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13
JUL

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
Wind Turbines in Dorset? Planning Committee says NO


Category: Community Energy, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Uncategorized, Wind Power
Tags: , , ,


Wind Turbines in Dorset? Planning Committee says NO

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I recently attended a wind turbine planning determination in a crowded village hall when the planning committee (well 6 of the 11 members attended) decided the fate of an application for 4 large wind turbines. We all listened to officers of the council and AONB explain the landscape and heritage sensitivities (the turbines would be seen in the setting of listed buildings and the beautiful Dorset landscape) followed by numerous speakers against and for the application.

Those opposed to the application made the point that our landscape must be preserved, that the turbines would be seen from village houses and gardens and even that wind turbines damage people’s health. The CPRE claimed that renewable energy targets in Dorset had been exceeded so no new installations were needed. Each speaker received rapturous applause.

I have witnessed a few campaigns to oppose wind turbine applications in Somerset and Dorset. There is usually assistance from outside organisations. Meetings, leaflets and doorstep petitions are arranged. The purpose – of course – is to raise anxiety levels. Misinformation is spread such as; bird and bat populations are put at risk; infra sound prevents people sleeping and gives them headaches; house prices will fall and tourists will stay away. Wind turbines are inefficient and generate hardly anything. Sometimes photographs that exaggerate the scale are published.

In reality, the choice to approve or not – as the officers and members present acknowledged –is justified on the basis of a subjective view of landscape and visual aesthetics.

About seven of us spoke up in favour of the application. It was explained that climate change is an issue that needs to be dealt with so urgently we need to move to 100% of our electricity from renewables ASAP, that wind turbines are the cheapest technology but that there are very sites suitable for their installation in Dorset.

When I spoke, looking out onto the big audience of grey haired baby boomers while younger people were at work, I realised just where the divide in opinion lay. The majority of the audience – many retired to timeless Hardy’s Dorset – would not sacrifice their views from around the village to give the younger generation a better future. Yet just think what the generation before the baby boomers sacrificed in the 30s, 40s and 50s!

Anyone wanting to live in Hardy’s Dorset should stop using electricity, swap their car for a horse and cart, live in a very small draughty house and campaign to take out pylons and large roads. If we walk backwards into the future, we will suffer because we can’t see where we are going.

I spoke up for farmers. They may be sitting on land and property worth millions with large sums flowing through their business but their disposable income can be modest. They work very long hours as standard and consider themselves guardians of the land (and landscape) which they expect to pass on to their children rather than realize paper wealth.

I was once told by a farmer – only half-jokingly – that I shouldn’t expect him to take my opinions on local matters seriously because my family had not been in Dorset since Saxon times. Despite that comment, farmers are usually quiet, self-effacing, not prone to voicing their opinions and actually can be intimidated.

Wind turbines make sense to farmers because they give resource efficient future financial security. The opposing camp are very ably led by people some of which, have moved into the area to retire. They put high value on the landscape the farming community have created and look after, but look to the past rather than the constant change and planning for the future they may have experienced in their own working lives.

The media are underestimating the connection between peoples voting intentions and their views on climate change. The Green surge is largely due to younger people with a strong sense of injustice against their generation. Baby boomers have had it good with their jetting around the world on holiday, big cars and houses by mortgaging their children’s and grandchildren’s futures (the deficit.) This put the carbon in the atmosphere that puts future generations in jeopardy.



01
APR

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
Who should you vote for if Climate Change and Renewable Energy are important to you?


Category: Renewable Energy, Sustainable Living, Wind Power
Tags: , , ,


Who should you vote for if Climate Change and Renewable Energy are important to you?

I put party attitudes in two categories. Twentieth century concepts of centralised energy generation, fossil fuel and nuclear technologies and a reluctance to push forward with renewables quickly to avoid the worst effects of a changed climate future, dominate UKIP and Conservative thinking. Decentralisation, strong government incentives for a rapid switch to renewables, lack of sympathy for entrenched fossil fuel dominated companies and a sense that climate change is a fairness issue because the poorest in the country/the world cannot pay to get themselves out of the firing line of flooding, sea level rise and drought characterise the other parties.

Rather surprisingly, considering their appreciation of the need to “be independent and take control of our own destiny” UKIP have not made any link between home grown renewable energy, UK resilience and reduced dependence on energy from “dodgy” countries. Instead, they express intense dislike for wind turbines in particular and “renewable energy subsidies which penalise consumers.” Let’s be honest, generally speaking, UKIPers don’t accept the premise that man-made climate change is a serious threat to our well-being. It’s clear that UKIP MPs will not be voting for any government promotion of renewable energy.

The Greens have an extensive set of policies relating to renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage. They want to see “a complete transformation of our energy supply systems to one based on efficient use of energy supplied mainly by electricity from renewable sources, accelerated heat production from renewable sources, improved energy performance of buildings, heat and energy storage, stimulation of research and development, a land and sea framework for development of renewable energy, a diversity of ownership of energy generation and energy democracy. Green MPs would evidently be voting to support renewables, as well as challenging bills that prevent or slow down development of renewables.

Conservatives support the current regime of continually reducing renewables subsidies. They promise to end the on shore wind turbine subsidy (currently the cheapest renewable!) and restrict new solar farms. Eric Pickles has called in nearly all recent planning permissions for on-shore wind turbines and quite a few solar farms. They much prefer on roof PV and would support changes in planning law to encourage this. Conservatives are enthusiastic supporters of fracking and value the contribution fossil fuels make to the economy. One senses their support for renewables is conditional, that they don’t understand the full potential of renewables to growing the economy, and would expect renewables to flourish in spite of, rather than because of, government policies.

A Labour government set up the Feed in tariff, the Renewable heat Incentive and a pathway to zero carbon homes. The coalition have continued these. More recently, Labour have announced policies on energy efficiency, interest free home improvement loans, replacement of Ofgem and freezing energy prices. Labour have a good track record with renewables and have recently stated that they “will support community energy, and explore the huge potential for individuals and communities to create and save energy through community ownership and collective consumer action.” They have not explained the instruments they would use but it seems likely that Labour would provide strong support for renewables.

Liberal Democrat controlled DECC has overseen huge expansion of PV and off-shore wind against Conservative scepticism. Their manifesto includes “doubling renewable electricity and heat generation by 2020, making the UK zero carbon by 2050, a zero carbon bill with a legally binding decarbonisation target for the power sector up to 2030, an office for accelerated low carbon innovation to fast-track new green tech including tidal power, renewable heat, ultra-low emission vehicles and energy storage.” It’s clear that a strong Liberal Democrat presence in parliament is good for the renewables industry.

The economy is the second most important issue for voters so we should focus on the fact that every pound invested in renewables contributes £3.20 to GDP and £1.27 in taxes. The UK could be self-sufficient in renewable energy, thus giving us a more resilient economy. To achieve this, the renewables industry wants stable financial and regulatory support while it matures and drives costs down. I think that’s worth voting for.



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


19
JAN

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
100% renewable and self sufficient North Dorset in Electricity – here`s how


Category: Dorset Energized News, Green Electricity & Gas, Solar Energy, Uncategorized, Water Power, Wind Power
Tags: , , , , ,


100% renewable and self sufficient North Dorset in Electricity – here`s how

The most recent statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show that North Dorset consumes 290.8 GWh/yr

The last census shows 30,397 households, only 11% of those being flats. Quite a few of these dwellings already have PV installed on their roofs but that number is likely to increase substantially when PV becomes so cheap that it will make better financial sense to install it than pay for all your electricity from the grid. This grid parity (without subsidy) is expected to come about as early as 2020. More than half of houses have close to south facing roof space and it’s reasonable to assume that 60% or so could accommodate a 4 kW array. These would generate around 65 GWh/yr

There are 3,800 businesses in North Dorset including farms. Not all will have their own roof space but all those steel sheds on industrial estates and agricultural barns have low pitched roofs that are viable for PV whatever their orientation. A quick look at Google Earth shows at least 50 big enough to take around 50 kW in the towns and farm barns would probably double that. So I estimate these could generate 5 GWh/yr.

There are already quite a few large and small ground mounted solar farms installed and enough space to generate the equivalent of the districts needs without impacting food production. A reasonably large solar farm is 10 MW generating 10 GWh/yr so 29 of those would equate to the district’s annual consumption.

There are at least 6 small 20 kW wind turbines (up to 20 m mast and 7 m blades) in North Dorset tucked away virtually un-noticed. The landscape could easily accommodate 50 small turbines without travellers and walkers constantly coming across them. They could generate 0.35 GWh/yr.

The River Stour and its tributaries already has 4 hydro turbines installed at mills and weirs with another 5 to be installed soon and potential for at least 6. They range from 3.7 to 89 kW and in total could generate 1.75 GWh/yr.

Now the elephant in the room, which is big wind power They may be very much out of favour with a vocal minority punching well above their weight but the fact is that a 2.3MW on-shore wind turbine is the cheapest source of renewable electricity. It would require 60 of these to generate the equivalent of all the district’s electricity and that could not be accommodated easily. I would say a maximum of 20 could be found a home and 10 would be more realistic and they could generate 48.5 GWh/yr

So North Dorset could generate equivalent to all its electrical need with;

65 GWh/yr from domestic roof tops

5 GWh/yr from commercial and agricultural roof tops

0.35 GWh/yr from small wind turbines

1.75 GWh/yr from hydropower

That leaves 218.7 GWh/yr to be found from a combination of large solar farms and wind turbines. Personally, I would like to see 10 large wind turbines, some of those to be clearly viewed from my back garden. That would mean 17 x 10 MW solar farms to take up the slack.


1Comments | Post your own comment

  • vince adams comments:
    "Keith gives a cogent and totally understandable summary of how North Dorset with just a number of small steps could create 100% of its energy needs renewably.
    Think what if every district, County did a similar exercise how simple going renewable could be and how we could see the end of coal, gas and nuclear power for ever.
    This is now not in the realms of fairy stories its hard economic sense and will support reductions in climate change temps and give us better air quality all at the sametime. "

    January 19, 2015 a 6:42 pm


24
SEP

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
Electric Car Charging


Category: Electric Transport, Sustainable Energy Stories
Tags: , , ,


Electric Car Charging

I extracted the text below from a recent speech by Baroness Kramer.

“The UK already has the best network of rapid chargepoints in Europe.

And London has more chargepoints than petrol stations.

By the end of this year, there will be rapid chargepoints in every motorway service station in England, taking as little as 20 minutes to charge up a car.”

I have a friend with an electric car and frequently travel with him. It is Ecotricity who have put the rapid chargers at motorway service stations and they are free (amazing!) The journey to London in a Leaf takes just one stop at Fleet services (which you would probably stop at anyway) and there are fast chargers all over the place. Travelling back from Bridport to Dorchester we stopped to top up at the little chef’s fast charger and when you look at a charger map (such as this one) to plan a 100 mile plus journey, your range anxiety disappears.



21
AUG

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
Can electric cars and vans solve the renewable energy storage problem?


Category: Electric Transport, Energy Efficiency, Green Electricity & Gas, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Living
Tags: , ,


Can electric cars and vans solve the renewable energy storage problem?

The four main electrical power distribution networks have just announced a two year project to test the viability of using the batteries of electric vehicle fleets (when parked up and connected to the grid for a long trickle charge) to balance the grid.

http://www.futuretransportsystems.co.uk/projects/vehicle-to-grid-desk-study-1.aspx

The two stage project will first test the impact on battery life and then produce a prototype vehicle equipped with validated processes and hardware.

It’s easy (certainly for me) to imagine a future when the majority of vehicles are electric and your electrical supply company buys electricity from you from your car battery when the software within the car tells the grid it has power to spare. Your car would always be connected for charging and exporting (grid balancing) when parked up at home and the grid would only draw back power during times of peak demand when your battery was fully charged. I haven’t done the maths but it could be that the massive storage capacity available will far exceed that needed to balance the grid to cope with intermittent renewables such as wind and PV.



20
AUG

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
Now You See it Now You Don`t, Govt Support – Again


Category: Community Energy, Renewable Energy, Uncategorized, Water Power
Tags: , , ,


Now You See it Now You Don`t, Govt Support – Again

The rate of feed in tariff for each technology is reviewed every 3 months and if more than a certain designated megawattage is installed then that triggers a drop in the tariff.

This has just happened for hydropower, wind and AD. PV remains untouched this round. See http://www.british-hydro.org/news/decc_confirm_10_degression_for.html and follow the link.

For a hydro scheme you can pre accredit with Ofgem to fix you tariff rate at the current level if you have the required Environment Agency EA licenses but have not yet installed. Hydro schemes take years to develop due to the complexity of EA license requirements and a long time to install because of the bespoke nature of each project (no off-the-shelf-solutions as with solar and wind. So there is a large proportion of pre=accredited but unbuilt hydro schemes that have triggered this degression. Worse still, we are expecting another 10% degression in July 2015. When you add to this the recent rise from £135 to £1500 for EA licensing you can see that hydro is fast becoming unviable.

We develop these renewable projects because we know they are needed to mitigate climate change and we are environmentalists. But this government has constantly changed the goal posts and keeps the industry destabilised and performing well below its potential. Ed Davey has done the best he can at DECC and was until recently ably supported by Greg Barker (who fellow Conservatives accused of “going native” within DECC ie agreeing with Ed Davey’s line). But he has been partially undermined by George Osborne who has fossil fuel leanings and probably doesn’t want to see those interests undermined by a renewable industry that is too successful.

I would say from recent RE generation stats, you can see that with stable support and let off the leash, RE could kill off the fossil fuel industry quite quickly.



15
AUG

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
Anaerobic Digestion for Gas – not Fracking


Category: Biomass Energy, Combined Heat & Power, Energy Efficiency, Fracking, Renewable Energy, Renewable Heat Energy
Tags: , , ,


Anaerobic Digestion for Gas – not Fracking

We need to give installation of Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant our strong support as the counter-balance to our opposition of fracking. Both produce methane gas that can be injected to the gas grid to heat homes and businesses as well as generating electricity in quick start up power plant that can be used to balance intermittent renewables. Obviously biogas from AD is preferable.

British Gas estimate 50% of UK gas needs could be met from waste and there is a lot plant being installed at the moment such as this http://www.nextgenmedia.co.uk/news/1373-4-5m-anaerobic-plant-plans-for-malt-supplier

No one seems to have calculated how much could be produced from farm integrated AD plant but perhaps it could produce the other 50%. The big one at Poundbury (info: here) produces up to 80% of West Dorset’s gas needs from just six farms growing grass and maize on a 4 year crop rotation between cereal crops.

The solid digestate looks and smells similar to horse plop and is used for the cereal crops as an alternative to inorganic fertilisers. It is slow release and an excellent soil improver. On livestock farms, part of the motivation to install AD is to process the animal waste to produce a high quality digestate to spread on the land as a replacement to the raw animal dung which can pollute nearby water courses in some weather conditions. AD plant should be seen as an integral part of efficient British agriculture making it more sustainable, more organic, more productive.

Grass grows exceptionally well in the damp UK climate and is the ideal feedstock for AD. Rather than leave cuttings on the ground. we could divert cuttings from road verges, sports fields, parks and any area where a less fertile soil is the aim (so that wild flowers compete better with the grass)to AD plant.

We should not forget that renewable gas is almost as important as renewable electricity.


2Comments | Post your own comment

  • Keith Wheaton-Green comments:
    "Thanks John for joining the debate on these pages. You are very welcome. I agree quantification is the best way to reach an idea of what is possible. Looking at the statistics from DECC 700 TWh is a reasonable estimate of 2014/2015 UK gas demand. However, we must take into account ongoing reduction in gas demand from electricity generation as more and more renewable electricity generation comes on line. It was a modest 1% reduction in 2013 but our present government, with its destabilising influence on renewable electricity due to wild changes in tariff levels and licensing costs and ease (or not) of gaining planning consent, is holding back installation of renewables. With proper stable backing, renewables, let of the leash, could rocket. So let’s hope for a diminished Conservative influence in the next government. Poundbury produces 0.004 Twhy which would mean 86,000 Pounbury sized plants in the UK (or 1000 per UK county) to meet the 344 TWhy domestic gas consumption. I agree this is probably not realistic but think your estimate of 20 TWhy ceiling (or 5,000 Poundbury sized AD plant) for the UK is also not accurate. I still maintain that with falling gas demand due to better insulated and better constructed houses following the 2016 improvement to building regulations, roll out of solar thermal and wood heat and much reduced demand to generate electricity, AD could meet a much higher proportion of UK gas demand than anyone is currently predicting. I admit I can’t quantify the potential accurately yet because AD to gas grid is at the first stage of development. However, I believe continued use of slowly declining extraction of North Sea gas along with rapid expansion of AD gas, big improvements in energy efficiency and renewable electricity generation can see us through without the need for fracked gas. Like nuclear power, fracking carries low probability but high impact risks that are just not worth taking. Keith Wheaton-Green "
    August 19, 2014 a 12:58 pm

  • John Baldwin comments:
    "Biomethane is great and Poundbury has been a success, helping 20 projects that are being built this year. But realistic max Biomethane is 20 TWh/Annum…..total gas consumption is 700 TWh so we need to import lots of gas Qatar LNG is very high GHG and forecast to cost £10 billion/Annum in 2025….that’s a lot of money, if we can produce this gas in UK we will have £7 billion tax…..to fund renewables and insulation "
    August 16, 2014 a 3:20 pm


14
AUG

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
There really is a Renewable Energy Revolution Going On!


Category: Green Electricity & Gas, Renewable Energy, Water Power, Wind Power
Tags: , , , ,


There really is a Renewable Energy Revolution Going On!

I’ve just read about the record breaking wind energy records for a day in August 2014. 5.0 GW of electricity supplying 17% of the UK demand on a Sunday night. At the same time hydro was delivering 2.0% and biomass 2.5%. So we had 21.0% of electricity being delivered by renewable`s.

However, it appears that these figures from the trade organisation Renewables UK and other data from DECC don’t include anything other than the half hourly metered generation ie the big MegaWatt sized wind and solar farms, big Scottish high head hydro plant and old coal fired power stations converted to burn wood pellet or chip. What about all the Solar PhotoVoltaics on house and industrial estate roofs or the small 20 kW wind turbines on farms or the small hydro plant at old mill sites? These don’t appear to be captured in the data because up to the minute (well half hour) generation data is not available. They are only metered on a quarterly basis. Luckily you can get an idea of what is happening with these small kW sized installations from the ofgem Feed In Tariff`s statistical reports – Click Here and go to FIT installations statistical report – or direct to the report: Here

My calculations indicate an additional 1% of UK demand over the course of a year. Less than I was hoping for but growing quickly all the time. Especially Solar PV, which is apparently found on 1 in every 32 houses in the south west. I know from my own generation from 4 kW of PV and the generation from the South Somerset District Council PV portfolio that 2014 has been a bumper year.


1Comments | Post your own comment


15
JUL

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
Discounted electric bills if you live near a Wind Farm


Category: Energy Deals & Offers, Fuel Poverty & Security, Green Electricity & Gas, Renewable Energy, Wind Power
Tags: , , ,


Discounted electric bills if you live near a Wind Farm

Already happening in Scotland: http://www.nextgenmedia.co.uk/news/1313-new-onshore-wind-farm-generates-discounted-bills-for-local-residents

This is probably the best use of the community benefit fund. My suggestion would be 80% discount for those living within 4 km and 50% discount for those living within the next band up to 8 km. I’d be interested to see how much this would cost in the case of the three proposed wind projects in Dorset. If this is of interest to the companies involved, we could do the calculations for them based on number of households and average Dorset electricity consumption. I suspect there would still be a lot of money left over in the community fund.



30
MAY

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
Hazelbury Bryan – Charity cycle Ride


Category: Energy Events in Dorset, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,


Hazelbury Bryan – Charity cycle Ride

On 9th June I set of with my son Myles and his mates Jeremy and Luke from Hazelbury Bryan on our charity cycle (in support of Help for Heroes and Canine Partners) to Murcia in Spain. I’ve no idea whether I’ll make it but I reckon I have to have a go. The route is Cherbourg, Rennes, Nantes, Bourdeaux, Toulouse, Pyrenees, Barcelona, Alicante, Murcia. More information here – http://3countrycycle.co.uk/

On 1st June we have the warm up event in Hazelbury Bryan and I hope you will be able to join us. From 12:00 am participants will cycle a set 2 mile circuit around the village starting at the Antelope pub. You register outside the pub and receive your number to pin to your T shirt, put something in the charity box and do as many laps as you can with us.

Hazelbury Bryan Circuit Route

Hazelbury Bryan Circuit Route

You can even pay a small fee (£2 per circuit) to ride an electric bike, provided for the event by the Dorset Ebike Centre (all money to charity.)

A volunteer will be keeping a count of your laps around the circuit. From lunchtime onwards there will be a barbecue run by Luke’s mum (your money for the burger going to charity) and from early evening the live music starts. After much persuasion, Not Made in China (Tiffany Wheaton-Green`s band) have agreed to make the journey up from Bournemouth with all their gear to play. They will be supported by a local band.

The weather is forecast to be overcast with no rain. So good for cycling.

Exercise, food and music. Complete sustenance for mind and body.



10
OCT

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
Government confirm 20% increase in renewable electricity uptake during 2012


Category: Green Electricity & Gas, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Wind Power
Tags:


Electricity generation from renewable sources increased by 20 % during 2012 as compared to the previous year and accounted for 11% of all the electricity generated in the year.

The rise is mainly due to increases in generation from on shore and offshore wind. Critically, government data show the load factor for off shore wind was 33.7% as compared to 30.4% from gas. This proves the reliability of wind is not the issue that its detractors would have people believe.

Breaking down the data further shows a 27% increase in installed renewable electricity generating capacity, a 27% increase in on-shore wind capacity, 63% increase in off-shore wind capacity and 71% increase in photovoltaic (solar) capacity. Primary energy capacity fell by 10.7% with further declines in oil and gas production.

Taken together, the data appears to be evidence renewables are replacing fossil fuels in the UK, albeit not as quickly as we would like or need.

As Dorset Energized reported last month, only 1% of Dorset’s total energy demand currently comes from renewables – this is a third of the UK national average so to play our part in meeting national renewable energy targets, generation needs to increase by over 15 times in just 8 years.

Find out your options for investing in Renewable Energy for your home or business today and how it can also help you save energy and money.

 



08
OCT

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
Peggs Farm Crossflow Turbine Installation near Child Okeford


Category: Community Energy, Water Power
Tags:


A 3.7 kW crossflow turbine has been installed at the end of the leat at Peggs Farm. There is a working 3.8 m diameter wheel also fed from the leat, which is still used to produce animal feed for the farm.

The site is on the Fontmell Brook – a tributary of the River Stour – between Fontmell Magna and Child Okeford. The installation of this renewable electricity generation is estimated to generate 14,000 kWh/yr saving 6 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and provides for some of the high electrical demand at this diary farm. This farm diversification provides income to the farm from the Feed in tariff and sales of electricity. A crossflow turbine was chosen to match the head and flows and at this site. The rated flow of the turbine is determined by the 3.9 m head and flows available. To comply with the Environment Agency Good Practise Guidelines, a 300 mm diameter turbine, taking a maximum flow of 0.120 m3s was chosen. The project included repair of leaks in the leat wall and construction of a new brick turbine house for the turbine, generator, grid connect and control unit.

Extensive negotiation with the Environment Agency was required to ensure that the scheme design and methods of construction complied with the environmental standards expected to achieve the necessary Abstraction License and Flood Defence Consent. It was decided to install the turbine in a new lean-to building next to the existing mill where the wheel is located. The grid connection is arranged so that electricity generated supplies the needs of the site, only exporting to the grid when there is a surplus.

The total project budget was £60,000. Sowing Seeds provided £21,807 but the process from initial agreement to receipt of the grant took 3 years. This is one of three hydropower projects in the area in receipt of the grant, all using different hydro turbine technologies.

There are numerous old mill sites and other potential hydropower sites in Dorset. The Feed in Tariffs, sales of electricity and avoided import of electricity make development of these sites financially attractive. Project management is not beyond the scope of a talented amateur but the complexity of the design and license application process means that expert advice is usually required. It is intended (and required under the conditions of the grant received) that the project will be well monitored, documented and publicised to enable other Dorset hydro projects to learn from the experience gained in developing and maintaining hydropower at Peggs Farm.

The project was developed with Potent Energy – find out more at: www.potenergy.co.uk.

Click here for further information on Water Power >>

Thanks to Sustainable Dorset for project details



08
OCT

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
Benjafield Screw Turbine Installation near Gillingham


Category: Community Energy, Water Power
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A 5.5 kW screw turbine has been installed next to the weir at Benjafield Farm. The site is on Shreen Water – a tributary of the River Stour – between Mere and Gillingham in Dorset.

The installation of this renewable electricity generation is estimated to generate 28,000 kWh/yr saving 13 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and provides for some of the high electrical demand at this cattle farm. This farm diversification provides income to the farm from the Feed in tariff and sales of electricity. A screw turbine was chosen to match the low head, high flows and requirement for fish protection at this site. The rated flow of the turbine is determined by the 1.8 m head and flows available. To comply with the Environment Agency Good Practise Guidelines, a 1.0m diameter turbine, taking a maximum flow of 0.320m3s was chosen. The project included stabilisation of the west bank and construction of a timber housing for the gearbox, generator, grid connect and control unit.

Extensive negotiation with the Environment Agency was required to ensure that the scheme design and methods of construction complied with the environmental standards expected to achieve the necessary Abstraction License and Flood Defence Consent. It was decided to install the turbine in a new excavation next to the existing weir. A V shaped notch in the weir has been provided to enable down river fish passage. The grid connection is arranged so that electricity generated supplies the needs of the site, only exporting to the grid when there is a surplus.

The total project budget was £70,000. Sowing Seeds provided £31,213 but the process from initial agreement to receipt of the grant took 3 years. This is one of three hydropower projects in the area in receipt of the grant, all using different hydro turbine technologies.

There are numerous old mill sites and other potential hydropower sites in Dorset. The Feed in Tariffs, sales of electricity and avoided import of electricity make development of these sites financially attractive. Project management is not beyond the scope of a talented amateur but the complexity of the design and license application process means that expert advice is usually required. It is intended (and required under the conditions of the grant received) that the project will be well monitored, documented and publicised to enable other Dorset hydro projects to learn from the experience gained in developing and maintaining hydropower at Benjafield Farm.

The project was developed with Potent Energy – find out more at: www.potenergy.co.uk.

Click here for further information on Water Power >>

Thanks to Sustainable Dorset for project details



24
APR

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
The Rock of Humankind


Category: Sustainable Living
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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



15
MAR

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
Energize Stur Valley to help invest in Sturminster Newton High School Solar PV Project


Category: Community Energy, Solar Energy
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Energize Stur Valley Industrial and Provident Society Limited is currently being registered by the Financial Services Association (FSA).

We are a small group of renewables enthusiasts living around Sturminster Newton, North Dorset, and we have set up this investment vehicle to allow community investment to fund installation of 50 kW of PV of two roof areas at Sturminster Newton High School.

We intend to use one of these large information display for the PV installation at Sturminster Newton High School too (as pictured above) – click here for a PDF of the PV generation display. It will be located prominently in their learning resources centre (library). The students will be able to see clearly how much electricity has been generated that day (kWh), how much is currently being generated (kW), generation since installation and carbon saved.

Keep an eye out for more news via Dorset Energized. To find out more about Solar Energy (including my own Solar PV Installation ‘Story’) go to: www.letsgetenergized.co.uk/energy/solar-energy.



07
DEC

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
How the UK National Media Treats Renewables


Category: Renewable Energy
Tags: , , ,


We came across this article by E2B pulse – the UK carbon reduction network on a new study which has revealed the extent of negative media coverage of renewables.

It says: “More than half of articles on renewable energy published by the UK’s leading newspapers are either ‘negative’ or ‘very negative’, according to research by the CleanTech division of PR consultancy CCGroup.”

You can read the full article here: http://www.e2bpulse.com/Articles/335473/E2B/Pulse/News/News_Articles/2012/Study_reveals_extent.aspx

The article essentially tells us what we already knew… that the printed media in particular is biased against renewables and that the nuclear and fossil fuels lobbies have been successful in promoting their industries at the expense of renewables. The public interest is best served through provision of decentralised energy generation that will prove to be cheaper in the medium to long term. Wind and solar for example cost nothing to run! It is only possible to compete with that by an attempt to totally rubbish it through misinformation. But, you can kid all the people for some of the time… (you know the rest!).

Obviously the last thing centralised energy companies want is energy independence and much lower bills to their current consumers. The best thing that renewable energy enthusiasts such as myself can do, is inform people as honestly as we can, how we can install our own domestic renewables and buy our electricity and heat from a specialist energy supplier with a renewable energy focus. Then enjoy our lower energy bills while others continue to be fooled into an upward spiral of dependency and cost.

For more information on all your renewable energy options see Dorset Energized’s section here: www.letsgetenergized.co.uk/energy

For tips on saving energy see: www.letsgetenergized.co.uk/energy/energy-efficiency or to switch your energy supply to Good Energy go to: www.letsgetenergized.co.uk/energy/switch-energy-suppliers



01
OCT

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
Energise Stur Valley Comments on the Silton Wind Turbine Enquiry


Category: Wind Power
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I am posting as a member of Energise Stur Valley and following on from Vince’s blog post last week ‘Don’t be led by the small minority: the Anti Wind Turbine Brigade!’ about the Silton Wind Turbine Enquiry (you can read his post on http://www.letsgetenergized.co.uk/archives/2012/09/25/silton-enquiry).

Energise Stur Valley (EVS) is a group of individuals favouring renewable energy generation installations. We believe we represent the majority of opinion in Dorset (as evidenced in all Dorset Citizen Panel questionnaire results that related to wind turbines).

Here are some key points about Wind Turbines that we want to highlight (some of which expand on Vince’s points already posted):

1. There is obviously polarisation of opinion about wind turbines in Dorset. Those with a history of activity in the local rural economy – sometimes going back generations – tend to understand the landscape as an active part of Dorset’s economy. Those with more recent interest in the Dorset landscape tend to have moved into the area to escape more densely populated areas of the country looking for their idealised rural idle. They are less likely to be working and are time rich.

2. The representations against the application are motivated by concerns about visual impact, which is inevitably a big issue for those living closest to the proposed turbines but it must be remembered that they are definitely a minority within the district and – we would argue – even within the locality of the proposed wind turbines. The majority in favour of the application tend to be less motivated to voice their opinion and in some cases feel bullied to remain silent such is the robustness by which every positive comment is countered.

3. There is much misinformation being repeated by objectors to the application and reported in the local media. Statements made about the proposed turbines being inefficient, Ecotricity being financially unstable, the concrete to be used affecting the water table and emitting more CO2 than the turbines save are not correct. A more dispassionate analysis is required for this application.

4. With 4000 turbine now installed it is possible for wind generation to stand out from the statistical noise. Hard data available now shows the skeptics to be wrong. A new wind generation record of 4,131 megawatts (10.6% of UK consumption) was set on 14th September 2012. The average for September has been 6% of daily national electricity requirement. National Grid data analysis over the last three months shows a clear correlation between windiness, reduction in gas fired generation and actual CO2 savings.

5. Even with 4 times the current number of wind turbines expected by 2020, National Grid have stated they will be able to handle the new generation without major additional investment in dirty open cycle gas back-up. Responding to sudden surges in demand for electricity during the X Factor ad breaks is more difficult to deal with than the intermittency of wind.

6. All surrounding counties (Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Wiltshire have multi MW turbines either already installed or with positive planning determinations.

7. The substantial wind resource in Dorset is not being utilised as described in the Dorset Renewable Energy Strategy.

8. Data from the CECC wind speed database shows the site to have viable wind speeds. Electrical loses through the grid will be low due to the close proximity of Gillingham which provides constant electrical demand.

9. There are no wind turbines larger than 20 kW currently installed in Dorset.

10. We want to see large wind turbines in Dorset. Their elegance, beauty and positive aesthetic are matched only by a building such as Salisbury Cathedral.


3Comments | Post your own comment

  • Keith Wheaton-Green comments:
    "For informed unbiased comment on the relationship between wind power and the back-up generation required, have a look at the view from DECC at http://www.e2bpulse.com/Articles/329507/E2B/Pulse/Blogs/Members_Blogs/DECC_Blog/The_viability_of.aspx "
    October 16, 2012 a 10:49 am

  • Richard Howman comments:
    "Will Keith Wheaton-Green be apologising to all the Dorset residents he has so roundly and inaccurately patronised with his insulting comments? And would he also acknowledge the simple fact that the ‘Citizen Panel’ to which he refers, consists of 3000 people aged 16 or over, only, out of a Dorset Resident population (according to Council data) of 710,000, indicating that the Panel represents only 0.42% of Dorset residents. Even the clearly biased Mr Wheaton-Green will realise that this is hardly representative of majority opinion on any subject. Richard Howman "
    October 12, 2012 a 9:56 am

  • Wendy Pillar comments:
    "On Countryfile last night, the featured investigation was into how the new planning rules make approval of new open cast coal mines more or less automatic, and nothing the local community or planning can do. There are about a dozen of these in the pipeline, frequently very close to villages or environmentally sensitive areas – makes windmills seem rather benign doesn’t it? We have to face the fact that energy is going to have to come from somewhere – nuclear (here, not out of sight, out of mind), coal or wind and solar. The choice is ours, for the time being at least, until the government feels the need to make the choice for us. "
    October 1, 2012 a 2:00 pm


10
JUL

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
Wood I lie to you?


Category: Fuel Poverty & Security, Renewable Heat Energy
Tags: , , , , , ,


We live in and off mains gas like a lot of people in rural areas and have a large propane tank that had been costing us around £1200 a year to keep filled. There have been price rises most years and sometimes more than one a year. I have asked Centrica if our village is ever likely to be connected to mains gas and was told “No, very unlikely.” So we will be stuck with having to heat our house with expensive oil or – in our case – propane gas. Or so I thought until recently (more on that later)…

We needed to reduce our reliance on this expensive fuel. Our first action was to replace the gas fire in the living room with a log burner. OK its not quite so convenient but I have learnt to enjoy acquiring wood for free from a variety of sources and the healthy exertions of sawing and chopping. Our garden actually supplies a lot of the wood. Ash trees grow here like weeds and I have allowed about 15 of them to become small trees. I cut one down every year and reckon that the stump will have produced another useful crop by the time I get back to it (15 years later) to chop again. It’s also surprising how much wood I get from friends and neighbour’s rubbish piles and my own DIY. Basically, in the 10 years we have had the log burner, I’ve only ever bought one load of wood, and that was as a favour to the seller because he was in urgent need of money.

Then earlier in 2012 we replaced the gas hob with an efficient electric induction hob. These are amazing! They heat up so quickly, controllably and safely using surprisingly little electricity. A lot of the electricity comes from our recently installed photovoltaic panels. When possible, we cook during daylight hours to use the free electricity. The propane gas tank has only been filled once this year so far and it is still 60% full. So it seems the change of hob will have reduced our energy bills significantly.

But we still need the propane for hot water and central heating and the high cost means we don’t keep the house as warm and cosy as we’d like. We get mildew in the top corners of the bedrooms because we only turn the central heating on when it’s really cold.

So I was very interested to discover – through a presentation at our village hall – that there is a company willing and able to replace our boiler with a heat exchanger, install a district heat main under the road and connect it to a wood chip boiler that will serve me and my neighbours. This is providing enough of my neighbours agree to get connected to make the scheme viable. The company will do all this at no cost to me and will then bill me for the heat we use, which will apparently cost about 65% of what we currently pay. The company reckon that – unlike oil and propane – the cost will not need to rise any more than general inflation. I suppose they might be right. (Maybe I’ll keep the boiler in the garage just in case!)

I’m going to a Residents Association meeting tonight to attempt to persuade as many of my neighbours as possible to agree to connect to a district heat main. If everything goes well I can look forward to a sustainable, warmer, cheaper future…



24
APR

Keith Wheaton-Green says:
My Solar PV Installation


Category: Solar Energy
Tags: , , , , ,


Even when we moved into our house in Hazelbury Bryan in 1989 I knew I would one day put some photovoltaic panels on the roof. It’s a nice simple roof and near perfect south facing. In fact is southerly orientation is one of the main reasons we like the house. It always feels light and sunny (weather permitting.) However, my wife is very pragmatic, we’ve never been rich and the cost of the panels has been just too high. When I checked the first time in 1999 they had a 50 year pay back! So it was a no.

Then during a pleasant drunken session at my local pub one evening during 2010, I persuaded a fellow village mate that he could benefit from a career change to become a PV salesman because I reckoned (beware of people who reckon something!) that the new feed in tariff that the government were introducing would lead to massive growth of that industry. I have to admit to being very surprised to discover a few months later, that he had taken me seriously and had become very busy with what he described as “consultative salesmanship” at a series of home visits and surveys.

I felt obliged to allow him to quote for a 4 kW PV array on our roof. He told me he’d give me a good deal (as they do.) I got a couple of other quotes and “negotiated” a bit. Even my wife now thought the financials looked good. £15,000 for a 4 kW 16 panel top of the range (18% efficient) Sanyo system. The returns were estimated to be a total of £1.870 from the feed in tariff, lower electricity bills and electrical export to our electricity supplier from the 3,700 kWh our system was expected to generate. That’s an eight year payback and a 12.4% return in the first year!

We had various bits of savings, none of them earning more than 3.5 % after tax (and some a lot less!). So we bit the bullet and had the panels installed on 22nd June 2011. As of 18th April 2012 we have generated 3,240 kWh and received 2 cheques from our electricity supply company for the first 6 months totalling £943. We still have a bit of April, May and most of June to go before it will have been in for a year so I think we will comfortably exceed the predicted generation. I reckon (I do a lot of reckoning) that our end of year generation will be around 4,100 kWh. That will be worth £2,120 giving us a 14% return and a 7 year payback.

However, I was miffed to discover that if I purchased the same system today it would cost us just £8,000! But then you have probably heard that the government have dropped the tariff rate by half to 21p/kWh. That would be giving me a 14.9% return. So not much change. The good news for us is that once you have installed, your tariff rate goes up by inflation each year (for us it is 45.4p/kWh from 1st April 2012), so up goes the rate of return and down comes the payback period. Any increases in electricity prices make it even better (sort of!)


1Comments | Post your own comment

  • James McKenzy comments:
    "Hello I think that your blog is very nice! "
    August 29, 2012 a 7:12 am


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