Freezing Brits steamed over new green boilers

By Phil Boehmke

Five years ago the global warming crowd and their comrades in the Labour Party mandated the use of new green technology boilers in Great Britain. Government and environmental experts said that the ‘condensing boilers’ would not only greatly reduce the consumer’s carbon footprint, but would also lower their heating bills. Saving money and saving the planet, what could be better?

The UK Daily Mail reports that during the recent record cold spell in Great Britain, tens of thousands of people were without heat due to a serious flaw in the new boiler’s design.

British Gas is understood to have had 60,000 call-outs in Yorkshire alone. And the cost to call out a plumber? It can be between £ 200 to £ 300 on a bank holiday. And don’t forget about VAT.

‘We’ve had double the number of call-outs as in the same period last year,’ says Charlie Mullins, MD of Pimlico Plumbers in London, the country’s largest independent plumbing company.

“It is a massive problem. Some customers were ready to move out because their condensing boilers broke. If I had a choice, I’d put in a non-condensing boiler every time.”

It’s all the more infuriating because the problem causing these breakdowns is so simple. In cold weather, the pipe that takes waste water from the back of the condensing boiler-which isn’t there in a normal boiler-freezes solid, shutting down the system and in many cases causing permanent damage.

But this problem is just one of many that have plagued this boiler design since they became popular in the Nineties. Many plumbers consider them to be little more than a multi-billion-pound con-trick.

The condensing boilers were designed to recycle the CO2 emissions and steam that would normally be vented outside and then feed it back into the system through the waste water pipe. The new system was touted to increase efficiency by as much as 93%.

In 2005 Labour deputy PM John Prescott made the condensing boiler mandate a key part of his plan to meet the CO2 reduction targets called for in the Kyoto Protocol. Three years later in an effort to sell the green technology boondoggle to the people, the government initiated a program which paid homeowners £ 400 towards the purchase and installation of the new boilers.

Sales people quickly jumped on the new market and produced glowing savings estimates for their customers. Boiler manufacturers and installers enjoyed a boom as they removed perfectly good boilers and replaced then with the new eco-friendly units. Everything was going smoothly until frustrated consumers discovered that their new boilers didn’t work in really cold weather.

To make matters worse, the new boilers typically last only 3-6 years and the costs of parts to repair the units are outrageously high. One of the bi-products of the condensation process is the creation of acidic water vapor from the dissolved nitrogen and sulfur oxides which corrode the delicate system components. Gee, the old boilers were very reliable and lasted 20 years on average.

Read more here.

More Brits Die from Cold Than Siberians – Utilities and Government to Blame?

By Sami Grover, Carrboro on Treehugger

Image credit: Liz (, used under Creative Commons license.
The British government has already faced court action over fuel poverty and the number of poor and elderly dying for lack of warm home. With much of the public debate around green housing now focusing on whether or not new homes will be zero carbon, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the issue was fixed. But it is not. In fact, more Brits die per capita each year from the cold than Siberians and, if George Monbiot is to be believed, it’s the government and the utility companies that are to blame.

In a piece entitled “The cold claims lives while energy companies get rich”, Monbiot does not pull his punches regarding who sis responsible for the increasing number of households who find themselves in fuel poverty. (Fuel poverty is officially defined as the point where you have to spend over 10% of your income on keeping your home at a reasonable temperature.)

According to Monbiot, the problem is not just a lack of government attention to the issue—in fact over £25bn (US$40bn) has been thrown at the issue since 2000. It’s just that the spending is largely unfocused and unfair. From the winter fuel payment, which is essentially a seasonal boost to pensions that can be spent as the recipient chooses, to a poorly administered program to insulate and weatherize low-income homes, there seems to be little coordination and planning to really bring the numbers of fuel poor down. This problem is only exacerbated by a lack of regulation of the energy markets—each time global energy prices rise our bills get higher, each time they fall, the bills stay the same.

To really make a dent in the figures, argues Monbiot, it’s time to make social justice an integral part of the environmental agenda. And while the climate skeptic crowd may jump up and down at the final glaring evidence that all greens are socialist here, it’s worth noting that Monbiot is also taking a well-aimed stab at one of their much-talked about ‘socialist conspiracies’ here, namely emissions trading:

“The price rises are exacerbated by policies that penalise the poor. People who use pre-payment meters to buy gas and electricity (often the poorest) are stung for an extra £120 a year. Those who consume the most energy (generally the rich) are subsidised by everyone else: they pay a lower tariff beyond a certain level of use. It ought to be the other way round: the first units you consume should be the cheapest. Before the election both the Tories and the Lib Dems demanded an inquiry into competition in the energy market. They’re not demanding it any more.

There should be a perfect synergy between climate change and social justice policies. As the Commons energy and climate change committee points out, “improving the energy efficiency of homes is the most effective way of tackling fuel poverty”. But the government’s green policies are unfair and regressive: everyone pays at an equal rate for reducing energy emissions, yet those who need the most help to green their homes and reduce their costs don’t get it. Policies such as the European emissions trading system, the carbon emissions reduction target and the feed-in tariff are, according to the government’s climate change committee, likely to throw another 1.7 million people into fuel poverty by 2022. This is an outrage.”

Monbiot has never hidden his leftist leanings—which is probably what makes him such a controversial figure this side of the Atlantic—but say what you like about the man, he’s willing to lay into some sacred cows of the green movement too. (He has previously branded solar feed-in tariffs as a fuel subsidy for the wealthy.) On this issue in particular, it seems hard to disagree with the diagnosis. Unless environmentalists take into account the needs of the poor, and ensure that the burden of environmental policies falls on those who pollute the most, then we will have failed.

People dying of cold in a wealthy, industrialized nation simply because they can’t afford to heat their homes is ridiculous. If we can bail out banks, we can sure as heck insulate some homes. At the very least, we can make sure that green policies do not exacerbate an already dire situation. The poor pollute the least—why should they pay for the excesses of others?

Read more here.

Europol Arrests More Than 100 In Carbon Trading Fraud

By P Gosselin

!!! UPDATE: Read the Europol Press Release here !!!

– Estimated 5 billion euros in damage for European taxpayers
– Massive fraud involving criminal networks / Middle East

Here’s more proof that trading of CO2 emission certificates is fraught with fraud and attracts seedy criminal organizations – all costing the consumers and taxpayers billions.

Worse yet, it has spread out of control and appears that the authorities can’t keep up.

The Austrian online Kleine Zeitung here reports that Europol have raided an elaborate CO2 emissions scam in Italy and have arrested more than 100 persons.

The Kleine Zeitung writes: “The damage runs in the billions of euros”.

According to Europol, the Italian tax authorities, directed by the Milan Prosecutor’s Office, have raided 150 companies in Italy. The fraud involves evasion of value added tax with CO2 emission certificates. More than 100 have been arrested and are suspected of being involved in organised crime.

The Kleiner Zeitung reports that the Italian Electric Utilities trading markets had earlier halted entire trading with emissions certificates “because a high number of abnormal transactions”. The loss in tax revenue just from VAT (MTIC (Missing Trader IntraCommunity Fraud) alone is estimated to be 500 million euros, the online Kleine Zeitung writes.

The fraud is widespread

According to reports, it’s been known since June of last year that criminal organizations have been using CO2-emissions trading for defrauding governments of value added tax.

This is not the first time that police raids of this scale have taken place. It’s the latest in a series of raids that have been carried out all over Europe this year, all involving the trading of CO2 emission certificates. It seems the authorities just can’t keep up with the multitudes of swindlers out there.

Norway, Switzerland and the EU countries Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Latvia, the Netherlands, Slovak Republic and Portugal are all among the countries trying to identify the network of criminals behind this massive fraud – a fraud with links to criminal networks operating outside the EU and in other continents, like the Middle East.

2500 investigators – trying to identify. That’s means they haven’t yet. That’s a lot of fraud. The fraud has spread from science to finance. Expect a meltdown – sooner than later.

UPDATE 2: Recall this Danish fraud.

Legislature should repeal costly renewables

By Paul Chesser

A lot can be spun from the results of the Nov. 2 election, but one fact is uncontrovertible: Pennsylvanians are sick of centrally planned, highly regulated, gimmick-driven economic policy. It hasn’t worked, and now they want results.

And is there a greater example of useless, wasteful government scheming than the commonwealth’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard? Coupled with the many subsidies and breaks granted to wind, solar and biomass interests, citizens get doubly whacked in their taxes and in their utility bills.

Outgoing Gov. Ed Rendell signed the state’s current AEPS in 2004, which requires major utilities to get 18 percent of their power generation from renewable resources by 2020. At least .5 percent must come from solar. This requires investor-owned utilities such as PECO Energy and PPL to drop some of their cheaper, more efficient sources of electricity like coal and gas, which keep your bills more affordable. By force of Pennsylvania law, the power companies will instead have to sell you — at a higher price — kilowatts created by wind turbines and solar panels.

Common sense tells most people (the exception being economics-challenged environmentalists) that this will inevitably increase overall electricity costs, which not only hit your power bill, but also pass through all industries and businesses into the products and services that you use. But there is a little bit of research that verifies these facts as well.

First is a study of a potential national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES, similar to an AEPS) conducted by the conservative Heritage Foundation, which unlike some federal studies, took into account the full costs of the implementation of renewables. Recognizing the intermittence of wind and solar, the need for backup generation for those sources, and the new investments in equipment and transmission that would be required (among other things), Heritage found that a national renewable electricity mandate would raise electricity prices by 36 percent for households and 60 percent for industries.

In addition, the study determined a national RES would cut national income by $5.2 trillion from 2012 to 2035, and cut national income by $2,400 per year for a family of four. Employment would be diminished by more than 1 million jobs.

At the state level, there have been studies of renewable portfolio standards in Massachusetts and North Carolina, both conducted by the Beacon Hill Institute, which is based in the economics department at Suffolk University in Boston.

In a study of 11 of the Bay State’s 25 green energy programs, Beacon Hill found those subsidies and mandates will cost the state’s ratepayers $490 million this year, more than $985 million in 2020 and more than $9.8 billion cumulatively through the next 11 years. Add in the state’s 14 other electricity regulations and undoubtedly the researchers’ estimate is quite low (which they acknowledged).

In North Carolina, Beacon Hill found the state’s “real disposable income will fall by $56.8 million by 2021” and “the state economic output measured in real state Gross Domestic Product will be $140.35 million lower than without the mandate.”

These forecasts, however, leave one thing out: What’s the benefit? The policies were ostensibly implemented (or proposed) for the purpose of helping save the planet from global warming. So what is the advantage gained in terms of reduction in the Earth’s temperature? That is something the climate alarmists who push these policies never tell you, because the answer is that they accomplish nothing.

All cost, no benefit: It ought to be a no-brainer for Gov.-elect Tom Corbett and the General Assembly to repeal the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard.

Paul Chesser is a senior fellow for the Commonwealth Foundation and is executive director of the American Tradition Institute.

See post here.

What is Regenerative Braking?

By the Wise Geek

Regenerative braking is used on hybrid gas/electric automobiles to recoup some of the energy lost during stopping. This energy is saved in a storage battery and used later to power the motor whenever the car is in electric mode.

Understanding how regenerative braking works may require a brief look at the system it replaces. Conventional braking systems use friction to counteract the forward momentum of a moving car. As the brake pads rub against the wheels (or a disc connected to the axle), excessive heat energy is also created. This heat energy dissipates into the air, wasting up to 30% of the car’s generated power. Over time, this cycle of friction and wasted heat energy reduces the car’s fuel efficiency. More energy from the engine is required to replace the energy lost by braking.

Hybrid gas/electric automobiles now use a completely different method of braking at slower speeds. While hybrid cars still use conventional brake pads at highway speeds, electric motors help the car brake during stop-and-go driving. As the driver applies the brakes through a conventional pedal, the electric motors reverse direction. The torque created by this reversal counteracts the forward momentum and eventually stops the car.

But regenerative braking does more than simply stop the car. Electric motors and electric generators (such as a car’s alternator) are essentially two sides of the same technology. Both use magnetic fields and coiled wires, but in different configurations. Regenerative braking systems take advantage of this duality. Whenever the electric motor of a hybrid car begins to reverse direction, it becomes an electric generator or dynamo. This generated electricity is fed into a chemical storage battery and used later to power the car at city speeds.

Regenerative braking takes energy normally wasted during braking and turns it into usable energy. It is not, however, a perpetual motion machine. Energy is still lost through friction with the road surface and other drains on the system. The energy collected during braking does not restore all the energy lost during driving. It does improve energy efficiency and assist the main alternator. See more and comments here.

You increased my electric bills!

Letter to Oregon Legislators that have forced renewable anergy solutions on the power companiesas reported in OregonLive here.

Dear Jim,

While it is easy to predict that our electric bills will rapidly double with the current push for large amounts of renewable energy to replace the tried and true power sources we presently use, the real issue is what are we getting for our money?

First of all, how can we be certain that the present course we are on will double our bills? That’s easy. “Renewable” sources have a wholesale cost per kilowatt-hour that is many times that of conventional sources like hydro, coal, natural gas, or nuclear. If only a tiny fraction of our generating capability comes from these “renewable” sources, then the effects on the ratepayer will be the relatively minimal increases so far. But as soon as legislators force power companies to expand from one or two percent to ten or twenty percent coming from extremely costly sources, watch out. Electric bills have to increase greatly or the power companies will go broke. Legislators can hide some of the pain by shifting a fraction of the burden to taxpayers, but the public will quickly figure out that taxpayers and ratepayers are the same individuals – us! In other words, the crazy mandates for extremely expensive power will take a huge toll on our society and destroy our once substantial competitive advantage of cheap power here in the Northwest.

But let’s ask for a moment if we are getting something for all the money we are spending. One of Bill Bradbury’s aids admitted to me that Global Warming might be a hoax, but argued that we are justified in continuing with it because of all the wonderful changes it is forcing in our society. Presumably, windmills, solar cells, and ethanol were high on her list of wonderful accomplishments. But all of these are energy and economic disasters for us.

Here’s why:

All energy takes some energy to produce. Let me call this ‘overhead.’ It takes energy to drill an oil or natural gas well, additional energy to pump or truck what comes out of the ground to a refinery, still more energy to refine the crude into useful products and transport it to market. But the whole process produces a vast amount of net energy, as well as a vast amount of high quality energy. That means we get somewhere with such an undertaking, because our overhead is relatively low.

But as even Al Gore has discovered, we get nowhere with ethanol made from corn. It requires about as much high quality energy to produce as we ever get out of the inferior product. You might as well just burn the natural gas and diesel fuel directly and shutdown the elaborate process that is today converting these into ethanol. That would also help our food prices that have risen dramatically as a consequence of the diversion of a significant fraction of our corn crop to fuel production. That has had devastating consequences in the Third World that has long depended on our agricultural surpluses. The UN World Food Program estimates that a billion people now go hungry thanks to our very misguided ethanol ‘experiment.’

Solar cells are a similar boondoggle, but without the horrendous social consequences. It takes about as much electrical energy to maanufacture silicon solar cells as will ever be returned by them over their typical twenty year lifespan. In some applications, the use of high quality energy (electricity) to make more high quality energy is justified, if the solar electricity is extremely valuable. Satellite applications are a good example. But if solar cells merely replace grid power, then they cannot be considered high quality power, because they do not produce electricity when the Sun is not shining. That gets us into the issue of back up power which is necessary for all intermittent sources. Hydro and natural gas generating plants work well for back up, if they have excess capacity. But if new natural gas plants need to be built just to back up solar, then it is very difficult to justify the expense. You would be considerably better off just building the natural gas plant and foregoing the solar.

Windmills are perhaps the worst boondoggle of all because they require much more high quality energy to manufacture, install, maintain, and backup than they will ever produce. And in fact the electricity they produce is far inferior to that from a conventional power plant because it is so erratic. With solar, we can at least depend on the Sun shining most days in appropriate locations. The same cannot be said for wind. The erratic nature of wind places a huge strain on the electric grid, if we expect our power to continue 24/7. Continually bringing huge generators up to speed and then shutting them down just to accommodate the wind shortens their life considerably. The same argument can be made for the large generators used in huge windmills. Substantial environmental problems with windmills also suggest that they are a problem not a solution.

I would hope that our State Senators and Representatives would take the time to learn something about the generation of electricity, because they are forcing changes that even by their standards are a disaster. I say “by their standards” because they are claiming carbon dioxide, energy independence, and environmental dividends that simply do not exist.

With high costs and no demonstrable benefits, we need to abandon this bandwagon in favor of real solutions for our energy needs.

Gordon J. Fulks, PhD

Remember the needy this holiday season and winter

Our Redneck Engineer who I have worked with as webmaster, wanted me to remind you in this season when we give so much to our loved ones, to remember the lonely and the needy.

One of his favorite ways is to help local food pantries by donating money, food or your time to help feed those who come in from the cold hungry.

He and I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and thank you for coming to our site.

Tax cut bill could aid Cape Wind

WASHINGTON — The enhanced federal tax cut package expected to be voted on next week could include a windfall for Cape Wind and other renewable energy projects around the country.

The bill, released Thursday night in the Senate and widely distributed yesterday, extends a renewable energy credit worth up to 30 percent of a new project’s cost. The credit, introduced in 2009 as part of the Obama administration’s stimulus bill, originally applied only to projects under construction by the end of this year.

The tax deal before the Senate includes projects under construction by the end of 2011.

Cape Wind is expected to begin building 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound next year. The company had been racing to meet the original deadline, but delays in two federal permits, among other issues, forced developers to acknowledge several weeks ago they would not make it.

Project officials said yesterday it is too early to determine whether it would be eligible for — or if they would take advantage of — the grant or other federal financial incentives.

“If Cape Wind is eligible for this program, it will help us secure project finance in what remains a very challenging global financial market and allow us to move forward creating over a thousand jobs in Massachusetts and kick-start the US offshore wind industry,’’ the company said yesterday in a statement.

The tax credit program would cost about $1.3 billion to extend for a year, according to the Senate Finance Committee, a cost that drew criticism yesterday.

“This is another example of a temporary program becoming potentially permanent,’’ said Robert Rio, senior vice president for Associated Industries of Massachusetts, a trade group. “Although the program may have some good intentions, with all the potential wind development in the pipeline the cost of this program needs to be monitored or limited.’’

The group has criticized the Cape Wind project because its electricity would be twice as expensive as that currently produced by fossil fuels. It is appealing a recent state Department of Public Utilities decision to approve a contract for National Grid to purchase 50 percent of Cape Wind’s energy. The appeal contends that, among other lapses, the state did not consider less expensive renewable energy projects.

Cape Wind has not said how much it will cost to build the project, but estimates by the state attorney general and others have placed it at greater than $2.5 billion. While Cape Wind was eligible for other tax incentives, the cash grant is widely seen as the most attractive because it would draw investors to finance the project. Cape Wind officials said yesterday they were evaluating their options.

Renewable energy projects eligible for the credit include those involving wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass — the generation of electricity by burning wood or other plant mass. Read more here.


Chris Huhne has ­admitted consumers will end up paying more through a new carbon tax

Friday December 17,2010 By John Ingham

HOUSEHOLD energy bills could soar by at least £500 under a Government plan to move to greener fuels, experts warned yesterday.

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has ­admitted consumers will end up paying more through a new carbon tax but calculates it will only be an extra £160 by 2030.

But sources, including price comparison website uSwitch, believe more than three times that figure will be added to the ­average annual power bill of £1,157.

It would mean a typical family in Britain paying around £10 a week more for Mr Huhne’s “green revolution”.

The news comes as a Treasury document revealed yesterday that the wholesale price of electricity could rise by 72 per cent by 2030 – even without the ­addition of subsidies to support green energy.

Last night Dr Benny Peiser, of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, said: “This is politically unsustainable. There will be a huge public backlash if energy prices go up and up. In other countries energy prices are going down because they are not ­following this obsession.”

He cited research claiming that an alternative approach, including greater reliance on gas, could save Britain £700billion over the next 50 years.

Mr Huhne plans to raise £200billion through a carbon tax which will make coal, oil and gas-fired electricity more expensive and encourage investment in renewables and nuclear power.

There will also be top-up payments to guarantee revenues for low-carbon ­electricity even if the wholesale price falls.

However, Tory Euro MP Roger Helmer said: “I don’t believe climate change ­science is genuine, therefore I feel these efforts will be utterly wasted. This is a massive gamble that could cost the economy hundreds of billions of pounds.”

Campaign group Consumer Focus said: “Cutting our carbon emissions and improving our energy supply is essential but will come with a big price tag. Consumers can’t be expected to write a blank cheque. The Government must not lose sight of the fact that the energy industry tends to pass costs on to consumers with impunity.”

Mr Huhne said: “While prices will rise in the medium term, the additional impact of the reform packages will be small. But by 2030 consumer bills will be lower than if we did not reform the market.

“Without action, we face a real and growing threat to the security of our supply. We have a once-in-a-generation chance to rebuild our energy market, rebuild investor confidence and rebuild our power stations.

“Like privatisation before it, this will be a seismic shift, securing investment in cleaner, greener power. And delivering secure, affordable and low-carbon energy for decades to come.”

Read more here.

Green Power just generates Red Ink

By Viv Forbes, Carbon Sense Coalition

The Carbon Sense Coalition has called for an end to all subsidies, mandated markets and sweetheart pricing for solar and wind energy.

The Chairman of “Carbon Sense”, Mr Viv Forbes, said that current energy policies were harming the existing power industry and robbing taxpayers and electricity consumers.

Forbes continued: “It’s time to end the mollycoddling of wind and solar energy toys before this stupidity does irreversible damage to Australia’s electricity supply and costs.

“The mindless green dream of producing serious base load power from whimsical breezes and intermittent sunbeams has caused a halt to new low-cost coal power, a boom in expensive gas power, a national debate about nuclear power and has had no effect at all on global climate.

“The frivolous wind and solar generators already installed have caused a surge in electricity prices, a bonanza for Chinese manufacturers and well founded doubts about our future ability to keep the lights on.

“Transmission costs are also ignored or under-estimated by green disciples. Because wind and solar are dilute forms of energy, often best developed in remote locations, collectors must sprawl over large areas of land, with each collector needing expensive new power lines to connect to the grid.

“Provision of cheap reliable energy is a basic requirement for modern civilisation and is the engine that lifts people from poverty. It is far too important to be left to green dreamers, anti-industrial zealots, vote seeking politicians, engineering illiterates and guilt-ridden millionaires.

“It is already obvious from Denmark, Spain, California and Germany that subsidising green power creates very little power but much red ink in the accounts. It always causes massive burdens for tax payers, electricity consumers and industry. Tax payers and investors will rue the day they allowed politicians to waste their savings on chimeras.

“Get rid of all the mandated markets, subsidies and tax breaks for all energy generators, and leave power engineers and business managers to work out how best to supply our future energy needs in a free competitive market.

“Subsidised power must collapse under its own dead weight. But every day’s delay increases the eventual cost. ”

More Info:
The Green Energy Collapse:

Creating Green Jobs, in China:

The German Experience:

Some Uncomfortable truths on wind power and those promoting them:

How to Freeze in the Dark when the wind drops in Scotland:

Wind for the Birds – a comment on wind capabilities, written 30 years ago, but the physics of wind has not changed:

See post here.