The answer should be a no-brainer – insulate. And there have been a series of, admittedly inadequate, programmes to help the poor to do so, culminating in the current Energy Company Obligation (ECO), under which suppliers are required to carry out efficiency measures. It is this that Mr Osborne is intent on cutting, by spreading its two-year programme over four. If he does so, spending on energy efficiency in England will have dropped by 62 per cent since the Coalition took office.
More than 140 organisations – ranging from Barnardo’s to confused.com, from AgeUK to the TUC – have written to him in ECO’s defence. Insulating houses saves families an average £400 a year. It is job-intensive, now employing some 136,000 people. It provides one of the highest returns on investment; £350 million spent under ECO will save a total of £4.2 billion. And it helps avoid energy shortages. No wonder David Cameron this year hailed it as “right for the economy”, pledging “to make Britain the most energy efficient country in Europe”.
I’m not entirely sure that it’s quite as simple as that given that there are many houses that it’s not possible to insulate (like all those Georgian houses in Bath). But let’s take it as being true.
Who could possibly be against it? Most energy companies, because it depresses their sales.
So which fucking cretin organised that it would have to be the energy companies that ran the insulation schemes then?
And then look at the trickery with numbers:
Now the Chancellor looks like capitulating. If he cuts the programme as expected, calculates the Association for the Conservation of Energy, the Big Six will avoid spending £1.3 billion on ECO measures, and sell £360 million worth of extra fuel to the uninsulated houses. Six hundred thousand families will pay hundreds of pounds extra annually, and at least 10,000 jobs will be lost. All for some £50 off the average bill of nearly £1,300.
Quote the costs as gross numbers, the benefits as per household. With 24 million households £50 each is £1.2 billion isn’t it?
The great thing about this idea is that it’s entirely achievable:
A Japanese construction firm is proposing to solve the well-documented energy problems facing Japan – and ultimately the entire planet – by turning the moon into a colossal solar power plant.
Tokyo-based Shimizu Corp. wants to lay a belt of solar panels 250 miles wide around the equator of our orbiting neighbour and then relay the constant supply of energy to “receiving stations” on Earth by way of lasers or microwave transmission.
The “Luna Ring” that is being proposed would be capable of sending 13,000 terawatts of power to Earth. Throughout the whole of 2011, it points out, the United States only generated 4,100 terawatts of power.
Please note that I don’t say that it will necessarily be economic but it could certainly be built.
the UK government reports that a tonne of gold embedded in electronics is landfilled in this country every year.
Because the environmental rules about how you may process electronics to remove that valuable gold are too restrictive.
If you want more recycling to be done then you’ve got to make it cheaper to do the recycling. Or you can have very strict rules about such recycling (here the rules are about the lead which is co-extracted with the gold) and get less recycling.
But what you can’t have is very strict rules about how you recycle and also lots of recycling.
And this is just bullshit:
The 2012 Greendex survey found that people in poorer countries feel, on average, much guiltier about their impacts on the natural world than people in rich countries. The places in which people feel least guilt are, in this order, Germany, the United States, Australia and Britain, while the people of India, China, Mexico and Brazil have the greatest concerns. Our guilt, the survey reported, exists in inverse proportion to the amount of damage our consumption does. This is the opposite of what a thousand editorials in the corporate press tell us: that people cannot afford to care until they become rich. The evidence suggests we cease to care only when we become rich.
“Consumers in countries such as Mexico, Brazil, China and India,” the survey tells us, “tend to be most concerned about issues like climate change, air and water pollution, species loss and shortages of fresh water … In contrast, the economy and the cost of energy and fuel elicit the most concern among American, French and British consumers.” The more you have, the more important money becomes. My guess is that in poorer countries empathy has not been so dulled by decades of mindless consumption.
Because the more advanced the technology we use the less effect we have upon the environment. An urban laddie like me affects the forests and the prairies a great deal less than some slash and burn peasant farmer, d’ye see?
“Tangibility” is the word that comes up constantly – you don’t waste it when you can conceive of the energy you have invested in coming in to your house. Feldheim, in Germany, is the most evolved example of this in Europe, and possibly in the world: it powers itself entirely on wind, solar and biogas. All the financial investment is from the villagers, of whom there are 150. The numbers are slightly messed up now by its massive eco-tourist trade, but this much is clear: when you are a stakeholder you pay less and you use less. Naturally, at the level of the individual, this only applies to renewables. There’s no scope to buy a small share in your local coal mine or oil refinery. So there’s an inevitable slant towards sustainable energy – which is the direction I’d like to go in anyway. But if we could take ownership of energy, whatever its source, at a national level, we might see the same behavioural changes played out at that level – a real negawatt revolution.
Eh? Something gets cheaper so you use less of it?
when you are a stakeholder you pay less and you use less
This would rather change our world if it were true. The question is, is it true? And given that renewables are in fact more expensive, watt for watt, than non-renewables, I think what’s happened is that she’s got this wrong. The power is more expensive which is why people are using less of it.
But any other explanations gratefully accepted.
It came as no surprise that British Gas, the latest of the Big Six energy companies to hike its prices, found itself the recipient of a furious backlash this week. There’s plenty to be angry about: one in four households now regularly choose between heating and eating; 7,200 people died last year because they were unable to heat their homes; while energy minister Ed Davey’s solution to fuel poverty is to advise people to “wear a jumper”.
Fuel poverty is mobilising people to seek alternatives to the corporate control of energy (the Big Six control 99% of our domestic gas and electricity supply). Following the latest round of price hikes, the announcement of mega-profits and eye-watering chief executive pay, the companies’ claims that they have no obligation to keep the lights on is fertile ground for civil disobedience.
Following that Teenage Trot boilerplate the suggestion is that we should use higher priced power from renewables. Thus increasing fuel poverty and the number of elderly who die each winter.
And yes, we do know that renewables and insulation and the whole greenie shebang are more expensive: that’s why we’ve got a problem in the first place. If it was all cheaper then we wouldn’t need the schemes and the subsidies and the laws and the regulations. That we do have them is proof perfect of the contention that the plan is indeed more expensive.
So, the actual demand is that we must make things cheaper by making them more expensive. At which point we need to tell this fool to make up her mind.
Assuming she has one.
And another tomorrow:
Alessandro Torello, of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, said the MEPs’ rules would create a costly and cumbersome regulatory process that would make industry think twice about exploration.
“The text adopted today would require undertaking long and complex environmental studies at a very early stage in the exploration phase, undermining – without bringing additional environmental benefits – the efforts to develop domestic oil and gas opportunities, such as gas from shale,” he said.
“This would erode EU attempts to encourage future economic growth and create new jobs while simultaneously depriving policy makers of one key tool they could use to reduce Europe’s dependence on energy imports.”
François Hollande, France’s Socialist president, has banned fracking his country. The MEPs’ vote was welcomed by Greens and Socialists.
“While this would not prevent permits from being granted, it will help prevent risky shale gas projects being bulldozed through in spite of environmental concerns,” said Sandrine Bélier, a French Green MEP.
Later this year, the European Commission is expected to propose tough regulations for fracking amid fears in Brussels that cheap shale gas could wipe out heavily subsidised and less efficient renewable energies such as wind farms.
Jos Delbeke, the director-general of the commission’s “climate action” department, hinted that the EU would use the regulations to defend renewable energy against cheaper shale gas.
“A minus scenario is that shale gas then drives out renewables,” he said, last week. “If ever shale would become as cheap as in the US, we really would have a problem. We are strong defenders of renewables. It is very important we keep investing in renewable technologies.”
Actually, let’s just hang them all shall we?
So, no longer can we have all those puritanical greenies whingeing at us because we use something “unnatural” like plastic.
You would expect to find plastic in your lunchbox, not on Saturn’s distant moon Titan.
But that’s exactly where Nasa has found an ingredient of plastic – the first time the chemical has been detected on another world.
The Cassini spacecraft found small amounts of propylene, a chemical used to make storage containers on Earth, in the atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon Titan.
See? It’s as natural as that yurt knitted out of mung beans you’re wearing.
The most persistent and frequent polluters of England\’s rivers and beaches are the nation\’s 10 biggest water companies, an Observer investigation has revealed.
The largest possible pollutant of the water of the nation is the rivers of shit and piss that 65 million of us spray around. That the organisations which deal with this flood are then the largest polluters isn\’t all that much or a surprise really. You know, even if they dealt with 99.999% of it successfully then they\’d still be the largest polluters.
Simon Hughes MP, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: \”These figures are another indictment of the failings of our privatised water companies in England. Many of them make large profits, pay huge dividends, increase prices and pay little tax. When, in addition, these figures show they don\’t deliver clean water, the public is entitled to say that our monopoly water providers are neither good corporate citizens nor good stewards of our precious environmental assets.\”
\’N\’ you can fuck off \’n\’all. If you want to blame privatisation then you\’ve got to do one of two things: compare with matters before privatisation or compare with places which were not privatised. And anyone at all who thinks that water quality is worse now than it was in the 1980s needs shooting as they\’re obviously rabidly insane. Ofwat did in fact compare England, with privatisation, against Wales with a mutually owned system, Scotland with a government owned but independent system and Northern Ireland with direct government provision. And by all the usual measures, higher purity of water, less environmental damage, lower prices etc, England beat the rest. In fact, the systems ranked both by performance and levels of improvement went England, Wales, Scotland, NI.
You know, things got worse the more the government was involved. Funny that, eh?
Much the worst problem is in London, shamefully the European capital city most polluted by nitrogen dioxide. Vehicles are responsible for half of this pollutant, and 80 per cent of the particulates, in London air.
And London is by far and away the largest city in the EU, more than twice the size of the closest, Berlin.
More people, more cars, more air pollution. It\’s not that tough, is it?
I like this programme:
Ten years ago the Iberian lynx was nearing extinction but today, thanks to an imaginative conservation programme that has brought hunters, farmers and the tourist industry under its wing, its numbers have tripled from 94 to 312
Yeah, I know, it\’s EU funded, yah boo hiss. One of the Portuguese arms of it is just around the corner from here. 5 km or so away. And there\’s certainly colonies of feral cats living off the bunnies around here so can\’t see why a lynx or two couldn\’t manage it.
Indeed, our own cats sometimes live off the local bunnies….
I\’m not sure if lynx and domestic cat (or feral domestic cat) can actually breed or not? I think they can: wildcats certainly can. Would be very fun indeed if the lynx became common enough that the cross breed starts becoming common*. Imagine that little bundle of fluff that Tiddles has produced for you turning out to be half lynx!
*Yes, yes, I know, we don\’t want the wild population to become half domestic cat but the other way around would be fun all the same.
Poorly insulated home? You should pay more council tax
Reduced council tax payments and lowered stamp duty for efficient properties will encourage home owners to take up the Government\’s Green Deal policy, a new report has claimed.
That\’s all this is. A slightly and lightly disguised method of increasing the subsidy to this scheme.
Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: “This sends a powerful message to Government that there are viable policy options available to boost demand for the Green Deal and help tackle the UK’s energy efficiency crisis. The research shows not only the impact additional incentives would have on carbon savings, but how they could breathe new life into the construction sector and boost economic growth.
\”There are some tough political choices to be made, not least in using the tax regime to nudge householders into action, but the opportunities for UK Plc are just so great, that this is a nettle which needs to be grasped.”
Yes, lovely. But that\’s not actually the question, is it?
We need to go back to the original cost benefit analysis. How much money will be saved over time, yes including the costs of carbon emissions, against the cost of doing the scheme. This was worked out, in however lackadaisical a fashion, before the scheme was launched. Now you\’re saying that it requires more subsidy. OK, that\’s fine, that\’s an argument we can have.
But to have that argument we need to go back to that original cost benefit analysis, add in this new and extra subsidy, and then see if the benefits are still greater than the costs. I wouldn\’t be so sure they are myself but that is indeed what should be done.
Financially, if not ornithologically, however, Sykes – UK manager for wind power for DONG Energy – has an interest in the fate of this little bird. The Danish company and its partners, Germany’s E.On and UAE’s Masdar, have just built the world’s biggest offshore wind farm, the London Array.
The 175-turbine, £1.9bn project sprawls across almost 40 square miles, some 12 miles north off the Kent coast.
With 630MW capacity it is capable of powering 500,000 homes a year. It also happens to be close the spot where thousands of red-throated divers like to spend winter. The project, formally opened by David Cameron on Thursday, had its design amended amid concern for the birds.
Leave aside all the stuff about intermittency, cost (horrendous) and backup. The one thing I\’ve not seen a decent discussion of is maintenance costs. I\’m sure there is one out there. But marine environments are very well known indeed for having vast maintenance costs over the 25 year expected lifespan of this array. Would anyone who actually knows about this (there are, I know, several engineering types reading) care to comment on this?
I rather get the impression that he politicians and boosters seem to think that once you\’ve built the things then you just get the free energy for 25 years. And I\’m absolutely certain that sticking 175 turbiones in the North Sea is going to require significant ongoing cost.
It has become part of our daily routine, although few of us are likely aware of the full financial or environmental costs. Yet showering accounts for the biggest single use of water in the home – one quarter of the massive nine billion litres of water used by UK households every day – with much of our money spiralling down the plughole.
We go to work in order to earn the money to pay for the consumption that we want. And if that consumption includes 7.5 minute showers then so be it: this is what we want to do.
A new analysis of government and industry figures shows that wind turbine owners received £1.2billion in the form of a consumer subsidy, paid by a supplement on electricity bills last year. They employed 12,000 people, to produce an effective £100,000 subsidy on each job.
Of course, some jobs are more costly than others.
So, that last little blog, looking at emissions from pet coke.
I\’m getting extremely confused here. And if anyone really knows this stuff then please do tell the rest of us.
Looking around it\’s easy enough to see that lignite produces more CO2 per unit of energy (it\’s usually in BTUs) than does sub-bituminous coal. Sub-bituminous more than bituminous.
This makes logical sense: there\’s more C in the material as you progress. As the C is what your source of energy is a higher concentration of this and a lower concentration of everything else that you\’re heating up at the same time will lead to more useful energy per unit of CO2 produced.
However, the stats that I can see claim that this reverses when we get to anthracite. Which is weird, for anthracite has more C in it than bituminous coal. We would expect (or at least I would) there to be a straight line relationship with C rather than a U shaped one.
So, it\’s possible that this is true: maybe the \”volatiles\” in the lower grade coals more than make up for the higher C in the highest grade one.
It\’s also possible that there\’s something hinky with the numbers. Anthracite isn\’t actually mined in the US any more (and all the stats I\’ve found are US ones). What is used is anthracite culm: that\’s the waste left over in slag piles from previous anthracite mining. And what makes me suspect this is that the numbers for emissions from anthracite culm appear to be the same as those quoted for anthracite. Which really doesn\’t sound right at all.
And then we get pet coke numbers equated to anthracite ones. And I can imagine that that\’s true: high C level after all. But what I can\’t work out is why a higher C level should lead to greater emissions per BTU. Sure, higher emissions per tonne fuel used: but why per useful energy?
Pet-coke is made up almost entirely of carbon, which means that it produces more greenhouse gas emissions than tar sands oil or even coal if it is used for electricity.
Umm, no, no, it doesn\’t mean that at all.
Sure, burning one tonne of pure carbon will produce more CO2 than burning 1 tonne of coal which might only be 90% carbon.
But you\’ll also get more energy out of burning 1 tonne of pure carbon than you will out of burning something that is only 90% carbon. Indeed, you\’ll get more useful energy as well: because you\’re not having to use up energy to heat up that 10% that isn\’t carbon: the alumino silicates and iron that end up as fly ash for example.
Think it through: what produces more CO2 per unit of electricity produced, burning lignite or anthracite? Which contains more carbon, lignite or anthracite?
Quite, the higher carbon material produces less CO2 per unit of electricity produced.
So it is true that burning one tonne of pet-coke does produce more CO2: but it\’s a horribly misleading way of putting it.
About how wonderful renewables are:
And solar is starting to pay its subsidy back. Germany now has more than 30 gigaWatt peak (gWp) of solar plants installed, such that on almost all days in the spring, summer and autumn, solar energy surges into the grid at a time when demand is at is strongest (air conditioning etc is running like mad)
AC in Germany? Is he visiting a different one from the one I am? And don\’t the Germans actually have to dump a lot of that solar derived power into hte grids of neighbouring countries? \’Coz, like, no one is using it when it\’s there?
But this is seriously fabulous:
This brings me on to a really exciting development . Our company is starting to sell power directly from the barn roofs we have our plants on to the farmers who own the roofs and nearby towns wishing to rescue themselves from the grasp of the RWEs and E.ONs of this world.
Why? Because we can produce power at around half of what farmers are paying.
This so-called \”distributed\” (ie non-grid) energy is where the real revolution is taking place. Distributed energy not only saves on the huge amount of energy lost in grid distribution, but it helps lighten the load on the grid. Whole German towns are going completely renewable. The citizens get cheaper, cleaner power. If only Britain would get this.
Well of course you sodding mingelip.
Because the subsidy to pay for all that wind and solar power is an addition to the bill for the electricity that you get through the grid. Thus, if you don\’t take grid provided \’leccy then you\’re not paying the subsidy that keeps Mr. Seagar\’s company in business.
And amazingly, yes, electricity is cheaper if you don\’t have to pay the subsidies to solar and wind power on it.
Benzene levels in Parachute Creek rose above a safe-to-drink 5 parts per billion following the spill, which was caused by a faulty pressure gauge on a four-inch pipeline.
The safety limit for benzene in Coloradoan drinking water sources is 5 parts per billion. But the state doesn’t define the creek as a source of drinking water, and the limit for such water bodies is 5,300 parts per billion.
Not drinking water not polluted above the levels safe for not drinking water.
These people are really desperate about fracking aren\’t they?
I\’m rather wondering when they\’re going to start complaining that only metres, mere yards, off the coasts of America the water has more Na and Cl in it than is allowed in drinking water.
And it is indeed the sort of breakthrough we desperately need, since – in little more than 35 years – the world will have to increase food production by a challenging 70 per cent if it is to feed its growing population.
The population is expected to grow from 7 billion ish to 9 billion.
That\’s a 30 % or so rise in population. Why would a 30% rise in population require a 70% rise in food grown?
Note that he\’s not saying a richer population (which is more understandable) but purely a larger one.
And do note that Mr. Lean is also the one who tells us that up to 50% of the food currently grown doesn\’t get into the bellies of people. I do sorta wonder whether these people can do joined up thinking.
So Griff objects to a solar plant near his home. Leggett says:
We know that the lights will start going out in Britain in 2016, unless new electricity generation comes onstream. It can\’t be coal. That much most of us agree on, if not because of the emissions, then because the EU has already made the decision, in its Large Combustion Plants Directive and other climate commitments.
Could it be gas? In principle yes. But increasingly we\’d have to rely on overseas favour, because anyone outside the Treasury who knows what happens in a Texan shale-gas fracking operation knows in their hearts that – whatever we might feel about the desirability of gas – there would be civil war in rural England if there are attempts to produce it on land at any scale here.
People would complain about gas so we can\’t have gas. People are complaining about solar so we must have solar. Good argument, innit?
Did you know that Mr. Leggett runs a solar power installation firm?