Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Millions of homes to gain cheap energy through efficiency

A total of seven million UK homes could have access to reduced prices from energy suppliers as the result of government retrofitting over the next ten years.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has sought feedback from the public regarding attitudes towards large-scale retrofitting and the subsequent survey from Ipsos Mori found that homeowners are willing to embrace efficiency.

Homeowners were asked for their views on a range of microgeneration measures, including solid-wall insulation, smart meters and heat pumps.

Ed Miliband, the energy and climate change secretary, said: "We spoke to citizens around the nation and found that there is a strong desire for government action. People are enthusiastic and positive about the need for better energy efficiency in our homes and communities."

While the target is to retrofit seven million homes by 2020, every UK home is scheduled to be upgraded by 2030 as the government strives to produce a carbon-neutral society within 40 years.

The chancellor, Alistair Darling, is expected to unveil a large investment package for the green sector in this week's Budget.
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Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Biomass energy 'could be harmful'

Biomass power - such as burning wood for energy - could do more harm than good in the battle to reduce greenhouse gases, the Environment Agency warns.
Ploughing up pasture to plant energy crops could produce more CO2 by 2030 than burning fossil fuels, if not done in a sustainable way, it said.
Its study found waste wood and MDF produced the lowest emissions, unlike willow, poplar and oil seed rape.
The EA wants biomass companies to report all greenhouse gas emissions.
The agency is calling on the government to introduce mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from publicly-subsidised biomass facilities, to help work out if minimum standards need to be introduced.
Wood-burning stoves, boilers and even power stations are seen by many as critical to Britain's renewable energy targets.
Biomass is considered low carbon as long as what is burnt is replaced by new growth, and harvesting and transport do not use too much fuel."Biomass is a limited resource, and we must make sure it is not wasted on inefficient generators that do not take advantage of the emissions savings to be made from combined heat and power," he said.
"By 2030, biomass fuels will need to be produced using good practice simply to keep up with the average carbon intensity of the electricity grid."
He added: "The government should ensure that good practice is rewarded and that biomass production and use that does more harm than good to the environment does not benefit from public support."
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Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Royal Mail Trial Electric Car

The local postman delivering letters on his bike has been a been a staple of British life for years - but it could be all change thanks to the French.

An egg-shaped vehicle - with a top speed of just 25mph - is being trialled in two areas and could lead to a mass order by Royal Mail.

And in a move which could upset traditionalists but please saddle-sore postmen, the odd-looking buggies could put an end to the use of bicycles within the postal service.Students in Oxford have received their letters from postman Vytenis Baltrusaitis, 32, one of the first to drive the plug-in van.

'There is no power steering and the vehicle is quite slow but I don't usually go on busy roads on my route, so the round doesn't take any longer than it did before,' he said.

'Children wave at me in the street and some people even take pictures.

'The main thing is to remember to charge the vehicle when you get back to the delivery centre - you just plug it straight back in.'

The Matra has a range of 30 to 35 miles once it has been fully charged.

The vehicle is officially classed as a quadracycle, and like a motorbike is not legally required to display a front numberplate.

Mr Lightfoot estimated that the Matra would be about 35 per cent cheaper than a traditional diesel-engined van over the course of its lifetime and its load space of about 80 cubic feet matched the Vauxhall's.

He added that the electric vehicle cost the equivalent of a new hatchback car, compared with the £10,000 pounds cost of the Vauxhall Combo - but this did not take into account modifications including cab doors to cope with winter weather.
full article

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Turbine fiasco sends green couple to ‘hell and back’

WHEN green enthusiasts Alan and Janet Turner became the first residents in Bury to have their own wind turbine they had high hopes for the future.

But only four months later the enviromentally friendly couple from Tottington are taking it down and urging others to learn from their mistake.

The turbine was installed at their house in Moorside Road in October, following two years of planning negotiations and electrical problems. Since then, the couple have battled against noise from the generator, which, they say, causes the house to shake.

Mrs Turner said: “It makes an horrendous internal humming noise and when it generates electricity the noise gets much louder and the house vibrates.”

The retired couple paid £1,500 for the Windsave turbine from B&Q, but a third of the cost was covered by a grant from the Energy Saving Trust.

Similar products have been available in DIY shops for some time, but in January B&Q removed all domestic turbines from its shelves, following complications.

Mrs Turner said: “We are waiting to hear from B&Q and are hoping they will take the turbine down and give us a refund for what we have been through and all the extra costs.

“We deserve compensation and are getting legal advice. I do not want to take legal action because we have already been to hell and back.”

A B&Q spokesman said: “We recognise that we have customers who have already installed these turbines on their homes and we are contacting those customers to notify them of the decision we have made, and determine whether they are happy with their turbines.”

Mrs Turner has calculated that in windy conditions she would save £4.81 a year in monetary value once the amount needed to run the turbine is deducted.

“You would save more money by taking out one of your light bulbs,” she said.

Philip Sellwood, Energy Saving Trust chief executive, said: “We advise getting the basic energy-saving measures installed in a home before moving on to any microgeneration technology.

“We are conducting the most comprehensive in-situ field trials to date of domestic microwind installations across the UK.

“The results of this trial will put us in a better position to provide consumers with information to help them with their purchase decisions for microwind.”

The results of the trial will be available in May.
full article

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Solution to the carbon problem could be under the ground

Carbon dioxide captured from the chimneys of power stations could be safely buried underground for thousands of years without the risk of the greenhouse gas seeping into the atmosphere, a study has found.

The findings will lend weight to the idea of carbon capture and sequestration (CSS) – when carbon dioxide is trapped and then buried – which is being seriously touted as a viable way of reducing man-made emissions of carbon dioxide while still continuing to burn fossil fuels such as oil and coal in power stations.

There are two substantial problems with CCS. The first is how to trap carbon dioxide efficiently in power-station emissions and the second is how to ensure that the underground store of the gas does not leak back into the atmosphere and so exacerbate the greenhouse effect and global warming.

The researchers believe the study shows that it will be possible to inject vast amounts of carbon dioxide from power stations into deep underground reservoirs where it will dissolve in water and remain undisturbed for at least as long as it will take for mankind to completely abandon fossil fuels and generate clean, carbon-neutral electricity.

Stuart Gilfillan of the University of Edinburgh said: "The study shows that naturally stored carbon dioxide has been safely stored for millions of years, which means that these sort of storage timescales should be achievable for the deliberate sequestration of the gas.

"It suggests that underground storage of carbon dioxide, in the correct place, should be a safe option to help us cope with emissions until we can develop cleaner sources of energy not based on fossil fuels," Dr Gilfillan said.
full article