BBC Radio set to air ‘energy day’ powered by renewables

BBC Radio 5Live plans to generate energy for 12 hours of radio from wind, solar, biofuel, cycling and hydropower

Breakfast presenter Nicky Campbell will be joined by Energy & Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey (Pic: BBC 5Live)

By Ed King

The BBC’s leading live news and sport radio station 5Live is planning to power a day’s output on September 5 solely through renewable energy.

A specially designed low energy studio at 5Live’s headquarters in Manchester will be kept on air throughout the day by portable wind turbines, solar panels, biofuels, mini hydro and bicycle driven generators.

Energy Day, the idea of the station’s controller Jonathan Wall, is set to highlight increasing concerns over how the UK will ‘keep the lights on’ and meet its binding climate targets in the coming decades.

“Energy Day is an innovative and unique way to look at a national news story. Radio 5 live will be bringing the debate to audiences and offering them the chance to put their questions to those that matter in the world of energy,” Wall said.

“Powering a studio purely on renewable energy is a risk for the station but will make for exciting radio nonetheless.”

RTCC understands UK energy chief Ed Davey will take part in a phone-in on Nicky Campbell’s Breakfast show, while Richard Bacon’s afternoon slot will be powered by a team of cyclists led by 1992 Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman.

Other activities at the BBC’s Manchester studio include a human hamster wheel, see saws and exercise bikes all generating kinetic energy, chip fat from the BBC canteen to create biofuel and a mini energy grid which is being built for the day.

The day could feature scientists involved in the UN’s IPCC climate science report, which releases its first set of findings at the end of September.

5Live say there are plans in place if the renewable energy sources lined up fail to deliver the estimated 2 amps of power to remain operational.

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The show comes at a critical time for the future of the UK’s energy system.

Government attempts to aggressively push shale gas as an answer to rising energy prices have been met with angry protests from environmental campaigners, who say a ‘dash for gas’ could blow the country’s climate targets.

Supporters of fracking say the technique and use of gas emits far less pollution than coal, but opponents say the risks of methane leakage and water contamination make it too risky.

Around 20% of the country’s power capacity is set to shut down by 2020, forcing the government to explore a variety of alternative sources of power.

A forthcoming energy bill is set to provide an estimated £7.6 billion a year by 2020 of support for sustainable sources of energy.

The UK is also investing heavily in offshore wind. The 630 MW London Array and 504MW Greater Gabbard are currently the two largest offshore farms in the world.

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