Archive for April, 2013


24
APR

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
The Rock of Humankind


Category: Sustainable Living
Tags:


Any intelligent alien passing the earth on the night side would notice the place being lit up like a Christmas tree using stored energy and realise that something big was going on down here. I was amazed to discover recently through listening to a radio 4 podcast that 30% of the weight of all land vertebrates is now human. Another 60% is farmed animals that we eat. No other piece of information has been more effective in helping me understand that humankind really has taken over the world. So much so in fact, that we are creating our very own geological epoch, the Anthropocene. In the distant future, we will have left a clearly recognisable, geological stratum to be discovered by anyone or anything that cares to look that will be clearly marked by enormous quantities of our bones, the bones of our domesticated animals and the remnants of our cities. Sedimentary (sea mud) strata will contain our debris and be characterised by our chemical signature of acidification (due to carbon dioxide emission from burning fossil fuels) and high nitrate content (due to the fact that human industrial scale atmospheric nitrogen fixation to provide fertilizers vastly outweighs what bacteria are achieving.)

Is this a bad thing? There are a lot of us on the planet and most of us are having a pretty good time as compared to the “red in tooth and claw” existence of our distant ancestors going back millennia. Even our domesticated animals that we kill to eat have a fairly cushy existence until the time of their quick death. We have severely decreased biodiversity in farmed areas which now account for 40% of the world’s land surface but if we can protect most of the rest and the seas, maybe, just maybe, we can keep most of the world’s species and prevent the potentially catastrophic instability exhibited by degraded ecosystems.

We have no choice but to manage the Earth as our own, for our own benefit. It is our evolutionary heritage that we strive to succeed in “feathering our nest.” With our English instincts, perhaps we should consider the Earth as a house and garden on a grander scale. We make it comfortable and pretty and micro manage the plants and animals, not just to provide us with food, but to show a pleasing mix of conformity and wildness. After all, most of us feel more at home seeing a green garden visited by birds than to see a concrete based storage area at the back of our house.

It’s true we have some temporary problems switching from finite fossil fuel to the renewable energy hitting the earth in vastly greater amounts than we could ever need. And we need to wrest control of our population from nature (which will decimate our numbers if we get too far above ourselves). But perhaps we should avoid the doom and gloom expressed by some environmentalists and feel justifiably comfortable with our species achievement. What the Earth has achieved through evolving humankind maybe more significant than we have appreciated.

 

Keith Wheaton-Green for Energize Stur Valley



23
APR

Lets Get Energized says:
Climate Change Talk 30 April


Category: Climate Change
Tags:


There is an upcoming talk about Global Warming and Climate Change happening on 30th April at 7pm in Weymouth. All Details can be found on the attached flyer. Should be set to be an interesting evening.

 



23
APR

Guest Energizer says:
Bournemouth Festival of Learning – Free Community Events


Category: Community Energy, Energy Events in Dorset, Renewable Energy
Tags:


One of the lecturers at the University informed me about a presentation he will be giving in June, and while i was having a look on the site i discovered some other free seminars that may be of interest to Dorset Energized subscribers.

The two that stick out for me are:

Why access to environmental justice matters
to be given by Tilak Ginige on Wednesday 12 June

“Recent years have seen the emergence of a widespread consensus that ‘public participation’ is a crucial element for an effective and democratically legitimate environmental decision-making process. This workshop we will explore possible reasons for this development, and some of the difficulties that may arise.”

and:

Public engagement in renewable energy and technology issues
to be given by Zulfiqar Khan and Mark Hadfield on Thursday 13 June 2013, 6pm-8pm

“This event provides the opportunity for those interested in renewable energy to discuss and debate the pros and cons of new technologies. The event will include a number of brief presentations, followed by discussion and debate of each.”

Both of these events are free and are suitable for the involvement of the general public and are part of the University’s Festival of Learning. Click on the title to go to the website page where you can book into the event. You can find other information and events as part of the festival by following the link: http://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/fol/

Posted by Lucy Suddaby



22
APR

Anna Celeste Watson says:
Don’t duck climate change – the Power of IF…


Category: Climate Change, Renewable Energy Film/Video, Sustainable Farming & Food
Tags:


Today we celebrate Earth Day and Enough Food For Everyone IF have just released another fab little video showing how climate change causes hunger and how the money that the UK and other G8 governments pledged as aid to help poor communities cope with climate change, can help mums and dads put food on the table for their children.

Now we need to make sure they don’t duck their climate promise.

Please take just 1 minute today to ask our Climate Change Minister Ed Davey to keep the climate change promise.
Read more and sign online at: http://enoughfoodif.org/climate.



18
APR

Theresa McManus says:
National Trust to generate half of its power from renewable sources by 2020


Category: Climate Change, Fracking, Renewable Energy
Tags:


This is really great news! According to the BBC News today, the National Trust has revealed a plan to generate half of its power from renewable sources by 2020.

A respected organisation demonstrating the kind of leadership that the urgency of climate change demands. And doubly super that it is an organisation people closely associate with conservation. They clearly realise that climate change presents an incredible threat to our natural and built heritage.

We have already seen over the last 12 months in Dorset the number of coastal landslips massively increase because of our increasingly stormy weather, and the amount of flooding increase. Weather extremes, rising temperatures, and migrating diseases (for plants and animals) will all affect our natural landscape, as will fracking and shale gas extraction if we don’t reduce our demand for fossil fuels…

Read more: www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22189743.

For more information on your renewable energy options at home and here in Dorset visit: www.letsgetenergized.co.uk/energy.



18
APR

Vince Adams says:
Solar Power Farmhouse of the Future!


Category: Renewable Energy Film/Video, Solar Energy
Tags:


I really like this 2 minute clip – it says it all! [Once you get past the short trailer]…

Jim Evans in Springfield, USA built this green home in 1976 and has been making it greener ever since, but his motivation is economic.

Watch the video and read the full article ‘Solar Power Home Wave of the Future’ by Laura Kennedy on OzarksFirst.com: http://ozarksfirst.com/fulltext?nxd_id=793082.

For more information on your Solar Power options here in Dorset, UK check out this link: http://www.letsgetenergized.co.uk/energy/solar-energy.



16
APR

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
ETA Breakdown Road Clock reveals UK’s transport pollution


Category: Electric Transport
Tags:


The data displayed on this page  might be of interest: https://www.eta.co.uk/breakdown/road-clock

The ETA’s Road Clock is a counter that displays many transport-related stats including total miles driven, petrol and diesel consumed, bicycles stolen and the number of car breakdowns each day. Compiled and published by the Environmental Transport Association, the Road Clock counter reveals the astonishing amount of resources consumed, and pollution created, as a direct result of the way we travel each day.

There’s lots of info all in one place and speaking as a cyclist (albeit electric, that’s the bike, not me!) it’s interesting to see that cycling miles are greater than motorbiking miles but of course vastly less than car journey miles.

Speaking of cars, the data available here does give a good picture of how much fuel is used by cars – and how much car users pay on fuel duty.

Of course those who use Electric Vehicles will not be troubled by those numbers – electric vehicles being able to refill (refuel) via any ordinary electrical outlet, or at the fast chargers becoming increasingly available, without any extra surcharges on the cost.

For more info on zero emissions Electric Cars check out this page: www.letsgetenergized.co.uk/energy/electric-transport.



12
APR

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
Innovative New ‘Urbee’ Eco-Friendly Car


Category: Electric Transport, Renewable Energy Film/Video
Tags:


What happens if you try to create a car using the same principles many of us apply when buying food and other goods – principles such as: the nearer it’s produced the better, the more environmentally friendly it is the better, the more recyclable it is the better, the less energy it consumes in use and in its production the better, and of course the more affordable the better and even if being a bit greedy, the more visually appealing the better?

Well such principles and more are being used during the design of the Urbee car – it could be a next step in environmentally friendly transport and where possible using the energy you can produce at home.

Have look here http://www.urbee.net/home for more information and for something truly inspiring be sure to view the video below:



11
APR

Theresa McManus says:
70% of UK public want action on climate change


Category: Climate Change
Tags:


An interesting article has been published by Carbon Brief who report on the latest developments in climate science, and fact-checks stories about climate and energy online and in the press. They are funded by the European Climate Foundation, whose objective is to reduce emissions.

Carbon Brief published the results of polling on energy and climate change issues, over the Easter bank holiday.

According to their results, 69% of UK adults believe scientists and meteorologists are trustworthy sources of accurate information about climate science. Politicians fare rather worse, polling at just 7%  – in joint last place with blogs and social media.

The poll also reveals that 89% believe climate change is happening, though there appears to be a split over whether people think it’s caused by humans or not. Interestingly, this split was not echoed in whether people want to see action to tackle climate change, though. Nearly 70% said they want the government to act to avoid warming.

Polling expert Leo Barasi writes that the results show ‘belief’ in climate change really doesn’t mean that much – people tend to trust climate scientists and want to see action on climate change, and doubts about whether climate change is happening aren’t rising.

For more information and articles visit www.carbonbrief.org.



10
APR

Theresa McManus says:
Germany leading the way in clean energy to empower the people


Category: Biomass Energy, Renewable Energy
Tags:


With my work for DEAC (Dorset Energy Advice Centre) I have come across this very interesting extract from The Power Book, published by the Local Government Information Unit in September 2012, that I wanted to make available to Dorset Energized users…

Allies in Energiewende by Alan Simpson

WHILE Britain’s ‘radical’ energy thinking gets no further than ‘community buying schemes’, wrapped around the old ‘rigged’ market, Germany has been changing the nature of the market itself.

German towns, cities and regions (of different sizes and persuasions) are now seeking to bring electricity distribution grids into social ownership. This runs from small districts right up to the current initiative in Berlin, where the City is seeking to buy its power distribution network back from the utility, Vattenfall. What the Germans have understood (and we have not) is that transforming the energy market has far more to do with power – democratic power – than with electricity.

A different energy future
The Germans have opened the door on a different way of thinking about energy futures and energy security. In promoting a more open, competitive energy market, successive German governments have also become less afraid to take on the vested interests of their big power companies.

This profound change in energy thinking is at the core of all the practical changes in German energy policy. Break the umbilical link between the power station and the light switch in your home, and it becomes easier to explore the different elements that will make up tomorrow’s energy systems; selling demand reduction rather than increased consumption, using smart technologies that deliver more but use less, and extending community ownership of energy generation and distribution networks.

Empowering the people
Since 1990, German citizens have had a legal right to be producers and suppliers of electricity to their grid system. Two-way meters are a given, not an experiment. German households expect to know how much energy they produce as well as how much they consume. While Britain still plods through a tortuous debate about ‘trials’ of two way meters, the Germans have been using them to transform energy politics. The right to generate became the power to transform. It also provided the platform for constructing a more open, democratic and sustainable energy market.

Germany’s big step-change came in the early 2000s, when the government introduced a system of preferential Feed-in-Tariffs (FITs). These tariffs paid people more for the ‘clean’ energy they produced than the cost of energy they consumed from the grid. In all cases, FITs payment rates decline over time. Ultimately, each technology must ‘wash its own face’ economically; becoming market competitive or being displaced by something that is.

On anyone’s terms, Germany’s renewable energy programme has been astonishing.
The graph above only paints a partial picture. It does not show how, in less than a decade, Germany’s FITs programme has:

  • delivered over 400,000 new jobs
  • transformed an energy sector, that once had only four major suppliers, into one with over two million contributors
  • brought in over €30 billion of private investment a year
  • delivered lower German power prices than they had five years ago, and
  • operated without public subsidy.

Started under the Social Democratic Party/Green administration and continued by Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, this is not a bad decade’s work, even by German standards. But the most telling statistics are in the ownership pattern of the renewable energy investment.

Over 50% of Germany’s renewable energy generation is owned by households, communities and farmers. Energy utilities own less than 13% of the new generating capacity.

The energy war zone
Energy transformation is still a war zone, even in Germany, and not mainly because of climate sceptics. As in the UK, old power empires refuse to die easily. A fierce battle is being waged by ‘old energy’ to sabotage today’s transformations. Britain may have led the last two energy revolutions – from wood to coal, and from coal to oil – but the same vested interests keep us locked at the margins of the current energy revolution. In Germany, energy companies tried to block policy changes by dragging the government through the European courts; saying that new policies were anti-competitive or market distorting. The energy companies lost. In the UK, ‘old energy’ opted (more successfully) for the colonisation of Whitehall. The outcome can be seen in the shambles of the Draft Energy Bill. Its framework would leave Britain with an even more closed energy market, saddle customers with ever spiralling energy bills, introduce a new £5 billion a year nuclear subsidy, and ensure that successive governments could not meet current UK climate targets. It is an agenda for ‘dead-end’ Britain.
As the Germans discovered, the way to become a leader in tomorrow’s energy revolution lies as much in the empowerment of citizens as in the shift into particular technologies. Germany simply put the interests of citizens before those of corporations.

Within the last decade Germany has installed over 60GW of renewable energy capacity; the same as the UK’s current daily energy consumption. Last year alone they installed 7GW; more than the UK installed in over a decade. German power prices are lower today than they were five years ago and the country remains a net exporter of electricity. We are a million miles adrift. Britain may be at the bottom of today’s EU’s ‘renewable energy’ league, but this was where Germany started from too. They went from the bottom to the top in less than a decade. All it took was ‘vision’ and ‘leadership’.

Allies in ‘Energiewende’
Germany is still at the beginning of its ‘Energiewende’ programme – their energy transformation plan. By 2020, Germany intends to generate 35% of its power needs from renewables and to reduce energy consumption by 20%.

But the beauty of Energiewende is in its ability to weave the interests of industry, local communities and environmental groups, into a unified consensus for radical change. The result has been massive public involvement in German energy policy, along with a sense of social ownership of the transformation. In no small measure, this has been built on the ability of Feed-in-Tariffs to drive down power prices; something the UK Treasury seems intellectually incapable of grasping.

Breaking the energy cartel
Britain’s energy market reform debate has not managed to escape the dead hand of Treasury insistence that FITs have to be treated as (capped) public expenditure. The Germans refused to accept such nonsense. From the start, German FITs have been treated as independent elements in energy sector accounting. What then made the difference is Germany’s decision to give priority grid access for all renewables. German solar and wind energy are the first power sources fed in to the energy system. It leaves incumbent power providers to alter their energy mix and output to ensure a balance between power demand and supply.

German utilities no longer control energy supply (and energy prices). Renewable energy drives down peak electricity demand and now supplies anything from 30% to 100% of German electricity needs. This has driven the fall in German power prices.

It may have angered ‘big energy’ but this has been seized on by the country’s big industrial/ technology companies. Bosch, Infineon, Siemens, VW, BMW and others, have become the leading edge of the new energy revolution.
Innovation and invention are at the core of the energy efficiency and ‘grid balancing’ mechanisms that tomorrow’s energy systems will revolve around.

Germany has grasped (before most others) that the ‘iPad generation’ will see smart technologies driving huge increases in energy capacity, on the back of huge reductions in power consumption. It will also deliver innovative ways of storing electricity as well as using it. This will define a completely different landscape of energy thinking. The game is being taken away from the power companies, and the power companies hate it.

A different economics
So, how does Britain get into the game? It is hard to find common ground between what passes for an energy debate in the UK and the deliberations that have been taking place elsewhere. What the UK defines as unaffordable, Germany sees as pivotal. What we count as a cost, the German’s recalculate as a gain. Where the Coalition produces ‘reforms’ that would lock Britain into an (increasingly unaffordable) past, Germany presses towards a more sustainable future.

In achieving a 40% carbon reduction target, by 2020, Germany expects to:

  • create 500,000 new jobs
  • save €22 billion in avoided fossil fuel import costs (rising to €38 billion by 2030)
  • boost GDP by €20 billion per year
  • make German national debt €180 billion lower (by 2030) than it would have been without their climate protection measures, and
  • deliver a surplus of 34 euro cents on every tonne of carbon saved.

It would be easy to conclude that the trouble with ‘those bloody Germans’ is that they are just bloody good. But then, we could be too.

In Germany, it began with a willingness to think beyond yesterday’s energy agenda and yesterday’s energy interests. Energiewende is based on a different understanding of tomorrow’s energy systems, their use and their ownership. This is where Britain must be too.

A step-change is needed in Britain’s energy thinking. Learning some of the lessons from Germany would be helpful. But what we really need is a different vision for a new energy future.

Extracted from The Power Book, published by the Local Government Information Unit, September 2012

Alan Simpson was Labour MP for Nottingham South from 1992 – 2010. After advising Ministers on renewable energy policy, he left Parliament to concentrate on energy and environment policies. He and his family live in an eco-house they converted in the middle of Nottingham. He is a net supplier of electricity to the grid.
For more information contact: alan@alansimpson.org


1Comments | Post your own comment

  • AmberGreen Heating comments:
    "The UK can definitely learn from Germany when it comes to embracing renewable energy. The problem with the UK is that there are government incentives for those who use renewable energy but they aren’t widely known by the public. "
    January 13, 2014 a 3:09 pm


09
APR

Vince Adams says:
50+ Solar Energy


Category: Solar Energy
Tags:


If you are aged 50 plus and have a reasonable income, then I believe it is so important that you support Solar and other renewable energies.

I have solar panels installed at my home in Dorset, and these words below are written by my good friend Jack Olver who lives in Monterey, California…

“Of course solar generation doesn’t occur at night so energy storage is the problem that must be solved for solar to become the main power supply. Fortunately scientists and engineers around the world are chasing this very lucrative goal. Here are a few of the proposed solutions at www.renewableenergyworld.com. But remember, this is early in the game. The computing power that enables solutions to these problems has only been around for a few years and that power is growing every day, and more and more countries are producing more excellent scientists. The solutions of today, remarkable as they might be, are nothing compared to those that will come a few years down the road.”

See the Dorset Energized section on Solar Energy to view the current solar options available for your home: www.letsgetenergized.co.uk/energy/solar-energy.



05
APR

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
Hire a Twizy and Tour the New Forest!


Category: Electric Transport, Renewable Energy Film/Video
Tags:


A friend of mine happened to mention that in the New Forest they now have a scheme set up for tourists to hire the electric Twizys (rather like the scheme in the Brecon Beacons) – with a network of charging points as well.

Apparently you can “Explore the wonderful scenery of the New Forest by hiring one of Renault’s new electric two-seater Twizy cars! Not only is this a funky and fun way of exploring this unique destination, but you will also ensure your holiday is as environmentally-friendly as possible.”

For more information visit: http://www.brandnewforest.com/twizy/index.php

And of course check out the Dorset Energized info on Electric Transport here: www.letsgetenergized.co.uk/energy/electric-transport.

 



04
APR

Sharon Fay says:
New Nissan LEAF 100% Electric Car to be Made In Britain


Category: Electric Transport
Tags:


Thursday 28th March 2013 saw the 1st Nissan LEAF come off the production line in the UK in Sunderland, with the batteries also being produced at Sunderland this is a double celebration.

This means that we are another exciting step closer to the launch of the New (Made in Britain!) Nissan LEAF.  The New Nissan LEAF boasts 100 new improvements with a range of 124 miles, faster charging time and increased bootspace to name just a few.

If you would like more information please give me a call on 01963 34335 or email sharon.fay@fjchalke.co.uk.



02
APR

Theresa McManus says:
Cold Man of Europe: UK suffers worst fuel poverty in western Europe


Category: Fuel Poverty & Security
Tags:


According to the Carbon Action Network, new research released this week shows the UK suffers the worst fuel poverty in western Europe and comes bottom of a fuel poverty league table for western Europe.

The press release on the Report from the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) and the Energy Bill Revolution campaign, states:

Woeful levels of insulation in this country’s homes are sending energy bills through the roof for people in the UK, according to the figures from the Association for the Conservation for Energy and the Energy Bill Revolution campaign.

Although most other European countries face higher energy prices than those of the UK, better quality home insulation means our European neighbours pay less to heat their homes.

The heat leaking from the UK’s homes is condemning over five million households to fuel poverty this winter, and this number is predicted to rise to eight million within the next four years.

The ranking table giving the estimated share of households in energy poverty is as follows:

1 Netherlands 8.1%
2 Belgium 8.9%
3 Sweden 11.2%
4 Austria 11.9%
5 Slovenia 12.0%
6 Denmark 12.4%
7 Germany 12.6%
8 Finland 13.0%
9 Ireland 13.5%
10 Luxembourg 13.6%
11 Czech Republic 14.5%
12 France 16.2%
13 UK 19.2%

To read more and download the full report visit: www.energybillrevolution.org



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