Sunday, June 25, 2006

Homeowners get green light for 'eyesore' wind turbines

Homeowners get green light for 'eyesore' wind turbines

Micro-generation is no longer just for the rich

Nick Mathiason
Sunday June 25, 2006
The Observer

The government is to sweep away planning restrictions so that millions of homeowners can put wind turbines and solar panels on their houses.

In a move likely to spark controversy over whether such 'micro-technologies' are an eyesore that could ruin the residential landscape, ministers will announce within 10 days proposals that mean homeowners will no longer need planning permission to install renewable energy technologies on their homes.

Micro-generation is seen by the government and environmental experts as having an important role in the country's energy mix. Research by the Energy Saving Trust suggests micro-generation could provide 30-40 per cent of the UK's electricity needs by 2050.

But turning your home into a mini-power station has until now largely been the preserve of the well-off. Hollywood stars such as Brad Pitt, Darryl Hannah, Salma Hayek and Sir Ian McKellen have all installed solar panels or wind turbines at their homes. At upwards of £3,000, plus the expense of applying for planning consent, such energy-saving devices do not come cheap.

Many local authorities insist householders apply for planning consent. 'It is patently absurd that you should be able to put a satellite dish on your house but have to wrestle with the planning process for small-scale micro-generation, which is no more obtrusive and can have a real impact on tackling climate change,' Yvette Cooper, the planning minister, told The Observer

'We want much more micro-generation to be treated as permitted development. We are reviewing the impact of a wide range of technologies so we can take account of things such as the impact on neighbours or listed buildings before consulting on details later this year.'

Gideon Amos, director of the Town and Country Planning Association, welcomed government plans: 'We're moving into an era of localised renewable energy. Current planning regulations were designed for a different era.'

But concerns persist that the urban landscape will be disfigured by a surge of wind turbines and solar panels. A spokesman for English Heritage said: 'We recognise the importance of finding new sustainable sources of energy but we also recognise that some renewable energy technologies have the potential to cause serious damage.'

The Conservative leader, David Cameron, will find out within two weeks whether his 1.1 meter Stealthgen wind turbine - a relatively small installation - has been approved by Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council. Cameron has run into an embarrassing dispute with neighbours, who have registered their opposition to his attempt to go green.

Barbara Want, who is married to Radio 4 presenter Nick Clarke, is one of several neighbours on the St Quentin estate in north Kensington to have objected to Cameron's plans, calling them 'an eyesore'. She said of the government's proposals: 'I hope they exempt conservation areas. If they allow this sort of thing, it means there's one rule for those who can afford to go green and another for the rest of us who can't.' Britain still lags behind many other European countries when it comes to micro-generation. In 2004, Austria - a country of eight million people - installed the equivalent of 50,000 domestic solar hot water systems. The UK has fewer than 6,000.

Since the government introduced a new grant system for micro-generation, interest has been so strong that the annual £3.5m budget will last only five months if take-up rates continue.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Keeping Summer Electricity Bills Under Control: Top Tips from America's Leading Energy Asset Manager

ConsumerPowerline Shares Their Bill-Cutting Strategies that Help Macy's, Starwood Hotels, CB Richard Ellis and More to Save on Energy Costs

Just because the mercury's rising this summer, doesn't mean that home energy bills have to, according to ConsumerPowerline (, the nation's leading strategic energy asset management firm.

"Although strategies that we employ for our clients, including Macy's, Starwood Hotels and CB Richard Ellis to save and make money on their commercial property energy bills are quite different from those that we'd recommend to consumers, the fundamental principles are similar and can be used with some great money- and tax-saving results," said Mike Gordon, founder and president of ConsumerPowerline. "Some changes are immediate, and others are more long-term, but all of them are easier and cheaper than most people realize."

ConsumerPowerline has helped many of America's largest energy consumers to both reduce their peak energy use and generate significant revenue streams from selling their reduced peak consumption back into the energy markets -- as if they were each mini-power plants.

Similar approaches can help the average consumer household to spend less than the average of $1,500 yearly on energy bills. By following some simple steps, consumers can cut 12 to 15 percent ($180 to $225), off their annual energy bills and these numbers can be significantly more depending on the city and state.

Majority of Americans Think Solar Power Should Be Offered on All New Homes

SAN FRANCISCO-June 21, 2006--Eighty Percent of Survey Respondents Would Like Solar Systems Available on New Home Construction; Strong Majority of Americans Believe Solar Power is More Important Than Ever.

Eight out of ten Americans believe that homebuilders should offer solar power as an option for all new home construction, according to a recent Roper survey commissioned by Sharp Electronics Corporation. The survey was conducted in May among 1,004 adults to measure their perceptions of solar power.

When it comes to the cost of solar energy, the survey showed that two-thirds of Americans are willing to pay a premium for homes that have solar systems installed, when told that solar homes have a proven higher resale value. One-half of those surveyed would spend up to ten percent more for a solar-equipped house, indicating that the cost of a solar system will not prevent Americans from embracing forms of clean, renewable energy.

"Solar has been popular for a long time in areas like California and Arizona. Now we're seeing that the rest of the country is ready to embrace solar energy, and consumers want the option of having solar power their new home," said Ron Kenedi, vice president, Solar Energy Solutions Group, Sharp Electronics Corporation. "As the world's leading solar manufacturer, Sharp is encouraged to see that more and more Americans recognize the economic and environmental benefits of solar and understand that it is a vital part of the energy solution."
The survey also showed that given the current energy situation, three-quarters of Americans feel that solar energy is more important today than ever. The number-one reason for homeowners to utilize solar power is to save money on monthly utility bills, but respondents are also concerned with using solar to decrease the United States' dependence on oil.
The findings of the survey include:
-- 79 percent feel that homebuilders should offer solar power as an option for all new homes.
-- 84 percent of Americans ages 25-49 supported solar on new homes; 69 percent of those over 65 years agree.
-- Those living in the South and West are more likely to favor solar on new homes (83 percent) than those living in the Midwest or Northeast (74 percent).
-- After being told that solar homes have a proven higher resale value, 64 percent would be willing to pay more for home with a solar system.
-- 73 percent believe that solar energy technology is more important today than ever.
-- 42 percent say that saving money on monthly utility bills is the most compelling argument for installing solar power. Other respondents indicated it was to decrease the nation's dependence on oil (31 percent) or reduce environmental pollution (18 percent).

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Business Leaders in Clean Technology Discuss Their Competitive Advantage

New York, NY -- On Thursday, June 15, eight CEOs from successful green technology companies will share their experience in the rapidly growing market segment called “cleantech.”
Last year, investments in cleantech grew 35% to a record $1.6 billion in North America alone, making it now the fifth largest investment category following biotech, software, medical and telecommunications according to data released in March 2006 by the Cleantech Venture Network.
The recent launch of the NASDAQ Clean Edge U.S. Index is evidence of the strength and staying power of this investment category. Green ventures are scaling up rapidly and cleantech IPOs are yielding strong returns. This growth is coming at a time when it is needed most. Global warming, depletion of resources, rising energy prices and heightened concern over energy, water and food security are motivating industries to seek new ways to help solve environmental problems while achieving business success.

PacWind Annouce Availability of Scaleable Vertical Axis Wind Turbine

TORRANCE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 23, 2006--PacWind Technology (PacWind) announces today the availability of its patented, scaleable Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs). The VAWT is made in the U.S.A., and solves several of the inherent problems of traditional propeller-based wind turbines.
First, the units run completely silent and vibration free! No noise is emitted from the turbines regardless of wind speed. Second, the VAWT eliminates the need to slow down the turbine under high wind conditions.
Third, the VAWT is not affected by cross-winds, since the direction of wind is irrelevant. The turbine features only one moving part, minimizing maintenance. The unique design also generates usable power at low wind speeds of 10 miles per hour.
Finally, the PacWind VAWT is friendly to birds, unlike propeller-based turbines, which are invisible to birds. In addition, other animals are not frightened by the VAWT due to its silent and vibration-free operation.
The SeaHawk, the first turbine in a series, has a power output of 1 kilowatt and a maximum power output of 3.4 kilowatts. The SeaHawk measures 55 inches high by 30 inches in diameter. The PacWind VAWT is scaleable to megawatt class turbines.
The compact SeaHawk design enables freedom of choice and flexibility for installations, and allows one or more units to mount on a single pole. The unit is also roof-top mountable, and can be set as high or low as the winds demand. Custom mounts are also available.
"The SeaHawk incorporates PacWind's patented, permanent magnet, three-phase A.C. generator, containing the most powerful rare-earth magnets in the industry. This allows the VAWT to produce more power at lower wind speeds compared to propeller driven generators," according to the inventor and manufacturer, Phil Watkins, president of PacWind Technology.
Each wind turbine includes a three-function electronic charge controller for 12V/24V/48V systems, and a three-phase rectifier is included to complete the system.
"We anticipate strong demand for the SeaHawk turbine, especially in remote areas. The VAWT is a perfect complement to solar installations," said Dave Glawson, vice president of sales, marketing and technology for PacWind.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Congratulations Steph and Stuart

I would like to congratulate my old friends Stephanie Evans and Stuart Vaughan on their engagement. I have known them both now for over twenty years. In the words of Carly Simon we share a host of characters from J to P.

Recently we spent some time exploring the true history of the last twenty five years we have all learnt a great deal. Undoubtedly information will spread rapidly around Swansea

Friday, June 02, 2006

Microfield's EnergyConnect Selected PJM Curtailment

PORTLAND, Ore.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 1, 2006--Microfield Group, Inc. ("Microfield") (OTCBB:MICG) today announced that its subsidiary EnergyConnect, Inc. ("ECI") was selected by the Pennsylvania Foundry Association (PFA) as their Curtailment Service Provider (CSP) for the PJM Economic Demand Response Programs and the Pennsylvania Automated Load Management (PALM) initiative.