Author Archive


16
DEC

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein


Category: Sustainable Living
Tags: , ,


Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein

Here`s my suggestion for a Christmas present –

Charles Eisenstein’s book “Sacred Economics: Money, Gift and Society in the Age of Transition” is a book anyone interested in a world with an economic system no longer geared toward growth, but one where people are freed up to do the work they love and looking after the environment is rewarded as a matter of course.

This book both charts and describes emerging trends in work and develop’s a practical theory of a new economics based on money which is no longer lent at profit. Or even and eventually a system whereby money naturally loses value (negative interest) via a method called demurrage. The point being that the economy as it is currently structured has to keep growing (and thus absorbing/using/consuming/destroying natural resources) to pay back the interest on money – as money (at interest) always requires more money to exist in the future to repay it. So to stop a system that inevitably has to grow and has to bring ever more of nature (the commons) into the sphere of money and consumption and bring in something different, something more benign, more natural, more human – change money. This book shows how it might be done – with supporting quotes from such figures as Keynes himself and senior US Fed Bank executives (and others).

Not a light read for sure, but very well written and extensively researched. The sort of book that helps you look at the world, the future and even your own way of life in new and positive ways – in a word inspiring.

 



19
NOV

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
View from Steepton Bill


Category: Sustainable Farming & Food, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,


View from Steepton Bill

Below we have some words from Tess Evans, a smallholder and Steepton Bill Farm Shop co-owner who reflects on the present situation in dairy farming. This was originally published in the Milton Abbas Village Bulletin for November 2014

My grandmother who grew up on a farm in Somerset had vivid memories of being around eighteen years of age when the family were forced to sell off their beautiful farm and orchards as a result of her father suffering a serious accident. I think the images of lot numbers fixed onto the pony and trap, pens of animals, butter churns and even drawers of cutlery stayed with her till the day she died.

Selling up a farming enterprise is heart wrenching. Caring for and improving stock or a herd of cattle over the course of many years is a whole way of life, an emotional as well as a physical and business commitment. That is why my heart goes out to the increasing number of dairy farmers who are going out of business.

Since 2000 the number of dairy farmers has halved in the UK with an estimated two dairy farms now being sold off every day.Dairy farmers are in the eye of a ‘perfect storm’, with supermarket price wars, over production globally and EU embargos on fresh produce to Russia, a response to the conflict in Ukraine.

It costs the farmer approximately 33p per litre to produce a litre of milk but many are now receiving only around 25p per litre from the milk processors. Supermarkets use milk as a loss-leader and our farmers argue this devalues it in the eyes of consumers, they are bearing the cost cuts but the processors are still making a healthy profit (funny that!). Some dairies are following the American model where huge herds are kept in vast barns all year around, and fed on fodder based diets. These systems are extremely productive. These cows produce up to 50% more milk than those on pasture and are often milked 3 times a day.

We may in the future get used to seeing bottles labelled ‘Free Range Milk’ on the shelves from smaller dairy farmers, who will command a premium by ensuring their animals have access to pasture for a minimum of 180 days a year. Plenty of scientific evidence to show that milk and meat from animals that are free to graze is nutritionally of far greater value than the alternative. But if that’s what we want, it will come at a cost!


1Comments | Post your own comment

  • vince adams comments:
    "Tess you and your husband are wonderful and in due course I shall write about the visit we made and your kindness etc towards us.
    The need for small food producing farms is just so important and beyond the norms of our modern commercial world.
    We have to raise our standards of what food can taste and provide us with nutritionally using my maxim Less is More.
    From a base of people who believe in this mantra we can support enterprises like your own and spread the word far and wide that there are alternatives to cheap food that don’t in fact cost the earth and in fact offer better value and so many other good things. "

    November 25, 2014 a 11:35 pm


06
OCT

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
Dorset Energized at the Eden Holistic Fair


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


Eden Holistic Fair

On Saturday just gone (4th October) Dorset Energized along with our friends from Cyclelife Wessex attended the Holistic Fair, organised by Primrose Matheson of Primrose`s Kitchen, at Eden Park, Buckland Newton, Dorset – and what an enjoyable, and well organised event it was.

View from Eden Park

View from Eden Park

Holistic being a description of how all things are interconnected there were a wide variety of exhibitors at the Fair. People offering meditation and retreat, technology to prevent harm from electro-magnetic radiation, herbal remedies and massages, organic vegetables, scented soaps and essential oils (wonderful aroma`s from that stall), Compassion toward animals (our friends Compassionate Dorset), organic hot food, Homeopathy, organic Tea, and of course Primrose Kitchen`s naturopathic mueslis and food supplements. And not to forget Teatonics who came to the rescue with some of their lovely and remarkably restorative Yerba Mate tea when I arrived somewhat damp from the cycle ride there in the rain.

Ourselves from Dorset Energized and Cyclelife Wessex were of course there to talk renewable energy and all things environmental and to demonstrate the fun and practicality of riding electric bikes. Our side of the Holistic “coin”, being that (and this is my own take on it) the Earth, this planet, also has a mind, a body and indeed a spirit – and being friends with the Earth (in all it`s aspects) is essential and actually makes you feel good as well. After all if we neglect the Earth and do not treat it as our Friend then we alienate ourselves and in practical terms endanger our own long term survival. Which of course is the whole point of Wholism and being Holistic (it`s all connected . . . .).

So during the day Jeremy Molger – from Cyclelife Wessex – gave a number of people the opportunity to ride an Ebike and without exception everyone who took a test ride came back full of enthusiasm – that`s the effect they have, though you have to try one to know.  Indeed our very own resident Illustrator Stu Jones (who shot the photos here) took an e-bike for a test run around the beautiful rolling countryside that the new Eden Business Park is surrounded by, and said it was brilliant and that he was really surprised how well it worked and how easy it was to use and to go up hills! Meanwhile myself, Vince Adams and Keith Wheaton-Green talked a lot about Ebikes – and other things renewable, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and made new friends. It was a good day – and eventually the sun came out, which at the end of proceedings made my and Keith`s cycle ride to our respective homes that much more enjoyable.

Vince & Simon & Ebike

Vince & Simon & Ebike

Vince and Jeremy and Ebikes

Vince and Jeremy and Ebikes

 

 



08
SEP

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
Cyclelife Ebike Shop – Dorchester


Category: Electric Transport, Energy Events in Dorset
Tags: , , , ,


Cyclelife Ebike Shop – Dorchester

Our friends at the Dorset Ebike Centre have recently opened a new shop at Poundbury in Dorchester. The shop is called Cyclelife Wessex and it is the first Raleigh Cyclelife Shop which is entirely dedicated to selling Ebikes – the Raleigh range and the Haibikes.

The shop has been open a few weeks but this Saturday, the 13th September, they are having the Official Opening – with a 10% discount on the day (though a “little bird tells me” that the 10% discount might well be available for anyone buying an Ebike throughout this week – just tell them you heard this from Dorset Energized :-).

Anyway – if you`ve never tried an electric bike, why not pop into the shop, have a look. And if your tempted to find out for yourself why so many people are taking up this form of transport, ask for a test ride. You might be surprised by how much fun it is – and how practical cycling suddenly seems. And if you`re already Ebike aware – well a ride on a Haibike might still prove a revelation!

We have the poster for the shop opening below – and roll on the electric transport “revolution”/”evolution”!

Cyclelife Wessex Opening

Cyclelife Wessex Opening



12
JUN

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
Electric Assist Tricycles


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


Electric Assist Tricycles

I recently wrote a piece for this Blog (Ebike Fun in the Sun) in which I mentioned people enjoying riding Electric Bicycles for the first time. And how my own bicycle, which is fitted with a Mojo Crank Motor, proved popular with one electric bicycle first timer.

Well yesterday we were contacted, via the Comments section of the Blog, by John Thraves who also has a Mojo equipped bicycle. But John has his motor fitted to an ICE Trike. John it turns out is an amputee and is keen to spread the word about how Electric bicycles can assist those with such a disability to get back out on the road – an excellent project indeed, so we thought it would be great to post some of John`s photo`s and his introductory words.

John has sent us some photo`s of his Trikes – like many of us cyclists he has more than one bike (they just seem to accumulate :-)

So below are the words from John and then the photo`s of his rather excellent Trikes:

3 Great Trike`s

These trikes have helped to give me my independence, confidence since I lost the lower half of my right leg nearly 4 years ago. I was a keen cyclist before then but I found that I could not ride two wheels anymore due to the balance problem. However it is worth noting that the electric assist on all of them provides me with the ability and enjoyment of managing around 30 miles in one ride with no pain or discomfort and as I have said I would like to link other amputees to the benefits of this facility.

If you require further information or advice then please do not hesitate to contact me (which you can do via the Comments Box at the foot of the page – Ed)

The Scorpion is the next on the list for conversion to the MOJO and I am thinking of selling the Adventure.

The bikes are pictured below: The top one is of the ICE SPRINT with the MOJO motor, the second one is the HPV Scorpion, my first trike, and considered to be the Rolls Royce of the trike world. The third and fourth are of the ICE Adventure, my general workhorse and both the Scorpion and the Adventure are both powered by BIONX, which I do consider to be the best of the hub motors around. (Editors Note: Hub motors are, as the name implies, mounted in the center of a wheel, which can either be front or rear. Crank Motors (or Mid Motors) such as the Mojo are mounted by the front chainring/crank and drive the bike via the chain and can use the rear gears)

ICE Sprint with Mojo

ICE Sprint with Mojo

 

Scorpion with BionX Motor

Scorpion with BionX Motor

 

ICE Adventure with Bionx

ICE Adventure with Bionx

 

ICE Adventure

John with ICE Adventure



03
JUN

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
Ebike fun in the sun


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


Ebike fun in the sun

Well I attended the Hazelbury Bryan cycling day organised by Keith Wheaton-Green`s son Myles and friends, Jeremy & Luke – as publicised here previously (see blog post just below)

I went along to assist and take part – cycling from my home in Milton Abbas on my Mojo (aka Bafang/8Fun) Mid-drive motor equipped mountain bike. The ride over was accomplished in good time – the electric motor taking most of the strain out of the steep hills on the way.

On arrival at Hazelbury Bryan I accompanied Keith as he brought down the ebike (loaned for the event by the Dorset Ebike Centre) to the Antelope Inn which was the centre of operations – and a very welcoming place it proved to be.

The event started slowly, but there was a lot of interest and discussion about ebikes – even my own was attracting some interest. Gradually the day began to take shape – a few people turning up to take a turn or two around the circuit on their bicycles. And I and Keith and some of those doing the cycle to Spain also began to do some circuits – Keith was using the time to put in some practice miles as were Jeremy & Luke.

After doing a few circuits I asked Luke`s father, a keen motorcyclist, if he`d like to try out my electric mountain bike (I`d been describing how it was converted to electric and he had become interested). Well he took up the offer and came back from the ride with the “ebike smile” – they have that effect. As the day progressed every now and then I`d notice my bike wasn`t there – and it was out being ridden by the new “convert” It had made.

Sometime after 3.00pm the band “Not Made in China” began to play – the Antelope`s landlord had kindly allowed them to set-up on the decking in the pub garden. And a rather good sound they made (using the amps & p.a. equipment provided by the band #Hashtag who played some good tunes after them).

After their set several of the “Not Made in China`s” took an interest in the Batribike (electric bike) that the Dorset Ebike Centre had lent. Initially a bit sceptical – as people so often are – one then another took the Batribike out for a circuit. Once the ground began to rise and the motor was engaged – light dawned and the point of the electric was realised & fun was had.

Batribike - Diamond

Batribike – Diamond

That`s the way it is with ebikes – once tried, most people realise why we ride electrified. Not everyone of course – but you have to try one (or two, or . . . . ) to really know.

The upshot is one of “Not Made in China” quite possibly asking me to fit an ebike kit to his bike and another quite seriously thinking of buying a ready made one – and maybe more to follow (though not necessarily from the band).

So from an Ebike point of view the day went well – but also the two supported charities Help for Heroes, & Canine Partners (who were well represented on the day) hopefully managed to raise much need funds during the event and hopefully more donations will follow (via the event website) when the cycle to Spain gets underway on the 8th June.


1Comments | Post your own comment

  • John Thraves comments:
    "Please contact, I have an ICE Sprint with a Mojo fitted by Tony Castles, photos available, plus two other trikes with Bionx fittings, I live in Wareham and am an amputee. John Thraves. "
    June 11, 2014 a 3:03 pm


19
MAY

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
A Haibike ride


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


A Haibike ride

Sometimes love at first sight happens – sometimes the reality does not match that first sight.

Well I experienced something today that brought such things to mind.

I`d gone, with a Dorset Energized colleague (Keith Wheaton-Green) to visit the Dorset Ebike Centre. Keith has been getting Ebike curious and wanted to try one and learn more & also we wanted to talk to the Ebike Centre owner Peter Claxton about him bringing along some Ebikes to a charity cycle ride day in Hazelbury Bryan on the 1st of June (more on that soon).

So I arrived at the Ebike Centre thinking mostly about helping Keith get to grips with the Ebike experience – and then as we walked into the showroom I saw it:

Haibike Xduro FS

Haibike Xduro FS

Peter saw me looking at the bike, and broke off from talking to Keith to say it had just arrived and what a dream it was to ride. Brand new, just out of the box, I didn`t dare ask if I could sit on it leave alone take it for a proper ride – but Peter said do you want to take it for a spin. There was no chance I would say no – so I didn`t.

After a bit more chatting, with Keith learning some more about Ebikes, me and him went of for a ride – me on the Haibike Xduro FS and Keith on a Riese & Muller Ebike. Let`s put it this way – it was love at first sight (with the Haibike) confirmed in the first few minutes of the ride. I was meant to be advising Keith – but my answers to his (sensible) questions were from someone a little distracted by the sheer joy of riding that bike. Yes it has an electric motor (I`m used to that) – but it doesn`t ride like an Ebike at all. Once you`re moving it was as if I was riding a top end Mountain Bike and had the strength and fitness to make the most of such a bike (which I don`t – but the Bosch motor makes up the difference). With no discernible lag in the power supply from the motor and with no evidence, once underway, of this bike weighing more than a non electric bike, it was as if I was floating along the road. But of course this is a fully equipped mountain bike – quality suspension front and rear, high end gears, the whole shebang – so temptation overruled caution and at the first sight of a bridleway, well it had to be done, we went off road (I just hoped Peter wouldn`t mind – and phew he didn`t, it turned out).

Haibike Xduro FS - in it`s element

Haibike Xduro FS – in it`s element

I`ve ridden a lot of bridleways on bicycles, mostly on my own ebikes – and they cope quite well with the rougher surface, the motor providing the power to keep you going in the tricky bits. But this Haibike was doing more than coping – it was thriving, this was its element. Love blossomed further. Eventually we had to turn around and return to the showroom – though another detour was called for, just to extend the fun. But back we got – and I have to admit, I gushed rather, virtues of the Haibike, extolling (it had to be done, truly). Keith – returning to why we`d gone to the Dorset Ebike Centre – was rather impressed as well. He`s thinking of joining his son`s charity ride to Southern Spain and has been wondering about using an Ebike for the ride – and it might well happen. The Riese and Muller he was trying will soon be Vince Adam`s and if Keith can persuade him to lend it – well it could be on the way to Spain (carrying the Dorset Energized message). That bike, with it`s rack and practical mudguards and Nuvinci hub gear – well it would make an excellent long distance tourer, panniers on the rack and you`re away.

Riese & Muller Charger with rack

Riese & Muller Charger with rack

The Haibike though – well it probably wouldn`t be much good touring, no rack (and with full suspension, difficult to fit one), no mudguards, full nobblies for tyres – really not a tourer. But, most definitely a wonderful (and proper) Mountain Bike.

And hey – this Xduro FS is at the cheap end of the Haibike range (£2,850 I think Peter is selling them at) but unless you are a real expert mountain biker, then I cannot see why you would need (or be able to get the best out of), anything even more highly equipped.

If I had the money I`d buy it – for sure! If you want to, it`s here – Dorset Ebike Centre


1Comments | Post your own comment

  • vince adams comments:
    "I took a demo ride 10 miles yesterday and loved it. Up huge Dorset Hills with ease on this groovy bike, great fun and now decision whether to buy , happy days "
    May 24, 2014 a 8:46 am


23
APR

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
Ebike Times


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


Ebike Life

After writing about the Mojo electric bike motor a few month’s ago I finally decided to go and visit Tony Castles the developer and importer and try it out for myself. So with a friend we went to his workshop near Marlborough and after much ebike related conversation with Tony (who’s been involved with electric bikes for many years, after becoming disabled and finding himself unable to pedal a bicycle) I went out for a test ride on one of his Mojo equipped bicycles.Well, I was impressed. The motor was all but silent and yet powerful, assisting me effortlessly up inclines and being a crank drive, as you go down through the gears the motor keeps purring along as its power goes through the gears via the chain in the same way that the riders own pedaling does. I loved it – and decided there and then to buy one for myself.

The Mojo crank motor

The Mojo crank motor unit

 

This was a few weeks ago – and on Tuesday the big day came. Tony came down with motor which had just arrived in the country (as this is early days he’s not holding large stocks yet). And we set out to install it. The wiring side of things proves to be easy – it comes with a well made wiring “loom” with excellent waterproof connectors. But a possibly unexpected problem presented itself – being a crank drive, to install the Mojo it’s necessary to remove the existing pedaling mechanism from the bike (the cranks, the front cogs, and the bottom bracket/bearing). My donor bikes is quite an old Marin mountain bike – and the bottom bracket proved a little stiff – we resorted in the end to a large spanner with a sledge hammer to hit it, to get the bracket to turn. Took a few blows but eventually it came – I’d asked my neighbor if I could borrow his sledge hammer to adjust something on my bicycle, his curiosity was clearly piqued at this unusual tool for bicycle maintenance but he didn’t inquire further.Anyway once the bottom bracket came off the Mojo motor went in easily- and to be fair for most bikes removing the original parts would be a lot easier – it is an older bike (and it’s great to be able to reuse an older but still rather good machine this way) after all.With all the work done the bike is transformed – and myself and Tony left with that sense of satisfaction that comes from doing your own mechanical work (although of course not everyone finds the same enjoyment doing that sort of thing – and Mojo’s and all other Ebike conversion kits can be fitted for you if you don’t want to take on the task yourself).

Someone else discovers the joy of Ebiking

But for an interesting and useful comparison – on the Wednesday I happened to visit Peter Claxton’s new Dorset Ebike Centre with our Vince Adams in order for Vince to try out one or two of Peter’s ebikes with a view to buy. I went along to provide advice and also I wanted to try some the bikes out myself and for sure Peter Claxton has got a well stocked showroom with a wide selection of different Ebikes. Vince being interested in buying tried 3, I had a go on two – one equipped with a Bosch crank motor and the other with a Panasonic crank motor. Both systems are superb, the Bosch motor being more “kick in the”pants” while the Panasonic is quieter (you can just hear the Bosch) and more subtle – both though providing all the assistance you might need up a hill.

Riese & Muller Charger with Nuvinci gears and belt drive

Riese & Muller Charger with Nuvinci gears and belt drive

An Ebike motors keep on improving

To sum up I was impressed as was Vince. Vince having got a better idea of which bike he’d like to buy, while I now have something to compare my own crank drive (Mojo) equipped bike with. And the Mojo at under £900 for the kit compares very well with those £1800+ bikes, albeit the Mojo needs to be fitted. The Mojo being quieter even than the Panasonic and providing a similar amount of assist.More than anything it shows how the Ebike market is maturing, with many very capable machines becoming available – though it is still (in comparison to combustion engine powered vehicles, and ordinary non assisted bicycles) early days yet, and that brings with it a rather enjoyable sense of being pioneers when out riding Ebikes.

For more info on the Mojo: http://www.mr-motorvator.co.uk/Mojo/index.html

Dorset Ebike Centre: http://www.dorsetebikecentre.co.uk/



19
FEB

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
Blandford Hill Wind Farm Exhibition


Category: Wind Power
Tags:


On Saturday the 15th February 2014, I attended the exhibition for the proposed 4 turbine Wind Farm at Blandford Hill, near Winterbourne Whitechurch, being developed by REG Windpower. The exhibition was held in the Winterbourne Whitechurch village hall and living as I do in nearby Milton Abbas, I had received an invite to the exhibition as we are considered to be within the immediate area (the exhibition was of course open to anyone to attend).

I went to the meeting with my mother and step-father who live near me, also in Milton Abbas, it made sense to travel together.

On arriving at the exhibition we were welcomed at the door by a member of the REG team and were given the option of leaving our details should we want to be kept informed on how the project is proceeding. Then I was quickly introduced to several more members of the REG team and we chatted in detail about the project and wind power in general.

Much to my relief one of the first things the REG people asked was would we like a cup of tea or coffee – a very welcome thing as we in Milton Abbas had experienced a power cut the night before and were still without electricity, and being in an area where there is no gas supply boiling kettles (even with my parents wood burning stove) was proving difficult. Coffee in hand I asked one of the REG engineers whether it might have been possible to keep a local supply of electricity going during a power cut via locally sited wind turbines – he said it would not necessarily be guaranteed and would depend on such factors as where the problem in the supply was, but yes conceivably having a wind farm nearby could provide extra resilience and a continuation of electricity supply during a wider outage – an encouraging thought.

A question the REG team were keen on asking us, was what local projects would we suggest might benefit from the community fund, which they would put in place as and when the turbines were up and running. Not a question one is often asked in these straightened times – where to spend more money to benefit the local area. So unused to this – we asked for more time to consider.

What I was interested to see was how my step-father, who was at the very least disposed to oppose (if not in outright opposition) would respond to the exhibit and the words of the (enthusiastic and very well informed) REG staff. Well rather to my surprise he was gradually persuaded of the merits of wind power (which produces more than all the energy needed to make and site a commercial onshore wind turbine in less than a year) and of the virtues of siting 4 wind turbines in an adjacent village. Success then of a persuasive argument backed up with some excellent graphics, including a Google Earth Mapping of the 4 turbines showing how they would look from any and every angle and distance.

After a couple of hours – which passed very quickly so interesting was the conversation – we decided to leave and return to electricity free (if that`s the right word for it) Milton Abbas. On the way out of the hall we passed the member of the REG team who had been collating the response forms attendees had been asked to fill in if they wanted. It turned out that a majority of people attending the exhibition (over the two days it was held) had been in favor of the project, with a minority against and some don`t knows. A very encouraging response for those of us keen to see renewable energy in Dorset and obviously a boost for the REG team.

I for one am glad I went – and of course getting the cup of coffee during the power cut we were experiencing in Milton Abbas was a much appreciated bonus!

You can download the information we were presented with, here: http://blandfordhill.regwindpower.co.uk/articles/388



16
JAN

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
Get Your Mojo!


Category: Electric Transport
Tags: ,


For many advocates of electric bicycles the preferred way of delivering the power of the electric motor is so it goes through the gears in the same manner as the riders own effort. To make this type of assistance possible means having the motor installed at the crank (where the front chain ring is) or between the front chain ring and the rear wheel (attached to the chain).

Until very recently the only way to have this type of motor fitted onto an existing (non electric) bicycle was by putting it between the front chain ring and the rear wheel – a reasonably efficient method, but not always easy to install and set-up, and to many eyes a rather inelegant solution, but all the same an effective method of electric assistance – see some examples here: www.eclipsebikes.com

However, now a new product is available which can be installed on an ordinary non-electric bicycle (your own favourite maybe) and give the same level and manner of assistance as the excellent but expensive electric bikes built around the Bosch or the Panasonic Electric Motors – www.nationwideebikes.co.uk/gepida-ebikes for example.

The Mojo is a light, quiet and powerful system that adds electric assistance to any bicycle

The new motor aptly named The Mojo is being marketed by a long term exponent and developer of electric bikes, Tony Castles, under his Mr Motorvator trade mark. The Mojo system is installed by removing the existing cranks and front chain ring on the donor bicycle and then replacing with the Mojo. Something any reasonably competent cycle mechanic could do, and well within the abilities of many a DIY-er. See more here:  www.mr-motorvator.co.uk/Mojo/index.html

Mojo motor unit

I must say having coming across this motor only a few days ago I am still slightly (and apologies) drooling over it – in short, I want one!

Having had dealings with Tony Castles before (and aware of the great enjoyment the Nano drive electric conversion kit for Brompton Folding Bikes, that Tony developed, has brought: www.nanoelectricbikes.co.uk). I’m sure that any product he shows his confidence in, by selling, is likely to be a good’un. And for product support – well it’s good to deal with someone who really understands the technology.

If I give in to my urge to get one of these Mojo drives (and resistance is not necessarily futile, but at least rather difficult) I’ll do a write up of my on road experiences using it.



16
OCT

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
Cows Save the Planet!


Category: Climate Change, Sustainable Living
Tags: , ,


Cows-Save-the-Planet

It happens to World Food Day today (16th October) and I’ve just finished reading a book called Cows Save the Planet (And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth) by Judith D Schwartz, which is a fascinating book with many practical examples of how some farmers are working to bring back health to the soil (and thus create healthy plants, and interestingly helping the soil itself absorb atmospheric carbon – which improves the microbial health of the soil, assists it in retaining water and of course works to reduce the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide emitted as a result of burning fossil fuels).

Another area explored in the book is nutrient levels in food and it seems that even though modern agriculture has produced vastly increased quantities of food, much of that food (vegetables and so forth) contains much less in the way of nutrients (70% in some cases) than food grown using older and more traditional methods.

One possibility put forward for the rising obesity rates is that people seek out the nutrients they need when eating, and as these nutrients are not present, they keep on eating and thus become obese. It’s as if the body has it’s own wisdom and knows it needs certain things and yet as those things (nutrients) are not there it is dissatisfied and keeps seeking (eating) – its/our natural appetite thwarted.

It’s known that cats can detect by smell whether a certain food contains what they need and if it doesn’t the cat will not eat it (as many a frustrated cat owner knows – cats can be picky). Perhaps we have a similar ability – hidden, unconscious, forgotten even – but still there and working?

Anyway Cows Save the Planet is a book I’d recommend for anyone interested in the environment, farming, horticulture, or food and health. And as to the title – well it seems that the activities of herds of browsing animals on the land can assist in improving the health of the soil (so it can absorb/take up more carbon dioxide) – and interestingly if the method as developed by Allan Savory (at www.savoryinstitute.com) is used, then more animals can be supported on a given acreage of land, and it continues to improve. Thus Cows (or other browsing animals) helping to save the planet!

For more tips and links on food and farming see our section on Sustainable Living.



28
AUG

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
Could Weymouth have its own Tidal Mill… Again…?


Category: Community Energy, Water Power
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Tidal mills were once a fairly common feature in medieval Europe. They were deemed a reliable source of energy. Even in relatively modern times a few lingered on. But now of course they are regarded as interesting historical curiosities if they are noticed at all.

Tidal mills have inspired the idea of building modern electricity generating plants using the same basic principles (allowing the tide to flow in, but capturing the water and then releasing it later to drive a wheel/turbine). But so far there are very few examples of electricity being generated this way (there’s one on the Rance estuary in France which cleverly uses the incoming tide as well as the outgoing).

No UK Tidal Mills… yet!
In the UK so far there are none. The Severn Estuary has been proposed as a site for an enormous tidal mill – but probably due to it being so enormous many obstacles stand in the way, so it never gets beyond the drawing board. But, if we could build these tidal mills in the middle ages, why can’t we now?

Check out these links below for some historical examples and interesting UK museums:

The Tide Mill Living Museum in Suffolk – www.woodbridgetidemill.org.uk
Welsh Mills Society – www.welshmills.org.uk/carew.m0.html
The House Mill London – www.housemill.org.uk (you can support them to reinstate the machinery to working order and develop education and hydroelectricity at the site – the deadline is this September 2013)

Perhaps the problem is this determination that unless it’s a large system it’s not worth bothering with? Maybe (one day) it might seem worthwhile to build small Tidal Mills/Power Stations? And perhaps being smaller they will be seen to be practical and then we might have (found) another source of renewable (and reliable) energy to contribute to the overall supply.

And that it seems to me, could be rather beautiful (the historical ones have a sort of practical beauty after all).

Weymouth Historic Tidal Mill
It is possible that there was once a Tide Mill in Weymouth – see more on https://sites.google.com/site/dorsetwindmills/weymouth-tidal-mill – and it does seem clear that the tidal race in Weymouth Harbour is of sufficient strength to show such a mill would have been viable, as of course an electricity generating mill/turbine would also.

Water Power on a Smaller Scale in Dorset & Beyond

There are Community Energy projects going on throughout the UK including by the Stour and Vale Hydro Group in Dorset to reinstate old water mills. Check out the Bindon Mill Screw Turbine Installation – a local project which turned a disused water mill into a hydropowered renewable electricity generator. Perhaps you could help regenerate an old watermill near you, to power your community?!

Find out more about how Water Power can generate renewable electricity at: www.letsgetenergized.co.uk/energy/water-power


1Comments | Post your own comment

  • Anna Celeste Watson comments:
    "Just came across news in The Guardian that Scotland has given the green light to Europe’s largest tidal energy project where wave power will provide electricity to 40% homes in the Highlands as work on building turbines in Pentland Firth gets approved – let’s hope Dorset will follow their example! : ) http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/16/scotland-tidal-energy-project "
    September 17, 2013 a 1:21 pm


15
AUG

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
Milborne St Andrew / Bere Regis Wind Turbine


Category: Wind Power
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Just thought I’d share a photo I took of the Wind Turbine that’s located between Milborne St Andrew and Bere Regis here in Dorset (taken from the Milborne St Andrew side).

Like many people I think this turbine looks rather beautiful sitting there in the landscape! To my eye it has the same sort of visual impact as seeing something like a medieval castle or large country house does. Plus it’s producing clean electricity.

Find out more about wind power here: www.letsgetenergized.co.uk/energy/wind-power


2Comments | Post your own comment

  • vince adams comments:
    "Darren how really nice to hear from the voice of sanity, I totally agree and believe that in time we shall all come to our senses "
    October 7, 2014 a 10:14 am

  • Darran Potter comments:
    "Hi Thought you might like to know that we’ve partnered with leading UK renewable crowd funders Abundance Generation Ltd to offer a an 18yr debenture investment in our wind turbine at Rogershill Farm in Bere Regis. The offer (opening very soon) is open to everyone but we’re hoping to spread the word locally to allow as many Dorset residents the chance to invest – if they want to of course! Full details will be available on the Abundance website at http://www.abundancegeneration.com/projects/#!/3186367 Additional info on our website http://www.distgen.co/projects/rogershill-farm Abundance are fully regulated by the FCA. "
    October 6, 2014 a 8:19 pm


12
AUG

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
Can Dorset follow South Korea’s lead & have roads that wirelessly recharge electric buses?!


Category: Electric Transport, Renewable Energy Film/Video
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Photo: Electric Bus by Primove Technology

In the field of electrically powered transport innovations are coming thick and fast – unlike the vehicles themselves (in the UK at least) which are still almost as rare as the proverbial “hen’s teeth”.

South Korean road wirelessly recharges OLEV buses

So it is that another new and innovative idea has been put into practice in a small showcase demo in South Korea – where they have switched on a road which can recharge electric vehicles as they drive over it! More details at www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23603751.

It is of course very early days with that particular project – and of course the nay sayers are already predicting it’s infeasibility due to cost and so forth. But what it does show is that all over the world people, companies, universities and so on, are trying to find solutions for the generally expected moment when the oil flow can no longer match the demand (leading to ever higher prices, etc).

The system being demonstrated in South Korea uses inductive coils embedded in the road to provide charge for electric vehicles travelling above (the inductive transmission method has been known about for a long time. Basically it is a simple idea – a primary coil sits passively under the road, when it detects a similar coil – in a vehicle above which has been fitted with one – a powerful alternating current is set up in the primary coil, this creates a strong magnetic field which stimulates a current in the coil in the vehicle and energy is transferred, without wires). The major difference with the South Korean system to others under trial elsewhere is that the coils run continuously along the length of the road (thus the cost) rather than being located at occasional and particular points.

In Germany (for instance) in the city of Braunschweig a system is being tested using 3 induction loop charging points on an 8 mile circuit (one bus route). The system is being developed and tested by a partnership of the local bus company, the city, the Technical University of Braunschweig and Bombardier Transportation.

Read more at the Braunschweig University inductive loop project page – www.tu-braunschweig.de/forschung/zentren/nff/projekte/primove/index.html;jsessionid=TRIFORK9394182716

Watch a video of PRIMOVE’s system which provides a contactless power source for all types of electric transport – from light rail and bus networks to commercial vehicles and cars:

The Bombardier developed system being trialled uses their PRIMOVE inductive charging system, which itself is being developed further by replacing some batteries with high density capacitors in a system called MITRAC. The advantage of capacitors is that being electrical (rather than chemical like batteries) they can withstand tens or hundreds of thousands of charge cycles, they also weigh much less than batteries and although they cannot (yet) store as much energy as batteries do this (disadvantage) is obviated when there are inductive loop charging points available on a route.

Read more about PRIMOVE at: primove.bombardier.com

Read more about MITRAC at: www.bombardier.com/en/transportation/products-services/technology-solutions/eco4-technologies/mitrac-energy-saver.html

Could Dorchester’s Electric Bus Route wirelessly charge electric buses?

Perhaps inductive loop charging may be the (or a) coming thing? We shall see. Neil and Judith Forsyth writing in AtoB Magazine June 2013 (Issue 96) – www.atob.org.uk/store – about inductive loop systems (and to whom I am obliged for many of the references here about Bombardiers systems and so forth), suggest in their article that the Poundbury electric bus route could perhaps utilise an inductive loop charge point, perhaps at its railway station end? The route currently requiring two buses (as one is re-charging at the depot while the other is in use) could manage with one, charging at a point in the route, leaving the other bus for a further route. That would make Dorchester (and Dorset) even more leading edge (in the UK context) than it already is. Prince Charles himself was one of those who sought to have electric buses used to serve Poundbury – maybe he might take an interest in this further development of the inductive loop?



05
JUL

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
Get back on your bike! Roads were not built for cars…


Category: Electric Transport
Tags:


Why were the roads we have now originally made smooth, with a surface suitable for wheeled vehicles, or in some cases even built at all?

This is a question explored in a new book (see the video above) to be published in August (and available for free download on kindle and as a .pdf).

The book, “Roads were not built for cars” by Carlton Reed – http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/carltonreid/roads-were-not-built-for-cars-book-and-kindle-and, explores the early history of road building and improving in the UK and the USA – particularly looking at the period from 1880 to 1905, the golden age of the bicycle some would say. During this time the cycling lobby campaigned for better roads for cycling and the lobby was of such strength, with so many people cycling for work and leisure, that the existing roads were brought up to scratch and new ones built.

This it seems is a forgotten part of history and although the Automobile Association grew out of a sub group of the Cyclists Touring Club, the part cyclists played in ensuring roads were suitable for cars when they started appearing in numbers is generally overlooked (and until I came across this book on Kickstarter, was completely unknown to me).

So for all of us who use the roads – perhaps it’s worth bearing in mind how much we owe to those early cyclists for bringing many of them them to us. And for a more in depth understanding of how it all happened have a look out for the book when it comes out.

Read more about Electric Bikes at: www.letsgetenergized.co.uk/energy/electric-transport

Read about the benefits of cycling under the ‘Travel’ tab on our Sustainable Living page at: www.letsgetenergized.co.uk/energy/sustainable-living.



19
JUN

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
Paravelo: The world’s first flying bicycle


Category: Electric Transport, Renewable Energy Film/Video
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Another great idea this Green Transport Week 2013?! Not sure it’s quite my thing or within the reach of my bank balance, but the inventors have been busy and a new form of combined transport has appeared on the horizon, or rather, above it!

The Paravelo launched on Kickstarter promises to give you affordable flying on (believe it or not) a bicycle. It sure looks interesting and seems quite a practical proposition if you have a head for heights. Perhaps one day we’ll see these in the air above Dorset – perhaps visitors bringing tourist pounds to the county on their ‘Flamping’ (flying and camping – the Paravelo incorporates a tent as well) holidays.

So, the Paravelo, as versatile as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – and cheaper to run!

Check out the video below:

For full details visit the following links: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/114063537/paravelo-the-worlds-first-flying-bicycle and http://xploreair.com



18
JUN

Simon Jonathan Naish Rayson says:
Green Transport Week: A Smart New Electric Bike


Category: Electric Transport, Renewable Energy Film/Video
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This week is Green Transport Week 2013 (14th -23rd June) and so far it’s got to be said that Electric Bicycles are only a very small part of the bicycle market – only 25,000 were sold in the UK last year, which represents just 1% of all bicycles sold. But conceivably a new entry into the eBike market might begin to change the picture. Smart, the subsidiary of Mercedes and famed for their small cars, have just brought out an Electric Bicycle of their own – the Smart Electric Bike.

The new Smart Electric Bike is clearly aimed at those looking to find a new way to manage the practical task of commuting and of course doing so in style. Thus the Smart Electric Bike not only looks slick, but also seeks to deliver the rider to work effortlessly and indeed cleanly, being equipped with an oil free belt drive, instead of the usual oily chain. It uses the well established BionX motor which is well known for it’s silent and powerful operation – plus it can return some charge to the battery using regenerative braking. Range on a fully charged battery is claimed to be 70 miles which of course depends on terrain and the amount of pedalling effort the rider puts in, but with the comparatively large 423kwh battery 30+ miles without needing to recharge is clearly a possibility – and being a bike that just needs a plug point, recharging at work or home is easy, and indeed cheap.

Of course this is not the cheapest eBike on the market (although a very attractive Hire Purchase arrangement is available @ £59 pcm for 36 months) – but it is clearly the result of a very considered design process and carrying as it does the Smart (and thus Mercedes) name it might get more people into the joys (and practical advantages) of electric cycling.

Have a look at the Smart Electric Bike here for more info: http://uk.smart.com/products-ebike/12bfd2a1-2244-566e-ac98-c890cbee8d09



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:



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.

 



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