Saturday, October 28, 2006

Special offers

1. If you sign up to Abel and Cole and mention us, we get some free wine :-) Contact ant at loadtrax dot com if you want to get us drunk

2. If you sign up to Ecotricity and select the Global Action Plan link, they'll match your current supplier's rate, and donate £15 to Global Action Plan. We found out because earlier in the year we wrote a cheque to GAP and they never got round to cashing it.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Let's go fly a kite

Researchers in Italy have developed a new a form of wind turbine called KiteGen. The vertical axis turbine uses power kites. The kites are computer controlled by winches that are able to adjust the altitude (up to 2000m) and orientation continually to give optimum performance. Also with the assistance of radar the kites can avoid aircraft and even birds. The researchers believe a 100 metre diameter KiteGencould provide up to 500 MW at about £1 per GWh, the current average cost for electricity generation in Europe is about £30 per GWh. They also envision a KiteGen 2000 metres in diameter that could generate 5GW.

Here is an artist's impression: -

The official site (mostly in italian) is here, an interview with the disigner is here and an article about it on Wired News is here.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Solar stuff

Mini solar update, from - Corus, you remember, British Steel that sold most of itself to a Dutch consortium and then sold itself in its entirity to an Indian firm - they are going into the integrated solar roofing market with PowerFilm

BP are investing heavily in the Chinese solar market

Cardiff is the new home of G24 Innovations, who will be manufacturing very high efficiency solar panels

So despite the lack of interest from Westminster, the market for renewables in the UK is looking better.

I've discovered that having a 2kw electric heater in a 2.5m x 3m shed, with all the insulation I've put in, is serious overkill; it went from being freezing cold to unbearably hot inside two minutes. It seems that my PC chucking out about 150W, is more than enough to keep the room comfortably warm.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tesco's carrier bag craziness

Tesco have recently begun a campaign to reduce the number of carrier bags people use. They have a launched television adverts containing famous people transporting their shopping in alternative containers that are in some way humorously related to the line of work that made them famous (Whoever thought of showing Alan Titchmarsh transporting his shopping in a wheel barrow is clearly a genius.). They are also offering extra loyalty card points to anyone bringing their own bags into the supermarket.

Don't get me wrong, this is a good thing and I applaud any effort to reduce our use carrier bags. The environmental damage caused by discarded carrier bags cannot be underestimated. While in Tenerife I heard about a turtle that had been pulled out of the ocean with 5kg of plastic bags inside it (It is surprising how many millions of carrier bags are estimated to be drifting through the worlds oceans and also how similar they appear to jellyfish if you are a hungry turtle.).

What I don't understand is why if they are so keen to reduce the use of these bags does the Tesco online groceries always arrive in carrier bags despite being in reusable crates. Why also do their shiny new self service checkouts force you to use their carrier bags. I understand that these checkouts use scales to detect when an item has been put in the bag but if the scales where tared when you press the start button you could put you own bag own the scales beforehand.

I have searched my local Tesco's as well as their website and have not found a place where I can post a suggestion to have this changed. Any ideas?