02 Nov 2012
According to research carried out by Ward's in 2010, the number of cars owned globally is in excess of one billion. With so many cars the mind boggles at how the atmospheric pollution emitted by these cars must be contributing to our current climate change.
It seems somewhat unreasonable to ask every driver to give up their cars, but there are a few simple driving habits that you can commit to in order to drive more eco-friendly - and save money on fuel as well. So there really is no excuse not to give these driving habits a go.
Slow down early
Motorway driving tends to be more fuel efficient than driving in the city where streets tend to be busier and have traffic lights to control traffic. This increase in ‘stop-start' driving increases fuel consumption as the driver is constantly having to accelerate and then kill their speed when they approach a traffic light.
To counteract this, instead of keeping your foot on the gas and then braking at the last minute, try removing your foot from the gas pedal early and come to a lighter stop with the brakes at the appropriate time. When your foot is off the gas pedal you will be saving fuel and it can make you a safer driver since it will get you into the habit of slowing down early when potential hazards appear.
Use the correct gear
Using the correct gear is vital for saving fuel - in some cases cruising in third gear can be 25 per cent less efficient than cruising in fifth gear! When accelerating, shifting up a gear as soon as it is sensible to do so will help to reduce fuel consumption since higher gears generally consume less fuel with the sacrifice of losing some power. Most engines perform best when kept at around 2000-2500 Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) so try to maintain this.
Remove the clutter
A heavier car will need more power to run and will therefore increase fuel consumption, so take a look in your car for any unnecessary weight. Is the back seat really a good place for those stack of books or should they be in your bookcase? Although that heavy roof rack came with the car, you've never once used it and nor do you ever foresee yourself ever needing it, so does it really need to be on your car? As far as fuel efficiency tips go, this isn't going to yield the most benefit, but it'll definitely help make your car look neater and well looked after so there really is no reason not do it.
Vehicle tracking can help to plan routes much better to find the shortest or fastest route to take. It works by installing a small GPS transmitter in your vehicle - the tracking system will then allow the user to map the routes that they have taken and, in time, the user will be able to use this data to create a faster route. This method is currently being used by a number of businesses whose employees are required to travel long distances repetitively.
Although there are some obvious benefits unrelated to eco-friendly driving, many people are not aware that driving too fast can be detrimental to a car's full efficiency. When cruising on the motorway most cars have a speed range in which they feel most comfortable; find this comfortable spot and stick to it where possible. If you can't find this spot then most cars perform best whilst doing around 55-65 Miles Per Hour (MPH).
This sponsored content was provided by RAM
Seven years ago, during the messy transition period between the old solar PV grant programmes, a senior official summed up Whitehall's historic view of the technology by telling us that "PV ticks all the boxes but unfortunately it is just so expensive". Fast forward to the recent consultation on PV banding in the Renewables Obligation (RO) and despite all price fall evidence to the contrary, it seems that old habits die very hard.
Despite warm Ministerial words, the 22GWp "ambition" for 2020, price falls of 70 per cent since 2010, and PV at scale already delivering levelised costs at or below that of offshore wind, there is no sign that DECC is now going to embrace PV as a cost-effective contributor to the UK's 2020 renewables and carbon targets. Indeed, the reverse is true. We searched in vain for the section in the PV RO banding consultation document talking up the cost-effective contribution that can be made by a technology that has already delivered the 2020 levelised costs predicted for it in the 2011 Renewables roadmap.
Over the years we've learnt the hard way that the most important part of any consultation is the detailed impact assessment that accompanies it, usually published late and always containing illuminating insights into what really lies behind the headline figures in the formal consultation document. And as readers of BusinessGreen will know only too well the RO banding consultation proved no exception to that rule.
The DECC Impact Assessment published alongside the consultation spelt out that a Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC) level of 1.9 per MWh in 2013/14 would incentivise just 20 per cent of the potential market next year at a subsidy level below that of 2 ROC offshore wind, ie the current marginal technology required to deliver the 2020 target. That message is consistent with our own lobbying position that large-scale PV needs an absolute minimum of 1.8 ROCs next year for any sort of market to survive.
Not for the first time since the election, the PV industry, uniquely of all renewable technologies is saying to Ministers "please Minister, do cut our level of subsidy, but can you do so sensibly". Instead, the department proposed ROC levels which they expect may deliver literally no large-scale PV installations not just next year, but the year after that, and indeed the year after that.
DECC are proposing feed-in tariff (FIT) equivalent RO rates which, for example, delivered just one new >50kWp installation in the whole of August and which they know to be of zero interest to investors. This is bonkers. Apart from anything else how is that consistent with the Government's pledge to focus on "value for money" for consumers within the RO? This "FIT equivalent" policy for large-scale PV, if confirmed, will strangle the life out of a cheaper technology than offshore wind just at the point at which it can start making a meaningful contribution.
The answer of course is that it is far from consistent, but the department has in effect already boxed itself in and does not know how to get itself out of a hole of its own making.
In July, Ed Davey said that the Renewables Obligation settlement announced for all other technologies would deliver the "most cost-effective package for consumers" and that "we will retain our focus on ensuring value for money". He then explained that regardless of the outcome of the PV review that "would not affect the package I am announcing today which will play a key role in securing the UKs energy security at reduced costs to consumers". So there we have it. DECC decided three months ago on its preferred "package" of technologies within the RO for delivering the 2020 target, squeezing out the potential of any other technology to make a meaningful contribution without raising in its own words, a "threat to the RO budget".
Now that PV has delivered what successive departments have spent a decade and more telling us that they want it to do, ie cost-effectiveness against non-onshore wind technologies, it's time for the Whitehall mind-set to change once and for all.
There have been encouraging signs since the FITs debacle of last Winter led by Greg Barker, but the RO proposals have undermined that positive process and once more raise a fundamental question - if the Government is not prepared to get behind this technology at the point at which it becomes cheaper than the marginal technology required to deliver the 2020 target as efficiently as possible then will it ever do so?
Announcing that DECC's PV "policy objective" is to set an RO rate which officials know will result in an abrupt stalling of the market and potentially far worse, runs entirely counter to the Minister's own stated 2020 ambitions for this technology.
So if this latest consultation is to be more than an accounting exercise in which the ROC level is set to mirror the large-scale FITs to ensure the most minimal contribution from PV regardless of its cost-effectiveness, Ministers must surely rethink their starting point. Should they choose not to do so Mr Davey will have to stop claiming that the RO package for "mass deployment" technologies announced this summer provides the "most cost-effective package for consumers".
Seb Berry is head of public affairs for Solarcentury
This sponsored content was provided by Solarcentury
24 Oct 2012
Energy is one of the biggest cost aspects in any building. Various studies have been conducted in this area and it has been found out that energy costs can make up to 25 per cent of a building's total expenditure. Energy costs have also come to the fore in terms of importance for business owners, since they are being faced with a need to adhere to customer demands for creating greener demands and even governments of many countries are developing stringent rules and standards to cut down their carbon footprint. Looking into the prevention of energy losses in one's business is useful for the bottom line of the business and as well as for the world at large.
Mapping Energy Use
It is good to start with mapping the energy use of a building. Most businesses use up energy in two areas - lighting and HVAC, or heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Lighting in a business can be controlled easily with the use of simple human intervention or using advanced technology. For instance, switching off the lights when the office is not in use is a great idea to cut down on energy loss in this manner. HVAC systems can also be managed with a few changes. It is good to opt for the best technology possible in this area, so that all the equipment in the office works at optimal levels.
With the growing use of technology such as thermal cameras, it is easier to get a fix on how and where heat losses are taking place in a business office. A thermal camera works by providing the owner an idea of all the heat equipment in his office space and then identifying where the heat loss is taking place. One of the main reasons why HVAC equipment is not working at its optimum levels could be due to the leakages in the water outlets.
A thermal camera can help fix this problem. By using light metres you be able to assess how the lighting systems work.
Changing Light Fixtures
There was a time when light bulbs were "energy guzzlers" but today there is a huge range of options available. Light fixtures today are all about energy efficiency and aesthetic looks as well. Modern lighting is all about the use of efficient lighting, such as fluorescent lighting, which provide immense amount of illumination and do not make huge dents in the business owner's pocket either.
Looking out for Government Certification
There are plenty of government managed or accredited energy rating systems that result in a business and its space being converted to energy efficient systems. Depending on the country of residence - programmes and ratings, such as LEED certifications, Energy Star and so on, can be used to convert one's business into a greener and more energy efficient space.
Weatherproofing Your Business
It may seem like a very small thing but there is a great deal of energy loss that takes place simply because a space has not been insulated properly. Sealing doors and windows is important to keep the heat or the air-conditioned and cooled air in. It is also a good idea to go in for weatherproofing the exteriors of the building. With the right kind of insulation, for example, the roof of a building can reflect back the heat during hot summers and absorb a greater amount of the sun's warmth during winter, and help the building keep cool and warm respectively.
This post was written by Matthew Langham on behalf of Inlec test equipment hire
28 Sep 2012
Lots of businesses are looking to biomass as an alternative, sustainable and more environmentally friendly fuel source for their future.
With the current commercial Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in place along with the imminent introduction of the domestic Green Deal thousands of businesses and homes across the UK will be able to reap the benefits of saving on energy costs, more efficient energy technology, as well as doing their bit for the environment.
The Green Deal will be a pioneering and innovative financial scheme allowing homeowners to install energy efficiency and renewable measures without the need to pay upfront. For any financing that customers receive, the ‘golden rule' will provide the reassurance that the cost of the measures will always be covered by the savings made on the utility bill.
One of the many approved ‘measures' under the new Green Deal proposal is the installation of a biomass boiler. The Green Deal will see biomass boilers installed in more and more domestic properties as consumers start to realise the fantastic financial and environmental benefits. With the first phase of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) already open to commercial applicants, businesses can invest in biomass for their properties with many different funding options including no capital outlay.
Here we explore some of the myths around biomass and why it could be a useful and profitable improvement for your business.
Biomass is no more environmentally friendly than fossil fuel: FALSE
First of all, there are several types of biomass. The most common biomass boilers use wood as fuel in the form of either wood chip or wood pellets to provide heating.
Of course, burning wood will emit carbon dioxide, but as long as this wood is coming from a sustainably managed source where trees are re-planted to replace felled ones, we are creating a ‘closed carbon cycle' where new trees will use up the carbon dioxide emitted by burning it.
Research suggests that biomass boilers will reduce net carbon emissions by 90% which is great for the environment and a massive improvement on widely used fossil fuels. Unlike traditional fossil fuels, biofuels emit no sulphur when burned and so reduce acid rain.
Using wood biofuel means cutting down trees: TRUE/FALSE
Wood pellets are mainly produced from compressed sawdust and chippings from the parts of trees that cannot be used for timber or pulp, so these wood biofuels are made from resources that would otherwise go to waste.
Some wood pellets are produced from direct felling of tree stock within FSC approved woodlands that are fully sustainable and responsibly managed for the purpose of biomass. Often this is thinnings or weaker trees that need to be removed to enhance the viability of the woodland.
If you have a business that makes its own chippings, you could even use this biofuel yourself, provided they are properly prepared.
Biomass boilers are a nightmare to install and maintain: FALSE
With the right expertise, biomass boilers can easily be fitted into existing plumbing systems and are an excellent retrofit technology. Biomass boilers do require a flue, but if you have a chimney on your property this can usually be lined to make one for your system. They run quietly and they're easy to maintain - you just need to empty the ash every few weeks.
You need planning permission to get a biomass boiler: TRUE
If your existing chimney can't be used as a flue, you may need to apply for planning permission for the erection of a flue. Flues for biomass boilers are generally considered as ‘Permitted Development' and it is unusual for them to be rejected.
Planning Permission may also be required for any external purpose built structures i.e. fuel stores or plant rooms. The level of planning permission required is similar to that required for a shed/garage.
You don't get a return on investment right away: TRUE/FALSE
With the introduction of the RHI and lower fuel costs, businesses that invest in a biomass boiler will typically see a return on investment within 5 to 7 years. Current tariff rates are very attractive and the income from RHI is reliable anguaranteed for 20 years.
As an alternative way to fund installation of a biomass boiler for your business, heating and renewables firm Duncan Renewables will install your biomass boiler at no cost and the RHI payments will be returned to them. This means that you get great, reliable, efficient, environmentally friendly heating for your property, saving you the cost of rising oil prices and with no installation charge.
Many small businesses have taken this step with Duncan Renewables biomass installation saving money on their heating costs whilst gaining a new, modern and efficient heating system. Duncan Renewables also run regular showcase events at clients businesses premises to demonstrate the benefits.
Biomass boilers are a fantastic, long term method of saving money and the environment that are suitable for and available to businesses now. With the RHI and companies such as Duncan Renewables offering solutions for a wide range of commercial clients, isn't it time you looked into biomass for your business?
Duncan Renewables install a range of renewable energy technologies in commercial and domestic properties, including solar PV and biomass nationwide.
This sponsored content was provided by Duncan Renewables
Environmental technologies can provide us with new ways to harness energy to heat our homes, operate the washing machine, clean the car, cook, reduce our bills and these renewable technologies benefit the environment as well.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are one of the many types of renewable energy available to us. We can use the sun's energy to operate solar panels to drive gadgets which can be used on motorhomes, caravans, boats, as well installing them on the roofs of our homes and businesses. They don't produce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions or use up valuable fossil fuels.
Solar PV panels work very simply by converting light energy from the sun into electricity. It can even be a cloudy day and the panels don't even need to be positioned in direct sunlight. When fitted to our homes, PV can supply us with green energy and any surplus electricity produced can be returned back to the grid, known as ‘on-grid' systems. Or we can use ‘off-grid' systems, which store electrical power generated in batteries that can be used later when needed.
There are a number of specialist adapted solar PV panels that can be used both outdoors and indoors to power household gadgets such as mobiles, cameras, laptops, notebooks and e-books.
If you enjoy the outdoors, whether hiking, camping or just to get away from it all, you can purchase small solar PV panels which can be charged by the sun or the mains before you leave home, allowing you to have your camera ready charged for that awesome shot you don't want to miss or your mobile phone if you need to speak to those back home.
Specialist solar PV panels are also available to people who like to take to the open road in their caravan or motor home, or alternatively those who like to muck about on the water, as they can be used on narrow boats and cruisers too.They can reduce the nightly cost for electric hook-up and are better for the environment as well.
However, the biggest challenge of specially designed solar panels is getting the right power output. Too little and you'll be half way through surfing the Internet for the following day's adventure and the power goes off; too much and you will have spent a fortune on something the capacity of which you'll use only a tiny proportion.
There are a number of advantages worth considering when it comes to solar energy and everything that it offers:
- It is a completely renewable resource
- Solar systems make absolutely no noise at all
- Solar energy creates absolutely no pollution so does not further damage the ozone layer
- Very little maintenance is required to keep solar panels running. There are no moving parts in a solar panel, which makes it impossible to really hurt them.
So whatever you want to do, outdoor or indoors or just be more eco-friendly, solar PV systems can benefit us all through our daily lives. Solar power technology is improving consistently over time, and we can now begin to understand all of the benefits offered by this incredible environmental technology.
The National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies provides accredited environmental technologies training from the highest quality training providers, using the best facilities and equipment.
This sponsored content was provided by The National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies
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