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Archive for March, 2007

WWF and IPA published a report on Wednesday showing that the carbon reduction due to the dash for gas in the 1990’s has been wiped out by increased use of coal. Here’s the press release.

It looks to me that the government hopes nuclear and CCS will save the day. This keeps the CBI and power industries happy and is the BIG, politically safe option. Renewables will continue to receive lip service and as for demand side reduction (the cheapest of all emissions reduction measures), it will be gently encouraged but never demanded. As Tony has told us before: you can’t expect people to change their lifestyles just to fight climate change.

By the way, does this mean we can stop using the unrealistic figure of 0.422 kgCO2/kWh for grid electricity? This was based on the carbon intensity falling, not rising! Someone call the BRE.

Anyway, the main points of the report can be summarised as:  (more…)

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I saw on zerochampion that GTC Europe have got together with Cambridge Consultants to produce a single-house micro CHP unit. The key difference between this unit and the Mircogen or Whispergen is that it’s based on a Rankine cycle engine rather than a Stirling engine.

It’s got a similar electric-to-heat output ratio as the Whispergen and Microgen (1 kWe/9 kWt) but they claim that it operates at high efficiency at part load. They also say 2000 units will be available for sale by the end of this year at around €5000 each. It’ll be impressive if they hit the release target as the unit seems to have come out of nowhere. (more…)

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In today’s Guardian. He cites many of the same sources as we did a few days ago and goes on to propose a five year ban:

“We need a moratorium on all targets and incentives for biofuels, until a second generation of fuels can be produced for less than it costs to make fuel from palm oil or sugar cane.”

This is one of those issues that requires people to think so we may be in trouble.

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orang1.gifThere’s an article in today’s Observer on how the expansion of palm oil plantations in Indonesia may drive orang utans to extinction by 2012. Because of increased demand for palm oil for processed food and as a biofuel, deforestation is taking place 30% faster than previously estimated.

With some friends, I went to Tanjung Puting National Park in Indonesian Borneo in 1997 to see orang utans in the wild and at the rehabilitation centre set up by Birute Galdikas. It was one of the best weeks of my life.

As our close cousins, orangs share many of our best traits and lack many of our worst. Henry might only be 5 or 6 years old when we wipe out the last of the wild orang utans – he won’t have the chance to see them like we did. That thought disgusts me and makes me indescribably sad.

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Biofuel is all over the news right now. The recent agreement between US and Brazil, Al Gore’s presentation at the World Biofuels Conference, and the latest UK budget are just a few examples. At first glance biofuels promise to be a key element in a sound strategy to mitigate climate change. But under the surface rages a fierce debate. (more…)

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In Italy, building professionals often tell you that thick stone walls will keep you warm in winter. Our first geometra said so. And recently my friend’s architect told him it wasn’t worth adding insulation to his walls since they were porous tufa stone, which the architect claimed was a good insulator. But it’s not true.

A good insulator has a high thermal resistance – it prevents heat from flowing from the warm side to the cool side. Polystyrene, rockwool, and sheep’s wool are all examples of good insulators. In many cases you can compensate for lower thermal resistance by increasing the thickness of material: if your insulation isn’t good, just use more of it. But with stone, the thermal resistance is so low that in order to offer a reasonable level of insulation, the walls need to be unrealistically thick.  (more…)

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