Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Community Energy - a review

This is a review of the book Community Energy: A guide to community - based renewable energy projects by Gordon Cowtan published by  Green Books

The book is an excellent introduction to Community Energy for lay people and students. It starts by covering some key issues around what is the raison d'etre for community energy projects - usually this involves some degree of energy generation or energy saving, sharing of benefits with the community and environmental sustainability. Then it looks at energy generating technologies; this section is quite comprehensive, even including anaerobic digestion though there are no real world of community AD as yet. The advice is strictly practical: what do you need, how much will it cost (considering operational and maintenance too), planning issues, subsidies available.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Would you like an itemised electricity bill? Please help make this possible.

When you go shopping in a supermarket you expect to see the price of each item marked and if you are watching the pennies you probably have a good estimate of what the final bill will be before you go to the checkout. But when you get your electricity bill you have little idea how much of that is for the lighting, the TV, the washing machine, the freezer or whatever. Would you like to know? There are companies working on this. They are developing algorithms to look at your electricity use at high frequency (many times a second) and recognise the patterns of use from each of your appliances so they can calculate how much each one is using. At the end of each day they will be able to tell you how much energy you have used and what for (at least for the major appliances) so that you can calculate the cost and the carbon emissions. For the last two weeks I have been helping this to come about by taking part in a study conducted by Informetis. You can help too.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

One step towards a low carbon vision for Cambridge

At the Energy Group meeting in April we started a discussion on what a low carbon Cambridge might look like and how to get there. The plan is to make a list of possible strategies, whittle this down to a manageable number that are practical and will make a real difference, then see what we can do to promote them. Needless to say, we didn't manage all that in one meeting!  Also we didn't restrict ourselves to just energy issues. Our initial list of strategies is:

  • Very high levels of recycling
  • Less energy intensive lifestyles
  • Eating less meat and animal products
  • Lots more insulation in homes and other buildings
  • Lots more street level PV on rooftops
  • LED street lights
  • High levels of walking and cycling (and possibly electric bikes)
  • Much greater use of public transport
  • Polluting cars banned from the city centre
  • Congestion charging in the city centre
  • Hydrogen fuel stations for e.g. buses
  • District heating by CHP
  • Underground inter-seasonal heat storage
  • Smart charging for cars, with vehicle to grid (V2G) energy storage services
  • Grid connected battery storage (possibly flow batteries)
Would you like to take part in this discussion? The notes are in a shared document on google drive but I can't give you the link here for fear of spammers. You can access a readonly (pdf) version here . If I know you and you would like to take part let me know.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Fun on the Veg Patch: Learning how to Grow your Own

Learning new skills is fun and easy when you do it with others! Our roving photographer, Elena Moses was out and about last week on a beautiful Spring Saturday at Trumpington Allotments, with our allotment expert and veggie growing guru,  Dave Fox.

He's back  to tending  his patch after a spell of illness and  loves  to share his passion and knowledge with new and more experienced growers.   From how to keep your precious soil where it belongs, to knowing your roses when it comes to sowing potatoes, there are some handy tips and tricks waiting to be harvested along with the last of the winter leeks and parsnips.  Elena has  compiled a photo essay about her experience, which you can see on our new Transition Cambridge Flickr page. To join in,  look out for Dave's next Grow your Own session in the Transition Bulletin. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Reasons to be optimistic

Are there any? If you look at the newspaper most days you will see nothing but bad news stories on climate change, from record high temperatures in the Arctic to cancelled funding for US climate monitoring projects (no thanks to President Donald Trump). So when I was asked to do a short ‘Optimistic Show and Tell’ at the Science Festival, my first thought was ‘you must be joking’. But then I had some second thoughts. There is actually quite a lot of good news too, only the media tends to bury it. Plus there is a lot happening under the radar right here in Cambridge. This is what I intend to talk about on Saturday.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Do you really need a car of your own?

Do you use your car every day? Every week? If you don’t need to use your car regularly, it can be cheaper to share and there are benefits for the environment too. In this post I present three different solutions, as described by three Transition Cambridge and Cambridge Carbon Footprint members: Liz shares a car with friends, Anne has joined the car club Zipcar while Dave and Ceri use a national car hire company for occasional long trips.
Liz (on the left) with friends Iain and Suzie and their family

Friday, 27 January 2017

From #RateMyPlace to #ShapeOurPlace: A Collaborative Enquiry

By Jacky Sutton-Adam

How often do we think about or actively, critically notice where we live?
'' I've been here for over 20 years, and the houses on my road have quadrupled in value. There are lots of tourists in the Summer. It's a nightmare getting to the train station. There are places where I feel unsafe walking at night. 80% of my work commute is over commons and green spaces – lucky me!''

Functional street furniture or urban clutter? 
These facts and opinions are like a backdrop scenery to my life in Cambridge. In the busy-ness of 21st century living, it sometimes recedes into an amorphous blur coloured by whichever emotion I happen to be feeling most strongly. The result? I sometimes experience extended 'sulks' about Cambridge and this is detrimental to my sense of well-being.

Last week's prosaically named workshop 'Place Standard Tool' could definitely do with a title makeover, but it really helped me to get a grip on what I felt and why, and to feel connected with others as we shared what we love and wish we could change about our city. I gained a sense of clarity about my opinions which was empowering.
 ''This exercise got me thinking deeply about the City I live in, and I found that as a group we interrogated each point from many angles, exploring many aspects of this diverse place. Some answers were expected, tho' many were surprising. '' - James