Monday, August 31, 2009

EVENT - IP - Greenfest 09


WHEN: Tuesday Sept 22
WHAT: Greenfest 09, West Suffolk College
HOW MUCH: Free, I think
URL: Not sure yet... try this:
COMMENTS:Cripes, doesn't time pass quickly. Junkk is going to be there as an exhibitor, and it was an age ago that we were kindly invited. Yet here it is upon us. If you are in the vicinity, and allowed (I'm sure it is open to all)* do come and say hi, and see our latest reuse ideas on show.

*Ooops. It isn't. At least not yet. Just back from hols to note comment from organiser Amy. Sorry for the mis-info.

Friday, August 14, 2009


As with any renewable, I love the idea. I just cast an engineer's eye around the enviROI in practice in many cases.

Try and make your own mind up. Though between most media and governments I'd say you'd often be struggling to be totally clear.


Guardian - Big oil to big wind: Texas veteran sets up $10bn clean energy project - Setback for UK wind farm push - Were it me, I'd have gone for 'Blow to...' Especially when one reads this: 'The large subsidies paid by electricity users to fund the drive towards wind power are generating profits for existing wind farm owners – without producing many new turbines'
Indy - Save peatlands from wind turbines - More facts than I have seen anywhere in a while. Thing is... are they accurate? I am guessing we'll not hear more as the caravan rolls on.
The Register - Shell pulls out of Thames Estuary mega-windfarm -
Telegraph - Shell disappoints with wind farm withdrawal - I merely note the competencies and responsibilities and agendas of those 'disappointed', but look also at this: Quite simply, the costs of wind farms are spiralling out of control. I think in terms of enviROI+, but most talk seems to be of image. Which is better for our kids?
Indy - Shouldn't local people have a say on wind farms? - There are many factors to be considered here; and most are important, if often different ones to different people.

However what often gets lots is clear data on the actual deliverables of energy to meet these 'targets'.

With expanding economies, and populations, there are frankly going to be demands of land and resources for all sorts of reasons.

In making tricky choices my major concern is that whatever else is going on, we are allowed to assess the merits of these alternative energy options on clear issues of ROI and enviROI (environmental benefits to our kids' futures), and not certain narrow, short-term definitions that are more to help box-tickers' careers, lobbyists bonus payments and contractors' subsidy-supported profits.

Telegraph - Wind Weekend to celebrate wind power - Another week/end, another feature/celebration of stuff that is 24/7, 365/365. I guess it must be good for PR with lazy media. Like me! I'll confess to having linked but not read.

The Register - Research: Wind power pricier, emits more CO2 than thought - I have been asking for more meaningful data, especially on enviROI as well as deliverables, for a while. Ta-da! However, doubtless there will soon be a ton more that totally contradicts this. Seems a heck of a lot of uncertainty still to be pinning £100B and the country's energy needs on.

Telegraph - Wind won't solve energy gap - A piece from a 'side', so the real value is in the thread replies.

Times - Giant turbines to make north Windy Central - 'Each could [my italics] generate up to 7.5 mega-watts of power, enough for 4,000-5,000 homes.' What, I wonder, do we know they can... and will generate. Why is this always left unknown? I am keen to be convinced, but such reporting leaves me always wondering.

Telegraph - Homeowners living near windfarms see property values plummet - A problem, but also something to bear in mind before accusing some of unthinking, unreasonable NIMBYism.

Telegraph - When the wind stops - the other side of the wind turbine argument - Some science (if from a clear 'side' - check the comments in reply. One only, so far)

Gaurdian - A blot of turbines - With a title like that...

Greenbang - Wind power: “Expensive and unreliable” - worth reading on as the headline is not all there is to it

The Register - Greenpeace: UK gov trying to strangle wind power - Um, why? I don't say they are not, but they say they are in favour. Confused?

Guardian - Report finds US is world's top wind producer

Times - Host of new pylons to carry wind farm power

Greenbang - UK wind: only for the rural - Now there's a thing. Who'da thunk and why did no one mention this before? Could have spared all sorts of eco-savvy folk money and looking like enviROI-numpties... like our next PM, for instance. Arthur, bring up more coal from the bunker, if you please! George, throw a few more rods in the reactor! Gives me a warm glow (I hope that's all it is) just thinking of the brain power being deployed on our behalves.

The Register - Carbon Trust: Rooftop windmills are eco own-goal

Times - Country out-performs towns in household wind turbine trials

Gaurdian - Wind farms are not only beautiful, they're absolutely necessary - Just gotta love objective headlines

RenewableEnergyWorld - Software Predicts Electricity Output for Wind - Now this looks more promising, but note reply

ASA - Interesting insights via ad complaint

Telegraph - Giant Upside Down Kitchen Whisks (GUDKW) to save the planet? - Can it be beaten? Personally I'd have gone for 'Blender Blades'... snappier.

Times - Wind turbines generate bonus for homeowners

Guardian - Spinning to destruction - Not anticipated by whom (Whilst being cautiously in favour, as an ex- Civ. Eng I recall wondering how a gearbox in the North Sea stood up), and when, exactly? At what cost? (ROI & enviROI?) And why?

BBC - When the wind doesn't blow - I read this as I read about a chap who 'saves' by using the energy from his next door neighbours' homes to radiate into his. Not too sure this system works too well.

EU Referendum - Trouble at t'grid

Inhabitat - Groundbreaking Energy Ball Wind Turbine for Home Power - Interesting comments and links to this

EU Referendum - Candour from the Beeb - I am starting to sense that not only has the cart been put before the horse, no one actually seemed to figure out that first you need a path to follow. This lack of informed foresight, intelligent planning and sensible, objective, agenda-free media oversight from major public media with immense resources is nothing short of a scandal.

Telegraph - Wind farms, hot air and spin , Wind farms fail to deliver value for money, report claims -

I tend to share most of the concerns articulated here, especially (ignoring a few other pertinent parameters) those of the actual enviROI.

But as an ideal I want the idea to succeed and remain ready to be persuaded. The advocates have not yet, at least in many UK locations, but may win me round.

However, in the same way, those in favour of nuclear also still have a job ahead, at least for this microscopic jury of one.

'...nuclear energy is the most realistic option for meeting our long-term energy needs.'

May be true economically (though I have seen rather scary numbers on simple ROI here, at least without subsidy - which comes from whom?), but I'd hazard that to tick my environmental boxes as well, a few questions need to be answered. Especially... long term... I'd like to have more confidence that there's a better notion of what will be done with the waste, beyond hoping that eventually a solution will be found.

Daily Mail - A load of hot air: Why spending £100bn on windfarms to please the EU is Labour's greatest act of lunacy - Caution: as the title might suggest, this is not what you might call a 'Pro' stance. I also query the claim; Labour might have had a hand in a few other odd and fiscally unwise efforts to challenge this assertion.

And no mention of enviROI.

Times - Wind power plans may be blown off course - Having just watched a YouTube of one that sounded quite noisy, before it exploded, I wonder what rpm was meant when the guy says 'You can easily hold a conversation under the blades as they whizz around'?

Guardian - Wind farms must be nearer coast to meet targets, says report - I always thought they had to be out there to get the wind (or they could all be stuck on David Cameron's roof) , but nearer at least improves the enviROI of maintenance.

Observer - UK wind farm plans on brink of failure

Times - Shell pulls out of its last UK wind farm project

Guardian - UK overtakes Denmark as world's biggest offshore wind generator

- Some interesting, if unproven and possibly partisan comments in the comments at the end.

Indy - Winds of change: A beacon of optimism

Greenbang - Wind energy “capacity” - just hot air?
So, here’s a surprise. In one corner a pretty extreme climate optimist. And in the other the leader of our country, a very smart man… who spins on his own axis pretty much whenever the political winds shift. Currently a bastion of ‘green’. Who to believe? No help from the Telegraph. Any experts out there who can help. It’s just numbers after all.
Max/min/average ratings. Wind speeds. Efficiencies. Maintenance schedules. Lifespans. Etc.
With a few less clear influences as work: Targets. Bonusses. Subsidies. Fines. Lobbying. Etc.
So… what delivers an enviROI from construction through to decommissioning that has an enviROI my kids’ futures can depend on?

Times - Wind investment at a standstill

Indy Letters - I missed the piece that inspired it, but I reprint this with my usual caveats about being impressed by titles and concerns that today's major media seem quite content to share black and white in sequence, without really being too concerned that teh reader aquires any sense of subtle shades of green...

When the wind does not blow

It is all very well for Michael Meacher to call for a higher proportion of electricity to be supplied by renewables (Letters, 3 December) but he ignores the main objective of the supply industry: to provide low-carbon electrical power continuously, on demand.

Wind is intermittent and variable. The "cube law" is hardly ever mentioned. (When a 30 mph wind falls to 10 mph, the power output falls by 96 per cent.) The deficiency usually has to be made up by gas or coal generators. Other countries do not have to rely so heavily on carbon credits. The Scandinavian countries have available hydro-electricity. Germany can import electricity from up from up to nine countries. We have one cross-channel cable.

Professor Charles Hughes, FREng

Guardian - Spinning to destruction - Actually an old one I just stumbled across. My main concern with reliability is how it affects the enviROI (gearboxes and salt air don't seem happy bedfellows), but safety is also a maintenance-related issue and concern, too. However, the failure rate, so far, still seems low.

Telegraph - Do you really want a wind turbine? - Oo, facts. There's a novelty.

Guardian - Keep the blades of wind power turning

Guardian - Opposing wind farms should not be socially unacceptable

Telegraph - Wind Farms: the death of Britain - Wind still grabbing the headlines, and not always good ones. And this is a good (bad?) example. Between the piece and the comments in reply the divide makes a climate change discussion seem almost an exercise in polite compromise. It is important, as there is so much money involved. And my main concern remains the enviROI. What beggars my belief is that we have got to this point and there seems still no clear cut trustworthy, objective facts. And when those making the most noise are a target-obsessed government I wouldn't trust to build a sandcastle vs. an often very reactionary press, the issue remains downright obscure. Criminally so.

Telegraph - When wind power blows, jobs will fall - Can't comment on the objectivity of the facts (see above) but certainly a sober outline of some critical issues. Can't help be suspect that an article from a more supportive source would paint a different picture.

Telegraph - How can wind turbines generate so much lunacy? - Ditto. I guess you need to review the comments for 'balance'. But I do prefer cold, hard numbers. And the examples of how badly some media can apparently get them concerning.

Guardian - Live Q&A: George Monbiot on wind power - It's a shame, but I rather find the Grauniad and Torygraph to be bookends when it comes to eco-objectivity, so at least this is likely to provide some 'balance' and maybe even facual considerations to the last few I have come across. I hope. I'd pose a question or two, but seom blogs are now too flamey for comfort. but worth a gander IMHO tomorrow.

Indy - Wind power plan blown off course - Don't know where the Indy rates for objectivity, but that headline doesn't bode well.

BBC - Newsnight - The iPlayer is only good for a week. But the follow up comments offer an interesting mix of viewpoints. I think the BBC really needs to address the qualifications of its 'reporters' in what is a very science/engineering-dependent topic (with a fair mix of enviROI economics in the mix - preferably without box-ticking targets and or subsidy-addicted lobbyists skewing decisions). Both to understand the issues and, as important, share them both objectively AND understandably.

Guardian - Wind power: Local difficulty - an interesting debate sparked and, indeed, still brewing, especially as more on the 'Two E's' aspects come out.

Guardian - Wind power: the silent majority must speak out, says Miliband - Always a tad concerned when minority groups (esp: pols) invoke the majority. Even more when mandates are presumed.

Guardian - A wind farm is not the answer - Get the feeling this is topical... and about as polarised as climate change? How is it that there seem yet to be few numbers that anyone can trust, and hence agree upon?



BERR - UK Windspeed Database -
UK Wind Speed Database -
EERE - Wind Powering America - Its a start. An odd one; but interesting. - For setting up community projects
warwickwindtrials - - NEW - Clear advocates, but lots of useful information to add the knowledge base

Carbon Trust - Small-scale wind energy

Suppliers - Looks useful! - -

See labels below, especially under 'Alt. Energy' for previous notes. If you have anything to add to the headings above... share 'em! Direct to info[at] or via the comments on the blog.

Useful Media -

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sometimes a headline just warrants a post

The Underwear That Saved the World

The story is worth it, too.

Now, where's those scuzzy skivvies down the back of the laundry pail?

CATEGORY - Climate Change

Still on a refiling roll. So check anything with CLIMATE for more until I collate.

I rather like the c0lour coding idea (Lord help us if I get into trying to accord shades). Let's go for Climate Optimistic and Climate Pessimistic


Times - Understanding climate change - well, understanding it better, which still isn't very much, more like.

Greenbang - NEW - Psych! Climate change messes with our heads - A lot of this is, like D'Oh, but I prefer attempts at understanding to fights on fixed views.


antigreen - CO -

climateaudit - CO - - CP - Nice catch on daft car ads

climatesci - CO -

omniclimate - that's a CO, safe to say

icecap - NEW -

Spiked - CO - Global warming: the chilling effect on free speech - I might just leave this up front out of alphabetical order. While one may or may not agree with it, I have to agree that in the cause of striving to make a point, very often the spirit of free debate is too often hijacked by pejoratives.

Oops. must have missed the link. Now, how to find it?

Radio Silence is Golden... for a while

Just to say the Junkk empire is off on hols.

Gremlins permitting, the site should tick over while we're gone.

And the blog will be a tad thinner perhaps, though Dave of Solarventi might be able to plug the void with his as always worthy shares.

We might be in range of a WiFi spot on occasion, so you never know, the odd post or tweet might yet sail in.

And upon our return, we hope to share the joys of camping and driving an LPG car round France.

The only thing I am pre-dreading is the in-box here upon my return.

Au revoir!

My last task is to point you at the latest newsletter, and now to hit... post.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Buy one, eat one. Yes... FREE!

Not big on bans, but I have to say that this possible one is an exception:

The End of Buy One, Get One Free in the U.K.?

I have a study somewhere from my ad days that shows 'FREE' is by far and away the most potent word in the lexicon.

But it also had a breakdown of the other 'tricks', such as 'half price', two-for-one', etc.

Even the most ruthless and cynical seem powerless to resist.

But there really is no excuse between the two above. The result to the consumer is the same, and the amount of money per 'unit' of produce is no different, but one wins over the other through other factors. And they usually mean profits winning and planets losing.

I have a bee in my bonnet already on storage, especially in back of the fridge, and as we run down ours for our hols this is even more front of mind.

I really think we should try to get used to buying little, more often, and pay a fair price for doing so. And, if the right enviROI boxes can be added... locally.

That all said, the few comments in reply do bear consideration. Funny it's a US site talking about the UK.

Addendum - Supermarket offers and food waste targeted in goverment's food strategy

Aha... spoke too soon!

Telegraph - NEW - Food security cannot be debated properly without considering population density - Meanwhile, back at the more pragmatic, less box-tickophilic end...

Turning a new leaf... into energy?

This... is solar power (with a dash of geoengineering) I can get behind:

Scientists explore how the humble leaf could power the planet

Certainly a tad better than concreting over green belts for 'affordable housing' for certain voting blocs to cope with runaway population increases, and then fretting about 'food security'.

EVENT - LONDON - British Invention Show 09


WHEN: 14-17 Oct
WHAT: The 9th British Invention, Innovation & Technology Show
WHAT... MORE?: From the blurb:

Inventions from around the globe are set to battle it out at the World Invention Awards & Exhibition in London. Entries already include a diverse array of unique ideas.

The three-and-a-half-day show, now in its ninth year, is run in association with the British Inventors Society and enjoys support from government partners including the IPO (Formally the UK patent office) and business link.

A panel of 18 judges from the British Inventor’s Society will put ecological and social benefits to mankind, as well as design, ingenuity and originality to the test, culminating in the presentation of the coveted British Invention, Innovation and Design of the Year Awards.
HOW MUCH: Various - for what it is, more than reasonable. See site:
COMMENTS: And the best bit is... will be there, with the RE:tie. They have now kindly designated a 'green ideas' section. This is a great event. We attended once before, and even picked up a gong. But what makes it special is the atmosphere. There are all manner of folk with all manner of ideas. And the last time I was there I met many new chums... and useful contacts.

NEWS/Commercial PR - A wind up

I share this having had a PR just in, for no better reason (and it's a good one, IMHO) than I like wind up 'leccy gizmos. My supply of same is growing, and as we pack for our camping trip a veritable clockwork cavalcade is being created.

Which has, just now... sparked an idea of my own.

Blurb (E&EO) from PR:

Slik Stik was invented by Denise Anstey - 2009 British Female Inventor of the Year. Following a major motoring accident leaving her significantly disabled, Denise set about designing an aid to overcome her personal challenges and in the process created an Eco friendly walking stick. Slik Stik is the perfect eco solution to anyone that uses a walking stick.
Fully rechargeable from mains and wind up
Slik Stik folds flat, but "pops up" as soon as you need it
Integrated front "search lights" and integral red strobe lights ensure that the user can see and be seen
Integrated alarm for attracting attention
Soft grip handle with integrated magnet for picking up dropped keys

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's in the Gaurdian so it must be true

Hard to figure the best category, so I'll give it its own post.

BBC accused of wasting £406,000 of public money a year on bottled water

'The broadcaster said it was assessing the "health issues" of switching from bottled to mains-fed water.'

The comments are also... choice. 'How dare you critique Aunty. This is like the Daily Mail....!' Interesting rationale.

Tries hard to keep straight face....

This deserves its own post...

Wit thanks to good chum/honourary Junkketeer Paul, whose overnight Far East timezone caught it first and alerted me (he recognised the twins' vocal talents, but not mine as I shoved a weed up a pole inside a plant pot as a video camera ran), our entry on the recent '1 minute to save the world' competition noted yesterday is currently on their home page.

Too early and peaked. Or get in right away to drum up support?

Time, will tell.

I am now trying to figure ot how on earth you do drum support as for the life of me voting seems unclear. Anyhoo, we have to October.

However, should you feel inspired now to add your vote (5* has a nice feel:).... link, and/or pass on to your chums. Ta very much!

Monday, August 10, 2009

COMPETITION - One minute to save the world


WHEN: Now, deadline
WHAT: One minute to save the world
WHAT... MORE?: Hat tip: Five of the best short films from the One minute to save the world competition
HOW MUCH: Free! But with munny at the end... er... if you win:(
COMMENTS: I had a bumper sticker made once that said 'Copywriters have to do it in 30 secs or less'. Didn't seem to get many girls, mind. See how ours does. It does have kids, and is for sure 'amateur' in production, but might suffer from a more gritty message of realism.


This is 'in progress', too.


Times - Waste not want not, Gordon Brown tells families - Dear Leader on another winner. The BBC says he is 'urging' us. This suggest 'tells'. Whilst an encouragement to waste less is fine, I rather suspect this is not garnering the reaction intended.
Indy - Britain declares war on food waste - Ok, now it's 'Britain'
Guardian - UK is wasting far too much food - Brown - Fascinating to see how the same report is headlined. I wonder if anyone took a gander at the scrapings in the bins at the summit kitchens? Perhaps a luxury resort not the best locale to talk about conspicuous consumption & waste?
BBC - What's in your basket?
Guardian - Waste not ... A slightly more positive piece in response, though some of the tips do seem more geared to Guardian readers of a certain income level than most in the country.
Telegraph - Gordon Brown puts the spotlight on supermarket food waste - Good word.. risible
Guardian - The real waste is to reduce a historic study to soundbites
Guardian - What not to put in your fridge
Planet Green - How To Preserve Garden Produce Without Freezing or Canning!
Guardian - Government accused of buying food that damages people and the planet - What's good for the Go...ose?
Newsnight - NEW - Interesting follow-up comments. Any debate on food that ignores population and (in the case of a finite bordered area)/or immigration is, at best, 'selective'


Guardian - Is it time for fish rations? - Soylent Green is but a blink away!

Food Waste
Guardian - Our culture of wasting food will one day leave us hungry - it has provoked a reply from a source I often have cause to respect. Like him, citing WRAP did not inspire confidence:
Bishop Hill - Importing food - Whilst I have seen some merit in the industrial-related areas of their remit, almost all directed at the consumer seem to be the worst examples of quangocracy, with vast budgets driving massive comms budgets designed more to meet artificial recycling/waste reduction targets so box-tickers can accord each other bonuses.

Which, as far as I am concerned, is a massive waste of money that could be directed much more productively to tangibles. Not to mention what seems to me a conflict of interest. If I am paid by shifts in public awareness, where will I direct my spend?

Pesticides - The Shopper's Guide to Pesticides. Hat tip small footprints (link RHS opposite - I wish Blogger would let you run two windows so you can cut and waste URLs from other pages) for the heads up. More on the menu than we thought?


Guardian - Freshly prepared, bagged salads are a healthy convenience food - Brave lass


FREEBIE ALERT - If you can read this, you deserve it!

One for our silver surfers.. over 70

Free eaga energy saving lightbulbs for all eligible GB households.
Save energy, save money, save the environment - and they're free!

But at least they can tick the 'target met' box!

According to this from the Telegraph, the cost of the Gov's plans to move us to using more 'green' energy is not exactly going to provide much of a return on investment.

Cost: £57 to £70 Billion
Benefit: £4 to £5 Billion

That doesn't seem to make much sense to me, whether ROI or even enviRoi. No surprise that the numbers were buried deep within the strategy document then.

Hmmmm, I wonder who is footing the bill?

O/T, but I had to...

Those who engage with I often include with myself as Junkketeers.

So close...


But, that extra special K, not in a good way:)


I see all sorts of lists on these bods.

Who's who, who is more powerful, influential, etc

So when I see a profile in profile in future, I'll share.

And in a small tilt to an opinion, I'll also where relevant indicate whether they are, IMHO, climate positive or negative (though of course we get to the 'man-made' complication, and matters of degree - I do also note that I have rather flipped the common meaning/association of the word green in this context)

Bjorn Lomborg - TIMES - lite green (ironically), as he does, I believe see the climate changing as a threat, but is less committed to the man-made aspects, and especially the commitment of funds being espoused as a consequence.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

.eco centric? Or 'tistical? Or just greedy?

Not sure that picture does one strapped greenie many favours.

Rivals bid to snatch green domain


.eco could be used as a labelling system to endorse companies with green credentials.

Uh-huh. And who decides? Not sure a bevvy of rules and fees will help much either.

This already looks like a race with the losers already decided, including the planet amongst them.


In keeping with my ongoing cowardice on certain issues, I merely share a view:

Baby emissions fuel global warming

Junkk Male
Father of... twins (coincidentally)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

CATEGORY - The 'Er' Files

A while ago I penned a headline that sums certain trends up.

So I have decided to log in a new Category when I see what may well be better in a green sense, but still really hardly qualifies as 'green' in the absolut. Professional journalists please take note:)

Telegraph - Bentley goes green leads to - Bentley Continental Super Sports review - The copy does at least qualify the home page headline.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Journeying with Veronique. Now our life is a gas, gas gas.

So we embark on a new and, I hope, interesting journey.

Not long ago, our 'lean, green, Junkk machine' met an untimely end (the insurance nightmare, incuding the 'economic repair' consequences are another story).

Of course, it was green in colour only.

And while its unexpected exit from the roster was not what the doctor ordered, as one door closes (or should that be 'as one bonnet crumples'?), another opportunity arises.

Cutting a complicated series of circumstances short, meet our new main method of transport: Veronique, a Volvo V40 Estate (again... kids, safety, reliability, space etc), 1.8 (no more 200BHP... life does involve compromise)....... bifuel.

Yes, we figured that this was the best opportunity we'd get to practice what we preach (though we had planned to convert the previous one, at around £1500, which ironically would have made it 'worth' about what we ended up paying for our 'new' car... lpg inc. And imagine if we'd done all that and then 'lost' it?), and see what the pros and cons are of trying to be greener as we travel. And, with luck, save some money too, to further inspire the 'save green, make green' mantra.

I'll append this as a story under the Auto>Fuel>LPG section as well, but the aim is to be an ongoing 'living with' story, warts and all, of the personal journey we take with our new workhorse. It's not going to be a comprehensive view of the genre, as it is but one (2nd hand) model being used by one person, but the process and experiences may, I hope, be instructive.

The Purchase

Anyone who buys new must be rich, or bonkers. Or both. I know. I was... am. My last Volvo was purchased for £25k 12 years ago. It lost 1/3 of that as the wheels left the forecourt. And now, after much haggling (not an experience with a major insurer I expected, or enjoyed), it was deemed to be worth £1650. That was what I had to put towards the new one.

But if the market was dire for my 'selling' (or at least getting compensated), so was/is it once becoming a buyer. Except, of course, when it comes to bi-fuels. Despite everything, they are still pretty rare, and no one seem to have a real idea of 'worth'.

However, they are out there. There are sites. Such as the one that made the connection, ecocars.

We chose the Volvo mainly because it is factory fitted. A few garages we had spoken with did that teeth-sucking thing at the prospect of a conversion. No idea if that's fair or not, but it swung us as reliability was... is... key.

However, whatever you do, the law of sod will get you. Small tip on buying... it is worth having a possible purchase checked. If you can (not practical in our case as I had to train to Nottingham to see/get it. Though now I hear you can get an AA check at the purchase location). No problem with the engine (crossed fingers), but a lot of other twiddlies... tyres, brakes, suspension... that totted up to another £800. Caveat emptor.

Fuel Economy/Range

First impressions are good... and bad. I had a much more powerful model, and it gave me 32mpg on average. This has managed 34mpg on petrol and 25mpg on gas so far. Hardly inspiring. Now at 50p a litre (though it seems to be as low as 37p in some places I am nowhere near!!) that 'equates' to 50mpg, which is heaps better for sure, but somehow disappointing still. A 1.8 turbodiesel I suspect would deliver a lot more. However, there is what comes out of the pipe to consider. But I may just have the tuning looked at by an expert in case it's drinking too much for a reason other than my lead foot.

I was told that it would do 200 miles on a tank. Yeah, right. I'm looking at 150 if lucky. But so far I have done mostly motorway cruising and it's possible that is thirstier than a combo cycle, but I doubt it. There is of course an entire petrol tank there to use if you want, at the flick of a switch (seamlessly automatic when the tank runs dry), but lugging extra weight around is not a great idea if you can help it. You do need some to fire up, so I aim to keep a 1/4 tank in there, but we are resigned to stopping to fill up a lot more often.

There are pluses and minuses to this, and they are many and varied.

Of course there are not as many LPG stations around as other fuels, but nowadays plenty enough, spread evenly all round the country. And at the price you tend not to be so worried at variations, even at motorway premiums, though even these seem less hiked. They are easily found and or signposted. The internet is worth using to check the home area and destination (a trip to London will now require a fill before and there to get back), and there is a guide or online options:,,

I have also applied for a local scheme via countrywide, that may be more economical, and will report on this as it takes shape. (Addendum - It's all come through, and so far is proving more than worth it. Sadly the scheme is only regional, but at 39p a litre (vs. 10p more elsewhere) what's not to like? And it does rather offset the rather woeful consumption. In financial terms at least I'm getting about the equivalent of 60mpg).

The process takes a wee bit of getting used to but is not too bad, if a little off putting. The input nozzle is standardised in the UK (though not abroad, so some conversion pieces are required - keep them safe!), though the delivery mechanism can vary a tad. Basically you present a bulky nozzle to the input, slide it over a bayonet fitting (like a lightbulb), twist and then pull a big lever to 'connect'. This is all necessary because you are dealing with a pressurised gas in liquid form, so the seal needs to be tight. The delivery then is easy, involving simply pushing and holding down a button. It is disconcertingly quiet, and I have yet to try anything other than a complete top up, which cuts out automatically when full. Not really an issue when you are looking at £25 tops.

The removal is a bit of a palaver, and again disconcerting. You know the blowback hiss and spray you get after charging a lighter with gas, or disconnecting the camping bottle? Try that plus a few thousand %. It's clean, but smelly, nosy and visually 'exciting' . Many pumps do provide a shroud, but I have already found they make connection tricky as they interfere with the fuel cap flap. So I have been removing these.

Addendum 7 Aug : Good news everyone, though the cost per litre has risen in line with fuel prices, the government has increased the tax differential period from 3 to 5 years.

Living With a Bi-Fuel

The one immediate compromise, and hence negative, is the reduction in space. You buy a car like an estate not just to shift you and yours, but 'stuff'. Many is the early morning at the NEC when I have been unloading stand materials from a packed, floor to ceiling boot with the rear seats folded down.

Trouble is, now there is a dirty great bump poking up, swallowing a good 50 litres of space (well, much is down in the spare wheel well... another issue). This is the LPG fuel tank.

And the lack of a spare is worth noting in its own right. What there is, is a rather innocuous looking can of foam with a tube. I am prepared to be convinced, but I am none too sure about this. Maybe it will work fine as a 'get you to the tyre place', but I can think of a few of the few punctures I've had where that may not cut it. And especially whether my wife will cope. That said, while she may still be able to manage the jack, the wheel nuts have always defeated her, so this may be better. I am also told that using this stuff renders the tyre unrepairable, which could be expensive and wasteful. We'll see. I am wishing the insurers would have let me take the 'get you home' from the old car.

Congestion Charge

One bonus is this car should permit me to swan about London free of the CC. Not going to happen a lot, but the other night I had few choices but to drive as the event ended at midnight. Sadly, I entered before the evening cut-off and still had to pay. Why? Well, there is one heck of a lot of hurdles you have to jump first, and 'they' don't make it easy, because 'they' are pencil-pushers. For a start you have to apply, in writing, with all sorts of forms, which require you to access all sorts of silly websites that are poorly designed and/or don't work. And there are many departments, from Transport for London through the Congestion guys to the Energy Trust, all of whom point, and contradict each other. Plus you have to fork out a £10 'fee'.

Why all this, I don't know. If I drive in with a 'naughty' car, the cameras send the registration to the DVLA, who say it's naughty and they fine you. Can't the same be done with my 'nice' car, whose registration document clearly states its niceness. All I can say is I am glad I have factory fitted, as the post-conversion hoops look even longer and more arduous, involving Certificates of Compliance and other fun stuff.

Watch this space. I have not been 'approved' yet. It takes up to 10 days, apparently.

Addendum - Well, we knew this wasn't going to be easy. I have been rejected, because my make is not on the list. No matter that bigger bi-fuel Volvos that emit more, the S60 and V70, are. Or a backstreet conversion guy can manage it. So now I am in a nightmare between TfL, the Congestion Charge guys, Volvo and the Energy Savings Trust.

Addendum -

Volvo Car UK challenges the Mayor of London to Emissions Equality - via hat-tip tweet and tweet


Maybe we should have checked with others, but when you are one car down and need another pronto you tend to go with the easiest, fastest option. And we were.. are.. hostage to the no claims protection. Yes it is newer, but a lot less quick, so I was again disappointed a bit to only see a £30 drop.

Come renewal, with more time to think, we may start looking at the eco-options that abound, and report back.

Car Tax

As we will with this. With the crunch, one suspects the heavy impositions on gas-guzzlers will not be happening, though one still hopes for an eco-concession. It will inevitably be relatively less.

That's it for now. As with all the blogs, this is meant as a journey, and one I'll share as and when.

First posted 16 Jan 09.

Also check Junkk - Auto, which has a section there

'Could' news - smokin'

'Cloud ship' scheme to deflect the sun's rays is favourite to cut global warming

Hmnnnn. Addendum - At last, man-made climate change is a threat - engineered by the global-warming fanatics themselves - Not a fan, then. But then, also not a scientist (noted in the replies). Geoengineering is another area I think I will observe, but avoid too close a contact with.

CATEGORY - CSR (Corporate Social Responsiblity)

Another that needs its own category now. The good, the bad, and the ugly springs to mind.

ARTICLES - What does CSR really mean? A definition. There will be others.

GreenBiz - New - What's the Point of Corporate Responsibility Rankings? - And the winner is... Miss. Direction!


So many. And they cost soooo much (usually). I'll post the new ones in future.

INFORMATION - New blog that claims to address the issue. Good start! More dedicated than here any road up.

I am also aware there is other stuff already on site, scattered about, that needs bringing under here, plus new things I'll add as and when. Check Labels (below) for now.

Handling the competition

More of a Friday musing.

The competition has been extended a few times, and well worth it as a few new entries have been added.

Thanks to some site/RE:tie distractions I hope more will yet come as I promote a bit more and get the tardy next newsletter out.

But I have noticed that the world and his/her dog is on holiday. As we will be soon.

So I am pondering yet another extension, this time to take in September, and the return to school and work. Plus the splash page is disconnected as we try and solve the clash error.

Can't see why not, and at least I am letting folk know of progress. A few bigger, better funded, and higher profile efforts I have gone in for/shared here have simply evaporated... or done the same.

RE:PAIR - Chips with everything

In the spirit of twitter's followfriday positivity, I am happy to share this.

Especially as it is in the realms of re:pair over replace.

That picture is my car windscreen.

It was worse.

But thanks to Autoglass, some sensible preventative support by my (I think all) car insurers, a FREE call out (£60 excess on a £400 newbie) it lives to tackle the elements another day.


Thursday, August 06, 2009


For now, just links as I happen across, or get told about them:

NOTE - New info/links as stumbled across subsequently indicated by NEW


Indy - Letters - Real facts about the Severn Barrage - Actually a pithy breakdown, though subject to confirmation factually

Indy - Greener power to the people: the real energy alternative?

What still astounds, and depresses me is that even now, with all that we face and all that is in place and/or being proposed, from government to major media I still have no clear idea what the facts are to make objective choices.

From nuclear to wind to micro, I really have no idea what will work, what won't and, crucially, what the actual numbers are, from ROI to enviROI.

Sadly it all still seems shaped by agenda, lobby-pressure, targets and, often, the green-tinted view that if it is' eco' it must be good no matter what.

Guardian - - How power from the people could cut CO2 emissions - with government help

Guardian - Hutton tells power grid to clear barriers to wind

Guardian - A renewed effort on green energy

Times - Why going green will still cost the earth - My favourite headline! Not, however, reading the rest.

Times - Homes that produce their own energy

Without the Hot Air - Summary of an academic study linked in a blog I frequent. Pro or con, as always, read, and treat with one eyebrow cocked.

Times - How China’s thirst for oil can save the planet - some more alt eng at the end

Telegraph - Latest microgeneration technology for houses - some excellent links to the various options mentioned below

Times - Expert fears over green energy targets

A worthy share from a forum I frequent:

10 Steps in 10 Years to 100 Percent Renewable Power

original article here

BBC - Britain 'faces power cuts threat' - As stated, it is reporting a report from an interst group. Does anyone do 'objective' any more?

Guardian - Shell dumps wind, solar and hydro power in favour of biofuels - Rather significant, IMHO

Indy - Green energy targets will not be met without government aid - That's what money from whom, again? Nothing to do with some players more keen on dosh than targets (neither looking like serving my kids' futures in terms I fancy, mind) pulling out as the business models don't add up, I hope.

Microgeneration Certification Scheme - - -
renewable energy foundation -

Algae - - - -
Newsnight - All of a sudden... algae is everywhere
Gaurdian - UK announces world's largest algal biofuel project
Newsnight - I share a moment
What is it about entities that end in 'Trust' that seem to inspire anything but in those who are exposed to their vision?Sadly, we share a similar view of quangos, and especially those appointed by, funded via and hence beholden to those who created them.Vast empires of persons, pay, perks and pensions, whose first aim is to secure budgets and then blow them on comms exercises mainly aimed at self-justification and/or securing more funding than actually applying much to any..DOING, as such. I anticipate a major round of announcements in this regard soon, as part of looking like something might happen to make my kids' future better, but not really getting round to anything tangible. Doubtless ably shared in PR support by a quick trip to a snowy place in a helicopter by all the usual suspects and their crews from you know who to tell 'us' what awaits if 'we' don't sort ourselves out. Trust me.
Yours in hoping we share the right rocket when the world really catches cold... (see Hitchhikers Guide)
Indy - Oil giant Exxon sees the future – and it is green algae - Doesn't make it right of course, but in matters green, when you are trying to track the future, it is often worth following the money. And it is interesting where multi-billion oil companies are going into, and avoiding/getting out of. Oddly, there is often a slight disconnect with political directions. I wonder why?


Guardian - Woodchips with everything. It's the Atkins plan of the low-carbon world - I have seen this referred to a lot. Time to get up to speed. So view this as but one view I quote. The comments will help.

Gaurdian - James Lovelock on Biochar: let the Earth remove CO2 for us - As night follows day...

Biofuel - via blog - hey, it's good news, at least in one area... I hope!
Indy - Can biofuel help prevent global warming, or will it only make matters worse?
Bear in mind it's 'a' discussion from 'a' paper. In fact I'm thinking this deserves it's own category as it really isn't alt. energy and is definitely a hot topic.
Guardian - Burning biofuels may be worse than coal and oil, say experts - Glad I didn't (well, couldn't afford) the SAAB Biodiesel! I'd be keyed everywhere. Goes well with the one below, though:)
Guardian - UK biofuels really do help the planet - Letter from the NFU. That's of the UK. hence I am unsure if the headline is accurate.
Indy - Shell starts algae biodiesel research site in Hawaii
Times - Shell joins search for green fuel with plan to make diesel from algae


It 'may' be

But what still comes out the pipe when it's combusted?

ASA - SAAB - Interesting insight into the issues. Note the number of complainants. I will be interested if the latest Prius TVC gets though unscathed. Some fairly hefty claims in there, including one that seems to say it actively scrubs CO2 from the air. Bearing in mind 5-25% of a cars' carbon impact is at manufacture, which seems to be ignored in this ad, I look forward to the supporting evidence.

Telegraph - Airline industry could be flying on biofuels in five years - Another when one kinda needs to divorce the local smartness of the technology from the bigger picture of its' consequences. In amongst an already 'could'-heavy piece, I stumble here: '..depending on the availability of sufficient crops to produce it.' Might one add ' the expense of food supplies?'. Not sure "The feedstocks are very expensive but as we build the market, more people will grow energy crops." really addresses that dilemma.

Guardian - US car manufacturers plough a lonely furrow on biofuels - Haven't seen much on this topic lately. Perhaps this suggests why?


Junkk - Heard of making a pig's ear of things?

Ecologist - NEW - Biogas: is your council about to waste your waste? - Why, in the name of all that is backstreet brown enveloped, are our councils cutting daft deals that are tied down for 25 years!!!?


Times - Wind puts sun in the shade for investors - Actually it's about a few things, but I simply noted this at the end: '..the company should benefit from a move by certain utilities towards the burning of biomass, such as wood, as they strive to reduce carbon emissions.
UK company Drax, for example, recently announced plans to build a facility in a power plant in the north of England, reportedly capable of handling around 1.5m tons of biomass per year. Webber said it was likely that it would import wood from North America for fuel.'

CHP - Combined Heat & Power (involves combos of various others, especially the two above)

EPA - Catalog of CHP Technologies - US-based, but v. useful! Why do I get the feeling that, for all the froth and bother from the EU, an awful lot of US-based stuff is just getting on with it... and getting streets ahead.

Energy from Waste

Telegraph - Why are we not using waste as fuel to generate heat and power? -
Telegraph - Waste produces waste - I should have known (well, remembered) this, but was stuck by this in the author's letter: '...burning does not decrease the mass of waste; it actually increases it. The illusion of disposal is maintained because a large proportion is “aerosolled” into the air as highly reactive and toxic gases and dust. The remaining ash goes to landfill'
This reply in rebuttal to his letter/claim is also worth noting. Complex, eh?

Feed in Tariff

Newsnight - Actually in the post threads. I join to ponder whether being FiT for purpose might lead to a good enviROI.


Telegraph - Nuclear fusion energy project could lead to limitless clean electricity


Guardian - Geo-engineers, too, have a vital role in saving the planet
The Register - 'Sunshade' global-cooling plan would ruin solar power
BBC - Setback for climate technical fix - See comment from Dave

GRID - NEW Sub-category - without the means of distribution being sorted, all else is academic

Indy - NEW - The undersea secret that's bringing more power to the people - the claim is that it is boring. I find it anything but.

Heat Pumps

Indy - The latest craze in hi-tech heating sounds great – but the figures simply don't add up - Another possible enviROI poor option? Or......

ADDENDUM - Note feedback in comments section!


Times - Britain's rivers called on to provide renewable energy

Laser Fusion

Indy - Lasers point way to clean energy

Liquified Natural Gas

ASA - Insights via, of all things, a ruling on an Exxon ad. Guardian


Marketing Week - BG to launch range of home energy generation products - It is to be hoped that the ROI and enviROIs of these will be properly spelled out and understood before rushing in.

Indy - Donnachadh McCarthy: The Home Ecologist - An odd situation, at best

BERR - Quality mark gives consumers confidence in going green - If they say so. Actually, I have been asking for such a thing for ages. Hope this will prove valuable.

Ocean Thermal

New Scientist - Plumbing the oceans could bring limitless clean energy - Interesting, with that 'could', but I still caution that there is no such thing as a free lunch


gizmag - World's first commercial scale tidal energy generator nears completion -
Wave Energy Today - if you need to know about the subject 'in depth' (sorry) - Issues raised surrounding the Severn Barrage



BBC - Cash cuts see green grants halved
- an action says a lot more than most green spin.

Smart Planet - Top five UK renewable electricity technologies - via a tip kindly provided by Ian of Wave Energy News

Telegraph - UK lags behind on eco energy

Times - Going green: how much does it cost and is it worthwhile? - Not very extensive, but a little more to the gristmill




BBC - Wind turbines

BBC - Wind turbine expansion plans due - has a sidebar video on arguments pro-con

Times - Giant offshore wind farms to supply half of UK power - 'to infinity... and beyond!'

BERR - Link to windspeed calculations, and other info

Times - Country out-performs towns in household wind turbine trials - Courtesy of Dave from Solarventi. Actually I am sure I had something on this recently. Now, where the heck would it be posted? Wind category, probably.

Junkk - Bogey Men

BBC - RSPB calls for more UK wind farms - Well, at least shredded seagulls are off the menu. I always thought this was a silly objection.

Daily Mail - Brussels demands thousands more wind turbines across the UK - targets vs. enviROI. Can't quite get my head around the EU setting rules for countries with different systems and climate.

ASA - You want to see how complex this can be? Check out this!

POOH CORNER - Golden shower

Just, don't tell Seinfeld.

It’s official. Peeing in the shower is a good thing.

Of course, come a certain age try stopping.

I think I may need to add a Prof's Poser here... can we add yellow waters to our grey waters? I think they end up in the same waste water system.

BAN - Rise of the quangos

A wee while ago my door knocked and a young lady stood there with a leaflet.

'Did I know about the energy savings grants?,' she asked. I had to say I knew of some, but not this one.

And hence I was seduced into a process, culminating in a visit from a surveyor, which resulted in... zippy. Because the house was old, and complex...and.. and, I did not qualify.

Despite this, I was still fairly onside, as it seemed a commitment of funds in areas I can endorse, namely proactive doing.

But now, thanks to a twitter link, I am looking at this (read the comments for a reality check the Brain-strains behind this one will never have):

Ban sales of poorly insulated homes, says Energy Saving Trust

And hence I am thinking not so much of a bonfire of the quangos, as promised, but a Hydra of them. Limitless numbers of offices, people, boards, pay, pensions, perks, comms budgets consuming bazillions all just stopping things. What a lovely metaphor for the age.

And hence I propose the next, and ultimate of them all: BAN - Ban All Now!