Robin Hood Energy into surplus and to go green

20180703g ab0376h Robin Hood Energy surplus
Robin Hood Energy has made an operating surplus in its third year of trading.- a trading surplus of £202,000.
Launched in September 2015, Robin Hood Energy is the first local authority owned, not for profit, energy company.
The company has over 115,000 customers and is valued at around £30million – well in excess of the Council’s original investment. Set up with the aim of tackling fuel poverty, Robin Hood Energy will:
– Voluntarily enter arrangements to offer the Warm Home Discount, for older people, and those on low incomes.
– Protect tariff rates for Nottingham City prepayment customers.
– Go Green – Robin Hood Energy will be switching all of their electricity to be supplied from renewable sources certified as being provided by UK based Wind and Solar projects (in mid-July).

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Architectural Technology and green opportunities

NTU Architectural Technology Students MME 35026501_10155630050131305_7256259139632889856_o
Architectural Technology students at Nottingham Trent University are exploring developments that could see changes to the way our buildings operate and our streets look within a few years.

Cross Laminated Timber
Easy to forget that many nations still work with timber to build homes and offices.
Arguably, we’ve had a downer on timber, and straw, ever since Three Little Pigs.
Yet wood can be incredibly strong – remember the WWII fighter-bomber called the Mosquito?  Made out of plywood.
Sustainable Chemistry cnl-cnl-01-340x220Cross Laminated Timber is the latest way of creating a strong material to build with, and can be as strong as concrete reinforced with steel. Gluing and pressing lumps of work in alternate directions to create a medium that is being used to create 8 or so story buildings in London and elsewhere, and is being planned to build much higher buildings in China.  The Sustainable Chemistry building at University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Campus has been made using CLT.
Large components / panels designed on computer and cut in factories before being delivered to site for fast assembly on site – which may well have worked to advantage on Arkwright Walk in The Meadows since residents have suffered from weeks of limited access.
nytimes clt 9 storey block in hackney d133f6de66a21625c5d2e480bd91c3fbBuilding using CLT currently can cost as much as more traditional buildings cos you still have to prepare the site and connect the site, and cos considerable effort goes into designing and manufacture off-site.
Challenges will include reputation on appearance (current wooden panels are often allowed to go grey and appear drab), strength, pre-fabricated buildings, and on fire risk (sprinklers systems and treatment are the lines of defence), being part of a first wave on a new technology and the actual challenge – getting owners to embrace the more frequent maintenance measures such as re-applying water-proofing measures.  Decoration with external boards are often part of the design – or use other materials like brick panels – but a defining style might also be a challenge (or an opportunity).
CLT is made from green materials, that have captured carbon dioxide, unlike concrete and steel which increase its emissions.
One factory unit in Greater Nottingham has already started manufacturing panels to allow construction of 2 or 3 floor homes.

Urban Farming, including Hydroponics and Tall Gardening.
First mentioned to me by a rep of Notts Farmers who I met at the County Show, hydroponics is a water based farming that uses 70% less water than conventional farming, I think in part cos of using gels.
Requiring upfront investment and a level of expertise, it can be used underground as well as alongside buildings.  Can grow certain types of vegetables, and the remaining mass/media can be a fuel or be digested to produce natural gas.
Farming can be encouraged in the design of the building, or take advantage of existing spaces, such as perhaps the 600 or more caves underneath Nottingham city centre.  Like the growing trend in farming, companies could hire the space to grow the food.
I understand hydroponics are being developed in Birmingham.
Tall gardening is a variation on this, but are more effective than the green walls that can be seen off Maid Marian Way in Nottingham.
Nottingham has a reputation for urban gardening – often winning “In Bloom” awards – but urban farming would require a step change and need to be commercially viable.

Ground Source Heat Pumping, and Storage.
That 30 feet or so underground, it’s always 12 degrees Centigrade, and therefore a natural place for heat pumps to draw heat from to warm buildings in Winter, and to send heat to so as to extract heat from buildings in Summer, has been compromised by how it seems to be rarely done in practice.
A frequent solution has included laying arrays of piping before a building has been constructed.  It’s a bit of a retrofit if the building already exists.
What may be overlooked is the potential to use piles to support buildings as the basis of a heat pumping solution, storing heat from systems such as district heating schemes in the Summer, and reducing the peak load on a heating system during the Winter.  Or, even more dramatically, to send to “reservoirs” of water underground, such as disussed coal mines.  (There’s a trial taking place in Glasgow.)

Qualifications.
I need to get this article reviewed by others more in the know, as well as improving the grammar.
There may be other innovations to include, such painting roads white to reduce city centre ovens, and consequent demands on air cooling systems (though this may not be needed in Nottingham.  Other innovations, such as glass roads, using excesses of recycled glass, especially for car parks and cycle paths, with underground lighting and lining, have perhaps already failed to take off.

Gist is, if anything can be foreseen to be the standards of 10 years time, now is the time to invest, both in setting new standards and in creating the capacity to manufacture locally for local jobs.
TO BE REVIEWED AND UPDATED.

Electric buses using super-capacitors


By being re-charged in a quick way, and frequently, a new kind of electric bus is running in Nottingham’s twin city of Minsk.
Environmentally friendly cos they are low weight, but challenging to operational use cos they need re-charging so frequently, and can you always know that jams won’t stop them reaching recharging stations in time?
The buses are made in Minsk, although the super-capacitors come from China.

An Inconvenient Sequel

an inconvenient sequel
“An Inconvenient Sequel” to “An Inconvenient Truth” and Al Gore has decided the way to go, after all Trump has said and done, is to say we need to act on climate change anyway, and even if aspects look bleak, plenty of movements for radical change have reached this stage before the final breakthrough.
So he shows –
how people moved to get India on board for the Paris declaration agreed last year,
– how Chile has gone from 500MW of solar power generation to 13.3GW in less than a year,
– how a right-wing Texas city mayor embracing the new energy technologies cos it provides better value for money, counter to the new kind of denial that the alternative energy technologies can work in reality.
He celebrates the DSCover satellite taking full pictures of the planet earth every day.
Meanwhile, dramatic images show –
– a Greenland glacier popping in the warmer temperatures;
– Hurricane Sandy flooding New York before the year he predicted; and a typhoon ripping through the Philipines;
– what “rain bombs” look like;
– the Zika virus spread through the USA being more widespread than predicted and ridicules the public health response;
– that whatever else has beset Syria, the problems started with a drought longer than any known for 900 years and 1.5 million climate change refugees.
So action is needed.
Reviewers have not been kind to the movie, but I found the points it made stuck, especially the point on Syria. Go see.

Hinkley Point C approval – the future lumbered by the past

Met a Co-op member on the bus back from a women’s refuge AGM. Was I going to the Alan Simpson presentation on energy to the Nottingham Central Co-Op branch? Now, I was.

On the day when Theresa May approved Hinkley Point C.
Contrast with Alan Simpson’s examples from Germany (and The Meadows) of hope.
Insulation. Local generation. Energy storage. Control of local networks.
Germany’s national embrace of tackling climate change and stopping nuclear, combined with devolution of power.
Poignant that Alan’s presentation was in the Nottingham Mechanics.  Founded in an era when more was done locally and a bigger belief in engineering.
(I hope to be able to add / link to Alan’s slides.)

Green Progress in The Meadows

Further to a post celebrating progress by Nottingham city, a short summary of the progress in The Meadows, with an update on Project Sensible and a link to the Jeremy Corbyn video that draws heavily from experience in The Meadows.

Such green achievements in The Meadows include –
– bus priority measures – the bus lane along Meadows Way East;
– tram services at 3 stops in The Meadows plus ‘ng2’ and Midland station;
– decades of taking heat from waste before landfill at Eastcroft (Meadows);
– new green housing off Green Street, and off Wilford Crescent West; and new green council housing in the west of The New Meadows; and and an exemplar green house;.
– helping solar panels to be installed on properties, by both NCH and MOzES – the Meadows own energy services company;
– a hundred and more enjoying lower price energy using a council owned business – Robin Hood Energy – whose income is ploughed back into lower prices, and have amongst the cheapest pre-payment schemes;
– planning policies to reduce the need to travel, and improvements to walking and cycling routes; to require greener buildings, including in the newest council housing;
– warmer homes through the decent homes programmes for council housing;
– energy efficient street lighting; with new lighting being provided at the end of this month for walkers and cyclists using Victoria Embankment;
– simple recycling (mainly doorstep) available to every household;
– schools involved in growing their own food (Greenfields and (I think) Victoria (ex-Riverside);
– testing the use of batteries to store energy rather than immediately send it into the grid (Project SENSIBLE).

On Project SENSIBLE, Julian Marsh reports
“The tenders for the domestic batteries and monitoring systems is currently being sought with prices expected back at the end of the month. This will enable us to firm up on numbers. It is hoped that we can start the meetings with the final volunteers in November and December and then begin the installations at the beginning of the New Year.
“The School system is currently having its tender documents put together and this will be tendered mid-October. Installation will either be Christmas or Easter in the School breaks.
“The Mundella Building is currently having its performance specification finalised and prices for that will be put forward by the Design and Build Contractor.
“Some of you will have been at the Meadows Library … to hear Jeremy Corbyn launch what we hope will be the Labour Party policy on energy – based largely on a community model. Mozes has helped by putting forward ideas for this and so we got the honour of being the location for the press release and for the attached little film which focusses specifically on what we are doing in the Meadows.”

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The video can be seen at – https://youtu.be/y5t8m1RXG9A