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Thursday, 16 May 2013

Smart meter rollout delayed for at least another year
In yet another reversal, following the delay to the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) for example, the government has been forced to delay the rollout of the UK Smart Meter initiative until 2015 with completion now estimated for 2020 instead of 2019. The delay is due to various difficulties in coordinating the rollout.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Algae Building....

One of my traits as a correspondent for Renewable Energy Magazine is always to look for stories that are particularly unusual or inspirational. Most of the time it turns out to be a new innovation in energy storage or a new wave and tidal device or something of that ilk, but the prize for this week has to go to the new Algae Biomass building in Hamburg, Germany (

IBA Hamburg have been working on this project in cooperation with Arup Deutschland GmbH, Bollinger und Grohmann, Immosolar, Otto Wulff Bauunternehmung and SSC Strategic Science Consult. The building looks amazing. More to the point, it is the first building of its kind in the world as far as I know, and therefore is truly innovative. 

The building actually forms part of the International Building Exhibition 2013 and was launched officially on 24th April. The way it works is this: Two facades on the south-western and south-eastern sides of the (residential) building are covered in glass panels attached to the exterior. These glass facades contain water within which there is a mass of green microalgae. In essence the microalgae operates as a form of 'bioreactor'. They flow through the glass elements generating biomass and heat and giving the building a particularly interesting aesthetic look made even more interesting by the fact that the algae is changing colour all the time. The sun's radiation generates thermal energy which the algae uses to create biomass through photosynthesis. The heat is provided to the building while the biomass is exported elsewhere for other uses.

In a word, amazing. Well done Germany (again)!  

Old friends...

I went to George Monbiot's talk on Rewilding in Bristol yesterday.
He is actually an old friend of mine from activism days back in the 1990's, particularly the road protest at Solsbury Hill in 1994 and the Land Is Ours campaigns of 1997-8. I talked to him once since, in around 2008 by email, but not actually seen him in person since 1997-8 or thereabouts. So I thought I would buy a copy of his book, which I was going to do anyway, and see what he had to say if I suddenly appeared right in front of him with a copy of his book to sign.

So anyway, he recognized me immediately I am glad to say, and I had to laugh as he suddenly said in surprise "Oh hello, how are you?" "Very well thankyou" I replied, "how are you doing? Been a while..." "Indeed" he said before asking me what I was doing these days. So I told him I was a freelance journalist working for Renewable Energy Magazine and writing a few odd extra magazine articles besides. He signed the book with a greeting of "For the trees! With best wishes George Monbiot" on the basis that that was where we both, more or less, started out from (although he had admittedly been involved in a few scrapes in the Amazon and, I think, Indonesia, before he ended up at Solsbury Hill.

I have to say it was actually quite a magical experience exchanging a greeting with George as an old friend, rather than as an internationally well known author, environmentalist and Guardian columnist, and quite an amusing one too!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Should climate charge deniers be arrested and charged?

Oh dear, 400 parts per million carbon dioxide. Another milestone on the road to idiocy George Monbiot argues in his latest Guardian blog. For me though it's another milestone on the road to me entering an almost permanent state of depression whenever I think about the climate. Are there any chances of turning things around? It seems increasingly unlikely, although I have to say I am not a defeatist and so I will gladly carry on until the bitter end if needs be, providing I am not too busy trying to fend off the food rioters banging on my door.

Seriously though, it would be at least a little comforting if we could talk sensibly about climate on national newspapers comments sections, but I read recently that the amount of "astroturfing" by climate trolls paid by huge oil corporations has grown to such an extent that George himself doesn't even bother to read the comments section on his own blog pieces. And to be honest who could blame him. I've recently tried to conduct a sensible discussion about wind turbines and climate change on a comments section on the Telegraph site. I don't know why I decided to do that really, perhaps a momentary attack of lunacy, for, as I should have guessed, it turned out to be a snake pit. One or two sensible comments but the rest were basically vehicles for the usual accusations of delusion, poor education, Eco-fascism, conspiracy and even a desire to inflict mass murder on the global population.

Once upon a time I hoped, while campaigning as an environmental activist twenty years ago, that we would have reached at least some level of consensus on what to do about climate change by now, but while the scientists have, the population in general don't seem to have done. In my view that's the fault of those same trolls who attack environmentalists on comments pages, continually sowing doubt and disagreement and in the most particularly aggressively vile fashion also. For that reason, and for the likely damage that climate change is going to inflict on global populations, and even is doing so now, part of me would relish the day when climate change deniers are arrested and brought up on criminal charges. Sadly I can't see that that's going to happen any day soon. Some people may be appalled by that admission, but I don't think I am the only one to argue for such things, and it's only the emotional side of me that believes that anyway, The rational side of me is quite prepared and willing to carry on pushing forward with article writing and climate talks, and meanwhile hoping that one day the climate deniers will see sense, I mean surely they have children too like most other normal people (except for me that is but that's another subject). Nevertheless, I can't see that arguing for criminal charges against climate deniers is any more serious than James Delingpole arguing that hanging is too good for climate scientists, and he is still writing for the Telegraph as far as I am aware, having not been sacked and having suffered, seemingly, the minimal amount of national outrage over his comments.

And so it goes on. 

So, what next?

Energy & Environment Dates 2012