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Onshore Wind: The Second Generation



Jessica Knowles looks at how onshore wind will continue to play a key role in the UK’s renewable energy future.

The UK has a legally-binding target to source 15 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020. Electricity supplier Good Energy believes that we shouldn’t stop there, however, and has developed a pathway that can lead the UK to generating 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050. The company’s research shows that around half will come from offshore wind, a quarter from onshore wind and the remainder from other renewable technologies.

While offshore wind is still in its infancy, onshore wind is a more mature technology and is now entering its “second generation”. Good Energy’s own wind farm, at Delabole on the North Cornwall coast, has recently been redeveloped with the support of the local community to take advantage of new technical advances – it’s proved a fantastic example of how the UK can harness nature’s resources more efficiently.

Delabole was the UK’s first commercial wind farm, set up in 1991 by the Edwards family to counter plans for a nuclear power station in the area. Good Energy bought the wind farm in 2002, though the Edwards continue to play a role in the business. Martin Edwards explains how he sees the future of onshore wind: “It lies in small to medium sized turbines built on farms and industrial sites alike, which will become a normalised part of business, softening the blow of the inevitable growth in electricity prices.”

The other key driver for change will be continuing improvements in onshore wind technology, which will lead not only to greater efficiency, but also open up other less windy sites to the benefits of wind generation. “There is also likely to be a surge in commercial wind farm applications situated on lower wind speed sites due to advances in technology,” Edwards says.

In 2007 Good Energy embarked on a £12 million project to make the most of better turbine technology and redevelop the Delabole wind farm. From the outset it recognised the importance of involving the local community in the plans. The company offered local residents a choice between replacing the 10 original turbines with either 9 smaller or 6 larger turbines. Photomontages illustrated their impact on the landscape and gave information about the carbon savings for each option. The larger ones won by an overwhelming majority.

With such strong community support, the project took just nine months to get through the planning process, which is very good going for such a project.

Edwards believes Delabole to be a role model for other developers to emulate: “The case of Delabole only emphasises the importance of involving the community in future onshore wind farm developments across the country. I hope this management style will become more frequently used and will serve to reduce the fear of the unknown which is a major cause of objections.”

The process of wind farm development can be challenging for residents in a rural area, with huge pieces of machinery having to be manoeuvred along small country lanes. However, keeping residents informed at every stage can foster reciprocal support.

“The wind farm at Delabole is as much a part of this village as our slate quarry,” said Delabole resident Sonia Hawkey. “Having turbines back on Deli Farm gives us back the ‘Delabolian’ panorama, taking in Roughtor, Brown Willy and the Atlantic, and best appreciated from the edge of the quarry with the wind in your face.”

Delabole 1st/2nd generation The redevelopment was completed in December 2010. The four new, larger turbines (99.5m to tip height) have increased the generating capacity of the wind farm by two and a half times, saving over 13,700 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. Yes, the Delabole turbines are now visible from further away, but local residents clearly feel it’s worthwhile – in fact they often ask why Good Energy can’t fit more turbines on the site.

The greater turbine height allows for a more consistent wind, less affected by turbulence caused by obstructions such as buildings and trees. And as they’re gearless with fewer moving parts, the new turbines require less maintenance and can perform at higher wind speeds owing to improvements in technology. They are more expensive to install initially, but they’re more cost effective over time thanks to their higher power output.

Juliet Davenport, founder and CEO of Good Energy, explains her delight at “taking Delabole into its second generation of onshore wind power. The increased capacity of the new turbines serves to illustrate how successful innovation in this field has been over the last two decades. With projects like this, the UK moves ever closer to a 100% renewable future.”

The windiest country in Europe, the UK currently gets just 2.2 percent of its electricity needs from wind power. Provided local communities are involved, onshore wind has a clear role to play in a 100 percent renewable future.

Jessica Knowles is Good Energy’s wind farm project developer.


How to Build An Eco-Friendly Home Pool



eco-friendly pool for home owners
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Swimming pools are undoubtedly one of the most luxurious features that any home can have. But environmentally-conscious homeowners who are interested in having a pool installed may feel that the potential issues surrounding wasted water, chemical use and energy utilized in heating the water makes having a home swimming pool difficult to justify.

But there is good news, because modern technologies are helping to make pools far less environmentally harmful than ever before. If you are interested in having a pool built but you want to make sure that it is as eco-friendly as possible, you can follow the advice below. From natural pools to solar panel heating systems, there are many steps that you can take.

Choose a natural pool to go chemical free

For those homeowners interested in an eco-friendly pool, the first thing to consider is a natural pool. Natural swimming pools utilise reed bed technology or moss-filtration to naturally filter out dirt from the water. These can be combined with eco-pumps to allow you to have a pool that is completely free from chemicals.

Not only are traditional pool chemicals potentially harmful to the skin, they also mean that you can contaminate the area around the pool if chemical-filled water leaks or is splashed around. This can be bad for your garden and the environment general.

It will be necessary to work with an expert pool builder to ensure that you have the expertise to get your natural pool installed properly. But the results with definitely be worth the effort and planning that you have to put in.

Avoid concrete if possible

The vast majority of home pools are built using concrete but this is far from ideal in terms of an eco-friendly pool for a large number of reasons. Concrete pools are typically built and then lined to stop keep out any bacteria. This is theoretically fine, except that concrete is porous and the lining can be liable to erode or break which can allow bacteria to enter the pool.

It is much better to use a non-porous material such as fibreglass or carbon ceramic composite for your pool. Typically, these swimming pools are supplied in a one-piece shell rather than having to be built from scratch, ensuring a bacteria-free environment. These non-porous materials make it impossible for the water to become contaminated through bacteria seeping into the pool by osmosis.

The further problem that can arise from having a concrete pool is that once this bacteria begins to get into the pool it can be more difficult for a natural filtration system to be effective. This can lead to you having to resort to using chemicals to get the pool clean.

Add solar panels

It is surprising how many will go to extreme lengths to ensure that their pool is as eco-friendly as possible in terms of building and maintaining it but then fall down on something extremely obvious. No matter what steps you take with the rest of your pool, it won’t really be worth the hassle if you are going to be conventionally heating your pool up, using serious amounts of energy to do so.

Thankfully there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure that your pool is heated to a pleasant temperature while causing minimal damage to the environment. Firstly, gathering energy using solar panels has become a very popular way to reduce consumption of electricity as well as decreasing utility bills. Many businesses offer solar panels specifically for swimming pools.

Additionally, installing an energy efficient heat pump or boiler to work in conjunction with your solar panels can be hugely beneficial.

Cover it!

Finally, it is worth remembering that there are many benefits to investing in a pool cover. When you cover your pool you increase its heat retention which stops you from having to power a pump or boiler to keep it warm. This works in conjunction with the solar panels and eco-friendly heating system that you have already had installed.

Additionally, you cover helps to keep out dirt and other detritus that can enter the pool, bringing in bacteria. Anything that you can do to keep bacteria out will be helpful in terms of keeping it clean.

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4 Ways To Get a Green House in 2018




green house and homes
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Demand for green houses is surging. In 2020, almost 20% of all homes on the market will be green.

If you would like to buy a green home, this is a great time to look into it. Prices are still pretty low and there are a lot more financing options available than there were right after the recession.

If you’re thinking about buying a house, now could be a very good time to make the move! A number of factors in the housing market right now mean that you might be able to afford your dream home. Although in many parts of the country house prices are still rising, if you do your research and plan wisely, there are lots of good schemes to help you get your foot on the property ladder, or trade up to the house you’ve always wanted.

Interest Rates and Stamp Duty

Although the Bank of England raised interest rates by 0.25% recently, they remain very low, which is good news if you’re thinking of taking out a mortgage. However, rates may not stay low and it’s predicted that there’ll be a further rate rise during 2018, so don’t wait too long. Another factor that’s going to help first time buyers in particular is the Chancellor’s decision to abolish stamp duty for first timers purchasing properties for under £300,000.

Different options

For many people looking to buy a green home, raising a deposit of between 5% and 20% may not be a realistic option, in which case there are a growing number of schemes to help. Increasingly popular are shared ownership schemes, through which the buyer pays a percentage of the full value of the property (typically between 25% and 75%) and the local council or a housing association pays the rest, and takes part ownership. This is suitable for buyers who may struggle to meet the up-front costs of buying outright. There will often be a service charge or management fees to pay in addition to the mortgage. The Government’s Help To Buy scheme is a good place to start looking if you’re interested in this option. This scheme is now available to people looking to buy green homes too.

ISA Options

If you’re still saving for a deposit, another scheme is the Help to Buy ISA. You can get a 25% boost to your savings on amounts up to £200 per month with this scheme. It’s only open to first time buyers and you can claim a maximum of £3000.

Other costs

Green home buyers are going to run into a number of other ancillary costs, most of which are common to other homebuyers.

When calculating how much you can afford, it’s vitally important to remember that buying a house comes with a whole host of other costs. Depending on the cost of the property that you’re buying, you may have to pay stamp duty of anywhere between 1% and 5%. There’ll be estate agents fee if you’re also selling a property, although there are a wide range of online estate agents operating such as Purple Bricks or Right Move that have lower fees than traditional high street companies. Conveyancing costs to a solicitor can add another £1000-£3000 and you may need to take out life insurance and hire a moving firm.

There are other initial costs such as, fixing parts of the home that aren’t upto your taste. Getting new furniture to fill up all the new-found space in your new home. If you are moving away from the city, you need to consider the cost of transportation as well, as it can take up quite a lot over time. Take your time, do your homework and shop around and soon you could be getting the keys to your perfect home.

I hope this article was useful for you to learn more about the basics that you need to be aware of before you start the process of buying your first home. If you have any doubts with regards to this, let us know through the comments and we will be glad to help you out. If you have any suggestions regarding how we can improve the article, let us know them through the comments as well for us to improve.

Do you have any other reservations against buying your first home? Do you see your house as an asset or a liability? Do you think it is important for everyone to get themselves a new home? Let us know through the comments.

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