Recycling? There’s an App for that

USA Today reports that Americans are only recycling about a third of their 243 million tons of waste (per year).

Much of the problem is due to the different states and municipal recycling regulations, leaving the public confused and bewildered.

Read their full article here.

And we thought we had problems, here in the UK, where even within counties, the number of bins and bags and what you can recycle in them differs….

photo credit: rich jones

Children are our green future

A report published last week by the Youth Advisory Panel to the Department of Energy and Climate Change revealed that youth of today take green energy a lot more seriously.

299 people under 29 were surveyed and the results included 94% believing offshore wind was the fairest energy technology with 81% calling for onshore wind energy and 94% supporting solar energy.

This compares against just 2.2% who were in favour of coal energy.

The report went on to call for more consultation with young people in deciding energy and climate policy, following visits by a group of young people to a nuclear, fossil fuel and renewable energy projects.

You can read the full report on Green Wise – click here.

It makes perfect sense – it is the young that will have to live with our decisions on energy production and the environmental consequences if we get it wrong (or refuse to act on what we already know).

In light of the recent wind farm applications that have been turned down, you have to ask yourself how many would have been granted if those making the decisions were younger?

photo credit: ingo bernhardt

Californian wind turbines removal forced by bird deaths.

Spotted on Wind Power Monthly was this snippet about a wind turbine development in California that’s been ordered to remove all it’s wind turbines in the next 5 years.

The problem is located in the Altamont Pass. 2,400 turbines will be replaced with newer, less dangerous turbines over a 4 year period. Many of Altamont’s wind turbines are over 25 years old.

A study found that between 1,766 and 4,271 birds were being killed each year including the protected Golden Eagle – read the full report here.

photo credit: nigel wedge

Compelling reasons for installing solar energy on your home.

instant online solar panel installation quotes for the UK

Compelling reasons for installing solar energy on your home.

Recently, the arguments for installing solar panels on your home have all been coming from the environmentalists. With warnings of Polar ice melting by 2060 leaving Polar Bears homeless, temperatures rising around the world causing untold damage to our present way of life and claims that the UK has already been subjected to gas rationing during the cold weather of Christmas 2009.

Scientific communities have verbally clashed with media as each side has sought to discredit the other over the scientific accuracy of global warming – all trying to separate fact from fiction.

However, if the science has left you more confused than ever, there is another side to the solar energy / renewable energy story – one that hasn’t been given a very big voice.

The financial rather than the environmental aspects of installing renewable energy generating methods to your property, whether that’s a domestic home or a business.

Yes, the initial installation costs may be high but when you factor in the various schemes and grants available to you (either directly or via your installer) from Government and local council sources, then what’s referred to as the ‘payback period’ (the period of time it takes you to recover your installation costs through energy bill savings) shortens considerably.

Add to this the current feedback about solar panel installations lasting past 30 years (when they were originally given a shelf life of between 20 and 25 years) and things look decidedly better.

Property professionals are now also reporting that homes with some form of renewable energy generation installed on them are commanding a better selling price and with good reason to.

OK so the original installer may not have enjoyed a long enough period to get their investment returned in full, but as a ‘second owner’, you may have paid more for the property but your payback period should be even shorter.

Then there’s Feed-In tariffs – with the UK expecting an announcement any day now, on what the tariffs are likely to be set at – i.e how much per kWh you’ll be paid for any renewable energy you put back into the National Grid – the tariffs are expected to start in April 2010. They work on a fixed period of time so the sooner you’re able to join the scheme, the more your shorten your payback period even further.

Supporters of renewable energy are keen to point out (and it’s been mentioned here on the Solar Panel Quoter Blog before) that renewables do offer some form of payback – it may not be quick to recoup it’s outlay but it does have offer a payback – period.

Your existing oil, gas or electric suppliers offer zero payback. In fact, you’ve only got to look at the history of price increases to realise that far from getting cheaper, the outlook for traditional fuels is only going to be higher prices.

There is one more thing worth mentioning – national renewable energy generation is still very much in its infancy, Despite the wind turbines you see dotted around the skyline, and the proposed large scale wind farms out at sea, currently, the UK is only generating a fraction of its energy from renewable sources.

Sure, targets are in place to be met by 2020 (which is only 10 years away now), but the truth is probably that for now, generation on an individual basis will make the most difference to an individual homes needs and fuel bills.

Personally, if the feed-in tariffs get introduced (as planned) later this year, then I think the UK will see a big surge in solar panel installations, like we’ve already seen recently in Germany and Italy where such tariffs were introduced.

That’s good for the economy too.

If you’d like to find out more about the costs of getting solar panels installed on your home, you can use Solar Panel Quoter to get an instant online price guide. Our service also extends to putting you in touch with local recommended and approved solar panel installation companies, who can use their wealth of knowledge to ensure that you get the right system to meet your requirements.

You can use solar energy to provide hot water for your home, power underfloor heating and even heat your outdoor pool. Photovoltaic solar panels can be used to generate electricity which can be fed directly into your home’s power supply, connected to the National Grid to put surplus back into the network or stored for back up use.

Many Motorhome (RV) owners are discovering that installing a smaller solar panel system on their vehicle means less dependence on sites with hook-up facilities, and lowers their site fees in general, whilst still providing for all their creature comforts.

And that’s just considering solar energy. We haven’t even touched on other renewable energies like ground source heat pumps, hydro generation (if your property is located next to a stream) and wind turbines, although wind turbines need more consideration with regards siting and effectiveness on a larger scale than individual households, but for a small-holding, if you’ve got the room?

Is your future energy outlook sunny?

photo credit: lars k jensen

Can’t afford a new wind turbine? Buy secondhand…

I must confess i’ve not spotted one in the local charity shops (but then again unlikely to as they don’t take electrical goods normally do they?). Neither have I seen any on Ebay – Give it time on that one I say.

We’re talking about used Wind Turbines. Used? But surely they’re not old enough to be a used commodity? Well that’s what I thought until I read this piece in Renewable Energy Magazine.

Apparently, there’s a booming market with the economics of cost savings and availability meaning many projects – particularly in developing countries where the cost of new turbines makes a scheme prohibitive or reduces the number of turbines and power output.

With savings of up to 40% per kW against new turbines, it’s easy to see why second hand is popular.

“According to Repowering Solutions, a company involved in this market, second-hand turbines offer the following advantages: capital costs are lower because the turbines are up to 40% cheaper than new ones; project lead times are shortened because developers do not need to wait for new turbines to be manufactured, therefore financial risk is reduced; as second-hand turbines tend to be smaller (150 to 600 kW), they can be transported more easily; and older turbines can be maintained and repaired with lower levels of technical know-how because they are not as complex as modern machines. Furthermore, their typically smaller size makes it easier to get local approval for their installation.”

And it’s not just developing countries that are taking advantage of all the above. Renewable Energy Magazine gives us this example of the potential of second hand turbines, that is much closer to home…

“Back in 2004, the inhabitants of the Isle of Gigha, off the west coast of Scotland, invested in three second-hand Vestas wind turbines, becoming among the first to tap into Europe’s rising market for used wind turbines. The 675-kilowatt wind farm on which these turbines were installed now churns out enough power to meet almost all of Gigha’s annual electricity needs.

The success of Gigha’s reconditioned turbines – known locally as the Dancing Ladies –highlights a fast-growing new market coming off the back of the global boom in wind power.”

How cool is that? The means to create renewable energy is actually part of the recycled materials chain. Sorry Shakin’ Stevens – It doesn’t get much greener than that.

photo credit: elsie

Environmental milestones of the noughties

Every now and then, it’s good to remind ourselves of exactly why we’re so interested in alternative energies like solar energy, wind, tide and other green energy solutions, and having them installed into our homes and businesses.

It may well be about saving on our energy bills on a daily basis, but you can’t ignore the fact that overwhelming evidence is forcing governments around the world to face up to the fact that as a world-wide society, we simply cannot go on producing the levels of pollution we do currently.

The Guardian’s excellent pictorial feature (12 pictures) is a very sobering reminder.

Click here to see The Guardian’s collection of photo’s that they call ‘environmental milestones of the noughties’.

Want to make a start right now? Visit Solar Panel Quoter to see how much installing a solar panel system on your home will cost – online without the need for any salesman to call.

photo credit: me’nthedogs