Friday, 24 December 2010

New solar fuel machine 'mimics plant life'

A prototype solar device has been unveiled which mimics plant life, turning the Sun's energy into fuel.

The machine uses the Sun's rays and a metal oxide called ceria to break down carbon dioxide or water into fuels which can be stored and transported.

Conventional photovoltaic panels must use the electricity they generate in situ, and cannot deliver power at night.
If as in the prototype, carbon dioxide and/or water are pumped into the vessel, the ceria will rapidly strip the oxygen from them as it cools, creating hydrogen and/or carbon monoxide.

Hydrogen produced could be used to fuel hydrogen fuel cells in cars, for example, while a combination of hydrogen and carbon monoxide can be used to create "syngas" for fuel.

It is this harnessing of ceria's properties in the solar reactor which represents the major breakthrough, say the inventors of the device. They also say the metal is readily available, being the most abundant of the "rare-earth" metals.

Methane can be produced using the same machine, they say.

It has been suggested that the device mimics plants, which also use carbon dioxide, water and sunlight to create energy as part of the process of photosynthesis. But Professor Haile thinks the analogy is over-simplistic.

"Yes, the reactor takes in sunlight, we take in carbon dioxide and water and we produce a chemical compound, so in the most generic sense there are these similarities, but I think that's pretty much where the analogy ends."

full article

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Cost of Going Green as Energy Reform Will add £500 a Year to bills

Environmental reforms to the energy market, to be unveiled this week, will result in huge gas and electricity price increases over the next ten years.

Under the changes, householders will have to pay an extra £500 a year by 2020 effectively to subsidise the cost of new nuclear power plants and wind energy.

The Government is also expected to propose capacity payments for low-carbon electricity generation. This would reward companies for making their electricity generation capacity available to the grid, even if it is just as a back-up.

It is also expected to stop the building of new coal-fired power stations unless they are equipped with carbon-capture technology.

These measures will cost money. Britain now pays about £1 billion a year in subsidies for renewable energy, which adds about £80 to a typical household's annual bill.

Energy experts say that propping up nuclear and renewable energy could cost every household more than £500 a year by 2020.

full article

Cheap Boilers

The Magic Boiler Scheme run by PTS Plumbing was a very successfull promotion and was discontinued over a year ago now.The good news is that it has been replaced and is called Energy Smart and can be found at

Friday, 3 December 2010

Mackie's challenge on renewable fund

Farmer, ice cream maker and potato crisp manufacturer Maitland Mackie yesterday challenged to the Scottish Government to come up with the cash to enable rural communities to benefit from the current surge of interest in renewable energy.
A year ago, Mackie suggested a rolling fund so that communities rather than multinational energy companies could become involved in bringing forward their own projects and benefiting from the income generated.
His advice on how the whole rural community could benefit came from his own experience where renewable energy in the form of three wind turbines has transformed the family business.

These are not only fuelling the business but also feeding large quantities of electricity into the National Grid. He reckons the family firm will get a double digit return on their investment. Having seen what can be achieved, he is keen to promote the idea of local communities "getting in on the action", describing the current subsidy system, the Feed In Tariff, as promoting the wrong scale of power generation.

"Feed In Tariffs, where electricity suppliers get paid for putting power into the grid, incentivise the innocent to invest in very inefficient small-scale power generation. As a vehicle to deliver renewable energy, they encourage dreadfully inefficient investment and they deliver an insignificant amount of energy."

For farmers and landowners approached by major energy companies, he said, it was too easy for them to "sell the pass" to the big operators leaving them to develop big projects in return for a rent.

full article

Renewable energy seminar held for Cornish landowners

“We have seen a number of farmers and other landowners come to us to appraise offers made to them by developers. So the time was right to organise an event that would not only advise on what terms the landowners maybe should and should not be signing up to, based on what we and other professionals had collectively experienced, but also to give a heads up on other related issues, such as tax planning.

“We were delighted that other professionals involved in the sector were likeminded about the need for such an event and the high attendance is testament to the demand for impartial advice in this area.”

full article

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Spain To Cut Wind, Solar Power Subsidies In December

Spain's government is seeking to press ahead with planned cuts in costly renewable energy subsidies in early December, as part of ongoing austerity moves, a spokesman for the country's Industry Ministry said Wednesday.

The plan, which is designed to make annual savings of around EUR100 million, should be fairly similar to draft cuts discussed with sector representatives in July, spokespeople for the ministry and the wind and solar power sectors said. The cuts are more drastic for solar power generation, they said.

However, the cuts may also effectively shelve projects to build solar power that would have received around EUR1 billion in subsidies in coming years.

Solar power, the most expensive contributor to Spain's electricity generation, currently accounts for around 3% of Spain's power generation and around half of renewable energy subsidies. Wind power accounts for around 13% of generation.

Spain is among the countries most reliant on renewable energy--a policy that has made it less dependent on fossil fuel producers but has resulted in higher energy prices, stoking up inflation and hitting the economy's international competitiveness at a time when domestic demand has weakened.

full article

Industry growth sees photovoltaic costs plummet

THE capital costs of photovoltaic plants have fallen more than 40% in the past two years because of the growth of the industry, says the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association.

The lower capital costs put photovoltaic on an equal footing with other solar technologies, the association said yesterday.

Photovoltaic technology is traditionally more expensive compared to other solar technologies, and involves the conversion of solar radiation into direct-current electricity using semiconductors.

The National Energy Regulator of SA’ s October 2009 renewable energy feed-in tariff guideline put photovoltaic at R3,94/kWh and concentrated solar at R3,14/kWh.

"Since 2008, when the (feed-in) tariffs were calculated, the size of the installed (photovoltaic) market has more than doubled, resulting in the capital cost of (photovoltaic) power plants dropping by over 40%," photovoltaic association found er member Ryan Hammond said yesterday.

"The current cost-effectiveness of photovoltaic is equivalent to any other solar technology and it remains the most versatile renewable technology choice, capable of being easily applied in installations from 10W to over 100MW and more," he said.

In Europe, the renewable energy feed-in tariff for photovoltaic is about R2/kWh, he said. "We need to sit down with the Department of Energy and look at the real numbers. We would love to see the R3,94/ kWh revisited. There is no gain for SA in using outdated numbers. Government must recognise that (photovoltaic) costs have fallen," he said.

full article

Friday, 19 November 2010

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Farmers rush for solar panel riches

Worthy Farm in Somerset is well known for setting records.

It plays host to the Glastonbury music festival - the largest in the world.

Now, one of its cowsheds is set to become the UK's largest agricultural solar array, benefiting from the governments new feed-in tariff scheme, which rewards people for generating solar power.And it is unlikely to be the last.

But as farmers around the country rush to take advantage of the scheme, the government is considering lowering the subsidy as part of the Spending Review.
On-farm solar

The tariff is designed to reward people for installing renewable energy by paying for the electricity they generate.

It pays up to four times the retail cost of electricity, whilst also allowing the power to be used for home appliances.

Or, as is the case here, for a dairy farm.

For Michael Eavis, owner of Worthy Farm and host of the Glastonbury festival, it is the perfect opportunity.
Mr Eavis's solar roof should generate enough power for about 40 homes.

Unusually, it is built using solar panels made in the UK by a local firm, Solar Sense.

"We've seen a 200% plus growth in inquiries and resulting business since February," says their director Kerry Burns.

"It's difficult for a company to keep up with."
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

If they touch the feed-in tariff, you can forget about private sector funding for renewables”

End Quote Ray Noble Renewable Energy Association

But the money, like much of the expertise for the new industry, is coming from Continental Europe.

Dutch ethical bank, Triodos, has extensive experience with similar tariffs in Spain and Germany and has provided £500,000 to this project.

The bank is aware of the pitfalls. Spanish tariffs had to be changed due to their generosity.
Funding worries

But the money to fund all this ultimately comes from energy bills, not the government.

Some energy experts, such as Professor David Newbury from the University of Cambridge, argue this is the wrong way to fund a scheme that generates little electricity for the grid.

"It's essentially research, and I'm not sure that the right way to finance research... is a tax on electricity consumers, many of whom are poor," he says.

The latest Ofgem figures show a dramatic pickup in demand, with more than 10,000 installations since the scheme started.

Most are small domestic projects, but larger farm-based schemes are due to be installed, and so claiming the guaranteed payments, during spring.

The scheme was only launched in April, with cross party support, but the government has now confirmed it will be subject to the Spending Review, with a view on its impact on bills.

With projects already underway, this has sparked fury in the industry.

"If they touch the feed-in tariff, you can forget about private sector funding for renewables," says Ray Noble from the Renewable Energy Association.

full article

Feed-in Tariffs any drawbacks to solar panelling?

Q I am considering an offer from British Gas to install solar panelling on my house. The offer is very generous. There is no charge, a 25-year guarantee and all work involved is done by its employees. Is there any drawback to solar panelling?
A Yes, there are several drawbacks. Earlier this year (March 21) I answered a query about the Feed-in Tariff (FIT), whereby home owners generating their own electricity are paid for every unit of power they feed into the national grid. It is the FIT that makes photovoltaic (PV) solar panels worth considering as an investment, because it might earn the average PV panel owner about £900 a year. (Although, as I pointed out at the time, it would still take about 13 to 17 years for this income to compensate for the installation costs of some £12,000 to £15,000.)

Without the FIT payments, generating your own electricity from the sun is not such an attractive proposition. At the times when you most need to use electricity – that is, after dark – your PV panels won’t be generating any, so you’ll be paying for your power at the normal rate through your meter.

You get free electricity to use only when the sun is shining brightly and directly enough on the panels to generate a current. But that is chiefly in the summer, between 10am and 2pm, and with little or no cloud cover (with respect, not the most common conditions in your part of Britain). And, of course, at those times, you are unlikely to be using much electricity anyway.

You won’t have the lights on, you won’t be watching television because you’ll be out in the garden and you won’t be needing to heat the house. Possibly the only benefit you will get is free power for your fridge. The surplus electricity generated at these times will be fed into the grid, earning FIT money for the owner of the panels, which won’t be you because it will be British Gas.

The promotional literature from British Gas (and the other companies who are making similar offers) suggests that the average householder signing up for this “rent-your-roof” scheme will reduce their electricity bills by about £150 per year. However, many people will save much less. It depends how much electricity you use during those sunny periods. People who are out at work during the day, for example, will not see much benefit.

In return, by installing its PV panels on your roof, British Gas will be claiming all your Feed-in Tariff payments for itself. You will have to sign a contract leasing your roof and the air space above it to British Gas for 25 years, for no additional payment. The lease will be lodged with the Land Registry, and therefore legally binding. You will not be able to change your mind or remove the panels during the 25 years and, should you sell the house, the new owners will also be bound by the terms of that lease.

For me, this is a major stumbling block. I personally would be hesitant about buying a house with these unsightly black rectangles stuck on the roof and even more hesitant once I found that I wouldn’t even benefit financially from the surplus electricity they produced.

I’m sure there must be many other potential homebuyers who would feel the same way, and you might even find your house “blighted” by this 25-year commitment.

full article

Friday, 27 August 2010

Thank God man-made global warming was proven to be a hoax.

Thank God man-made global warming was proven to be a hoax. Just imagine what the world might have looked like now if those conspiring scientists had been telling the truth. No doubt Nasa would be telling us that this year is now the hottest since humans began keeping records. The weather satellites would show that even when heat from the sun significantly dipped earlier this year, the world still got hotter. Russia's vast forests would be burning to the ground in the fiercest drought they have ever seen, turning the air black in Moscow, killing 15,000 people, and forcing foreign embassies to evacuate. Because warm air holds more water vapour, the world's storms would be hugely increasing in intensity and violence – drowning one fifth of Pakistan, and causing giant mudslides in China.

The world's ice sheets would be sloughing off massive melting chunks four times the size of Manhattan. The cost of bread would be soaring across the world as heat shrivelled the wheat crops. The increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would be fizzing into the oceans, making them more acidic and so killing 40 per cent of the phytoplankton that make up the irreplaceable base of the oceanic food chain. The denialists would be conceding at last that everything the climate scientists said would happen – with their pesky graphs and studies and computers – came to pass.
This is all happening today, except for that final stubborn step. It's hard to pin any one event on man-made global warming: there were occasional freak weather events before we started altering the atmosphere, and on their own, any of these events could be just another example. But they are, cumulatively, part of a plain pattern where extreme weather is occurring "with greater frequency and in many cases with greater intensity" as the temperature soars, as the US National Climatic Data Centre puts it. This is exactly what climate scientists have been warning us man-made global warming will look like, to the letter. Ashen-faced, they add that all this is coming after less than one degree of global warming since the Industrial Revolution. We are revving up for as much as five degrees more this century.

Yet as the evidence of global warming becomes ever clearer, the momentum to stop it has died. The Copenhagen climate summit evaporated, Barack Obama has given up on passing any climate change legislation, Hu Jintao is heaving even more coal, David Cameron has shot his huskies, and even sweet liberal Canada now has a government determined to pioneer a fuel – tar sands – that causes three times more warming than oil. True, the victims are starting to see the connections. The Russian President, Dmitri Medvedev, had been opposed to meaningful action on global warming until he found the smoke-choked air in the Kremlin hard to breathe. But if we wait until every leader can taste the effects of warming in their mouths, the damage will be irreparable.

Given the stakes, the reasons why so many people still refuse to accept the evidence can seem oddly trivial. A common one is: "It snowed a lot in the US and Britain last year. Where was your warming then, eh?" But scientific theories are based on patterns, not individual events. You might know a 90-year-old woman who has smoked a pack of cigarettes every day of her life, and is totally healthy. (I do.) It doesn't disprove the theory that smoking causes lung cancer. In the same way, one heavy snowfall doesn't prove anything if it is part of a wider overall pattern of dramatic warming. And that snow probably was. While it snowed a lot in a few places, there were at the very same time harsher, more bitter droughts in many more places – making it globally the fifth hottest winter ever recorded, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (All the others were in the past decade). And that winter is your punchline proof that warming isn't happening?

But the broader public mood, smeared like sun-screen over us all, isn't active denial. No – it's the desire to endlessly postpone this issue for another day. In 1848, a 25-year-old man called Phineas Gage was working on constructing the American railroads. It was his job to lay explosives to clear rocks out of the way – but one day his explosive went off too soon, and a huge metal rod went through his skull and out the other side. Amazingly, he survived – but his personality changed. Suddenly, he was incapable of thinking about the future. The idea of restraining himself was impossible to grasp. If he had an urge, he would act on it at once. He could only ever live in an eternal present. As a civilisation, we are beginning to look like Phineas Gage on a planetary scale.
Yet scattered among us there is a fascinating group of people who are offering a path to safety. Every summer since 2006, ordinary British citizens have built impromptu camps next to some of the most environmentally destructive sites in Britain, and taken direct action to shut their pollution down. So far, it has worked: they played a crucial role in the cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow and a big new coal power station at Kingsnorth.

That's how earlier this week I found myself on a high wooden siege tower in a camp in the Scottish hills, staring down across a moat towards the glistening, empty offices of the Royal Bank of Scotland. You own this bank: 84 per cent of it belongs to the taxpayer after the bailouts. Yet it is using your money to endanger you, by financing the most environmentally destructive behaviour on earth, like burning the tar sands. The protesters chose to come here democratically – everything at the climate camps is done by discussion and consensus – because they have a better idea. Why not turn it into a Green Investment Bank, transforming Britain into a global hub for wind, solar and wave power? Why not go from promoting misery across the world to being a beacon of sanity?

So the protesters risked arrest in marching on RBS's offices because they know the stakes. As Professor Tim Flannery, one of the world's leading climate scientists, explains: "My great fear is that within the next few decades – it could be next year, or it could be in 50 years, we don't know exactly when – we will trap enough heat close to the surface to our planet to precipitate a collapse, or partial collapse, of a major ice shelf... I have friends who work on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and they say [when a collapse happens] you'll hear it in Sydney... Sea levels would rise pretty much instantaneously, certainly over a few months. We don't know how much it would rise. It could be 10 centimeters, or a metre. We will have begun a retreat from our coasts... Once you have started that process, we wouldn't know when the next part of the ice sheet would collapse, we don't know whether sea level will stabilise. There's no point of retreat where you can safely go back to... I doubt whether our global civilisation could survive such a blow, particularly the uncertainty it would bring."

Nature doesn't follow political fashion. Global warming may not be hot today, but the planet is – hotter than ever. When you stare out over the wave of Weather of Mass Destruction we are unleashing, who looks crazy – the protesters, or the people who have yet to join them?

You can follow Johann Hari on Twitter at

full article

Scheme to 'pull electricity from the air'

Tiny charges gathered directly from humid air could be harnessed to generate electricity, researchers say.

Dr Francesco Galembeck told the American Chemical Society meeting in Boston that the technique exploited a little-known atmospheric effect.

Tests had shown that metals could be used to gather the charges, he said, opening up a potential energy source in humid climates.
"The work I'm presenting here shows that metals placed under a wet environment actually become charged."

Dr Galembeck and his colleagues isolated various metals and pairs of metals separated by a non-conducting separator - a capacitor, in effect - and allowed nitrogen gas with varying amounts of water vapour to pass over them.

What the team found was that charge built up on the metals - in varying amounts, and either positive or negative. Such charge could be connected to a circuit periodically to create useful electricity.

The effect is incredibly small - gathering an amount of charge 100 million times smaller over a given area than a solar cell produces - but seems to represent a means of charge accumulation that has been overlooked until now.

However, experts disagree about the mechanism and the scale of the effect.

"The basic idea is that when you have any solid or liquid in a humid environment, you have absorption of water at the surface," Dr Galembeck, from the University of Campinas in Brazil, told BBC News.
full article

Monday, 23 August 2010

Free solar energy panels

What’s the deal?

Alternative energy companies including Isis Solar, Home Sun, and A Shade Greener are offering free solar panels that can deliver electricity bill savings of up to hundreds of pounds.

Their offers typically include the supply, installation and maintenance of solar panels worth up to about £12,000.

Homeowners benefit from free electricity when there is sufficient daylight to power the panels, while continuing to pay for electricity from their existing supplier at other times.

Large, unshaded south-facing roofs are typically needed to fit the panels.

Is this good?

The Energy Saving Trust says that solar panels can save the typical home about £200 a year in electricity costs.

Consumer Focus, the watchdog, says the panel offers could be attractive to households who don’t have funds to pay for installation.

What’s the catch?

In return for free panels, the installers pocket the new “feed in tariff” – also called the “clean energy cashback” – of about £800 a year that can be earned under the government scheme to encourage renewable energy generation.

Homeowners are also tied in to contracts with installers for 25 years – so, if you sell your home, the buyer will generally have to take on the contract.

Also, installers could go bust, making it hard for homeowners to enforce maintenance agreements.

What’s the alternative?

Households could pay to have their own solar panels fitted, and then receive the feed-in tariff payments – which are tax-free and inflation-linked – as well as saving on electricity bills.

For a £12,000 outlay, households could earn £23,000 over 25 years, says Moneysavingexpert, the consumer advice website.
full article

Sunday, 8 August 2010

All new homes to run on green power by 2016

Every new home is to be powered by a green energy plant to offset its environmental impact under government plans for zero-carbon living from 2016.

If a development is too small, remote or shielded from wind or sun for an effective renewables scheme, developers will pay a levy to the local council to create bigger plants nearby that would cancel out the carbon footprint of the homes, while providing green power. According to government figures, more than a quarter of all CO2 emissions come from residential properties.

All new homes are rated under the Code for Sustainable Homes. Where planned properties do not reach the highest level 6 standard – where their own green energy production offsets their emissions – developers would be charged a tariff of around £15,000 by the local council to fund infrastructure and local services. Part of this would also include contributing to a "buy-out fund" to pay for the construction of wind farms, solar panels or geothermal technologies in the local area, which would supply the new development with green power.

It is hoped the plan would result in economies of scale, where a larger renewable energy plant could offset the carbon emissions of several small plots of houses.

The housing minister, Grant Shapps, said: "We are committed to being the greenest government ever, and an essential part of that is to ensure that all homes in the future will be built without emitting any carbon. This announcement is an important and very significant step in that direction because for the first time we have described in detail how developers might be expected to achieve zero carbon, by connecting developments to local energy schemes."

Labour set the 2016 zero-carbon target in 2006 but did little to explain how it would be met, or even what the definition meant. The coalition has given £600,000 to the public-private body Zero Carbon Hub to begin testing new benchmarks for carbon emission reductions. However, even supporters of the scheme complain that the coalition has reneged on a promise to set out a definition for a zero-carbon home "within weeks" of taking office.

Simon McWhirter, from the conservation charity WWF, said the levy on developers was "really important" to ensure that new properties, such as flats, which cannot practically generate enough green power on site, can still be zero carbon. "The ability for small builders to pay into a pot which will then be used independently to deliver the emissions reductions elsewhere is a sensible approach to take."

Ministers are also being urged to ensure that building guidelines do not include measures to prevent loss of heat and power that make the homes uninhabitable, through overheating or poor ventilation.

Dr David Strong, chief executive of consultancy Inbuilt and a member of the Zero Carbon Hub's task group, said: "My big worry is as we start to build our homes to increasing standards, unless there is considerable care in the way they are designed and built, there is a real danger of a whole lot of perverse outcomes."

Nottingham City Council already runs a district heating system, in which domestic and commercial waste is used to provide electricity and hot water to more than 4,600 homes, the National Ice Centre, and two shopping centres.

full article

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Tesco starts selling £10,000 flat-pack homes

Self-assembly ’Helsinki’ log cabins have five rooms, double glazing and a decking area

Tesco has moved into the property sector by selling flat pack homes for under £10,000.

The supermarket giant is offering shoppers a massive 19998 Clubcard points if they buy one of the new £9,999 self-assembly log cabins the store is now selling.

The Finnlife structures come with five rooms and a decking area as well as double glazing. It can be upgraded to include a guttering kit, laminate flooring and underfloor heating

The Helsinki model is only available from Tesco’s website and anyone interested in buying it online will have to pay a £5 delivery charge.

The product comes with step-by-step building instructions and the structures are being marketed as being straight forward to self assemble with no need to hire anyone to help. However, Tesco is warning prospective buyers that they may need planning permission

full article

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Electric car subsidy worth up to £5,000

Motorists who buy an electric plug-in car from January next year will get a grant worth up to £5,000 from the government.

The project was announced by Labour but placed on hold by the coalition until the autumn spending review.

Now the Treasury has taken the highly unusual step of agreeing to ring fence the money from any cuts.

Carmakers had been putting pressure on the new government to announce what was happening to the electric car subsidy.

They had warned that without it, the UK would be significantly less attractive for new investment.
'Absolutely committed'

The sheer scale of budget cuts needed across government departments - with the distinct possibility that transport might fare worse than most - had placed the scheme in doubt.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

How often do you drive more than 90 miles in one stretch?”

End Quote David Beesley Electric car user

* What is it like to live with an electric car?

Now the government says the £43m earmarked for the scheme will be protected.

It means that anyone who buys an electric plug-in car from next year will get a 25% discount up to a maximum of £5,000.

"The coalition government is absolutely committed to low carbon growth, tackling climate change and making our energy supply more secure," said Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond.

"We are sending a clear signal that Britain is open for business and that we are committed to greening our economy.

"This will ensure that the UK is a world leader in low emission vehicles.

"We will review the level of the incentive regularly to ensure that the UK remains competitive and taxpayers get value for money."

The extra help is not expected to make up for the extra cost of the vehicle - which could be about £10,000 more expensive than its petrol equivalent.

However owners could save hundreds of pounds a year in running costs.

The subsidy will come into force at the same time as a rise in VAT.

The increase from 17.5% to 20% adds almost £640 to the cost of a £30,000 car.

One possible barrier to people adopting electric cars is the lack of dedicated plug-in points - with there currently only being about 300 across the UK.

But Nissan - whose Leaf car will be on sale in the UK from March - argues this is misleading.

It says the evidence from Japan is that people do not buy electric cars until the charging points are in place - but then do not actually use them, preferring to charge at home instead.
Grant offer

Rapid-charge plug-in points, which can charge a car to 80% capacity in less than half an hour, are not likely to be the way most people "refuel".

Electricity overnight can be significantly cheaper and motorists can plug their car in and leave it, rather than having to wait.

That works as long as the motorist's daily use is not more than the range of the car - 100 miles in the case of the Leaf.

However that also depends on users not draining the battery in other ways such as using the heating or air-conditioning.

The grant is open to both private and business fleet buyers across the UK.

It will stay in place - assuming the money does not run out - until 31 March 2012.

The level for subsequent years will be set according to how the market develops and what happens to the cost of the cars.

full article

Monday, 26 July 2010

Giant offshore turbine that mimics sycamore seeds

A giant wind turbine design that mimics the spiralling motion of a sycamore seed could revolutionise the wind power industry.

British engineers are working on a design for the Aerogenerator which would rotate on its axis and would measure nearly 900 feet from tip to tip, generating up to 10MW.

News of the design comes after Lib Dem Energy Secretary Chris Huhne signalled a dramatic increase in the number of wind farms to be built in Britain – as he said there was no money in the pot to pay for nuclear power stations.

Engineering firm Wind Power is developing the Aerogenerator with architects Grimshaw, academics at Cranfield University and is also working with Rolls Royce, Arup, BP and Shell on its revolutionary design.

Those behind the design say that it could expanded to produce turbines that generated 20MW or more of power.

Scaling up the diameter of a conventional wind turbine would produce far more power from each device but would make them extremely heavy so engineers are now looking at ways of adapting the design to make them more efficient.

The Aerogenerator has two arms jutting out from its base to form a V-shape, with rigid 'sails' mounted along their length. As the wind passes over these they act like aerofoils, generating lift which turns the structure as a whole at roughly three revolutions per minute.

The first Aerogenerator could be up and running by 2013.

full article

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Solar panels ‘could raise £34m’ for places of worship

Installing solar panels on British churches and other religious buildings could raise £34 million per year through Feed-in Tariff (FiT) payments and electricity bill savings, according to figures released by British Gas.

According to data based on the company's Green Streets programme, published this week (July 12), the renewable technology could generate more than £29 million-a-year for places of worship through FiTs and save nearly £5 million a year by not having to buy electricity.

The Feed-in Tariff scheme was launched in April this year and provides fixed, technology-dependent payments to individuals, organisations and businesses who install renewable electricity generators for every unit of electricity they produce (see this story). Under the scheme, solar photovoltaic (PV) tariffs peak at 41.3p/kWh - the highest available tariff.

The British Gas Green Streets programme - which provides £2 million to fund microgeneration and energy efficiency measures to help 14 communities around the UK save and generate energy - has both a church and a mosque involved in the project and the figures revealed here are based on real life examples of the potential savings of these buildings. These were then extrapolated to take account of the number of churches and mosques in the UK and their average congregation.

British Gas notes that the savings and money-making potential identified will be "a welcome revelation" to religious buildings which have been hit by the recession, claiming a recent report found that a quarter of all Church of England dioceses are currently facing budget deficits.

The figures also show that the CO2 savings of installing solar panels could also be significant, with savings of up to 42,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.
full article

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Air Source Heat Pump Slashes Heating Bills

The Pearce family, of Enstone, near Chipping Norton, took a £950 holiday paid for with savings made on their energy bills after having a new energy-saving air pump system installed.

The environmentally-friendly device uses naturally occuring heat from the air to warm the home and provide hot water.

The equipment, called an air source heat pump, has dramatically lowered the cost of heating the family’s three-bedroom home and meant Mark and Hayley Pearce could repay their outstanding electricity bills.
Two years ago, the Cottsway Housing Association tenants had accumulated a £1,000 bill with Southern Electric.

The couple then had the new heating system installed by Cottsway to replace the old electric storage heaters and solid fuel open fire in the lounge.

Before the new heating system, they spent £1,137 a year on electricity bills and solid fuel.

The house is not on the gas network and the storage heaters and coal fire gave it a carbon footprint of nine tonnes of CO2 a year.

Costs are now down to £384 for the heating and the carbon footprint has dropped to 3.2 tonnes.

The housing association has installed air source heat pumps to replace storage and convector heaters and solid fuel fires in some of its houses.

Cottsway spokesman Gary Salter said: “We knew we would see a cut in fuel bills for our tenants but this has even surprised us.”

The ‘Ecodan’ air source heat pump operates on a small amount of electricity. It works effectively in temperatures below -15C.

Thousands of homes in Scandinavia have similar technology and it is being promoted and bought by UK energy suppliers.

Mr Salter added: “It’s very simple to install and operate, and will work with conventional radiators like those in most homes heated by gas central heating.

“We are delighted with the results from all of the Ecodan systems we have installed to date.”

full article

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Worcester Energy Homes

With everyone looking closely at fuel bills and doing their bit for the environment, this Worcester energy homes website from Worcester is here to help you see how real life Worcester installations are saving money and energy. See what the homeowners have to say about their installations and find out what other energy saving solutions are available to you.

The Worcester Energy Homes are real life examples of how condensing boilers, solar panels and heat pumps can reduce fuel bills and help the environment.

The website shows interviews with families who’ve improved their homes’ energy efficiency with Worcester products and easy to read summaries showing those savings.

The Energy Homes website also includes:

* Customer video testimonials
* Energy summaries for each home
* Videos of product installations
* A virtual tour of our flagship Energy Home
* Tips on saving energy in your home
full article

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Grants for Solar Panels

Grants for Solar Panels

The UK government has committed itself to reducing household C02 emissions and improving the energy efficiency of homes throughout the UK. Currently there are two schemes specifically targeted at getting more domestic use of solar panels, one for solar photovoltaic panels and the other for solar hot water systems.
Other Government Grants Available

As part of a government backed initiative to make houses more energy efficient you can get up to £3500 towards the cost of solar panels. The level of grant available to you depends on your circumstances as well as any previous grants awarded on the property. To be eligible for these grants an accredited installer must be used and they will help guide you through what you are entitled to.

Solar Photovoltaic Panels

Direct grants for the installation of Solar Photovoltaic Panels are no longer available but there are still grants available for improving a homes energy efficiency that can be used towards the cost of solar panels (See Below).

The direct grants have been replaced since April 2010 by the new government backed feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme with which you have the ability to earn back money by feeding unused electricity generated back into the national grid as well as earn money for the power that you actually use. Ofgem are administering this scheme and the electricity suppliers themselves are responsible for paying the reward back to the customers.

It is possible for a well sited solar PV installation to earn a tax free income of £700 as well as saving around £140 a year on the household electricity bill meaning that the system could pay for itself in less than half of its expected lifetime leaving you to reap the financial rewards as this scheme has been guaranteed by the UK Government for 25 years. Currently if your solar photovoltaic panels were installed by an accredited installer you can earn up to 44.3p p/kWh for the power you export to the national grid and up to 41.3p p/kWh for the electricity that you use.

Solar Hot Water Systems

A second scheme is currently in place for those looking to purchase a Solar Hot Water System where the government will give a grant of a maximum of £400 or 30% of the total vat-exclusive installed cost, whichever is the smaller cost. In reality the cost of a solar hot water system means that most will receive the £400 grant.

Is is planned that the current grant scheme to stop towards the end of 2010 (Once the allocated money has run out) and to be replaced with the new renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme which works on a similar basis to the FITs scheme. While the final figures are not currently available it is thought that a payment of around 18p p/kWh for the heat generated will be paid meaning that on top of the average saving in heating bills of £75 you will earn back around £350 per year. This gives a similar 'payback period' as you get with Solar photovoltaic systems.

full article

Making UK homes energy efficient would cost less than £3,000 per house

The majority of the UK's least energy-efficient homes could be brought up to near-average green standards for less than £3,000, a new analysis claims today.

The Energy Saving Trust says the cost of upgrading such properties may be less than many consumers think, while also revealing that the numbers of energy-inefficient homes in both the private and rented sectors has decreased.

The Trust found that in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, 17% of English homes were in the F and G bands – the lowest gradings on an energy performance certificate (EPC). Two years previously in 2006, 22% were in those bands.

But 84% of these homes could be brought into E band for £3,000 - typically by installing new loft and cavity wall insulation or a modern boiler. The average home in the UK is currently rated at D.

Older homes needing major modernisation, including an entire new central heating system, would need at least £5,000 to bring them into line. The Trust found that this group – deemed to be very energy-inefficient homes – are twice as common in the private rented sector as in the rest of stock.

The study found that the worst, G-rated homes can emit over 22 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – and for each home it would be possible to save 14 tonnes of CO2 annually by upgrading them to an E rating. By comparison an average British home emits five tonnes of CO2.

David Weatherall, housing strategy manager for the Energy Saving Trust, said: "On the whole, our study is good news. Most F- and G-rated homes can be improved very cost-effectively, for less than £3,000. That's less than 2% of the sale price of the average UK home."

He continued: "With the abolition of Home Information Packs, and the new government committed to the green agenda, EPCs are going to enjoy a higher profile. For anyone about to sell their home with an old boiler or lacking full loft and cavity insulation, we'd strongly advise you not to take the risk of getting a very poor energy rating and potentially a lower sale price."

Friends of the Earth's climate campaigner Dave Timms said: "It's shocking that the very worst homes are twice as common in the private rented sector. The government must act urgently to ensure they are brought up to scratch. That means financial help and incentives to enable landlords to make improvements, and legislation so that rented homes are required to meet a minimum energy-efficiency standard by 2016."

A previous Energy Saving Trust survey suggested 70% of people would consider renegotiating the price of a property if they discovered it was inefficient.

The findings come just a day after a government advisory group warned that people in fuel poverty are being hardest hit by climate change policies - without seeing much benefit from efforts to reduce energy use. According to the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, energy bills have increased by 125% in the past six years, with the number of households in fuel poverty in England quadrupling as a result. Some 4.6m households in England now spend more than 10% of their income on heating their homes - the measure defines fuel poverty.

full article

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Why You Should Convert Your Home To Solar Energy Homes

Solar energy homes create clean, green and free energy. The sun's energy is a renewable source and sustainable. Solar panels absorb light from the sun, which is changed into electricity to power your house. The sun produces a free supply of limitless energy. The energy can also be saved for later use by means of a rechargeable battery.

Solar energy homes are economically-responsible

Solar energy houses not only offer a clean, renewable energy source they also offer economical savings. Imagine being able to put an end to power bills. In less than seven years, all the money you initially spent on building a solar panel framework, will be recouped. All the money you'd have had to give to the power company now belongs to you! So enjoy spending it on something more exciting than electricity. Create renewable energy houses and your electricity is effectively free.

Solar energy homes are easy to take care of

Not only do solar panels endure year after year, they require practically no maintenance. Solar panels noiselessly take in and transform energy. There are no moving parts that will need to be replaced. As your family grows you can add new solar panels to your home to increase the amount of sunshine they're able to take up.

Solar energy homes are lucrative

Not only do some governments encourage consumers to create energy efficient homes by offering tax rebates or grants, some electricity providers actually purchase surplus electricity generated by private houses.

What's the cost for solar energy homes?

The cost of having a commercial renewables company set up a solar panel system on your roof is beyond what most of us can find the money for. This is why power companies are undaunted by their superior competitor: renewable energies. Luckily, there are a number of Do-it-yourself kits that offer convenient instructions on how to build your own solar network.Check out more details about a DIY kit that can make your life a lot easier here:

full article

Calif. examines smart meters as component of energy future

California has grand plans for saving energy, improving the electricity grid and cutting the number of power plants built in the state.

And many of those plans depend, at least in part, on the smart meter.

The advanced meter is a basic building block for the energy future that state officials are trying to create. The meter will change when and how people use electricity, proponents say.

It will pave the way for the widespread use of solar panels and electric cars as well as help reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s kind of baked into the state policy that smart meters need to be in place,” said Andrew Tang, senior director of demand-side management at Pacific Gas and Electric Co. The utility, California’s largest, is installing the meters on every home and business it serves.

But the accuracy of smart meters — in particular, the ones used by PG and E — has been called into question.

Angry homeowners have complained that their utility bills soared after the new meters were installed.
Unlike old gas and electric meters, smart meters transmit data to the utility via wireless communication, eliminating the need for meter readers. The utility can also send instructions to the meter — for example, telling the meter to turn a home’s power on or off. The meters can also measure energy use by the hour or at even shorter intervals, giving customers detailed information about their energy use patterns.

Therein lies their appeal. State officials charged with meeting California’s future energy needs try to avoid building power plants whenever possible, to save money, cut pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One way to do that is to cut the amount of electricity the state uses during peak hours, typically in the mid- to late afternoon when air conditioners are cranking.

full article

Friday, 9 July 2010

Feed-in tariffs offer a valuable income

TENS of thousands of pounds additional annual income is there for the taking by rural estates and farms.

That is, if they take advantage of the new renewable energy feed-in tariff scheme says Knight Frank.

The company’s renewable energy team has undertaken an analysis contained in its latest publication, The Rural Report.

The firm created a hypothetical “renewable energy” estate that utilises all the main forms of renewable energy - solar, wind, hydro and anaerobic digestion. It then calculated how much income could be derived from each using feed-in tariffs.

Assuming all the electricity produced was exported to the National Grid, two wind turbines created an annual income of £300,000, an anaerobic digester created an extra £460,000 per year while a modest hydroelectric scheme added £190,000.

“Feed-in tariffs were introduced in the dying days of the Labour government and were designed to encourage people to create their own renewable electricity.

An index-linked payment guaranteed for up to 25 years is made for each unit of electricity produced even if it used by the generator for their own consumption. The tariff varies depending on how the energy is being generated and the scale of the scheme,” says the report.

The smaller the scheme and the longer its potential payback, the larger the payment.

Head of Knight Frank’s renewables and energy department, Christopher Smith, said: “We have already seen a huge surge in enquiries from landowners looking to take advantage of feed-in tariffs.

“One of the attractive things about them is payments are guaranteed for up to 25 years, which means it is now easier to get bank funding to set up renewable energy projects.
The contribution from photovoltaic solar panels was a more modest £26,300 but the total income came to £916,000 per annum with a lifetime potential of £18.5m.

full article

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Europe’s renewable electricity generation nearly hits 20%

Last year, just shy of 20% of Europe’s total electricity consumption came from renewable sources, according to the latest figures from the European Commission
The findings, which indicate that renewables accounted for 62% of newly installed generation capacity in 2009, give grounds for “cautious optimism” says the JRC.

Overall, hydropower still makes up the single largest share at 11.6% of Europe’s total electricity consumption, followed by wind (4.2%), biomass (3.5%) and solar (0.4%).

But in newly installed capacity, wind (37.1%) and solar photovoltaics (21%) clearly lead the way, with biomass (2.1%), hydro (1.4%) and concentrated solar power (0.4%) trailing behind
If current growth rates continue, all renewables could meet up to 35-40% of total consumption in Europe by 2020, generating around 1400 TWh.

The UK plan highlights offshore wind and marine energy as key areas of development, along with support measures such as feed-in tariffs, renewable heat incentives and the Green Investment Bank to ensure the country meets its target of 15% renewables by 2020.

full article

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Solar Electricity Feed In Tariff

It’s midsummer, the number of daylight hours is at its zenith and Britain’s fledgling solar-electricity industry is at its peak production. There is now a generous tariff paid for solar electricity exported to the grid, so putting panels up on your roof represents an excellent return on investment — between 5 and 8 per cent, depending on how far north or south you live. No wonder money pages and finance websites are recommending home owners install these income-generating mini power stations. No wonder installers such as PV Solar are putting up 25 systems every week and have over a million pounds’ worth of orders.

With the promise of clean, green, free electricity and a guaranteed income from it for 25 years, what’s not to like? Quite a lot, actually, say some, who are critical of the Feed In Tariff (FiT) system. There is an increasingly polarised debate between those who say solar PV must play a vital part in our future renewable energy mix, and those who say it is a horrendously costly scheme that ultimately subsidises the middle classes to put income-generating panels on their roofs. The system pays home owners 41.3 pence per unit of PV electricity they produce, while most people pay, at the moment, between 9 and 13 pence per unit for what they buy from the grid. Where will this enormous shortfall be plugged? In higher electricity bills for those not fortunate enough to afford the £20,000 outlay it costs to put panels up, say critics, including George Monbiot, the green campaigner, and the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

full article

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Free LED lamp replacement for life Free LED lamp replacement for life - news feed from the Electrical News Portal

As a broad national average, lighting makes up around 10 to 15 per cent of electricity bills. Two entrepreneurs have joined forces to launch a new super-energy-saving LED light bulb that is claimed to save money, save time and save the environment. The new lamps are 90 per cent more energy efficient than their halogen counterparts and outlive traditional halogens by 48,000 hours each. The LED light not only boasts energy saving value but also comes with a ‘for life’ certificate so consumers will only make the purchase once, with free replacement for life.

Founder of Gloucester company Epsilon Test Services, Mark Blanchfield, has joined local celebrity, Tim Bawtree, who shot to fame with his underground eco house in Channel Four’s Grand Designs. Together the directors have formed to supply the best in LED bulbs (or ‘lamps’ as they’re known in the trade), which they say perform as well as halogens but use just 3-5 watts of electricity to produce the same light output as a halogen lamp.

The ‘for life’ aspect of Bulbs4Life products is a scheme for replacement and refurbishment, run by the company. When consumers buy a lamp they will automatically receive a certificate that guarantees replacement for life, made possible by the quality of the lamps, say Bulbs4Life. Once their LED stops working they simply return it and receive an immediate free replacement; their lamp is refurbished and then reused. Businesses are offered a similar scheme where their lamps are refurbished at a minimal cost, with over 70 per cent of the components being recyclable.

An average household replacing ten halogen lights for Bulbs4Life LED equivalents could save £1700 and 5700kg of carbon savings over a ten year period. For businesses and organisations the savings are even greater, given their higher usage: An example organisation replacing 1000 halogen lamps for these LEDs would save 92 per cent on their energy bills*, cutting from £12,000 spent annually on electricity to power them to just £1,000; an impressive potential saving of £11,000. In this example, the money saving is enhanced by carbon output savings of 41 metric tons per year.

“Our LED lamps emit light of the same quality as halogen bulbs, they do not flicker and switch on instantly, so there is no compromise in performance when switching to LEDs,” explained Bulbs4Life director, Mark Blanchfield. “As our LED’s last so much longer they also reduce ongoing maintenance costs associated with replacement and more than 70 per cent of our lamps’ components can be recycled. Landfill impact can be greatly reduced by refurbishment and harmful chemicals such as mercury are completely avoided with our LED lamps.”

Bulbs4Life are on the Carbon Trust suppliers list, which offers interest-free loans to qualifying organisations that switch to its LED lamps. The cost of purchase is covered for any business with up to 250 employees and replacing 200 or more halogen lamps. According to Bulbs4Life payback is swift, given that loan repayments on the purchase price can be easily covered by financial savings on energy in just nine months, fitting well within the typical loan term of three to four years.

Commenting on the scale of the environmental potential, Tim Bawtree said, “Our hope is that consumers, companies and organisations will swap their electricity-thirsty halogens for energy saving LEDs and nationally this could go a long way to fulfilling the Government’s targets for CO2 savings (Carbon Emission Reduction Target or CERT). For example, if every home replaced just one bulb it would save 36 million tons of CO2 in a year; that’s 80 per cent of the Government target in 2010 met in just one step.”

Local Liberal Democrat MP and Shadow Environment Minister, Martin Horwood, is positive about the new lighting: “This is, literally, a brilliant product from a great local company. And it’s good for the environment too. I’ve done my best to support Bulbs4Life and I want to see one of Cheltenham’s green stars succeed. For customers it offers a clean, green conscience and big savings on the bottom line,” he said.

full article

Green-power households would cash in under proposed renewable energy laws

A scheme which would see WA households and businesses paid for any renewable energy they generate - plus a small profit - has been introduced into Parliament.

The Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff Bill, a gross feed-in tariff scheme, was introduced by Greens MLC Robin Chapple in the Legislative Council this morning.

It would oblige transmission companies Western Power or Horizon Power to pay generators, including households, the cost of production, plus a rate of return yet to be worked out - but likely to be around the long-term bond rate (about 6 per cent at present) - for 20 years.
Those costs would be passed on to retailers such as Synergy who would then pass them on to customers "if not offset by other savings", Mr Chapple told Parliament.

Savings could include renewable energy certificates - issued by the federal government - being surrendered by generators to power retailers to be sold on the open market.

The Bill drew on legislation from Germany, Denmark and Spain, which were recognised as world leaders in feed-in tariffs, and could easily be adopted by other Australian states.

Payments would be stopped after 20 years by which time it was expected renewable energy would be cost-effective.

The scheme could encourage more than $4 billion in renewable energy investment in the next 10 years, Mr Chapple claimed.

"(It's) a simple robust cost-effective mechanism to support renewable energy development in WA," he said.

Unlike the federal government's scheme, which heavily favoured large wind energy projects over other forms of renewable energy, the WA scheme would be democratic.

The state government announced a net feed-in tarriff scheme in last month's budget.

With a net scheme, only excess power above that required by a household is paid for, while with a gross scheme all power generated is paid for, with the homeowner still required to pay their full power bill.

The government's $23 million scheme, which would see households paid up to 47 cents a kilowatt-hour, was "piecemeal window dressing", Mr Chapple said.

Environmental groups criticised the net scheme as few households would ever generate more energy than they needed to take advantage of it.

full article

Financing for energy retrofits coming soon, but facing hurdles

Oakland homeowners may soon have incentives to insulate their walls, upgrade windows and install solar panels, thanks to a countywide program set to launch this fall. Through the Alameda County Energy Efficiency and Green Retrofit Program, owners of residential property in the county can get rebates for making energy-saving improvements to their property. They will also be able to take out a loan to pay for the improvements, and then pay it back through their property taxes over a period of up to 20 years.

"There's a big tidal wave of money coming into the state for energy-saving home retrofits," said Bruce Mast, director of programs for Build It Green, one of the retrofit program's numerous partners. Mast introduced the complex scheme, part of a statewide initiative called Energy Upgrade California, to some 70 contractors at Hayward City Hall on Wednesday evening, June 30.

"It's a government-sponsored tidal wave so it's moving at a glacial pace," he joked, followed by chuckles from the audience, who listened intently to what could be a major boon to the green building industry. "But it is eventually going to thaw, and when it does it's going to be big, and hopefully we're going to be ready."

full article

British Gas starts £15 million free solar installations scheme for schools

To kick-start its move into becoming a major solar energy installer in the UK, the country's leading energy supplier, British Gas has started a £15 million project to supply 1,100 primary and secondary schools in total with free solar systems worth between £20,000 and £40,000 pounds per school over the next five years.

British Gas estimates that the scheme will generate approximately £1.3 million in revenues per annum under the UK feed-in tariff, which will be reinvested by the British Gas Energy For Tomorrow Trust, a 'not for profit' trust fund established by British Gas to invest in low carbon projects in the UK fund further free installations at schools across the country.

"This is the biggest investment of its kind in solar technology for our nation's schools, which will help them cut both their carbon emissions and their electricity bills - as well as learn about renewable energy in a hands-on way,” commented Phil Bentley, Managing Director, British Gas.

So far, British Gas has earmarked half of the total investment at schools in low income areas in conjunction with the Government's Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP), but all schools in the UK can register for an application form at British Gas. A competition is expected to be announced that schools can participate in to potentially win a free solar installation at their given school.

full article

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Free Energy Efficient Fridge Freezer

This is an amazing opportunity to get yourself a brand new energy effecient Fridge Freezer worth £400. nPower are giving away 900 of these but there is a small catch. You need to have broadband internet connection because the appliance will be using it to monitor your energy usage.

These trials, funded through npower’s Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) programme, will be the first of their kind to happen in Britain’s residential market.

The aim of the trial is to establish how effective Dynamic Demand technology can be when used in fridges deployed in residential properties. In order to carry this out, we need volunteers to use the Dynamic Demand fridges*, just as they would their current fridge.


Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Water CO2 calculator for UK homes goes online

A website that helps people to work out how much CO2 is being emitted to heat water in their homes has gone online.

Produced by the Energy Saving Trust (EST), it also suggests ways that users can save water and energy, as well as cutting their carbon footprint.

The Trust says CO2 from energy used to heat water in UK homes accounts for 5% of the nation's total carbon emissions.

Yet, it adds, water use is the "forgotten energy saving opportunity" by homes, businesses and policymakers.

The EST produced the calculator as an interactive, "easy to understand" tool for people to make the link between water efficiency and energy efficiency, explained Andrew Tucker, EST's water strategy manager.

Energy used in the UK water sector accounts for about 6% of the nation's total CO2 emissions, 89% of which is a result of homes and businesses heating the water.

Figures from the Trust estimate that heating water accounts for about 30% of the average household's energy bills.


full article

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Solar panels offered free of charge

Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) became available in Great Britain from of 1st April 2010. Under this scheme energy suppliers make regular payments to householders and communities who generate their own electricity from renewable or low carbon sources such as solar electricity (PV) panels or wind turbines.

The scheme guarantees a minimum payment for all electricity generated by the system, as well as a separate payment for the electricity exported to grid. These payments are in addition to the bill savings made by using the electricity generated on-site.

Once you have a microgeneration technology installed you should experience a monthly reduction in your electricity bill and then receive an income from your Feed-in tariff (clean energy cash back) provider. However, if you have taken out a loan to pay for the installation you will have to make monthly repayments to your loan company. Feed-in tariffs are designed so that the average monthly income from your installation will be significantly greater than your monthly loan repayment (with a 25 year loan). Use the cashback calculator to see how purchase price and loan can impact on payback times.

Cashback Calculator

Friday, 4 June 2010

What is it like to live with an electric car?

The realities of living with an electric car are very different from what most people would expect, Mr Beesley explains.

"I never used to consider how far my journey would be," he says. "I now reckon my average journey is five to 10 miles. I guess people think they drive more miles than they actually do.

"Clearly, if you do 90 miles per day, then this is probably not the car for you, but how often do you drive more than 90 miles in one stretch? And how often do you have sub-zero temperatures in Britain?"
Continue reading the main story David Beesley with the electric charging cable

I come home, I get out of the car and I plug it straight in

David Beesley Electric car driver The North East eyes low carbon future

Mr Beesley is even taking issue with the supposed need to roll out public charging points to molify people's range anxiety.

On most journeys, there is no need to top up the batteries to get home, Mr Beesley insists.

"And if I go to see a client in High Wycombe or my auntie in Southampton, it is not a problem if I want to plug into their socket while I'm there. It's just a bit of fun."

BMW says it takes about three hours to charge the battery with a 30-amp fast-charger, which uses the same type of electric cable that electric cookers use, or eight hours when using an ordinary 13-amp socket.

But again, Mr Beesley insists that once you get used to electric motoring, even this seems irrelevant.

"I come home, I get out of the car and I plug it straight in. It takes about two or three seconds and it charges on low tariffs overnight," he says.

"All this stuff about range and charge time amounts to scepticism and objection.

"Why do you want to keep objecting about something that is fantastic?"

full article

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Scottish Scrappage Scheme closes to New Applicants

After only three days, new applications to Scotland's Boiler Scrappage Scheme have now closed, with all vouchers allocated. The Scheme opened for applications on Monday 24 May and closed on Thursday, by which time all 5,000 vouchers had been eagerly snapped up by Scottish homeowners and householders.

The Scottish Scheme which followed on from similar initiatives elsewhere in the UK, allowed eligible oil heating consumers to apply for a £400 voucher towards the cost of upgrading to a modern, high efficiency, 'A Rated' condensing oil boiler. According to the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC), those oil heating consumers making the switch could typically expect to reduce their heating costs by about a quarter, saving up to £190 a year on fuel bills.

The Scheme was administered in Scotland by the Energy Saving Trust and vouchers already issued, will be processed. Despite the closure of the Scheme to new applicants, other Energy Saving Schemes remain available or Scottish consumers - such as the Energy Assistance Package.

Following the closure of the Scottish Scheme to new applicants, Northern Ireland is now the only part of the UK not to introduce a Boiler Scrappage Scheme. The failure of the Northern Ireland Executive to introduce a Scheme, follws the refusal of the province's Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie, to introduce a similar Scheme earlier this year.

full article

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

challenges for electric cars

A timely report by the Royal Academy of Engineering lays out the reality of turning some of Britain's 30 million cars electric in coming decades. The conclusion? The challenges are do-able but also pretty daunting.
So, getting started in first: can the batteries ever be made cheaply enough to tempt consumers? If they're big enough to get you a reasonable distance, they may add thousands to the price and potential consumers may think twice.

And how long will the batteries last? It depends on the type but typically they should be good for at least 1,000 charges which should give you at least three years' use.
Second gear, charging-up: some 4,000 charging points are due to be installed in pilot schemes in the North-east, Milton Keynes and London this year.
Third gear, charging at your destination: what happens if thousands of electric car drivers descend on one spot - a football match, for example - and all want charging in the car park at the same time? Who pays for that infrastructure and who'll organise it?
Fourth gear, the bills: at the moment, electric car ownership is encouraged with tax breaks. Right now, this doesn't cost the government much in lost revenue. But what if half the country's cars are exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty? How would the Treasury react then? The authors say a long-term policy on incentives is essential.

At current prices, a full charge for a typical electric car might cost about £2 - drawing enough power to drive about 161km (100 miles). Not bad compared to conventional fuel.

Finally, fifth gear, the carbon value: plug-in cars will only be as green as the electricity they're using. According to the report, electric cars powered by the current mix of sources are only "marginally greener" than the most economical petrol or diesel cars.

In an earlier report, the Royal Academy of Engineering had mapped out the scale of the task involved in moving to a low-carbon electricity supply - with a mix of energy efficiency, renewables, nuclear and clean coal. This new report adds urgency to the calls for decisions as soon as possible.

full article

Thursday, 20 May 2010

The house of straw

A team of builders have created a straw house that can withstand any amount of huffing and puffing - and a hurricane.

The environmentally-friendly house was built with straw bale panels and could pave the way for the first housing estate of straw buildings.

Professor Pete Walker said: 'Straw is a very environmentally-friendly building material because it is renewable and uses a co-product of farming.

'The crop used to make the straw locks in carbon dioxide as it grows and can be sourced from local farms, saving on transport and minimising the carbon footprint of the building.

'The recent test result is excellent as it has both confirmed the robustness of BaleHaus and validated the computer model, so avoiding the need for further tests and providing basis for safe and efficient structural design.

'We hope the data we're collecting on the BaleHaus will help strengthen the case for the mainstream building industry switching to using more sustainable building materials such as straw.'

Craig White, director of ModCell, said: 'This is a fantastic result. All too often, we are asked whether building with straw is durable.

'Our research at BaleHaus@Bath shows conclusively that building with straw using the ModCell System is not only safe, secure and durable, it is also fit for the 21st century challenge of reducing our CO2 emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

'These tests will offer proof that renewable building materials are a realistic option for building on a large scale.

full article

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Radio 'scrappage' scheme 'to help listeners move to digital sets'

The part-exchange deal, involving major electronic retailers, is intended to boost the take-up of digital radios ahead of 2015, which is the target date for turning off the analogue signal.

Under the scheme, which will be detailed on Wednesday, customers would be offered up to a 20 per cent discount on their digital set in return for handing in their analogue model.

The scrappage scheme, due to start at the weekend and operated over the coming month, is inspired by the success of Gordon Brown's plan for reviving the British car manufacturing sector.

People trading in their old vehicles for greener models were offered a £2,000 discount, leading to thousands of extra sales.

Digital Radio UK, the body established to push through the switchover, is to announce details of the latest scheme.

“Retailers benefit by getting more sales. There is also a charity element,” a source said.

At present just 20 per cent of radio listening takes place over digital with an estimated 100 million analogue radio sets still in Britain.
full article

Cornwall's 'Silicon Vineyards' aim to triple solar capacity in UK

Cornwall's reputation for sun, sand and surf could soon be challenged by silicon if a proposed £40m network of solar farms gets the go ahead.

Next week, public consultation will begin for a 15-acre "energy farm" on a green-field site at St Kew, three miles east of Wadebridge, the market town which acts as the gateway to north Cornwall's popular tourist heartlands. A local farmer has raised £4.5m of private investment to construct the first of what could be 10 similar sites across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, which, if all built, would triple the UK's current solar generating capacity.

But such investment doesn't automatically guarantee a hi-tech approach: the solar panels will be tilted towards the sun each day by hand and a roaming gaggle of geese will be used to keep the surrounding grass at a manageable length.

A consortium of local companies calling itself "Silicon Vineyards" says the proposed 2MW facility at Benbole Farm – which would be the first utility-scale solar farm in the UK - would generate enough electricity to power 600 homes. It will also grow biomass crops and house an anaerobic digester as an alternative source of power generation. The consortium, which includes the commercial arm of the University of Exeter and a Penzance-based renewables specialist called Renewable Energy Cooperative (R-ECO), says construction could begin in October if planning is approved. The solar farm could start generating electricity commercially by April 2011.
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Sunday, 16 May 2010

First of its kind Eco-Training Hub Opened Yesterday in Britain

Yesterday, an eco-training hub, which is described as the first of its kind in Britain was formally opened by First Minister, Carwyn Jones.

The British Gas Green Skills Training Centre in Tredegar intends to provide training over 1,300 people in new energy competent technologies.

Engineers obtain the possibility to study how to install tools such as solar panels, hi-tech smart meters, biomass boilers and combined heat and power boilers in purpose built training bungalows.

The centre, which is a part of the British Gas Energy Academy at Tredegar Business Park, cost British Gas £900,000 with the Assembly adding £500,000.

It is hoped that the project will assist the Assembly's program to improvise 40,000 homes in the Heads of the Valley's area.

Gearold Lane, British Gas Managing Director of Communities and New Energy said that the location was the first of its kind in Britain.

This is a society in the Valleys that for a number of years was at the vanguard of the industrial revolution and of power through the production of petroleum.

The challenge that comes up is to develop skills and to make an effort to be at the vanguard of the energy production in the prospective time.
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Monday, 10 May 2010

Boiler scrappage payout revealed by Energy Saving Trust

All vouchers for England's boiler scrappage scheme have been claimed but less than half of the money has been paid out so far.

All of the 125,000 vouchers that take £400 off the cost of replacing an old boiler with a new efficient one were claimed by 26 March.

Some 58,177 people have received the £400 rebate after paying up-front to have the work done.

A scheme is also operating in Wales and one will start in Scotland on 24 May.

The popularity of replacement boilers has been driven by the scrappage scheme, and also by the cold winter weather, according to British Gas owner Centrica.

"The number of central heating systems installed was up around 20% on the same period last year, reflecting a more competitively priced product range and benefits from the government's boiler scrappage scheme," the company said in its interim management statement on Monday.

"However, the business experienced additional costs as a result of the higher incidence of boiler breakdown call-outs during the cold weather in the first quarter."

A scheme in Scotland, similar to the English scrappage scheme, will offer £400 vouchers to 5,000 households. It has been unveiled and will be open for applications from 24 May.

In Wales, vouchers worth £500 have been available since 6 April. However, this is only open to those aged 60 and over in order to target those more vulnerable to fuel poverty.
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Saturday, 8 May 2010

Why solar panels are the new double glazing: They don't work much of the time and take 100 YEARS to pay for themselves...

Once upon a time, Lee Comer was a plumber. But he has come a long way since those days. He is now a company director and lives in a beautiful thatched cottage in Dorset complete with its own stables.

How did he make his money? Answer: out of pensioners like Wendy Hammett.

Mrs Hammett, 66, a former secretary, paid Comer's firm, Simplee Solar, more than £10,000 for solar panels at her bungalow outside Bournemouth.

The system, she was promised, would slash her gas and electric bills by 70 per cent. It was a lie.

'It has ended up costing me more,' she said. She is not alone. Other elderly customers of Simplee Solar suffered a similar fate.

In 2006, Comer and his partner Tom Callaghan were fined a total of £40,000 (with £27,000 costs) at Bournemouth Crown Court for supplying and offering goods to which a false trade description applied. That's the legal term for cowboy tactics.

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Sunday, 2 May 2010

How to generate profit and power from home

WHILE many people think the future of the global environment is in the hands of the younger generations, a new breed of “pensioner greens” are demonstrating that all ages can play a part - especially if it makes good financial sense.
Ken and May Brock are among those who are taking advantage of a new Government scheme which provides a long-term, guaranteed income for all the small-scale renewable energy they can generate - regardless of whether it is fed into the grid or used in their own home.

The scheme is aimed at helping to achieve a target of the UK producing 15% of its electricity from renewable sources by the year 2020.

It pays homeowners for each kilowatt–hour of electricity produced from renewable sources - about four times the market cost.

The new “feed-in” tariff became effective from April 1 and makes a great deal of economic sense for those willing and able to make the investment in technology such as solar panels, photo-voltaic cells or small wind turbines.
The Clean Energy Cash-back scheme is open householders, businesses, communities, farmers, schools and hospitals - anyone who want to generate “green” electricity from renewable installations up to five mega-watts in size (equivalent to two large commercial wind turbines) although the payments vary by technology and size.

Pensioners on a fixed income but with savings are among those who are often in a position to introduce green technology – not only to save money but to play their part in reducing the national reliance on power stations which burn fossil fuels, producing global warming gases.

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Saturday, 1 May 2010

UK homeowners rush to take advantage of feed-in tariffs

The introduction of feed-in tariffs this month has led to a record number of inquiries about solar panel installation, as homeowners rush to take advantage of the scheme.

The energy company npower has reported an 80% rise in inquiries for solar panel installation and record numbers are having panels installed in response to the introduction of the Clean Energy Cashback scheme on 1 April by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

In one month, npower has installed 55 solar panel systems and responded to 200 requests for information on installation. Louisa Gilchrist, solar expert for npower, said: "It's fantastic to see feed-in tariffs generating so much interest with homeowners, and the scheme should be applauded for energising the solar industry in the UK."

Feed-in tariffs, also known as FITs, pay homeowners and businesses for the generation of their own electricity through low-carbon means. Anyone who is generating their own electricity through accredited solar technology can receive 41.3p for every unit of electricity they generate. Homeowners can choose to use the electricity they produce or feed it back into the national grid. Government figures estimate that a typical household could generate an income of up to £960 a year through the use of solar panels. The increased take-up is likely to stimulate the manufacture and installation of solar panels, but green campaigners have argued that the government subsidy would be more effective at reducing carbon emissions if it was directed at large-scale renewable technologies.

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Sunday, 25 April 2010

Find a grant or discount for your property

Our database includes grants from a range of providers including government, energy suppliers, retailers and installers. Energy Saving Trust tries to ensure that all installers listed are members of the National Insulation Association (NIA). However, it is unable to offer any other recommendation or endorsement of any of the listed installers or the products they install. Please visit to find out more about the checks carried out by the NIA on its members. Similarly, the Energy Saving Trust is also unable to guarantee price and "lead times" shown in the database and you should ensure that the written agreement with your chosen installer confirms this information.

Find the right offer for you

Solar heating rip-off exposed by undercover probe

A probe by consumer organisation Which? caught 10 out of 14 installers overstating potential savings from the systems, which cost an average of £5,500 and use energy from the sun's rays to provide hot water.

The organisation said most of the firms involved in its investigation were "true cowboys".
Last year, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) received 1,000 complaints about the solar panel industry – equivalent to one for every 100 UK homes fitted with the systems.

Which? said two firms, Everest and Ideal Solar Energy, used "dodgy sales tactics" and "hugely overstated" the potential benefits of installing a solar thermal system. An independent expert calculated such a system would cut about 10 per cent from the Which? household's annual gas bill, but Ideal Solar Energy quoted savings of 50 per cent, while Everest quoted a 43 per cent cut. Everest also claimed the home owner would save £35,000 over 20 years, a suggestion Which described as "a massive exaggeration".

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Boiler Scrappage Scheme Scotland How To Claim


ANYONE who thinks they qualify for the boiler scrappage scheme should call Energy Saving Scotland.
In total, 5,000 homes will benefit from the scheme, which will run on a first come, first served basis from 24 May.
In most cases, advisers will be able to say over the phone whether the boiler has a G rating and is eligible for replacement, by asking a few questions about its age, make and model.

The Scottish Government does not know how many boilers will qualify for the grant, but anecdotally believe it to be a "significant" number. Vouchers will be awarded after the new boiler has been installed.

• The Energy Saving Trust is available on 0800 512 012.

Scotland confirms Boiler Scrappage Scheme

In a move which will delight climate alarmists, up to 5,000 households in Scotland will receive £400 towards the cost of a new boiler, under the region's new boiler scrappage scheme confirmed this week.

Households with poor performing boilers which convert less than 70 per cent of fuel into heat, will qualify for cashback on a new energy saving model. Upgrading to a greener boiler could help households reduce heating costs by about a quarter and save £190 a year on fuel bills.

From May 24, households will be able to apply online or over the phone through the Scottish Government's Energy Saving Scotland advice network. Replacing 5,000 boilers will also save around 5,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year - the equivalent to taking 1,700 cars off Scotland's roads, heating the water for 7 million baths or heating 1,300 Scottish homes for a year.

Scotland's Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil said, "Scotland is seen around the world as a champion for low-carbon living.

"A vital part of this is helping people to live in greener homes which cost less to run.

"Through the boiler scrappage scheme we will help people replace rickety old boilers for new energy saving models and importantly, put money back in the pockets of householders. At the same time we are providing an economic stimulus for the heating industry, supporting jobs and helping it get through this financially difficult time."

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Sunday, 18 April 2010

Feed-in tariff starts to generate cash

Householders with small-scale green energy systems such as solar panels and micro-wind turbines will receive up to £1,000 a year for the electricity they generate under a new government scheme that starts paying out today.

The level of payments for the Clean Energy Cashback scheme – or feed-in tariff – were unveiled by the energy and climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, in February and homeowners who participate can start earning money from today.

According to government figures a typical 2.5kW solar pv installation could offer a homeowner a reward of up to £900 and save them £140 a year on their electricity bill. A similar scheme that will incentivise low-carbon heating technologies could be introduced in April next year.

Despite the payback, the upfront cost will put off many householders, with the average price of the installation of solar panels around £10,000 to £12,000.

British Gas and a number of other industry partners are trialling a Pay As You Save scheme with the Energy Saving Trust, where householders will pay back the upfront cost through the monthly savings on their bill, but it involves just 500 households.

Despite the cost, energy company Solar Century said today it had seen a fourfold increase in sales enquiries since the tariffs were announced in February.

Friends of the Earth today welcomed the scheme as providing a "tremendous opportunity for people across the UK to play their part in the green energy revolution".

full article

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Gas safety worries over old certificates

A third of tenants are renting properties that have out-of-date gas safety certificates, a poll suggests.

In a survey of just over 1,000 UK tenants, 36% said that the legal time limit had elapsed and 26% said they had never been given a safety certificate.

Landlords are legally required to ensure an annual gas safety check is carried out and provide tenants with a copy of the certificate.

This must be performed by a registered engineer.

This register is overseen by the Gas Safe Register, a safety body that replaced Corgi in April 2009.


Some 18 people died and 310 were injured in the UK as a result of gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning in the UK last year.

Landlords can face prosecution if a tenant is hurt or killed owing to a gas leak or explosion.

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Tuesday, 13 April 2010

GM viruses offer hope of future where energy is unlimited

Scientists have made a fundamental breakthrough in their attempts to replicate photosynthesis – the ability of plants to harvest the power of sunlight – in the hope of making unlimited amounts of "green" energy from water and sunlight alone.

The researchers have assembled genetically modified viruses into wire-like structures that are able to use the energy of the sun to split water molecules into their constitute parts of oxygen and hydrogen, which can then be used as a source of chemical energy.

If the process can be scaled up and made more efficient, it promises to produce unlimited quantities of hydrogen fuel, a clean source of energy that can be used to generate electricity as well as acting as a portable, carbon-free fuel for cars and other vehicles.
Replicating photosynthesis – in which plants convert sunlight into a store of chemical energy – has been a dream of the alternative energy business for decades. The drive was given an extra boost yesterday with warnings by the US military that there could be serious global oil shortages by 2015.

Splitting water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen is seen as a critical first step in this process of artificial photosynthesis. Although it is possible to split the molecules using solar electricity, the process is not very efficient. In the latest study, scientists were able to split water directly with sunlight, without using solar panels.

Plants convert sunlight into chemical energy using the green chlorophyll pigment found in leaves, which traps packets of light and uses the energy to transport electrons from one molecular complex to another within the plant's cells. The end result is the conversion of carbon dioxide and water into glucose, which can be stored as starch or as other forms of plant carbohydrates.
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