Renewables

Potterton PowerMax Ivy Problem

 Just returned from a Potterton PowerMax with an intermittent E133 fault.  The customer had spent hundreds with other heating engineers, who had replaced electrodes, thermistors and even the Magnaclean but had failed just to walk outside and see that Ivy had grown over the flue and was restricting the air.  How can a ‘service engineer’ conducting a Landlord’s Gas Safety check fail to find something as basic.  We desperately need more attention to common-sense thinking rather than over-regulation.  

King’s Lynn Incinerator a medieval approach!!

I am appalled about the release of £91m in private finance (PFI) credits by Caroline Spelman to build the incinerator in King’s Lynn.  

The incinerator industry rose from the economic collapse of the nuclear industry in the 1970s and ’80s.  As cost and safety concerns began to erode nuclear power’s allure, the companies that had most benefited from building the plants got into the resource recovery business, also know as trash to cash.  Incineration does not eliminate waste; it changes its form.  Emissions are spread downwind across towns and the countryside.  Incinerators have tall smokestacks so that the ash does not fall on the local community.  One study in New Jersey showed that a state-of-the-art incinerator consuming 2,250 tons of household waste daily would annually emit 5 tons of lead, 17 tons of mercury, 580 pounds of cadmium, 2,248 tons of nitrous oxide, 853 tons of sulfur dioxide, 777 tons of hydrogen chloride, 87 tons of sulfuric acid, 18 tons of flourides, and 98 tons of particulate matter small enough to lodge permanently in the lungs.  Most important, incinerators turn out to be dioxin generators.  The lignin from paper and wood combines with chlorine gases to form 210 different dioxin compounds.  For every 100 tons of waste, incinerators produce 30 tons of fly ash, a granular substance that contains most of the toxins.  The fly ash is trucked to a landfill where is has to be be enclosed in plastic liners.  The plastic presently used in fly-ash landfills is guaranteed for twenty years; landfills containing toxic fly ash in New York and New Jersey have reported leaks within months after installation.  

Waste incineration is not an environmental solution, and the cost is enormous.  Incinerator companies demand long-term contracts requiring cities to pay for pre-established amounts of waste.  If those levels of waste are not achieved because of recycling or other conservation measures, the cities must still pay for the phantom waste.  Incinerators do generate electricity through the use of steam turbines, but the utilities are required to purchase this power at avoided costs, which is the highest rate paid.

Let’s not go back to a medieval way of processing our waste because there are alternatives.

Renewable heat grants up for grabs

From today (1 August 2011), householders could get government funding to help install renewable heating systems such as biomass boilers and solar thermal panels. Money will be available for up to 25,000 installations over the next year, with grants being awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Find out more about the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme

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If I was Prime Minister for a day

These are the changes I would make to the industry:

A coherent plan for domestic heat
84% of UKs homes are heated by gas. Currently the government’s efforts appear to be directed at electricity but, unless we propose the wholesale scrapping of every single gas boiler we need a plan that takes into account a slow decommissioning of gas boilers alongside a simultaneous ramping up of our reliance on renewables, first through hot water and then through central heating.

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Darling unveils £400 scrappage scheme

In his pre-budget report Alistair Darling announced a “scrappage” of £400 for those who own a working ‘G’ rated boiler.

There are around 4m G-rated gas boilers in the UK, according to Philip Sellwood, the chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust. “If these were all replaced with A-rated boilers it would save almost 4.5m tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of 830,000 household’s emissions, so the scheme announced today has real promise,” he said. Upgrading to an A-rated condensing boiler could save a household £310 a year in bills.

However whether the government will roll it out through their Warmfront Scheme, or leave it to the householder to make their own decision as to whom they wish to install their boiler is another matter.

The UK needs immediate constitutional reform

There is a great deal of talk in the United Kingdom about a new constitution; we have been shaken out of our lethargy and belief that our unwritten constitution provides us with the best possible system of government by a terrible scandal in which it has been revealed that the majority of our elected representatives and some of the appointed representatives have been taking from the public purse for their own enrichment. Continue reading