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  Painless Carbon Reduction by 80%
 
Another Inconvenient Truth © WWW Support Services & wvpTV
 
LATEST Feb 2010: UK leading world in high efficiency Biofuel from waste
 
 
Much of the technology to enable easy painless reduction in carbon (CO2) and energy consumption has been in existence for around 200 years, these include:
  • Refrigeration 1805 (heat pumps)
  • Stirling engine 1816 (heat engines)
  • Solar Cells 1839 (electricity from the sun)
  • Solar Water Heaters 1891 (sun powered)
  • Electric car 1839.
These technologies are now much more advanced having had such a long time to develop, but few are using them to best effect if at all. Used well together in an integrated way for living, work and transport, these can easily provide a painless carbon reduction of 80% in very little time and with an improvement in the quality of life as a bonus, it just needs some joined up thinking and the will to do so, why delay?
 
The UK Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) agrees the current target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent is not enough and the higher figure of 80 per cent is not only necessary, it is feasible.
 
 Click to read IPPR Reports  Institute for Public Policy Research
 
 Click for more on Carbon Footprints  Basic Introduction to Carbon Footprints
 

Throwing Massive Amounts Of Energy Away

Well over half the air burn fuel energy (eg: gas, coal, oil) used in main stream centralised electricity production is lost as waste heat in the generating and distribution process which is between 25% and 50% efficient (subject to method) at best and has little hope of much overall improvement beyond 50%. Most of the UK's electricity is generated at around 30% efficiency (2006).
 
Large centralised energy producers are well aware of this, but seem to shy away from the best fixes because it would mean less sales revenue and less market share, so for years there has been at least some delay and willful blindness. The logic is understandable, the existing centralised production keeps control of market share and profit, distributed point of use production which is far more efficient (because waste heat can be used) does not fit so well with the centarlised producer business model.
 

Obstruction to Carbon Reduction & Energy Efficiency

From the perspective substantial carbon reduction should happen as soon as possible and there are large gains to be made in national strength from being energy efficient, it is fair to say large organisations and governments have historically and are still playing a major role in obstructing faster progress. This dumb logic harms the UK because it is neccessary to import ever more energy which will lead to the UK being held to ransom.
 
In 1979 the free market dogma took over from sensible ecconomics, the UK in effect abolished it's energy policy, forward planning died a death as it was ordained that market forces decided everything, successive governments continued in this vein.
 
Those old enough at the time may recall Margaret Thatcher's (former Prime Minister) "Dash For Gas" as the UK switched from Coal to Gas to generate electricity with little efficiency, needlessly throwing over 70% of the energy away, when we already had the technology to do it much better (eg: CHP), government closed it's ears, it didn't want to know.
 
Friends of the Earth UK Friends of the Earth (FOE) and many others presented much better solutions at the time and thereafter, the following FOE document Tackling Climate Change (Sep 2002) is one example of many.
 
 Click to read Tackling Climate Change  FOE Tackling Climate Change report (2002)
 
 Click to visit FOE  Friends of the Earth website
 
 
Government Obstruction to Carbon Reduction
 
Aker Group's Stevens Croft Biomas Power Plant New Grossly Inefficient Green Power Plants (30%) are still being approved and officially opened by government leaders with the usual political razzmatazz, while the same manufacturing and construction companies are building 80% efficient power plants in other countries.
 
For example: UK 20th March 2008 Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond officially opened a 90m biomass power station near Lockerbie in Scotland and said: "Steven's Croft power station is a great showcase for the role biomass can play in a cleaner, greener Scotland."
 
What Scotland's First Minister apparently fails to realise along with the others involved in government is this new plant will actually harm the economy simply because the plant is only 31% efficient (at best), while other similar plants (same maker) are easily 80% efficient (with CHP), this dictates that the energy input costs and related carbon footprint will always be at least 260% more than competitors. Put another way, the UK government is signing the population up to unnecessarily expensive energy while at the same time maintaining the need for higher energy imports, in effect weakening the UK economy long term.
 
To be fair it must be said the UK is not alone in this kind of practice, the USA, China, India and many other countries are also major offenders.
 
(Source: BBC and power plant manufacturer Aker Group)
 
 Click to read BBC Story 
 
 Click to read AKER Group Report   (see page 15)
 
 
From 1st January 2006, the UK Government's fuel tax policy (approx 230% on actual fuel cost in UK) prohibits fuel tax rebates to those generating their own electricity (despite being up to 80% efficient with CHP - see below), at the same time tax rebates are provided to commercial producers operating at just 20% efficiency. Some feel this policy is designed to obstruct private energy production while keeping energy supply in the hands of the big commercial producers.
 
(Source: HMRC Notice 175 Motor and Heating Fuels: relief from excise duty on oils used to generate electricity, sec 2.6.1)
 
 Click to read HMRC Notice 175 
 
Obstructive Taxation to Carbon Reduction
 
In the UK (and other countries) efficient Private and Commercial Road Transport users carry a large fuel tax burden (approx 230% on actual fuel cost in UK), despite being more carbon and energy efficient than other transport systems which get much reduced or tax free fuel.
 
Aircraft, Train and Bus operators enjoy reduced or tax free fuel, but in nearly all cases, these operators are far less energy and carbon efficient (overall carbon footprint measure).
 
Apart from the fundamental fairness issues, it is stupidity in the extreme to reward the least efficient with little or no tax while punishing the more efficient with very heavy tax, but this questionable policy goes on for decade after decade.
 
Obstructive Energy Pricing to Carbon Reduction
 
The UK government and Energy Suppliers are resisting sensible energy pricing, excessive users (bigger carbon producers) are being rewarded with lower prices while the most efficient (lower carbon producers) are seeing price rises (March 2008) of up to 50%, in effect they are being punished for being energy efficient. No surprise many people ask, "Just how dumb can energy policy get?".
 
(Source: UK Sunday Times 9 March 2008)
 
 Click to read The Article 
 
Sliding Scale Energy Pricing: offers a good, quick and cheap solution for metered energy supplies, the more you use the more you pay per unit of energy. This method quickly fixes the energy poverty problem and excessive use in one go, with no cost to Government. But it seems Government and the energy industry are resisting it.
 
One means of regulating this is to legislate an industry wide percentage price increase / decrease based on consumption and energy supplier published standard prices. Energy suppliers could freely adjust their standard prices, the price scale would then be applied on billing for particular consumption.
 
Another means of enforcing such policy, quickly and easily and possibly more attractive to government is sliding scale VAT (Value Added Tax) based on consumption. For example, the first block of units subject to 0%, the next block 10%, the next block 20% etc.
 
Deliberate Deception in Energy Policy promotes Carbon Production
 
Business and Government are apparently organising deliberate deception through the use of false information. In the UK for example, DFT (Department For Transport) officials removed carbon and pollution production data from project applications to enable them to be approved or pass scrutiny despite substantial pollution and carbon production growth, even in cases where it was known there would be health risks and early deaths as a result. The obvious questions are, "surely such people are criminals?" and "how can progress be made in the face of such governance?".
 
(Source: UK Sunday Times 9 March 2008)
 
 Click to read The Article 
 

Why Not save Billions ?

In monetary terms society as a whole is throwing Billions of pounds worth of energy away each year when there is no need to do so.
 
For around 35 years the necessary tried and tested equipment has been readily available to enable primary energy (eg: gas, coal, oil) consumption to be cut by up to 80% with little or no loss in the quality of life.
 
From the National Security aspect, needing less primary energy makes us far more secure, from the Business and Industrial perspective it makes us far more efficient and competitive, even without global warming there is a strong argument to be efficient, why not ?

New Scientific Findings Increase Urgency

BBC News BBC 20 Oct 2007: The CO2 (carbon dioxide) being absorbed by the world's oceans has halved in the last 10 years, scientists say. University of East Anglia researchers gauged CO2 absorption through more than 90,000 measurements from merchant ships equipped with automatic instruments.
 
Of all the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere, only half of it stays there; the rest goes into carbon sinks. There are two major natural carbon sinks: the oceans and the land "biosphere". They are equivalent in size, each absorbing a quarter of all CO2 emissions.
 
"It is a tremendous surprise and very worrying because there were grounds for believing that in time the ocean might become 'saturated' with our emissions - unable to soak up any more."
 
That would "leave all our emissions to warm the atmosphere".
 
 Click to read BBC Story 
 
 Click to visit University of East Anglia 
 
 Click to visit British Antarctic Survey 
 
Dramatic Increase in CO2 Found
 
BBC 23 Oct 2007: Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere have risen 35% faster than expected since 2000, say scientists monitoring CO2 levels.
 
The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
 
 Click to read BBC Story 
 
 Click to visit PNAS 

The Easy Quick Fix

The key to the Easy Quick Fix is Energy Production at Point of Use sometimes called Combined Heat and Power (CHP) but with the addition of other tried and tested technologies such as Heat Pumps and Solar Energy and the integration of transport into the local energy system.
 
Power cuts could be a thing of the past because each location down to individual home or business level could produce much if not all of it's own energy. Breakdown or damage to one part of the overall energy system need not affect the rest, in short, very secure and reliable and almost impossible for an aggressor to cause any substantial power failure.

Transport

Traditional fuel driven transport such as, planes, trains, buses, lorries and cars waste between 75% and 60% of the fuel they consume by throwing it away as waste heat as they move, this is very wasteful.
 
Part of the solution is to enable the near full use of the waste heat, for example, when generating electricity, use the waste heat to heat buildings and processes while storing some of the electricity in efficient batteries for electric vehicle and other use.
 
All electric charge at home Tesla The recent advances in light weight batteries (eg: Lithium-ion) means high performance near Zero Carbon* electric vehicles that outperform traditional ones are already available.
 
The Ferrari beating electric Tesla (price 49,000 2006) is already being built by Lotus in England using components from around the world. This outstanding car proves electric car technology is already better than the traditional car, it can out accelerate a Ferrari, charge in 3 hours (plug in anywhere mobile charger available), has a 245 mile range, 130 mph top speed, uses relatively little energy and near Zero Pollution and Carbon Emission*.
 
 Click to Visit Tesla Motors 
 
 Click to see Green Tesla Owner  BBC video news features Green Tesla owner with solar pannels etc.
 
( * vehicle batteries recharged with full use of generator waste heat, up to 88% carbon reduction, Zcar example below equivalent to just 15gm/km CO2, 8 times less than current (2006) efficient traditional cars eg: BMW 3 Series Saloon 320d SE 1.43 tonnes 128gm/km CO2, CITROEN C4 Coupe 1.6HDi 16V 110bhp VTR+ 1.27 tonnes 128 gm/km CO2, FORD Focus 5dr 1.6i TDCi 1.35 tonnes 127 gm/km CO2)
 
 
All electric charge at home Zcar Traditional vehicle weight is a major energy efficiency problem. A traditional efficient car* weighs around 1.3 tonnes, thats roughly 20 times the weight of a healthy person, in terms of energy use, 95% of the energy cost is needed to move the vehicle around, with just 5% for a single occupant (suburban speeds <55 km/h).
 
One of the historic stumbling blocks to making vehicles much lighter is accident safety, a sufficiently strong, thus heavy vehicle is needed to provide protection from other relatively heavy vehicles. Manufacturers and Users need strong incentives and or taxes to encourage the production and use of much lighter vehicles on a short time scale. Lighter vehicles will do much less harm to others in accidents, collision protection would be far more effective.
 
The all electric Zcar concept vehicle is designed to be light weight and changes it's height, sitting up when in town for better visibility. It is possible to build this type of vehicle to weigh from 220kg (subject to specification and performance), thus dramatically cutting the energy required. With two occupants, overall weight 350kg, at lower speeds (<55 km/h) the carbon reduction compared to a traditional efficient car* is around 88% lower at 15gm/km CO2* or just over 7gm/km CO2* per person (two occupants).
 
 Click to Visit Zcar Designer 
 
 
VW (Volkswagen) 300mpg car in 2002 VW (Volkswagen) has already produced a high efficiency car that returned 300mpg at a steady 70mph (2002), thats around 26gm/km CO2.
 
Unfortunately the car was not put it into general production because VW judged not enough people would buy it at around 17,000.
 
If VW and car users had been encouraged then it might have been a different story, with a wide range of high performance vehicles already available today.
 
The important point is the 2002 technology was proven by VW at the time and since then there have been many more developments meaning a new version of this car type could be far more efficient and attractive to the user.
 
 Click to Visit VW 
 
 
Swiss Twike 600mpg car in 2006 The light weight Swiss Twike two seater (now made in Germany) is an early (now dated) example of high efficiency personal transport, it provides near 600 mpg (equivalent) with older battery technology, which means around 15 times less pollution and carbon production compared to a typical car.
 
The Twike above uses NiMh battery technology (2006), if it was upgraded to the very latest Lithium-ion battery technology, the maximum range would easily quadruple (see below).
 
 Click to Visit Twike 
 
 
Carlos Ghosn Chief Executive of Nissan and Renault agrees
 
Chief Executive of Nissan and Renault Carlos Ghosn and Nissan Pivo 2 "For urban driving I am convinced that electric vehicles are the answer. There is increasing pressure against [traditional] cars in cities, and the electric car is the only way of achieving zero emissions and zero carbon dioxide [CO2] - apart from the fuel cell," said Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Nissan and Renault. (Source: Sunday Times 28 Oct 2007)
 
Nissan demonstrated the all electric powered Pivo 2 at the Tokyo Motor Show (opened 27th October 2007), the first Pivo became a hit at shows round the world.
 
Powered by advanced compact Lithium-ion batteries and featuring a unique 360 degree rotating cabin and a robotic control system, it takes easy mobility to a new level, each of the four wheels are powered by in-wheel motor and can turn through 90 degrees to allow Pivo 2 to drive sideways as well, thus being able to park in a very small space, city car parking could double or triple in capacity.
 
 Click to Visit Nissan Pivo 2 demo 
 
 
Smart Cities group City Car Smart Cities Group City Car
 
General Motors sponsored Smart Cities group at MIT's Media Lab to develop the City Car, an electric car that folds upwards. City parking capacity increases dramaticaly, six to eight folded City Cars can fit into one regular parking space as the photo shows.
 
Incredible maneuverability is provided with clever wheels, the City Car can turn round on the spot and with each wheel turned through 90 degrees, the City Car can parallel park by moving into a parking space sideways.
 
 Click to visit Smart Cities Group 
 
 
BMW Go Electric - Norbert Reithofer BMW Chief Executive BMW goes Electric
 
Norbert Reithofer BMW's Chief Executive has announced (March 2008) that BMW is developing an electric car based on advanced lithium batteries (see below).
 
The new car will be able to charge up at home or work and provide similar features and comfort to the traditional larger models and include the same level of safety. It remains to be seen how light and efficient BMW engineering can make this new car.
 
Vehicle weight is most likely to become a major regulatory and tax focus in the near future, lighter cars using less energy and doing less harm to others in accidents.
 
Latest DRAMATIC Electric Vehicle Battery Technology
 
Ultra Performance Lithium-ion batteries Dramatic change is being brought about by several new types of Ultra Performance Lithium-ion batteries (eg: Nano technology tin-based anode Lithium Ion batteries and other innovations), these offer an incredible improvement in performance of between 200% and 2000% depending on which older battery type you compare it with.
 
Up to 936Watt/hours/kg is already being acheived in resarch and development, the race is now on to move the technology up to large scale production. One of the leaders in the field (Apr 2008) is Hybrid Technologies Inc (see link below).
 
The most significant development is the potential 80% charge can be achieved in 3 minutes making electric cars comparable with the refueling of petrol cars
 
In theory 1000 mile Electric Vehicle Range may become possible between battery charges, which would make electric vehicle range substantially better than traditional vehicles and equivalent carbon production even lower.
 
 Click to find out more about Batteries   Green Car Congress
 
 Click to visit Hybrid Technologies   Hybrid Technologies Inc advanced batteries
 
 Click to visit Battery Maker TJ Technologies   T J Technologies advanced batteries
 
 Click to visit Battery Maker AltairNano   AltairNano advanced batteries
 
 
Hydrogen Fuel Cell
 
Hyundai FCEV Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicle 2006 Unfortunately the Hydrogen Fuel Cell is still very limited in its overall efficiency (22%) which is currently significantly worse than using a traditional regular diesel vehicle and just below petrol. (Source: Ulf Bossel, European Fuel Cell Forum 2003)
 
The Hydrogen fuel Energy and Carbon Footprint is potentialy much larger than Biofuel and Battery Electric vehicles.
 
It seems Hydrogen Fuel technology will not be able to overcome some key obsticals, for example around 50% of the hydrogen fuel cell energy is lost as waste heat when running the vehicle, with efficient battery electric vehicles this can be less than 10%. Overall it seems the Hydrogen route will use three to four times more energy per km than the best alternatives.
 
 Click for more on Fuel Cell Efficiency 
 
 
Driverless Transport
 
ULTRA Driverless Vehicle 2004 Driverless technology is already with us, soon cars will drive themselves, greatly cutting accidents, traffic problems, fuel use, driving offences and highway costs. Drivers will be able to sit back and watch TV or work, perhaps even sleep as they are delivered to their destination. Gentle overnight long distance journeys will improve the quality of life dramatically while at the same time further reducing fuel use.
 
The Ultra (driverless four seater transport vehicle) is now being rolled out at Heathrow, it is an early version (2004) of future highly energy efficient transport that is much cheaper to provide than existing public transport, city journeys are twice as fast as a bus and primary fuel use and carbon production can be reduced by 85%*
 
 Click to Visit Ultra 
 
 Click for BBC News about Ultra at Heathrow Airport 
 
Driverless technology along with more efficient weight and size can ultimately increase the capacity of existing road carriage ways by a factor of up to 10 or more, simply because optimum spacing and safe speed will be possible at all times. It is just a matter of time before all car type vehicles are able to work in a driverless way because it is so much better overall.
 
Ultra trials have already shown that light weight driverless vehicles can run on low cost trackways at ground level or raised on columns that are far cheaper to provide than traditional roadways and can be built within or over existing congested areas.
 
 
Congestion
 
Is the trend to over develop town centres, the primary cause of pedestrian and vehicle congestion, inner city pollution and the reduction in quality of life, a good idea?
 
It should be obvious to anyone that by compressing more and more business and homes into a centre you inevitably reach a point of serious congestion. The Romans wrote about this problem 2000 years ago, it seems many planners today ignore this wisdom.
 
It is far more efficient to create a number of well connected and serviced central points within a town rather than just one, congestion and journey lengths fall dramatically. Business and employment should develop within such well planned structures which reduce the need for large amounts of travel, energy consumption, pollution and carbon production.
 
 
Public Transport
 
An Ultra based system is already being installed at Heathrow as part of BAA's Public Transport System and offers great savings in energy use and faster journey times than the traditional bus.
 
 
Public Buses
 
Public Bus Traditional bus transport systems have a major efficiency problem, national average fuel consumption is 5.6 mpg** (1328gm/km CO2) and average occupancy 9 passengers**.
 
**Source Cambridge Energy 2007
 
Compared to the Zcar example above (two occupants), traditional buses produce 20 times more carbon per passenger km. Of course this really begs the question why so many authorities are pushing bus type transport quite hard (2006) eg: London and Cardiff etc, but thats another subject.
 
In terms of overall efficiency and carbon production it seems very doubtful that future improved bus type transport will ever be able to rival the likes of the Zcar and Ultra type alternatives.
 
The simple reason is that in order to have the required passenger capacity the bus type vehicle needs size and structural strength which makes it heavy and it needs to travel much of the time part loaded in some cases as low as just 5.5 passengers (average for all bus journeys Cardiff 2006 source: Cardiff Bus Company).
 
Even if all the waste heat from bus power production could be utilised (which appears difficult to achieve), it seems technically impossible to get the average bus occupancy high enough to be energy and carbon efficient (compared to Zcar and Ultra type alternatives).
 
To equal Zcar energy and carbon performance (single occupant) within towns, the average bus would need to carry an average of 88 passengers. Even if peak passenger loading was just double this at 176, the passengers alone would weigh about 12 tonnes, leaving too little for the bus itself, so it seems clear the traditional larger bus has a limited future.
 
The carbon footprint of public transports overall infrastructure is often overlooked in comparisons with car type vehicles, factoring this in can double the buses carbon footprint. Using Cambridge Energy's above data, that would be 2656gm/km CO2, with the average occupancy of 9 passengers, that works out to 295gm/km CO2 per passenger kilometer, far worse than a traditional petrol car.
 
 Click to Visit Scania the Bendy Bus Maker 
 
 
Bus Lanes
 
Used to capacity at peak times, bus lanes may well have much to offer, at least in the short term, where buses run efficiently with near full capacity.
 
However in many cities one lane of dual carriageways are exclusively reserved for buses 24 hours a day even though they are little used to capacity and buses run in low occupancy. This in its self is a cause of congestion because effective road capacity is reduced by up to 50%. The resulting slower flow of regular traffic then adds unnecessarily to carbon, pollution and business costs.
 
 
Trains
 
Virgin Pendolino Train Trains for public transport have overall efficiency problems compared to better alternatives but they do have much to offer over planes for City to City travel.
 
The best modern trains are not as good as the Zcar example above, especially if you factor in the much higher costs of providing rail (compared to road) and the carbon cost of getting to and from the railway station.
 
It is not practical to provide railways every where because of cost and engineering limitations. Complete trains like the modern Virgin Pendolino only have around 15 horse power per tonne so are very limited in their ability to climb hills at speed (traditional efficient cars* are around 80 horse power per tonne)
 
You may have seen recent Virgin Trains advertising (UK 2007) in which they claim "Our Pendolino trains emit 76% less CO2 than the same trip by car or plane", this is a case of using out of date statistics selectively to produce evidence for the claim, unfortunately it does not hold water. The latest car technology can produce less than half the CO2 per passenger km compared to the Virgin Pendolino.
  • No account is taken of transport to and from the train, the following can be added, 6km each end by bus @ 148 gm/km/CO2 = 1776gm/CO2**.
     
  • No account is taken of the substantial carbon footprint of the rail infrastructer eg: stations, ticket sales and staff.
     
  • Neither was any account taken of the fact each single Rail track achieves 5 times less carrying capacity than the equivalent single lane of roadway, but costs 10 times more, rail is accordingly 50 times (5 x 10) less efficient than equivalent roadway and this should be taken into account in terms of carbon overheads***.
     
  • The car comparison is with a petrol car producing 180gm/km CO2****, efficient traditional cars produce less than 130gm/kg CO2 (source: BMW, Citroen and Ford 2007), Virgin's figures are accordingly 40% out on this factor alone. The EU legal limit will be 120gm/km CO2 by 2012 and reducing there after.
     
  • No like for like comparison is made with a comparable electric powered car type vehicle (ie: 15 horse power per tonne), using the Zcar example above which can have a comparable power to weight ratio, the car produces half or less carbon per passenger km (15gm/km CO2 with single occupant).
In the above context the Virgin "76% less CO2" claim may be considered misleading or irresponsible by those concerned with encouraging the best way forward for the future.
 
***Source: Trans Watch 2007  Click for more on RAIL v ROADWAY 
 
****Source: Virgin Trains 2007  Click for more on Virgin Pendolino Trains 
 
 
Planes
 
Airbus A380 Plane Planes also have much greater overall efficiency problems compared to trains and better alternatives but they do have much to offer for long distances such as the transatlantic and other sea crossings.
 
The best planes produce around 8 times more CO2 than the best car type (Zcar above), however scientists say that aircraft carbon emissions are at least twice as harmful to the environment as those at sea level, so it may well be that planes should be considered as having double emissions, the best car type with a single occupant would then be 16 times better.
 
CO2 emissions for short-haul flights are around 150gm CO2/pass.km (source: DEFRA 2005), but this does not include getting to and from the airport which can often be in the opposite direction, allowing for 40 km each end by bus**, this may add 11,849gm CO2. A 240 km flight would then work out at an effective 200gm/km CO2. It gets worse if the carbon cost of the airport facilities are factored in.
 
The new Airbus A380 has improved efficiency, the makers claim just 75gm CO2/pass.km, however this does not include running part loaded and the other factors above, it may well be the best overall CO2 will be 112gm CO2/pass.km which should perhaps be near doubled for the harm factor to about 200gm CO2/pass.km. That's 8 times more than VW's (Volkswagen) already proven high efficiency car (300mpg 26gm/km CO2 at steady 70mph - see above).
 
 Click to visit Airbus 
 
 Click to see British Worst CO2 Polluters 

Bio Fuels

Biofuel Oli Seed Rape Currently produced (2007) alternative Bio fuels such as Biodiesel and Bioethanol (alcohol) do NOT provide a complete answer simply because their production consumes so much land and food crop capacity.
 
Even if all suitable UK farm land (32 million acres) was entirely given over to such bio fuels we could only produce between 25% and 50% of what is required for transport alone and we would not be producing any food.
 
Accordingly, the following prime agricultural land crop produced Bio Fuels can only make a small contribution (see Better Biofuel Production further down).
 
Current traditional transport fuel demand is over 55 Million Tonnes per year (oil equivalent) source: DEFRA.
 
Biodiesel
 
From each acre of oilseed rape 534 liters of biodiesel can be produced, 32 million acres x 534 liters x 0.88 = 15 million tonnes fuel (oil equivalent)
 
 Click for more on BIODIESEL from Strathclyde University 
 
Bioethanol
 
From each tonne of wheat 336 liters of bioethanol can be produced. Average UK wheat yields are 3.13 tonnes per acre which equates to 1005 liters of bioethanol per acre, 32 million acres x 1005 liters x 0.792 = 26 million tonnes fuel (oil equivalent).
 
 Click for more on BIOETHANOL from Strathclyde University 
 
 
Biofuel Production and Third World Starvation
 
Robert Zoellick World Bank Demand for Biofuel feed stock (eg: cereals) is already (April 2008) adding to a sharp rise in basic food prices (eg: wheat +130%, soya +87%), there have been food riots in various parts of the world.
 
In some areas virgin rainforest is being burned to make way for biofuel crop rush, the big problem is it can take up to 700 years to pay back the carbon released by the destruction of the rainforest.
 
World Bank head, Robert Zoellick (see photo), tells us 100 million people in poor countries are being pushed deeper into poverty.
 
The World Bank explains the price of staple crops such as wheat, rice and corn have all risen, leading to an increase in overall food prices of 83% in the last three years (up to 2008).
 
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), have recently advised that hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of starvation.
 
It seems that many developed world governments (inc UK) are ignoring newer energy technologies and relatively immediate efficiency measures to dramaticaly cut the demand for fuels. Instead governments are all clearly increasing the demand for cereal derived biofuels, in the EU legislation is already making biofuel use compulsory (UK 2.5% of petrol must be biofuel from 15 Apr 2008) instead of easy to acheive energy efficiency.
 
The legal biofuel requirement (stupidly) does not differentiate between cereal or virgin rainforest derived biofuel and waste or wood crop derived biofuel (see below).
 
 Click to read BBC Story  World Bank echoes food cost alarm
 
 Click to Discover Food Prices  Alarming increase of food prices BBC facts and figures
 
 
Better Biofuel Production
 
While much liquid fuel need can easily be replaced with alternative systems (eg: electric vehicles, summer heat storage) there will always be some need for this form of fuel.
 
Biofuels can be produced from non foods and waste crop material (Biomass) without eating into existing food production and destroying virgin rainforest.
 
** Sorghum is being promoted as Smart biofuel that will not reduce world food production. Unlike corn-based ethanol, which currently (2008) uses one and a half times as much energy in its production as it offers as an end product, sweet sorghum produces eight times more fuel than used to make it in developing countries. In the USA production uses more fuel, but sorghum would still produce four times more ethanol per unit of energy.
 
** Original Source: Mark Winslow - International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics
 
Western Biomass Energy plant Waste plant and wood material can be converted into Biofuel (ethanol) through a more complex process than the simple fermentation used to produce Bioethanol (petrol replacement / additive) from cereals.
 
Large production plants already operating in the USA produce 50% more energy than is used in the overall process, thus have a negative overall carbon footprint and do not make demands on the human food chain or rainforest. These relatively new processes are still developing (2007), so may be even more efficient in time.
 
For example: USA based KL Process Design Group engineered, constructed and operates the Western Biomass Energy plant (see photo) in Wyoming which uses proprietary technologies and newly developed enzymes. The plant uses soft wood waste feed stock and can also use waste materials such as cardboard and paper.
 
 Click for process Energy Balance info   KL Biomass Process Energy Balance
 
 Click to visit KL Group   visit KL Process Design Group
 
Fast growing softwoods that can produce 250% more biofuel per unit of land (compared to cereals) can be grown as feedstock on existing marginal land with little agricultural value. Thus the food production chain is not threatened and virgin forest need not be destroyed.
 
Even Better Biofuel Production developing in the UK
 
TMO Renewables Demonstration Plant In 1973 Tony Atkinson discovered an "ethanol belching microbe", this has now been engineered to the point that a highly energy efficient overall process can now convert wood and plant waste into ethanol in around 8 hours.
 
TMO Renewables (founded by Tony) has created the "super-bugs" that it claims will solve many of the problems the biofuels industry currently have with conversion efficiency. An industrial scale demonstration plant has been in operation since September 2008 (photos).
 
 Click to visit TMO   TMO Renewables website for more info
 
Biofuels should be used efficiently in CHP systems as far as possible simply because it is so much more efficient. High performance Electric vehicles charged locally from biofuel CHP cuts the fuel production needed by around 65% (comapred to petrol and diesel cars).
 
Other related links...
 
 Click for more on   Smart Biofuel article at Reuters
 
 Click to visit   International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics
 
 Click to visit   Supergen Bioenergy - advancing UK bioenergy (Aston University)
 

Advanced Energy Systems Today

Domestic Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit It has long been possible to generate electricity and heat at the point of use with near 100% efficiency simply because the waste heat can all be used to provide hot water and heat our homes.
 
In New Zealand, WhisperGen appliances have long been available to replace the traditional central heating boiler and simultaneously generate electricity and heat homes much more efficiently while reducing energy bills at the same time.
 
These appliances are known as Combined Heat and Power (CHP) units which will also recharge / refuel our highly efficient cars, CHP helps make a massive 66% reduction in primary energy consumption and carbon emissions possible with the addition of heat pumps.
 
There is a wealth of CHP information in the following links.
 
 Click for Cogen CHP Fact Sheet  (advisory leaflet)
 
 Click to visit the ECPower advisory page  (systems include Heat Pump management, home, office, small firms)
 
 Click to visit WhisperGen  (small domestic)
 
 Click to visit Marathon CHP Systems  (home, office, small firms)
 
 Click to visit Baxi SenerTec CHP Systems  (home, office)
 
 

Easy 80% Reduction in Carbon (CO2) and Energy Consumption

The following tables are provided to simply illustrate the principal that around 66% reduction in Carbon, Pollution and Energy Use can be achieved in a short time using existing tried and tested technologies, the real figures are a little more complicated, for example, those shown do not illustrate seasonal variations and input from locally generated renewables.
 
Common Traditional Energy Use January 2007
Small 1930 Semi DetachedPrimary Energy
used (Kwh)
Usefull Energy
delivered (Kwh)
Energy Wasted
(Kwh)
Heating28,50020,0008,500
Electricity15,0005,00010,000
Small Petrol Car 10,000
miles per year
11,0002,7508,250
Totals:54,50027,75026,750
 
The above table illustrates around half the primary energy consumed by a typical 2007 household unit is wasted.
 
 
66% Carbon, Pollution and Energy Use Reduction with existing technology - January 2007
Small 1930 Semi Detached with
improved energy efficiency
Primary Energy
used (Kwh)
Electricity (Kwh)Heat providedEnergy Wasted
Home generated Electricity (natural gas or biofuel engine)18,3006,6509,9751,675
Less Home Heat Pump consumption (electric motor) -2,500  
Add Home Heat Pump heat output (COP 3.0)  7,500 
Less Home electricity use (appliances, lighting) -2900  
Less High Efficiency Electric Car charging
10,000 miles per year (charged at home)
 -1250  
Totals:18,300017,4751,675
 
The above table simply illustrates that using basic existing technology and CHP production at home coupled with electric car use (instead of petrol), energy consumed can be cut by 66%, thus carbon and polution as well. The most significant principal of change is enabling waste heat to be used for heating through CHP rather than being lost to the environment.
 
The key to painless 80% energy savings (carbon reduction) are further efficiency measures (eg: insulation) and the modest use of locally generated renewables.
 
NB: Small single domestic CHP units such as the current WhisperGen model (2007 - shown above) may not be suitable for those recharging high efficiency electric vehicles doing a large mileage simply because the electrical power output may be too small (0.7kw per hour), a larger output model would be required.
 
 

Renewables

Solar and Wind Power
 
If a modest amount of home renewable solar and or wind power are factored in to the above, then an 80% reduction in CO2 and energy consumption is easily possible, being completely self sufficient (off grid) is a practicality given suitable home conditions.
 
 JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Kwh/m2 Day0.651.181.953.24.25.054.453.62.781.680.770.48
Electrical energy
kwh with 10m2
collection area
@ 40% efficiency
2.64.727.812.816.820.217.814.411.126.723.081.92
Hot Water energy
kwh with 10m2
collection area
@ 80% efficiency
5.29.4415.625.633.640.435.628.822.2413.446.163.84
NB: Assumes 920 w/m2 solar radiation - UK latitudes
 
The above table demonstrates the capability of currently available high efficiency energy collection systems, 10 square meters of collection area can provide the total electrical energy requirement (around 8kwh/day) of an energy efficient 1930's 3 bed semi detached house for eight months of the year (Mar to Oct - marked blue). There is a surplus in the summer months which could contribute to charging an electric vehicle.
 
Total hot water heating requirement (around 9kwh/day) would be met for around 9 months of the year with the surplus contributing towards space heating and potential ground or other heat storage (see below).
 
UK Sun Map The map shows the total average solar radiation falling on different parts of the UK in kilowatt hours.
 
In the UK the Sun provides up to 1200 kwh per annum on each square meter of surface (tilted 30 degrees south), much of this can be captured and used.
 
A typical south facing house roof can provide 20 square meters of surface, which provides a potential 24,000 kwh, which is worth about £2000 (UK Pounds) at todays prices (2007 electricity prices).
 
However technical limitations of energy collection systems mean only a portion of this value can be captured and used, 80% is currently (2007) a typical maximum for water heating (see below).
 
Wind Power
 
Wind is also a great source of power, a good windy position is important to capture large amounts of energy.
 
One of the experts in smaller scale Solar and Wind is Essential Spark who provide a wide range of renewable energy systems at great prices and educational courses.
 
The Essential Spark website is packed with factual plain English information and a lot of honest advice about the practicalities.
 
 Click to visit Essential Spark  Training Courses and Systems
 
 
LATEST Solar Cells 10 Times More Efficient
 
Solar Cell Concentrator Array - SolFocus Boeing's SpectroLab currently leads developments (2007) with production Solar Cells able to capture near 40% of the suns energy, this is up to 10 times better than many of the older technology solar panels in use and on sale today.
 
This level of efficiency means that even in the UK and European countries 10 square meters of roof could provide around 4800kwh per year which in total is more than sufficent to meet the annual electrcity demand of an efficient 3 bed semi detached house in the UK (2007) with gas or other method used for space heating. However as the table shows above, there is a surplus in summer and a shortfall in at least 3 of the winter months based an 8kwh/day requirement.
 
The key to Spectrolabs solar cell efficiency is multijunction semiconductor devices which capture a wider range of light wavelengths (energy) and the use of concentrators of various kinds (photo: SolFocus solar concentrator). SpectroLabs CD0-100 solar cells are just 1cm x 1cm but produce over 19 watts of electrical power with a 450x concentrator (lense or reflector system).
 
Other developers and producers are not far behind, near 50% efficiency is reported as being achievable relatively soon.
 
 Click to visit SolFocus  Manufacturer of solar arrays and concentrators
 
 Click to visit SpectroLab  Manufacturer of High Efficiency Solar Cells
 
 Click to view Solar Cell Performance  CDO-100 High Efficiency Solar Cell Data Sheet
 
 Click to view Solar Cell Chart  Solar Cell development & Efficiency Chart
 
 
LATEST Solar Hot Water Panels work in Winter
 
Solar Hot Water Panel The latest highly efficient solar hot water panels (80% efficient) are based on heat pipes and evacuated glass tubes with selective coatings, they are able to function in overcast weather and winter because the efficiency is high and losses low.
 
For example: in April, an overcast day without any sunshine a single 2.25m2 pannel of this collector type is able to heat a 210 litre hot water cylinder to 40c.
 
This collector (see photo) type is the most cost effective. They are currently produced in China at low cost and are available in Europe from around 250 UK Pounds (2007 - 2.25m2 self assembly single panel parts only). A single 2.25m2 pannel will produce around 1640kwh per annum.
 
 
Heat Storage in the Ground
 
Ground Heat Storage Ground heat storage techniques have been developing since the 1970's, the basic principal of operation is unwanted summer heat is used to warm the ground some meters down and this is later recovered in the winter months.
 
There are relatively large heat losses from this kind of storage, however, the summer heat is free and efficient systems can be cost effective. Large scale systems are more efficient simply because there is much larger core of stored heat so heat loss is relatively lower.
 
There are countless buildings throughout Europe (some in the UK) that are heated in this way. One of the most well known in the UK is the Welsh Assembly Building. Heat pumps are used to raise the temperature of the recovered heat as neccessary. Because the winter heat store ground temperature is much warmer (12c to 40c) than traditional ground heat pump instalations (2c to 4c), the heat pumps can run much more efficiently.
 
In the Netherlands and other countries many major buildings and advanced housing estates are largely heated in this way in the winter months.
 
 Click to view Ground Heat Storage Intro  Introduction to Ground Heat Storage
 
 Click to view Ground Heat Storage Tests  Ground Heat Storage System Tests
 
 
Heat Pumps
 
Heat Pump System Home Heat Pump heating technology has been around for over 40 years, but few use it, but those that do end up with a lot more heat than they started with, in short, summer heat naturally or mechanically stored in the ground at lower temperature is concentrated (temperature raised) and used for heating.
 
Almost every home has a low cost heat pump in the form of a fridge which pumps heat from inside to outside the fridge, these are cheap to make simply because of the large number that have been produced for decades. Home heating Heat Pumps would be very much cheaper if produced on a simlar scale.
 
The overall efficiency of home heating Heat Pumps can be the equivalent of 300% or more (ie: you can get back at least 3 times the energy used to drive the pump) providing a dramatic reduction in the carbon footprint and primary energy use.
 
If heat is mechanicaly stored in the ground (see ground heat storage above) then the overall system efficiency (useful energy returned) can be much greater.
 
 Click for more on Heat Pumps 
 
 

Carbon Neutral Homes

Futurehome 2000 - Milton Keynes - Home World 1981 Many carbon neutral homes already exist (some since the 1980's). Many use combined Heat Pump, CHP and other technologies to provide all their energy needs, some even sell surplus energy back to the national grid.
 
Unfortunately, despite an early lead in developments in places like Milton Keynes from 1981 (eg: Home World - Futurehome 2000), there are still relatively few in the UK after some 30 years.
 
 
 Click for more on Home World  Home World at Milton Keynes
 
 
 Back to Top 
 
 
First version written May 2006 as part of Transport Policy considerations for Cardiff communities.
The author worked in the renewable and energy recovery fields in the 1980's,
(when the writing was already on the wall for Oil depletion and Carbon).

 

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