Wind Turbines and the foolishness of subsidising them

About ten miles north of Ramsgate, in the middle of the Thames Estuary some 175 offshore wind turbines have been installed and are now operating, as wind turbines operate, in their own misunderstood fashion. If it is windy, and not too windy, the turbines generate electricity. The publicity claims that the wind turbines will generate enough electricity for 470,000 homes but the publicity is imprecise. There are only 22.5 million homes in the United Kingdom and to power them all will need another 50 arrays of similar turbines but unfortunately it is not as simple as that. Continue reading

How to Save on Fuel Bills: Solar Water Heating

The Government of the United Kingdom has announced that it will enact legislation to force energy companies to offer no more than four tariffs and to advise their customers of the cheapest tariff. At a time when energy companies are making record profits from record margins the change is long overdue. Sometime son energy companies will no longer be able to confuse customers with a plethora of tariffs and they will be forced to abandon the so called legacy tariffs under which someone that has not to time or to skill to understand that the tariff they are paying is ridiculously high. Continue reading

Get the Government to pay you for heating your home’s water with Genersys Solar

Just in time for the cold weather British Gas is raising its prices by more than 8% for gas and electricity consumed by domestic residential households. I had personally expected that shame would probably keep the big energy companies from holding back their price rises until after Christmas, but I was wrong. Continue reading

My Response to DECC’s Consultation on the Renewable Heat Incentive

I set out below the questions in the RHI Consultation together with my answers. I have underlined the questions.  Continue reading

Energy Prices Start to Rise

Just in time for the winter weather Scottish and Southern Energy will be raising their prices of domestic gas and electricity by about 9% from the 15th October 2012. More than five million customers will have to pay more for gas and electricity and in these days where inflation depending on what you spend is around 3% and where wage inflation is virtually non-existent, these energy prices rises will make it hard for many people to pay their energy bills. Come 2013 the average dual fuel customer will be paying nearly £1300 a year just to keep warm, was in hot water cook and keep the lights on and the appliances in power. Continue reading

Savings on Solar Water Heating Systems

I suppose that it is easy to by repeating things, give them an aura of the truth. I was at the Eisteddfod in South Wales, hugely enjoying visiting the stalls. I have never been to one of these events before and this one was like a combination of a music festival and an outdoor exhibition. It was well worth visiting especially as many exhibitors were showing items that they made themselves and which being handmade had the unique quality that comes of something special. Continue reading

Air Unfit for Purpose

London has the worst air quality of any European capital, to our shame. It air is contaminated by diesel particulates, nitrous oxide, in some places heavy concentrations of carbon dioxide and all sorts of other pollution caused by burning. Londoners burn fuel to power their vehicles, gas to provide heat and hot water, and coal and gas to provide the electricity that the city uses. Considering that there are no power stations in London, no heavy industry in London and very little light industry in London it is astonishing just how much the air quality is made bad by what is basically a city where most of the working inhabitants are providing services of one kind or another, rather than being manufacturing workers.

There seems to be a strange reluctance by the national or local government to do anything to improve London’s air quality. The United Kingdom is bound by European legislation to keep air quality within certain limits and the regulations that have created these limits have been in force for many years. It is not just London that suffers from poor air quality; the UK government has applied for exemptions from complying with the air quality regulations for Aberdeen and north-east Scotland, Belfast, Birkenhead, Brighton, Bristol, Liverpool, Preston, Sheffield, South-West England; South Wales, Swansea and Tyneside and the exemptions have all been refused by the European Commission.

The refusal to do anything substantive about air quality except apply for exemptions will mean that in addition to bearing the £20 billion a year additional health costs caused or contributed to by poor air quality, the UK taxpayer will have to cough up substantial fines for the Government’s failures on air quality. It is a lose-lose situation. Everyone loses except the European Commission which will gain some fines and no doubt use the fines as purposefully as it uses its other income.

The health care costs are significant. Some years ago I was asked to umpire a cricket match played by twelve year olds in South Wales. I was astonished when four of the children came up to me before the start of the match and ask me to look after their inhaler devices for asthma. I had not understood that air quality was affecting the very young so badly.

There are three main government measures about London’s air quality and the air quality of the nation:-

1. The Clean Air Acts, brought into being in the early 1950s which prohibit the burning of coal and smoke type fuels

2. The Low Emission Zones, under which polluting vehicles are charged because they pollute, but not prohibited from being on the road because they pollute beyond levels that are acceptable.

3. Subsidies for electric cars, which simply displace the emissions and pollution from the city to the power stations.

To improve air quality we have to change people’s behaviour. My suggestions are:-

1. Free public transport, which will take many cars off the road

2. Improved public transport which will take even more cars off the road

3. More solar water heating which will reduce particulates from burning natural gas

4. Tighter smoke washing controls on fuel burning power stations.

These measures will be costly, but we can pay for the costs out of the savings of health expenditure and out of taxation. After all the air is free, but there is a cost to keeping it clean. The air we breathe must be rendered fit for its purpose.