Scroll down....

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

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 England
  • Encourage the adoption of these technologies and services by commercial, industrial and institutional end-users seeking to reduce their carbon footprint
  • Promote Bristol, Bath and South West England as a centre of excellence for sustainability to wider UK and international audiences
  • Facilitate effective networking, knowledge exchange and practical business collaborations between LCSW members and between LCSW as a group and wider networks, for mutual advantage
  • Encourage links between business and academia within the environmental technology sector, including knowledge transfer, support of training course and recruitment opportunities
You can visit the website either by clicking here (and there's also a link in the box below):

Britain's Coastline in Danger

Ask the people of the Outer Hebrides whether they believe in Climate Change, they're experiencing it and it's already been a matter of life and death, and will continue to be so if nothing's done. Want to know more about this? Read my article on

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

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 is that the melted fuel reacts with the concrete at the bottom of the vessel, but at Fukushima this was flooded with seawater, cooling the fuel and this may reduce the amount of radioactive gas that is released. This is still bad news for the environment, but it seems, luckily, that comparisons with Chernobyl are likely to be far from realistic.

Meanwhile, Sir David King writes that nuclear is still the safest form of energy despite what has happened at Fukushima. That may or may not be so, however, I still am not convinced, primarily because, so I have read so far, it takes about ten to fifteen years to build a nuclear plant, such plants are usually built near to the coast and also because currently nuclear only supplies about 3.6% of the UK's electricity demand. I read somewhere in the scientific literature that some scientists consider that we may only have ten to fifteen years left before climate change becomes irreversible, which means that relying on nuclear to save us from such a fate is clearly unrealistic, and thats without the dangers from rising sea levels. I'm also sure that any passing would-be terrorists would consider nuclear plants as a number one target, especially with all those spent fuel rods stored outside.

Google is currently investing in CoolPlanetBiofuels attempts to produce biofuels from grass and woodchips in non food producing areas. Normally I find myself opposed to biofuels because of the competition for space with agricultural land. This however looks quite inviting, so a note to myself to check this out in greater details over the next few days.

According to Andrew Simms, Shell has recently confessed that 'We're entering a zone of uncertainty over oil supplies'. In other words, Simms says, they haven't a clue whats going to happen. Start praying everyone....

Source: The Guardian environment pages, March 2011

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.

James Hansen predicts 2012 will be the hottest year on record

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:

Gregor Heating

Gregor Heating is a Bristol based renewable energy installation company specialising in all kinds of renewable energy. They pubish a regular newsletter which you can read here:

New series of books from Earthscan

The environmental publisher Earthscan has released a new series of books covering various renewable energy topics. Titles include:

  • Wood pellet heating systems
  • Sustainable home refurbishment
  • Stand alone solar electric systems
  • Solar domestic water heating
Each book is priced at £34.99 hardback. Contact Earthscan at

Monday, 14 March 2011

Business as usual isn't an option

The Jevons Paradox casts doubt on the idea that we can use renewable energy to bolster relentless economic growth. That idea, said Jevons, is just plain wrong.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

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 systems. They were founded in 2002 and have offices all over the country.

Solarsense is a member of the Solar Trade Association and the Renewable Energy Association. They supply domestic solar PV, commercial solar PV and solar thermal systems. At the time of writing they are marketing Thermomax vacuum tube systems on their website. This system used a vacuum tube to assist insulation and works in cloudy conditions as well as in response to sunlight. Members of the company recently visited Ethiopia where they helped to set up a solar PV array in order to power a medical fridge-freezer unit.

Yourpower states on their website that their vision is to make solar PV accessible to all and thereby to help the UK tackle climate change. They state that they are a national leader in both the domestic and commercial solar power marketplace. At the moment they are holding 'drop-in' sessions for anyone interested in solar power where people can ask about solar energy and the new feed-in tariffs. The next session is being held at the Whiteladies Road farmers market on the 19th March between 9am and 2pm.

Energy & Environment Dates 2012