Archive for energy

Boiler Scandal

It sometimes seems as if the the whole world has gone mental. We were all shocked and outraged at the amount of money being claimed by MPs amd for such everyday things which we have to pay for out of own pockets. And of course years later the stories are still coming out.

Just this morning I was reading about how yet another is being investigated this time for irregularities around her central heating claims. The MP in question, Margaret Moran of the Labour Party, in 1997 submitted a claim for £14,805 for emergency boiler replacement work done to one of her houses in Southampton.

Upon further investigation it turned up that household did not belong to the MP, but to the MP’s partner, and her name was not attached to the title deeds until the middle of 2008, This was not the only problem to come up with her claims but I just wanted to show how the link with central heating, it’s like six degrees of separation round here sometimes

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Renewable energy report

Just spotted this YouTube report about the wind farm off the coast of Thanet in Kent. offshore wind farms loo quite smart, but how fast do the HAWT’s blades go in gale force winds. That’s what I want to know. If any of my esteemed readers has witnessed a storm in a windfarm, please let me know…!

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Green Jedi

Great post over at Enviralment entitled “5 Lessons On Going Green From Jedi Master Yoda” – which, as you’ve probbaly guessed, is a few Yoda axioms applied to green living. Great stuff – have a read.

“A powerfull ally it is, its energy surrounds us, binds

us, luminous being we are, not this crude matter”

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Hot off the press..

News just in.  While enjoying my morning (Fairtrade) coffee and a piece of toast’n’jam at 7am today, this report in The Herald really put a smile on my face.

Scottish companies have significantly outperformed the benchmark UK index according to analysis of stock market trends.

And guess what? Among the best performers are the energy companies. It may be down to bad luck that some of the financial services companies didn’t fare as well as they should have, but it’s definitely heartening to see energy doing well, given that some of the energy companies are making real progress in terms of the production and sale of renewable energy.

If the future is going to be economically sound as well as financially sound, then it looks like we’re getting off to a good start.

On Saturday there, I was taking a stroll through Glasgow city centre, enjoying the lovely sunshine when I passed a newspaper shop and stopped in to look at the headlines. Imagine my dismay when I read in bold letters this headline: Experts warn of power cuts as warm, dry weather creates a blow for wind turbine energy. Yikes? Well, I think it’s just a bit of  excitable reporting really, given that the report goes on to quote a National Grid spokesman who said “…there is more than enough electricity to meet demand”.

As for ‘calm weather’ being the cause of a lack of energy, the howling gales of the past 24 hours will surely have made up for that?!

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Green Gates

It looks like Bill Gates – someone whose entire fortune is based on the ability to see into the future – has been thinking Green lately.

In this report from the US, Bill asks perhaps the biggest energy  question of the millennium so far:

‘Can the energy sector finance its own revolution and create … great R&D jobs here in America?’

With the errr… you know what in the news constantly over the past few weeks, I’m sure Gates isn’t alone in wondering what the best way forward for the energy sector is. And while Gates wasn’t explicit about the details, it doesn’t take much reading between the lines to get the gist of what his thinking is:

‘[energy] that is both cheaper, not dependent on foreign supply and is environmentally designed so that we’re not emitting carbon and getting into the climate change problem’

Big voices like Gates’ calling for a step-change in energy production may be a relatively new phenomenon, but one that is surely here for the long term. It’s not surprising that the USA is the world’s biggest oil user, so  it is a good thing that diaogue is beginning in terms of how to produce energy from renewable sources.

Here in the UK, steps are being made towards a greater mix of renewables on the road to green energy provision, and if the green energy sector continues to expand and provides jobs, everyone’s a winner.

Gates: Green Vision?


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>> Everything’s Going Green – slowly but surely >>

In terms of renewables, it looks like the UK is surely moving in the right direction. While government policy on renewables hasn’t (so far, at least) been exactly what you’d call ‘radical’, there have been some encouraging signs that the main parties are united in their commitment to getting the country where it needs to be, or to the starting line, at least. The UK electorate (as if anyone needs reminding) even returned a Green member of parliament for one of its constituencies way back last month (how long ago the general election seems now…!)

And while much good work has been done, there are always reminders around us that there is still the majority of the progress yet to be made. So it was with mixed emotions that I read the latest findings by Cambridge Econometrics, who have forecast that renewables will account for seven percent of elecricity sales to final users by the end of 2010.  While this is a move in the right direction, it actually falls pretty far short of the ten percent target. Assuming that certain economic conditions are as expected, the figure is predicted to rise to 11 percent by 2015 – but since the 2015 target is fifteen percent, we will still be wide of the target.

There is always a good news/ bad news element to this type of forecast, and this one’s no exception. The good news? Carbon emissions are predicted to continue fallling. The bad news? They’re going to fall only by a fraction of a single percent, and even only then because of changes to coal-fired power station equipment. The obverse of the good news v. bad news scenario is the bad news v. good news one – and so it has been predicted that the knock-on effects from the economic downturn of 2008 will provide a significant drop in CO2 emissions, rendering the figure lower than initial projections. And the UK will as a result be likely to meet its Kyoto target without much difficulty.

UK Green Energy policy - going in the right direction.

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Boiler Scrappage Scheme – Scotland

The boiler scrappage scheme has finally been given government backing in Scotland, several months after it was introduced in the rest of the country. This was announced by Ministers at the weekend. The scheme is very similar to those that have up and running in both England and Wales.

This is surely good news for those people North of the Border, where the winters tend to bite that little bit harder, and were looking southward rather enviously during this oncoming period of austerity.

In the first wave a sum of £400 will be offered to the first 5000 successful applicants, who have made sure the benefits to the house and the environment of the replacement boiler.

And this is just the perfect time to offer such a scheme, as at the moment, and because of the recent heatwave, not many people are likely to have their central heating running at full steam in the current climate. And it would be best to get ready for the winter before you really need to.

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‘Sustainable Energy – without the hot air’, fantastic free book

Sustainable Energy - without the hot air

This is amongst the best books ive read on the energy sector in a long time – ‘Sustainable Energy – without the hot air‘ by David Mackay (a Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge). I really can’t do the work justice in a short blog post and i don’t really need to as you can download the entire book in PDF format for yourselves. There is a 10 page synopsis available for anyone who doesn’t fancy downloading 27mb. I would recommend that anyone with an interest in sustainable energy get hold of this text somehow – you can also buy a copy from Amazon for £19.99.

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Boiler Scrappage Scheme Closes, Discounts Available Elsewhere

Boiler Scrappage ends, will it return?

Apologies for missing the end date on this, but it appears that the government boiler scrappage scheme has closed after 125,000 vouchers being handed out in three months – good luck to those who managed to get a shiny new, energy efficient boiler! If you missed the scheme do not despair as the energy companies are continuing to offer their own deals, i.e. SSE Home Services gas boiler scrappage scheme, so there are still some savings to be made. Elsewhere in the country, SWALEC in Wales has its own scheme in place from April the 1st and Scotland is set to get its own boiler scrappage scheme, but an exact start date is proving a little elusive.

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3 Pin Lightbulbs, Consumer Concerns

green lighbulbs

Green Lighting?

Normally here at Greener Power we are keen to endorse any new technologies that can improve the energy efficiency of our homes and businesses, but when it comes at the expense of consumers that aren’t given any choice on the matter, we are not so keen to blow our green trumpets. This has definitely been the case with the implementation of the MEM 3 Pin Lightbulbs in new-build UK housing stock.

A quick summation of the background to this issue. In 2006, changes to Part L of the Building Regulations stipulated that most new and refurbished homes in the UK have  to install light-fittings that only accept energy efficient three-pin and four-pin bulbs. This is all well and good, these are much more energy efficient than the ‘traditional’ incandescent bulb types in the old housing stock. Unfortunately, this is where the good points end for this particular bulb.

There are three main problems with these 3 pin bulbs:

1) Unlike the traditional bulb which you could get a 3 for £1 or something, these 3 pin MEM (compact fluorescent lamps ‘CFLs’ or ‘energy-saving’ bulbs) bulbs cost about £10 each. This has led to a number of associations dealing with rightfully irate resident feedback about these unconventional fittings.

2) They and do not provide any additional energy saving benefit to equivalent two-pin low-energy bulbs, which you can get for about £1.

3) Only MEM mannufacture them

There is much more on this important issue which hasn’t got the attention it deserves over at Dan Lockton’s ‘Design with Intent‘ blog. He has covered the entire issue from its inception and has a wide range of information on the subject, including a guide on how to fit a normal bulb into a 3 pin socket! (for the more determined or technically minded).

Hopefully, someone will see sense on this issue eventually and either stump up the cash to pay for these bulbs for redsidents or alter the building regulations to allow other types of bulbs to be used in new housing stock.

This post was prompted by a debate on Radio 4 today (15/03) at lunchtime, hopefully this will be available on the BBC iPlayer soon.

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