Posts Tagged ‘energy’


Lets Get Energized says:
STIR to Action – Crowdfunding for Training Workshops

Category: Sustainable Living
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STIR to Action – Crowdfunding for Training Workshops

Our friends at Stir to Action are seeking to run a program of training Workshops and are hoping to raise funds to assist this project via Crowdfunder. Below are the words they sent us in support of their campaign and a short video as well:


We’re the founders of Stir to Action and STIR Magazine, and we’re crowdfunding to support a six-month programme of training workshops to build the co-operative capacity of local communities. We want to establish strong and resilient communities that face up to climate change, financial crises and the other social problems we experience.

Over the last few years we’ve realised that while magazines can inspire and be a starting point for making the changes we’d like to see, they can only do so much. It’s a big step from reading about community farming, the launch of a local currency or the creation of a co-operative…to actually seeing these projects succeed.

The next stage for Stir to Action is to host a six-month programme of two-day training workshops — intense and involved — facilitated by some of our inspiring and innovative magazine contributors from the last few years. So from March to September 2015, we’ll be running a series of 12 workshops in beautiful Bridport, Dorset, where the magazine is based.

The workshop programme itself is being designed using some of the best practice around strengthening local economies, such as sourcing local, co-operative food, working with young apprentices, bed-mapping local hosts and discounts for green travel.

We’re even hosting a tea blending workshop with a local, ethical tea company to make a bespoke, co-branded tea for the workshops!

For today only (7th November) pledgers can also have the chance to win a 6 pack of Freedom Hiker craft beer that we brewed this summer with Gyle 59 brewery!



Some of the workshops…



We have Brett Scott, author of the Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance and founder of the London School of Financial Arts. He’ll be delivering a workshop on the exciting new tools and strategies in financial activism and also the creation of maker-hack spaces.






The Bristol Cable Co-op will be delivering a workshop on creating citizen journalism initiatives. This will include everything from crowdfunding your project to crowdsourcing your constitution; from making smart phone reports to learning the basics of wordpress and article writing.




We’ve also got Jon Halle of Share Energy Co-op on setting up the co-operative structure, launching a crowdshare offer to fund your renewable installation, and working on the all-important community engagement.


Your rewards…

Everyone who supports the campaign will get a big thank you from us and we’ll put your name in our supporters list on the programme and website. You’ll see a breakdown of the rewards in the column on the right. Here’s some more info to entice you…



As we publish original art in every issue of our quarterly magazine, we’ve selectedMatthew Frame’s beautiful illustration from our George Monbiot interview for the tote bag artwork. We’ll be printing these bags using the silk screen printer in STIR’s studio especially for you!

We’ll also be printing t-shirts custom designed by illustrator Edd Baldry/ Hey Monkey Riot — Even Little Things Can Cause a Big Stir.


If you find you’ve got an appetite for pizza and deep conversation, here’s your chance to share both with internationally renowned philosopher and activist Nina Power. She’s the author of One-Dimensional Woman, a senior lecturer in philosophy at Roehampton University, and a regular contributor to publications like Radical Philosophy, the Guardian and STIR.

There are a couple rewards that pre-book you or a friend on a workshop! We aren’t offering pre-bookings to anyone except our crowdfunders. Why not use your pledge to save yourself a seat?

Our Great Transition reference library will be a collection of practical books and resources that will be located in the Chapel in the Garden’s public reading room in Bridport, where the workshops will be held.


(**For rewards of £15 and above for supporters outside of the UK, please add £5**)

Your contribution will allow us to…

>> Hire workshop spaces and equipment
>> Train local apprenticies
>> Create sponsored places or bursaries for those on low or no income
>> Design and distribute promotional materials
>> Co-ordinate the workshop programme




Erik Blakeley says:
Visit to Oakdale Wind Farm

Category: Wind Power
Tags: , , , ,

Visit to Oakdale Wind farm 10th May 2014

Residents of Winterborne Whitechurch and other interested people were invited on a coach trip to visit the Oakdale Wind Farm near Caerphilly in Wales on the 10th May. Despite over 40 people expressing an interest in coming barely a dozen appeared on the grey morning at 8.30 for the trip to begin. At least the forecast was helpful. There would be little point in showing people a wind farm during a calm day when many of those with concerns are particularly worried about the noise of the turbines running at high load factor. We expected blustery showers – exactly the sort of weather to maximise the noise from the turbines.

Oakdale Wind Farm 1.8MW turbine

After a long drive we finally arrived and the weather did not disappoint. Wind speeds at 7 feet above ground level were 8m/s with gusts into double figures. As we were 100m below the hub height, we could be pretty confident that the turbines were seeing the 13m/s or more needed to generate full 100% capacity factor peak output and the gusty conditions would be testing the gearboxes in such a way that they should be generating as much noise as they ever would. The coach was parked 400-500m from the turbines and the driver turned off the engine. We got out. What could we hear? Well, wind and that was about it. No deafening whooshing sound or explosive thumps just wind noise. The ground did not shake with scary infrasound vibrations and no one swooned with nausea or dizziness. We walked closer and by 300m from the turbines we could just about pick out a slight rythmic undertone to the wind noise but you had to know what you were listening to to know it was there. A skylark took off from the grassland surrounding the turbines and started to sing. It was clearly audible and a pleasure to see even if it failed to ascend much in the high wind.

We reached the turbine base and started to discuss what we could see. No one was shouting and what noise there was, was still as much due to the natural sound of the wind as the turbines. The heavens opened and we all made a run for it back to the coach well soaked for our pains.

Oakdale Wind Farm - up close

So 4 hours in the coach to get there and a damp 4 hours in prospect to get back after 15 minutes on site. What did we learn? Well, I think it was fair to say that many were surprised as to just how quiet the turbines were including myself. I have visited a few wind farms but this was my windiest trip to date and the quietness exceeded even my hopes. Many expressed an admiration of the engineering and architectural qualities of the turbines. Noone seemed to think they were an eyesore in themselves. So everyone was now keen to have wind turbines at Winterborne Whitechurch? Well no. There were two main worries. The most important can be summed up as “Why do they need to be so big?” Some people said they appreciated all the reasons why we needed renewable energy in general and wouldn’t object to hosting wind turbines if only they were say half the size. So why can’t we build them half the size? A suspicion seemed to be lurking beneath the surface of the conversation that this was just about big business maximizing its profits. Unfortunately it is really about the inescapable laws of physics. If you halve the size of a turbine you don’t just halve its output and you certainly don’t halve the costs to build and run it. Because the amount of wind pushing on the turbine depends on the area of the circle traced out by the blades halving the size will quarter the output if this were the only relevant consideration. Unfortunately we are far from finished.

As you go further up from the ground the wind speed (velocity V) increases. This is called wind shear. The amount of power in the wind that the turbine can use is dependent not on the speed of the wind or even the square of the speed of the wind. It is dependent of the cube of the speed of the wind because the energy of any sample of air is equal to ½ mV2 as many might remember from school Physics and the amount of air passing the turbine is dependent on the speed of the air passing so these considerations combined makes the Power dependent on the cube of the speed. Once the mast data from Blandford Hill is available we can work out an equation to model the precise rate at which wind speed varies with height but just for the sake of argument let’s assume that a turbine half the height of those suggested still sees wind speeds three quarters of the speed seen by the full size version. This means that the power available to the small turbine is (0.75)3 times the power of the big one or 0.422 times its value. Therefore overall we can expect the output of a turbine half the size of the one suggested to be about 10.5% of that from the large one or put it another way we will need 10 times as many turbines to produce the same results. Now we know for sure that building and running a half sized turbine (with all the additional costs of cabling, transformers etc) will cost at least half as much as running the big one and will probably cost much more than that but assuming we lose no net cost benefits of scale this still means that the electricity from the small turbine could cost 5 times that from the big one. I suggested to some of my fellow visitors that this might be the case and some seemed sceptical and others said they wouldn’t mind paying more for their electricity if it meant we could make do with smaller turbines. But five times the cost? And the countryside covered in 10 times the number of turbines? It doesn’t make sense to me. I really don’t find the prospect of being able to see say 4-6 large turbines from my house unacceptable and would welcome them but 40-60? Even I would join the ranks of the NIMBYs at that. If there is a big business conspiracy at work in the energy debate today it is the big multinational oil and gas firms desperate to squeeze the last drops of profit out of their diminishing resources even if it means bankrupting our fuel impoverished economy and wrecking the environment in the process not the relatively tiny firms like REG or Good Energy trying to introduce new sustainable technology and challenge the effective cartel of the big energy companies.

The other objection was that it would change the Dorset countryside. Unfortunately the Dorset Countryside has changed, is changing and will continue to change regardless of whether or not we have wind turbines. It is only a few years since our countryside started turning bright yellow every late spring with oil seed rape. This changed the look of the countryside and caused real health worries for allergy sufferers. But oil seed rape seems to be an indispensable part of our modern food economy and also our emerging biofuel economy so we put up with it and, now we are used to it, hardly notice it except for those like myself who curse when we see the bright flash of yellow from our car because we know it will be rapidly followed by a tightening of the chest and a spluttering coughing session (I recognise that my degree of suffering from hay fever is trivial compared to many for whom it is much more of an issue). I tried to point out that even our beloved hedgerows are recent additions to the countryside in many areas and were understandably greeted with loathing by many who lived there because they destroyed the quasi democratic system of three field agriculture and handed the best land to the richest and most powerful land owners. Many suffered real poverty because of them. I was derided for trying to equate a huge industrial object like a wind turbine with lovely natural things like hedgerows. However I say there are parallels. Hedged fields are not natural – acres of monoculture surrounded by bushes forced to lie flat and trimmed to a standardized height? They provide protection for the displaced and threatened nature that colonises them and wind turbines are part of what we must do to protect threatened nature from the effects of climate change and by so doing protect the species we rely on for our food, our natural building materials and the biofuel to cheer our winter grate.

Oakdale Wind Farm -750m away

Finally one of our group mentioned the fact that the wind turbines are a very similar height to Salisbury Cathedral although I think the person was trying to wind me up a bit at that point. This fact is a recurrent favourite of the anti-wind turbine protestors and was mentioned by just about every one of that opinion at the planning meeting I attended a few months ago regarding Silton. I fail to see the relevance of this information as a point against wind turbines unless there is some suggestion that by building something the same height as the cathedral we are committing sacrilege and risk the Wrath of God. Now I know that Dorset can be a bit behind the times but surely this is too medieval even for here. On the other hand what this fact says to me is that for nearly a thousand years we have been prepared to build structures in the Dorset landscape of this size if it is over a matter that is of sufficient importance. I truly believe that Climate Change and our need for sustainable clean energy are two of the most important issues we face as we enter the 21st Century and that although they will bring changes, wind turbines will not ruin the countryside, nature or people’s lives but they will give us a fighting chance of doing something about these important issues whilst there is still time.

If you have read this you might be interested in this item on the Good Energy Blog – someone`s firsthand experience of living next to a wind farm –

3Comments | Post your own comment

  • Erik Blakeley comments:
    "Hi Sally again, Sorry for the confusion. Of course I got Slyers Lane mixed up with Tolpuddle. However I have just checked the map for Slyers Lane and as it is next to the A35 my comments about infrasound and noise from road traffic still apply. Although road noise may be annoying neither the vibrations from the road nor any that might come from the wind turbines (and they will be far less if you are equidistant from the road and the farm) are going to harm you but you are at risk from those who would frighten you with false claims of health risks. The placebo effect is very powerful whether used for good or bad. Being vulnerable to it isn’t a matter of low intelligence or anything negative about the person. In fact it perhaps suggests a good imagination but whether the cause is the imagination or not the effects can be very real which is why I get so angry about those who go around frightening people about wind turbines just because they know that saying that they just don’t like the look of them in their neighbourhood isn’t such a good argument. "
    May 13, 2014 a 9:33 am

  • Erik Blakeley comments:
    "Hi Sally. I hope you enjoy Delabole. Have you seen the piece from the gentleman living near Delabole? The link is at the bottom of my piece. If you live in Tolpuddle then I think it is worth pointing out that any noise or subsonic vibration from the wind farm at Slyers Lane will be dwarfed by those from the road between the farm and the village. Infrasound isn’t unique to wind turbines. It comes from traffic and household appliances. The degree to which people are annoyed by anything is heavily influenced by their mental attitude to the thing. I honestly do not believe there is a plausible scientific reason why vibrations from wind farms pose any significant medical threat to people except through negative suggestion and placebo caused by the scare stories put about by opponents of renewable energy. "
    May 12, 2014 a 5:18 pm

  • Sally Cooke comments:
    "Thanks Erik for sharing your experience. It’s good to know it was so positive. I am very interested to find out more about how people experience turbines, incl. whether there are individual differences between people, and also design factors that are crucial in avoiding problems with noise / subsonic vibration etc. Off to Delabole on Saturday to learn more for myself (I live near the proposed Slyers Lane turbines). "
    May 12, 2014 a 1:42 pm


Lets Get Energized says:
A conversation about coal

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

A conversation about coal

Among ourselves we have been discussing coal and it`s problems – prompted by a recent news report – here


John W. Oliver said:

Coal is still advertised as an inexpensive fuel but the reality of its true cost is beginning to surface in North Carolina. Duke Energy has dumped the coal ash residue from their power plants along rivers and streams for decades. On Feb.2 of this year one of the dumping sites burst and polluted 70 miles of the Dan River. This finally got North Carolinian’s attention and there is a push for Duke to clean up its dumping grounds. Duke is opposed to the clean up because it would cost $10 billion, take decades and they’d have to lay the whole cost on their customers which would make the energy too expensive. From my point of view proper waste disposal should be counted as part of the true cost of coal which would mean it ain’t so cheap after all.

Erik Blakely replied:

Yes I agree although there is a problem with historic waste issues in that there comes a point when the only fair way is to fund the clean up by central govt. If you don’t then you just bankrupt firms destroying little old ladies life savings etc and end up without the capacity to keep the lights on. Here in Britain we have very expensive ongoing problems with acid minewater treatment and other legacies from our coal industry going back decades or even centuries. If we just billed the current coal producing firms in Britain for the cleanup they would go out of business and all our coal would be imported making the situation worse not better. If the firm in America was acting illegally in dumping then send the directors to prison. If not its best to look at ways that the bill can be paid by the firm in such a way that it is not immediately put out of business. We need to tell people about the true costs of fossil fuels now and in the past so that we make better choices for the future.

Simon Rayson responded:

It`s fascinating how renewables come under enormous scrutiny as to their precise harmfulness, and if they fail at being perfect then they are damned. Meanwhile rarely is such focus (and demand for perfection) placed upon such things as fossil fuel energy and nuclear. How to change that? Well it`s almost a whole shift in consciousness required – and that sort of thing doesn`t happen often (the change from the medieval to the age of enlightenment/science in the 17th century might well have been the last time it happened).

But all we can do is try – and recording our experiences of living a “greener”, more environmentally friendly life – warts and all, might be the best way. Or so it seems to me.

And then Vince Adams mentioned his experience:

As a kid I was brought up in North London. In the 50’s we experienced fog or smog called Pea Soupers when literally people walked in front of buses with lanterns and then amazingly we changed. Coal became smokeless, we began to use electricity and the smog went away. All of it was caused by coal and 60 years we saw the sense in reducing its importance. But slowly and by the back door it has comeback into usage at Power Stations where we don’t see it but it’s causing the same problems.

This time we have another factor the coal instead of being local is shipped from Australia, Canada and the USA causing a double whammy of global warming.

When will we learn ?


Anna Celeste Watson says:
EvoEnergy’s Interactive UK Energy Consumption Guide

Category: Biomass Energy, Climate Change, Fuel Poverty & Security, Renewable Energy
Tags: , , , , ,

I have stumbled across this fantastic website and wanted to share it with you!

A green electricity company called EvoEnergy have produced an interactive site (designed by Epiphany Search) to show how energy in the UK has changed over the last 40 years.

In 1980 when I was just a baby, Solid Fuel accounted for 36% and Petrol 37% for primary energy consumed, with Gas 22% and Electricity making up just 5%. After 30 years as of 2010 Gas use alone has nearly doubled and has risen up to a staggering 43%. Good news is that Petrol has reduced slightly to 32% and we now use Biomass as a renewable energy but that currently accounts for only a pathetic 3%.

It is very interesting to see the changes over the years (decade by decade) but we have a LOT more work to do – by 2020 I hope we’ll see a major increase in electricity specifically generated by renewable energy sources (including Wood Energy (Biomass), Solar Energy and Wind Power) with very little reliance (if any!) on petrol and gas. I guess the only way that will happen though is for us, the people – yes that includes me, you and your family – to make changes today and start investing in renewable energy for our future. At least to stop using petrol we now have supercool electric cars like the Nissan LEAF (not quite the personal ‘hoverpacks’ my Dad wants to be able to fly around with, but we’re getting nearer!). And of course if you do just 1 thing, you can simply switch to a green energy supplier such as Good Energy and be more energy efficient by using less energy in your home – to save energy, save money and feel more secure.

Have a play around on The Interactive UK Energy Consumption Guide for yourself at:

1Comments | Post your own comment

  • Theresa comments:
    "The Evoenergy interactive guide is great. It would be lovely to have something similar that could represent personal energy use so that people could model making changes to see what the impact would be.
    I just wanted to add another suggestion for saving energy, which is to buy less stuff. Have a look at to see the story of stuff movie. It only takes 20 mins but it’s 20 mins of a roller coaster ride through the recent rise of consumerism – you will never look at a shop window in the same way again …:) "

    November 17, 2012 a 1:14 pm

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