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Showing posts from 2011

Feldheim's renewable future

Feldheim, a village of just 145 people, is already putting into practice Germany’s vision of a future powered entirely by renewable energy.

FELDHEIM, Germany (AP) — This tiny village of 37 gray homes and farm buildings clustered along the main road in a wind-swept corner of rural eastern Germany seems an unlikely place for a revolution.Yet environmentalists, experts and politicians from El Salvador to Japan to South Africa have flocked here in the past year to learn how Feldheim, a village of just 145 people, is already putting into practice Germany’s vision of a future powered entirely by renewable energy.Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government passed legislation in June setting the country on course to generate a third of its power through renewable sources — such as wind, solar, geothermal and bioenergy — within a decade, reaching 80 percent by 2050, while creating jobs, increasing energy security and reducing harmful emissions.The go…

Olivier Rech predicts oil decline shortly after 2015

Original source: Le Monde

Olivier Rech is a top Energy Fund Advisor and oil and gas analyst at the International Energy Advisor. In a recent interview he predicted a sharp decline in oil production somewhere between now and 2015. He is just one of numerous oil industry experts who have forecast an imminent decline in the global extraction of crude oil. He says that outside of OPEC we face an annual decline of 1 to 2 million barrels per day (bpd). This is close to the 5% annual decline predicted by Royal Dutch Shell.

The situation with OPEC is less easy to discern, but both Barclays and Goldmann Sachs believe that OPEC's figures for spare production capacity are a lot lower than they claim.

Since 2005 oil production has been on a plateau of 82m bpd. Rech believes that an increase in this figure will be next to impossible and as a result the first real oil ten…

The South Bristol Link Road

The South Bristol Link Road is a project that takes us back to the bad old days of the last, Thatcherite, Tory government according to George Monbiot. Personally I agree with him, and so do many in those areas which will be affected by it.

Effect of earlier springs on species
Will earlier springs throw nature out of step?9 February 2010 The recent trend towards earlier UK springs and summers has been accelerating, according to a study published today in the scientific journal Global Change Biology. The collaborative study, involving scientists from 12 UK research institutions, universities and conservation organisations, is the most comprehensive and rigorous assessment so far of long-term changes in the seasonal timing (phenology) of biological events across marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments in the UK.

Led by Dr Stephen Thackeray and Professor Sarah Wanless of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the research gathers together more than 25,000 long-term phenology trends for 726 species of plants and animals. More than 80% of trends between 1976 and 2005 indicate earlier seasonal events. The study considers a diverse array of organisms includ…

Interconnected European Offshore Wind Grid Will Save Billions of Euros

Offshore grids, connecting North and Baltic Sea wind farms to electricity consumers, will be substantially cheaper to build than expected, says a new report from the European Wind Energy Association:[tt_news]=1914&tx_ttnews[backPid]=259&cHash=829f8ee3f90677341d4e086fc2e926e0


Some Top Eco-Stories

Leaders promise to reduce carbon emissions while ensuring that a new giant oil pipeline called Keystone XL is built to serve expansion of the Alberta tar oil sands, the most carbon laden oil in the world -

RBS funding the most destructive process on earth: tar sands exploitation in Canada

China expands its nuclear power programme, unfazed by Fukushima

Food prices reach record highs in drought-stricken Africa

Nigerian drinking water stricken with benzene at 900 times above the safety limit

The Mediterranean Sea is very, very sick

Today's Eco-stories

Jason Ford's blog piece on FiTS for The Engineer

James' blog on Business Green, examining the solar FiTS fiasco

Toyota plant goes solar

Renewable Heating Grant Incentive begins

FiTS deadlines drives solar power boom

The Isle of Wight's first solar farm connects to the grid

Rooftop mounted solar panels help to keep buildings cooler says new study

Germany looks set to remain the European wind pace-setter

Wood recyclers to hol…

What are CIGS solar pv panels?

Basically CIGS is a kind of thin film solar PV panel. At first they weren't that popular compared to ordinary monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels, but a Germany company has recently improved the efficiency to around 20 percent and now they are starting to take off, especially considering that an American company has improved the design so that they are now taking the form of tubular based PV that can be mounted on any roof regardless of orientation.

The government's green record so far

Sorry? Was that someone else who wrote the title of this post? What 'green record'? A year after the coalition government came to power promising to be the 'greenest government ever' they have, in retrospect, done lamentably badly. I will be commenting further on this matter shortly in an article for, but for the moment why not consider what Jonathan Porritt has to say on the subject? It makes for grim reading:

Cuts in Feed In Tariff's

There is considerable irritation within the UK renewables sector at the moment concerning cuts in government support for the Feed-in Tariff's Scheme (FiTS) following a review by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The cuts will entail a large reduction in the FiTS rates for systems over 50 kilowatts (kW) with those over 250 kW receiving a mere 8.5 pence per kilowatt hour (kWH). These cuts constitute a 70 percent reduction in the rates of return from FiTS and have been received as representing a significant threat to the industry with much of the medium to large scale solar industry facing an uncertain future.

Ben Warren, head of renewable energy at Ernst & Young, has been quoted as saying that: "Revisiting the feed-in tariff at such an early stage of its existence has undermined investor confidence not only in the UK solar industry, but potentially in the wider UK renewables market."

However, the Solar Trade Association in association with Ernst &…

Bristol's Green Capital Plans

Last week I went to a Green Leadership conference organised, in part, by my good friend David Saunders who is right in the drivers seat with regards to green issues and renewable energy in the city. It was certainly an inspiring event I can tell you.

But of course, David wasn't the only inspiring personage to appear at this event. The beauty of these things is that such events draw lots of people together, each with a whole set of very good ideas and eager to join in and help build a green future.

For those who don't live in Bristol, I can tell you that this city is vibrant and exciting, particularly with regard to the renewable energy and sustainability sectors which are rapidly becoming major growth industries in the region. Furthermore, in 2008 Bristol was the only UK city to be shortlisted for the European Green Capital Award, a scheme which recognises and rewards those cities making efforts to improve their local environment, economy and quality of life for urban population…

Solar Power for Social Housing

I've recently had the good fortune to start working with a company called ePV helping to write their marketing materials.

ePV is a company that operates as a funder, developer and EPC. That stands for 'Engineering, Procurement and Construction' by the way. They work within the solar PV sector specifically in partnership with UK social housing

Solar energy articles

I've just completed a series of three articles for, a really good website which has masses of information on solar energy and solar panels, to which I've just contributed I might add. The first article (links above) explores the subject of whether you should accept the various offers of free and low-cost solar panels offered by some solar panel installers or whether you should buy your own. The more favourable option seems to be that of buying your own as there is much more money to be made through the government's Feed-In Tariff's scheme.

The second article is more general, looking at the pro's and con's of installing solar panels. It's a very good idea, especially considering the savings to be made…

Batteries that run on sea water

It's true! A team from Stanford University is attempting to develop batteries that run on sea water, or more specifically entropic energy which can be extracted from the difference in salinity between fresh water and sea water. The process uses ions of sodium and chlorine, of which there are more in sea water. They use fresh water to start off with. The fresh water is charged and then subsequently drained and replaced by sea water. The charge is held inside one of the two electrodes which is made of manganese dioxide (the other electrode being made of silver). There is no need for a membrane as in other new types of battery. I've written an article on this for AskTheExperts which you can find here:

Renewable energy courses website

Here's some more details for those interested in training and courses in renewable energy, on the Oil & Gas Soft Skills website: you know that…Investment in new renewable power capacity in both 2008 and 2009 represented over half of total global investment in new power generation?Renewables comprised fully one quarter of global power capacity from all sources and delivered 18% of global electricity supply in 2009?More money is being invested in new renewable energy capacity than in new fossil fuel capacity?More than half of the existing renewable power capacity is now in developing countries? Come and be part of the fastest growing energy business in the world today. The demand for renewable energy is drawing global attention and the industry's future is bright. Renewable energy represents a tremendous opportunity for professionals looking to start or grow their business.

In partnership with RENAC AG of Germany th…

Courses in Renewable Energy

The following courses are now scheduledIntroduction to Renewable Energy Technologies, Berlin, GermanyRun by the Renewables Academy in Berlin, this course is aimed at those in the business, non-profit, public and academic sectors who wish to get a comprehensive introduction to renewable energy technologies, as well as those wishing to installing renewable energy systems in both urban or rural settings. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss their own projects. Ideal for newcomers to the industry. The course is aimed at an international audience and will be in English. Dates: 18-20 May 2011PDF giving course content and registrations details can be downloaded here Electricity Installation Course - Off-grid Applications, Berlin, GermanyThis five-day intensive course on the design and installation stand-alone / off-grid solar electric systems (not grid-connected) is run b…

Earthscan Publishing

The Earthscan Expert series – a new series of books on renewable energy Earthscan has launched the Earthscan Expert Series, a major new book series providing clear, practical information for people who want to work with environmentally friendly low-carbon technologies. From specific handbooks to more general guides, each highly illustrated title is essential reading for professionals keen to expand their skills base and take advantage of the low carbon revolution.A 20% discount is availableTo receive the 20% discount on all purchases type or paste the discount code GDE20 into the voucher code box in your Earthscan shopping cart when ordering. You can see the contents, layout and samples pages of most of the books using the Google Preview facility.SOLAR DOMESTIC WATER HEATING - a new publication in the Earthscan Expert series. An excellent introduction to the technology. Covers how it works, different types of systems, types of collectors - both flat plate und evacuated tu…

David McKay's estimate of onshore wind energy

This is an extract from McKay's book Sustainable Energy Without The Hot Air

Potential energy from onshore wind in the UK can be calculated by multiplying the average power per unit of land area covered by a wind farm by the area per person (population density) thus arriving at the power available per person from wind.

Assuming the wind speed is 6 metres per second (13 miles per hour or 22 km/h), the power per unit area of a wind farm is 2W per square metre. In reality the figure of 6 metres per second is probably an over estimate for many locations in Britain, Cambridge only recorded such a figure on about 30 occasions during the course of 2006.

The population density is about 250 people per square kilometre which is 4000 square meters per person. Therefore wind could generate (assuming the 6 metres per second figure for wind speed) 8000 W per person.

This is assuming that wind turbines stretched across the entire country.

If you convert that figure to the commonly used unit for power …

Low Carbon South West

Low Carbon South West is a very worthwhile organisation to join if you live in the South West and you're into renewable energy. To give you an idea here's some blurb from their website:

Low Carbon South West is a trade association and sector partnership between businesses, academia, investors, local authorities, regional and national agencies promoting the growth of the environmental technologies and services sector in the South West.

Our Mission & Objectives:Support and promote the development of environmental technologies and services in Bristol, Bath and South West EnglandEncourage the adoption of these technologies and services by commercial, industrial and institutional end-users seeking to reduce their carbon footprintPromote Bristol, Bath and South West England as a centre of excellence for sustainability to wider UK and international audiencesFacilitate effective networking, knowledge exchange and practical business collaborations between LCSW members and betw…

Environmental Guardian

Some really interesting stories in The Guardian recently, some of which I've already posted below. However, while my partner is engrossed in the television drama Silk I find myself with the perfect opportunity to hop onto her Macbook and examine the news.
First up, no real surprise to read that the Japanese may very well have lost the race to save the Fukushima nuclear plant. Apparently, the radioactive core in one of the reactors may have already melted down through the bottom of its containment vessel. A meltdown in other words. This information follows readings taken from outside Reactor 2 and analysed by a US nuclear expert. Richard Lahey, who was head of safety research for boiling water reactors when General Electric installed the units at Fukushima commented that "At least part of the molten core, which includes melted fuel rods and zirconium alloy cladding, seem to have sunk through the steel lower head of the pressure vessel around Reactor 2". The major concern i…

Real Climate

Real Climate is one of my favourite sites on the internet, and for one very good reason - it's a climate science site written by real climate scientists. It doesn't get involved in political arguments, but as a source of real, authentic scientific information, its invaluable. If therefore you sometimes feel confused about what the real issues are and what the science is really saying, this is one website you should visit.

Cameron's promises of a green economy ring hollow, unsurprisingly....

I knew I could trust David Cameron's rhetoric about a green economy about as far as I can throw a steam roller. Sure enough, The Guardian has revealed that the UK's level of investment in green technology has slipped to 13th place behind Brazil (6th), India (10th) and China (1st). Unsurprisingly, part of the problem seems to be the continuing rift between the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Treasury. As if it was ever going to be any different. You would think, with rising oil prices, that the government would want to stand by its green promises, especially with the opportunities that a green economy would bring in terms of sustainable growth and jobs. Those jobs however are going elsewhere and the UK will be all the poorer for it.

Glaxo Smithkline (GSK) releases 2010 corporate responsibility report

The pharmaceutical giant Glaxo Smithkline has released its Corporate Responsibility Report for 2010 which you can access here:

In the past GSK has been targeted by animal rights activists who claim it is linked to the controversial animal testing labs at Huntingdon Research Centre, now known as Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). In 2005 activists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) infiltrated the labs and filmed staff punching and kicking the animals in their care. The footage was subsequently screened on British television. The company has also faced criticism over its product Avandia which one website describes as a 'killer drug' ( It has also generated controversy over its activities in Puerto Rico (

Marine Current Turbines in line to construct a new tidal array for Wales

Marine Current Turbines (MCT) has submitted an application to install a 10MW array of tidal stream turbines off the coast of Anglesey in 2015. The array will consist of seven twin-rotor turbines stretched across an area of 0.56 sq km which the company estimates will generate enough power for 10,000 homes. The technology, known as 'Seagen' generates energy from tidal flow and operates a bit like an underwater windmill. It is a tried and tested form of renewable technology, the first such scheme having been installed off the coast of Northern Ireland in 2008. The Anglesey array will be the first such site in Wales and will cost approximately £70 million to develop. MCT's website states that local firms will be involved in its construction and operation as much as possible.

MCT is based in Bristol and was established in 2000. You can read more about the company's activities here:

Renewable energy companies in Bristol - an overview

Bristol apparently has a burgeoning renewable energy and technology economy, one of the strongest growth areas in the city so I'm told. So I thought I would take a look at some of the companies in the city and what they're up to. I hope to make this an ongoing feature of the blog in future.

Imagination Solar was founded in 2001 by Jon Walker, a renewable energy consultant with 20 years experience. Its sister company is 1World Solar Ltd, which I have heard about before. In 2008 Imagination Solar began to distribute the Shower Save heat recovery system which can apparently recover some 60% of the heat that is lost down the plughole every time you take a shower. The mechanism uses a heat exchanger which picks up the waste heat. Its claimed that this system will save between 300kg and 1000kg of carbon dioxide emissions per year and its apparently very popular in Holland.

Southern Solar are specialists in solar thermal and solar electrical sy…

Bugs might be able to convert biodiesel waste into new fuel

Source: Feb 1st 2011

There is a growing problem with disposing of biodiesel waste right now, according to The issue is glycerol which is a major headache for the biodiesel industry as it isn't pure and therefore cannot be recycled into cosmetics or animal feed, while the process of purifying it costs three times as much as the stuff is actually worth.
However, US student Keerthi Venkataramanan, who attends University of Alabama Huntsville's Biotech Phd programme, thinks he might have discovered the answer. He is working with the Clostridium pasteurianum bacterium which eats glycerol and in so doing produces a number of useful byproducts. "The strain is found deep in the soil" he said "It was originally studied for its ability to fix nitrogen from the air."
The bacterium uses glycerol as a carbohydrate source and produces ethanol, butanol and propanediol as byproducts as well as acetic acid and butyric acid. Butanol can be…