Sunday, 28 June 2009

Smart meters 'dumb idea'

Smart meters are a mad idea when better power savings could be achieved using the existing "ripple control" for hot water heating, according to power industry consultant Bryan Leyland.

"Everything that could be done with smart metering can be done more effectively and much, much cheaper by taking full advantage of existing ripple-control system," Mr Leyland said.

Putting in smart meters would cost many millions of dollars and would be less effective than ripple control.

Customers would ultimately pay for smart meters, which can cost hundreds of dollars each.

"In the end the consumer always pays [for that]," Mr Leyland said.

But the potential power savings would probably be small because it would rely on people for example doing their washing at 2am to save "20 cents" on a load, he said.

Ripple control allows power companies to send a pulse down the line and turn off storage hot water heaters, which would be a much better way of reducing power use at times of peak demand.

Ripple control can be used to turn off water heating over whole suburbs.

As demand rises, more expensive power stations come into the system to provide electricity, adding tens or hundreds of millions to the cost of power over a year, Mr Leyland said.

"We have been the best in the world in demand-side management," he said. "We invented it."

These days power companies seemed scared to use ripple control, Mr Leyland said, even when they had the right to turn all domestic power off, for example if the Cook Strait cable failed.
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Magic Boiler Scheme

The Magic Boiler Scheme offers, high efficiency, 'A' rated gas and oil boilers and heating controls at discounted prices. The boilers have to be purchased from a Plumbing Trades Supplies (PTS) Group store and installed by CORGI (Gas) or OFTEC (Oil) registered installers. There may also be cash back which is subject to funding. Please note that this scheme is only available in certain areas of the UK.

Contact details:
For more information about the availability of the scheme in your area contact your local Energy Saving Trust energy efficiency advice centre on 0800 512 012.
full article

Britain's green shame

Jonathon Porritt steps down from Blair's sustainability commission with UK still second-worst greenhouse gas emitter in Europe
When it comes to environmental sustainability, the prognosis is grim: Britain is "winning battles, but still losing the war".

The UK is failing to hit a raft of key targets on sustainable living, according to a new report to be published this week. In its critical analysis, released on Wednesday, the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) warns that progress on a number of green targets has been "undermined by stasis or even reversion". Jonathon Porritt, outgoing SDC chair and one-time "green guru" to Tony Blair, claims sustainability plays second fiddle to the drive for consumption-driven economic growth. "The thing that stands out is the very limited progress we've made on reducing inequity in our society... it's a startling indictment of this Government that more people will be living in fuel poverty at the time of next election than were living in fuel poverty in 1997," he said.
Britain remains well behind most European countries on supplying renewable energy, which accounts for less than 2 per cent of overall energy consumption, according to the report, which also predicts the proportion of energy produced by renewables in 2020 will be just 5 per cent – far short of the EU target of 20 per cent. And while recycling is on the increase, there is a long way to go to meet the 40 per cent target by 2010, with the UK heavily reliant on landfill, says the report.
full article

Friday, 26 June 2009

Round-the-world solar plane

Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard has unveiled a prototype of the solar-powered plane he hopes eventually to fly around the world.

The vehicle, spanning 61m but weighing just 1,500kg, will undergo trials to prove it can fly through the night.

Dr Piccard, who made history in 1999 by circling the globe non-stop in a balloon, says he wants to demonstrate the potential of renewable energies.

The final version of the plane will try first to cross the Atlantic in 2012.

It will be a risky endeavour. Only now is solar and battery technology becoming mature enough to sustain flight through the night - and then only in unmanned planes.

But Dr Piccard's Solar Impulse team has invested tremendous energy - and no little money - in trying to find what they believe is a breakthrough design.

"I love this type of vision where you set the goal and then you try to find a way to reach it, because this is challenging," he told BBC News.
full article

Monday, 22 June 2009

Washing machine that uses one cup of water

An environmentally-friendly washing machine developed in Britain that uses only one cup of water to clean clothes could be on sale next year.The appliance, which could save billions of litres of water a year, has been developed at the University of Leeds.
It uses less than 10 per cent of the water of conventional machines and 30 per cent less energy by replacing most of the water with thousands of tiny reusable plastic beads to attract and absorb dirt under humid conditions.Xeros, the company behind the technology, will start selling the machine to commercial customers such as hotels and dry cleaners before taking the idea to ordinary household consumers
Only a small amount of water and detergent is needed to dampen the clothes, loosen stains and create the water vapour that allows the beads to work. After the cycle is finished, the beads fall through a mesh in the machine’s drum and can be re-used up to a hundred times.
Xeros has signed a deal with GreenEarth Cleaning, an environmentally friendly dry-cleaning business, to sell the technology across North America.
Chief executive Bill Westwater said: “We’ve got an eye on the consumer but it will take time and we hope commercial success could act as a springboard to move into the consumer market.
full article

Energy bills to hit £4,000 a year

Household annual energy bills could rise to more than £4,000 in 10 years' time, almost four times higher than they are today, according to new research.Forecasters from concluded that on current trends, the bills would reach £4,185 by 2020, compared to £1,243 at present.
The research from the price comparison service is based on pricing trends over the last five years, taking into account inflation and the cost of cutting carbon and improving energy efficiency.On top of that, the government's committment to securing the country's longer-term energy supply, allowing them to roll-out smart meters in homes, will cost taxpayers an additional £548 a year, meaning the cost of energy to each household could be as high as £4,733 within a decade.
The analysts also believe that the eventual end of the recession, which they predict will happen in 2011-2012, will see a global increase in energy demand, driven by rising economies such as China and India, which will put upward pressure on prices.
Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at, said the figure was a "wake-up call" and households would have to adapt accordingly.
"The Government has been banging the drum for energy efficiency for a while now, but consumers have been reluctant to spend money on these measures," she said. "As a result, energy efficiency has been massively underperforming even though it is one of the biggest defences we have against escalating energy costs.
"We also have a competitive energy market, and yet less than 5 per cent of consumers are on the most competitive energy plans – most people are paying far more than they have to for the energy they use.
"This has to change. My advice to consumers is to invest in making your home more energy efficient, reduce the amount of energy you use and make sure you are paying the lowest possible price for it. Big projects such as a new energy efficient boiler or home insulation can be expensive, but the savings you make through cutting the price of your energy could be reinvested into energy efficiency measures so that you reap even greater rewards in the future."
full article

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Free eaga ShowerSmart

Save up to £600 over the product's lifetime.
Save up to £20 per year* on fuel bills.
Save up to £20 per year* if your water is metered.
15 Year manufacturer guarantee.
Easy self-installation.
Suitable for use with non-electric mixer showers or bath/shower mixer taps, provided they run off the mains water pressure.
Works by regulating the water flow, saving you water, energy and money.


Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Hydrogen car to be 'open source'

The manufacturer of a hydrogen car unveiled in London on Tuesday will make its designs available online so the cars can be built and improved locally.
The Riversimple car can go 80km/hr (50mph) and travels 322km (200mi) per re-fuelling, with an efficiency equivalent to 300 miles to the gallon.
The cars will be leased with fuel and repair costs included, at an estimated £200 ($315) per month.
The company hopes to have the vehicles in production by 2013.
Next year, it aims to release 10 prototypes in a UK city which as yet to be confirmed.
Riversimple has partnered with gas supply company BOC to install hydrogen stations for the cars in the city where the prototypes are launched.
'Open source' model
The car itself is an amalgam of high-efficiency approaches in automotive design.
Its four motors are powered by a fuel cell rated at just six kilowatts, in contrast to current designs that are all in excess of 85 kilowatts - required because the acceleration from a standing start requires a great deal of power.
Riversimple's solution is to power the car also from so-called "ultracapacitors", which store large amounts of electric charge and, crucially, can release that charge nearly instantly to provide the power needed to accelerate from rest.
The ultracapacitors are charged as the vehicle brakes to a halt, converting the energy of the moving car into stored energy.Without a combustion engine, gearbox, or transmission, and with a shell made of carbon fibre composites, it weighs 350kg.
full article

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Human waste to heat thousands of homes

It gives a whole new meaning to cooking with 'natural' gas.

Within two years, thousands of people will be preparing their dinner and heating their homes using methane gas extracted from human waste.

The energy company behind the scheme say the 'sewage works gas' will be clean, environmentally friendly and indistinguishable from the North Sea variety.The pilot biogas conversion plant will be built at Britain's second biggest sewage works in Manchester and could generate enough power for 5,000 homes by 2011.

Other plants are expected to follow - eventually producing sewage gas for hundreds of thousands of people.

The £4.3 million scheme is the brainchild of United Utilities who yesterday got Government funding for the plant at Davyhulme waste water treatment works.

Caroline Ashton, the company's biofuels manager, said: "Sewage treatment is a 24-hour process so there is an endless supply of biogas.

'It is a very valuable resource and it's completely renewable.

'By harnessing this free energy we can reduce our fuel bills and reduce our carbon footprint.'

Methane is produced when microbes break down sewage sludge in a process known as 'anerobic digestion'.
full article

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The car that runs on thin air

The 'air car' plugs into a wall outlet, allowing an on-board compressor to pressurize the car's air tank to 4,500 pounds per square inch.

It takes about four hours to get the tank to full pressure and the cold air is then released gradually to power the car's pistons. Only fresh air comes out of the almost frozen exhaust pipe at low speeds.However engineering experts are skeptical of the technology, saying it is clouded by the caveat that compressing air is notoriously energy intensive.

'Air compressors are one of the least efficient machines to convert electricity to work,' said Harold Kung, professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern University.

'Why not use the electricity directly, as in electric cars? From an energy utilization point of view, the compressed (air) car does not make sense.
full article

Monday, 8 June 2009

Biogas projects awarded £10m

The government has announced five new biogas projects that will receive funding through its £10 million Anaerobic Digestion Demonstration Programme.

The £10 million fund has been under development since last year, when Defra decided more needed to be done to push the technology into the mainstream
Under the AD Demonstration Programme, the five projects will be expected to show how to maximise the cost and environmental benefits of the technology, as well as the potential for anaerobic digestion to reduce the carbon footprints of the food and water industries.

The programme will also see the demonstration of biogas being cleaned up for use as a transport fuel, and to be injected into the national gas pipelines.
Anaerobic digestion involves using of bacteria to break down organic material in huge tanks, which produces a methane-rich biogas suitable as an energy source.
full article

Saturday, 6 June 2009

£300 heating rebate scheme

Since 2001 Warm Front has helped thousands of people receive insulation and heating improvements to make their homes warmer, healthier and more energy-efficient. More funds have now been made available to help some of those who would not otherwise be eligible for Warm Front.

If you do not qualify for a Warm Front Grant because you do not receive a relevant benefit, you may still be eligible for a £300 rebate.

This rebate is available to all householders aged 60 or over who own their home or rent it from a private landlord, who either have no central heating system or one which is inoperable.
full article

Smart meters essential to energy supply

UK energy is facing severe challenges. Security of supply will become precarious as our indigenous gas supplies decline and our aged nuclear and coal plants prepare for shutdown, while replacements are mired in planning and environmental obstacles. Our share of renewables is below almost all our European counterparts. Our prices have increased substantially and moved beyond our leading European neighbours. Into this battlefield rides the white knight of smart metering, with a government consultation aimed at deploying smart meters into every home by 2020. However, within a day of the announcement, it was estimated that the true cost could be at least £13.1 billion, not the suggested £7 billion to £9 billion. This would virtually wipe out the projected benefits. Is smart metering a white knight or a white elephant?

What are the white knight's credentials? Consumers will be able to reduce cost and CO2 emissions by as much as 15 per cent. The energy companies will save money by consigning meter reading to history and dramatically simplifying billing and settlement. Most radically, if smart meters are used to develop a smart grid, energy companies will be able to manage demand in real time, avoiding spikes in usage and reducing the number of power stations that we must build to stave off blackouts.

However, there are several white elephants in the smart meter room. Will this really change long-term consumer behaviour? Will people switch off every standby appliance every night to save £30 a year? Would an energy display on the fridge without the meter achieve the same savings at 5 per cent of the cost? Would the money be better spent on loft insulation and double-glazing subsidies?
full article

Thursday, 4 June 2009

UK domestic fuel cell CHP unit steps forward

UK fuel cell developer Ceres Power says it has completed the design, build and testing of 1 kW grid-connected CHP products that meets all of the deliverables under the 'Alpha' phase of its CHP programme in conjunction with its partner British Gas.

The products were tested on mains natural gas under representative residential operating conditions, meeting most of a typical home's electricity requirements as well as exporting and importing power to and from the grid as required. Ceres says that its CHP product integrates the company's 1 kW fuel cell module with ancillary boiler components into a single unit that will meet all of a home's hot water and central heating requirements, avoiding the need for a separate boiler. The wall-mountable CHP product uses the same natural gas, water and electricity connections as existing boilers.

British Gas has issued an acceptance certificate that triggers a £2 million Alpha milestone payment to be paid to Ceres.

The company has already commenced the design and procurement activities of the Beta phase of the CHP programme ? to produce Beta CHP units for in-field trials. The company says it is on track to achieve market launch of the residential CHP product with British Gas in 2011.
full article