Wind power

Petrol from air?

A small British company has produced the first “petrol from air” using a revolutionary technology that promises to solve the energy crisis as well as helping to curb global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

I can’t be the only one who wants to see the numbers before getting too excited. How much energy goes in and how much is produced? Depending upon efficiency etc. it could be a good way of storing energy generated by solar or wind when it’s not immediately needed by the grid.

Feed in tariffs on Radio 4

Costing the Earth on Radio 4 today examined the feed in tariff, which should become available with the new tax year, and the economics of buying yourself a windmill or solar panels. You can listen to it through iPlayer.

Normally listen and watch again programmes on the BBC site expire within a week, but this one says it’s okay until January of 2099.

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From ships to turbines- a future for British shipbuilding?

I still couldn’t pick NicK Clegg out of a line up, but he and the Lib Dems seem to be the only one of the big three parties coming up with any interesting policies. As Labour and the Tories descend further into (occasionally amusing) poster remixes the Liberal Democrats are putting forward solid suggestions.

For example, as reported by Left Foot Forward, they’d invest in converting shipbuilding facilities into wind turbine factories, so that we don’t have to keep outsourcing their construction. This one works coming and going- cut carbon emissions whilst creating jobs in the UK. With time, we could even become an exporter of turbines and wind technology.

Build your own wind turbines

Windmills aren’t the best solution for urban microgeneration- nearby buildings tend to make the airflow too rough for them to run efficiently. But they are cool technology if you happen to live far enough away from your neighbours and can get away with erecting a mast. So, to inspire you, here is the Instructables page on DIY wind power.

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The Queen has bought a big windmill

The Queen has invested in what is reportedly the largest wind turbine in the world, to be installed off the North East coast of England. She has previously had a water turbine installed in a wier near one of her castles and I believe the royal households are all going over to energy saving bulbs. All in all a good example to set to we commoners.

via Island of Doubt

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Greenbird- wind powered record attempt

Wind cars are the future, according to the team behind Greenbird, a land yacht which is due to attempt to break the world record for a wind powered land vehicle. Greenbird uses a rigid wing rather than the traditional sail in its effort to exceed 116mph.

I can see wind vehicles as a a viable transport method for the great expanses of Australia, Africa and even the US midwest. Rigid sails and some sort of computer control would cut down on the need for tacking, but there’d still need to be a bit of room given to the vehicles, so they couldn’t cope with crowded roads. Throw in some photovoltaic panelling and combined dynamos/motors in the wheels for electric drive at either end of the journey and it might work.

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Energy independence begins at home

Gordon Brown has announced a £100billion renewable energy plan. The Daily Mail and its readers have reacted as you’d expect, ignoring the boost to the economy from all the jobs created and the opportunities through grants to go energy independent.

So, those of you who can, I’d recommend stealing a jump on the whingers and using their tax money to go off grid. When I researched grants for solar panels last month I found that the existing scheme had been phased out, which was annoying. I’m now willing to give Brown the benefit of the doubt and hope this was because they were gearing up to a new and improved scheme. It isn’t easy. I’m not as obnoxiously and knee-jerkingly anti Brown/New Labour as the Mail’s readers, but past performance does mark the Government as untrustworthy.

The schemes for householders will be announced later this Summer. I’ll be looking out for them and will try to do some number crunching on them when they arrive.

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Next generation wind power

Scifi blog io9 looks at a couple of wind power options for domestic use. The micro turbine borders on a joke, but the Phillipe Starck designed transparent turbine is pretty. I’m still not convinced by wind power in suburbia because at least one study has shown that the small windmills erected by house owners don’t go high enough to get away from the blocking effects of nearby structures. They might be effective atop taller buildings though.

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Devon's £3billion wind farm

The world’s largest offshore wind farm could be built off the north coast of Devon. If it goes ahead it could provide nearly all of the county’s electricity, and there are plans to supplement it with tidal power schemes.

As this article appears in the Daily Mail expect the usual NIMBY nonsense in the comments.

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Wind turbines on Blackpool promenade

From Manchester Evening News

TWO wind turbines are being set up on Blackpool’s promenade to help power the resort’s famous illuminations.

In May, a third will join the pair, which cost £147,000 each, and together it is hoped they will cut £13,250 from the town’s annual energy bill.

They will sit on the front, close to the Sandcastle Water Park, and are expected to have a 25-year lifespan.

It’s possible the NIMBYs will still complain about these turbines, despite the fact that there can be few better places to site them than on a sea-front (and the fact that there’s little that could be done to make the Blackpool beach front uglier. It’s an endearing ugly, but it’s ugly nonetheless.)

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The home turbines aren't turning

Whilst large scale wind farms are quite efficient, especially the less controversial new breed of offshore ones, home turbines can produce little or no power because of wind turbulence. Perhaps it’s just the traditional windmills that have this problem and the next generation of home based wind power will involve Savonius or other vertical designs better suited to catching the breeze from constantly changing directions.

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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.

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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.


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.”


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 (, 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”

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”


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 or visiting Tom Brake’s ‘go green’ page at


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.”

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