Sunday, November 10

Will fracking and the dash for gas cut UK carbon emissions?

When George Osborne announced his grand plan to build as much as 37GW of gas fired power stations, I decided to set up a spreadsheet to try and calculate the overall CO2 emissions that would result from the scheduled closing down of coal, oil and nuclear powers stations and the added emissions of the 37GW gas fired power stations.

I assumed that only Sizewell B would be kept running and spent hours to check which coal and oil fired power stations would be closed (many are to be closed by 2015 because they opt out of the EU Large Combustion Plants Directive).

It's actually quite difficult to calculate yearly/monthly emissions but not so difficult to calculate hourly carbon emission rates on a like for like basis.

The current total nuclear capacity is about 9.2GW with 8GW to be decommissioned, leaving 1.2GW from Sizewell B remaining (ignoring the recent Hinckley Point announcement). The total CO2 emissions from Sizewell B is about 20247 gCO2/hour and the reduction in emissions is about 136136 gCO2/hr.

The total existing oil/coal power plant is about 18.9GW, of that about 8.4GW is to be decommissioned by 2015, leaving 10.5GW, some of which will be biomass conversions. The approximate reductions in CO2 emissions from that change is about 950400 gCO2/hr.

Adding the two reductions together you get approximately 9524247 gCO2/hr reductions in CO2 emissions.

Now if you calculate the emissions from running the Osborne gas plants (37GW).
You get an additional 14245000 gCO2/hr from those new power stations.

So the resulting net change in emissions per hour would be 14245000 - 9524247 = +4720753 gCO2/hr

The CO2 break even point would be (9524247/14245000)x37 = 24.7GW of gas fired power generation.
Progressively reducing that new 24.7GW of gas fired generation capacity to something less would start reducing the carbon emissions.


CO2 emissions accounted for by nuclear power stations is mainly in construction and mining of fuel.

Emissions assumptions:
Nuclear energy = 17 gCO2/KWh
Gas = 385 gCO2/KWh
Coal/Oil = 900 gCO2/KWh
Because there are very few oil fired power stations and they are/were rarely operated, I lumped them in with coal emissions to simplify calculations.

So would using more gas cut UK emissions?

It depends on how it was used and clearly the creation of 37GW of power stations that will be under the political guidance of a changing democratically elected government, would mean it would be difficult to guarentee the new gas fired power stations would be used sensibly.

Building 37GW of gas turbine power stations and then running them as a base load would actually increase carbon emissions. Note though, I have not done any calculations regarding the remaining 10.5GW of fossil fueled power stations. We know that half of Drax is/will be converted to biomass.

Basically if something is waiting there to be used, would you just leave it to idle? Especially if political parties are squabling over votes and using energy prices for ideological purposes. The temptation will be to use the full 37GW of new gas plant.

The probability is that the dash for gas in the UK would not reduce CO2 emissions by any significant amount and the anti-science political types would exploit the power station capacity they have to hand.

At least with wind turbines, solar energy, nuclear energy etc. you don't give politicians a tool that can be made to create unsustainable CO2 emissions.

Monday, November 4

The History of Climate Science

If you think climate science is something new that began when the first computers were used to model the weather, then think again. Try out this interactive history timeline and discover how it all started some 200 years ago. You can scroll the timeline through the years and just click on an event to view the details. Starting in 1800 when Herschel discovered infrared radiation in sunlight, the multimedia application takes you through some key stages in science that led to the realisation that CO2 kept us warm and the degree of warming depended on the amount of the gas in the atmosphere.

Sunday, October 27

Ecotricity freezes energy prices

Whilst the big six energy companies, (rightwing) newspapers and politicians lie their way through the current energy price rises and forget to mention climate change (which rears it's ugly head this weekend in the shape of a statistically significant storm).

Ecotricity is freezing its energy prices until 2014.

Dale Vince was on 'Broadcasting House' this morning pointing out that Ecotricity produced about 40% of it's own energy from renewable sources and was less vulnerable to external price rises from fossil fuels.

The propagandists will say that Ecotricity gets it's energy from the same place as anyone else. But the whole point is the big six don't have 40% of their energy from renewables. People sign up with companies like Ecotricity to 'invest' in renewables, with companies like Ecotricity you know they are commited to de-carbonisation, something that isn't obvious from the two faced big energy companies and politicians.

The dishonesty is in the way green energy is being used as a scapegoat to cover up fossil fuel price rises and the big six profiteering. Knocking £30 (the cost of FITs and RO) of renewable energy support off a £1250 energy bill in order to hide fossil fuel price rises and economic mismanagement, pretty much sums up how corrupt some people are in pursuit of power and business.

The science is fact, current climate change is caused by our carbon emissions, yet some people are willing to lie their heads off in order to save their political butts and investments.

Wednesday, October 23

The Star bus service

The new number 7 and 8 'Star' service between Waterlooville and Portsmouth has started and like the Eclipse service between Fareham and Gosport includes a bus stop announcement system and leather seats.

The display at the front of the bus shows the next stop once the current stop has been left and a 'ticker tape' feature at the bottom displays the latest news headlines.
I think the display is a bit under used. There is a large area that is used to display messages about the free WIFI and other onboard features.

Maybe First could do a 'deal' with The News and display local news in that space?

As well as the display, an audio voice announces the next bus stop. These systems are great for people with disabilities and also great for people new to buses or new to an area and don't know where to get off.

The seats are smart with leather coverings which should make them easier to clean. The padding in the seats is also good, giving comfortable support.

On some of the buses the display didn't seem to be working (one displayed the Windows command line and some error messages), but hopefully that is just initial teething trouble and on most of the buses I used it was working. The system certainly appears to be an improvement over the bus stop information systems installed years ago which took a long time to get working.

I have to say that despite some displays not working on some buses, the voice 'next stop' announcements were still working on those buses.

Whilst using the service, I did notice that some people were deliberately waiting for 'Star' buses and avoiding other bus numbers!

Saturday, October 12

SSE Energy Supply Ltd put a spin on the numbers

Just been analysing some statements made by SSE Energy Supply Ltd about their price increases this week and spotted inconsistencies between their press release (eagerly reported by The Daily Mail etc.) and their web page about bill costs.

As mentioned in the previous post about the Daily Mail, the average bill can be split into proportions spent on SSE operations.

Here are some of the figures from their public page:

52% is purchasing energy..
8% is for renewables, energy saving for homes etc and subsidising energy for vulnerable people.
6% is for IT and bill managment!

Whilst here we have the 'political' press release from SSE, supporting their 'views':

In the press release SSE state that energy efficiency measures, supporting renewable energy and helping vulnerable people account for £100 of the average bill (8% based on the SSE web page pie chart). So they are basically stating the average bill is £1250 per year and £75 of that is required to manage their web site, post bills and support IT etc. Yep, £75 to burn energy to run a load of computer servers and pay staff to phone you up when you haven't paid a bill.

Note that in the press release SSE do not mention what percentage of the bill the £100 is, but of course it sounds a lot until you realise the total bill is £1250. They also imply that the environmental support and 'social schemes' are taxes, which they know when regarding renewable energy support is incorrect (renewables are not supported through taxes and placing the costs of renewables on a bill is not a tax). The following quote is from page 2 of the press release:
"You pay for the costs of government taxes collected through energy bills and these costs have more than trebled since 2005 
Over recent years, successive Governments have introduced a number of energy policies which are paid for through your energy bills. These costs make up around 10% of your bill and pay for..." 
( Note that in the press release, the 8% from the web page pie chart is rounded up to 10%!)

What is enlightening is that the press release includes renewables with 'social schemes'. That says more than anything else about SSEs management attitudes towards climate change and carbon emissions reduction. If a company saw the real need to cut carbon emissions and saw it as an essential energy policy to combat climate change and establish green energy as their core business, they would not lump them in with 'social schemes'.

Friday, October 4

The sad case of The Daily Mail

This weeks Daily Mail and Ed Miliband brouhaha highlights the long running failings of the Daily Mails attitude towards journalism and the reporting of news.

Many years ago (decades) I once read the Daily Mail, but unfortunately my need for true knowledge and news was scuppered by the Mails journey away from news reporting, and instead towards an extreme form of manipulative politics, bad science reporting and a dumbing down of content to appease gossip and extremism. This change applies far more to it's online Mail persona than the paper one and in some respects the elderly generation who don't use the internet are being conned, because they don't see the exploitative images and articles published online.

I don't regularly read any national newspaper today, there is no point. I have direct access to opinions around the world and I don't need a jounalists opinion on climate science or renewable energy or on other issues.

The Mail can never be forgiven for misrepresenting climate science and environmental issues in it's journey to attract American readership and a fawning UK readership.

I remember reading in the mail a number of years ago about a new 'green' fridge technology, the article was completely neutral and received no comments. A few months ago the Mail reported on the same technology, this time a deep seated political rant was present in the article and like many 'online' articles it attracted extremist comments from American political sources.

One way of judging the Mail is by doing a quick search of climate science using Google, the following list of online Daily Mail headlines appeared on 04/10/13:

  • World temperatures have barely risen in the past 15 years.
  • MIT scientist ridicules IPCC climate change report, calls findings 'hilarious incoherence'
  • The poster boys of climate change thrive in the icy Arctic: Polar bears defy concerns about their extinction
  • It's not as bad as we thought - but global warming is still a disaster, warn UN experts
  • Climate change models may not have been accurate after all as study finds most widely overestimated global warming

The summation of those headlines is a basic indicator of the political stance The Daily Mail takes on climate science and climate change. It isn't one based on reporting facts that paint the true picture, it's one based on having a political view and then reporting a story to fit that political view. This of course results in misrepresenting the true picture.

Even if the Mail wishes to attract a certain audience with articles about celebs, it doesn't excuse the political campaign against climate science and renewable energy, or using numerous people in this nation as scape goats for political purposes.

Tuesday, October 1

Is Crichton obsessed with parking?

The Liberal Democrat propaganda sheet was delivered today and it appears that the new local candidate (David Crichton) is obsessed with parking and as a consequence one assumes motor vehicles.

Out of the 4 articles about his desires and achievements, 3 of them are about parking.

Lets take a look...

'The new development'
Apparently he doesn't know the name of the place or is worried about naming it Berewood!
He wants more parking and parking spaces for the Berewood properties.Yes this wishy washy character seems to be oblivious to the need to cut carbon emissions and getting people walking etc.

Parking issues in Beaconsfield Road
Yep another crucial issue dealt with! The big solution? A sign.

Parking in Waterlooville
Yet more car parking campaigning.

Watching paint dry is more exciting.

Well I guess with all this concrete sterilising Waterlooville there will be more opportunities to highlight the destructive nature the car has on our lives and environment.

Saturday, September 14

Hurray - free plastic bags to be phased out!

Big reductions in this from 2015 onwards!
I started this blog because I was fed up with seeing plastic bags stuck in hedgerows and trees.

Today the news is that the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have agreed that plastic carry bags should be charged for from 2015 onwards.

We just need Labour to agree to the same policy now.

In Wales the 5p plastic bag tax has reduced use by 75%

Friday, September 13

Park(ing) Day is next Friday

One of my favourite green campaign ideas is taking place on Friday next week. Parking Day highlights the wastefulness of using a car and the land that is needed to keep them.

It started in America but is a worldwide event where people use (after buying a ticket) metered parking spaces and create temporary miniature gardens, parks and other conceptual spaces in the Parking Space.

Wonder what the legal status is in the UK of using a parking space for something other than a motor vehicle?

More info about the event at the Parking Day web site:

Sunday, September 8

UK Biodiversity Offsetting - a modern Indian Appropriations Act

United States of America 1851

From the 17th century, European colonists had mixed relations with the native population of North America. By the late 18th century there were 13 British colonies and over 2 million colonists occupying land that was once a haven for the native people and native species. As land was grabbed, towns and cities grew and many battles took place between natives and the growing population of colonists.

Biodiversity was attacked on all fronts, complete species were sometimes wiped out (Passenger Pigeon) or very nearly wiped out (Bison). The land grab resulted in failing relations with numerous tribes and in 1851 President Grant pursued a policy (The Indian Appropriations Act) of moving tribes from their ancestral lands to plots of land called reservations, whilst at the same time employing Christians to 'educate' the tribes.
Encroaching land development by the colonists had pushed native people to the margins.

England 2013

Biodiversity Offsetting is presented as a 'solution' to resolving the conflict between land development and wildlife habitat. The reality of the 'Biodiversity Offsetting' project is the typical one sided view that the entity with the most power can pretty much do what they like. We have always taken land and done what we like with it, so what is new about Biodiversity Offsetting?

Basically nothing. It's a red herring, it's the same old desires of hard line modern economics and vote grabbing, dressed up as a new 'green' deal.

Owen Paterson won't tell you that you can't have a semi-detached dream home because it will destroy a water voles habitat, he knows you won't vote for him again if he said that. He won't tell you that your home needs to be knocked down to make way for higher density homes, that won't win votes.
What he will tell you is what you want to hear.
Don't worry, it's the water vole that will have his or her home demolished, the water vole will be forcibly captured and moved to a new reservation.

And we all know how successful reservations were for the American tribes.

Thursday, August 29

Flow battery based on water

Looks like progress in developing higher energy density batteries is improving. Spotted a gem today about research conducted by the engineering giant General Electric and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory which has resulted in a flow battery development that might be produced for about 75% less than a lithium-ion battery pack. They believe the battery could power a car for well over 240 miles which is the benchmark the US Department of Energy has set.

It's early days yet, they have a long way to go before they have a car powered by one.


Monday, August 26

Learn about climate change from the experts

If you are interested in learning about climate change and environmental issues for free and from the worlds top scientists, then Coursera is the place to go. Check out the following free online courses:

Energy, the Environment, and Our Future - Dr. Richard B. Alley (8 weeks)

Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast - David Archer

Climate Literacy: Navigating Climate Change Conversations - Dr. Sarah Burch and Dr. Sara Harris

Climate Change - Prof. Jon Barnett, Prof. John Freebairn, Prof. David Jamieson, Dr. Maurizio Toscano, Prof. Rachel Webster and Prof. David Karoly (11 weeks)

Introduction to Sustainability - Dr. Jonathan Tomkin (8 weeks)

The courses are designed for a few hours study every week and are conducted online.

Wednesday, August 21

Havant Green Family Fair

This years green fair is at Havant park on Saturday 14th September.

Features include:
Northney Farm (Ice Cream)
Angel Radio
Thrift Cottage Preserves
Havant Fairtrade Group
Riverford Organic Farms
Cycle Hayling
O'Hagans Sausages
Wayside Organics
Caterpollar Crafts
Field Farm Project
Juggling Jake
and many more.
For more information check the web site

Latest leaflet and event details: 

Sunday, August 18

Richard Rodgers house built in a day

It's time to move on.

Whether you like the design or not, is neither here nor there. You can't help but admire the fact that the idea would help solve a lot of problems in the UK. The system was used to build the London Olympics 2012 Velodrome.

Richard Rodgers Homeshell
Homeshell in the RA Courtyard
Building Design Online

Saturday, August 10

Waterlooville Fete 2013

There will be a fete in Jubilee Park next weekend on Sunday 18th August, from 11.00 to 15.00.
Some of the money raised will go to Rowans Hospice and Hannahs Holidays. Admission is free.

Wednesday, August 7

Electric buses and under-road charging come to the UK

Milton Keynes will be the site for testing new electric buses and under-road battery charging this year. Milton Keynes route No7 diesel engined buses will be replaced by Arriva run electric buses that will have their batteries charged along the route whilst parked for scheduled driver breaks.

The battery charging is contactless and via a coil buried in the road at the parking spaces (presumably at bus stops). It isn't exactly a new idea, similar systems are used in China, South Korea, Europe and other places, I think it's the first time the idea has been trialed in the UK. The No7 route has been chosen because it is very busy and will be used to see if the system can be rolled out world wide.

South Korea have taken it a step further and have developed a system that allows charging along short stretches of road so that the buses don't have to stop to charge.

Saturday, August 3

HMS Victory - a place in history

Visited the Historic Dockyard Museum recently. Many don't realise that the Victory was active at the start of the industrial revolution. Don't be fooled by the fact that it is powered by sail, it was a sophisticated piece of kit, far ahead of the Mary Rose which sank 233 years before the Victory was completed:

1759 - Keel laid down
1775 - Jane Austen born, James Watts first advanced steam engine
1778 - Victory fitted out and completed
1786 - Albion cotton mill fitted with steam engine
1792 - First home with gas lighting
1794 - Whitney patents cotton gin
1802 - Trevithick demonstrates steam locomotive. Cruickshanks trough electric battery.
1805 - Battle of Trafalgar, Nelson dies
1807 - First successful steam boat
1815 - Battle of Waterloo, defeat of Napoleon
1817 - Jane Austen dies

Saturday, July 27

Some Solar Farm myths busted

It seems that in Hampshire solar energy farms are the main renewable energy projects that are currently being planned. Since this is the case, I thought it is worthwhile listing a few popular lies and myths regarding solar energy farms of the photovoltaic variety.

They are noisy

Photovoltaic solar panels don't make any noise, they produce direct current (DC) which doesn't cause any vibration in electrical equipment and hence doesn't produce noise. Invertors and transformers may produce some vibration, however sound insulation is used to eliminate such problems. Engineers are paid to solve these issues, so it isn't generally a problem. The other point of course is that vibration and noise are energy losses, so any modern equipment is generally designed to minimise such noise.

I recently visited the solar farm at Clanfield and despite it being in a quiet rural location, I could hear nothing other than some workmen talking and passing vehicles. My visit highlighted the obvious, that existing technology based on fossil fuels is inherently noisy and modern technology such as solar PV panels should help to reduce the noise levels around us. If you want noise, just build a busy road near your home.

They produce glare

This of course is a logical fallacy and is a product of poor analysis of what a solar panel is designed to do.
If you want to capture as much sunlight on a flat panel as possible, the last thing you would do is make it shiny. You would design the panel to absorb as many frequencies of electromagnetic radiation as possible, including those in the visible range.
If glare were a major problem, then airports wouldn't invest in solar panels to produce energy, such as Birmingham airport which has solar panels installed on the terminal roof, the Denver Colorado Airport solar farm, or Gatwick, which has them installed next to the main runway.

They produce electromagnetic radiation or fields (EMF)

This is one of those memes that gets spread by conspiracy theorists. Electromagnetic radiation and fields are around us all the time, produced by mobile phones, TVs, cars, computers and many other systems.
PV panels themselves won't produce anything significant because they are direct current, the biggest DC electromagnetic field is Earths. We are bathed in Earths field 24/7, we would all be dead without it.
Invertors and transformers produce confined fields but regulations require equipment to be shielded and tested for any leaks. Many people already live near large electricity transformers and invertors or similar equipment, in fact much of it is located close to homes, hidden away behind fences and locked gates, home owners don't generally have a problem with it.

They industrialise farm land

Farm: low biodiversity and industrial
Farmland is already industrialised! How many documentaries does someone need to see about modern farming, tractors that use GPS to navigate around fields, robots that milk cows, loss of biodiversity and bees poisoned by pesticides?

Why do people living in a house next to a field that probably work in an office in a city, think a field full of crops sown by a mechanical vehicle is anything but industrialisation? Not only that, but the field is beaten up like this on a yearly basis. It's called agriculture and it's primary purpose is to serve humans.

But if some inert solar panels are stuck in a field, sitting on frames, then plant some wild flowers, trees and hedges, then leave them be for 25 years to produce energy. Apparently that is called industrialisation! It is far more natural to leave the ground alone for 25 years than to plough it regularly and grow mono-crops.

The manufacturing carbon footprint is large

This is typical cherry picking and/or a fallacy.
Every single technology used to produce energy has a high carbon footprint at the manufacturing stage. We are animals that live for periods of time, our impact on the planet and on other people is measured over that time, it isn't just measured when we are born.
The same principle is applied to energy production, so the carbon footprint of different sources of energy is calculated over time, or per unit of energy. Hence any carbon emissions from the solar farm are calculated on the basis of it's total life time, which is approximately 25 years.
On this basis, we know that electricity generated via gas has an approx carbon footprint half that of coal and solar PV energy has a footprint between 14 and 20 times lower than coal.

During winter they only produce 8% of their annual output

Read that statement very carefully and think about it. The method of obtaining the percentage is misleading. Typically in winter PV panels produce about 20% of what can be produced in the summer. Of course comparing Winter output with the whole year would give a misleading small figure! Lets choose a nuclear power station and say winter is three months, that means in the winter the power station only produced 25% of the annual output! When you compare that with 8%, it means the solar panels are producing a third of the full output possible, approximately 33%. Not bad for a dull winter!

After 20 years, performance drops by half

Kyocera tested some old panels last year that had been installed for 20 years in France, they found the panels had only degraded by 8.3%, no where near a half!
Typically many solar panel manufacturers guarentee 80% output after 25 years

See also:

Some more points...
How many technologies last for 25 years with little maintenance and are still 80% efficient or even still work at all?
Because of the solid state nature of solar panels, even after 25 years they can still be used in the second hand market. In many places around the world solar energy is welcome because it replaces dangerous kerosene lamps. So second hand panels that are still functional are valuable pieces of kit.

Sunday, July 21

35% of worlds tidal energy research and development is in the UK

Interesting table at the EMEC marine energy testing web site.

If the table is correct then the majority of all world research and development into tidal energy is based in the UK. Adding up the project numbers...

UK = 35%
USA = 22%
Norway = 7%
Australia = 4%
France = 4%

There are numerous other countries, but all have just 1 or 2 projects.

Thursday, July 18

Over 70% of the population want renewable energy and CO2 emissions reductions

To highlight the fact how much out of touch some politicians are, this week saw the publication of a study by researchers at Cardiff University that shows broad support for renewable energy and carbon emissions reductions.

The report shows that 74% of the public are concerned about climate change, 79% want to see a reduction in fossil fuel use in the next few decades, 81% wanted to reduce their energy use, 85% supported solar energy and 75% supported wind energy.

What is surprising about the report is that it's findings come at a time when expensive and aggresive political campaigns are being conducted in attempts to halt investment in renewable energy.

The report highlights the fact that some politicians and councillors prefer to ignore the general population and seek comfort from their political fan base for support, they promote their ideas via marketing exercises (planning consultations for their pet projects) funded at public expense and allegedly for public benefit.

Even the BBC have started spreading misinformation about climate science, as highlighted at the weekend when Andrew Neil interviewed Ed Davey at the weekend. Neil suggested that The Consensus Project was flawed. However one of the authors of the paper defended the work pointing out that the criticism had been rejected. The paper is one of a number of papers that clearly show that 97% of climate research papers support the fact that we are the cause.

The fact is, cutting CO2 emissions is an unavoidable job that has to be done.

Sunday, July 14

Cobblers III - 6 years and these boots are still walking

Me hand made 'Guat' boots are still going strong after 6 years. Some wear on the soles but no holes.
The stitching is as strong as it was when I first bought them.

Thursday, June 27

Berewood fantasy

So I believe the properties on the Berewood housing development are officially up for sale. Time to have a look at the rose tinted vision Bloor and the architects have about the Waterlooville area!

Here is an analysis of some points made in the marketing booklet for the new housing estate, published and distributed circa 22/06/2013. The development is part of the West of Waterlooville MDA.

Marketing Booklet
(text samples)
Waterlooville Reality
Page 7:

Berewood's Garden City will be somewhere our residents can enjoy a high quality and more sustainable way of life...

Garden City??

Since when has a housing estate ever been a garden city?

The term garden city dates back to 1898, which amusingly reveals a lot about the true inspiration for Berewood. Instead of drawing inspiration from the real local architecture, mostly dating from 1930 onwards, inspiration has instead come from a Victorian 'movement', minus the coal chugging steam engines.

Noble as the idea might be, building a 'garden city' on virgin agricultural land a few yards from a suburban sprawl isn't exactly what Ebenezer Howard had in mind. Indeed Berewood will never be self sufficient and will be a strange protusion on the side of Waterlooville. A quirk of council borders, because most of it will be outside of Waterlooville and Purbook council/political boundaries.
Page 10:

Robert Adam has drawn inspiration from the architectural styles found in the surrounding villages; and says; " Each of the new homes will have their own identity and character, and local materials will be used where possible".
Not sure what properties Robert Adam actually looked at in the non-existent surrounding villages, but I don't think any of them were any where near Waterlooville. Unless 'inspiration' means looking through local history books with content predating 1920.

Lets have a look at the real world...

Purbrook: behind the sign, some lovely bungalows.

Purbrook: post 1970s flats and some 1930s houses

Waterlooville: a few hundred yards from the Berewood development, some typical flats, post 1970s

Waterlooville: dual carriageways and plenty of suburban traffic:

Waterlooville: 1970s social housing:

Cowplain: the traditional architecture of Waterlooville and Cowplain, rows and rows of suburban bungalows.

Miles and miles of post WWII bungalows, flats and detached houses.

Page 13:

Nestled within beautiful countryside, just 8 miles from Portsmouth, Berewood boasts eco-friendly credentials, tranquil surroundings and a very special way of life, all within easy reach of London.
Normally when expressing distances between places, one uses the 'as the crow flies' or geodesic distance. eg. the direct distance.

However in this case, the Bloor marketing people appear to have used Google or a car navigation unit and worked out the distance using the A3(M) and A27 as the route. Which is roughly an 8 mile journey, as long as you don't drive down to Southsea!

The true distance from Portsmouth is about 4 miles 'as the crow flies'.

Tranquil surroundings??
Well  I guess the fields on which Berewood is being built were once a bit tranquil, but I would hardly call the B21590 and Maurepaus Way tranquil!

Waterlooville is a suburban post war sprawl, it has been for many decades.

Easy reach of London??
It's 50+ miles away! You can't get there without burning a lot of carbon.
Is that supposed to encourage environmentally friendly behaviour?
There is no nearby train station within walking distance. You have a 30 minute bus ride to the station in Cosham and 45+ minute bus ride to Havant station. You could take a coach to London, but do you really want to do that everyday?

One assumes of course that Bloor et al are not suggesting driving to London, creating more traffic, pollution and CO2 emissions. Some 25% of UK carbon emissions are due to road traffic.

One minute Berewood is a 'Garden City', next it's a suburban satelite of London. The marketing appears to be confused (or maybe post-modern).

Google map
Page 13:

Ideally located close to the heart of Waterloovilles vibrant town centre. Berewood promises a great choice of local restaurants, independent shops and top performing schools.

I think anyone reading 'vibrant' in association with Waterlooville will laugh out loud. Read the many blog posts on this blog to see how 'vibrant' it is.

If you like Macdonalds, Subway and Costas then you'll love the local restaurants. The only local restaurant of note that I can think of is the Shalimar.

A great choice of independent shops?
Here is a sample (minus the numerous big corporates):

Page 13:

With picturesque villages of Purbrook, Blendworth, Cowplain, Lovedean, Clanfield, Catherington, Crookhorn, Deanmead, Hambledon, Horndean and Widley...

My advice is take a look at Google maps and streetview and judge for yourself.

Can you see a picturesque village?

Maybe Hambledon is still a village. Maybe even Clanfield.
But Cowplain and Purbrook?

Maybe Bloors author lives in Australia and has no internet connection?
Page 18:

For a relaxed shopping trip, Waterlooville offers an excellent range of small independent stores.

This doesn't reflect reality. Anyone who has shopped in Waterlooville since the 1960s has seen nearly all independent shops close down, just like any other town centre.

Long gone are (can't remember many of the names) the Baytree Bookshop, the art shop, Transatlantic Plastics, a number of independent shoe shops and an independent hardware shop (got any fork handles?).

The fact is that most shops in Waterlooville are big corporates, including:
Asda, Iceland, Waitrose, Brantano, Wickes, Wilkinson, Boots, WH Smith, Subway, Costa, Macdonalds, Carphone Warehouse and many others.

That is why (along with internet retailing) we don't have many independent shops.

Friday, June 21

Road vs Solar Energy at Fareham Borough Council

A while ago IG Vogt submitted a plan for a large solar farm on land in the south of Fareham Borough, just before the plan was to be discussed and voted on at Fareham Borough Council, the company withdrew the application after council officers and Natural England raised concerns about the project.

The alleged problem Natural England had with the project turned out to be one of communication between IG Vogt and Natural England, a mix up with maps etc.

Recently IG Vogt exhibited a revised project plan that they intend to submit soon. The revised plan reduces the size of the project and addresses the concerns of the borough officers and Natural England.

Meanwhile, various councillors and politicians have joined forces by supporting the building of a 'bypass' road, most likely on the same land that the solar farm would be built on.

Here is a summary of the story of the solar farm as told in The News over the last few months:

Sept 2012

The leader of Fareham Borough Council (Sean Woodward) apparently stated that the solar farm plan was a "shocking proposal" and "it would represent a loss of a significant area of countryside", then listed one positive attribute and three negative attributes about the project. The News then proceeded to use the "shocking" quote and theme in subsequent articles about the FBC leader and the solar farm project.

Fareham council boss hits out at plans for huge solar farm – 15 Sept 2012
Public urged to make voice heard on Stubbington solar farm plan – 19 Sept 2012
It’s big, green and may be heading to a field near you – 25 Sept 2012

Oct 2012

The News continues to report about the 'fears' of Cllr Woodward and stated that the project attracted criticism from the councillor.

‘Solar farm is Fareham’s future’ – 11 Oct 2012
Survey shows ‘public support’ for solar farm – 16 Oct 2012

Nov 2012

The News reports that more letters are to be sent out to reach a wider audience. Fareham Borough Councils leader is reported as stating that the "council is not taking lightly be any means", also "Councillors have put it in their newsletters".

Council sends just 13 letters on huge solar farm plans – 19 Nov 2012

Feb 2013

 IG Vogt withdrew their planning application for the solar farm project.
The council report indicated two main reasons for council officers advising against approving the project.

Planning application for Stubbington solar farm pulled – 13 Feb 2013

April 2013

So 8 months passed with negative remarks in the press about the solar farm from Fareham Borough Council. Throughout those months, there was a lot of talk about the 'Stubbington bypass'.
Firstly improvements to Newgate Lane appear to be on Fareham Borough Council leaders agenda and The News reported that he said things like "It's extremely good news" and "others which will benefit to".
In the same month The News printed an editorial asking for solar power to be given a chance.

Funding to ease jams on busy Gosport road – 4 April 2013
Solar power is here to stay, so give it a chance – 26 April 2013

May 2013

The News reports that the new transport boss at Hampshire County Council (also cllr Woodward) 'kick-started' work on the Stubbington bypass. The first 'act' of the councillor in the new position was to 'order updates to plans' for a bypass. The paper stated 'He wants to prepare the case for the road'.
The project also gained political support from the local Conservative association, yet there was no public support from them regarding the solar farm.

Later in the month the council leader made further comments about bringing forward the road scheme, that the project was 'vitally important' to the area, bringing 'economic prosperity' and improving 'quality of life'.

New roads boss putsStubbington bypass at the top of agenda - 28 May 2013
Transport chief Cllr Sean Woodward puts Stubbington bypass bid back on track - 28 may 2013

June 2013

Now in June Cllr Woodward confronted with a new solar farm proposal, was reported by The News that he was 'considering' a report about the Stubbington bypass!
Cllr Woodward is later reported mentioning that the bypass is for 'all of South Hampshire'.

Revised plans for solar farm will go on public show – 6 June 2013
Council to consult on Stubbington Bypass
Stubbington bypass cash must come from bid to government –13 June 2013

This 'timeline' of events is admittedly how The News reported the story, but I supsect the bias in enthusiam for the bypass is genuine. As always with these things (including climate science) it is the sum of all the parts that gives the full picture, not the cherry picked moments in time.

Since the story first broke it appears that Sean Woodward, the leader of Fareham Borough Council and South Hampshire Transport Committee Member at Hampshire County Council has been vocally negative towards the solar farm and vocally positive towards the road scheme. Throughout the period in question very little positive support is visible for renewable energy, or any mention of the benefits to the local community of reducing pollution, improving biodiversity and preventing climate change. In contrast, no negative impacts of a proposed bypass are mentioned, such as substantial roadworks, particulate pollution, loss of farm land, large scale use of concrete and other carbon hungry materials, greater capacity for car use, increased CO2 emissions and increased bird mortality (cars kill more birds than wind turbines), to name but a few.

In the last few weeks a DEFRA funded report on the threats and opportunities of climate change, pointed out that one of the threats was volatility of food imports into the UK. Countries will ban food exports to us as their own home markets become a higher priority. The reality is that local decisions have an international impact and that in turn has a local impact. Everything is connected, building roads will just aggravate the problem.

Supporting growth without dealing with the problem of low carbon energy provision, is going to result in serious problems in the future. People need jobs, but they need dry homes and food far more. Something that can only be provided by tackling climate change and that means solar/wind energy for the forseeable future.

Wednesday, June 19

Tokar Street Eco House

I Visited Portsmouth City Councils 'eco home' this week in Tokar Street, Southsea. The house is a pre 1900 'two up two down' terrace house, typical in much of Portsmouth and built when insulation was non-existent.

Before a new tenant moved into the property the council decided to upgrade it to modern eco standards. For various periods this week the council have a few officers in the house and are welcoming visitors to have a look around.

So I took the opportunity to take a peek.
My brother shared a similar house when he was a student and there isn't a lot of room in those terraced homes. Without any modern extentions, you have two rooms on the ground floor and two up, with a tiny staircase between the two. Many have bathrooms and kitchens on the ground floor in extentions to the rear.
This house fitted that pattern, with core new eco additions: (information from a sheet handed out at the home):

Wall Insulation Thick 70mm internal wall insulation on all external walls.
Floor Insulation 180mm of insulation held in place by netting between joists and 125mm insulation on concrete floors.
Loft Insulation 300mm insulation between floor joists, 70mm fitted to roof joists
Windows A rated.
Photovoltaic panels Produces about 1776kwh per year.
Condensing Boiler About 91% efficient.
Heat recovery ventilation Heat exchanger prevents warm air escaping and cold air getting in, whilst providing ventilation.

Southampton University will be monitoring the house when a new family move in and the energy saving results will be compared with other similar homes in the street that have not been modified.

The project is impressive and of course is about doing what you can with an existing building that is over 100 years old.

But if you were starting from scratch you wouldn't design new buildings like this. Sooooo.... why on Earth are we building fake Victorian/Georgian homes at the Berewood estate?

Unwanted extremism in Waterlooville

It seems as the average age of Waterloovilles population increases, we are being exposed to unwanted political extremism. It's probably not age that is the source of the problem, but 'conservative' values do tend to creep in as one gets older. Oh, the good old days when we had a massive navy and our borders were the British Isles coast line... and we had umpteen wars with Europe!

Extremist political activists appear to be attempting to spread fear and rumours about Muslims, travellers and the EU. I got a junk mail leaflet through the door from a group associated with UKIP and the Tax Payers Alliance, spouting the usual garbage about the EU and zenophobic ideas.

Both UKIP and The Tax Payers Alliance have a record of denying climate change (or attack the essential policies that are required to mitigate it) as an alternative they tend to support the philosophy of climate magic, enlisting soothsayers for advise instead of qualified scientists.

Amusingly the Tax Payers Alliance claim to be non-partisan, but it appears to have strong links with the EU referendum campaign. Surely wanting withdrawal from the EU is partisan, so who are they kidding??

In any case who is paying for all this campaigning?
Why not spend it on insulating pensioners homes and helping cut their fuel bills?
Or maybe they should get jobs in the EU. They are free to travel to the continent and start a business there like anyone else.

Saturday, June 8

How behavioral science can help save energy

Really interesting TED talk video presented by Alex Laskey.
A proven way of reducing your energy bill is to know what your neighbour pays:

Waterlooville Music Festival kicks off

The 2013 Waterlooville Music Festival kicked off today with numerous bands dotted around town. Couldn't have asked for better weather! I have no idea who the bands were that I took photos of but the music was good.

This years programme includes:
Lady and The Tramps
The Band of TheHampshire Constabulary
Portsmouth Philharmonia
The Choir Company
Three Peny Bit
Portsmouth Shanty Men
and Don Lloyd and The Meridian Wind Band

That's Entertainment!
Brass Band

Thursday, June 6

Nigel Lawsons anti-science links revealed

DeSmogs John Mashey yesterday posted details of email communications between various climate skeptic activists. The information was revealed via a US Freedom Of Information request. The data retrieved lists the many contacts Lawson has with anti-climate science organisations and people.

Unsurprisingly the number of scientists in the list (even scientists that have no expertise in climate!) are negligible. Yet Nigel Lawson and his political GWPF group often write on the subject as if they actually know something about it.

The list mainly consists of pseudo-scientists commonly known as economists and one or two scientists well known for their skeptic views (Singer and Lindzen).

Coincidently the list has been published the day before the Coalition government has announced their anti-wind farm plans. It is becoming clearer on a weekly and monthly basis that Coalition government politicians are playing games with climate change policy. David Cameron in particular has been painting a false picture about this governments views about climate change.

This week Osborne stated something like 'cut now, or worse will come'. The statement was correct but it was applied to the wrong quantity. We need to 'cut Carbon now, or worse will come'  and the 'worse' will be economic and climate breakdown.

You can not seperate local views from national ones when it comes to climate change. If politicians oppose wind farms, then they support flooding, lower crop yields, higher insurance costs etc.

Update 16/06/13: Charities Commission is investigating GWPF for abuse of it's charity status.

Monday, June 3

Ed Davey today attacks the press

Ed Davey today is attacking the press for their continuing misrepresentation of climate science for political purposes.

The draft of his talk has been sent to the media and the highlight is probably this paragraph:
"This is destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism born of vested interest, nimbyism, publicity seeking contraversialism or sheer blinkered, dogmatic, political bloody-mindedness..."
Yes indeed our national press are not interested in presenting news and facts, but instead are just mouth pieces of an extreme element of politics and business. Some of the more vocal supporters of the movement against our future and green prosperity are based in the US or on a wrecked privately owned Channel island.

The 'political bloody-mindedness' comment is very appropriate, since many of these press people and politicians are married to political ideology. They are not interested in a changing world and a future that is not theirs, but ours.

The damage being done is ignored in order to exploit short term goals that they believe is important in order to sustain their own power base. Political party activists go about blogging and commenting to keep the creeking political system going so that they can keep their position in society.

The political 'bloody-mindedness' is also rife across Hampshire, with councils deliberately blocking renewable energy projects and power hungry councillors getting themselves into multiple positions of responsibility, deliberately blocking solar farms and instead pushing through or promoting carbon intensive projects.

Ed Davey's speech:

Berewood toy town takes shape

The Grainger/Bloor toy town is starting to take shape close to Waterlooville.

This alien project has been designed by  Architects in Winchester who base their designs on the fossil fuel burning past, the properties have fake chimneys and tiny windows.

The marketing hype states that the homes are inspired by small Hampshire towns.

What the marketing propaganda doesn't say is that in order to find one of these idealistic small Hampshire towns, you will have to take a trip in a time machine to visit Jane Austen in the 18th century.

Once upon a time Waterlooville looked like one of these towns from the past, that is until post war Britain needed to build thousands of houses in the area. The result is that the character of Waterlooville happens to be in the1950s, 1960s and later, not in the 18th century.

We do need to preserve buildings like Swiss Cottage, but we don't need fake historic buildings.

Swiss Cottage (1876)
more window real estate than
the 2013 Berewood homes

So Waterlooville has a toy/fantasy town being built on valuable farmland on the edges of the existing town and is disrespectful to the majority of the architecture in the area. When were Georgian buildings ever built using modern timber frame techniques?

But the fantasy nature of the buildings is just a part of the problem.

We need to reduce energy use and that means designing homes that capture as much energy from the environment as possible without the need for energy inputs from fossil fuels and grid connected renewable energy.

Yes we do need the grid and the large scale renewable energy projects to feed it. But low carbon life isn't about consumption for consumptions sake. The 'client' side of the system (homes and businesses) must be as efficient as possible, providing some energy from domestic renewable energy systems. The way forward is the use of elements of Passive solar design, a realist approach to property design that uses the natural energy around us to do as much of the work for us as possible.

It's time that the architectural and political ideology that is firmly rooted in the past, remains in the past, because the ageing pensioners that support it are not our future.

Some useful links:

Sunday, May 19


Busy Robin in the garden. Very active feeding.

Saturday, May 18

Alert - Swiss Cottage in danger of being demolished?

Just read an article in The News about a proposed apartment and office block development that would require Swiss Cottage to be demolished and CAB to move??

Swiss Cottage is the only building remaining in Waterlooville that could be said to still look like it did when first built. In my 2008 post an anonymous commentor pointed out that Swiss Cottage dated back to at least 1876.

Apparently, quite a few solitary bees have been using it as a home lately.

I will try and find out more and post details later.

Monday, May 6

Lovedean solar farm installed and producing energy

The Lightsource solar farm at Lovedean has been installed and is now contributing energy to the grid, just in time to catch the summer sun!

The farm is only visible to most people from one road and currently the site is still a bit of a building site since the plants, hedgerows and grass need to grow back. The Lightsource application included the planting of additional trees and hedgerows around the site. As can be seen from the photo, the solar panels do not appear above the skyline/horizon and there was little reflection whilst I was there.

I couldn't hear any noise from the panels, inverters and transformers whilst visiting the site, just a lot of noisy birds and two workmen chatting, the usual rural sounds.

The scene contrasts greatly with all the misinformed fuss created around the application for a much larger solar farm at Newlands, located between Fareham and Gosport. Ib Vogt withdrew their application for the Newlands farm after Fareham council officers raised two specific issues against the application. It is expected that Ib Vogt will be resubmitting their application in the near future, addressing the officers concerns.

The Lovedean project has a 4.5MW capacity, with an approximate capacity factor of about 10% (my assumption), this produces about 4000 MWh per year on average, which equates to enough to supply 1200 homes (that have gas heating) with electricity. This reduces the need for coal fired power stations and hence reduces CO2 emissions.

Monday, April 29

Big Brother fridges

Most newspaper reporters get their facts wrong, some are obviously better than others, but it appears that the Daily Mail has gone into absolute fantasy mode with their latest story about 'big brother' fridges, the journalists claim the fridges will turn off from time to time, without your permission!

Oh, my god! An electrical appliance with a mind of its own, these fridges must be unique, no other popular appliance does that! Or do they? There must be a massive conspiracy between government, fridge manufacturers and energy companies, they are all scheming to ruin your food and control your fridge.

The headline goes:

"Big brother to switch off your fridge: Power giants to make millions - but you must pay for 'sinister' technology"

 So what exactly is this evil technology and how does it compare to other household technology?

Well, I have known about this tech for about 5 years or so, it is a British invention that is a world leader (yep, the Mail in the rush to blame the EU, is attacking a Brit engineering company and invention).

The Technology

Lets get something straight from the start, the technology DOES NOT send information about you or your energy use to the government or power companies and they CAN NOT control your fridge remotely.

So how the journalists come to the conclusion that it is 'Big Brother' technology is a mystery. The only reason for doing that is to spread propaganda against renewable energy and climate change measures.

The technology has been developed by a company called RLtec (now called Open Energi) and they teamed up with Indesit and and Npower in 2009 to trial the system in fridges and freezers. It ties in with the idea of a future smart grid technology that will enable energy to be used intelligently. Sainsburys already use the technology in their stores, so logically Sainsburys are a part of this big brother conspiracy that The Daily Mail has invented.

The technology is an automated version of what national grid managers do every day. Like the technicians managing supply and demand of electricity, the fridge technology will monitor the frequency of the mains supply, which is 50hz (actually old digital clocks monitored it to keep time - badly!), any deviation from this frequency means that either there is to much demand for electricity or there is to little demand (to many generators producing energy).

In the case when there is to much demand (to many kettles on at the same time), the circuit will switch off the fridge or freezer for a few seconds (or less). If you have tens of thousands of fridges all switching off for a few seconds, it will have no impact on the fridge perfomance but will reduce the load on the generators. Thus the frequency will return to 50hz again when balance is achieved!

The idea of course is to help integrate renewable energy into our grid system. It's actually a brilliant and non-intrusive idea (completely the opposite to the impression the Mail gives).

Other 'big brother' technology you use everyday:

  1. Car - most vehicles today take control away from you at many levels. For example you don't control how much fuel goes into the engine, the car decides that based on what you desire it to do.
  2. Lighting - many organisations install lighting that automatically turn off when someone isn't in the room, and of course lighting can turn on when someone is present.
  3. TVs - some new TVs turn off when no one is watching them!
  4. Thermostat - heaters, fridges, kettles all have thermostats that switch on and off electricity without your permission! I mean what right does a fridge have to turn it self off automatically? Must be the government trying to control our lives.

The reality is many appliances turn off internally or reduce the active circuitry without you knowing it, so the question is, why the fuss about a fridge?
The answer is of course extreme politics and the 'no evidence needed' political ideology of modern times. Rumour, black propaganda, misrepresentation and lies, count for more than actual reality.

Big Brother

In the book 1984, Winston Smith had a job in a government organisation where he was required to lie about reality and in particular about the past. The government 'snooped' on individiuals and lied about it's enemies.
Of course no one could accuse Daily Mail journalists of lying or snooping on individuals could they?


It appears that the Telegraph are running the same story with the same people interviewed. My suspicion is that a lobby group (that is against renewable energy) has made a press release in an attempt to undermine renewable energy policy.

29/04/13: found a Daily Mail article about the same technology published in 2009. The tone is completely different and the article received no comments. I think the article is still technically incorrect in that it refers to a signal from the energy company, which probably refers to the detection in frequency change, it also incorrectly implies that lose control of your electricity.

Update: 17/06/14
It appears Open Energi are now focusing on commercial refridgeration and that does include monitoring of the companies energy use, the participating company obviously being a willing participant. From the latest info available it appears the technology is not available in domestic fridges, although the initial trial did use domestic fridges. If the technology were installed in domestic fridges, then the monitoring part of the technology probably wouldn't be included because of the enormous cost of monitoring individual appliances. Open Energi's web site shows technology that is designed to monitor numerous devices owned by a specific organisation - such as Tescos and Sainsburys - that sort of scale would justify the expense of monitoring.

Thursday, April 25

The Boulevard - Waterlooville

Are we at a tacky holiday camp?
No more Baytree Bookshop
No more Self Fit
No more ??
Pop up shop fills space for a a while

Superficial improvements crumble
Detail of original brick wall
British weather is no friend of dumb paint schemes

Wednesday, April 24

Waterlooville: spot the differences

Created another panorama of Waterlooville town centre, then thought, why not compare it with the previous panorama!

So here are the two images next to each other. The top is 2013, the bottom is 2010. How many differences can you spot? Click on the image to view a larger scale version and expand your browser window to the full width of your screen.

Saturday, April 13

Renault Zoe test driven by Robert Llewellyn

In a new series of videos for the Fully Charged YouTube channel, Robert Llewellyn test drives the Renault Zoe, due to go on sale this year. He explains the new technology used in the car and how the batteries are leased:

Tuesday, April 9

Thin Ice - new film release this month

It's not a secret that scientists involved in climate change and global warming research have been under attack for a number of years now. Some have been insulted, some have been threatened with physical violence, some have been threatened with hanging or prison. A new film created by a scientist about the scientists has been produced and is due for release on 22nd April. Here is the trailer:

The movie web site has more info:

Some sample clips:

Description of CO2 and the Greenhouse Effect

Digging a snow pit in Antarctica

Friday, April 5

State Benefits make murderers?

Osborne, AN Wilson and The Daily Mail have today suggested that there is a link between the benefits/welfare system and the fact Philpott has been sent to jail for the manslaughter of his kids.

If you apply the same logic to wealthy business owners and managers that murder, does that mean there is a problem with the business community? The same newspaper that makes links to welfare and manslaughter, doesn't seem to make the same link with company directors and businesses:

Business man murders Russian bride
Business man murders ex cop
Business man cold blooded murder
Business man wanted for family murder
Wealthy business man kills wife

Yep, based on the ideology of newspaper headlines, we should be very suspicious of wealthy people. Clearly most are psychopathic murderers! (not far off actually, considering research shows many do have troubled minds). So maybe Philpott has a lot in common with Osborne and the exploitative fantasists that run the Daily Mail.

The fact is, politicians regularly use informal fallacies to support their ideologies. In this case there are probably half a dozen or so such fallacies used.

The same fallacy used to target the welfare system, can also be used to discredit anyone in the community, whether wealthy or poor, hard working or lazy. Using the Osborne logic, then none of us should be trusted.