Archive for April, 2014


Lets Get Energized says:
Growing Vegetables with Charles Dowding

Category: Energy Events in Dorset, Sustainable Farming & Food, Sustainable Living

Charles Dowding is guest speaker for Grow it Yourself Dorset

Renowned local organic vegetable gardener, teacher and author, Charles Dowding will be the guest speaker at Grow it Yourself Dorset on 7 May. He is an inspiring speaker and immensely knowledgeable vegetable grower, and entry is only £3, so it’s an evening not to be missed if you grow your own food or would like to start. It is also an opportunity to pick up a signed copy of his latest books.

The evening will be at the Woodhouse Gardens Pavilion in Blandford (inside the walled garden by the Post Office), from 7.30-9. For more information see


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:

Dorset Ebike Centre:


Lets Get Energized says:
Stop the Fracking – Lyme Regis

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

Stop the Fracking Event in Lyme Regis on 26th of April

On the 26th of April 201 4 our friends at Frack Free Dorset will be in Lyme Regis (in the High Street) helping the Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace with their street stall, raising awareness of the dangers of fracking.

They will be using the new FoE fracking campaign materials and the existing Greenpeace WrongMove materials.

The Stall will start about 10am until probably 1pm depending on weather and public response.

Frack Free Dorset welcome any supporters to come along and help – even half an hour would be good, as, in their words, “it`s our county under threat after all”


Jacob Windsor says:
Britons favour onshore wind over fracking 3 to 1

Category: Fracking, Green Electricity & Gas, Wind Power
Tags: , ,


UK government accused of ignoring own research on energy policy.

The majority of people in Britain would prefer to live near a wind farm than a fracking site, new YouGov research commissioned by Ecotricity revealed today.

When given the choice, 62% said they would rather have a wind farm in their local council area than a fracking site, with just 19% preferring to have fracking nearby.

The research comes as Ecotricity founder Dale Vince today accused the Government of contradicting its own research on public attitudes to onshore wind.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been conducting its own Public Attitudes Tracking Survey since July 2012 – with the latest results showing that 64% support onshore wind, with only 28% of people supporting fracking in the UK.

But while both polls reflect a continued public preference for onshore wind over fracking, the Government is reportedly preparing pre-election promises to the contrary, with generous tax breaks and planning short cuts for fracking – while potentially bringing the development of onshore wind energy to an end.

Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder, said: “You have to ask why the Government is ignoring the results of its own surveys on both wind energy and fracking – they are actively going against public opinion on both issues. If Cameron and the Conservatives believe that wind energy is worth opposing because it is unpopular, who do they think it is unpopular with? The Government’s own polling clearly shows that they can’t be thinking about the general population.

“What level of approval does wind power need in order to shape the Prime Minister’s energy policy? Wind currently has a higher approval rating than Cameron has himself. The Prime Minister would kill for the level of public approval wind energy has currently, but unfortunately Britain has a very undemocratic approach to energy policy at the moment: wind power will be under attack from Eric Pickles for another 12 months leading up to the election, which will allow the Government to ignore planning experts and public opinion in its ongoing attack on onshore wind.”

Reports suggest that the Government is to offer greater commitment to solar and offshore wind at the expense of onshore wind, while the attack on onshore wind continued last week as the Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, announced an extension to a special planning policy enabling him to call-in and make personal decisions on renewable energy projects for another 12 months.

Dale continued: “Sacrificing onshore wind for offshore wind and solar makes no economic sense, especially in these times of austerity and cuts. Onshore wind is the cheapest form of renewable energy available to us; large solar projects cost bill payers 50% more per unit of energy made, while offshore wind costs 100% more than onshore.

“We need all three forms of renewables for our long term energy security, and keeping onshore wind in the mix keeps the overall cost of green energy down. It’s illogical to pay more for green energy than you need to – and this from a government that only recently blamed the cost of supporting green energy for the rising price of our nation’s energy bills.

“Government policy on this issue makes no sense, whether you measure it by public opinion, financial cost or the energy security. It only makes sense if you see it as political manoeuvring, or perhaps an attempt to minimise the electoral threat posed by UKIP. But we need an energy policy driven by facts not politics, working in the long-term interest of our country – and that would have to incorporate onshore wind.”

Highlights from Ecotricity research

Wind power preferred over fracking
62% said they would rather have a wind farm in their local council area than a fracking site, with just 19% preferring to have fracking nearby.

Wind more popular than fracking amongst supporters of all four parties
Conservatives: 50% chose wind, 33% chose fracking, 17% did not know
Labour: 76% chose wind, 9% chose fracking, 14% did not know
Lib Dem: 78% chose wind, 14% chose fracking, 8% did not know
UKIP: 41% chose wind, 36% chose fracking, 24% did not know

Fracking is more popular with the older generation
Of those that favour fracking over wind, 29% are over 60, while only 12% are 18-24

Fracking less popular with women than men
9% of women would prefer a fracking site compared to 68% preferring wind
29% of men would prefer a fracking site compared to 56% preferring wind

About Ecotricity

Ecotricity was founded in 1995 as the world’s first green energy company and now powers over 100,000 homes and businesses from a growing fleet of wind and sun parks. Ecotricity is a ‘not-for-dividend’ enterprise that, on average, invests more per customer in building new sources of green electricity than all other energy companies in Britain put together.

Ecotricity is the only energy company that has pledged to be shale gas ‘frack-free’, now and forever. Ecotricity will never invest in or buy shale gas from fracking to supply to customers.

Switch to Ecotricity online at or call on 08000 302 302 and quote ‘Dorset Energized’ and you will also receive a free £60 Naked Wines voucher.


Paul McIntosh says:
Rebuttal to skeptics view on the Blandford Hill Wind proposal

Category: Dorset Energized News, Wind Power

It is interesting to see that even at this early stage in the planning process the anti-renewables activists are already using the same tactics of misinformation and scaremongering that we have come to expect. If I could deal with specifics:

In the article it states that speakers asked if “the noise from wind turbines 250m away was comparable with that from a busy main road outside a home.” Obviously the noise from a main road varies according to the time of day, the road surface and the speed of the traffic but generally speaking I believe on the basis of visiting several large wind farms that the answer to that question is that a road such as the A354 through Winterborne Whitechurch is far more of an issue than 4 wind turbines such as suggested for Blandford Hill. However the more important point is that the question might lead you to believe that the turbines are intended to be sited within 250m of the village. Having looked at the maps of the site the nearest of the turbines is about 1000m from the nearest edge of the village at which distance the turbines will be to all intents and purposes inaudible over the road and wind noise (wind turbines only produce noise when the wind blows and even then modern, well designed turbines do not waste valuable energy by making much noise at all).

Wind Turbines

Wind Turbines

Dark mention is made of “health risks of noise and shadow flicker”. There is no reasonable evidence of health implications from noise or shadow flicker or any other aspect of the operation of wind turbines especially at the sort of separation distances involved. The noise is no threat whatsoever and whilst flicker can be an issue of annoyance more than health risk at closer distances, firstly you would have to be much closer to the turbines than any houses are proposed to be for it to be a genuine concern and secondly flicker only occurs when the sun is a) shining, b) at a very specific angle and c) at a specific time of day so it is perfectly possible to program turbines not to function during those few minutes each year if there is a property for which it actually is a problem. What is a health risk however is the very real issues of negative placebo effects generated by anti-wind turbine activists spreading false tales of dire threats to local residents’ health.

An LSE draft report was cited which it was claimed said that wind turbines caused an 11% drop in house values for properties within 1.2 miles. This is no doubt based on the partial coverage given to the report by the Telegraph and the Daily Mail both of which fail to mention that the report suggests such a level of value reduction only if there are more than 20 turbines within 2km (1.2 miles) of the property under consideration. As wind turbines have to spaced out to work properly the only way of getting that many turbines within 1.2 miles of your house would be to have the nearest one practically in your back garden! Again it comes down to the fact that only 4 turbines are proposed for Blandford Hill and they are all about 1km or more from the village. There have been many studies of property prices and some show a small decrease in house values, some no effect whatsoever and some even suggest an increase in value. It is fact surprizing that there isn’t more of an effect given the false propaganda peddled at every opportunity by the anti-renewables lobby and the fact that there isn’t is largely due, in my opinion, to the fact that more and more people are seeing first hand that wind turbines are not the spawn of the Devil and don’t wreck communities wherever they appear.

What there will be is some period of planning blight which will be made much worse by people going around falsely saying that the Winterbornes will be impossible to live in if turbines are built and dragging the whole process out for years to come.

“Mr Turner described the offer (£30,000 community funding by REG per year) as essentially a “form of bribe”” says the article. This is true but it is not, as implied, a bribe to put up with horrible, non-existent, downsides of wind turbines but a bribe to make people ignore the scare stories of the opposition. It would be far better if wind turbines could be built more with genuine community investment and ownership giving even higher returns to local economies but as long as the hysterical anti-wind turbine lobby make it such a divisive issue it will only be the thick skinned big business enterprises that can see things through to giving us the renewable energy capacity we need for the coming century.

Finally, we have the old chestnut of the “unreliable nature of wind energy.” There is no energy strategy that could eliminate the need for reserve capacity because demand is far more variable than the output of wind or any other source of supply (The Coronation Street kettle boiling effect). Large, centralised plant like nuclear and

cows and wind

cows and wind

coal occasionally suffer unexpected failures leaving far bigger holes in our electricity supply than any unexpected change in wind strength. Experience in Germany has shown that oft predicted problems in system balancing are proving less of a problem than expected due to the fact that the system is already set up to cope with variations in supply and demand and the fact that geographical dispersion and mutually balancing technologies like wind and solar make for a much more even renewables output than expected. We could increase our renewables penetration by a factor of about 3 before we reached the levels seen in Germany. Eventually we will need to invest in storage, demand side management and other techniques to modify our grid for the new century but we can build many more wind farms the size of Blandford Hill before this is a real issue.

To conclude the sites at Blandford Hill and near to Tolpuddle (although it’s not nearly as near as the protesters make out)are good sites for wind turbines in the sorts of numbers proposed. They will make a significant contribution to the energy needs of our county and the local economy and most important of all will not ruin local lives. We have no choice but to get away from our reliance on fossil fuels for many reasons and wind turbines remain one of the best ways we have of doing so.


Guest Energizer says:
Community Energy Vs Fracking

Category: Climate Change, Community Energy, Renewable Energy
Tags: ,

Post by Will Cottrell of Brighton Co-operative Energy Group.

Balcombe hit the headlines again this week: not because of the Sauron-like threat of evil Cuadrilla, but because plucky locals in the village have started their own community energy scheme: REPOWERBalcombe.


Indeed, REPOWERBalcombe is one of 15 energy coops launched recently across Sussex. Under the mentoring of Community Energy South, these community groups are now being up-skilled by the team at OVESCO in Lewes, ready for launches in the next 12 months or so.

It’s surely supremely ironic that the threat of fracking in East and West Sussex – where thousands of wells are required to fulfill frack companies’ promises to shareholders – is causing a surge in interest in its alternative. And while the anti-fracking movement grows in strength, community energy also grows as a positive alternative.

Being involved in both camps, it’s interesting to see how anti-fracking is seeding this potential:

Resistance to fracking has boosted community spirit in areas affected. It’s an old maxim that people tend to unite in the face of a threat; in the towns and village where frackers are intent on drilling, anti-fracking groups are some of the largest (and most active) organisations in each place. This provides fertile ground for similarly aligned groups, such as those supporting renewable energy.

Anti-fracking requires an attention to detail that that – for many of us – would simply be too dull to contemplate a few years back. Comprehending the miasma of technical, regulatory, legal, and financial mechanisms involved in the oil and gas industry have all been fundamental to the fight against fracking – and blocking frackers uses much of this type of this industry-specific knowledge. The devil really is in the detail.

These finely – honed skills are transferable onto something more positive. Community energy schemes require learning about organisational structures (usually Coops), working out how to raise money, dealing with lease agreements as well as the technical bits and pieces to do with generation equipment and grid connection. This kind of attention to detail reaps rewards when applied to this new form of renewable energy development.

The new resistance to government-led programme of unconventional fossil fuels has revealed people power as an effective weapon. And grassroots action cuts both ways: it can resist, but it can also grow. A bottom up movement is rising: with models such as OVESCO in Lewes and Brighton Energy Coop, communities around Sussex (and beyond) can see that their their long-held frustrations over the lack of renewable energy might be sorted out via DIY. If you want something doing, you gotta do it yourself.

In Germany, nearly 50% of renewable energy is owned by individuals and community groups. More than 1000 coops help power the nations renewable energy transition. Many fossil fuel power stations have been shut down; renewable energy has simply out-competed them.

For the UK’s oil and gas industry, this is a worrying trend: have their fracking activities kicked over a hornets nest that threatens them with their own extinction?

This article originaly appeared on the Brighton Energy Co-operative Blog on:

RePower BalCombe

Members of the repower Balcombe team

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