Posts Tagged ‘green’

Are green energy subsidies a load of bunkum?

June 12th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

wind turbines Are green energy subsidies a load of bunkum?Ed Davey is being shouted at by Which!!! They’re telling him that his proposed subsidy scheme will encourage the building of higher-cost energy projects (offshore wind farms and the like) that might not actually deliver value for money.

The rest of the country meanwhile, is collectively rolling their eyes and handing out degrees for stating the bloody obvious.

Either way, Which!!! has written to the secretary of state for energy and climate change saying that his plans for electricity market reform “could result in expensive generation projects being prioritised over cheaper, more cost-effective options”.

Of course, Which!!! are insistent that they support green initiatives, but doesn’t want to see the Government’s Contract for Difference (CfD) being rolled out in a way that is not only flawed, but needlessly expensive.

“It is vital that any measure that adds costs to consumers’ bills is closely scrutinised at a time when energy prices are the top financial concern for consumers. Whilst there has been a lot of welcome attention given to tackling the immediate cost of energy bills, Which!!! believes that more attention needs to be done to address energy costs in the long term,” said Richard Lloyd, Which!!! executive director.

He added that: “The absence of full competition from the Contracts for Difference process at the outset risks priority being given to investment that may not deliver value for money for customers.”

“In our view it is not appropriate to shield offshore wind developers from competitive cost pressures … there are a wide range of costs across offshore wind projects but accurate cost information is hard to come by. Allocating subsidy competitively is the best way of revealing this information.”

Fancy a nice, green, leafy Coke?

June 11th, 2014 8 Comments By Lucy Sweet

coke life Fancy a nice, green, leafy Coke?You’ve tried Diet Coke (Girl Coke) and Coke Zero (Bloke Coke) and caffeine-free Coke (Crap Coke), not to mention the original sugar Daddy – fondly known as ‘Fat Coke’ – which can melt your teeth at fifty paces. And we were all ok with that.

Even so, now the powers that be at Coca-Cola have invented Coca-Cola Life, which is sweetened with a blend of sugar and sugar substitute Stevia, which comes from leaves. And at only 89 calories a can, it’s better for you than normal Coke. MMMMM, LEAF COKE. I’ll have two!

It comes in a tasteful green can, and is a kind of halfway house for those who find original Coke too calorific, and Diet Coke too artificially sweetened. It came out in South America first – because that’s where Stevia is grown – and will be launched here in September.

But what does it taste like? We don’t know. But you can already tell that the psychological effect of the green can and the leafy stuff might not be too appealing for those who like to guzzle fizzy drinks like water.

Still, it makes it look like Coca-Cola are doing something to improve the health of their customers and ward off the obesity epidemic. They waffled:

‘With Coca-Cola Life, we have innovated to provide consumers with a new option with fewer calories. We were early signatories to the UK Government’s Responsibility Deal and as we work with others across society to address the public health challenge of obesity in the UK and across Europe, we will continue to take actions that help people balance their lifestyles.’


Are we suffering from recycling fatigue?

May 27th, 2014 8 Comments By Lucy Sweet

Recycling Mixed Containers Are we suffering from recycling fatigue?It has to be said, as you look at the looming face of Nigel Farage and the ongoing destruction of the planet, it is easy to become increasingly lackadaisical about recycling baked bean tins and the like.

And it seems that Britain as a whole is lagging behind with recycling, due to something called ‘green fatigue.’

This follows bin wars up and down the country, with people angry that recycling bins aren’t being emptied regularly, and others getting it all wrong and filling them with nappies and food. Everywhere you look, it seems there’s a lazy council, or a bad recycling policy, or in the case of Derry City Council – who stockpiled brown recycling bins for years because they didn’t have the trucks to collect them – utter incompetence.

This is according to a report by recycling company Sita UK, which outlines the state of our rubbish nation, and casts doubts on whether Britain will reach its waste targets. Recycling rates are falling. In 2012 the rate was 43%, but although official figures aren’t out yet, Sita says they will be lower this year.

People are blaming a proliferation of confusing bins – and soon there’ll be even more bins due to an EU directive to separate waste. Keith Gordon, head of Environment for Rochford Council in UKIP-tastic Essex complained: “Do you want to get to the point where you have six bins or six boxes? It can look like you have a line of Daleks all the way down the road.”

(Sounds great!)

So are we really at the end of our recycling tether? Or is it crap local councils and lack of information that are to blame?

Nick Clegg wants us to buy electric cars

April 29th, 2014 5 Comments By Lucy Sweet

Hey look, here’s Nick Clegg pretending to be a human in an electric car! That’s going to make us all want to get one, isn’t it? Well, the government seem to think this will be the case – they’re ploughing £500m into a campaign to encourage people to buy glorified milk floats.

nick clegg electric car 300x213 Nick Clegg wants us to buy electric cars

The cash will provide personal grants of up to £5,000 towards an electric car, and is intended to boost the ultra low emission vehicle (ULEV) industry.

Clegg said: ‘Owning an electric car is no longer a dream or an inconvenience. Manufacturers are turning to this new technology to help motorists make their every day journeys green and clean.”

“This major investment is there to make driving an electric car affordable, convenient and free from anxiety about the battery running out. But it’s also about creating a culture change in our towns and cities so that driving a greener vehicle is a no-brainer for most drivers.”

Between 2015 and 2020, grants will be given to cities who can offer incentives to drivers of electric vehicles, by providing free parking or access to bus lanes. Boris Johnson, smoking a cigar on the top deck of a London omnibus, welcomed the move, tediously and meaninglessly calling it ‘a green game changer.’

All very nice in theory, but where are we going to plug them in?

wind turbines Bills to rise as renewable energy projects are approvedThe government are very pleased with themselves as they’ve announced eight major renewable energy projects, which means benefits for the Earth and thousands of jobs being created.

However, as ever with new projects, there’s some bad news.

The new contracts will include offshore wind farms and the conversion of some coal-powered plants which will eventually run on biomass. Energy Secretary Ed Davey is confident that these projects will help to power up to 3 million homes. ‘Help’ and ‘up to’ sticking out like a sore thumb there.

Davey also thinks that they’ll attract £12bn in private investment, which is not to be sniffed at.

The new energy projects will be offshore at Outer Moray Firth, offshore at Liverpool Bay, a conversion at Selby, offshore north of Cromer, offshore at Hornsea off the East Yorkshire coast, a biomass conversion at Ashington, Northumberland, an extension offshore off Walney island and at Teeside, biomass with combined heat and power in Middlesbrough.

These eight projects will all get one of the government’s Contracts for Difference (CfDs), which basically guarantee prices for renewable energy suppliers. They may cost up to £1bn each year in subsidies.


“We are confident that the eight will go ahead, but if a company decides not to go ahead…. there will be another one queuing up behind,” Davey told the Today programme. ”These investments are critical to make sure we have got secure, clean energy. The hope, clearly, is to try and rid the country of the need to get energy from Ukraine, now that Russia is throwing its weight around.

The bad news is that it’ll cost us, adding (at least) 2% to household energy bills by 2020. While energy companies start announcing price freezes and the like, the money will be coming out of our pockets from elsewhere.

Ikea to sell flat pack solar energy

September 30th, 2013 1 Comment By Lucy Sweet

Ikea have started selling solar panels – flat pack of course – but the good news is they’re not self assembly. However, they do cost £5700, which is slightly more than an Igbo sofa or a Farte bookcase, but the price also includes installation – which means you don’t have to go on the roof with an Allen key. And you could save £768 a year on your energy bills. Hurray!

solar 678x308 family 300x136 Ikea to sell flat pack solar energy

The panels are due to go on sale today at Ikea’s Southhampton store, then – if they get any orders – they’ll be available from your nearest blue box full of meatballs in the next 10 months. The service is in partnership with green energy company Hanergy, which will be doing all the instore consultancy and buttering up of customers, as well as supplying the panels.

For their part, Ikea have redesigned the panels to make it look a bit less like you’ve got a hydroponic weed farm in your loft.

Joanna Yarrow, Head of Sustainability at Ikea, said the retailer is the first major chain to cut out the middleman.

‘At Ikea we’re excited to be able to help customers take positive actions at home for both the environment and their wallets,’ she said, (probably in a press release). ‘We know that our customers want to live more sustainably and we hope working with Hanergy to make solar panels affordable and easily available helps them do just that. We want to make a greener, more sustainable way of life attractive and easy for as many people as possible.’

Next stop on the road to sustainability – quit making cheap furniture that falls apart after six months?

Going green might save everyone £166 a year

March 27th, 2013 9 Comments By Lucy Sweet

Ed Davey 300x199 Going green might save everyone £166 a year

Proving them fossil fuel lovin’ Tories wrong, Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey is saying that greener measures in the home can save each householder in Britain £166 a year off their energy bills by 2020.

The DECC published a report yesterday saying that the government only had control over 11% of the average annual £1250 energy bill – once gas prices, VAT energy company profits were taken into account.

But instead of sitting around picking their feet while the world melts, new government climate change policies like tighter building controls, smart meters and better A-rated boilers could effectively reduce bills, according to Davey.

He is also championing wind power – unlike some Conservative politicians, who don’t want wind turbines to spoil their view of their swimming pools, and (wrongly) say that it will cost an extra 120bn and make household bills even higher.

‘Global gas price hikes are squeezing households,’ Davey says. ‘They are beyond any government’s control. The analysis shows that our strategy of shifting to alternatives like renewables and of being smarter with how we use energy is helping those who need it most to save money on their bill.”

The millions of people who are too poor to put the heating on are essentially already part of this greener movement, but let’s face it, it’s a little bit more progressive than Osborne’s ‘Dash for gas.’

Last one to turn down the thermostat is a sissy.

horse 198x300 Asda consumers so shocked by horsemeat theyre all turning green

some raw horsemeat, yesterday

It seems the horsemeat scandal is cantering on. Last Friday Asda made an official announcement over their meat products, admitting to one positive test for horse and a number of other products where there was cross-meat contamination. Full details of asda’s shockedness and the products withdrawn can be found here.

But it seems this horsemeat business, which has been running for several furlongs now, has had another effect on consumers and their buying habits. It seems we’re all turning green, and going veggie. Asda Chief Executive Andy Clarke admitted that “consumers have switched to veggie meals” with the store seeing increase in sales of vegetable ready-meals and quorn, and an impact on meat sales in the wake of the horsemeat revelations.

This ties up with new research from Consumer Intelligence which suggests that 25% of shoppers have resolved to buy less processed meat, and just over 20% claim to be buying less meat generally since the scandal broke. Four million people have decided to stop buying processed meat completely and 6% of people claimed to know someone who had gone the whole green hog and become vegetarian.

Clearly, none of those surveyed were BW readers- our poll earlier this month showed almost 44% of you couldn’t care less what type of animal you were eating, it was all meat.

Mr Clarke said: “For Asda, our customers come into our stores and they expect to buy what’s on the label. So I feel very responsible for that,”  adding “but I want you to know that I’m leaving no stone unturned to address what happened in our supply chain.” He rejected claims that the supermarket race-to-the-bottom had prompted suppliers to cut corners in delivering ever-cheaper meat and said that “events in the last few weeks have shocked us as much as we know they’ve shocked you.”

Still, own-brand processed meat consumers can now rest assured that with all the media scrutiny, they will be back to eating cow’s anus rather than premium quality horse steak. Result.

electricity meter 300x187 Clean energy costs will triple and youll be paying for itWe’ve spoken about the real cost of carbon tax before, but it is still a pressing concern as reports state that we’ll be coughing up even more money for our energy bills as the cost of covering greener energy will triple by 2020. And that’s according to government officials, for what it’s worth.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey is going to let utility companies triple the renewable energy levy to £7.6 billion, according to a spokesman at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

This is all part of the plan to replace old power plants and reduce greenhouse gases.

“It’s the most significant change around in the energy market for more than 20 years,” said Gordon Edge, director of policy RenewableUK. Of course, with this move, 250,000 jobs will be created, but it isn’t hard to imagine that support for renewable energy could wane if everyone is faced with increasingly high bills. However, if companies aren’t relying on wholesale gas prices, might we see a drop in cost, eventually?

Not likely.


green houses 300x225 Is the Government offering a Green Deal or a bum deal?Today sees the launch of one of the Government’s latest bright ideas, the NEST compulsory pension, and next Monday another scheme has its debut. But this one is not about investing in your future, this is about the planet, people.

The Green Deal’s purpose is to allow property owners to environmentally improve their properties without having to pay out any moolah upfront. Instead, the cost will be added to energy bills (because they aren’t already a huge cost for homeowners) and paid off over a number of years. Interestingly, the Green Deal charge will attach to the property, rather than the property owner, meaning that future purchasers will also be buying the responsibility to pay off the cost of these green home improvements.

However, crucial to the Government’s plan to get people on the never never is having partner retailers who are willing to participate in the scheme. The original briefing documents mentioned B&Q by name, and DIY stores and supermarkets are considered essential to the scheme given their trust and reach among the UK population.

But so far, no major retailer has committed to join the scheme at launch, with several likely suspects telling the Guardian they would “wait and see” how the scheme worked out before making a final decision. Specifically, B&Q, is still “finalising its position”, Tesco says it already offers a range of energy efficiency options independently of the “green deal” and Marks & Spencer said it was waiting for more details. Undaunted, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said more companies were expected to sign up within the next few months.

From Monday, property owners can register to have a clipboarded inspector advise them on which energy efficiency measures they could have, ranging from loft insulation to double glazing, and costing from an average £200 to £7,000. However, the work won’t start until after 28 January next year, which gives time for Green Deal loans to be approved, but also gives the Government time to  find some retail/service partners to actually implement the works.

DECC want a whole range of different companies to get involved, going from big retail names down to one-man-band builders. The Government spin doctors see this as a way to create jobs while cutting emissions and helping people lower their energy bills. However, our cautious friends over at Which! are worried in case conscientious Green Dealers end up being taken for a ride by some less-than-conscientious workmen. Executive director Richard Lloyd, told the Guardian: “We will be watching closely to see if people get ripped off. Any poor practice must be stamped out as quickly as possible.”

But there are other concerns too. One of the fundamental principles of the Green Deal and the Government’s environmental approach is that green measures should also be golden, that is, the amount spent on energy efficient measures should always be exceeded by cash savings over time. The Green Alliance thinktank has calculated that if loans are made at commercial rates of interest, Green Dealers may have to wait for many years to see a return on their green investment, if at all. Poverty campaigners are also voicing concerns that the scheme will only benefit middle classes, as the poorer and more vulnerable people may be denied loans and could be put off by the thought of having to find more cash to pay their energy bills.

So will you be rushing out to sign up?

Fuel your car on ‘leftover’ whisky

September 26th, 2012 6 Comments By Mof Gimmers
car crash 239x300 Fuel your car on leftover whisky

A whisky powered car, this morning

Scientists are the cleverest idiots around. They can crunch huge formulas and rethink the world on our behalf, but can they cross a road safely? Not a chance. They’re just as likely to burn their house down as they are likely to talk in binary.

And so, some boffins have hatched an idea where cars can be fuelled with leftover whisky. The Napier University team have teamed-up with Perthshire’s Tullibardine distillery to booze into fuel.

They want to make butanol with leftovers whisky (mixed with bacteria), even though – in a just and right world – there would never ever be any leftover whisky, ever.

Prof Martin Tangney, of Napier firm Celtic Renewables, said: “This project demonstrates that innovative use of existing technologies can utilise resources on our doorstep to benefit the environment.”

Tullibardine managing director Douglas Ross said: “We are delighted to be partnering Celtic Renewables in this innovative venture.”

So, hands up if you want to drive a car that’s more drunk than you are.

rotten apple 243x300 Apple arent as green as they thought they wereEveryone likes knocking Apple, whether it’s fair or not. Fact is, hipsters prefer Apple computers, thereby branding the rest of you as the kind of people who buy things purely because they look nice. All fur coat and rounded corners on your gently humming knickers.

However, Apple took a slight knock recently after someone pointed out that they weren’t as eco-friendly as they thought, getting booted off EPEAT’s list. Not that most Apple users will actually care either way. No-one thinks about green issues while they’re watching filth online (unless you’ve got a She-Hulk fetish).

Apple’s Bob Mansfield posted an open letter on the whole thing, saying: “I recognise this was a mistake… starting today, all eligible products are back on EPEAT,” adding: “It’s important to know that our commitment to protecting the environment has never changed, and today it is as strong as ever. Apple makes the most environmentally responsible products in our industry.”

Basically, Apple had to take off their products from EPEAT’s national registry of environmentally sound products, which looks decides what’s good for the Earth with factors such as energy consumption, the ability to recycle and whatnot. Apparently, it’s the issue of recycling that has been the issue and Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display is near impossible to disassemble, so you can’t really recycle it.

Are Apple really socially concious and good eggs, determined to force kindness back into our planet? Horseshit. This all came about after city officials in San Francisco were banned from buying Apple computers because they’re not on the EPEAT list. This kindness was brought about purely because of a loss of sales.


thames estuary airport Thames Estuary airport plans to be thoroughly examined, okay?Have you heard about the plans for a new airport in the Thames Estuary? As you can imagine, there’s a lot of people tutting and swearing about it while others look at it as a good thing to generate revenue and jobs.

And, because of that, the government is going to hold a formal consultation about it all, which will be undertaken in March. Of course, no decisions on anything at all have been made as yet, but London Mayor Boris Johnson backs the Thames airport idea. That’s not particularly surprising is it? The news that Nick Clegg opposes it, is neither here nor there because he has to do what he’s told by David Cameron.

Labour meanwhile are trying to work out if they can argue against the ‘for’ AND ‘against’ parties because they don’t have the vaguest notion of what to do with themselves at the minute.

The airport itself would be built, in part, on reclaimed land and could be on either an island or a peninsula, however, there’s a whole bunch of environmental concerns. Campaigners are worried about wintering birds who use that particular bit of the estuary and they must be protected apparently.

The BBC report that passenger demand for London’s airports is forecast to increase from 140 million passengers a year in 2010 to 400 million passengers a year by 2050, so something is going to have to give. Colin Matthews, chief executive of airport operator BAA, which runs Heathrow, said he was pleased the government was recognising the need for more airport capacity, however, he warned that London “can’t have two hubs” and all a new airport would mean is that Heathrow would become much smaller,

He says: “The consequences of closing Heathrow wouldn’t just be big for my company. It would be big for 100,000 jobs in this part of London. It’s a huge issue economically, a huge issue politically.” Boris Johnson meanwhile, is worried that the UK isn’t moving quickly enough in the aviation field, noting: “We can’t go on expecting Britain to compete with France, Germany and other European countries when we simply can’t supply the flights to these growth destinations – China, Latin America. We are being badly left behind.”

solar panels 300x199 Make money by going green, but youd better be quickWith inflation going up again, to record highs, it is the poor old savers who are losing out again. All that lovely money in the bank and it’s just sitting there losing money. But for the savvy, there is a way of not only generating a return of almost 10% on your savings, but also allowing you to look like a Responsible Person as well. But you may have to get your skates on…

Of course, this money making wheeze isn’t a new savings account, or a risky stock market dabble. It is Government supported, though, and is almost as safe as houses, literally. We are talking about renewable energy, particularly solar panels on your roof. Most renewable energy installations at the domestic level are covered by so-called ‘permitted development’ (so they don’t need planning permissions), except in conservation areas or on listed buildings.

The cash benefits of installing solar panels are threefold, you get paid for generating electricity, you get paid for ‘selling’ your surplus electricity back to the grid and you save money on your electricity bills that would otherwise have gone to line the pocket of *.

To put numbers in, calculates the average benefits for an average household.

Based on an average use of 4,500kWh of electricity per year and the installation of 2.5kW of solar PV panels, an average household, for example a three or four bedroom house,could expect:

the electricity generated to pay the homeowner £836 a year tax-free

other electricity costs (eg at night) would be reduced from £450 to £300: saving £150

giving a total benefit of £986 per year

If you think that solar panels cost approximately £10,000-£15,000 to install, that’s a return on investment of up to 9.86% a year. The feed in tariff rates are guaranteed for 25 years, so after you make back your initial outlay cost in years 10 to 15, the rest is pure profit. Over the whole 25 years, then, the average return including the cost of recouping your capital could be as high as 5.9%. Even assuming the higher cost of installation, an average return of 3.86% after deducting the cost of capital is still higher than most savings accounts. And you get to claim Green credentials.

But if you are thinking of joining the green** revolution you may need to get your skates on. Owing to the financial case for going Eco, the take up of solar panels has surprised everyone, including the Government, and it could be that the three year budgeted figures for feed in tariff costs will be surpassed, on current take-up, sometime in 2012. Add to that the disgruntled claims of a certain Middle England newspaper that green taxes are a leading cause of increases in energy bills, owing to the fact that subsidies are paid for, not by Government, but by small increases to everyone’s energy bill, and it looks like the days of the very generous feed in tariff could be numbered.

Currently, the feed in tariff  for smaller domestic installations of solar panels on homes that are not new is 43.3p/kWh of electricity and these payments are guaranteed for 25 years. Chris Huhne, the energy and climate change secretary, appeared to confirm tariff-slashing fears when he said last week “It is absolutely right that the department goes on looking at the appropriate levels of subsidies to bring on these important technologies, and that is obviously what we will do.”

Naturally, the fledgling solar power industry is less than impressed at the thought of cuts to the subsidy. Jeremy Leggett, founder of Solarcentury, said: “[This is] the ridiculous spectacle of a government destroying jobs it had only just created to save next to nothing, given the tax paid by those jobholders and the unemployment benefit avoided, merely to pander to a Daily Mail lie machine that has green measures detracting from the national economy rather than adding.” He told the Guardian that he was accusing the nuclear and gas industries of conducting a propaganda war against green energy. No strong feelings then.

But the Government has a difficult line to tightrope across now. Clearly the scheme is benefitting the middle classes (who are going to be the only ones with £10 grand plus in the bank) more than those with lower incomes, but to scrap or reduce the scheme could end up putting solar industry scheme workers back on the dole. Not to mention the environmental shame of mothballing a successful Green scheme. The Government are due to review the scheme, and the tariff rates, in April 2012.

* Insert name of energy supplier here

**folding green

captain planet Governments green reforms to stick £300 a year on our bills (lets burn tyres)

Wanted: Dead or alive for sticking our bills up

The government have obviously been watching episodes of Captain Planet over the years as they’ve got all jumpy about the environment. That, or they’re keen to show that they aren’t granite-hearted monsters who don’t care about anyone but themselves.

Being ‘green’ is invariably supposed to give the coalition something of a cuddly image, showing us all that, despite the crippling financial crisis, they really care, maaaaaaan.

And so, they’re going about reforming environmental policies and saving us all from ozone cancer or something. However, what they’re less keen to state is that this touchy-feely approach is going to whack £300 onto energy bills, per year.

We should burn tractor tyres to stay warm in protest.

And this comes from a senior Downing Street adviser who has told David Cameron that government plans to get people to reduce their bills through efficiency measures are likely to fail. This makes something of a mockery of the claims of Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, who reckons that rises in gas and oil prices will be offset by people using less power.

Basically, as the Government move to increase the use of nuclear power, wind and other stuff, it will add 30 per cent to the average family’s annual energy bill. Wages, meanwhile, don’t seem to be going up at all.

The report says: Over time it is clear that the impact of our policies on consumer bills will become significantly greater.”

Of course, the government have tried to combat increasing bills by giving regulator Ofgem more power, but this year, our bills have continued to climb, with five of the “big six” providers announced hikes as large as 24 per cent.