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