If you cannot Beat it, live with it

A wind travelling at 185 miles an hour (about 300kph) is a very strong wind indeed. Humans do not build settlements where such winds are even a remote a possibility, or so we thought until Hurricane Dorian devastated the North Bahamas. Thousands of homes have been destroyed or damaged severely. Only seven people have died, thanks to the ability of humans to predict the impact of Hurricane Dorian and the efforts of the local government to warn and prepare people for this apocalypse.

Hurricanes start when there is warm water (around and above 28 Celsius) and warm air.

Warm air from the ocean surface begins to rise rapidly. The air is naturally moist, coming from the ocean. When the warm air meets cooler air as it rises the warm moist air condenses and forms storm clouds and drops of rain. The condensation releases heat, which warms the cool air above the warm air, causing it to rise to bring more warm, moist air from the ocean .

The warm, moist air is drawn into a developing storm and more heat is transferred from the surface of the ocean to the atmosphere. This continuing heat exchange creates a wind pattern that spirals violently around a relatively calm center and so a hurricane is born.

The important word in this explanation is “warm”. The air is warmed, the oceans are warmed and this begets hurricanes.

Hurricanes have always been with those who live where the air is warmed and the sea is warmed but in the last century or more the sea has been warming and so has the air more than usual because the heat that the planet naturally receives cannot escape or dissipate into space as it had done for centuries because now the earth has a blanket of insulation, made up of an increasing thick layer carbon dioxide, deposited by kind permission of humanity and its activities.

I do not blame global warming for the creation of Hurricane Dorian – that would be a far too simplistic approach, but I do blame human activities for making hurricanes like Dorian (the most violent in recorded history in the Bahamas) more likely.

It is probably too late to reverse global warming or do much about climate change except to possibly try to slow it down. Humanity, it is clear to me, does not have the appetite to do what must be done to reverse or slow down climate change. It will probably have the appetite to build better and stronger protection against extreme weather events such as hurricanes and flooding. If you can’t beat it, live with it.

My Response to the Latest Renewable Heat Incentive Consultation

The United Kingdom’s Department of Energy & Climate Change has been pussy-footing around with the Renewable Heat Incentive. there is another short consultation which closes on 23rd April 2012. You can get the web link to the consultation at http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/meeting_energy/Renewable_ener/incentive/incentive.aspx

I have replied to the consultation on behalf of Genersys Plc. I set out my response below:- Continue reading

UK Energy Statistics 3rd Quarter 2011

The Department of Energy & Climate Change has published statistics showing energy trends for the third quarter of 2011. The statistics show, comparing the position with the third quarter in 2010:- Continue reading

Great News for businesses and Non profits – the Renewable Energy Incentive Starts

From Monday 28th November 2011 Schools, hospitals, businesses and communities in the United Kingdom have been able to get financial incentives from the Renewable Heat Incentive for installing renewable heat. The Department of Energy and Climate Change have announced the opening in full of this phase of the RHI, and I expect that the thermal solar (or solar water heating) part of the incentive will be particularly attractive and that my company Genersys will be particularly busy with it. Solar thermal is the cleanest form of renewable heat.

A business installing 200Kwh of solar thermal panels will be able to claim 8.5p per kWh for the renewable heat generated. For businesses in particular there are three financial benefits, and for non profits there are just the first two:-

  1. The 8.5p per kWh is more than most businesses are paying for heat if they use gas, and less than they are paying if they use oil or electricity. The incentive provides an income stream which is produced from the capital cost of the investment over the next 20 years. The 8.5p is linked to inflation so the return is real and predictable in real terms. Coincidentally Genersys solar panels are unconditionally guaranteed for 20 years provided they are properly installed using approved components.
  2. In addition to the incentive there is of course the fuel savings on the fuel that will no longer be used. This adds another financial incentive.
  3. If the business installs solar thermal using Genersys panels, it will be able to claim accelerated capital allowances, writing the investment off against profits in the first year, instead of over a number of years. In real terms, if you do the maths, the real rate of return becomes higher because you can moderate the capital expenditure against corporation tax.

The incentive is very good and should make installation of solar water heating for all businesses and non profit organisations virtually a no brainer.

Starting Up your Condensing Boiler after the Summer

Modern boilers are very efficient but compared with old system boilers they are very complicated. People usually experience difficulty in starting them up after the summer. You switch the central heating on and nothing happens. What should you do? What follows is for knowledgeable people who are comfortable working with do it yourself projects. If you have any doubt whatsoever call a Gas Safe qualified plumber. Continue reading

Aberdeen Plans to reduce Council Tax as a Renewable Energy Incentive

While Greg Barker, Minister at the department of Energy and Climate Change, struggles to get the Renewable Heat Incentive up and running in a logical and coherent form and struggles to respond to an enquiry from my Member of Parliament Mike Freer about the lack of certainty in the RHI, the Scots seem to be getting on with decarbonising heat and delivering a cleaner more emission from Scotland that puts DECC to shame. In particular the City of Aberdeen has managed, without much fuss and a great deal less angst and much more common sense than that has been displayed by the chaps at DECC. Continue reading

Another Delay to the RHI

The thermal solar industry was promised by the government that the Renewable Heat Incentive would come into effect on 30th September 2011. This promise was made around two years ago. Like all incentive schemes the government needs to get approval from the European Commission to the incentive package. It expected approval to be rubber stamped but the European Commission has expressed concerns that part of the non domestic RHI – that relating to biomass – has been given too high incentives by the RHI. Thus with EU approval withheld the whole non domestic RHI is held in abeyance. The government is for some reason unable to bring in the non controversial tariffs like that relating to solar thermal because it means changing the proposed regulations and submitting them to Parliament. Continue reading

Photovoltaic versus Solar Thermal – Energy Production

Sometimes politicians forget the plot. The plot is climate change. The only point of solar panels is to produce carbon emission free energy, but now in many countries the point seems to be simply having solar panels themselves. I should add that there are two types of solar panels but the government are subsidising the wrong type. Continue reading

A New Fusion Initiative; the Search for the Grail of Energy

In theory if you can compress atomic nuclei – fusing them together you can get energy because as the nuclei get closer they release energy. That is the theory of nuclear fusion, the holy grail of energy creation. If you can get it to work, the theory goes, the energy released in the form of heat can be used to drive steam turbines thus generating cheap electricity in a manner that as far as we can ascertain, is cheap and relatively safer that generating heat by splitting atoms, which is the traditional nuclear energy way. Continue reading

Problems with ground source heat pumps

In some parts of the world there have not been enough ground source heat pumps installed for people to understand their advantages and disadvantages properly. The United Kingdom is such a place; Germany and Switzerland have many more heat pumps systems per capita, and have had them for many years. In those places where there are many heat pumps installed problems with ground source heat pumps are well known. These problems will become well known in the United Kingdom, as heat pumps become more popular as they will, under the Renewable Heat Incentive. Continue reading