In response to critical comments made by National Trust Chairman Sir Simon Jenkins about wind power, Blue & Green Tomorrow speaks with Dr Matthias Fripp, NextEra Energy Resources research fellow in renewable energy at the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute.
What is your view on questions over renewable energy efficiency?
Discussing the efficiency of renewable resources is rarely meaningful. When choosing a power source, the things that matter are the cost and environmental impact per unit of electricity and the timing of electricity production.
Given the above parameters, what are your views on wind generated power?
Wind ranks very well on cost, fairly well on timing (matching the winter peak demand in the UK) and very well on environmental impacts other than its effect on the view. No alternative is perfect: solar power has minimal effect on the view, but has worse timing than wind in the UK, and currently has much higher costs. Wave power is still at the prototype stage and can only be developed on a limited scale. Tidal and hydro power also have limited potential and have significant environmental impacts of their own. Nuclear power has uncertain costs and environmental impacts – estimates tend to be driven more by faith (or lack of it) than hard numbers. At any rate it may be a little reckless to develop more nuclear plants when no permanent repository has been established for nuclear waste. The final alternative — leaving climate change unaddressed – could disrupt the UK’s heritage lands even more than developing renewable power.
Given the choices available, what are the main drawbacks of wind power?
Given these choices, the main drawback of wind farms appears to be their effect on the view. Unlike nuclear or fossil power, this negative effect is reversible. One option may be to develop wind farms now and remove them when they reach the end of their life in 25-30 years, replacing them with something with even lower impact, such as solar power, whose cost is falling quickly. Perhaps what is needed is a “grand bargain” to identify certain areas for wind development, retaining the view in other areas, so that the UK can move ahead with a low-carbon power system.
What about the requirement for backup plants?
It is a common misperception that backup plants somehow undo the environmental benefits of wind power. The environmental impact of building power plants is negligible compared to the environmental impact of running them, and in fact we have already built most of the plants we would use to backup wind power. In other words, we already have enough conventional plants to meet peak electricity loads.
How do you perceive the benefits of renewable power?
The real environmental benefit of renewable power comes when it allows us to avoid running existing plants and, in this respect, wind actually performs quite well; I have found that even when accounting for the emissions from running backup capacity during a sudden wind drop, wind can still reduce CO2 emissions by 90-95% compared with getting our power from natural gas plants alone. Even nuclear or carbon-capture plants are not this clean on a life-cycle basis. It is possible to build very clean power systems that use wind and solar power when they are available and conventional resources at other times.
4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again
As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.
Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.
Jars and Containers
Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.
An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.
Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!
If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!
Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!
These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money
The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.
Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.
Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.
Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale
The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.
Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.
Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI
It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.
Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.
Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.
Implementing green changes without a plan
Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.
Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:
- How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
- How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
- How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
- How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?
The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.
Not considering the benefits of green printing
Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.
Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.
According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:
- They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
- They consume less energy than traditional printers.
- They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.
You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.
Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers
Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.
The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.
You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.
Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.