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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
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    • CommentAuthorjamesingram
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2011 edited
     
    "Riot police broke up a four-day protest by several hundred villagers in Haining, Zhejiang province, who overturned cars and stormed the compound of a photovoltaic manufacturer that is accused of releasing toxins into a local river."

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/18/chinese-solar-panel-factory-protest

    "Although solar is seen as clean energy in terms of carbon emissions, the production of many components is energy intensive and polluting. Toxic discharges from the factory killed large numbers of fish and regulators have previously ordered the company to suspend operations, according to the domestic media."

    I'm sure most interested in PV as alternative energy are aware of the negatives of PV , thought it would be of interested to discuss and list the cons of PV , as we generally just hear the pros
    •  
      CommentAuthorDamonHD
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2011
     
    There are no unalloyed goods in (significant) electricity generation. PV doesn't get a free pass. But I like it a lot regardless.

    Rgds

    Damon
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2011
     
    I wonder how many other so called "green" technologies are really that or just a money saving or earning venture for the rich. How accurate and wide ranging are the embodied energy figures, I guess that's the question
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2011
     
    Bet someone has done a lifecycle analysis on them all. Probably find that hydro and gas don't fair too bad. Trouble is what is meant by 'green'.
    My old car is pretty green now as it has been recycled into something else and is not burnign any gasoline.
    • CommentAuthorannadixie
    • CommentTimeSep 22nd 2011 edited
     
    Hi there,

    This is such an interesting and valid point. If we are going to move into green energy we need to do it the right way. Renewables in particular should be leading by example in terms of environmental stewardship, so highlighting this issue in PV manufacturing is incredibly valuable for increasing industry standards.

    The fact is that there is a lot of room to improve these industry standards. The majority of solar pv manufacturing isn't green, it is actually very energy intensive and wasteful. But it doesn't have to be and I know that some solar panel installers (ethical solar is one that I have heard of more recently www.ethicalsolar.org) have been very careful to source panels that are a lot GREENER then conventional ones.

    The panels they install are manufactured in Norway I think, where the manufacturing process is powered by hydropower as opposed to coal (which is usually the case for chinese factories). REC is one of the panels I was told about, and REC use a silicon purification process, using Fluidized Bed Reactor (FBR) which saves a large amount of electricity and lowers the cost. The other panel I was told about is Innotech. Innotech panels are made out of restored solar cells (so the waste of the solar industry) while they use hydropower to power the manufacturing process as well. REC and Innotech are demonstrating that while being greener you can also save costs which can be passed onto consumers having solar panel installations.

    The other thing I liked about ethical solar as installers was that they use low impact methods as well. Their vans run of veg oil and they heavily support environmental charities like the transition network.
    Sadly I am only a student so couldn't afford my own solar system, but if I could I would choose the panels mentioned above and I would get ethical solar to install them. So many people just go for the cheapest or biggest companies without understanding their choices. I'm glad this guardian article is raising this important issue and long may it continue to put pressure on big renewable energy companies raking in big money but not making the right choices for the planet or society.

    Useful websites: www.innotechsolar.com www.recgroup.com/en/tech/FBR/ www.ethicalsolar.org
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeSep 22nd 2011
     
    Posted By: annadixieTheir vans run of veg oil

    Not exactly environmentally good then, see the thread about Burning Biomass for a long debate about the pros and cons.
    • CommentAuthorannadixie
    • CommentTimeSep 22nd 2011
     
    It's waste vegetable oil sourced locally in Bristol- is that not ethical?
    • CommentAuthorjamesingram
    • CommentTimeSep 22nd 2011 edited
     
    That good to hear about REC , just quoted on a job where the client requested them , I wasn't aware of their production methods etc. , the're a bit more expensive than some of the big competitors ( 15% ish) via my supplier , but thats not to bad ,
    Perhaps this is the Greener PV panel I've been looking for , seems romag and sharp just put the bit together in the UK with most the stuff being done in the far east , shall do more research
    I used to run my old banger of a transit on veg oil/biodeseil , but it got upset , used it in my car for a while but same problem ,
    anyone know a decent post consumer waste bio deisel manifacturer near Slough ?

    I'd love to make a profit so I could at least consider giving it to charity !

    cheers jim
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeSep 22nd 2011
     
    Posted By: annadixieIt's waste vegetable oil sourced locally in Bristol- is that not ethical?

    Ethics of using waste is a tricky area as you could easily be forfeiting a better use for the waste product.
    When it comes down to energy, how does it compare to the use of 'ordinary bio-diesel' or even fossil fuel based diesel.
    Assuming the final combustion process and energy densities are identical for all 'diesels' and produce the same emissions (though they probably do vary in actuality) one has to calculate the net benefit not just part of the benefit. This is fairly easy with fossil fuels as we know the amount that is pumped out of the ground, the amount and type of energy used to distil diesel, the energy used in storage and distribution and finally the amount sold to consumers. Normal bio-diesel is also fairly well understood from the manufacturing and distribution side but causes problems (allegedly) because of the change from food crops to energy crops (the ethics).
    Energy from waste is little understood as it is not a major factor in the energy market yet. Things to consider though are the energies in collection, refining and redistribution. As it is small scale these are almost certainly high as a percentage of overall energy delivered to the consumer. It is also no more environmentally benign than ordinary diesel if produced to the same standard (it has to be really for the mass market).
    • CommentAuthorGavin_A
    • CommentTimeSep 22nd 2011
     
    waste veg oil already has to be collected by a specialist contractor though, so there's virtually no additional transport costs associated with that side of the operation, and the purification process and process of turning it into biodiesel (name escapes me) shouldn't be particularly more energy intensive than for standard diesel barring some potential economies of scale type savings, and if it's done locally I'd expect the reduced transport costs to more than offset this.
    •  
      CommentAuthorjoe90
    • CommentTimeSep 22nd 2011
     
    What would happen to waste veg oil if it were not converted to biodiesel?
    •  
      CommentAuthorJSHarris
    • CommentTimeSep 22nd 2011
     
    I'm pretty sure that all waste vegetable oil gets burnt by some means, hopefully in way that uses the potential energy in it to some useful purpose.

    Biodiesel manufacture from WVO, or any other vegetable oil for that matter, isn't exactly a wonderfully environmentally friendly process. It uses sodium hydroxide and methanol for starters, both of which have significant embodied energy. It also needs a source of heat to speed up the reaction, so uses even more energy. The process also creates waste products, that have to be disposed of, so creating an additional environmental burden.

    Overall it is far, far better to use WVO as it stands as a fuel, rather than convert it. Unfortunately few road vehicle diesel engines will burn it, but there are plenty of heavy oil engines around that will, plus it can always be used as an alternative fuel for pretty much any heating requirement.
    • CommentAuthorjamesingram
    • CommentTimeSep 22nd 2011 edited
     
    looks like this install might be on the dark side , house faces SW
    had to stop and take a pix, the wide angle of the camera lens doesn't really do it justice ,
    in reality its looks far worse . Or am i missing something ?
    •  
      CommentAuthorJSHarris
    • CommentTimeSep 22nd 2011
     
    The giveaway is all the moss on the roof, a pretty solid indication that it doesn't get a hefty amount of solar irradiation.

    It makes you wonder if the people that fit these things do any sort of basic investigation of the site before they take the customers money.
    • CommentAuthorJoiner
    • CommentTimeSep 22nd 2011
     
    With the tree there as well! A brilliant piece of selling by one of the 'Which'-fingered salesmen?
  1.  
    Moss on the roof , hadn't considered that , well spotted .
    I guess you're a bit of a natural navigator then JS
    there was a bit about that on country file the other week.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeSep 22nd 2011
     
    Knock on there door and ask then how good it is, then point them to REAL and MCS. Though I hope it is a roof for rent installation.
    Reminds me of the joke 'what do you call the box behind the satellite dish', 'a council house'.
    Posted By: joe90What would happen to waste veg oil if it were not converted to biodiesel?

    Used to go to feed animals but not sure that is allowed now.

    Posted By: Gavin_Awaste veg oil already has to be collected by a specialist contractor though, so there's virtually no additional transport costs associated with that side of the operation

    The transport energy does not magically vanish because it may or may not have had a secondary use, just that it is displaced somewhere else. Each use/process of a waste material has to be accounted for in its own right or you head down the 'tragedy of the commons' route.
    • CommentAuthorJoiner
    • CommentTimeSep 23rd 2011
     
    There's no excuse for anyone to make the same mistake with all the media reporting on the scams...

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00kmcnp
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeSep 23rd 2011
     
    This problem is going to accelerate until the review in March.
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeSep 23rd 2011
     
    James, great Pic!

    even if they were to loose 25% of the sun the payback still makes it viable financially with the FIT and it is unlikely that they would loose as much as 20% anyway.

    10% return instead of 12.5%
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeSep 23rd 2011 edited
     
    Doesn't look too bad - if the house 'faces SW' then the camera shows a gd clear view from due south. You can't insist on due south and no trees for every installation. As tony says,
    Posted By: tony10% return instead of 12.5%
    All that area will maintain winter take unusually well - a high proportion of low-angle sun will make it thro the bare branches from dawn to dusk, when the sky is clear in winter.
    As far as
    Posted By: jamesingramin reality its looks far worse
    is that an appearance judgement? IMHO this is good looking - given that plonked-on rectangular panels usually look terrible, this one at least is tightly tailored to the roof form (hip line) with nicely judged margins all round.
    •  
      CommentAuthorJSHarris
    • CommentTimeSep 23rd 2011
     
    All that moss on the roof is a pretty clear indicator that it doesn't, in practice, get a lot of light, notwithstanding the counter arguments above. Moss tends to only grow in low'ish light levels and will be quickly scorched off if exposed to bright sunlight for long periods. This suggests that the roof doesn't get bright sunlight for long periods to me, so panel performance is unlikely to be good. Of course, the FITs bias makes poor performance relatively unimportant, but my concern is that people will have poor installations like this done, will experience poor performance and that will then create bad PR for PV as a technology.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeSep 23rd 2011
     
    James
    Can you find this property in Google Earth and establish which way that roof faces for us all. Real data is great, take out the guess work :wink:
    • CommentAuthorwindy lamb
    • CommentTimeSep 23rd 2011
     
    You'll probably find out that they fitted PV to generate power for the lights they have to have on all day!:shamed:
    • CommentAuthorJoiner
    • CommentTimeSep 23rd 2011 edited
     
    :bigsmile:

    And said without a hint of bias. :wink:
    • CommentAuthorGavin_A
    • CommentTimeSep 25th 2011
     
    Posted By: SteamyTeaThe transport energy does not magically vanish because it may or may not have had a secondary use, just that it is displaced somewhere else. Each use/process of a waste material has to be accounted for in its own right or you head down the 'tragedy of the commons' route.

    yes, but there is no (or very minimal) additional transport energy stemming from it being collected for use as biodiesel vs being collected for disposal, presuming that it's collected via a similar method.


    in energy terms, it's a very niche market, with relatively tiny amounts of available fuel, but we still ought to make use of it as part of the mix.
    • CommentAuthorJoiner
    • CommentTimeSep 25th 2011 edited
     
    IF you can get it! I filled up twice from a local supplier (in a small unit on Stanmore, on the edge of Bridgnorth), that was about three years ago, but stopped bothering to ask if any was available because a local transport firm was buying everything they produced. Not aware of anyone else starting up an operation. It wasn't a massive operation, seeming to comprise a couple of very large tanks, lots of pipes and not much noise. Not exactly lab conditions, but according to the guy who operated it (there were two other 'money partners') not cheap to set up if you were doing it on a commercial basis and didn't want numerous claims for compensation because the stuff had buggered-up a fleet of lorries.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeSep 25th 2011
     
    Posted By: JoinerIF you can get it!

    Getting a bit off topic now :wink:
    The garage down here (North Country) that sold it ceased trading (but may have been for other reasons). Some of my 'pikey' mates seem to think that old VW diesels (from the mid 90's) can run on just about anything. But then they also think that bypassing the CAT and blocking off control pipework, thus changing the NOX emissions is also acceptable because they get a couple of MPG more.
    Seems we have a long way to go when the 'renewable/ecology' people only look at a tiny part of the mix.

    I still want to know what way that roof is pointing.
    • CommentAuthorJoiner
    • CommentTimeSep 25th 2011
     
    From the shadow off the Seat car I'd suggest south facing, in which case it's likely that the tree shades the roof for ~1/3rd of the day for half the year, and fraction of that for the other leafless seasons.

    As for going off-topic... the thread's title refers to the nasties involved in pv production, it was Jim who led us into the deviation of that roof's orientation. Mind you, we didn't have to follow him! :wink:
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeSep 25th 2011 edited
     
    Posted By: Joinerit was Jim who led us into the deviation of that roof's orientation. Mind you, we didn't have to follow him!

    Case of a 'big boy did it and ran away' :cool:
   
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