Archive for March, 2015


25
MAR

John Olver says:
Argument over solar subsidies in the UK


Category: Climate Change, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,


Argument over solar subsidies in the UK

The UK, as with the rest of the world, has seen a dramatic surge in solar power generation over the past few years. the cost of solar panels has dropped quickly and governments have subsidized the industry. Now governments are considering cutting these subsidies because solar is beginning to be competitive with fossil fuels. I would agree with this action if governments would also cut the subsidies they have been giving to fossil fuel companies since the inception of that industry.

Fossil fuel companies have never had to pay the cost of the environmental damage they do when extracting or burning their products. Neither have fossil fuel companies had to pay for the damage to human health caused by their products. Paying these costs would make sustainable energy sources more than competitive and that’s why the fossil fuel industry contributes so much to political campaigns around the world. Consumer prices would go up for fossil fuel energy but come down for sustainable sources and that would bring a cleaner world sooner rather than later.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-32028809


1Comments | Post your own comment

  • Bristolboy comments:
    "In terms of UK solar I would say the feed in tariff cuts for small scale solar (eg building mounted) are suitable and the new way in which cuts are relative to install rates are suitable. This is shown by install rates being very constant, indicating that the feed in tariff cuts correspond well to install cost reductions. The major issue at the moment is that the subsidy cuts for large scale solar that were effective from 1st April have been too extreme. Previously such projects were getting 1.4 ROCs/MWh which was probably too generous following capex falls, hence the large number of solar farms appearing over the last year or so. However, they now have to compete for Contracts for Difference (CFDs) against onshore wind projects which is something solar is unable to do until further capex reductions occur. "
    April 12, 2015 a 5:23 pm


18
MAR

Guest Energizer says:
Pros and Cons of Biomass Energy


Category: Biomass Energy, Sustainable Living
Tags:


Pros and Cons of Biomass Energy

One thing we can agree upon is that the perfect energy source simply doesn’t exist yet. Each and every one source of energy we have out there has its own promises and disadvantages, but they may vary from type to type. This article will cover the details of biomass energy and what it has to offer.

Biomass has been used and around for a long, long time, before anyone actually spoke of alternate energy or renewable resources. At one point wood was the primary energy source for cooking, heating and other solutions. It still happens to be used today in many countries around the world, though in less locations in the west as it stands. Cleaning it also takes quite a bit of effort unless used in productive ways, as the following examples will point out. When we mention biomass today, we talk about a few applications used today:

Direct burning to create heat

This is the usual, traditional method of burning fossil fuels we are all very familiar with, meant for cooking and heating. It is still widely used around the world, but also responsible for plenty of greenhouse gases, respiratory illnesses and worse.

Generation of electricity

Biomass can be used to feed a boiler, which in turn will provide steam to a turbine generator. Feedstock is usually made from wood residue, as well as industrial and urban waste wood. This type of generation of power can also be improved with a co-generation solution that uses the heat of the process to improve efficiency for a combined arrangement.

Gasification

The biomass is used and heated in an environment that allows it to break down into flammable gas. Once the gas has been filtered and cleaned, it can then be reused as a natural gas in a combined cycle turbine. The feedstock used is made of agricultural and forest residue.

Anaerobic Digestion

Biomaterials used in a fermentation process that works on converting the organic compounds into biogas, composed of roughly 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide. The methane is converted into CO2 and water by being burned still has a net positive from a greenhouse gas perspective, as methane is a more tenacious greenhouse gas than CO2.

Pros of using biomass:

  • Renewable fuel source
  • Low cost
  • Ample supply
  • Domestically produced
  • Low carbon contents
  • Convertible into energy to keep waste low

Cons of using biomass:

  • Energy intensive for production purposes with little gain
  • May lead to deforestation
  • Needs water supply
  • Not entirely clean when burned
  • May compete with food production
  • Seasonal fuel sources
  • Process of creation is still fairly expensive
  • Methane and CO2 emitted during production
  • Heavy feedstock requires energy to transport

When it comes down to it, biomass seems compelling at first, considering its renewable source and it may be produced on domestic soil, but there are also plenty of drawbacks that make it an eco-unfriendly solution in the end. As population keeps growing, the competition between arable land for food production and water will make this type of option work poorly in the days to come. The other option that would work better is that much of the materials used to create biomass may also be used for composting and food production, which is a cleaner alternative although not directly tied to energy production.

This post is by Guest Energizer Sofia Lewis for Cleaners House Ltd. who offer eco-friendly house and office cleaning services. Sofia is a passionate freelance article writer and blogger. She is inspired by home improvement and gardening projects and writes mainly about domestic cleaning, green living home solutions and gardening.



13
MAR

John Olver says:
EV’s are not good for the environment!


Category: Electric Transport, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Living
Tags: , , ,


EV’s are not good for the environment!

That headline or similar claims have been floating about the media for some time now. A 2014 study by the University of Minnesota among others found that EV’s can contribute to global pollution if the source of the electricity they use is not clean. Why the headlines don’t read, “Coal Fired Power Plants are a Threat to Civilization” instead of lambasting EV’s is no mystery. Most of the articles quickly get to this point but headlines lambasting coal fired power plants don’t draw the eyeballs that anti-EV banners do and media of all sorts depends on attracting eyeballs for validation. The potential number of EV’s on the road is far greater than the number of power plants so why not focus the cleanup at the source.

The fact is that EV’s are good for the environment. You can power them with wind, solar, hydro, nuclear and yes, fossil fuel. But whatever the source EV’s don’t go around spewing CO2 and other pollutants into cities towns and the countryside. If clean up is required it can be done at the source.

Additionally, if you choose to power your EV with sustainably derived electricity you do away with the need to transport explosive and toxic materials around the world in ships, trains, trucks and pipelines and avoid all the spillage associated with that transport. EV’s don’t require mountaintop mining, deep sea oil drilling or other destructive extractive processes.

100605091242BP_Gulf_Oil_Spill_Affected_Wildlife_Images30

Technologies are already available to scrub pollutants from power plant stacks but that would add to the cost of electricity. Most consumers would rather pretend that the hundreds of billions of dollars, pounds, rand, yen, etc. added to global health costs by the fossil fuel industry do not exist and that the rise in power cost would be far more onerous than the heart disease, lung disease, lower intelligence in offspring and many other problems associated with fossil fuels.

And by the way, if fossil fuel companies were required to clean up their messes the price of fossil fuels would be quite a bit higher than the price of sustainable energy. This cost adjustment would drive the sustainable industry, technological improvements would follow rapidly due to the increase in research funding and the world would be a much cleaner place.

EV’s are not the problem, the problem our insistence on “cheap” energy no matter what the true cost.


2Comments | Post your own comment

  • Bristolboy comments:
    "I agree fully with your smmary that it ultimately depends on the source of the electricity. In the UK the carbon emissions associated with electricity generation for a typical electric car like the Nissan Leaf are as good or better than the best diesels. However, this is getting better all the time due to higher renewables penetration. I would also estimate that those with electric cars are much more likely to be on “renewable” supply tariffs or have solar panels on their house and therefore will have lower emissions than the UK average. Of course, electric cars produce no emissions (other than manufacture) in countries where grid electricity is 100% renewable such as Norway, Iceland and Costa Rica and in these countries electric cars win hands down. "
    April 12, 2015 a 5:13 pm

  • vince adams comments:
    "Get the message, we are being feed rubbish from the Media to protect the existing forces of power, its time to wake and see whats happening before our own eyes or it will be to late. "
    March 15, 2015 a 10:12 am


12
MAR

Lets Get Energized says:
Dorset Energized support West Dorset Election Hustings in Dorchester on 15th April 2015


Category: Dorset Energized News, Energy Events in Dorset
Tags: ,


west-dorset-hustings

Wednesday 15th April at 7.30pm
Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester, Dorset

Dorset Energized are one of a number of local organisations taking part in the West Dorset Election Hustings for local Environmental and Wildlife issues.

All 5 political candidates for West Dorset will be answering your questions on:

  • Landscape
  • Climate Change
  • Wildlife Conservation
  • Hunting and Shooting
  • Farm Animal Welfare
  • Badger Cull and Vaccination
  • Marine Conservation
  • Fracking
  • Renewable Energy
  • and more…

Tickets will be available from Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester from Monday 16th March (max. 4 per person). Tickets must be collected from the school, they cannot mail them. N.B. the school will be closed for 2 weeks over Easter from 28th March to 12th April.

Tickets are FREE but donations will be welcome at the end of the event for the Dorset Badger Vaccination Project and Hardye’s students’ environmental projects.

Please share this post widely across the West Dorset area.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE POSTER >>

What question would you like us to ask?

Please let us know what question you would like us to ask our local candidates re renewable energy by submitting your ‘COMMENTS’ in this post below…



11
MAR

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
Is Consumerism Dead?


Category: Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Living
Tags: , ,


Is Consumerism Dead?

In a moment of utter boredom with the dismal TV schedule the other night I found myself way down the TV station list watching “Challenge”, wallowing in nostalgia with 1980s game shows. There was “Celebrity Squares”, “The Price is Right” and “Supermarket Swoop” Those of you old enough will remember that it was all about winning desirable stuff (that most of us didn’t have enough of at the time). The prices were amazing! Over £400 for a 26” TV that extended dust gatheringly backwards as far as it was wide and over £10,000 for a phallus shaped Ford Coupe with a boot that would hardly fit a couple of suitcases let alone a full complement of garden waste and other stuff to the tip! It reminded me that we really were enthralled by consumerism, the acquisition of household goods and economic growth so that we could buy ever more stuff.

It strikes me that we have now mostly got all the stuff we need to fill a house or could get hold of it cheaply second hand, or even for free through freecycle. We no longer get as excited by consumerism and economic growth. Perhaps we are even bored with it! However, I don’t think politicians have caught up.

Can our economy really continue to “grow” in the true sense of the word? Can we continue to use ever greater quantities of the globes natural resources to get richer and richer. (This is the dream our mainstream political parties still seem to be selling.) Or should we using different metrics than economic growth to measure our happiness and sense of well-being.? A modern flat screen TV is a much better device than the huge 1980/90s versions. Plus it is considerably cheaper and uses less energy and labour both in its production and use. This is true of almost everything from cars to washing machines. Is the future about doing more with less? Living within our means and eliminating the UK deficit but feeling no poorer because we produce things and organise everything more efficiently. Can we use less energy, buy less “stuff”, use communications to work more efficiently from home, maybe even eat less, but feel no worse off?

What people care about now is not continual accumulation of wealth (apart from an important minority on the breadline who need help pulling themselves up) but the feeling of well-being that comes from having decent, secure housing, a reliable NHS, good family networks, good food and drink.

That’s why the coming election feels different. The two main parties are still focused on the aspirations we had in the 20th Century but the electorate has moved on. We are now mainly worried about maintaining what we have in a world increasingly threatened by climate change and massive migratory pressure. That revolutionary Russell Brand summed up the feeling of many by saying simply “Give us something to vote FOR.” The parties we need are those that understand what is shaping our future (ie different energy sources, how and where we build our houses, making people healthier, more efficient work practices, inward migration, social cohesion etc) and their part in making it better than it might otherwise be.

Us rural types have always been better than average at living within our means. Husbanding scarce resources and managing the land so it is still fit to hand on to the next generation. We expect our politicians to demonstrate the same skill and understanding.

This article was first published in the Landsman magazine


2Comments | Post your own comment

  • Keith Wheaton-Green comments:
    "I just hope more of our stuff become like mobile phones in that they require much less physical resource and more intellectual property. Peoples retail therapy then uses human rather than the earth’s resource. "
    March 17, 2015 a 11:45 pm

  • John Olver comments:
    "Nice post. I agree with the writer on most points. But although our civilization is now able to meet the basic needs of most if not all people on the planet without further degrading the environment we still seem to lack the will to do so. Excessive profit at any cost is still the goal of many and humanity continues to waste resources by fighting meaningless wars. Our science and technology have given us the means to live comfortably and sustainably but we still have a ways to go philosophically. If the basic needs of the have-nots were provided would they be satisfied? Or must people have so much that they can no longer afford the cost of storing all their stuff to be satisfied? Here is the US people sure have a lot of stuff and yet $400 phones and $150 athletic shoes still fly off the shelves even though the new owners will almost certainly never use a fraction of the capabilities of those items. Each generations seems to want that which the prior generation had plus anything new that comes up. "
    March 13, 2015 a 5:32 pm


04
MAR

Guest Energizer says:
Future Improvements in Green Wind Power


Category: Wind Power
Tags:


Future Improvements in Green Wind Power

As the world’s need for electric power grows, there are certain effects of fossil fuels that require us to look for other opportunities with alternative power sources. Solar power, tidal and geothermal power as well as the classic of wind power turbines has been on the rise in terms of green energy.

Wind power is one of those natural resources that simply don’t go away, so you can make great use of it around your home as well as in terms of powering industrial facilities and so forth. Whether you want to have wind power around your home, in your garden or as part of your landscaping solutions, as a supplement to your power grid are up to you. The following article will cover the upcoming or already developing technologies in terms of wind power and what it has to offer:

Airborne wind power

Makani is working on an airborne energy kite, which is one excellent solution to using the higher altitude strong winds and using their energy with efficiency. Wind in the upper atmosphere are far more consistent, which means any turbines can be used to great benefit, but it will be a while before we see any widespread implementation of the concept beyond the current stage of its work. There is also the Altaeros wind turbine which works with an inflatable, helium-filled shell that allows access to high altitude winds. Projected lowering of energy costs is at a whopping 65% with this technology, assuming it ever becomes widespread and used across the world.

Low-speed winds and power

Another interesting solution is the one offered by Wind Power Innovations. The Wind Harvester is a great, horizontal approach its design, which makes use of aerofoils to create electrical power, even in lower speed winds. It may also work in various wind speed conditions, but it takes a bit of space.

Bladeless Wind Power

The Windstalk is a great new solution which consists of a hollow pole which houses ceramic, piezoelectric discs that are connected with cables from to bottom. As each of the disks is connected, the swaying of the pole and movement of the disks generates a current. This makes them excellent for saving up space and eliminating moving parts, thus making them safer for garden installation, garden landscaping and so forth.

Wind lens

Japanese researchers have been looking into ways to boost the traditional wind turbines and their efficiency up to the amazing three times. A wind lens placed around the turbine blades is expected to give a massive boost in performance for the current designs.

Vertical wind power

This is one way of handling the challenge of wind power, which is seen in the designs of the previous examples. The Windspire design is believed to allow a 2000 KWh for an average of 11 mph wind speed, working with a rotating horizontal design that looks more like an antenna, instead of the traditional look. Eddy turbines on the other hand have a sleek design that allows it to work safe with wind speeds reaching up to the quite serious 120 mph. It has the ability to produce up to 600W of power, which may allow it to work wonders when paired with a good solar array.

This post is by Guest Energizer Sofia Lewis for Gardening Services Gardeners Ltd. who offers garden design services. She is a passionate freelance article writer and blogger. She is inspired by home improvement projects and writes mainly about gardening and landscaping, green living home solutions and other home related topics.



03
MAR

Debbie Cripps Promotions Manager at Simon King Wildlife says:
Wildlife Adventure Holidays with Simon King


Category: Sustainable Living, Wildlife & Nature
Tags: , ,


simon-king-lions-letsgetenergized

I’m really lucky to have a job with so much diversity. As Promotions Manager for Simon King Wildlife each day holds a different challenge, from liaising with businesses and NGO’s, writing newsletters and press releases, taking bookings for personal appearances by Simon and raising awareness of our charity the Simon King Wildlife Project, there is certainly a lot to keep me busy!

One of my favourite aspects of the job is helping Simon to arrange the wonderful wildlife trips he hosts. The holidays are designed to create awareness of the natural world and what we stand to lose if we don’t take care of the planet.

I have even been lucky enough to be hospitality staff, helping the guests to have the best time possible. I know first-hand what amazing adventures folk have on these holidays. Simon is with them from dawn to dusk, using his immense natural history knowledge and great communication skills to ensure they spot many of the wonders each region has to offer. We choose exclusive accommodation, serving yummy food, and because the guests are ‘like minded’ lifetime friendships have been formed.

simon-king-hyena-letsgetenergized

This year he is running a holiday to Islay (which is fully booked), in June he hosts a Somerset Safari, which includes a unique trip to Wild Meadows, the land surrounding his home, and a ‘behind the scenes’ visit to Secret World Wildlife Rescue. At the end of October he is running a trip to Zambia in search of big cats, wild dogs and other amazing creatures.

Next year there are plans for trips to India, Shetland, which is always hugely popular, and Canada.

So, if you want to see the world with Simon, visit our travel section at www.simonkingwildlife.com/page/travel and sign up to our mailing list.

Perhaps we’ll meet in future…



02
MAR

John Olver says:
Will.i.am, Joanna Lumley and the Future


Category: Electric Transport, Green Electricity, Sustainable Energy Stories, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,


Will.i.am, Joanna Lumley and the Future

Several months ago British journalist Joanna Lumely recorded a four day interview with Will.i.am, formerly of the Black Eyed Peas. Much of the interview was done while Will drove Joanna around to several Los Angeles locations that were of importance in his life. Will drives a Tesla Model S as do many other California celebrities. In many ways Will’s life and the interview itself provide a clear image of the near term future.

First of all the interview was not filmed, it was recorded digitally. It could very well have been recorded using a smart phone but was probably done using a digital device that could easily fit in someone’s carry-on luggage. Compared to similar efforts just 20 years ago this ability is almost magic.

One feature of the interview focused on Will and Joanna in Will’s recording studio while he created a song. The process by which Will composed, recorded, edited and mastered a complete song in just four hours would have mystified studio engineers from just a few decades ago.

Technology is evolving at an ever increasing pace. Wrist watches are soon to be on the market that will provide most of the functionality of today’s smart phones.Glasses can now serve as full motion high definition video cameras. How long before phones become implants? The point is that what we see as cutting edge now will be old news in just a few months and the pace is quickening.

That brings us to Will.i.am’s Model S and EV’s in general.

Will.i.am with his Model S

Will.i.am with his Model S

There are still many people who insist that the technology for practical, affordable EV’s just doesn’t exist. Not enough range, batteries are too expensive, charging time is too long….. The list goes on. These naysayers can be countered with sound arguments. Most major auto manufacturers already produce hybrid vehicles, sort of half EV’s and consumers really like the better gas mileage. Most major manufacturers are working on delivering plug-in EV’s within the next few years and the auto industry has lots of money and employs lots of great engineers. Does anyone really believe battery range won’t be extended, charging times reduced and costs brought down when major corporations are throwing money and expertise at the problem?

This one interview that Joanna did for the BBC provides a very good lesson about the pace of technology as well as a peek at the future. Are practical, affordable EV’s a part of our near term future? Without a doubt.

Here a link to the interview – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOJUv1Kh47E


1Comments | Post your own comment

  • vince adams comments:
    "Thanks to John for his coverage of the Joanna Lumley – Will-I.am documentary. John gives us an American eye view of the issues and I echo his thoughts about the future of electric transport. Once you have driven electric you never want to go back to the old technology, smell and rage of the petrol engine. Its yesterday as they say, electric is tomorrow. This weekend talk to Nissan or your favourite car deal about what the options are to test drive and see the future for yourself. "
    March 4, 2015 a 9:42 am


02
MAR

Lets Get Energized says:
Spring Prize Draw: Win the original Wonderbag portable slow cooker


Category: Competitions & Giveaways, Eco Gifts & Gadgets, Energy Efficiency
Tags: , ,


wonderbag-photo

Win a wonderful Wonderbag worth £30

We’ve got another fantastic prize for Lets Get Energized subscribers this Spring!

Wonderbag is a simple but revolutionary, non-electric portable slow cooker. 

It continues to cook food which has been brought to the boil by conventional methods for up to 8-12 hours without the use of additional electricity or fuel. It’s said that “The Wonderbag Will Change The Way You Slow-Cook Forever”.

It’s simple: you can boil it, bag it, slow cook it, then share it! The Wonderbag is made from Polycottons inside and out, filled with polystyrene.

WONDERBAG How does it work vers2 from Heidi Otto on Vimeo.

The story behind the Wonderbag

The Wonderbag was designed by Sarah Collins, an amazing woman who has devoted her entire life to searching for ways to empower people in rural Africa, especially women.

Inspired by the San people who bury food in the ground while they are cooking she says, “I thought to myself, ‘This is the oldest technology in the world.'” Wonderbags were originally created for poor families in Africa, to cut down the amount of costly firewood they need for cooking. And for every Wonderbag purchased in North America today, one is donated to a family in need in Africa, and so drastically changes the life of the family who receives the bag and becomes a catalyst out of poverty.

Sarah’s goal is to sell one hundred million Wonderbags worldwide, helping over a billion people. “It empowers consumers, by giving them innovative ways to be part of the solutions that the world is looking for.”

Read the full story here >>

Eco-friendly & perfect for picnics this Spring!

The Wonderbag is an extremely well-insulated cooking bag that keeps anything – from meaty stews and vegetable curries to simple rice and soups – cooking for hours without using any power, saving time, money and reducing energy use.

It’s clever insulating properties allow food that has been brought to the boil to finish cooking without extra heat. This greatly reduces the use of additional energy, and means you can cook appetising, hot meals while saving time, energy and money.  It’s ideal for home cooked hot dinners, camping, outdoor festivals and picnics.

imagehandler-ashx

Sign up & Get Energized for the chance to win a Wonderbag!

This wonderful jazzy patterned purple Wonderbag (pictured above) has been very kindly donated to us by STIR Into Action who use their own Wonderbag at all their workshops.

The competition has been extended and ends at midnight UK time on 30th April 2015 and the lucky winner will be picked at random from all our e-newsletter subscribers on 1st May.

Simply sign up to our e-newsletter, if you haven’t already, for the chance to win.

Click here to enter our prize draw >>

Look out for the announcement of last month’s competition winner who can take advantage of STIR Into Action‘s Workshop on Renewable Energy Co-ops on 6th & 7th June 2015 in Bridport, Dorset. As soon as we have checked they are available for the weekend we can announce!



Lets Get Energized with Renewable Energy!

Lets Get Energized is your online guide to renewable energy and sustainable living with the latest news, views and tips plus exclusive special offers to help you save energy and money, beat rising energy prices, combat climate change and be more self sufficient – right now, and for your future...

READ ABOUT RENEWABLE ENERGY

ENJOY EXCLUSIVE OFFERS,
NEWS + ENERGY SAVING TIPS:

CONGRATS TO OUR SUMMER E-BIKE HIRE WINNER: CLARE WEBB*

*This competition is now closed but you can still enter for the chance to win future competitions!

No Thanks - Hide This Pop-up