell for Citi Bike, so note that. And actually, the New Years Eve ball will not be powered by kinetic energy. What Citi hopes to do instead is return to the grid the amount of electricity necessary to light up and drop the ball. This is in the first paragraph, so nothing untoward here, and it’s a fine goal, even in the name of sales.

The electricity to light the ball will be coming from sources other than kinetic energy – including the Indian Point nuclear facility. Granted, some coal and natural gas will be there, too, doing the electricity thing, but kinetic energy generated by bicycles sounds pretty cool, much cooler in fact. I couldn’t figure out from the coverage here and elsewhere how Citi determined how much electricity the ball will use so as to generate the same amount from their bikes, but really, who cares? The reality is more banal but of the moment – and will create a dazzling illumination – but this is the future.


jimwg said…
Seasons Greetings & Happy New Year!

"Participants will receive a free Citi Bike day pass and they will be sent a digital photo of them helping power the Ball"

What's the cutesy point -- really? We have a public out there whom when they read of solar-cell-winged sailplanes crossing rivers seriously wonder why can't a 787 fly green that way? We have a public who have been led to believe you can run a whole country on wind power, no nukes need apply. Giving the public the idea that you can even partially make a big light glow by pedaling fast implies that you don't need heavy energy generation for society to keep the lights on -- a highly misleading implication but one in the cards, believe me. It's kinda like thinking you can survive real life disasters by watching "Survivorman" on TV. Doesn't execute into reality well. We have to stop being so cutesy and get down educated on determining -- and voting on very serious energy issues.

James Greenidge
Queens NY

Anonymous said…
This is going beyond ridiculous and getting just plain silly. I was "debating" on another a blog an anti-nuke kook who was convinced that we didn't need nuclear plants, we just had to hook up generators to health club exer-cycles and put that electricity out on the grid to supply all our needs. What's next, squirrels running around in cages?
Chris M said…
I hope they give some indication of the pathetically small wattage each biker is generating. Just 300W is a LOT of work. It might then be educational for some of the renewable fanatics.
Anonymous said…
Turning the public's attention towards energy, even using gimmickry, is helpful. ALL energy issues will eventually lead to the nuclear energy conversation.

Within a decade, this entire thing is going to turn around. We (the USA, Europe) will be running at full-tilt to catch up. It will be very effective to have people who can say, "I believed _____ for a long time, until I finally did some serious research and found that nuclear was the best solution."

The "gimmick" the initially aroused my interest in energy issues was Earth Day in 1970. I know of others whose introduction was *Limits to Growth*. Anyone who is even marginally aware of energy economics and carbon emissions is already on the right track; even the hard core is softening.
Mitch said…
Anonymous said... Turning the public's attention towards energy, even using gimmickry, is helpful. ALL energy issues will eventually lead to the nuclear energy conversation.

Til nuclear industry starts PROMOTING itself BIG time in media in a pig's eye.
Anonymous said…
"Til nuclear industry starts PROMOTING itself BIG time in media in a pig's eye."

Finance is too short-term-oriented in this age, and nuclear is too risky for most politicians. Instead of being passive consumers, we're going to have to start demanding that nuclear energy be a part of the energy and climate solutions, the infrastructure, and the future.

Besides which, cynicism runs so deep in this country that ANY suggestion coming from the business world is seen as self-serving, and with decades of justification.

The business world won't do it for us. They CAN'T do it for us. It's up to us.

Simon said…
"Each bike is expected to generate an average of 75 watts per hour."

Whoever proofread that press release, it wasn't someone with any technical chops.

They might have meant 75 watts, or possibly, 75 watt-hours. There is no such thing as "watts per hour".

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