Solar Power


Everything's bright in the solar world

A few pieces of promising news from the world of solar power and heating.

The Worldwatch Institute estimates that the cost of photovoltaic cells may drop by as much as 40% in the next few years. One factor contributing to this is the increase of manufacturing of photovoltaics in China, such as the new facility announced by Suntech, a key supplier of building integrated solar products.

Bosch Solar Thermal Systems say they have seen a 60% increase in year to date sales over the same period last year and expect to sell 150,000 units this year.

Technorati tag: , , ,


Boosting Prius performance

Lithium Technology Corporation has developed lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) cells which can greatly increase the fuel economy of hybrids. There are issues with safety, which mean Toyota are not yet ready to start using them.

Another way to increase a hybrid’s mileage is to get Solar Electric Vehicles’ fitted solar panel roofs.

Somewhere out there is the ideal combination of solar panelled garage and car, with high capacity batteries.

Technorati tag:


How Green should Gore be?

Do Green campaigners have to be absolutely pure? The question arises from the fuss caused by snide naysayers who are attacking Al Gore’s lifestyle to turn attention away from his message.

By all accounts Gore and his family have gone beyond carbon neutral.  No matter how much energy his mansions consume he’s planting the trees or making the investments to write that off and then spending a bit more.  Of course, the antis know this but don’t bother to mention it because that would destroy their argument.

It’s time for Gore to slap solar panels and windmills on his properties and ask what the rumour mongers are doing to reduce their carbon footprints.

Technorati tag:


Solar power heads toward the dollar per watt landmark

Solar power costs are dropping and could soon cross over the point where they’re cheaper than fossil fuels and other supplies. Germany passed a law demanding utilities buy excess electricity from microgeneration at a good price and the take up of solar, and no doubt other technologies, has soared.

The only people too stupid to be excited by these developments are the electricity and oil companies.

“There is no silver bullet,” said Jeroen Van der Veer, Shell’s chief executive.
“We have invested a bit in all forms of renewable energy ourselves and maybe we’ll find a winner one day. But the reality is that in twenty years time we’ll still be using more oil than now,” he said.

Technorati tag:


Solar heads for the sub dollar per watt landmark

Solar power costs are dropping and could soon cross over the point where they’re cheaper than fossil fuels and other supplies. Germany passed a law demanding utilities buy excess electricity from microgeneration at a good price and the take up of solar, and no doubt other technologies, has soared.

The only people too stupid to be excited by these developments are the electricity and oil companies.

“There is no silver bullet,” said Jeroen Van der Veer, Shell’s chief executive.
“We have invested a bit in all forms of renewable energy ourselves and maybe we’ll find a winner one day. But the reality is that in twenty years time we’ll still be using more oil than now,” he said.

Jeroen Van der Veer sends me an email every week or so. I never bother to read them.


Reviewing the Nuclear Review

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/6364281.stm
The Government’s nuclear review (AKA whitewash) has been judged biased and misleading and there are calls for a new white paper on the subject.

Tony Blair et al insist that their fixation on nuclear power is a brave and radical attempt to counter global warming when it’s actually a cowardly and backward effort to avoid doing anything.  If they want to do something radical they should start subsidising insulation and double glazing for houses in the worst Council Tax bands and paying to put solar water heaters on every South facing roof in the country.  Start by reducing the need for centralised energy production and helping those whose energy costs are a greater proportion of their expenditure.  It will increase the prosperity of the country, likely encourage further spending on energy saving and cut carbon dioxide production.

Then they can start funding micro-generation and communal energy projects.  Water turbines on weirs, local windmills, geothermal for a whole street, that sort of thing.  Lots of little projects have a better chance of coming in on time and under budget than one big one and a distributed power generation system will be more robust.

There are a lot of reasons why this won’t happen, but they all have one common factor- Tony Blair’s cowardice.  The Daily Mail would moan about the undeserving getting cossetted with free insulation and rail against "Nanny Statism".  The NIMBYs would try to halt schemes designed to make them better off.  Big Energy companies would complain because they would lose their monopolies and hold over consumers.  Most of all, this sort of scheme would give power back to ordinary people, the sort of prospect that gives every politician nightmares.


Zero energy homes for Manchester

The Jessiefields project, which is awaiting planning permission, would see a block of 13 zero energy flats built in Manchester. The flats would sell for £250,000 each, and have triple glazing and heavy insulation to cut heat loss whilst incorporating solar and wind power and rainwater capture.

There are a lot of flat developments going up in and around Manchester, and as steep as it sounds £250k isn’t that high a price, especially if the apartments promise energy savings and investment potential.

Technorati tag: , ,


MPs' green press releases

A bumper edition because I haven’t done this for a few weeks.

McIntosh Welcomes Prime Minister’s reply following meeting on Bio Fuels

Anne McIntosh MP for the Vale of York today welcomes the response from the Prime Minister following her recent meeting with him requesting a full statement on bio fuels.

Please click here for the full text of the letter.

DAVID HEATH MP – TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE BY A GREEN TAX SWITCH

As part of the Liberal Democrat campaign for a green tax switch – taxing pollution not people – David Heath, MP for Somerton & Frome is welcoming Dr Vince Cable MP and Graham Watson MEP to Frome, where they will be shown a biofuels car, owned by Somerset Country Council, by Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council, Cllr Paul Buchanan.

David Heath said: “In Frome, according to the latest official figures, we are all emitting 8.8 tonnes of carbon per person per year, 5.5 per cent less than the UK average of 9.3 tonnes per person, but still far higher than the global average of around 2.5 tonnes per person.

“We need to go further to get down to a sustainable level that will stop climate chaos, rising sea levels and storms. The good news is that the technology is already there to do so by shifting to low carbon cars, like the one I will be viewing tomorrow, saving energy in the home, and cutting down oil and gas at work.

“All the main political parties now agree that we have to tackle climate change, but only the Liberal Democrats have put forward firm plans to help us change our behaviour through tax incentives.

“I am pleased to be welcoming Dr Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor and architect of the Lib Dem green tax plans to Frome and that he will be able to view a biofuel car, pioneered by Liberal Democrat controlled Somerset County Council, providing a practical solution to the threat of climate change here in Somerset.”

LAWS BACKS MICROPOWER ENERGY

David Laws, MP for Yeovil constituency, is supporting a proposal to increase the use of microgeneration as a power source. Microgeneration involves the generation of energy from renewable and low carbon sources on a local scale, such as small scale wind turbines and solar panels.

If passed, the bill will enable local authorities to set binding targets for the use of microgeneration in their local development plans.

David Laws MP said:

‘The opportunities created by micropower are huge. Expanding the use of microgeneration can be a key method in reducing our country’s carbon emissions and lowering our harmful impact upon the environment.

‘Micropower also brings the production of energy closer to the consumer. By generating your own power, it is possible to cut bills and be more energy efficient.

‘The Government has finally recognised that action must be taken to end the damage we are doing to our environment. Micropower will enable people in Somerset to do their part to fight climate change.’

Make the world safe for future generations, says local MP

A world that is safe for our children and their children.
That was the plea made by West Dunbartonshire MP John McFall in a debate on climate change in the House of Commons on Monday.
Mr McFall asked for some “realism” to be injected into the debate on the Stern Review.
He said there would be “no pain free choices” for people in their future lifestyle — or for the Government and their policies.
They would have to grasp the nettle of climate change or the consequences could be disastrous, said the local MP.
He congratulated David Miliband, the Environment Secretary and Chancellor Gordon Brown, on the report which looks at the economic consequences of failing to tackle climate change.
He said that Opposition leader David Cameron had not even been elected to his post when the report was commissioned.
Mr McFall said: “There will be no pain-free choices for individuals and their future lifestyle, or for the Government and their policies. The issue is too important to leave to party politics.”
He urged Mr Miliband to “ensure a national debate between politicians and in every community and school so that we may leave a safe planet for our children and their children.”
The Minister accepted that Mr McFall was making “an important point.”
And he added: “I tried to refer in my statement to the need for the Climate Change Bill to be something that can be taken out to businesses, schools and communities around the country.”
He said Mr McFall was “right about the need for action by Government and businesses, and also individual action.”
Mr Miliband added: “Some people always find change painful, but when the failure to change would be even more painful, the case for action is proven. That is the case in this area and I will be seeking to prosecute it.”

Tom Brake MP commits to ‘Save your 20%’ campaign

Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington is urging his constituents to join him in committing to reduce the amount of energy they consume on a daily basis. He has joined the Energy Saving Trust’s “Commit to Save Your 20%” campaign which was launched as part of the Trust’s 10th annual Energy Saving Week.

He is cutting his emissions and his electricity bill through everyday, ‘normal’ actions, like using energy saving light-bulbs and boiling only as much water as needed.

Tom has also added his name to a Parliamentary Early Day Motion welcoming Energy Saving Week and calling on fellow MPs to show leadership in their constituencies by supporting the Energy Saving Trust’s call to action encouraging individuals to reduce their energy consumption and help tackle climate change.

Tom has previously shown his commitment to green policies; earlier this month he launched a page of green ideas on his website (www.tombrake.co.uk/gogreen), and a fortnight ago Tom and Carshalton and Wallington Councillors joined residents to kick off Sutton Liberal Democrats’ Green Action Week with a clean-up of the banks of the River Wandle.

And in response to questions from The Independent newspaper, Tom commented: ‘Personally I am committed to reducing my emissions by 20% and will do so by a range of measures including purchasing a more economical car, improving insulation in our home, buying low energy light bulbs, taking the train rather than flying on holiday. This is such an important issue and if we all make small changes to our daily lifestyle, we really can make a difference.’

Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said, “We are calling on the nation to undertake a series of daily habit changing actions during Energy Saving Week 2006. The aim is to galvanise the nation into breaking their bad energy habits one by one, which will not only help prevent the damaging effects of climate change but also will help reduce individual energy costs. To find out how you can commit to save your 20%, visit www.est.org.uk/commit.”

Dr Hywel Francis MP Committed to ‘Save Your 20%’ Campaign

Aberavon MP, Dr Hywel Francis, urged his constituents recently to join him in committing to reduce the amount of energy they consume on a daily basis. Dr Francis has joined the Energy Saving Trust’s ‘Commit to Save Your 20%’ campaign, which was launched as part of the 10th annual Energy Saving Week.

Domestic Energy use accounts for almost 50% of carbon dioxide emissions but collectively we can make a real difference. If we all saved 20% of the energy we use every day we can help prevent climate change. The recent Energy Saving Week 2006 highlighted that consumers are able to make an enormous difference both to the environment and to their energy bills through everyday ‘normal’ actions.

Dr Francis has added his name to a Parliamentary motion welcoming Energy Saving Week and calling on fellow MPs to show leadership in their constituencies by supporting the Energy Saving Trust’s call to action encourage individuals to reduce thier energy consumption and help tackle climate change.

There is a whole range of energy saving measures that we can all undertake, many of which are simple and ‘low cost, no cost’. The following is a list of the 10 commitments Dr Francis and the Energy Saving Trust are encouraging householders to make:

• When making hot drinks only boil as much water as I need.
• Turn down my thermostat by 1º C.
• Switch off appliances and not leave them on standby.
• Insert cavity wall insulation
• Top up my loft insulation to 270mm
• Replace 3 light bulbs with Energy Saving Recommended ones.
• Install a condensing boiler.
• Buy Energy Saving Recommended appliances.
• Wash my laundry at 30º C
• Leave my car at home for short journeys

For larger measures such as insulating your home or installing microgeneration the Energy Saving trust provides impartial advice, grants and information to help you implement your commitment.

Dr Francis said,

“As well as signing the Early Day Motion, I will be urging my family, friends, staff and constituents to be energy conscious. We can help prevent climate change by all committing to save 20% of the energy we use every day.”

Phillip Sellwood, Chief Executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said,

“Throughout Energy Saving Week 2006 we called on the nation to undertake a series of daily habit changing action. The aim is to galvanise the nation into breaking their bad energy habits one by one, which will not only prevent the damaging effects of climate change but will also help reduce individual energy cost. To find out how you can commit to save your 20%, visit www.est.org.uk/commit.”

CAMPBELL SPEAKS OUT ON ENVIRONMENT IN VISIT TO SUTTON

Sir Menzies Campbell MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, yesterday visited BedZED in Hackbridge in the London Borough of Sutton. BedZED is the UK’s largest carbon-neutral community.

He arrived at Hackbridge Station by train accompanied by Paul Burstow MP and was met by Tom Brake MP, Sue Riddlestone a Director of Bioregional and Cllr Colin Hall, Deputy Leader of Sutton Council who briefed him on Sutton’s ‘Smarter Travel Sutton’ project.

At the end of his visit, Sir Menzies Campbell said:

“Liberal Democrat Councils are making a real difference on the environment. First Sutton Council made BedZED possible and now – through the ‘Smarter Travel Sutton’ initiative – it is encouraging businesses, schools and individuals to develop travel plans and reduce their car dependency.”

Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington remarked, “Sutton has a green track record second to none. When others were rubbishing the science of climate change years ago we backed BedZED. We are now trail-blazing again with ‘Smarter Travel Sutton’. And just as the lessons learnt at Bed Zed have helped improve low or zero energy building projects around the world, the lessons learnt from ‘Smarter Travel Sutton’ will be picked up by every urban and suburban community seeking to cut its reliance on the car.

Councillor Colin Hall, Sutton Council’s Deputy Leader, commented, “The BedZED development, a world class example of sustainable living, was made possible by the forward thinking and the environmental commitment of Sutton’s Lib Dem Council. This project and others like the Killick House solar panel scheme and our excellent recycling record have led to the borough being picked to host ‘Smarter Travel Sutton’, a £5M sustainable transport project designed to help local residents make informed decisions about alternatives to using their own car.

Paul Burstow, Liberal Democrat MP for Sutton & Cheam finished by saying, “Climate change is a problem that requires both national leadership, local action and personal responsibility. We all have a part to play in reducing our own individual contributions to greenhouse gases. Sutton Council has been in the vanguard of this movement for green action for over two decades. Sutton was green when it was neither trendy nor cool.”

Residents who want to cut their CO2 emissions can do so by signing up to Sutton’s Planet Pledge at www.sutton.gov.uk/environment/planetpage/ or visiting Tom Brake’s ‘go green’ page at http://www.tombrake.co.uk/pages/GoGreen.html

THE DEBATE IS OVER, GREEN BUSINESS IS GOOD BUSINESS – OPIK

Commenting on The Treasury’s Stern report on the economics of climate change released today on the economic cost of climate change, Lembit Opik, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and MP for Montgomeryshire, said:

“The debate is now surely over. Finally it seems the Government have got the message. Leaving climate change unchecked will burn a £3.5 trillion whole in the economy. But tackling climate change can massively reduce this burden and present a wealth of new commercial opportunities. Green business is good business.

“I hope this report sends tremors through every Government department. We have been far too timid in developing strategies to tackle climate change and have missed so many good opportunities to develop our green economic sector.

“Wales is one such country with an abundance of renewable resources and environmental expertise that is just waiting for the green light from the Government. We cannot afford to delay further. We must now act.

“When I meet with Wales Office ministers later this year, I will be pushing them to develop a bold new green economic strategy that will actively encourage investment and the development of Welsh green industries and technology.”

Technorati tag: ,


Dye-sensitized cells- cheaper photovoltaics

Michael Gratzel has the rare honour of having a type of photovoltaic cell named after him. The Gratzel cell was first developed over 15 years ago but is now ready for manufacture and release onto the market. Technology Review talked to him about bringing the product to market.

Technology Review: Why has it been so difficult to make efficient, yet inexpensive solar cells that could compete with fossil fuels as sources of electricity?

Michael Gratzel: It’s perhaps just the way things evolved. Silicon cells were first made for [outer] space, and there was a lot of money available so the technology that was first developed was an expensive technology. The cell we have been developing on the other hand is closer to photosynthesis.

via Hugg

Technorati tag: , ,


Nanosolar- printed solar film

Nanosolar has developed technology to create solar panels by printing films 1/100th the thickness of absorber in a silicon-wafer cell. With the drastic cut in unit price that will come from this they hope to have a solar panel on every building.

There are issues with the lifespan of these thin film photovoltaics, and worries about toxicity of the chemicals used. If they can be answered, then this could be a huge step toward a solar future.

via Treehugger

Technorati tag: ,


Solar Cool

The Guardian on solar power’s increasing prominence.

There’s also a practical, very British reason for our interest in solar: money. With the average household’s electricity bill above £900 (and set to rise again with British Gas’s latest price rises), solar panels start to make sense at £4,000, after you’ve received a government grant available for installation. They can add value, too. When two new homes in Norfolk sold recently, the one with solar PV roof tiles by Solarcentury sold for 8.6% more than its neighbour. Energy efficiency ratings in next year’s home information packs, grants of up to £3,000 and imminent improved planning laws should help further.

Technorati tag:


Solar Cool

The Guardian on solar power’s increasing prominence.

There’s also a practical, very British reason for our interest in solar: money. With the average household’s electricity bill above £900 (and set to rise again with British Gas’s latest price rises), solar panels start to make sense at £4,000, after you’ve received a government grant available for installation. They can add value, too. When two new homes in Norfolk sold recently, the one with solar PV roof tiles by Solarcentury sold for 8.6% more than its neighbour. Energy efficiency ratings in next year’s home information packs, grants of up to £3,000 and imminent improved planning laws should help further.

Technorati tag:


Solar panels on the High Street

Electrical chain Currys is to start selling photovoltaic panels in their stores. So far they’re only available in stores at West Thurrock, Fulham and Croydon. At £1000 a panel Currys say they’re charging less than some specialist firms and are touting Government grants that could cut the price by as much as 50%. It’s another important step in the Greening of the mainstream, though many people have issues with shopping at Currys for servivce level reasons.

Technorati tag: ,


Solar panels on the High Street

Electrical chain Currys is to start selling photovoltaic panels in their stores. So far they’re only available in stores at West Thurrock, Fulham and Croydon. At £1000 a panel Currys say they’re charging less than some specialist firms and are touting Government grants that could cut the price by as much as 50%. It’s another important step in the Greening of the mainstream, though many people have issues with shopping at Currys for servivce level reasons.

Technorati tag: ,


David Cameron gets his windmill

Greeny-blue (cyan?) David Cameron has been given permission to mount a wind turbine and solar panels on his home. The turbine must be grey, to blend in, and he must renew the planning permission after three years. It’s a small, but high profile, victory against the NIMBYs.

Technorati tag: , ,