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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

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    • CommentAuthorRosemary
    • CommentTimeFeb 23rd 2007
    Since my last visit to the opticians they have changed over from taking notes with pen and paper to entering everything they discover when testing your eyes via a computer. This computer is on all day, as is the printer which is used to print off the data. Since my last visit to the Council Offices they have installed an automated door system in order to meet the requirements of the disability access legislation. Because there is just the one entrance to the building, everyone using it has to push a button and wait for the (heavy old) doors to swing open electrically. In the last six months, the village where I live has imposed parking restrictions: not the cardboard disc stating the time of arrival, which many of us advocated, but a pay and display system with some 16 ticket machines consuming power presumably for 24 hours a day (one was going to be PV powered but I haven't found it). These are just three local examples and no doubt similar things are happening all over the country. As fast as we install the low energy lightbulbs in our homes, the world beyond the home is finding more and more ways of using electricity. Apart from a return to the quill pen, what is the answer? Huge price increases? Carbon rationing? Nuclear power? All three?
    Hi Rosmary

    A good example of why energy conservation measures alone, while comendable, do not and will not work.:devil: Reducing the demand on the generation system in one place simply frees up electricity to be used elsewhere. It is the method by which the electricity is generated which will ultimately make the difference and there must be a huge investment in Renewables to do this. Nuclear is I think also part of the solution.

    A further posibility is to use consider alternative? crazy? strategies such as these:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/6369401.stm" >Five ways to save the planet
    • CommentAuthorbiffvernon
    • CommentTimeFeb 24th 2007
    Over the next several years there simply won't be any 'freed up' electricity to use elsewhewere. The combination of nuclear plant reaching the end of its life, the decline in gas coming out of the North Sea, the competition across the rest of Europe for Russian gas, and slow rate of new build of sustainable generation, will mean that we will have no choice but to reduce demand. The danger of incearsed coal burn is now self-evident. Nuclear is not part of the solution as the gap between installed generation capacity and business as usual demand cannot be met in time. In the longer term nuclear is not part of the solution as there is insufficient uranium with a positive EROEI.

    Basically, we either use electricity more sensibly or the lights go out.
    • CommentTimeFeb 24th 2007
    Nicely put, Biff. Is that you, or your bro on the Oil forum?
    Fair points Biff. I think your comment about coal is interesting. Do you mean there is a danger we will soon use far more in the UK? I certainly think there is a danger that coal will indeed come to the fore. Recently we have reduced our dependence but developing contries seem to be using more and more? In order to stop this we must have alternatives pretty damn soon as ultimately all fossil fuel will be burnt if we do not.

    After these resources are gone, we will need to generate electricity without them so we might just as well start now. Nuclear is not the top of my list as an alternative either, but may be necessary.
    • CommentTimeFeb 24th 2007
    Coal can be OK, and it's something UK's still got in abundance, and higher quality/cleaner burning (i.e. less toxins to complicate matters, other than the usual CO2) than is common elsewhere. Of course, robot mining, exhaust gas cleaning and carbon capture to the max, and carbon sequestration to follow. Freedom from the political price of Russian gas! Can't understand why the govt's not going all-out for it, could be got on-stream pretty fast. Why not?
    • CommentAuthorbiffvernon
    • CommentTimeFeb 24th 2007
    No Tom, Chris is my son.
    Mike, increased coal burn is already happening. This winter, being the warmest since the Triassic, has not been so critical, but last winter there was a very close call on gas supplies (hence the price spikes) and coal burn for electricity generation was increased on the previous year, largely supplied by imports.

    Coal is the worst of all fuels for CO2 emissions. Any increased coal burn must be resisted for climate change reasons. 'Clean coal' is an oxymoron. Carbon sequestration is still largely a theoretical abstraction not a proven large scale technology. Going all-out for coal bangs the nail in our climate coffin.

    The commonly held view that there's loads of coal still to be mined is not supported by the facts, though reliable data on coal reserves is no better than for oil. It is likely that 'Peak Coal' will follow closely behind Peak Oil. Remember that what counts is the maximum RATE of production, not the ultimately recoverable reserves and the issue of EROEI (Energy Recovered On Energy Invested) is crucial. You don't mine for fuel when it takes more energy to do the digging than the is stored in the fuel dug up.

    The price of Russian gas is less political than market driven. The former Soviet states of Eastern Europe complain loudly now that the Russians are removing the subsidies and they are having to pay the going rate. North Sea gas production rate is now declining at 13% per annum. A pipeline from the Russian gas fields to China is being built. Domestic prices may have dropped this winter (what winter?) but that's a blip.
    • CommentTimeFeb 24th 2007
    Yes, good, Biff.
    Is coal iredeemable longterm, as scrubbing and sequestration evolves? Of course no-fossil is better (or fossil used only for feedstock, not burning) - but as an alternative to oil/gas?
    EROEI - glad to know what it means, and that it's recognised concept. I wonder how wood (log) fuel does on EROEI, compared with chip/pellet - it's the claim of Elephant Grass that its EROEI is excellent.
    >The price of Russian gas is less political than market driven< What's removing subsidies, and building mainline-addiction pipelines that can be turned off at will, but exercising of political muscles?
    Yes, let's hope that prices will soon start their inexorable rise (that hasn't happened yet) - the system's present 'business-as-usual' success in restoring low prices was a bit of a disappointment.
    • CommentAuthorbiffvernon
    • CommentTimeFeb 24th 2007
    >The price of Russian gas is less political than market driven<

    It's very complicated but I think my point was that some east European states were getting their gas from Russia at a price well below market value but are now beilg forced to pay the same price as the rest of us as Gazprom react to market forces rather than political imperative. Similarly, the pipeline to China is a response to a potential market rather than to aid a political ally.

    Wood, of course is the best fuel as it warms you twice - once when you chop it and again when you burn it.

    The problem with coal is the temptation to burn it before the sequestration technology has been learned.
    So sequestration is then the answer? at least for as long as the coal will last anyway
    • CommentAuthorRosemary
    • CommentTimeFeb 24th 2007
    Front page headline of my local paper yesterday: "Opencast looms again . . .two major mining firms have expressed an interest in exploiting four sites near Prudhoe, Riding Mill, Stocksfield and Whittonstall, where around nine million tonnes of quality low sulphur coal lie just beneath the surface." That's Northumberland. Opencast mining is being revived in Ayrshire and Lanarkshire too.
    • CommentAuthorbiffvernon
    • CommentTimeFeb 24th 2007
    >So sequestration is then the answer?
    It might help if it worked.
    • CommentAuthorMike George
    • CommentTimeFeb 24th 2007 edited
    I think we should live in hope that it will
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2007
    We ought to have a Sequestration topic. Anyone?
    Unfortunately my views differ here although of course I support the thread..

    I cannot yet agree that CO2 is the culprit we should chase. Yes sure it is correlated with energy production but not energy waste.
    Sorry but the wasted heating effects far outwiegh the CO2 produced.
    ie the 150grammes of CO2 associated with travelling in a car for half a mile is much much less than the kilowatts lost as a result of the internal combustion.
    The unatural heat being injected into the atmosphere by our activities is enormous.
    The CO2 produced does have a life cycle of its own but this appears to be independant of the heat life cycle.

    Given that there are also other reactions going on including removing the oxygen (which we need) along with the particulates which are just as significant are we as a forum content with the current thinking?

    Even if we remove the optimism of the big oils in relation to reserves there are known massive reserves in other deposits oil sands etc let alone the enormous existing coal beds.
    The problems relating to liquid fuels can easily migrate towards alternatives but what appears to be true is there is a shortage of refining capacity linked to the peak oil scenario.

    Ironic all this CO2 being released comes from sequestered beds.
    Carbon re sequestration is actually happening here in the UK.
    It has been proved an economic way of scavenging oil fields (rather than using acids etc)
    On other projects we enthusiastically promote the construction of corduroy wooden roads.
    This is sort of sequestering but above all really good for flora and fauna.
    On a municipal level their are numerous ways of capturing carbon..
    Alas no joined up thinking on all the wasted heat yet.
    Heating the atmosphere means it can hold a lot more water.

    I think I better stop here .......


    I will put my hands up and say that I am no produce

    couple of hundred and main Who has yet been convinced by the
    • CommentAuthorbiffvernon
    • CommentTimeJul 4th 2007 edited
    Sorry there isn't a polite way of saying this but...you're wrong.
    Sorry there is not a polite way of saying this either but Biff... You're wrong to dismiss all that paul says out of hand.
    Anyone one know how the daily solar energy input to the planet (and what percentage of it is trapped by the atmosphere) compares to the energy released from burning fossil fuels? If, as I expect, the former is orders of magnitude greater than the later, it seems improbable to me that waste heat is responsible for the warming of the planet that seems to be occuring. Anybody know the figures?
    Regarding electricity, doesn't there come a point when we just have to say:-

    1 There will be no new fossil fuel burning power station without carbon sequestration (they will never develop and fit the technology until this is the law)
    2 There will be no new natural gas fired power stations for energy security reasons (we should never have started using gas in power stations in the first place, there used to be a law against it. It is just such an excellent fuel for home heating and cooking and we had enough in the North Sea for decades. Instead we urinated it away generating electricity, now we are going to have to start installing solid fuel Argas to keep warm and cook our food...).

    Result is that we will have to invest in renewables, carbon sequestration or nuclear (if we can get any fuel) and start cutting consumption, for which there is vast scope if the will was there to get on with it. A few power cuts might provide the impetus.

    I note there is a new gas power plant
    (cont.).... in the south West and a new coal plant planned near London and not a CO2 scrubber in sight. The power companies are trying to get a few in on the cheap before sequestration is a requirement I recon.
    Come off it, Mike, heat released by burning fuels is utterly trivial. Paul's assertions are just complete rubbish.

    Chris, on the subject of carbon sequestration, Rembrandt posted a very informative piece over on The Oil Drum last night: http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/2733
    Biff, Paul made more points than the one you have selected above.

    My point is that each of us is entitled to their opinion, and unless your judgement is based on the 2+2=4 type of science [Global warming isn't - oh no I have stated my opinion here!] then you should not be so dismissive. This forum is about debate is it not?
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeJul 5th 2007
    Paul said, "The unnatural heat being injected into the atmosphere by our activities is enormous."

    Yes but this heat will be quickly lost to outer space. The earth is in dynamic equilibrium and for "us" to warm it up to any appreciable extent is all but impossible because the sheer ammount of heat required would be so enormous that we could not do it ( this thought is similar to my thread on -- if an ice age was on its way could we help delay or stop it by not insulating our homes or all having bonfires -- of course we couldn't -- Canute again? )

    The heat is simply lost -- think how fast the temperature drops as soon as the sun sets.
    According to Biff's link to article on the Oil Drum, CCS will bring Peak Coal forward from 2025 to 2020 ish. That's great news then, i.e. global production of all 3 fossil fuels will have peaked within about 15 years. I can see why we are chucking money at nuclear fusion. Better hope it works, eh?
    I think this thread may be interested in the new report coming out from the Centre for Alternative Technology next week - Zero Carbon Britain:

    'Thirty years ago, CAT's 'Alternative Energy Strategy' for the UK showed, for the first time, an alternative approach which could reduce energy demand, and increase generation of renewable energy. Now we have CAT's radical new energy vision, outlining bold policy drivers for reducing our carbon emissions to zero within 20 years. It offers a scenario demonstrating possible outcomes of these policies, using only proven technology. Zerocarbonbritain is scientifically necessary and technically possible and it may even deliver a higher quality of life and a sense of collective purpose not felt in Britain for decades.'

    Available from www.zerocarbonbritain.com . CAT are going to be lobbying MPs and taking this everywhere they can over the coming months, from what I have heard of it so far it is pretty revolutionary but most importantly POSSIBLE.
    Aware I sound like an advertisment, when it is released and i have my copy will gladly summarise key points on here!
    I've skipped down this thread.

    Earlier Biff said "The danger of increased coal burn is now self-evident."

    Whilst this may be th e case there are no less than three new coal power stations on the UK drawing board (Blyth, Tilbury and Kingsnorth).


    It would seem that new coal plant in Blyth would emit 22% less carbon than existing coal-fired power stations (see
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4468076.stm for relevant links). The questions are what are the emissions from:

    1) an old inefficient gas power station?
    2) a new more efficient gas power station?
    3) an old coal power station?

    Does anyone have these nuggets of info?

    • CommentAuthorbiffvernon
    • CommentTimeJul 6th 2007 edited
    A dirty power station is cleaner than a very dirty power station but we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Frankly, we need to stop burning coal. Completely. Now. And that's not going to happen. As well as CO2 emissions, the critical problem with gas fired power stations is that the gas supply becomes increasingly problematic into the future. Unless we adopt the CAT approach, as flagged up by Sam, we're squashed. Yes Chris, Peak Coal will follow Peak Oil and quicker if we do CCS but too late to save the climate and the gap between demand and supply looms large either way. It's hard to see how we avoid global recession as the CAT approach is not being pursued vigorously enough even here let alone in the bigger countries. Global recession is the only thing that might allow carbon emission to dip below the fossil fuel depletion curves but it's not a future to look forward to.

    Mike, perhaps you could translate into English the bit of Paul's post that you thought wasn't worth dismissing.
    No thanks, perhaps Paul would like to elaborate himself, that is if you haven't frightened him off.
    Call me a miserable so and so, but I think a recession is long over due. We've been putting it off by allowing the banking system to print more and more money and keep the worldwide bubble economy going.

    What purpose is this serving? We are just getting ourselves more and more in debt so we can run around at the weekend buying "Made in China" tat from retail parks and so Gordon Brown can squander more tax payers' money on the public services (which I'm sick of hearing about - wrong priorities Gordon. No one will give a toss about the NHS when they can't fill up their tank, the lights are going out and the ex-pats are coming back from the Costas because Spain is a desert). All the real jobs and industries have been exported to the Far East and our lot are left flipping burgers or working for the Government, i.e. we aren't generating wealth, we are just borrowing to finance consumption and selling off the family silver to foreigners.

    Better start getting ready because recession is coming and Peak Oil will compound it. Without rising energy availability we might never have a recovery in the conventional sense of rising real GDP. I suspect what will happen is that the central banks will fire up the printing presses and create the illusion of growth through inflation of the money supply while at the same time manipulating the inflation numbers downwards. This is happening already in the USA where they have stopped publishing the money supply figures and now monitor the "core rate" of inflation which doesn't include anything you might actually need to buy like food and fuel or a house.

    I can't see the point of keeping this charade going for a few more years when all we really doing is bring forward Peak Oil/Gas/Coal and sealing our fate re climate change. Bring it on.
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