Have you watched Ice Age 5? In it a motley crew of animals ranging from mammoths through sabre tooth tigers to sloths and opposums co-operated to save the Earth from total disaster. They each contributed their particular gifts, or sometimes their particular faults were needed!
We could learn much from this film. We humans need to cooperate, giving all that we can in order to avoid planetary disaster. As the children of Dorking Quaker Meeting said in a letter to the local supermarkets, “We want there still to be a viable planet on which our children and grandchildren can live.”
The children’s letter to Waitrose, Sainsburys, Tesco and Lidl was about plastic packaging and use of palm oil in food products. They tailored each letter according to the supermarkets behaviour but all letters included these words, “Like many people we watched and were enthralled by BBC’s Blue Planet, but very upset about the plastic waste going in the oceans. … One practical thing we thought we could do is ask every supermarket in Dorking, where we live, to stop selling bakery items and fruit/vegetables in single-use plastic bags/containers. … The plastic waste choking the oceans is part of a bigger issue of what humans are doing to accelerate climate changes and global warming – which worries us greatly. Along with ocean changes, we have learned that deforestation is a massive contribution to these changes. We need clean oceans and lots of trees to keep our air clean and healthy. One major reason for deforestation is the creation of massive palm oil plantations. We have noticed that you use palm oil in lots of your own brand products.”
The children delivered the letters to the shop managers and have received sympathetic replies from two so far – Tesco and Lidl. Continuing their ‘campaign’ they have put up posters in the Quaker Meeting House to remind adult Quakers to do their bit and have given them small squares of green paper with the word ‘REMEMBER’ to put in their purses so they remember to avoid single-use plastic and unsustainable palm oil!
As their letter says “There is a great deal we all need to do to make our collective way of living more sustainable … We ask this as the generation that will have to clear up the mess our parents and grandparents have made of this amazing planet”. Very humbling!
Transition Dorking is part of the much larger Transition Movement, an international grass roots response to the challenges of sustainability and climate change. Find out more at www.transitiondorking.org.uk.
By Anne Brewer
Located on the Serpentine lake in Hyde Park, London is this art installation. It measures 20m high by 30m and 40m at its base. It's quite amazing - go and check it out.
The art installation is formed from 7,506 oil barrels (empty). See more about the art installation and artists at this link.
It has the storage volume of approximately 1,000 tonnes of oil equivalent.
Guess how long that would fuel the United Kingdom for?
2 minutes. Yes I’ll say it again 2 minutes. Of that 61% for liquid fuels such a road/aviation fuels and the rest 39% as other fossil fuels for energy. This is the primary energy (meaning before conversion or processing) that the UK uses. The UK used 237 mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent) of fossil fuels in 2016. Based on UK government BEIS dept statistics. Around 45% of that fossil fuel primary energy was imported.
Shouldn't we all try and do something about it? Then see our ‘focus area’ links at the bottom of this page.
So much for our legal protections. A new mapping analysis finds that nearly 200,000 acres of protected countryside in Mole Valley and elsewhere in south-east England face a new wave of oil drilling. Some of the land is in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Not only is this really bad for our climate. It is totally unnecessary. As Anne Brewer reported in this column recently (Advertiser, March 15, 2018), the recent big freeze is no sign of the end of global warming. Quite the opposite. It was caused by a heatwave in the depth of the Arctic winter, where it was warmer than in London, Paris or New York. The drilling is unnecessary because brilliant technologies already exist as an alternative to oil extraction. Over a decade ago we learned that electricity could be harvested from new forms of paving on footways, or even the rumble of trains across bridges. Little has happened, though that may be because solar panels and wind have outperformed even conventional power generation. Solar panels can even work when it's raining. Chinese engineers have generated useful electricity by laying two transparent polymer layers on top of solar panels. These 'teng' devices are well known, but the latest design, from Soochow University, is simpler, cheaper, and more efficient than earlier examples. And they work at night!The Chinese are showing an impressive grasp of the need to move to cleaner sources of energy. How long will it take for the penny to drop here? And what does it all mean in Bookham or Brockham? First, that anything we can do to reduce CO2 emissions has to be a benefit. We all know that means walking and cycling where we can - avoid taking the car. If we can't solve the problem by ourselves we can at least not make things worse. But it's more than that. It's to accept, then say out loud, that we do not need and cannot afford to take any more gas or oil out of the ground at Leith Hill or anywhere else. At the very least, if we value the delightful surroundings nature has provided for us in Mole Valley, it means speaking up againstfurther extraction here. Transition Bookham is part of the Transition Movement, an international grassroots response to the challenges of sustainability and climate change. Find out more at www.transitionbookham.org.uk . By John Dwyer
Saturday 9 June at Burgundy & Black, St Martin's Walk, Dorking
Come to our drop in session where we will find you the best clean energy supplier for your circumstances. With renewables becoming a more mainstream, more cost-effective energy option, it may even save you money.
Have a look at this table which compares all the current UK energy suppliers, with our recommendation in the right hand column.
You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like any more advice around this or look at:
See more information - click here
Did you know that on Easter weekend an earthquake with a magnitude of 2.7 struck at Stan Hill near Newdigate?
It is believed to be the strongest Earthquake to hit Surrey in at least a decade. Initally we thought it was an April fool's joke, but it wasn't.
The epicentre was less than 6 miles from Leith Hill, where Europa Oil and Gas is hoping to commence exploratory drilling as soon as they can sort out their Traffic Management Plan with Surrey County Council. It is also less than 2 miles from Europa's other site at Horse Hill, which according to Europa, ceased activity two years ago.
So what is the effect of fracking on seismic activity and what is the impact of seismic activity on fracking?
There is evidence to suggest that drilling too close to fault lines can cause man-made earthquakes. This is what occured twice at Cuadrilla's Preese Hall site near Blackpool, where quakes with magnitudes of 2.3 and 1.5 occured in April and May 2011, respectively. Also, less than a month after fracking began at Engie's Cygnus Field in the North Sea in January 2017, a 3.8 quake struck a few mile nearby.
Not surprisingly, Europa denies their activities caused the tremor.
Although fracking companies can argue that fracking may not cause earthquakes, they can not deny the threat to underground water systems caused by the earthquakes when fracking is present. For example, the earthquakes at Preese Hall damaged the drilling wells, which in turn leaked hazardous chemicals into the ground.
This recent quake creates a strong argument against fracking at Leith Hill. We encourage the local community to write to council and express their concerns. We believe the battle is increasingly looking uphill for Europa's investors, but only thanks to strong community persistence.
This quake is also a clear reminder of what a stupid idea it is to let "Cowboy frackers" threaten this area of outstanding natural beauty.
For more information, please visit:
Join the fight to free Surrey from its harmful investments in fossil fuel companies!
This free skill share workshop is an exciting opportunity to learn how to communicate, engage and build positive relationships with MPs and Councillors regarding fossil fuel divestment.
The event will be held on Saturday, 26 May at Beverley Hall Community Centre, 71 Haydoon Place, Guildford, Surrey GU1 4ND
We'll be learning and putting into practice the best techniques, tricks and strategies to convince local MPs and Councillors to back divestment and to get their support for investing in a clean energy future.
As well as free snacks, you can expect to:
• Get to grips with the exciting divestment movement and our work in Surrey
• Learn about effective ways to build relationships MPs and Councillors
• Concoct ace plans to engage MPs and Councillors across Surrey about divestment
We need everyone to help pressure our political leaders to keep fossil fuels in the ground and invest in a common future that is powered by renewables, so you are needed to help with this regardless of experience or background!
If you can’t make the event, you can still write to your MP urging them to divest their pension using this email tool (please personalise your email as much as possible!):
Please also sign the petition calling on the Surrey County Pension Fund to divest:
Any questions about the event, please email Stephen on email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen (Divest Surrey), Vicki (Surrey Federation of Green Parties) and Hannah (Divest Parliament)
This event is a collaboration between Divest Surrey, Surrey Federation of Green Parties and Divest Parliament
If we are ever to have a lasting impact on the ongoing health of our planet there has to be a lasting impact on the behaviour of our children and their families. This is exactly what Polesden Lacey Infant School in Bookham has been doing for the last 9 years.
Headteacher Rosie Keedy said, “The overarching aim is to ensure that when the children leave this school they have deep rooted sense of their responsibility to look after the planet and a raft of ideas of all the small everyday things that they can do to help this. We also hope to influence the behaviours of their families”.
Examples of big one-off projects over the last 9 years include building a greenhouse from plastic bottles, developing a vegetable garden with raised beds, making a green footpath around the school hall to celebrate “Green” actions at home, becoming an ambassador for the Green flag project. Creating a wildflower meadow, building a bug hotel, designing and selling hessian bags to use instead of plastic bags, working with Water Aid to understand how precious water is and burying waste and leaving it for a year to see what happens.
Rosie added, “Children produce outstanding work because they are inspired by the idea that they are stewards of their planet and the teachers find it supports their work because the children are so enthusiastic. We imagine that if the school were a stick of rock it would have eco written through it”
The school sees benefits all round. Parents are pleased that their children are showing responsibility, Governors are happy to see the high standards of work going hand in hand with a strong sense of community, and as we consistently spend less than the allocated budget on resources through recycling, reusing and mending, the bursar is also very much on side with this.
Even after this time the school is constantly on the lookout for new ways to look after our environment. This starts with the eco Committee brainstorming ideas and considering how this could translate into meaningful activities for the children. These ideas are then put to the children to give them the opportunity to find solutions. For example, it was the children who decided to stop sending Christmas cards and the children who started recording when lights are left on. One parent had said, “it’s like living with the eco police”
Polesden Lacey Infant School is committed to working with other schools to raise awareness of the valuable learning opportunities presented by the Eco Schools agenda.
Could you help to inspire this in your child’s or grandchild’s school? To find out more contact email@example.com
By Steve McDonald
This post appeared in the In Transition section of the Dorking & Leatherhead Advertiser
You have two options to choose:
-- Dirty polluting energy with poor customer service and expensive; or...
-- 100% clean energy with good customer services and cheaper.
Which would you choose? A bit of a 'no brainer' isn't it?
Well then, read this summary document, prepared by Dorking Solar Group in April 2018, which compares and contrasts all the current Energy Suppliers in UK. Quite an amazing and radical result.
ACT NOW. It's a really easy to change energy supplier. If you need help to change to a better and cleaner energy supplier just drop a line to Dorking Solar Group at firstname.lastname@example.org
Are we sure we have a democracy?
In the General Election of 1992, in the constituency of Inverness, Nairn, and Lochaber, the winning candidate Sir Russell Johnston received 13,258 votes. The second-placed candidate received 12,800 votes. Third-placed - 12,562. Fourth-placed - 11,517, and fifth-placed - 766 votes.
Lined up against Sir Russell Johnston’s 13,258 votes were 37,645 electors where the “opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature” for this constituency was clearly not Sir Russell Johnston. Yet still he was “the candidate to whom the majority of votes has been given”
Thus, a perverse system also becomes a farcical system, and questions must surely reasonably be asked about the statute which supports such a system. In UK electoral procedure, “majority” is relative majority, often called “plurality”. It is not an arithmetic “simple” majority.
In the General Election of 2015, it required the votes of almost four million people to get a single MP elected for the United Kingdom Independence Party but only 26,000 to get an SNP MP elected. This has nothing to do with Scotland being a small country, as constituencies throughout the whole of the UK are designed to consist as far as possible of the same number of electors.
In 1980, the then Liberal party brought an action asserting that the UK electoral system discriminated against them as typically it required the votes of 250,000 people to get a Liberal MP elected but only around 38,000 for the Labour and Conservative parties.
They lost of course, as the European judges would not interfere in the internal electoral arrangements of member states. The good news is that the judgement was an erroneous and flawed rationale designed to support a policy decision and so unlikely to be an obstacle to future legal action.
Such a legal action has been prepared, which enables a superior court to make a Declaration of Incompatibility where in the opinion of the court a statute is not compatible with human rights. The matter is then passed back to Parliament, where it rightly belongs.
Proportional Representation(PR) will not affect safe constituences like Mole Valley, but the votes of the candidates who come second, third, and fourth etc. will not be discarded to the waste paper bin as they are now. They will count towards the composition of the legislature, and so mean something.
Further really interesting reading about whether the UK really is a democracy can be found at www.notaxationwithoutproportionalrepresentation.co.uk
By Thomas Connor
Published in the In Transition Section of the Dorking & Leatherhead Advertiser
Did you watch the SpaceX rocket launch a few weeks ago? Wasn’t it exciting? I don’t remember such anticipation about something going into space since the Space Shuttle was withdrawn from service. We’d all got a bit blasé about stuff shooting into orbit. But this was different - suddenly rocket launches were back in the news again!
This wasn’t NASA though, or some other state sponsored space programme, but a private company. Who on earth has enough money to experiment with rocket launches? Some chap called Elon Musk, apparently. I was sure I’d heard of him before, something to do with electric cars? Well that didn’t really sound right though, on the one hand putting your life savings into building a cool eco car to persuade the petrol heads of the word that they don’t need to kill the planet with their emissions, but on the other to be burning tons of oxygen sending stuff into space. A bit of an enigma.
So, I had a bit of a think about what sort of guy I imagined Mr Musk to be. Probably getting on a bit to have amassed enough of a fortune to be splashing it about on space rockets. Or maybe a very charming young man with an extremely convincing manner who’s persuaded other people to join his adventure.
But what’s the reality? Somewhere in between would be a fair assessment from what I can gather. He’s currently the 53rd richest person in the world, so can fund pretty much anything he fancies all by himself. He’s also 46, so he’s been working on that fortune for quite some time - since he was 12 in fact, when he developed and sold a computer game for $500. He seems to have applied himself to his studies after that, right up until he threw caution to the wind two days into a PhD in physics, deciding to become an entrepreneur instead.
From there on in he seems to have gone from strength to strength, being involved in the foundation of PayPal along the way. SpaceX and the rockets came out of Mr Musk’s lifelong interest in colonising Mars. He’s been quoted as wanting to die on Mars. After he’s had his fill of mars bars of course. I’m not sure he was actually talking about the chocolate ones when he mentioned mars bars last week as something he’ll be looking to have plenty of up there on the old red planet. So in answer to the old question ‘is there life on mars?’ there will be if Elon Musk has anything to do with it!
By Amanda Street
Published in the In transition section of the Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser, April 2018.
We have good news that you may not be aware of. You can switch to an ethical energy supplier and save money!
Yes, times are changing and with renewable installations and technology improving, many renewable only suppliers are offering better tariffs than the Big 6.
But you do need to put in a little effort in as a crisp eating consumer. And that means getting off the couch and calling up one of these suppliers and making the switch ... but who do you call? Dorking Solar Group have teamed up with ethical tariff comparison website Big Clean Switch, who will find the best offer for you.
Big Clean Switch is a website that allows you to compare the tariff you currently pay with those of ethical suppliers who generate their electricity from 100% renewable sources (and we mean no nuclear!). A typical UK home will save £270 from their service.
So if you're fed up with current politics, then let your consumer voice be heard and make the switch. And, with the money saved you can buy a new tele that will run on 100% renewable electricity.
Please visit: www.bigcleanswitch.org
Renewables still have a long way to go before becoming our primary source of electricity generation and intermittency still remains a major hurdle.
Nevertheless, our energy mix is improving. Consider this interesting fact:
At midday on the 21st of March 2018, the UK electricity demand was 44GW. Roughly 30% of this demand was met by a combination of wind and solar which generated 7GW and 6GW, respectively. Wind generation had a record year last year, representing 15% of the UK's energy mix in 2017, up from 10% in 2016.
If you would like a detailed breakdown of the UK's electricity demand and supply, visit the following:
Also, if you would like to compare the electricity mix between multiple countries, visit the following:
When the Nissan Leaf was first launched in 2010, there was a lot of uncertainty around the future of electric vehicles (EVs) in an industry which has been dominated by fossil fuel motors for over a century.
The Nissan Leaf is leading the charge in the EV market, no pun intended. At late 2017, it had sold ~300,000 vehicles worldwide since it was first introduced, and sales are expected to accelerate from here on.
The new 2018 Leaf includes a 40kWh battery with a best-case range of 230 miles although under real world conditions this range drops to ~170 miles which is enough to get from London to Manchester on a single charge. It is also worth noting that in 5 degree celsius weather, the average range is 110 miles as there is more stress on the battery. Nevertheless, like all technologies, that of battery storage is only improving and the Leaf's range by 2019 is expected to be 310 miles. For long journeys, public rapid charge points can charge about 80% of the battery in about 40 minutes. For everyday transport, the battery can be charged at home on a 7 kW charger in under 8 hours, preferably at night which is cheaper and causes less strain on the grid. So assuming a 7p /kWh night rate, you can drive for just under 2p a mile. Compare that to an average mile on petrol at ~14p. For 100,000 miles, this equates to fuel savings of £12,000. Other savings on EVs include tax exemptions on Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), the London congestion charge and the T-charge. There is also a government grant capped at £4.5k for the purchase of an EV, as well as £0.5k for a home charger.
In addition to improvements in the battery, other technological improvements of the Leaf include regenerative ebraking, assisted driving & parking technolgies as well as energy saving heat pumping. The vehicle can also go from 0-62mph in 8 seconds, which is comparable to traditional sports cars.
In addition to advanced technology and operational cost savings, the Leaf is affordable, priced between £22k and £27.5k which includes the government grant mentioned above. And it should only become more affordable with time, not just the Leaf but EVs in general. Factors such as Government support, developping public charging infrastructure and stiffening competition are contributing to an amplifying wave in the sector.
The UK and France announced in 2017 that they are to ban diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040. In the same year, the UK announced a four year £250m investment plan to develop battery technology in order to support domestic EV manufacturing.
Speaking of domestic manufacturing, did you know that the European production base for the Leaf is in Sunderland? Also, in August 2017 Nissan announced that it was increasing the factory's output (all cars included) by 1/5 to meet an increasing demand for Nissan vehicles.
Other private sector initiatives include Tesla and Daimler's respective $5bn and €0.5bn investments in battery production factories, as well as Volvo's announcement to move to hybrid or EV only production by 2019.
Market experts estimate that EVs represent ~0.5% of the global car market, but see this rising to somewhere between 5-10% by 2025, which should continue on thereafter at an increasing rate.
The World Meteorogical Group (WMO) confirmed that 2015, 16 and 17 were the hottest years on record.
2016 was the hottest at 1.2 degrees celsius above pre industrial era while 2017 and 2015 were roughly the same at about 1.1 degrees celsius above pre industrial era. Part of the record high temperatures in 2017 can be explained by the El Nino phenomena, whereas 2017 only had slight effects from La Nina.
Increases in surface temperatures have the effects of rasing sea levels and causing stronger storms. These were made clear in 2017 with the breakoff of an Antarctic iceberg twice the size of Luxembourg as well as the Atlantic hurricanes which caused an estimated $270bn of damages, marking 2017 as the most expensive disaster year in US history.
Bullimores have recenly installed two new 7kW EV chargers in their car park, which complements their solar panels which the firm of chartered accountants installed several years ago. Effectively, the electricity generated from the panels will now also charge vehicles while they are parked, eliminating the need to stop at a petrol station.
“The move towards EVs appears inevitable so we see the installation of our two new 7 kW Charging points as just the natural next thing” said Partner, Terry Edwards. “These will be available for both our employees and clients to use. We hope that other businesses will follow suit by putting Dorking on the map as a forward thinking, environmentally aware place to live and do business”.
Steve McDonald, co-founder of the Dorking Solar Group, and a young local car enthusiast about to experience a test ride in a Tesla Model S, offered as the prize for scorring high on an EV quiz taken on Dorking Gala Night in December. Tim Rault-Smith, Tesla owner said, “ I am very happy to support the work of this local community group, especially in their new business venture - installing Electric Vehicle charging points.
DSG would like to thank everyone that attended our last event at Burgundy and Black Tuesday 9th January.
To kick the new year off, we discussed some of our past and future projects which include solar pannel and EV charge point installations.
Energy consultant and group member Paul Street also shared some insights on energy generation trends.
Links to presentation videos are listed below:
- WWF video on sustainable cities: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o86Ut6kAEMQ
- Electric vehicle video: https://justevs.com/blog/volts-for-oil-fully-charged/
- Reuters short report on 2017 being 2nd hottest year on record: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climatechange-temperatures/2017-was-second-hottest-year-on-record-after-sizzling-2016-report-idUSKBN1ET1JF
Thanks again to everyone that shared concerns and suggestions. We look forward to seeing you again at the next event.
Lastly, we are currently looking to add members to the group and intensify our efforts, so if you feel like you could contribute in any way possible, please do get in touch.
Join us for an hour on Tuesday 9th January for the launch of our new Electric Vehicle Charging Point venture.
Date: Tues 9 Jan 2018
Venue: Bergundy and Black bar, St Martins Walk, Dorking
The agenda is :
Thank you for supporting us in helping the push away from dirty energy to cleaner options. This is so important to the future of our planet.
Drop by our stall on Gala Night this Thursday.
- Sustainable Energy for a better world
- Solar Electricity generation
- Energy Battery Storage
- Reduce your impact on the planet
- And very our latest initiative……………..Electric Vehicle Charging Points.
Also, win a ride in a fully electric Tesla model S – one of the coolest EVs on the market
This is a Tesla model S : https://www.tesla.com/en_GB/models?redirect=no
We would like to thank everyone who attended our last brainstorming event at Burgundy & Black last Tuesday, 3rd October 2017.
We would especially like to thank our workshop chairs:
We hope that everyone found it enriching and constructive.
We encourage everyone to take action in reducing our community's footprint, one step at a time.
We would like to thank Chris Crook who has highlighted important developments in the fracking industry. We hope you find this useful and will do your best to prevent fracking from at your doorstep.
We would like to thank MVDC Councillor Clayton Wellman who has highlighted key points regarding local government. Hopefully, people will find this useful and get more involved locally.
Thank you Steve McDonald and Paul Street for having highlighted key developments in the UK Electric Vehicle market:
Our next event is at Bergundy and Black in Dorking at 7.30 on 3rd Oct 2017.
We've gone a little off-ppiste here and offer you three unusual subjects in a workshop format.
Cllrs Claire Malcolmson and Clayton Wellman present Mole Valley District Council
From potholes to planning, MVDC is often the target of our ire. Claire and Clayton are wil be here to explian how the councl actually works, discuss your concerrrns and tell us how they can help address the environmental challenges we face.
As our group was formed to promote renewable energy, we are generally opposed to fracking. Being from Dorking we are actutely aware of the issues at Leith Hill and whist this isn't regularly part of our agenda we felt that you would like to know about it.
Local campaigner Chris Cook will be along to answer questions and bring you up to speed with the latest news.
Electric vehicles and charing points
Already covered in our recent emails, the imminent boom in this industry brings us a cleaner environment ad better air quality.
Find out where we are on this road and share your suggestions on how Dorking Solar Group can help this grow through the installation of more charging points.
Dorking Solar Group in conjunction with Transition Dorking present Before the Flood. The film follows Leonardo Di Caprio around the world as he gives an enlightneing account of the dramatic changes occurring due to climate change.
We are delighted to also have with us the Natural Scientist and educator Rich Thompson who will be attending to answer questions and give extra insight on some of the topics raised by the film. Rich has a passion for sustainability fuelled by his first hand experiences of rainforest devastation for palmoil plnatations in Borneo, the global decline of coral reef ecosystems and a belief that through education, positive change is possible.
Date: 28 July 2017
Venue: Bergundy & Black, Dorking.
Please join us on Tuesday, 6th December from 7.30pm, in the "Narnia" room at The Old House at Home, Dorking for pre-Christmas drinks and chat.
In the New Year, on Wednesday, 18th January, we are holding a presentation on Ethical Investment. Do you know how your bank, or institution you invest with, uses your money? This event will broadly sweep across a number of different ways that your money can make a positive impact on society and the planet. 7.30pm, Burgundy & Black, St Martins Walk, Dorking.
Are you ready to take responsibility for your own energy usage?
Are you ready to do what you can to help make the transition to a more equitable, sustainable energy system?
It is becoming increasingly obvious, as highlighted in a recent report from Oil Change International, that fossil fuels - oil, coal and gas - should be kept in the ground, in order to achieve the cut in carbon emissions needed to avoid the worst affects of climate change. We need to stop relying on dirty fuels that cause damage to our environment and to our health.
You have the power to help drive an energy revolution - putting the needs of people and planet ahead of big energy company profits - with a new study suggesting that, by 2050, 45% of European power demand could potentially be met by 'energy citizens'.
'Energy citizens' are individuals and public bodies that are active participants in the energy system, producing energy or managing their demand via the installation of solar panels, wind turbines, electric boilers, electric vehicles and battery storage. By making use of increasingly affordable technology, powered by clean, freely available, renewable resources, individuals can take the initiative in helping to tackle climate change and gain greater control over their energy usage at the same time.
You can make a difference, even if you can't install renewable energy solutions in your home:
Remember, you have the opportunity to make a difference: look for the things you can change and your actions could also influence those around you to do the same!
Come along, have a drink and enjoy this half hour talk by Simon Edmands. Simon is Dorking based publisher of over 30 leading international magazines which focus on transportion such as auto, aviation, marine and rail.
Simon will be giving us a tour of the latest products and innovations in transportation which are helping us to move away from our dependency on climate warming fossil fuels.
We will also be running Al Gore's extremely motivational 25 min TED presentation on climate change.
Bergundy and Black
The venue is:
Bergundy and Black coffee bar
St Martin's Walk
Bar opens from 7pm, do let us konw if you intend to come along by emailing email@example.com.
Our next event will be held at 7pm, 21st of June at Burgundy & Black in St Martin's Walk. We will share new developments in sustainability and we invite citizens to share ideas that improve the community. Be a part of the solution and join us for drinks and discussion. If you have any questions please contact Steve at 07753467652 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you there!
Also hear about our first installed commercial rooftop solar energy system in Dorking and how we plan this year with your support, to install a community owned system.
Wine tasting tickets £5 from myself on email@example.com or mob 07753 467652
Did you know that an article on TDSolar was recently published in Solar Power Portal? Solar Power Portal is the leading renewable energy resource for UK solar power related information. It's website includes news, videos, a company directory, case studies and practical information. The article reflects the momentum that TDSolar is gaining. To view it click on the following link:
Just about how much solar is installed in the Dorking area?
In the UK, the most recent figures by the department of Climate Change indicate ~8 ½ GW of installed capacity at the end of November 2015 (1 GW = 1,000 MW = 1 million KW).
To put this into context, a full 16 panel system installed on a home represents about:
Please note that there is a difference between capacity (in W) and the Watt hours (Wh) that this capacity generates in a year. We are assuming that each KW of installed capacity will generate 875KWh of electricity per year.
On a more local level, we have attempted to estimate the minimum capacity installed in and around Dorking. Major installations in the area include:
These installations can generate the annual electricity needs of about 90 homes.
In addition, there are numerous small scale installations on homes and businesses scattered throughout the area, which should bring the total local capacity above the 400KW range. In addition, the Meadowbank facility should add about 12 KW.
Assuming 407 KW of installed capacity in the area, this means that we are generating roughly 355,000 KWh of electricity per year. Because the electricity is not sourced from the mainstream grid (predominantly fossil fuel generated), this “green” generation saves about 142 tonnes of CO2 per year. We have an objective to bring the total solar capacity in the area to 1 MW (1,000 KW) which would ultimately reduce CO2 emissions by ~350 tonnes annually.
If you know of any large scale installations in the area that we have not mentioned, we would be delighted to hear of it.
Furthermore, if you are interested in renewable energy and energy efficiency than do get in contact with the group and attend one of our community meetings. The next one will be a special wine tasting event organized by local wine maker Andy Kershaw at the Burgundy & Black, St Martin’s Walk on Friday 01 April. Hope to see you there.
DIY Marquees have contracted local company Helios Energy to install a 4KW solar panel system at HQ on Hevnbury industrial estate next to Dorking West station.
Looking for a way to reduce energy bills and utilise free space above the unit, DIY Marquees brought in Helios to design a bespoke system which suited their energy requirements.
Director Spencer King said, « At DIY Marquees we use a lot of manufacturing equipment so it made sense to generate as much as we can from solar whilst also increasing insulation and fitting low energy lighting. We believe solar is something all companies should look at espacially those with large industrial roofs. We would like to express our gratitude to TDSolarGroup for facilitating and Helios Energy for a thoroughly professional and efficient service. »
The 15 panel system to be commissioned in the next few days, will earn DIY Marquees £450 a year from government feed-in tariffs and save over £200 pound a year on electricity bills, effectively protected against energy price increases. They will reap these financial benefits for 20 years to come.
Steve McDonald of local, not-for-profit TDSolarGroup, which facilitated the installation said, « This is a perfect example of what can be achieved locally and comes only weeks after over 200 nations around the world committed to limit global emissions at the Paris Climate talks. This renewable system will save 1.5 tonnes per annum in CO2 emissions. It also demonstrates that honoring business environmental responsibilities are in the longer term the right business decisions. »
TDSolar Group would like to wish everyone a happy new year 2016 and recap our progress since our creation in Spring of last year. We are pleased to announce our presence as a serious community group. Since our creation, we have :
- Identified and facilitated our first commercial solar installation, saving 1.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions pear year
- Held four community event nights promoting renewable energy and the aims of the group
- Attracted 85 solar energy supporters who are regularly updated by our newsletter
- Created a website and sent out 530+ tweets to 112 followers
We would like to thank everyone that has participated in one way or another, whether it be by carrying out actions, sharing ideas or signing up to our newsletter to keep up to date on our progress.
Just a reminder that we are a non profit group consisting of local members with a passion for finding new ways to make our habitat a cleaner one. Our primary objective at TDSolar is to engage with the community, with a particular focus on solar facilitation due to our knowledge on the subject and because we feel it is an easy way to reduce CO2 emissions.
Even though we are solar focused, we still welcome people interested in energy and the environment to share ideas with us at one of our community event nights. Our next one will be a special Denbies wine tasting event in April at St Martins Walk, where we will also discuss local energy related issues. Please contact us for more details.
In August 2015, the Government warned the public that it was going to cut the existing feed in tariff. Later on 17 December, it published its decision on the new tariffs. The following examples show how the revised tariffs will affect paybacks for installations between 8 February and 1 April 2016.
First, let’s calculate the payback on a typical Surrey home which installs a 4kW system (16 panels) for £7,000. Such a 4kW system will generate about 3,500 kWh of electricity in the year (1 kWh represents 10 x 100W light bulbs turned on for an hour). This system translates to income via the following:
- The generation tariff: the rate for each kWh generated which will be 4.39p as of 8 February 2016. So assuming 3,500 kWh are generated per year, this translates to £154 per annum (3,500 x £0.0439).
- The export tariff: the rate paid by the energy supplier for electricity produced but not consumed and therefore exported to the grid and indexed to the retail price index. It is currently at 4.85p per kWh, but we can assume a rise in the index in the next few years, so a prudent average over the period could be 6p. Assuming a 50% consumption rate, this translates to ~£105 in the year (1,750 kWh x £0.06).
- Electricity savings: By producing its own electricity, the household does not need to purchase as much electricity from its provider. Thus, assuming the 50% consumption rate and average retail electricity day rates at 16p over the next twenty years, annual savings amount to £280 (1,750 kWh x £0.16).
Overall, annual income amounts to £539 (£154 + £105 + £280) meaning that the total system costs are reimbursed in 13 years (£7,000/£539). The income from the tariffs is tax free and the generation tariff is fixed for 20 years from the moment the system is installed. This means that after the ~13 years, the benefits are all profit.
For a commercial rooftop, the payback is more interesting than a residential installation since a larger proportion of the income is based on electricity savings since the building is primarily used during the day (eg a school or a factory). The generation tariff is also 20p higher for a system that is between >10 – 50kW than that of 0 - 10kW. The next example shows the revenue streams and payback of the new tariffs on a larger 11kW system (generating 9,600 kWh per year), installed on a commercial rooftop after 8 February 2016. Let’s assume the system costs £18,700 to install:
- The generation tariff: with a revised tariff at 4.59p income amounts to £441 (9,600kWh x 0.0459p).
- The export tariff: As in the residential example we will assume the same rate of 6p over the next 20 years. Instead of assuming a 50% consumption rate though, we will assume that the business utilizes 80% of the electricity generated (inversely 20% exported). This means that income from the export tariff would amount to £115 in the year (9,600kWh x 20% x £0.06).
- Electricity savings: Assuming the 80% consumption rate and average retail electricity day rates at 16p over the next twenty years, annual savings amount to £1,229 (9,600kWh x 80% x £0.16).
Overall income on the installation amounts £1,785 (441 + 115 + 1,229) and payback is 10 ½ years (£18,700/£1,785).
The final tariffs have not been cut by as much as the Department of Climate Change initially led us to believe in its August announcement. Although the cuts will hurt the industry, solar will continue to grow locally and globally as technology continues to evolve. Battery storage technology is on its way to commercialization, and this will lead to increased savings. Also, electricity prices are generally rising, so the savings should be greater in the future. Electricity price trends suggest that prices could double in the next 10 years due to increased electricity demand.
On a final note, we must keep in mind that the reason the government is cutting tariffs at a quicker than expected rate is because capacity has been installed at a rate that was quicker than expected, which in the grander scheme of things should be seen as a positive signal for solar power.
As it stands, the latest report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicates that the world’s Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES) was 81% dominated by fossil fuels in 2013 which includes oil (31%), coal (29%) and natural gas (21%). The remaining 19% were broken down as follows: Bio-fuels and waste (10%), Nuclear (5%), Hydro (2.4%) and other - geothermal, solar, wind & heat (1.2%). The trend is slowly moving away from fossil fuels as these represented 87% of TPES in 1973. TPES is the raw energy which ends up in power plants, factories, transportion or even lost. It is measured in million tonne of oil equivalent (Mtoe) which is defined as the amount of energy released by burning one million tonnes of crude oil.
So how are these fuel sources evolving?
Although we have seen countries like Japan, Germany and China adding coal plants these last couple of years, it is simply the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. When we see the smog in Chinese cities, we realize the serious health and safety challenges that the Chinese are facing, which will not be solved by installing more coal plants. It is none the less a cheap and effective short term solution to meet current demand while heavier investments are made in sustainable infrastructure. As for Japan and Germany, coal is used as an intermittent solution while the countries decommission their nuclear facilities.
Nuclear is considered an effective solution by many politicians to meet future energy needs since it provides cheap and low carbon electricity. However, the radioactive waste must be disposed of and there is always that minor possibility of a nuclear disaster. Since Fukushima, countries like Japan, Germany and Taiwan have been in the process of decommissioning their entire nuclear park while countries like the US and France have agreed to reduce their share of nuclear.
Natural gas has been a big gainer this past decade with the fracking revolution. In the US its output has grown +45% since 2005 and has overtaken coal. Although cost effective, debate still rages on its potentially nocive effects on aquifers and groundwater.
With regards to green energy; technological enhancements, economies of scale and government incentives are pushing prices down and demand up. Wind power is proving to be as cheap as coal in some parts of the world while solar panels have seen a significant drop in price since 2008. The development of smart grid and battery storage technologies will be key factors for the development of these energy sources as their inputs are not always puffing or shining. Hydro, on the other hand, can provide a constant stream of electricity available on demand. Nevertheless, dams are limited to only certain locations. As for biofuels and waste, these include wood, crops, ethanol, municipal waste and other organic matter. Since 1973, it has maintained a stable share of the world’s energy supplied. With urbanization on the rise, municipal waste should increase, while new technologies will also play an important role in the development of this fuel type as the inputs are numerous.
If we take a big step back about 3 centuries, we realize that the energy mix is becoming more diversified as technologies evolve and as we are better able to make use of our surrounding environment. In the 19th century, coal replaced wood as the primary source of energy, which was then replaced by oil in the 20th. Although still dominated by oil and other fossil fuels, the beginning of the 21st century seems to be moving away from these towards a more sustainable and diversified energy mix. For one there is a general consensus (or at least awareness) to move away from fossil fuels and there is also rapid technological development in the fields of electric vehicle mobility, battery storage, chemistry, telecommunications, smart grids, etc … which makes us less reliant on fossil fuels as a reliable source of electricity and better able to manage intermittency. The graph below is the IEA’s anticipated energy mix structures from here to 2040 under two scenarios. As we can see, government policies will have an impact on the future of the mix.
Transition Dorking is not by nature a group with a tendency to make political comment. We seldom move off safe ground but now and again the need to stick our heads above the parapet becomes necessary.
Some of you may already be aware and possibly stunned by the proposals recently announced to drastically reduce subsidies for the UK Solar industry. This follows hot on the heels of the withdrawal of the green deal subsidy for home insulation (27 July) which in turn followed the decision to withdraw financial support to onshore windfarms (20 June), and this all in the run up to the end of year Paris climate summit which will attempt to seek agreement across all nations regarding global warming emissions targets.
Shocked by the announcements, TDSolarGroup – formed this year as part of Transition Dorking to promote and facilitate the take up of clean solar energy – has decided to react positively.
Subsidies were inevitably going to be completely removed and the solar business would need to survive without support. We were not expecting this to happen so quickly and savagely but with the industry busily engaged in a huge lobbying exercise we need to wait and see what the final decisions are.
Electricity generation is currently the biggest single source of CO2 emissions in the UK, responsible for approximately a third of the total, at a time when prices of solar panels are coming down and their efficiency is going up.
We believe we have an ethical obligation to do everything we possibly can to shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels. Towns and cities across the UK have for some while been uniting in community energy projects as people realise they like the idea of renewables and also love the notion of community ownership. A modern, cleaner and more sustainable way of living appeals to people across all ages, professions and political persuasions.
A leading example of this is Wadebridge in Cornwall, where there is an extremely active and thriving renewable energy organisation which has over 1,100 members. This has facilitated, amongst other renewable projects, the installation of around 100 domestic installations and two large community solar projects totaling 5.4 megawatts.
Here in Dorking the majority of people we have spoken to so far seemed very supportive of our aim to develop a community solar scheme and view it as you might colloquially call it a “no brainer”. We need a large body of people to help us so we are kindly asking you to register your support on this website by going to our 'contact us' page and we will keep you informed.
As you may be aware, there is a climate conference taking place in Paris between 30 November and 11 December 2015. But what exactly is this conference (also called COP21) about?
“COP” stands for “Conference of Parties,” which is a decision making body that implements actions to tackle a specific issue identified in a convention. In this case, the convention is the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which has for core objective to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions. The convention itself is non-binding and so to meet the stated objective, it is the role of the convention’s 196 parties to draw up actions and commitments at the biannual Conferences.
The first COP known as COP1 was held in Berlin in 1995 and the 21st will be held in Paris this year. Its primary focus will be on ratifying a new international agreement applicable to all countries, with aim of keeping global warming below 2°C by the end of the century. COP21 is anticipated to be one of the largest climate events ever organized.
In addition to official talks, parallel events will be organized, the largest of which being the Sustainable Innovation Forum where cross sector representatives from business, Government, finance and non-profits will be able to network and participate in interactive discussion panels at the Stade de France. There will also be various expositions and forums throughout Paris during COP21 as well as a mass mobilization campaign at the end of the event. It is becoming an increasingly popular event.
One of the most significant agreements from these climate conferences is the Kyoto protocol, which was passed in Japan at Cop3 in 1997. This protocol outlined CO2 gas emission obligations for the countries that agreed to endorse it. Although the world’s two largest polluters, China and the US, did not ratify the protocol, the EU did. It has proudly exceeded its first phase targets, reducing its total emissions levels by -18% in 2012 (on 1990 levels). For the second phase which will end in 2020, the EU is underway to exceed its target of -20% on 1990 levels since in 2014 it was already at -23%. The UK is one of the leaders in the field, since it cut its emissions by -22.5% on a target of -12.5% in 2012. The EU’s commitment to cutting its emissions while other nations stand complacent out of fear of economic repercussions reflects boldness, vision and leadership.
Yet regardless of the actions that macro political parties decide to implement in the near future, town residents have their own roles to play on a more local level. The way we see it, we hold our own COPs at least once a month to find solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly via the uptake of solar. If you have ideas that you would like to share with us, then please do not hesitate to get in touch or stop by at one of our social events.
Germany has drawn a lot of international attention these past couple of years with regards to its ambitious energy transition, known as the Energiewende. The objective is simple and clear: to cut CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 (on 1990 levels). Other countries have plans to cut CO2 emissions as well, but Germany seems very determined to reach its target. To do this, Germany plans on cutting its current energy consumption by 50% (on 2008 levels) and increasing renewable energy generation to 80% of the country’s total production (in 2014, renewables represented 27%) . Just to be clear, by “renewable” we are referring mostly to biomass, wind, solar and hydro, not nuclear! The Energiewende took shape out of the anti nuclear protests and oil shocks of the 1970’s. What began as a grassroots movement several decades ago has now turned into a top priority for German politicians.
Germany has been and will remain a leader in the transition to sustainability. The country is not hesitating to take the necessary steps to ensure a cleaner and safer future. In 2011, the decision was made to shut down all 17 of Germany’s nuclear power plants which represented about 23% of the country’s energy production in 2010. Nine have been switched off so far with the remainder to be shut down by 2022. It is true that Germany has increased generation from coal in the past couple of years, but it is important to recognize that this is only a medium term means to an end while the country undergoes its transition. Also, the country is not hesitating to invest €35bn in a high voltage nationwide transmission network in order to accommodate a large uptake of renewable energy. In addition, investment is also being made in smart grids to better match supply and demand for electricity.
Germany was the first European country to implement feed in tariffs as early as 1990. Feed in tariffs guarantee a rate on the electricity sold back to the grid, which allows people with renewable energy systems to payback their investment quicker. Following a nationwide uptake of solar as a result of feed in tariffs, the next logical step is to develop battery storage technology, which eliminates the need for feed in tariffs. This technology is evolving quickly here too. In 2014, 10,000 German homes were equipped with batteries and this market is expected to grow 10x by 2018. But battery storage technology is only one of a series of technologies that the country is developing in its various sustainability focused R&D centres. These R&D centres work closely with governments, businesses and schools to ensure that the technologies’ potential is maximized. One of these centres is called Fraunhofer ISE which is the largest solar energy research institute in Europe.
Above are just a few examples that reflect Germany’s commitment and structured approach to tackling climate change. But the Energiewende is not just about global warming. It is also about having a tangible goal that all citizens can be proud of working towards. In addition, the country is eliminating the threat of nuclear, becoming less reliant on energy imports and developing technologies that put it in a strong position for the digital age.
In the UK, the government is taking measures against sustainable development as it feels these are a strain on its economy. Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts. It is true that implementing sustainable change on a national level requires some form of subsidy which may be more costly than complacency. Nevertheless, consider what the Energiewende is doing for the German economy. Despite the transition, Germany remains a powerful and industrious nation. Since 1991, German GDP has risen nearly 170% while renewable energy production has increased from 4% to 27%. Jobs in the renewables sector have doubled in the last ten years and surpassed those in the coal mining and conventional fuels sector, which have stagnated. In addition to these positive changes on the economy, the country is on track to cut its CO2 emissions -40% by 2020 (on 1990 levels).