Irrelevant Promises

Both the United States of America and the European Union have promised to cut carbon dioxide emissions by between 26% and 28% compared with what they emitted ten years ago. The promised emission reduction takes effect from 2015, ten years from now.  Continue reading

The World’s Largest Solar PV Array

While the United Kingdom’s renewable energy sector is losing business, due to uncertainty about government policy and the administration’s poor understanding of renewable energy the renewable energy sector in India looks as though it will become increasing prosperous and increasing important to the economic development of India. Continue reading

Large Scale Solar Farms Generating Electricity

In Broxford in Suffolk Santander are building a 60 hectare array of solar photo-voltaic panels, which they expect to generate 32.8 megawatt of electricity. The array is being built on a disused airfield.  It will be one of Britain’s largest photo-voltaic installations. and will feed electricity into the grid during daylight hours, cashing in on the very large subsidy that the United Kingdom taxpayer pays. Continue reading

Three Threats to the Oceans

The oceans cover two thirds of the surface of this planet. When we look at the state of the planet to see if it is prospering or declining it would be foolish not to look at the state of the oceans. Very few people actually live on the oceans but billions of people depend on them for food and for the regulation of the climate. Continue reading

A New Climate Change Feedback

One of the problems of assessing the pace of climate change is measuring feedbacks. Feedbacks are, in climate science, reactions to external things that change climates. For example as the atmosphere warms so the atmosphere holds more water vapour. Water vapour is a greenhouse gas and this increase in atmospheric water vapour is a feedback which amplifies the existing global warming. There can be negative feedbacks, which reduce the effect of global warming or may slow it down or even reverse it. The main negative feedback is thought to be that as the earth gets hotter so it emits more energy, relatively speaking. Continue reading

Gas and electricity prices rise – what this means and what will happen next

If you buy your gas and electricity from Npower you will find yourself paying a lot more for your energy. They are raising gas prices by up to 27% and electricity prices by up to 20%. Average price increase will be around 17% for gas and 15% for electricity. However, you should not be in a rush to change energy supplier to one of the other providers because they will, I am sure, follow suit over the next few weeks.

An average home will find itself paying over £154 a year more this year for its energy, than it did last year.These high increases spell hardship, discomfort and sometimes death for the fuel poor. If you already spend more than 10% of your income on fuel (and thus you are officially categorised as being in fuel poverty) you will find it hard to make ends meet and stay warm; your best chance to survive will be for a warm winter.

Some newspapers have accused the energy companies of profiteering. I am no fan of the fossil fuel energy producers but I am sure that they have little scope for profiteering. Energy prices have been going upwards, on a trend basis, for the past five years and although they sharply fell last year upward pressure this year has been very significant and it is only a matter of time and marketing before all these price increases are passed on to the consumer.

What is new about the present price increases is that there are large regional variations, so that the further away from the source of energy you live the more you will pay. Prices are now being adjusted to take delivery into account. That might not be too fair.

Those people who have invested in some form of microgeneration will reap some dividends on their investment, because they will be immune form energy price increases, to the extent that their microgeneration provides them with free energy. Solar thermal users will benefit the most, as gas (mostly used by households for heat) will generally rise more than electricity.

If you live in fuel poverty and spend more than 10% of your income on energy you may be delighted to know that the government passed a law in 2000 under which they were obliged to abolish fuel poverty by 2015, which is only seven years away. Well, I admit that you might not be really delighted with this news because figures of those in fuel poverty will continue to rise with prices unless measures are put in place to enable the poor to have fuel. Fuel poverty reached an all time low of just over two million households in 2003, but virtually doubled to four million households in 2006.

Charities like National Energy Action, Energy Action Scotland and Age Concern all deplore the fuel rise, but they will be powerless to prevent this and the further fuel rises in the offing. They can only alleviate the effects of the fuel rise by measures. As I see it the measures will have to be increased tremendously, because I fear the present fuel rises will be seen to be simply the tip of the iceberg as a more industrialised and more prosperous developing world competes with the developed world for limited supplies of fossil fuel.

This Government has a naive and childlike belief in legislation. The law passed to abolish fuel poverty will do no such thing; it might help from time to time and in specific cases but all that is rather scratching the surface of the problem, because fuel poverty rises and declines according to fuel prices unless comprehensive measures are put in place.

The same childlike belief in the efficacy of a legally binding statement that the country is obliged to abolish or change something by a future date is exhibited in Mr Hilary Benn’s much criticised Climate Change Bill, which suffers from the defect of enacting a pious hope or a statutory target to reduce carbon emissions without the measures needed to see it through. I fear that as a result our carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions will suffer the same fate as the number of households in fuel poverty – they will inexorably increase.

The old are dieing of the cold

Help the Aged, a charity concerned with elderly people, reports that each year more than 25,000 older people in the United Kingdom die a death caused by preventable cold related illnesses. This is a scandal. They also say that about a fifth of the elderly spend their winters in one room to save on heating bills and nearly 2 million people wear outdoor clothes indoors for warmth. This happens in one of the most developed countries in the twenty first century. Continue reading