Cameron’s Quiet on Renewables

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Posted on 13th December 2012 by renewableadmin in Energy news |Renewable Energy

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David+CameronWhen David Cameron entered number 10 in the 2010 election he promised that his government would be one of the greenest in history.  Since then the Tories have been fairly quiet on their energy and climate agendas, leaving these matters for other members of his party to chew over and wax lyrical.  But Mr Cameron will now have to face questions regarding his energy policies and from his peers as well as the Liaison Committee about his avoidance of his word on green policy.

And it is with great shame that the green energy policy isn’t made more if as it is a completely redeemable method of helping the economy out the slump which it is currently in.  But potential green energy investors w=could likely be put off by the erring confidence of the government who aren’t fully engaging with the idea.  Mr Cameron urgently needs to focus sharply on this issue that he once so clearly promoted.

With the latest energy bill having been released at the end of November there are now grumblings from the inner chambers of government.  The chancellor, George Osbourne looks set to weaken the UK’s emissions target which had been set by the Climate Change Act – an act which has been strongly supported by the PM and the Tory party as a whole.

Several countries including Denmark, Mexico and Australia were looking to the UK for the leadership regarding emissions reduction and there were several more due to follow.  From the act an independent committee was born called the Committee on Climate Change and this recommended that there were carbon budgets set up every five years so that targets could be met on temperate scale to achieve the 80 per cent carbon emissions goals.

Now it seems like the chancellor is ready to put his eggs into the gas market once again, with the re-emergence of using shale gas to power the UK.  However, this in itself has many challenges over the weeks and months ahead.


Investment in Green Energy

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Posted on 15th November 2012 by renewableadmin in Energy news |Renewable Energy

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Whilst produced for a Canadian audience this infographic shows the investment in global renewable energies from companies and governments between 2004 to 2010 and highlights the popularity of certain renewables compared to others.
Investing in Green

Renewable energy at home…..

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Posted on 16th October 2012 by renewableadmin in Energy Efficiency |Renewable Energy

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During a period when energy prices are so high that many households can’t afford to turn the heating on, the idea that you can even partially power your own home, cut bills and as a by-product cut emissions seems almost too good to be true

But the technology to do so is with us now and is proving to be increasingly popular, handily Ethical Consumers magazine recently issued a buying guide that investigated the main options: Biomass boilers, Solar water heaters and heat pumps.

solar hot water system

So a little background….

The ground source heat pump works by using the energy that is forever present underground. It uses a long coiled pipe filled with liquid buried under your garden. The pipe transfers the energy from underground to its heat exchanger which in turn makes hot water for heating and general household use.

A heat pump system can match around 75% of a households heating and hot water needs, and the savings are roughly £70 a year when compared to an average condensing gas boiler unit.

The downside however is substantial as the pumps cost between £9,000 and £17,000 plus you have to bury the unit which is quite a bit of work. However many feel that saving 750Kg of CO2 emissions is worth it.

Biomass boilers are able to offer the biggest carbon savings, reducing the average household’s emissions by nearly a tonne a year. However it’s not all good news as these boilers cost around £11,000 and are the size of fridge-freezer, you will also have to make room for the storage attachment that allows it to be automatically topped up.

The carbon saving comes from the fact that the boilers run on wood and although CO2 is released through the burning so long as new tree’s are growing in place of the ones being used for fuel the process will continue to be viable. However there have been concerns raised as many groups believe that sustainable sources of wood are becoming harder to find and therefore the system could no longer be beneficial. Oh and they usually work out around £40 more expensive than a standard condensing boiler.

By far the cheapest renewable technology available at the moment is the solar hot water system which averages around £5000 to install. And whilst the savings to be made are nothing to shout about, financially you should save around £60 a year and make an adequate reduction to your CO2 emissions. There are no real downsides as mentioned it’s cheap to install and doesn’t take up much space. A solar unit about the size of an average window is fitted to the roof which then feeds a hot water cylinder inside the home.

Due to relatively low installation costs we would recommend opting for the solar heater as in a market where technology is constantly improving you don’t want to shell out a fortune and find yourself behind the times.


DECC Energy Security survey – September 2012

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Posted on 25th September 2012 by renewableadmin in Energy Efficiency |Energy news

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The UK government department of energy and climate change published their latest energy securities survey last week, detailing the attitudes of 2,100 UK citizens on various aspects of energy supply.

Some of the most interesting results come from attitudes to renewable energy – it seems like the general public in the UK are very enthusiastic about energy from renewable sources, with 77% of respondents favouring renewable sources to provide our electricity, fuel and heat.

As for which sources are most favoured, solar led the way with 82%, off shore wind 73% and wave and tidal at 72%.  Onshore wind power had the highest levels of opposition, although only 12% were against this form of power.

The full report can be downloaded from here (Right click > Save as….) – we have also embedded it below……..

 


Five energy stories for August 2012

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Posted on 15th August 2012 by renewableadmin in Energy news |Renewable Energy

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August has been quite a month so far here in the UK – with the London Olympic games occupying the attention of the country. However, with the games now over life is getting back to normal – therefore, in order to catch up a little we thought it’d be useful to recap on 5 interesting renewable energy stories from August so far.

Cee-Lo Green sets up Green Foundation

In a rare move of a pop star backing up their words with actions, Cee-Lo Green (behind massive hits such as ‘Forget You’ and Gnarls Barkley)  and his sister Shedonna Alexander have setup the Greenhouse Foundation. This is designed to spread the green message across school districts in Atlanta through fun and exciting inetactive  projects for underserved students. We wish them luck.

How to Save a Planet – On a Budget

Free ebook thats well worth a read – featuring contributions from the Green Skeptic. The book seeks to ask:

…….the critical question, How can we drive progress to a clean energy economy when governments are broke and investment is scarce?

Click this link to download the ebook.

Recyclable Olympics basketball arena

The aforementioned Olympics have captured the imagination – and made some impressive attempts at sustainability. One great example is that the basketball arena was actually a temporary structure built for the games. The frame of the arena consists of 1,000 tonnes of steel and is covered in 20,000 square metres of a white PVC fabric which is recyclable – the arena will be de-constructed and parts of it will be used elsewhere in the building of other facilities.

olympics basketball arena

Temporary Olympic Basketball Arena

Lego goes sustainable

We’re fairly sure that most of you have played around with Lego at one point or another, its a great toy that has crossed the generations. However, probably very few of us have ever stopped to consider the environmental impact of manufacturing Lego blocks. Fortunately, Lego have been up front with their plans for sustainability, and this month they have produced this video which aims to illustrate how they are approaching sustainability within the business.

YouTube Preview Image

Arctic ice loss accelerates

A worrying report from The Guardian highlighting data from the European Space Agency‘s CryoSat-2 probe, which suggests that Sea Ice in the Arctic is disappearing much faster than previously thought. Preliminary data from the probe indicates 900 cubic km of summer sea ice has disappeared from the Arctic ocean in the past year, 50% higher than most  polar scientists estimated. Its  suggested that global warming, triggered by rising greenhouse gas emissions is causing this to rapidity of ice loss.

 

These are 5 green stories that have caught our eyes in August so far – what have you read that has peaked your interest this month?


Seeking a Renewable Energy Definition

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Posted on 27th June 2012 by renewableadmin in Renewable Energy

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One of the most common queries we get here at REV is for a clear definition of what exactly constitutes renewable energy. Many may think that this is surprising, given the level of publicity that these issues seem to enjoy these days. However, we actually think that it is perfectly understandable, as it is possible that the Renewable message isn’t getting through to the general public as effectively as we may think – particularly for the younger generations. Kids are very keen to learn about renewable energy technologies and how they work. It is with this in mind that we are writing this post.

When seeking definitions, most people now turn to the search engines. One of the first results returned is from Dictionary.com:

renewable energy 

noun

any naturally occurring, theoretically inexhaustible source of energy, as biomass, solar, wind, tidal, wave, and hydroelectric power, that is not derived from fossil or nuclear fuel.

This is an excellent basis on which to start. Renewable energy has been used on Earth for eons in some form or another – for example, ancient man using wind energy to sail. Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural sources that don’t have a limit on supply – meaning that it will never run out, and can be used forever. Some examples of renewable energy sources are:

Hydro – energy from the storage of water

 

Solar – energy from the Sun

 

Wind – energy generated by wind power

 

Biomass – energy produced from plant matter

 

Geothermal – energy from the ground

Tidal – using tides of the sea to produce energy

Wave – uses the power of sea waves to generate energy

 

Up until the early 20th century the technology for generating sufficient levels of power from these sources on a mass scale didn’t really exist. As such, non-renewable technologies were developed, using fossil fuels (i.e. coal, petroleum, natural gas) and nuclear power (uranium). The disadvantage with these technologies is that they take time to form, they won’t last forever and they are harmful to the environment.

Anyway, hopefully this has clarified slightly what constitutes renewable energy. Any contributions are welcomed for other resources on this topic.


UK Energy Companies Look to Build Consumer Trust

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Posted on 24th May 2012 by renewableadmin in Energy news

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In recent months there have been various steps taken by the government and consumer groups to address concerns over practices within the energy industry. Firstly, perceived ‘overly complex’ energy tariffs – particularly from the ‘big six’ energy suppliers (British Gas, Eon, EDF, nPower, SSE and Scottish Power) have been highlighted as an area of concern. In combination with this, there have also been calls to monitor the energy industry more closely in view of well publicised issues around doorstep selling practices.

In light of this change in tone from consumer groups and the government, each of the energy companies has had to make considerations as to how they intend to adapt their practices in the future. As an example, SSE have been keen to highlight their new trust agenda. They have four central pillars that they are intending to adhere to going forward, based around simplicity, fairness, customer service and transparency:

 Simplicity

  • Simplify energy bills
  • Tackle estimated bills

Fairness

  • Ensure prepayment meter customers can get onto the best tariff
  • Price freeze guarantee

Customer service

  • An ‘open book’ approach to customer service data
  • Extend our sales guarantee to all energy products
  • Offer all customers an annual energy review
  • Introduce freephone customer service numbers

Transparency

  • Publish an energy market outlook
  • Offer a trading commitment to smaller supplier

Like all the big suppliers, SSE hope that by opening their services up like this they will begin to rebuild trust with consumers.

As always, we are primarily interested in your take on these changes:

  • Do you agree that something had to change within the energy market?
  • Is trust in your energy company important – or would you just rather have lower bills?
  • Do the measures taken by SSE and the others go far enough to tackle any of these problems?
  • Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Some more sources of information on this topic:


Renewables news roundup

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Posted on 17th April 2012 by renewableadmin in electricity |Energy Efficiency |Wind Energy

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This post is a quick roundup of some green news stories that caught our eye over the past week or so. If there are any stories you think we should cover, just let us know! We’re more than happy to hear about green events no matter how local or small.

The Information daily (formerly eGovmonitor) reports this week on new research findings relating to wind farms and wildlife – with a recent study by the British Trust for Ornithology and the RSPB suggesting that ‘most bird populations’ aren’t adversely affected long-term by wind farms, either during the construction or operational phases of the apparatus. This is certainly good news for wind power developers – and of course for wildlife too. Interestingly, skylark populations rose during the construction phase, but as the rticle states this is probably due to ground being broken enabling the birds to find extra food.

Our opinion? This is great news for the wind energy industry and reassuring news for wildlife organisations.

Windfarms also made the news  this week with the unlikely but true report of Donald Trump (outspoken in his opposition to wind farms) receiving a letter form the chief of Scottish Renewables asking him if he’d like to invest in the renewables sector in Scotland.Trumps answer is as yet either unforthcoming or unreported.

In a fascinating interview with the US’s electricity regulator Jon Wellinghoff in MIT’s technology review, we’re introduced to a new concept: the tangible value of the negawatt. Negawatts, Wellinghoff believes, are worth money because they represent the value of a kilowatt that would otherwise be generated. And when a smart grid is in place, individuals could be rewarded for using less energy and thereby contributing to negawatts locally. In the smart grid, dubbed the future’s “internet of energy” by some, real-time energy prices and useage stats can be communicated – so accuracy will be the name of the game. expect to see a lot more hall lights switched off of an evening if the negawatt has its day.

Our opinion? The smart grid will undoubtedly change the way we approach energy consumption – and this is a positive way to engender energy saving.

If you’ve got any stories about renewables or green energy in general, please get in touch and let us know in the comments – we’re interested in stories from anywhere but anything relating to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would be particularly appreciated.

 


How to generate electricity!

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Posted on 22nd March 2012 by renewableadmin in electricity |Renewable Energy

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How do you generate electricity?

Well, for many of us the answer to that is simple: we don’t!
For generating electricity we instead rely – of course – on the power companies who specialise in electricity generation to do that for us. (And generation’s just part of it, too – there’s distribution to think about as well. It’s a complicated business!)

It’s no mean feat either, generating electricity. Technology has so far been unable to deliver mega-batteries with the capacity to store any meaningful amount of backup, so the people who are in charge of producing our electricity have a real balancing act to carry out. Twenty four hours a day. Seven days a week. And so on. As the National Grid site puts it: ” If the instantaneous demand is higher than the generation, the system frequency will fall. Conversely, if the instantaneous generation is higher than the demand, the frequency will rise”. In other words: If your generation is below demand, there’s the risk of power cuts. And if it’s too high above demand, then the systems could also fail. Power cuts being the thing we definitely want to avoid, as anyone who’s spent an evening with only tealights and paperbacks for entertainmant will surely attest:

Electricity is so plentiful that we practically take it for granted, but delivering it to the home is actually a miracle of modern(ish) science.
For most of the 20th century our electricity was generated from fossil fuels. Perhaps at one time it might have seemed as if this was a limitless supply – and even if it had been, there was the question of CO2 emissions which became more pressing as the 21st Century approached.

And these days there’s also the reality of rising fuel bills to contend with on top of the environmental issues. The approach taken by energy companies and governments is to rely on a mix of different sources with which to make electricity – with the eventual aim of one day having emission-free electricity generation. Renewables are all around us these days, from the wind farms whose turbines are dotted around the countryside, to the emerging tidal power stations that could one day be major contributers to the nation’s electricity supply as a whole.


For the average householder, though, opportunities to generate your own electricity up until now have been a pretty specialised kind of pursuit. But things are changing quickly on this front – and recent projects such as the one (nearing completion) by Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) are offering ordinary people the chance to save themselves some money as well as the environment. What the GHA’s project involves is simple but effective: installing solar panels to 500 homes – making the carbon footprint of each household lighter as well as making fuel bills that bit more manageable.
In terms of the potential emission-cutting, the figures speak for themselves: each of the houses fitted with solar panels could cut 24 tonnes of CO2 emissions over a 25 year period. At almost a tonne per year, the total saving amounts to the equivalent of filling five Olympic-size swimming pools.

Some links worth checking out:

home renewables explained (from the Energy Saving Trust site)

Guardian newspaper Q&A with experts from the Energy Saving Trust.

Which? guide: solar panels explained

Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) page about feed-in tariffs.

National Grid demand data – in real time.

Do you generate your own electricity? Let us know you experiences – either leave a reply below or a link to your blog and let us know how you’re getting on.


The Renewable Energy Island

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Posted on 9th March 2012 by renewableadmin in Renewable Energy |Solar Energy |Wind Energy

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Given all the talk recently about how wind turbines are ruining the countryside, aren’t as effective as first thought and are proving extremely expensive. I felt it would be a good time to share the story of Samso the renewable energy island of Denmark.

The wind turbines on the island annually creates far more electricity than the island requires which means that even their electric cars can claim to be 100% reliable.

The island and 4300 inhabitants make do to with a total of 21 wind turbines that includes an offshore wind farm where ten of them reside. The wind turbines were funded completely by the islanders known as Samsingers.

The people of Samso heat their homes by burning straw in a central heating system and some cars even run on bio-fuel. At the moment Samso has 100% renewable electricity from the wind farms and 75% of their heat from solar power and bio-mass energy.

Have you ever been to Samso? Feel free to drop us a comment.

Below is an interesting video about the project they have there.