A bird's eye view of At-Bristol!
Blogging science to life
Thu 1 March 2012, Written by: Nicole
At-Bristol volunteer, Jennifer Garrett, asks At-Bristol's robotic peregrine falcon to fly down off the roof for a chat about seagulls, solar panels and sunsets.
Hi Brian, nice to meet you! Firstly could you tell the readers what your role is in At-Bristol?
Hello! Nice to meet you too. My job is to keep seagulls and pigeons off the At-Bristol roof, which helps look after the roof and prevents people in the square below from being pestered by these birds. There are lots of ways to deal with nuisance birds, but like a scarecrow, I'm a more humane way [squawk].
How long have you been working on the roof and do you enjoy it?
Just over two years! I really like my job here, all the people are lovely and there's always something interesting going on in At-Bristol [flap, flap].
How is your role important to the science centre?
It is important to protect the roofs, At-Bristol has two green roofs, which are like small gardens in the city centre, and it's important to keep seagulls away from these. To start with, I was protecting the roofs and the people down below but now the most important part of my job is protecting At-Bristol's brand new solar panel array [preen].
So what are solar panels?
Solar panels capture energy form the sun. There are two types. Solar thermal, which is where the sun heats water in the panels and this is then used in a building as hot water or for central heating. Because of the way At-Bristol gets its hot water and heats the building this wouldn't work for us [squawk]. So, we are using the other type of solar panel - photovoltaic, or PV. These convert sunlight into electricity which can then be used in the building, or fed into the National Grid.
With the arrival of the new solar panels on the roof, why is your job so important?
Solar panels are expensive and sensitive pieces of equipment, so you don't want seagulls damaging them, but most importantly for every bird dropping on a panel this means less sunlight getting through and so less electricity is generated [ruffles feathers].
How do they work?
Imagine sunlight being made up of tiny packages of energy, which are called photons. Energy makes things excited [flap]. When the chemical in a PV panel is excited by a photon in sunlight an electron shoots out of the chemical. This creates a stream of electrons which flow out of the PV panel and down a wire. This flow of electrons through a wire is electricity!
So does this chemical get used up?
No, that's the great thing about photovoltaic energy [preen]. Because of the way electricity works, in a big loop, whenever an electron shoots out of the chemical there is one ready to take its place. So as long as the sun is shining photons will be hitting the panel and there will be an endless flow of electrons.
Why is At-Bristol installing these panels?
Getting energy from sunlight is a good thing to do because at the moment most of the energy humans use comes from burning fossil fuels, which one day will run out, and this releases carbon dioxide which is bad for the environment [ruffles feathers]. Whereas sunlight is a renewable source of energy, which means it will not run out and is a way of making electricity that does not release carbon dioxide. By installing PV panels At-Bristol is using renewable energy and reducing its carbon footprint [squawk].
To wrap up, here are 5 quick-fire questions:
Favourite hobby: Tweeting about my day on my twitter @brianrobofalcon
Favourite TV show: BBC's Earthflight, I enjoy reality television.
Pet hate: Seagulls!
What do you do on your days off: Fly over to Avon Gorge to see my friends.
Best part of your job: Seeing the sun rise over Bristol every morning, then set at the end of the day.
To keep up with the progress of the solar panels through the eyes of Brian follow him on Twitter: @brianrobofalcon - watch live footage of the installation here
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Reply #1 on : Thu March 15, 2012, 16:06:44