Posts Tagged 'Energy'




As more and more people begin to use computers and the internet, the amount of energy needed to power them all is growing on a daily basis.

So it’s good to hear that the UK government is supporting a new European code of conduct for Data Centres.

Many organisations now have data centres – rooms or building where their computer servers are based – and they are used for everything from websites to financial transactions or online gaming. 

Currently, data centres account for almost three per cent of total electricity used in the UK – and this figure is expected to double within the next few years.

Ministers are urging data centre operators to adopt the code and Lord Hunt, Minister for Sustainable Development and Energy Innovation, says: “If we are to tackle dangerous climate change, we need to reduce emissions and the decision businesses make plays a key role in meeting this challenge. 

By signing up to the code, companies can save energy and save money too, which goes to show that what’s good for the environment is good for business.”

The code was developed in collaboration with industry bodies including the British Computer Society (BCS). 

Those signing up to it will have to implement best practice for energy efficiency, put minimum purchasing standards into place and report their energy use each year.  It is likely to lead to actions like the decommissioning of older servers, reducing air conditioning and maximising server use by running  multiple applications.

It is hoped the code will help to save almost five million tonnes of C02 over the next six years –  equivalent to taking more than a million cars off the road.

Already, a number of major organisations have hinted that they plan to adopt the code – including BT, Microsoft and Quest Software.

More information on the new code is available from Defra here.



Environmentalists across the UK have welcomed the creation of a new government department for climate change and energy.

MP, Ed Milliband will head up the new department which brings together for the first time energy and climate responsibilities. Previously they were split between two different departments.

The move has been welcomed by those keen to see the government do more about climate change and energy use – and it has been described as “fantastic news” by Greenpeace.



Like most people, I hate receiving envelopes from my energy supplier because it’s inevitably a bill.

But today was different for millions of consumers. Not a bill but a letter inviting them to join the 2012 Carbon Challenge being launched by EDF Energy.

It wants customers to save a tonne of C02 – and save cash – by signing up to the challenge and a free training programme to help reduce energy use. To encourage people to take part it has a range of prizes to give away – including a hybrid car and a day out with an Olympian.

There’s a special website here and its challenge meter suggests that almost 100,000 people have signed up already.  No doubt EDF is hoping that consumers who buy their power elsewhere might be tempted to switch when they join the campaign – but it’s still a great idea.

We need many more incentives like this to drive home the energy saving message ….  just a pity that EDF has a track record of promoting nuclear power. It has a host of nuclear power stations in its home country, France and is apparently keen to see us follow suit in the UK.

And, an interesting titbit from Nuclear Spin …. apparently Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s brother, Andrew, is head of publicity for EDF !



Exciting research taking place in America could lead to a revolution in solar power.

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are working on a window that not only provides light for a room – but also provides power.

They say they have found a new way to harness the sun’s energy with a solar concentrator.  Light is collected over the entire window and then gathered, or concentrated at the edges.

And it means that in future, we could simply use our house windows to create solar power – rather than cover our roofs with expensive solar cells (devices that turn sunlight into electricity).

Marc Baldo, who is leading the work claims the focused light increases the power from each solar cell by a factor of 40.

And he says their system will be so easy to manufacture, that it could be in use within three years –  significantly cutting the cost of solar electricity.

The MIT solar concentrator uses a mixture of dyes that are painted onto a pane of glass or plastic. The dyes absorb light across a range of wavelengths, similar to a concentrator invented more than 30 years ago which was abandoned because scientists could not get enough of the collected light to reach the edges of the concentrator.

With the way energy prices are rising at the moment, any technology that could reduce our dependence on gas and oil is more than welcome.

And the windows solution is brilliant stuff!  If you’d like to see just how it works, you can find out here



New rules are being introduced to make it easier for consumers to choose “green” electricity tariffs that deliver extra benefits.

According to the government, some suppliers don’t offer many benefits other than satisfying their legal obligation to use renewable energy sources – whereas others also make a contribution to environmental projects or the fight against climate change.

So it is planning a new ratings system that will distinguish between the potential benefits of different green tariffs. That way, you’ll know whether you are paying more just because it’s renewable energy or whether the cost includes extra environmental actions by your supplier such as planting trees.

Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, says: “I want to make sure that the green tariff market is clear for consumers.” 

He has now written to energy companies asking them to provide “the clearest possible information” about the environmental benefits of their green power and has asked energy regulator, Ofgem, to help collect information for the proposed ratings system.  

He said electricity is like any other product – people want to know what they are paying for – and this applies especially to a green tariff because it often costs more than traditional electricity.

The Carbon Trust says it supports the move because the green tariffs market is unclear and some tariffs deliver minimal extra carbon savings.

It says the sector suffers from significant double counting problems – and it’s essential that the benefits of renewables can be accurately reported by businesses towards their carbon reduction targets.

• The government has also just  announced a new round of biomass grants for  farmers and producers.

Grants of up to £200,000 will be available to support the biomass industry in England which ministers say has the potential to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and cut our carbon emissions.

The grants will apply to a range of crops  including willow, poplar, alder, ash, hazel, lime, grass and straw.



Most people now recognise the need to save energy, but how much attention do you pay to the amount of water you waste?

Unless you have a water meter, chances are that you don’t make saving water a priority. After all, Britain is a pretty rainy place at the best of times – so why would we need to conserve water?

While most of us know that water is a precious resource in many countries, we tend to take its availability for granted in the UK. Turn on the tap and it’s there and, unlike other essential services like gas and electricity, most of us don’t pay more even if we use ten times more water than the people next door.

But all that could change as part of a plan to make us think more about the water we waste. Government experts are talking about the need for widespread water metering with incentives for those who reduce their water use.

So how come water shortages can affect us, when we so much rain? Well, it is estimated that within five days of falling as rain, most of the water is back in the sea because of problems such as storage and poor drainage.

And we already have areas where water demand sometimes outstrips supply, particularly in the south east.
At the moment, although we use a lot of domestic water, this is offset by low water use in agriculture and industry thanks to heavy rainfall. But in future, climate change could make a radical difference, causing more frequent droughts throughout the country.

A government report says we must start managing our water more sustainably now and that means major changes in how we all use it.

Its key recommendendations include setting household water efficiency targets for water companies and compulsory metering throughout water stressed areas.

So, if you regularly leave the shower running for five minutes while you’re dressing or undressing or continually run the tap while washing vegetables, now would be an excellent time to start thinking about how much precious water you’re wasting.

And if you need any incentive, check out this vido about a town in the USA where running water is only available for a short time each day.



Scotland’s first minister claims that Scotland could produce enough power from renewable resources to provide electricity for the whole of the UK.

Speaking at a conference in the USA, Alex Salmond said he wants Scotland to become a global advocate for renewable energy and he announced that the Scottish government is putting an incredible £10 million towards a worldwide prize for innovation in marine-generated power from waves or tides.

But there are strings attached to the huge Saltire Prize – the winning entrant must have developed the solution in Scotland.

Mr Salmond says Scotland may be a small nation but it doesn’t need to think small and it has the potential from renewables to create more than 10 times its peak energy demand.

There are already many renewable projects in Scotland. Check out plans for this one – which people in Fintry are keen to take part in.

Meanwhile, it has just been announced that the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped 2% in 2007, keeping it on track to meet Kyoto Protocol targets.

The reduction has been attributed to lower fossil fuel consumption by both household and industry and the switch from coal to natural gas for electricity generation.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said: “That’s 11 million tonnes less CO2 from the UK in the atmosphere. But we need to do more, and we need to make absolutely certain that we will deliver the reductions we need.”

He said we still need to see major changes across the whole of the UK economy if we are to meet the ambitious emissions reduction targets set in the Climate Change Bill.

And to help in this, the government will develop carbon markets and promote the development of low carbon technology, while continuing to work to get international agreement on global emissions targets.”
Susan hunt