Saturday, 26 April 2008

The joys of solar panels

It was with some trepidation that I went into the cellar this week to take some meter readings in order to find out how the solar panels we had fitted on our house exactly a year ago have been performing. Was the hefty sum of £8,500 we forked out last year a good investment or a waste of money?

Well, the news is better than I had expected. We, a family of four, have produced 92% of our electricity usage from the roof of a century-old terraced house in south-east London - laying to rest the idea that Britain is not sunny enough for solar power. It also disproves any suggestion this sort of technology only works in state-of-the-art, modern detached houses.

Not only will we not pay for any electricity, we should get a rebate of about £50 once a payment from the so-called renewables obligation (RO) scheme, which rewards microgeneration schemes with cash, is included.

In all, the saving for the past year will be around £500, giving a return on our investment of 6%, which is not subject to tax. Next year, when the payments from the RO scheme will double for photovoltaic (PV) solar installations, we will get about £150 back, giving a total return of 7%. That will rise further if energy prices continue to climb - which is likely after oil prices hit yet another high this week.

Source - Solar Panels UK and Earth Round up

UK’s disappointing solar panels take up

The UK’s renewable energy performance is a “national disgrace”, environmental campaigners claim today.

Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and say the UK is flagging behind Germany in terms of solar panels.

They argue that Germany has 200 times more solar power and more than ten times more solar panels installed than the UK.

The three groups have placed an advert in national newspapers today highlighting the differences between the two countries.

They are calling for the government to adopt legislation giving people a renewable energy reward.

This reward would be a long-term contract with the National Grid guaranteeing a premium price for all renewable energy generated by homes and businesses - also known as a feed-in tariff.

This proposal will be debated when the energy bill goes before the House of Commons later this month.

Friends of the Earth economics campaigner Dave Timms described the UK’s solar energy performance as “feeble”.

Source - Solar Panels in the UK round up

Safeway Celebrates Earth Day With Two New California Solar-Powered Stores

Safeway has unveiled its newest solar-powered grocery stores in Northern California to kick off a week of Earth Day activities and programs focused on the company's commitment to the environment and helping consumers pursue greener, more sustainable lives.

At the same time, the company released two reports chronicling extensive sustainability efforts and community partnerships

Source - Safeway Celebrates Earth Day

Sunday, 20 April 2008

The cost of green tinkering is in famine and starvation

Farewell the age of reason, welcome the idiocracy. Only George Orwell could have invented - and named - the government's Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) that came into operation yesterday. It is the latest in a long line of measures intended to ease the conscience of the rich while keeping the poor miserable, in this case spectacularly so.

The consequences of the RTFO have been much trumpeted on these pages. It says enough that one car tank of bio petrol needs as much grain as it takes to feed an African for a year, or that a reported one-third of American grain production is now subsidised for conversion into biofuel. Jeremy Paxman pleaded the cause of this latest green wheeze on Monday's Newsnight, while the United Nations food expert, Jean Ziegler, screamed for it to stop: "Children are dying ... It is a crime."

The transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, said this week: "The government has consistently stressed that biofuels are only worth supporting if they deliver genuine environmental benefits." Yet she must know that, at present, the opposite is the case. Kelly pleaded that rescinding her policy might impede investment and "weaken our influence over the direction of EU policy". She did not mention biofuels' threat to rainforests, food self-sufficiency and global warming generally, through needing costly fertiliser and road transport. Nor did she mention the role in her decision of such lobbies as the British Association for Biofuels and Oils, and the National Farmers' Union.

The RTFO is the latest in a series of policies, proselytised by the green movement and then commandeered by commercial lobbies, which fit a pattern of irrationality worthy of Moral Re-Armament. Until recently, most greenery has seemed no more than a feelgood parlour game. Now it is getting serious.

I have tried to follow the global warming debate, and will admit that it has changed my mind on occasions. I was once a sceptic on nuclear power and genetically modified foods. Security made the former expensive, and ignorance made the latter suspect, vulnerable to such greed-motivated cul-de-sacs as the "terminator gene" (increasing output but for just one harvest). I could also see the virtue of harnessing wind and waves, and seeking new ways of using the sun's rays, either directly or through plant photosynthesis.

Source - green tinkering famine and starvation

Veteran sets up $10bn clean energy project

T Boone Pickens is famous for thinking big. He founded his Texan oil company, Mesa Petroleum, in 1956 with just $2,500 (£1,200) in the bank. After a string of audacious takeovers he turned it into an independent empire that challenged the big oil companies, and today he is worth $3bn.

Now this straight-talking Southerner is launching the biggest and most audacious project of his career. This month he will make the first down payment on 500 wind turbines at a cost of $2m each. The order is the first material step towards his goal of building the world's largest wind farm.

Over the next four years he intends to erect 2,700 turbines across 200,000 acres of the Texan panhandle. The scheme is five times bigger than the world's current record-holding wind farm and when finished will supply 4,000 megawatts of electricity - enough to power about one million homes.

Source - big oil to big wind

Future Of Solar-powered Houses Is Clear

People could live in glass houses and look at the world through rose-tinted windows while reducing their carbon emissions by 50%, thanks to QUT Institute of Sustainable Resources (ISR) research.

Professor John Bell said QUT had worked with a Canberra-based company Dyesol, which is developing transparent solar cells that act as both windows and energy generators in houses or commercial buildings.

Sources - Energy News and Environment

future, glass houses, solar cells , enegry generators

Sugar-powered Cars: World's Most Efficient Method To Produce Hydrogen Developed

Chemists are describing development of a "revolutionary" process for converting plant sugars into hydrogen, which could be used to cheaply and efficiently power vehicles equipped with hydrogen fuel cells without producing any pollutants.

Source - Energy News and Environment

Monday, 7 April 2008

Renewable Energy Comes to Israel's Valley of the Sun

A heady mix of environmentalism, entrepreneurism, participatory democracy and shifting notions of energy and national security is brewing in Israel's Arava Valley. Bordering the Negev desert plateau in Israel's far south, the relatively sparsely populated region has already bloomed into an agricultural center, thanks to underground aquifers, desalinization and prudent, innovative water resource management. Now, the Arava Power Company, along with local kibbutz communities, are planning to turn the area into Israel's first hub for solar power.

Source - Renewable Energy

The 11th hour documentary

A must watch saw it 2 weeks ago we need to make a difference saving the planet.

Make a difference to this planet

source : 11th hour