Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Free power for all of America - available now!

A new MIT report says there's more than enough feasibly extractable hydrothermal energy in the US to generate the entire 27 trillion kilowatt-hours of energy consumed in the US in 2005.

It can be tapped with current technology and would last at least 2000 years.

> Read the report here

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Please arise, a UK visionary company like this

I've just stumbled across an American company that has the perfect business model for installing domestic or business renewable energy.

It's an Energy Services Company (ESCo) model, that goes two steps further than either WindSave's model or the Woking Council model, in taking ALL the hassle out of having a renewable electricity supply for your building, while guaranteeing a price for 25 years that's competitive with brown electricity. Here's the blurb on their web site:

Citizenrē REnU program packages solar power for you in a simple and smart way. Plainly put, the Citizenrē Corporation pays for, installs, owns and operates the solar installation.

You don’t have to worry about maintaining the equipment or any of the other concerns that come with making an investment into solar power.

All you are required to do is pay for the electricity generated from these panels, at a fixed rate that is at or below your current electricity price, for up to twenty-five years.

Well. Small print aside, I'd buy that. Who wouldn't? A no risk, no hassle, service arrangement.

I hope this business model can work (I assume they've crunched their figures) we'll soon see some British companies try and roll a similar offer out.

> Go to Citizenrē's web site

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Renewable energy grants

Two recently announced grants:

Support for biomass heat

If you want help with the installation of biomass-fuelled heat and combined heat and power projects in the industrial, commercial and community sectors, including local authorities and schools, you have until 9 March to apply for support.

The £10-15m Bio-energy Capital Grants Scheme is part of the Government response to the Biomass Task Force report.


Low Carbon Building grants

Applications for grants are now being accepted for Phase 2 of the DTI's Low Carbon Building Programme (LCPB) which will provide around £50M of grants over the next two to three years to encourage uptake of renewable energy technologies here in the UK.

Use this chickenfeed up fast and they'll see what demand there is.


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Nuclear power stations are at risk from rising sea levels - official

The Low Carbon Kid has always worried about the effect of global warming's projected sea level rises on nuclear power locations, which are often by the sea for remoteness and access to cooling water.

In the past, it has been impossible to get official reactions.

But now we have one, from the most reliable of sources - the weather men.

The Met Office officially acknowledge that rising sea-levels, increased wave height and increased storm surge height must all be considered in the planning of the UK's future nuclear stations.

Their report was commissioned by the debt-ridden nuclear power company British Energy. It concludes future power plants will need to be further inland and may need added protection.

The government is likely to release its criteria for possible sites in March.

Flood risk

At Sizewell in Suffolk, for example, site of Britain's most modern reactor, the prediction is for the most severe storm surges to be 1.7 metres higher in 2080 than at present. But that's only if the Greenland ice sheet doesn't melt. If it does, much of it will be underwater.

At Dungeness in Kent, the storm surge increase could be up to 0.9 metres. Already this plant, which is sited on land only two metres above sea-level, is protected by a massive wall of shingle which needs constant maintenance in the winter. Waves erode so much of it that it needs to be topped up constantly with 600 tons of shingle every day.

Met Office researcher Rob Harrison told the BBC, "very large potential changes are in prospect; what we're trying to do is avoid a catastrophic effect.

The rise in storm surge heights will be most extreme along the coast of south-east England.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Petition the PM about Trident

There are now many petitions on the Downing Street web site. And you can start one of your own. Is this e-democracy in action, or a PR exercise?

Whatever, if you feel like asking the Prime Minister to champion the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, by not replacing the Trident nuclear weapons system, whic currently has a lot of votes (9195) compared to other petitions, then please click here:

More details from petition creator

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is the greatest defense humanity has against a world in which many countries seek to acquire nuclear weapons, and in which the probability of nuclear accidents and even nuclear terrorism is unacceptably high.

However, this treaty is greatly under threat. Kofi Annan has said: "If we want to avoid a cascade of nuclear proliferation, we need a major international effort to strengthen the regime before it is too late."

The UK could lead this international effort. To do so, we would have to renounce our nuclear weapons system, Trident.

This would be an historic decision; it would rank among the few truly moral actions ever carried out by a nation-state; and it would give the UK the moral standing needed to champion the Treaty and help turn the world back from possible catastrophe.

This petition therefore calls on the Prime Minister not to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system, and so to champion the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

'Doomsday Clock' hands to be moved

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to underscore 'Most Perilous Period Since Hiroshima and Nagasaki'.

Maybe - in view of the following and with Blair wanting to build a new generation of Trident missiles, and a new generation of nuclear power stations (the Environment Agency has just published its criteria for evaluating the 'environmental impact' of new build nuclear so it can be sped up) - it's time to join CND again. What do you think?

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS), a top level group of concerned academics and nuclear scientists founded in 1945 that includes Stephen Hawking, will move the minute hand of the 'Doomsday Clock' on January 17, tomorrow. This is the first such change to the Clock since February 2002, and marks a serious cocnern about world stability.

They are worried about a 'Second Nuclear Age' marked by grave threats, including:
  • nuclear ambitions in Iran and North Korea
  • unsecured nuclear materials in Russia and elsewhere
  • the continuing 'launch-ready' status of 2,000 of the 25,000 nuclear weapons held by the U.S. and Russia
  • escalating terrorism, and
  • new pressure from climate change for expanded civilian nuclear power that could increase proliferation risks.

The BAS news event will take place simultaneously on January 17th at 9:30 a.m. ET at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., and at 2:30 p.m./1430 GMT in London at The Royal Society.

News event speakers will include:
  • Stephen Hawking, professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge, and a fellow of The Royal Society;
  • Kennette Benedict, executive director, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists;
  • Sir Martin Rees, president of The Royal Society, and professor of cosmology and astrophysics and master of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge;
  • Lawrence M. Krauss, professor of physics and astronomy at Case Western Reserve University; and
  • Ambassador Thomas Pickering, a BAS director and co-chair of the International Crisis Group.

A live, two-way satellite feed (with full Q&A) will connect the Washington, D.C., and London news events.

What is the clock?

In 1947 the Bulletin introduced its clock to convey the perils posed by nuclear weapons through a simple design. The Doomsday Clock evoked both the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero).

In 1949 Bulletin leaders realised that movement of the minute hand would signal the organization’s assessment of world events.

The decision to move the minute hand is made by the Bulletin's Board of Directors in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates.

The Bulletin's Doomsday Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to nuclear weapons and other threats. Additional information is available at

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Chucking out the offsetting cowboys

Carbon offsetting is flavour of the month. As the Low Carbon Kid's always said, it's Catch-23 - having your cake and eating it.

Two reasons it doesn't work:

One: there are lots of scam compnies around, and it's unregulated.

The Government is expected to make an announcement on Thursday (day after tomorrow), setting standards for carbon offsetting schemes in the UK.

57 schemes are expected to fail and only 4 to comply with the new rules when they are announced.

Just goes to show how much green hot air there is around.

Two: It doesn't work anyway

I agree with those like Ed Gillespie who say cash payment to an offset company is actually counter-productive and represents a 'get out of carbon jail free' card.

I fear that carbon offsetting, rather than encourgaing 'carbon literacy' and increasing the transparency of our own personal carbon impacts, instead tends to absolve us of any moral responsibility or accountability to reduce our own carbon from air travel.

The end result being: "I've offset so it's OK to fly".

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Tackling nuclear NIMBYs like me

The Government (DTI) has published a number of future scoping research papers commissioned from MORI/Ipsos, to help tell it what to do. Among them is one on how to tackle the anti-nuclear power movement.

It actually doesn't tell you much that any of us couldn't have told them. For example it says:

"Public resistance towards radioactive waste may lead to there being few, if any, acceptable domestic sites on land for storage/burial Governments and the waste managers may have to find alternative ways of disposal."

and: "This could either force the minimisation of use of nuclear resources (therefore driving the development and use of alternative energy sources), or drive companies to dispose of their waste in other locations without public knowledge."

It warns specifically that James Lovelock and other pro-nuclear 'environmentalists' can help swing public opinion.

And that the government should watch out for "increasing membership of anti-nuclear NGOs and other groups; decreasing support for nuclear power plants; and radioactive waste disposal companies unable to find suitable locations due to public outcry" as indicators that they may not be able to reach their nuclear targets.

It therefore advocates "campaigns to educate the public on real risks of radioactive waste; improving management of radioactive waste; and development of new methods for its disposal."

In terms of 'Parallels & Precedents' it mentions: "Nirex exposed as having identified 12 secret sites for radioactive waste disposal in England and Scotland; a number of incidents have occurred when nuclear waste was improperly disposed of in some cases, these incidents involve people being injured or killed due to the release of radioactive contamination."

Well. No-brainer or what?

See: the paper here.

On the same site are a number of other interesting papers on global warming including, bizarrely, "What would Jesus drive?: the birth of green spirituality and creation care".

Perhaps Tony thinks God can save us.

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