Thursday, July 24, 2008

NEWS/Commercial PR - Renewable energy from the back end of a pig?

I just had to post this, not because of the porcine (omnivore) twist on a usually bovine (me)theme, but any PR with that as a headline gets my vote.

Plus the promise is nifty, too.

As received, E&OE:

Energy company redefines what waste is [ed - ok, that bit is boring]

green energy uk’s innovative electricity generators are creating renewable energy from a variety of waste materials, including vegetable matter, unwanted wood, landfill gas and even pig waste. These materials traditionally would sit in landfill, or as with pig waste, manure on fields, decomposing and giving off greenhouse gasses, but they are now being given extended life and purpose.

green energy uk’s generators, based from Cornwall up to Caithness in Scotland, treat the waste to remove and use the harmful greenhouse gasses to produce green electricity. At a pig farm in Aberdeenshire, pig waste is treated through an anaerobic digester where microorganisms inside break down the biodegradable material to create a green biogas. The biogas is burnt to power a turbine that makes green electricity.

Since 2003, Hereford-based electricity generator Longma [ed - hey... neighbours!] has provided a free waste vegetable oil collection service to schools, colleges, universities, pubs and restaurants in the region. Longma recycles the oil into environmentally friendly biofuels for generating electricity in Combined Heat and Power units (CHP). The electricity made is consumed locally, and the heat generated by the CHP units is used to heat the Longma factory and neighbouring industrial buildings. For every 100 litres of waste oil Longma collects, 90 less litres of fossil fuels is burnt.

green energy uk’s electricity generators using CHP units are utilising the heat they create by directing it locally to warm buildings and keep greenhouses at temperatures that allow for foods traditionally grown and imported from overseas to be grown in the UK. Old-fashioned power stations that use fossil fuel to make electricity also create heat, but this heat is not harnessed as it is with CHP units and is lost into the atmosphere as steam up cooling towers, making them terribly inefficient.

According to Greenpeace reports, “On average, our large, centralised power stations throw away two thirds of the energy they generate…. CHP is the most efficient way possible to burn both fossil fuels (usually natural gas) and renewable fuels (including biomass and biogas). Pretty much any organic matter can be used to produce biogas; we could be reaping energy from farm waste, and from all of the organic waste - like uneaten food - that makes up about half of our landfill.”

green energy uk does not use fossil fuels to make its electricity. The energy company is instead making the most out of what we throw away. Co-founder and chief executive for green energy uk, Doug Stewart, explains "By recycling organic waste into energy, utilising biomass and clean CHP methods, alongside our solar, hydro and wind power projects, we are trying to establish what we think is a stable, sensible, long-lasting energy solution that will maintain the modern quality of life and benefit future generations... In theory the UK has resources to run itself entirely from renewable energy.”

green energy uk has two tariffs. Dark Green is made from 100% renewable sources and has zero carbon emissions. Pale Green is a mixture of renewable electricity, Biomass from waste and green electricity from Ofgem-accredited clean Combined Heat and Power (CHP) generators whose carbon emissions are 65% less than the national average for producing electricity. green energy uk facilitates investment in a wide range of technologies to produce renewable and green electricity. By the end of 2008, 95% of the electricity green energy uk supplies will come from generators only commissioned since green energy uk began in 2001.

green energy uk is the first and only energy company in the UK to offer customers the choice of 100% renewable or 100% green electricity.

green energy uk does not buy or sell any brown energy or energy created by Biomass from food crops.

green energy uk buys from 30 commercial generation sites, broken down as eight green CHP, nine hydro, four wind and nine biomass from waste.

Fancy being a Knol-all?

Google unveils Wikipedia rival Knol to the public

I am tempted, as a font of useless, re:useful knol-edge:)

Google gets "Knol!"

O, solar mi... o mi

I'll be posting this also under the main Solar category (label link below) as it's an interesting set of insights.

One of the blog/forums I frequent is a very worthwhile source of links, thoughts and, until recently, debate. In a less than thrilling example of how some 'purists' can shape the group think I have found myself much less likely to contribute by off-forum... approaches. Makes me all the more determined to police a fair but firm moderating line here to keep the bullies in check and the debate productive.

Recently there was a posting citing a Guardian piece, which I duly noted. Frankly I didn't do much else as it was about a bit of a punt and I tend to avoid these 'til they get serious.

Guardian - £37bn plan to power EU with the Saharan sun

However, a follow-up posting on this forum did catch my eye, and as it was in the ongoing spirit of challenge and making one think a bit more before leaping headlong into the 'green is good no arguments allowed' mode that I am so critical of (and seems all too practiced by so called 'professional journalists' in certain quarters, at best for a quick story, at worst ratings or some subjective agenda. Plus, if you read on, such as Dear Leader and Cher Napoleon, so it has already got serious), I thought what was written was worth sharing at least, and have been given permission by Frank Holland, the author:

I have been examining DESERTEC for some time. It all sounds
so simple that even politicians can understand it. You build solar
energy generating systems where there is a lot of sun, the Sahara
desert. Then you send the electricity across North Africa, across the
Med, into Europe and split it into a fabulous grid system, see .

Well look at the distribution map at look at
all the places terrorists could cause damage...blow up a few lines and
cripple Europe. There are 8 lines feeding Europe, with long stretches
which could not be secured all the time.

Plus a little problem called desert winds, see

Sand driven by wind will soon take the shine off all those mirrors used
to concentrate the sun light.

As always with these mega projects there are always downsides, but the
enthusiasts down play those.

Local micro generation will be much more stable with millions of
connections to the grid, a few failures will be unimportant to the whole

I cannot speak for his background but these points were well made, and supported by links to more information, as with this one on my agreeing with his point on wind etching/erosion, having not thought of it until he pointed it out:

Not just erosion, but the risk of burial....sand and wind build sands
dunes, see

These are considerations that those standing ready to blow bazillions on projects of still uncertain enviROI will, I hope, at least have answers to. And will be brought to the fore by responsible journalists in major media before charging off on the next set of vast capital projects in the name of green.

There was another poster with some other interesting points on transmission drop outs, etc, based on the proximity principle, but have not his permission yet to quote verbatim and credit.

Addendum -

EU Referendum - Gullible or not?

Sticks and stones

I'm sure I'll stumble across more detailed pieces later today, but the BBC just had a piece on renewables.

Seems an MEP is accusing the government of 'watering down the wording of an EU directive' to move from 'compulsory' to 'optional'.

To which a spokesperson has replied that they are 'committed to meeting targets'.

It just seems so sad to me that in this, or at least the reporting of it, there seems no mention of the actual value, and hence wisdom of such measures, at least on an enviROI basis, as if this no longer matters.

Wording and targets are all that do, apparently.

Addenda (there will be more, I'm sure):

Gaurdian - Britain tries to block green energy laws - The culprit, at least from this piece, looks like a belief in nuclear. Hmn.

On a related issue...

Gaurdian - Don't be fooled by the climate change bill. Carbon trading torpedoes it - the posts are worth it.