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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
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    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeNov 3rd 2011
     
    Is the dream unravelling as hard economic facts start to bite?

    http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2010/03/01/a-great-green-rip-off/
    • CommentAuthorJoiner
    • CommentTimeNov 3rd 2011
     
    I'm staying out of this one! :wink:
    •  
      CommentAuthorJSHarris
    • CommentTimeNov 3rd 2011 edited
     
    Yes and no.

    Regarding the specifics about the way that renewable subsidies like FITs were structured I believe he was spot on. The scheme was ill-thought through and a masterful piece of deception, in terms of hoodwinking the less well off in society.

    However, the scheme has achieved a very significant reduction in the price of PV, in particular. I don't know the full extent of this, but am guessing, based on figures bandied about on here, that we may be looking at a 30 to 50% reduction in PV installed price over the past year or so. It could be argued that, in terms of kick-starting wider interest in renewables, the scheme has been a success.

    Personally I'd have liked to have seen a more flexible and better structured scheme, one that would have encouraged home owners to save energy in every way possible and incentivise the use of renewable technology where appropriate (and it's this latter point that needs to be stressed). The blunt instrument that was actually used was too easily exploited by those whose only interest was making money, which was, ultimately, its major failing, in my view.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeNov 3rd 2011
     
    Panels have come down, not so sure about inverters, copper cabling, junction boxes, fusing, switches and the big ones, labour and accreditation.

    It should also be compared against other countries and the general economics of price as I seem to remember that 18 months ago people coudl not get inverters at any price.

    I tend to agree with Monbiot, he knows his stuff.
    Trouble with all this 'energy', 'eco', 'sustainable', 'green' business, is that different people have different ideas about what is important so they tailor their arguments to fit their agendas.
    • CommentAuthorkev67
    • CommentTimeNov 3rd 2011
     
    I think he was wrong about criminals being able to con the utilites just by re-selling the electricity they buy in.

    I was a not very active member of Reading Energy Pioneers when the FIT started. The main man of that group persuaded a group of green minded people to group together so that they could approach some solar installers and perhaps get a group discount. They were quite lucky, thinking back, because they also qualified for a grant because they got their order in before the old scheme ran out. The interesting thing, to me, was that they did not so much as regard it as a money-making scheme, but as a way of making PV affordable. Most of them were retired or near retirement age anyway.

    Lately, lots of not-so-green minded people seem to have cottoned on that it's a good investment. Recently, I ran into one of my friends from the triathlon club. Triathlete's carbon footprint must be an absolute nightmare. They're always flying off to Lanzarotte for some training or Hawaii to take part in some race. This chap said he was getting some PV panels, but then asked me what I thought about solar heating because he was getting a swimming pool Like how much heat does it take to warm a swimming pool?:cry:
    •  
      CommentAuthorali.gill
    • CommentTimeNov 3rd 2011 edited
     
    I believe the role of fits was to encourage financial assets to become 'active' rather than sitting passively in a share scheme/bonds or whatever.
    The new rate is apparently in line with the German Fits scheme so it could probably said that the scheme was set with too high a return and a better rate would have been around the 28-32p mark for domestic installs.

    It would be interesting actually to see how the FITs scheme was utilised across the varying schemes and what percentage has gone to profiteering corporations rather than housing associations, schools, public buildings, domestic installs.


    IMO every school building, leisure centre, other public buildings, etc should have PV panels installed (where feasible) towards creating demand for skills and products, developing expertise/training/jobs, averting funding of nuclear power.
    Ensuring that the FITs payments stay within the local economy rather than going to foreign investment companies.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeNov 3rd 2011
     
    Posted By: ali.gillnew rate is apparently in line with the German Fits scheme so it could probably said that the scheme was set with too high
    That's interesting, if the rate has settled back to something 'normal'. So the initial high rate cd be seen as a necessary catch-up tactic.

    Credit where it's due - this has been an unexpectedly successful scheme, creating an instant industry and bringing prices down, that has also brought eco-everything to the awareness of a wide population.

    Posted By: ali.gillevery school building, leisure centre, other public buildings, etc should have PV panels installed
    is, in Cornwall - remarkable!
    •  
      CommentAuthorted
    • CommentTimeNov 3rd 2011 edited
     
    FiTs has created an instant industry (not that there was no PV before FiTs) but not a sustainable one, as many PV installers are about to find out.

    Ali, the figure for rent-a-roof schemes in FiTs is, I believe, around 20% of the total.

    "Catching up" with the Germans is not something we are likely to do as we still only have about 1% of the PV capacity installed that they have. It is the level of capacity there that has triggered their latest tariff reduction to around 21p. That was all planned and known to everyone in advance - unlike DECCs emergency reaction here.
    •  
      CommentAuthorted
    • CommentTimeNov 3rd 2011
     
    Another comparison with Germany.

    They spend 1 billion Euro a month on PV. The DECC FiTs budget is more or less the same figure - but spread over 5 years.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeNov 3rd 2011 edited
     
    Posted By: fostertomIs, in Cornwall - remarkable!

    Is it?
    •  
      CommentAuthorali.gill
    • CommentTimeNov 3rd 2011
     
    • CommentAuthorGavin_A
    • CommentTimeNov 3rd 2011
     
    no, monbiot was largely wrong in that article, although the government has badly mismanaged this scheme and kept the domestic rates far higher than they needed to be for far longer than they needed to.

    That said, it's helped to kick start the industry far faster than anyone in government (or monbiot) predicted (roughly on a par with how I thought it's go mind), and when the dust settles there will still be a far far bigger installer base than there was at the end of the LCBP, installing for 50-60% of the price at the end of the LCBP.

    Put simply, we're now at the point costs and installations wise that the government had expected us to be at in about 5 years time. I find it hard to see this as anything other than a huge success for the industry, although it's far less of one for DECC who've incredibly badly mismanaged the program and where heads really do need to roll IMO.
    • CommentAuthorJoiner
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2011
     
    Who advised DECC, Gavin?
    •  
      CommentAuthorted
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2011 edited
     
    Lot's of people (including me) gave DECC lots of advice through the original FiTs consultation exercise - most of which they resolutely ignored.

    The relevant question is 'Whose advice did DECC take - and why?"
    • CommentAuthorJoiner
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2011
     
    Any theories of your own, Ted?
    •  
      CommentAuthorDamonHD
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2011
     
    Indeed ted. And "sham" is the word that springs to mind re the consultation, sadly.

    Of course, I'm sure that consultations are seen by politicians and civil servants mainly as a nuisance, a bit of CYA, and and a sop to the screaming vested interests and woolly thinkers, but the reason for consultations is that the government might just learn something useful beyond the noise and vox pop if it just bloody listened rather than having made its mind up in advance.

    Rgds

    Damon
    • CommentAuthorJoiner
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2011
     
    And Ali, thanks for that link. :bigsmile:
    • CommentAuthorGavin_A
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2011
     
    Posted By: JoinerWho advised DECC, Gavin?

    I believe a certain cambridge physicist who loves his back of the envelope calcs, and that half the folk on this board seem to thing has the sun shining out of his backside was significantly responsible for the initial FIT and RHI design.

    hence the RHI debacle with domestic heat pumps because he luuuurves heat pumps because he based his ideas on back of the envelope calcs on manufacturers peak efficiencies rather than any actual real world efficiency information (which gives no real carbon advantage vs condensing gas boliers on average), and didn't realise most would be installed as boiler replacements with no real buffer facility so would add to the morning / evening peak rather than being able to smooth the overnight load demand as he'd thought. AFAIK this is why RHI got pulled first time around, and we're still no nearer knowing how it's supposed to operate.

    Oh yeah, and when they set up the advisory group to oversee their renewables policy, they didn't think it necessary to have any actual energy engineers on the board presumably because they had a cambridge physics prof on it and some business / economics / politico types so what could possibly go wrong.

    I've no idea exactly how much influence he has now, but a lot of this stems back to the holes in his without hot air thing, which basically became the information used to determine government policy as it's about as complex as the politicians can manage.

    Unfair to blame it all on Prof Mackay mind, as I doubt he actually decided the make up of the advisory group, so it's not really his fault that he ended up on a board without anyone else on it who actually knew what they were talking about who could have pointed out the flaws in his ideas.

    The entire thing's just utter incompetence from start to finish, and it seems like they're basically treating the renewables industry as some sort of blood sucking enemy who must never ever be spoken to or listened to, and must be treated with utter contempt as there's no way that we could possible have more of a clue about it than the old boys network in whitehall.

    /rant
    •  
      CommentAuthorJSHarris
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2011
     
    Never, ever let a scientist, let alone a physicist, come up with ANY fiscal policy.

    I should know..................
    •  
      CommentAuthorDamonHD
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2011
     
    I've certainly heard rumours from OthersThatMightKnow(TM) that the heat-pump stuff has made MacKay very unpopular and his position precarious, since while I don't think the sun shines out of anywhere fundamental I do think his basic pro-arithmetic stance is right, and it's more likely the dark hand of the Treasury yanking DECC around on a tight leash that is actually the prime cause of the trouble we're seeing.

    Rgds

    Damon
  1.  
    •  
      CommentAuthorJSHarris
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2011 edited
     
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: bot de paille</cite>Hes pro nuclear and ready to promote the use of weapons producing Uranium reactors, so he fits bill as required while ticking the climate change box</blockquote>

    The vast majority of nuclear power stations cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium, all they produce as waste is a cocktail of relatively short-lived isotopes plus largely depleted uranium that is no use whatsoever for making nuclear weapons but which can be reprocessed to be used in replacement fuel for power reactors.

    Weapons-grade plutonium, (or uranium 235 for WWII style low yield fission devices) cannot be produced in a power station reactor. Fast breeders can produce the stuff, but they are regulated pretty heavily.

    The only real risk (from a weapons perspective) is the theft of new, fresh, enriched fuel pellets. These can be used to extract U235, but it is a long and tedious task. Iraq tried it, you may have seen the massed array of centrifuges that were discovered as part of the pre-Iraq war weapons inspections.
    • CommentAuthorGavin_A
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2011 edited
     
    Posted By: JSHarris
    Posted By: bot de pailleIraq tried it, you may have seen the massed array of centrifuges that were discovered as part of the pre-Iraq war weapons inspections.


    going off topic here, but no I can't say I do remember that.

    I remember a load of aluminium tubes being paraded before us as evidence of them trying to build centrifuges that were later found (by the Iraq Survey Group) to have been unsuitable for that task, and most likely aimed to be turned into rocket casings.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraqi_aluminum_tubes

    Was this what you were referring to?
    •  
      CommentAuthorJSHarris
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2011
     
    No, an ex-colleague of mine (now deceased) recorded a big underground centrifuge array, although it was mothballed and had never been used, apparently because Saddam's plan to obtain the un-enriched uranium needed didn't pan out. Despite all the hype, it's pretty difficult to extract enough U235 from raw uranium to make even a modest fission bomb.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2011
     
    And the Israelis are pretty good at putting a stop to it in the middle east.

    Posted By: JSHarrisNever, ever let a scientist, let alone a physicist, come up with ANY fiscal policy.


    Are Chemists any better :wink:
    • CommentAuthorJoiner
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2011
     
    I said a while back that it's virtually impossible for the unwashed, unenlightened public to make any sense of anyone's claim to have the best idea about what to do for the best, because the clever buggers all have letters after their name (some even have letters before their name), all seem to have written books, and all seem to have got it wrong. :confused:

    I was advised by a LOT of people on here to read (I actually bought it) MacKay's seminal book and found it a) easy to read as a layman, b) easy to accept his basic premise, which seemed simple enough for anybody to grasp, that it all has to add up.

    My problem with some of you guys is that you're like a pefectionist having a great time on the lake, sun shining, beautiful female companion lounging back to get the sun on her face and bare shoulders... and then you notice that a plank in the bottom of the boat has a knot in it that spoils the run of the grain. You can't have THAT. "Where's me penknife?"

    It's only a bloody forum. Chill Winstons! :peace:
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2011
     
    What is it that we're being told Iran is now up to, well into a programme to install centrifuges in bunkers that NATO say they won't be able to touch, unless we pre-emptively get them pretty soon?
    • CommentAuthorJoiner
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2011
     
    Margaret Thatcher was a chemist. :tooth:
    •  
      CommentAuthorJSHarris
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2011
     
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: SteamyTea</cite>And the Israelis are pretty good at putting a stop to it in the middle east.

    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: JSHarris</cite>Never, ever let a scientist, let alone a physicist, come up with ANY fiscal policy.</blockquote>

    Are Chemists any better</blockquote>

    Nope!

    I was dragged kicking and screaming through the first stages of privatising defence research in the early nineties and the one thing that became very clear, very quickly, was that scientists have a fundamental problem with getting to grips with financial stuff. John Chisholm wrote a rather good paper in the journal of management (or somesuch title) called "Why are we doing this?" that illustrated this fundamental problem he had in trying to get financial control measures working in the research establishments.
    •  
      CommentAuthorJSHarris
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2011
     
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: fostertom</cite>What is it that we're being told Iran is now up to, well into a programme to install centrifuges in bunkers that NATO say they won't be able to touch, unless we pre-emptively get them pretty soon?</blockquote>

    It's a tough call, because uranium needs to be enriched (the percentage of U235 to U238 needs to be increased) in order to use it it power station reactors. It's near impossible to say, with certainty, whether an enrichment facility is producing fuel for a power station or going that extra step and separating out the tiny bit (less than 1%) of fissile U235 for weapons.

    Certainly not enough for a pre-emptive strike against a state that has nuclear reactors that were sponsored by the West for many years, IMHO.
   
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