Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Renewable solar pains

Why, with all that’s sane are we told that once more we will be gouged, but as it happens to be aimed towards the wonderful rainbow of reducing greenhouse gases by embracing renewable boundless sources; we’re to accept it – or else!

Tax airline fuel.  That might help levelling out the carbon expenditure playing field; adding that little bit extra to the greenhouse-gases-plant-a-tree-reduction pot.

Subsidise self-generation by having long term (and that's greater than four years for politicians and one year for bankers) plans:

  • so as many buildings as possible have solar panelling, wind, water wheels installed,
  • sensible and meaningful energy conservation measures introduced,
  • improve the efficiency of industry, manufacturing and products produced,
  • retrofit older buildings to be more energy efficient beyond the silly mantra of “loft installation” and “fill those cavity walls” which have been treading the boards for more than 30 years. 

All those billions made by energy companies could instead be used by politicians to ensure their constituents (all of them) have life's which are contentedly happy, enjoyably fulfilled and fulsomely long.  Although after experiencing ‘hi-jinks’ on the way home from a good cinematic experience - but they’re poor kids so relabelled ‘ferals’, some would probably call for life shortening not extending.

Instead of spending trillions on armaments, governments could spend trillions on radically improving the education, the health, the well-being of their citizens.  Ensuring "everyone" is fed, educated, and housed; there'd be no need to see people on street corners homeless.  But that, no doubt, to the many unadulterated believers out there could be deemed to be the most cardinal of sins - socialism!  Gasp, horror, shock.  Where is that soft spot waiting to catch me should I fall!  Well if that's so, so be it.  Because unfettered capitalism's gotten us precisely where exactly? 

But it's neither socialism nor communism because they too have proven to be busted flushes – those leading the charge strangely having a remarkably materially contented lives whilst the many governed queued for hours for  loafs of mouldy bread, wizened carrots and if it happened to be their lucky day a slightly moist dried prune.  All 'isms' have proved wanting, as all ‘isms’ failed.

Now that little rant’s over, back to solar pains.

We should be well beyond that.  Most major cities - within seven years - should be able to produce as much energy as they consume, if it’s done correctly they could even be net exporters of energy.  30%+ food sufficiency - that'd help with jobs, cut down debt and make people feel more communal without the need to emigrate or immigrate.  Already companies around the world, have developed or close to independently developing thin film solar modules and constantly improving on the 10% conversion factor; which although poor is, considering the short time in production still quite a feat, which can only get better especially with current prices 30% cheaper than ordinary models in the wild.

After briefly hearing, whilst in the dozing position, about companies banding together to build solar power plants in the sahara which would provide all the power europe needed, my first thought was “what's taken you so long?”  My second was, “oh really?”  Then before i realised it, a timeline popped up.


Not long after a couple more thoughts drifted before finally deciding to coalesce.  This then set me wondering how the spatial availability of flat-roofs would look like over London.  So with the aid of google earth, and bits of shady green, a few ideas for further imagery dumped themselves into my cell.

Were to start?  How much space?  I quickly decided on a patch of london roof not to far away, drew a border with yellow lines & red squares and used that as my base roof. 

The measurement for that particular patch (not forgetting this is done using a satellite imagery, dodgy mouse and googles earth measurement tool) came out to 103.9 meters, which - with some bad basic mathematics – gives a potential coverable area of around 860m². 

I’m estimating 18 flats for this particular block.  Namely three floors, each comprising of six flats.  


(map images courtesy of google earth)

So far, not to bad. 

Before zooming out (and i’m sure that some clever person will write an algorithm that works out - in an instant, those areas which are flat or south-facing slanted roofs and not roads, nor parks, nor oceans, and create layers in either google or bing)  we can see how many flat roofs are in the image by giving them a slight green tint, like…


(map images courtesy of google earth, fizzy green bits me)

Which brings the flat surface area of the roofs of a small number of properties to a little over 3,472.5m².  If that 3,472m² was covered with panels of only 10% efficiency, it would provide about 138.88 kW/hr.  My average daily usage per month (with washing machine, dishwasher, fridge, computer etc.,) is  4.6321 kW/day.  Which means, that taking a potentially totally sunny blue-skied six hour period that the installation would be chugging away for, could provide 833.28 kW.  Or, using my usage as a benchmark, the installation could sluice through enough power to juice 180 flats, let alone the miserly 72 which are indicated in the picture above.  If, my sums are correct.

Things look even more amazing at a height of 488m,


(map images courtesy of google earth, fizzy green bits me)

at 805m,


(map images courtesy of google earth, fizzy green bits me)

at 1.63km,


(map images courtesy of google earth, fizzy green bits me)

and look at all those empty flat roofs, doing empty flat nothings, not even including slanted roofs with south facing exposures.  Just imagine whether its water or electricity how much could be saved.  But no, lets build really out of the way huge windmills at the cost of billions and not really bother about the estate immediately usable on our doorstep – well rooftops.

Then at 3.23km,


(map images courtesy of google earth, fizzy green bits me)

Finally way up and out there at the dizzying distance of 71.360km (or from here to calais), the little red dot is all that remains of those roof tops in the expanse that is greater london. 

Just imagine how much energy could be generated and how much money saved by residents and businesses alike, if a 10th of those roofs had some sort of solar, wind  or - if over westminster - hot air capture!


(map images courtesy of google earth, green bits me)


On a slightly different note, mid-july has now louched past, and all seven horse-chestnut saplings are still growing and growing strongly.  


With a couple hopefully headed for open prairies over the next few weeks, all that’s now required is to divide and replant the remainder into individual pots; some gift wrapping and the perfect instant environmental present that provides years of conkers or roasted fun is only four short months away, unless the blight finally gets them.

Pak Choi


The pak choi sliced top I saved and stuffed into water then soil, has brightly flowered (or bolted), and will hopefully produce some seeds since i undertook bee duty using a cocktail stick; and increase my self-sufficiency levels to a full 0.01% approx.  Sadly the thyme twig (which can just be seen on the far left) seems to have mimicked the bonsai, turning into a dead dried twig, which will see the bin in a couple of weeks  if its still minus growth shoots.

Monday, 20 July 2009


For those who find themselves in particular situations seemingly stuck, unable to put one step forward without retracting ten, it doesn’t last forever; nothing lasts forever!

So when this morning i found myself in an exceptionally foul mood, my thoughts alighted on a greg bear character from songs of earth & power - a damned good read. The one who sloughs off the nastiness bubbling through his being, onto as many of those susceptible all around him. This (with another missive waiting to fling itself from the wings) strangely lifted my sourness, leaving me in a slightly better mood after I whipped off a couple of emails in complaint.

Obviously, after three years living in an an area that has become disagreeable, its time to spread wings and soar to pastures that are new, relaxing, recuperative, relished by the conscience replacing dud batteries recharging the soul.

update 14:04 — perhaps a dose of hrt & laser precision probing might affect a similar rebalancing?

Friday, 3 July 2009

Another age




"You'll have to pull my eyes out first!"

"Eye puller.  Where is that dammed eye-puller!"

"I am here, your great-superfluousness," the eye puller breathes, slithering from the shadows and causing both men in the cell to jump.  "How can I help?"

"Don't pull my eyes out, I confess," the prisoner screams, shying away from the horror sliding into his field of vision, confronting all he held holy.  "I confess!"

Thursday, 2 July 2009

EDF energy: witless in the wind

It's wonderful having friends in differing economic strata's, cultures, faiths… walks of life; as there’s a sundry of differing obsessions, afflictions, things strange and quirky that affects them (and so many others) that I can’t help, rofl (rolling on the(it used to be rotfl but the ‘ttends to be silent in its abbreviated form and not mentioned, except by tits) floor laughing).

From one who's idea of happiness is to be up at 6am and finish working around 9pm, to another who is unable to jam a giant foot anywhere, without it first passing – and usually at speed, through his mouth.

So it was interesting listening to the travails of one of them, whose current energy supplier - edf (one of so many megalothipsaurs), was transferring them from a pre-payment “isn’t that going down faster than it should” meter, to a normal everyday happily whirring away to itself unit, the next.


The dawning age of computerisation promised paperless offices and a life of complex free ease! If they’d truly ever realised how things would have turned out, I wonder if they’d have smashed those initial transistors and chased the scientists out of town.

Every mechanic/engineer or, in todays five second buzz-wind, ‘customer presentable problem solver’; seems to be umbilically attached to a small electronic recorder come note-taker, especially when working for one of the aforementioned megas. This wonderful little device makes everything easy and straightforward. Ensuring every job is efficiently undertaken with laser smooth precision. Calls with queries to the mothership are made before, during and after installation. But in this current reality it firmly falls into the arena of comic cock-ups, and descends through the human half of the cybernetically twisted union into an epic fail.

But back to them.

Wishing to keep on top of things, they’ve gone down the path of automatically doing weekly readings, which are spreadsheet’d on and offline. So when they received a card requesting meter readings, it was with unbridled joy that they filled them in. Called. Only to find out that according to the computer, and rude representative, they apparently owed £500.

They assured the representative there must be some error, and that couldn't be the case. The representative assured them that was the case, as that is what computer said.

Not sure why but, images of little britain

A potential representative in training?
sprang through my mind as the growing stream of harrumphing continued from both ends.

Oh yes it does… Oh no it doesn’t…

But then, apparently, friends’ phone packed up and they had to reconnect. This time to a different representative. Who put them on hold.

Moments later the new representative was back on. Apparently, representative one had eventually gotten through and found out there was no debt.

I took a sip of tea.

“A what gesture,” my friend asked surprised. “Oh right, a goodwill gesture. You’ll credit my account, with one pound!”

Bubbling tea sputtered into my saucer. After which, despite my best efforts not to, I had to burst out laughing.

Well it's always nice to know what a big megalothipsaur thinks of its charges, when they have to admit to a right royal cock-up their end; and hence avoid.

Will friends’ change supplier?

Apparently, ohhhh yesssss!