Arctic ice melt and how this will affect us.

Arctic ice melts and how this will affect us.

Ice at the Arctic and the Antarctic plays an important role in regulating our climate. Ice is white, and white reflects back solar radiation, instead of absorbing it. The area of ice at the poles acts as part of the very complicated control system that our planet has to keep its climate more or less as we enjoy it now. If there were no ice at the poles the world would be a far warmer place than it is today.

A large area of ice – around 20 square kilometers, has broken away from the northern part of Ellesmere Island, which is to the west of Greenland. Continue reading

Why I do not buy energy on a green tariff

Why don’t I buy energy on a green tariff? 350,000 people have signed up to buy energy on a green tariff from one of the six major domestic energy suppliers in the United Kingdom. I am not one of them. I was never convinced by something that calls itself a “green” tariff. The phrase is actually meaningless. What does “green” mean when applied to electricity and gas supplies? Most people would think that ”green” means energy generated by sustainable renewable means – such as wind power, photovoltaics or possibly even by biomass (although I do not classify biomass as “green”). Notice that there are words that I have used which could be used by the energy suppliers to describe their energy tariff, but instead they have opted for the vaguer, almost mysterious word “green”. Continue reading

Can Parliament control energy prices?

Can Parliament control energy prices?

Parliament’s role has been gradually changing over the years. It still makes laws, but most of the laws it makes are “whipped” by the government onto the statute book; Members of the House of Commons are dependent upon their parties – Harold Wilson once famously threatened the “take away their dog licences” when challenged by dissenters. That means that the real work of Parliament is now done in committees which examine what is going on and sometimes make very valuable recommendations which should be given wider publicity and more credence than they are. Continue reading

Energy prices spiral, fuel poverty increases – time to rethink fundamentals

As energy prices continue their upward spiral hundreds of thousands of families are now spending a huge share of the income on energy. Once this share goes above 10% of the income the family is said to be in fuel poverty. The UK are under an obligation to abolish fuel poverty, because it is scandalous that anyone in a civilised developed and wealthy nation should suffer from hypothermia or be without energy, in the same way that it would be scandalous if people in the UK were starving. Continue reading

UK’s nuclear energy will cease to be under government control

The UK’s nuclear energy will shortly cease to come under government control.

Centrica (the energy company which owns British Gas) is buying 25% of British Energy, the nuclear generating plant, from EDF. The UK Government owns 35% of British Energy, which is worth according to the price that Centrica paid for its shares, around £4.3 billion. Having sold 25% to Centrica, EDF will now buy the UK Government’s 35%, giving EDF (which stands for Electricté de France) control of the UK‘s nuclear generating industry which is expected to be expanded greatly if the unimaginative Secretary of State John Hutton has his way.

The astonishing thing about this is that the Government is so willing to dispose of an industry which it thinks critical to our energy future, and see it disposed of into foreign hands. Continue reading

Gas and electricty prices rise again, a pain and a scramble

Gas and electricity prices rise again; the pain is just starting.

Following up on Centrica’s statement last week that their prices would rise so that an average consumer would be paying £1000 a year for gas, EDF has announced an actual price rise. For those without a capped energy price gas will cost 22% more and electricity 17% more than it does today. The new prices are from 25th July so they are already biting into the pockets of domestic consumers. Continue reading

Solar concentrators in the desert

There has been talk about building a huge array of solar concentration mirrors in a desert to generate electricity. There are already a number of plants that do this. The mirrors concentrate the rays of the sun and the energy is converted from radiation into heat. The heat is used to create steam which drives a steam turbine generator producing current. Continue reading