undyingking: (Default)
Heard recently that the govt is going ahead with bringing in a subsidy for domestic solar hot water systems, whereby you get paid 18p or so per kWh of heat that you generate (as well as saving off your gas bill, of course).

It's estimated that a typical 20-tube installation on a south-facing roof will pull down somewhere around £400-500 for you per year through this subsidy: not bad.

There is a snag, though, which is that the subsidy isn't payable for installations on houses with combi boilers: only for those with the more traditional cylinder-plus-boiler setup. Not because there is any technical drawback to using solar-heated feed to a combi, or efficiency penalty, or anything like that: that's not an issue. It's simply a policy decision.

This is probably a bit galling for anyone who thought they were being nice and eco-friendly by installing a combi boiler, as previous govts persistently urged us all to do. But fair enough, maybe they are thinking that encouraging solar adaptation of older boiler systems is going to clean up more of the low-hanging carbon-emission fruit.

But this is where the title of this post comes in. It'll cost you about £3000 (say) to rip out your lovely efficient new combi boiler and replace it with a cylinder-plus-boiler system. With the subsidy guaranteed to rise with inflation for 20 years, you'd repay that and be quids in before too long.

Hmm.
undyingking: (Default)
Heard recently that the govt is going ahead with bringing in a subsidy for domestic solar hot water systems, whereby you get paid 18p or so per kWh of heat that you generate (as well as saving off your gas bill, of course).

It's estimated that a typical 20-tube installation on a south-facing roof will pull down somewhere around £400-500 for you per year through this subsidy: not bad.

There is a snag, though, which is that the subsidy isn't payable for installations on houses with combi boilers: only for those with the more traditional cylinder-plus-boiler setup. Not because there is any technical drawback to using solar-heated feed to a combi, or efficiency penalty, or anything like that: that's not an issue. It's simply a policy decision.

This is probably a bit galling for anyone who thought they were being nice and eco-friendly by installing a combi boiler, as previous govts persistently urged us all to do. But fair enough, maybe they are thinking that encouraging solar adaptation of older boiler systems is going to clean up more of the low-hanging carbon-emission fruit.

But this is where the title of this post comes in. It'll cost you about £3000 (say) to rip out your lovely efficient new combi boiler and replace it with a cylinder-plus-boiler system. With the subsidy guaranteed to rise with inflation for 20 years, you'd repay that and be quids in before too long.

Hmm.
undyingking: (Default)
http://www.helium.com/items/1882339-doomsday-how-bp-gulf-disaster-may-have-triggered-a-world-killing-event

"A huge gash on the ocean floor—like a ragged wound hundreds of feet long—has been reported by the NOAA research ship, Thomas Jefferson. Before the curtain of the government enforced news blackout again descended abruptly, scientists aboard the ship voiced their concerns that the widening rift may go down miles into the earth. That gash too is hemorrhaging oil and methane. It’s 10 miles away from the BP epicenter. Other, new fissures, have been spotted as far as 30 miles distant."
undyingking: (Default)
http://www.helium.com/items/1882339-doomsday-how-bp-gulf-disaster-may-have-triggered-a-world-killing-event

"A huge gash on the ocean floor—like a ragged wound hundreds of feet long—has been reported by the NOAA research ship, Thomas Jefferson. Before the curtain of the government enforced news blackout again descended abruptly, scientists aboard the ship voiced their concerns that the widening rift may go down miles into the earth. That gash too is hemorrhaging oil and methane. It’s 10 miles away from the BP epicenter. Other, new fissures, have been spotted as far as 30 miles distant."
undyingking: (Default)
As the Mobiot piece about feed-in tariffs was the most popular of my miscellanea of the other day, I thought you might be interested to read this riposte to it by Jeremy Leggett of SolarCentury. He has of course a powerful vested interest in the uptake of solar electricity generation, but even so I found some of his arguments useful.

I find it very hard to evaluate a situation like this where debate proceeds largely by contradictory counter-assertion.

Clearly, either the amount of electricity that can be produced is either risible, or it's significant: it can't just be a matter of opinion. So who is correct here?

On the other hand, their rival interpretations of the German situation are open to speculation -- has Germany reduced its tariff because it's been unsuccessful, or because it's been successful? In the absence of German testimony, I could find either explanation plausible.

As before, analysis from people who know more about all this than me is very welcome!
undyingking: (Default)
You may remember that back in the 80s there was a long and successful campaign to make tuna fishing 'dolphin-friendly', ie. to ban the then-typical fishing procedure which resulted in the deaths of many dolphins alongside the tuna.

Just read this interesting piece, found via the Freakonomics blog, on how dolphin-friendly tuna fishing can actually be pretty disastrous for non-delphinian sea life. The article has a hectoring manner, but the findings it draws on seem reasonable. "[Y]ou find that 1 dolphin saved costs 382 mahi-mahi, 188 wahoo, 82 yellowtail and other large fish, 27 sharks, and almost 1,200 small fish."

I don't eat tuna anyway, so the whole dolphin-friendly thing always seemed a bit odd to me: I don't really see why, if it's dreadful to kill dolphins, it's perfectly OK to kill tuna. So I would happily close down the whole fishery ;-) Lots of people seem to like munching on delicious tuna, though, so that seems an unlikely solution. From a practical point of view, though, dolphins aren't endangered -- whereas some of the species now more affected by tuna fishing are.

If you eat tuna yourself, how would you rather it was caught? You can get the MSC-certified stuff, caught with rod and line so affecting no other fish -- but that costs a lot more.

[Poll #1462321]

(PS. Wahoo!)

Grey water

May. 18th, 2009 12:50 pm
undyingking: (Default)
Has anyone got experience of, or knowledge about, collecting grey water for garden use?

My current plan is to attach a water butt to the external downpipe from our shower, like the one that collects rainwater on the guttering downpipe. What do I need to consider?

For example, does gribble collect in the butt, that might need clearing out or treatment? What's the pH of the collected water going to be like? Do you need to let it stand before using it on the garden? And other such things that I haven't thought of.

Earth Hour

Mar. 26th, 2009 11:32 am
undyingking: (Default)
This has kind of passed me by in previous years -- and may well do so this year too, as we're going to be visiting T's folks -- but it's Earth Hour this Saturday.

There is a school of thought that says that this sort of action is pointless, and won't make any difference to policy. And another school that says private mindful actions like this are good for you in some moral / spiritual sense, whether or not they have a larger effect. I can see some merit in both these arguments.

[Poll #1372291]
undyingking: (Default)
Landshare -- Hugh Fairly-Wattlesquidge is behind this scheme, to put together people who have spare land with people who want to grow stuff. I particularly like the idea of being a Landspotter -- you get to spy on people's underused gardens and report them to the Channel 4 commissars.

Instead of Heathrow -- collecting suggestions for what might be better than building a third runway there. So far they are all depressingly sensible (apart, arguably, from the maglev one).

Cambridge Cycling Campaign -- their website includes this excellent route planner, including a slideshow of photos taken along the route. Useful if you get lost (and have mobile internet...).

A year of OSM edits -- (not strictly enviro, but hey) -- fun animation of the edits added to Open Street Map during 2008. It took me a little while to realize why the open sequence looked strangely familiar, and then I realized that it's Ipswich! (East Anglia generally seems to be quite a hotbed of OSMing.) Some stills from it gathered here, which are a bit easier to peer at.

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