Why is the continued support of renewable wind energy important in the UK

Over the coming decade the world faces enormous challenges; a changing climate, dwindling fossil fuels reserves and rising energy demands are interconnected problems that demand a common solution. In the words of Bob Dylan, ‘the answer my friend are blowing in the wind’ and shining in the sun, flowing in the rivers and hitting the coast line of the UK 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the form of an infinite supply of renewabley generated energy.

The Centre for Alternative Technology has been working since 1973 to explore solutions to the environmental challenges we face. CAT supports wind power as a means of generating renewable electricity. Given the reality of diminishing fossil fuel resources and the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change, we believe that the UK should reduce and eventually stop the use of fossil fuels as soon as possible.

In our Zero Carbon Britain 2030 report (www.zcb2030.org) we have outlined how the whole of the UK can be powered using renewable sources. Wind power, both on- and offshore, is the biggest single potential source of renewable energy available in the UK in the short- or medium term. The UK enjoys an enormous wind resource that is proven, cost efficient and infinite.

The UK is the windiest country in Europe, so much so that we could power our country several times over using this free fuel. A modern 2.5MW turbine at a reasonable site will generate 6.5 million units of electricity each year, enough to meet the annual needs of over 1,400 households, make 230 million cups of tea or run a computer for 2,250 years.

Wind turbines do have an impact on the local environment where they are built, and for some people they “spoil the view”. But change is coming whether we like it or not- given that we will not simply stop consuming energy, we will need to accept some form of power generation technology. Compared to the devastating effects associated with the use of fossil fuels and nuclear power, renewable energy is the best option in the UK, wind power has an enormous role to play within that energy mix.

The UK has enormous potential to take a lead in renewable energy generation, bringing benefits to the economy and providing many needed jobs. Wind power could deliver more jobs and more income for local people than it currently does. This can be achieved through encouraging community ownership of wind turbines and a UK manufacturing industry. In this way, we can generate a sustainable source of income from the sale of electricity and well paid permanent qualified jobs.

Opposing this technology without suggesting alternative means of power generation that don’t just offload the negative impact on people in other countries (as with climate change) or future generations (as with nuclear) is irresponsible. We must take action now and avoid committing future generations to years of climate, energy and economic insecurity

CAT is pleased to be hosting The Future for Renewable Energy  in Wales conference on the 17th of October 2011 for further information on the conference please check out the  Renewable Wales Network website

This article is an edited version of one that appears in the Public Service Review

The WISE building wins the RIBA award

The Centre for Alternative Technology has been awarded a prestigious architecture award for the Wales Institute for Sustainable Education.

The judges said: “The word ’sustainability’ is frequently used; this project not only lives up to the Centre’s mission but does so with a quiet confidence. Many such buildings flaunt their green credentials; this building doesn’t and is a delight as a result.”

CAT’s External Relations Director Paul Allen said: “Winning such a prestigious award shows that sustainable building methods are breaking into the mainstream. The WISE building demonstrates many cutting edge low energy building techniques and we are delighted that the RIBA have recognised CAT’s pioneering approach to architecture by giving us this award.”

The purpose of CAT’s WISE building is to provide thousands of people the opportunity to learn about environmental topics, from organic gardening to renewable energy and green architecture, in an inspiring environment.

The WISE building features many innovative sustainability features. Throughout the construction, low embodied building materials such as earth and hemp were used. Building materials have been sourced locally; the rammed earth lecture theatre is made using soil from a nearby disused quarry. The building has energy-efficient glazing to enhance natural day lighting and passive heat gain, making energy requirements minimal. Every stage of construction was monitored to calculate the environmental footprint – from the materials used to the daily journey to work made by those working on WISE. Environmental monitoring will continue throughout the building’s life.

The building itself consists of:

* A circular 200 seat rammed earth lecture theatre.

* 24 en suite study bedrooms fitted with energy monitoring equipment.

* New toilet facilities with natural zero energy treatment of grey water and sewage.

* Plant and server rooms for the monitoring of energy and water usage in the building.

* Seminar rooms and workshops.

* Offices, common rooms and reception areas.

* Research laboratory.

* Restaurant and bar – promoting the importance of sustainable land use, food miles and a healthy diet.

* Uniquely designed organic gardens.

For interviews or comment, please contact the press office: 01654 705957

A New Buzz About CAT

CAT’s visitor centre has been a hive of activity recently. We are presently putting the final touches to an Introductory Film about CAT and meanwhile…

The buzz is all about our stunning new bee hut, opening at 10am, Saturday 16th October: containing carved bees of different species and paintings of a variety of flowers that bees pollinate, it is impossible not to wax lyrical.

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Installation experts Pippa Bailey and Jony Easterby and friends have combed the local libraries and utilised their 20 years of artistic and beekeeping experience to provide CAT with a whole new permanent exhibition, full of fascinating facts and about our flower-fertilising friends – BEES.

Bruce Heagerty said “A huge thanks to Powys County Council Tourism Section’s ‘Community Welcome Scheme’ for sponsoring this, the new film and a number of the new signs being erected around CAT.
Without their help and the artistry of everyone who has contributed, CAT’s site would look a lot poorer. This is a great day for CAT and particularly our hardworking Displays Group.”

How many foraging trips to flowers does it take a Honey Bee to produce a pound of white clover honey? What do drones do? Come and find out…

This project is part-funded through the Rural Development Plan for 2007-2013 which is financed by the European Union and the Welsh Assembly Government.

Poems in a Changing Climate: To Celebrate World Poetry Day 2010

poetWorld Poetry Day was declared by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1999 “to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world”  identified as “the unrestricted pursuit of truth”.

Whilst poetry has been used as a tool for social change throughout history, it is important to remember the one in five adults that are illiterate in the world today. As Leif Utne from Worldchanging states: “access to education, or rather the lack of it, is one of the greatest barriers to sustainability”.

Below are a selection of modern day poems, slams and haiku’s that have been recommended by CAT staff and facebook fans that address our changing climate.

Danny Chivers; climate activist, poet and writer performs Lifestyle Choice at Climate Camp In The City 2009:

Less is More, was written by Matt Harvey; poet, writer, broadcaster and Wondermentalist, inspired by the Schumacher conference of the same title:

Can less be more, can more be less?
Well, yes and no, and no and yes
Well, more or less…

More bikes, fewer cars
Less haze, more stars

Less haste, more time
Less reason, more rhyme

More time, less stress
Fewer miles, more fresh (vegetables)

Fewer car parks, more acres of available urban soil
More farmers’ markets, less produce effectively marinated in crude oil

Less colouring, more taste
More mashing, less waste

Fewer couch potatoes, more spring greens
Fewer tired tomatoes, more runner beans

More stillness, less inertia
Less illness, more Echinacea

More community, less isolation
Less just sitting there, more participation!

More wells (not oil ones, obviously), fewer ills
Fewer clean fingernails, more skills

More co-operation, less compliancy
Less complacency, more self-reliancy

Less competition, more collaboration
Less passive listening, more participation!

Less attention defic…, more concentration
Less passive listening, more participation!

(Less repetition)

Less of a warm globe, more a chilly’un
More of a wise world, at least 34 fewer parts of C02 per million

Less stress-related cardio-vascular and pulmonary failure
More nurturing quality time in the company of a favourite clematis or dahlia

More craftsmanship, less built-in obsolescence
More political maturity, less apparently-consequence-free extended adolescence

More believed-to-be-beautiful, known-to-be-useful things
Less cheap, pointless, petroleum-steeped stuff

So Yes, less is more – and enough’s enough…

the-lorax2Marcus Brigstocke (Radio 4’s The Now Show) recites his somewhat humorous take on The events at Cop 15 in Dr Seuss style:

Change For Dinner was written by our facebook fan John J Macdonald:

Canopy’s were constructed from timber
Allowing entrees of coal, oil and gas
Leading to mammoth heaps of cooked cinders
From every kind of conceivable mass.

The result of this main course is desert
Which appears when we clear the plates
Having licked them so clean they are inert
We advance to new portions which await.

Yet the yeast offers proof in the kitchen
That our bread will not rise when its cooked.
Raw materials frozen in fiction
Seldom ever taste as good as they looked…

On and on, baking ‘sustainable growth’?
How many cooks? and who’s using their loaf?

Untitled is from another facebook fan John McCreesh:

Gordon is red
David is blue
The climate is changing
But can they change too?

Sea Inside was written by CAT’s very own Bruce Heagerty:

“Nature for us lies more in depth than on the surface” – Paul Cézanne

Excuse me but..

Your feet pace on a fireball
That your roots are pushing through;
Your heart beats to a rhythm
That the moon distracts in you;

Remember You
Are Nature through and through.

The water in that river
Is the stuff that pumps round you;
You imbibe it and return it
To the blue-reflecting Blue,

You know it’s true,
You’re Nature through and through.

Your skin anoints the air
That blesses every blade with dew;
Your breath is synthesised by trees
And then returned to breath in you,

You twig that You
Are Nature through and through.

You feed on farmer’s harvests,
– you defecate them, too –
Expend the juice on just one lifetime
And so everything you do

Is down to you,
As Nature through and through.

Your senses sense each atom of the world
And they feel you;
Energy flows outwards
From the sun and flows through you

And glistering You
Are Nature through and through.

Your fingers zing with zephyrs
That butterflies flit through
And birds perch on your branches, singing
“Are you singing, too?”

Sing out that You
Are Nature through and through.

You smile at potent partners,
Feel the lava rise in you
And later sleepily you touch
Them in your silent moments, too,

You know you do:
You’re Nature through and through.

Divine your journey with the care
That Nature took in making you;
When you die you’ll touch the sky
And your remains will pay their due,

Ensuring You
Abide with Nature, as we do.

Now Nature packs a punch
That Nagasaki never knew
Let he who wakens up the krakens
Be no friend to yours or you,

Recalling You
Are linked with Nature through and through.

Your children and their children
Are all captive in this zoo;
Will you leave them playing with krakens
Or is there something you can do?

Yes

Accept that You
Are tangled in this Blue.

And finally on World Water Day no selection is complete without a line from the epic Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge:

…Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink…

Post your favourite climate change poems in the blog comments.

Vietnamese farming expert to visit Machynlleth to discuss climate change and rural livelihoods in CAT’s Quarry Cafe

1_village1The Centre for Alternative Technology presents, Earning a Living in a Changing Climate: A Vietnamese Perspective on Climate Change, combined with good food and conversation in a free talk this Thursday at 7.30 in CAT’s Quarry Cafe in Machynlleth.

The guest speaker Nguyen Quang Minh, is Livelihoods Programme Coordinator for Oxfam Great Britain and works with some of the poorest people in Vietnam to help them earn a living.  Minh will talk about the impacts of climate change in Vietnam and some of the practical solutions for communities to adjust to these pressures.

“Though at opposite ends of the world there is actually a lot in common between what Minh does in Vietnam and what the Centre for Alternative Technology does. Machynlleth has an established Oxfam group and so bringing Minh to Mach is a great chance for supporters to hear first hand about the work their support enables.”  Representative from Oxfam Cymru.

Minh will cover issues from food, income, climate change and the gender challenges that Vietnamese communities face through his everyday work and how he is tackling these issues through initiatives such as community based forest management as well as policy and grassroots work to develop long-term livelihoods to help overcome poverty.

Over the next two weeks Minh will be visiting Wales, as part of an ongoing project by Oxfam Cymru to bring the experiences of people working in the developing world to communities in Wales.

Food will be served in the Quarry Cafe from 6.30, in time for the talk at 7.30 followed by a question and answer session. Join us for a stimulating debate over dinner, at the Quarry Café and find out how your support for Oxfam Cymru could help to change the lives of others across the world.

Turned on! The UK’s First Micro Grid Goes Online

This week, Jase Kuriakose an engineer at CAT turned on the UK’s first totally renewable micro grid. The systems works by combining all the wind, solar, bio mass and hydro energy we produce at CAT and storing it in a battery bank. When it needs more energy it simply connects to the grid through an intelligent electronic control device to take more, when we are producing too much it gives the energy to the national grid.

Jase, the engineer behind the island generation project
Jase, the engineer behind the island generation project

Currently we waste around 65% of energy from power stations by transporting it to our homes, not only that but the electricity sector in the EU is responsible for over 1,2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. Something that Jase says is unsustainable.

There is a vital need and enormous opportunity to move towards a more sustainable decentralised system, which protects the climate and provide future generations with secure energy.”

Continue reading “Turned on! The UK’s First Micro Grid Goes Online”