Garden shredders: How to buy the best garden shredder

Choosing a garden shredder

A garden shredder, also known as a chipper, is a garden power tool that transforms huge piles of shrub or hedge prunings into smaller volumes of wood chips.

If you have a mature or overgrown garden, a garden shredder could save you money on skip hire or numerous trips to the council tip.

RoughChippingsTransform your hedge clippings into a useful mulch with a garden shredder

The wood chips generated by a garden shredder can be put on the compost heap (where they mix in well with grass clippings), stacked in an out-the-way place, or used around the garden for informal paths or as a mulch.

Garden shredders start from about R 2600, although you could pay more than R30 000. You will need undercover storage and access to an outdoor electricity socket to use them. The best models will tackle prunings up to 4cm in diameter.

Using a shredder is easy and safe, if you use your common sense (you need goggles, gloves and suitable clothing to prevent scratches). It’s important to be realistic, as a garden shredder will not cut up lots of big logs. For that job you need powerful machines, such as a chainsaw or a log splitter. These are semi-professional tools that can be dangerous in untrained hands.

What to look for in a garden shredder

Before you choose a garden shredder it’s worth thinking about how much shredding you will do, what type of material you have to shred, how you are going to dispose of the shredded garden waste and how much noise you can cope with.

Impact shredders

Impact shredders (or rapid shredders, as they are sometimes known) are noisier than roller models. They have a blade mechanism that slices up garden material into very fine pieces and don’t block as often.

  • Look for an impact shredder with more than one blade – they will blunt less quickly.
  • Choose a machine with a regular-shaped hopper – if you can feed material into it easily the job will get done quicker.
  • Check that you can access the blades safely and easily – even impact shredders block occasionally.

Choose the best impact shredder for you.

Roller shredders

LidOpenMake sure you can reach the roller or blades easily to clear any blockages

Roller shredders (or quiet shredders) use a ridged roller to crush and cut garden debris. The roller action draws material through the machine, which can make it easy to shred lots of material, but also tends to get blocked by greener, more fibrous material.

  • Look for a roller shredder that has safe, easy access to the roller – this will keep your time clearing blockages to a minimum.
  • Make sure you can easily adjust the gap between the roller and the plate it crushes plant debris against – you may need to adjust it regularly to keep it shredding effectively.
  • Check that you can move the shredder easily – some roller shredders are weighty, top-heavy machines to move around.
  • Roller shredders costs about R10 000.

Other things to remember

Most home gardeners will opt for an electric garden shredder. When buying, check that the length of the cable is sufficient for your garden. Some brands skimp on cable length, so you might need an outdoor extension cable.

Most machines will shred prunings, but there is a trade off between speed and noise in use. If you can’t stand noisy machines, there are quieter models, but they usually take a bit longer to do the job.

You’ll need some basic personal protective equipment to use a shredder safely: goggles, gloves and ear-defenders.

SOURCE: http://www.lawnmowermecca.co.za/?p=2405

Leave a comment »

How Green is Your Tech?

This is a great article sent to me by Dave Dunlop of Singlehop (http://www.singlehop.com/blog/)  – Thank you Dave for this mind shift.

This definitely made me start thinking about the way I use my email server, internet & PC in general.  I thought I was being green by not printing, no snail mail, tossed the fax but hit the send button over & over – this often sending useless shit…

Without further babbling (extra carbon waste 🙂 ) the guys who know what they talking about!!

 

Green Hosting

Climate change is on nearly everybody’s mind, in one way or another. Becoming more aware of the effects of emissions on the environment, people are looking for “greener” ways to live, from buying local (and sustainable) food and products, traveling via lower-emission transportation methods, and building up recycling and composting programs.

There are some obvious things that help — like riding a bike to work or turning off the lights when you leave a room — but everyone tells you that stuff. As a technology company offering public and private cloud hosting services, we wanted to focus on some of the ways that everyday technology consumption like email, social media, and data storage affects your carbon footprint.

Before you hit send…

Going paperless is great, but electronic communications aren’t exactly carbon free. According to Mike Berners-Lee — professional carbon-emissions consultant and brother of the guy who invented the World Wide Web, so he definitely knows what he’s talking about — every time you send an email into the ether(net), you’re using up 4 grams of carbon.[1] And that’s if you don’t add any attachments.

Email Emissions

Okay, 4 grams doesn’t sound like much, and in the grand scheme of things, it really isn’t. Four grams is about how much sugar Mary Poppins advises will help the medicine go down. But think about how many emails you send each day, then multiply that by 365. That’s a lot of sugar.

Basically, each year the average person emails an amount of carbon equal to the exhaust of a 200-mile car ride. Looked at from a different angle, all the emails sent scurrying around the Internet in a single day generate more than 880 million lbs. (that’s 44,000 tons!) of carbon per day.

Now, this isn’t to say that email is a bad thing: it’s certainly better than sending all of those messages on paper in paper envelopes using sticky paper stamps. But there are a lot of ways to cut down on carbon by checking the number of emails that go whizzing from server to server.

Stop replying to all. The “reply to all” function works by sending duplicate emails to all of the people listed in To: box. So instead of sending one email to lots of people, it’s actually sending separate emails to individuals — and multiplying your email-generated carbon footprint at the same time. Before replying to all, take a quick moment to see if everybody on the list really needs to get your message. You’ll save a few grams of carbon, and you’ll avoid aggravating all those people who might otherwise ask, “Why the heck did you send me that?”

Learn to search. Becoming intimate with your email app’s search functionality can save carbon, time, and sanity. Instead of asking your colleague to re-send that document you need for the big presentation, do a quick search of your inbox and archives to see if you have it already.

Don’t spam. Nobody likes to think they’re a spammer, but it happens. Even reputable companies with great products tend to carpet-bomb people’s inboxes with marketing messages that go mostly unread, in the hopes of finding just one more loyal customer. Just because you can send an email to anyone and everyone doesn’t mean you should. Tailoring your audience help you increase conversion rates while cutting back on carbon.

Unsubscribe. On the flip side, if you’re receiving emails that you don’t have time to read, take a minute to remove yourself from the mailing list. It’ll help keep your inbox clean, and you can feel even better knowing you’re helping to trim your carbon footprint.

Start a conversation. We’ve all done it; emailed that person who is sitting close enough that you could literally talk to them without even raising your voice. Instead of sending that email, have a little chat. Even if they’re down the hall, get up and go talk to them. Guaranteed, you’ll use less carbon by talking than you would by sending that email.

Less social media, more social awareness

Speaking of conversations, maybe emails aren’t your thing. Keeping messages short and sweet — say to the tune of 140 characters, a quick pic or a sentence-long status update — can’t really take up much carbon, right?

Actually, that is right. The carbon footprint of a tweet is estimated to be 0.02 grams.[2] Facebook has reported that the average user consumes about 311 grams (0.7 lbs.) per year, which has about the same impact as a medium latte.[3] (Hey, at least it’s not a “venti.”)

Facebook Emissions

Still, those calculations only take into account what’s happening on the company’s end. If you’re using your laptop, tablet, or smartphone to explore social media sites, chances are you’re not simply posting and then leaving. You’re probably browsing a bit, seeing what your friends are up to, making some comments, playing a game or two, engaging in highly politicized debates with unreasonable so-and-sos who just don’t understand how the real world works. That sort of thing.

Let’s face it, most of that stuff is probably a waste of time — and a waste of carbon. There’s nothing wrong with using social media, but cutting back isn’t a bad thing either. While reducing social media usage isn’t going to stop global warming on its own, every little bit does help. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind:

Look up once in a while. How social is it to spend your time looking at your phone? If you’re out and about with a group of friends, focus on what you’re doing, rather than what other people are up to. Sure, it’s okay to post the occasional status update or share a pic or two, but constantly bending your neck is carbon wasteful and may ultimately lead you to a chiropractor’s office.[4]

It’s okay to miss something. The “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO) is a psychological condition that has been exacerbated by the explosion of social media.[5] While connecting with people you don’t get to see every day can be wonderful, if you’re scouring your friends’ posts to judge whether their activities are more interesting than your own, you could be missing out on the simple enjoyment of being “in the moment.” Save some carbon and anxious brain cycles by turning those push notifications off.

Delete unused accounts. Maybe Instagram just isn’t your thing. Maybe you don’t really understand the appeal of tweeting. Or maybe you signed up on Google Plus to get more exposure for your business, book club, or improv group. Whatever the case, if you’re not using a particular social media site, deleting your account can decrease your carbon footprint while also helping you declutter your online presence and protect your privacy. Just Delete Me has direct links to the delete pages for hundreds of social media sites, with a visual guide of how easy it is to send your account into cyber-oblivion.

Twitter Emissions

Cloud your data

With the rise of cloud computing, you can reduce your personal carbon footprint by relying on the economies of scale that cloud storage provides.

We’re not gonna lie: Data centers use a lot of energy. But as a company, some of the ways we’ve managed to reduce our own carbon footprint is by installing LED lights, taking advantage of cool-weather conditions — such as that chilly polar vortex that swept down near our data centers in Chicago last winter — and making strides in server virtualization, which helps us run our processors at peak efficiency.

In thinking about data storage for your own personal or company use, it’s worth asking yourself whether you’re wasting energy, space, and money by keeping your servers on site.

Check your overhead. All computers have an energy overhead, and in our experience most on-premises servers tend to be underutilized. Some of the most efficient network hardware costs an extreme amount of money and also requires large amounts of use to make them cost effective. Rarely can the average business justify such purchases, not just in money, but also in utilization. Using a managed hosting service that optimizes its networked hardware for maximum efficiency can help you save carbon while reducing your monthly energy bills.

Stay cool. Most on-site servers use consumer-level cooling systems, utilizing carbon-excessive air conditioners, fans, or possibly water cooling systems that tap into municipal supplies. Cloud storage centers, however, can develop custom cooling technologies that are much more efficient on a per-machine basis.

Understand your needs. We offer a revolutionary level of flexibility in server architecture to our consumers. For example, by customizing your data access and storage needs through our LEAP platform, we can greatly optimize your compute environment and consolidate server use. This helps you use what you need to run and grow your business, saving carbon emissions while keeping energy use low.

Back up smartly. Even if your main server is on the premises, you still have to worry about offsite backups to protect your company and customer data. Setting up a second server can multiply your carbon footprint and jack up your costs. Our virtual machine solutions are integrated with our already efficient server architecture to provide redundancy and diagnostic tools. We also offer standalone backup services for those who want to keep their primary servers close at hand.

Conclusion

Global warming won’t be solved by any single person, company, or even government. It’s going to take a lot of people all over the world working together to understand how their everyday activities affect the environment.

But every individual decision we make helps. We at SingleHop believe that most people are not merely mindless consumers of technology, but want to use technology to make connections with others so they can live richer, more fulfilling lives.

In the end, it’s about awareness. Hopefully this post has helped you learn more about a few of the ways you can make small strides in reducing carbon consumption through technology. And we know we can always learn more, too. We’d love to hear some of your own tips and ideas!

Footnotes

Berners-Lee, Mike. “An email.” How Bad Are Bananas? Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2011. EPUB file.
Bellona, David and Tash Wong. Tweet Farts. tweetfarts.com. Accessed Aug. 7, 2014.
“Carbon & Energy Impact.” Facebook. n.d. Web. Aug. 7, 2014.
Wilson, Jacques. “Your smartphone is a pain in the neck.” CNN.com. Sept. 20, 2012. Web. Aug. 7, 2014.
Wortham, Jenna. “Feel Like a Wallflower? Maybe It’s Your Facebook Wall.” The New York Times. nytimes.com. April 9, 2011. Web. Aug. 7, 2014.

Read more at http://www.singlehop.com/blog/how-green-is-your-tech/#ocMYkgD16W8wziPt.99

 

Leave a comment »

Jeffreys Bay wind farm supplies Eskom

 Cape Town – Ten of the Jeffreys Bay wind farm’s wind turbines have now commenced supplying power to Eskom, one of the first wind farms in SA to do so.

“This marks the first step towards supplying enough clean, renewable electricity to power more than 114 000 South African homes and avoid over 420 000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year,” said Mark Pickering, general manager of the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.

Over 65% of the project’s total 60 wind turbines have already been erected and the transportation programe, which transports components from the Port of Ngqura, is soon to draw to an end.

The project is one of the SA’s largest wind farms and the workforce had no experience in this sector before their first induction a few months ago.

“It is also remarkable given the sheer scale of the project with multiple activities taking place onsite,” said Pickering.

“Over 70% of the workforce come from the local communities and are directly benefiting from gaining skills.”

The Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm spans 3 700ha and is one of the first wind farms being developed by the South African Governments Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programe (REIPP).

The site was chosen for its optimal wind conditions and minimal environmental constraints, as well as its close proximity to a 132kV Eskom grid line.

“With demand for electricity continuing to grow in South Africa, the introduction of this clean energy will have far reaching benefits for the country’s power sector, economy and people,” said Pickering.

 

SOURCE:  http://www.fin24.com/Economy/Jeffreys-Bay-wind-farm-supplies-Eskom-20140128

Leave a comment »

Tax Alert for South Africa

Energy Efficiency Savings Incentive comes into operation

Section 12L of the Income Tax Act (ITA) provides for a tax allowance for energy efficiency savings. It was originally inserted in 2009 and substituted in 2012, but remained ineffective until a notice bringing it into effect was published and the accompanying regulations issued, both which have now been done.
As part of Government’s efforts to promote energy efficiency savings, section 12L of the ITA was inserted to provide an income tax deduction to qualifying taxpayers. This tax incentive provides for an income tax deduction equal to 45c for each kilowatt hour (or equivalent) saved by the taxpayer during the relevant year of assessment against a baseline from the beginning of the year.In order to obtain the deduction, a taxpayer must register with the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), appoint a measurement and verification professional to report the energy efficiency savings, submit the report to SANEDI and submit the certificate issued by SANEDI to SARS with the claim of the deduction.

On 8 November 2013 the Minister of Finance issued a notice that section 12L came into operation on 1 November 2013. It is not entirely clear, but presumably the deduction will be available for years of assessment ending on or after that date.

SOURCE: http://live.trackalytic.com/public/messages/view-online/106OIFk6UulWtYpP/4eqSfjYWkwO3bSZv/BWB7IhmUTcbjtX9D

This is really great news – we shouls all take advantage of this Green initiate – get rewarded for you green lifestyle!!

Energy efficiency tax incentives now open for business

National Treasury published section 12L on 8 November 2013 in Government Gazette No. 37019 which puts into operation deductions of energy efficiency savings in terms of the Income Tax Act of 1962.

This long-awaited announcement is welcomed by the Certificated Measurement & Verification Professionals (CMVP) industry that has been advising clients to prepare for the imminent release for a while now.

Minister Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Finance, gave notice that that section 12L of the Income Tax Act, 1962 (Act No. 58 of 1962), (Deduction in respect of energy efficiency savings), as inserted by section 27 of the Taxation Laws Amendment Act, 2009 (Act No. 17 of 2009), amended by section 27 of the Taxation Laws Amendment Act, 2010 (Act No. 7 of 2010), and substituted by section 29 of the
Taxation Laws Amendment Act, 2012 (Act No. 22 of 2012), comes into operation on 1 November 2013.

The 12L allows deductions calculated at 45 cents per kilowatt hour or kilowatt hour equivalent of energy efficiency savings. A person claiming the deduction must obtain a certificate issued by an institution, board or body prescribed by the regulations. Such bodies can be found on the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) website http://www.sanas.co.za.

To claim for energy efficiency savings from National Treasury the Regulation requires that a baseline must be set at the beginning of an assessment year with a reporting period of the energy use at the end of the year of assessment and that such savings calculations meet the full criteria and methodology used to calculate energy efficiency savings. No double dipping is allowed, which means concurrent benefits in respect of the energy efficiency savings may not be received.

To find persons qualified to provide M&V services, the Council for Measurement and Verification of South Africa (CMVPSA) is an independent professional Measurement & Verification (M&V) Body that represents the South African M&V industry and ensures that the quality of M&V services and service providers are credible, trustworthy and transparent. Their website is http://www.cmvpsa.org.za. CMVPSA upholds the highest standards and requirements for M&V in accordance with the Efficiency Valuation Organisation (EVO) International Performance Measurement & Verification Protocol (IPMVP), the internationally recognised protocol for performance M&V which provides a consistent, reliable approach to M&V around the world.

The Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), in cooperation with EVO established the CMVP training programme which is locally presented by the AEE’s sole training partner for the Southern African region the Energy Training Foundation (EnTF). EnTF is also an EWSETA training provider and the affiliated training provider of the Southern African Association for Energy Efficiency (SAEE). The CMVP qualification requires attending a 2 day intensive M&V training course, writing and passing the prescribed international examination on the 3rd day, and passing the examination with a minimum of 70% within the required time allowed. Thereafter a candidate may apply for Certification to the local CMVP Board who will review the candidates’ current qualifications and experience in the M&V industry. After positive recommendation by the local board, a recommendation is made to the AEE’s international CMVP Board for Certification. AEE keeps tight control of the quality of candidate that receives Certification in that it requires maintaining Certification through continuing education and providing proof thereof for re-Certification every 3 years.

The AEE has been developing the energy engineering field for over 36 years. In total AEE is active in 90 countries with 14 000 CEMs whom are collectively active in every single continent in the world, and just short of 3 000 CMVPs in 28 countries.

The EnTF presents CMVP training throughout the country at various venues. The next scheduled courses will be in Cape Town on 12-14 March 2014, Johannesburg on 14-16 May and 22-24 October 2014, and in Kenya on 23-25 June 2014.

SOURCE: http://live.trackalytic.com/public/messages/view-online/106OIFk6UulWtYpP/vxF4bwrczMf8wreP/BWB7IhmUTcbjtX9D

Leave a comment »

Cape Town office park unveils large-scale roof-mounted solar PV system

blackriverparkrooftoppv

An office park in Observatory, Cape Town, has unveiled the first phase of what is currently considered to be the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) rooftop installation in Southern Africa.

SOLA Future Energy says Phase 1 of the installation on Black River Park was completed this month and is already the biggest of its kind in Southern Africa. A total of 2 875 panels have been installed, with 2 050 more to be laid in Phase 2.

Once completed, the 1 200 kW system will cover an area of 8 000 m2, generating about 1.9 GWh a year.

The system uses multi-crystalline silicon solar PV modules to convert sunlight to electricity.

Joubert Rabie, who co-owns the Black River Park with Leaf Capital, said at an event celebrating the completion of the first phase that the solar initiative was part of its strategy to “stay ahead of the sustainability curve”.

“It’s not only the right thing to do, but it also makes commercial sense,” he said, adding that the return was “substantially higher” than initially anticipated. The cost of installing the system could be recouped in the first seven years of the system’s expected life of at least 25 years.

A daily tally displayed on a computer screen outside one of the buildings, shows tenants how the system is performing. By late afternoon on Monday, the energy generated by the system equated to 934 kg of coal – or a saving of R2 229 for the day.

SOLA Future Energy MD Chris Haw said the scale of the solar panel system would generate enough for tenants to significantly power their operations through green energy.

SOLA Future Energy is a member of the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association, which recently conducted an extensive study into the potential of PV in South Africa.

Rabie said part of the appeal of the Black River Park PV project was that it was in line with international best practice and supported companies wishing to be more ‘green’.

In terms of square metreage, international tenants make up about 35% of Black River Park. The Green Building Council ofSouth Africa also has its offices there.

The office park also makes use of other environmental friendly initiatives, such as LED lighting, a mulch plant for its gardens and performance glass.

City of Cape Town Portfolio Chair for the Energy and Climate Change Committee, Matthew Kempthorne, welcomed the launch.

He said the City of Cape Town was still ironing out some technical, accounting and administrative issues, but anticipated that the complications around paying companies feeding electricity back into the grid, would be sorted out within the next three to four months.

 

SOURCE:  http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/cape-town-office-park-unveils-large-scale-roof-mounted-solar-system-2013-08-27/rep_id:3182?goback=%2Egde_124109_member_269141634#%21

Leave a comment »

Solar Power Begins to Shine as Environmental Benefits Pay Off

PARIS — Amid polemics over rising electricity prices in Europe and the level of green energy subsidies in various countries, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the growth in clean-energy generation is a huge success story.

Michaela Rehle/Reuters

Solar panels on the roof of a barn in Binsham, Germany. Last year, global photovoltaic generating capacity passed a milestone of 100 gigawatts.

Solar photovoltaic generation, known as PV, like wind power before it, is coming into the mainstream — at great environmental benefit.

Based on comparative life-cycle analyses of power sources, “PV electricity contributes 96 percent to 98 percent less greenhouse gases than electricity generated from 100 percent coal and 92 percent to 96 percent less greenhouse gases than the European electricity mix,” said Carol Olson, a researcher at the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands.

Photovoltaic generation offers several additional environmental advantages, Ms. Olson said in an interview.

“Compared with electricity from coal, PV electricity over its lifetime uses 86 to 89 percent less water, occupies or transforms over 80 percent less land, presents approximately 95 percent lower toxicity to humans, contributes 92 to 97 percent less to acid rain, and 97 to 98 percent less to marine eutrophication,” she said. Eutrophication is the discharge of excess nutrients that causes algal blooms.

Toward the end of last year, installed global photovoltaic generating capacity passed the milestone of 100 gigawatts — enough to meet the energy needs of 30 million households and save more than 53 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, according to a recent report by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, E.P.I.A., a solar powerindustry lobby group.

“Right now, today, the world has installed 130 gigawatts of PV, up from 1.4 gigawatts in 2000,” Wolfgang Palz, a former manager of the European Commission’s development program for renewable energies, told a conference organized by France’s National Center for Scientific Research, CNRS, in Paris last month.

Europe alone now has 80 gigawatts of installed photovoltaic capacity, of which 35 gigawatts is in Germany, the European Union leader, providing about 7 percent of the country’s electricity, he said.

Some regions of Germany are even further ahead: “If you buy an Audi today, manufactured in Bavaria, 10 percent of the electricity used to produce it is PV,” Mr. Palz said in an interview.

With large-volume installation, economies of scale have substantially reduced unit costs.

According to a report by the E.P.I.A., the European solar industry’s lobby group, photovoltaic costs have dropped 22 percent with every doubling of production capacity.

Going back 10 to 15 years, “we had to fight to find some crazy people who would install solar panels for $70 per watt on the rooftop,” said Eicke Weber, director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, in Freiburg, Germany.

“We had to find some market support systems for the first thousand-roof program,” Mr. Weber said. “That became the 100,000-roof program — and then the million-roof program.”

Now, “the number that should be broadcast is that, in Germany now, we are able to put PV systems on the rooftop for one euro per watt,” or $1.34, “with the back-up system, with the inverter, and with the cost of installation,” Mr. Weber said. An inverter is a device that converts the direct current electricity produced by solar generation into alternating current that can be fed into the electrical grid.

“In other countries, in the United States, it’s about a factor of two to three more expensive,” he added.

The rapid expansion of renewable energy generation in Europe has been driven by policy, and specifically by the provision of relatively high guaranteed prices for renewable energy sold into the transmission grid — known as feed-in tariffs.

Ahead of the 2009 United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen, the European Union adopted a set of targets committing it to a 20 percent reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels; an increase in the renewables’ share of E.U. energy consumption to 20 percent; and a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency — all by 2020.

Since then, feed-in tariffs have been one of the main drivers of cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. The other has been reduced industrial activity resulting from economic recession. Between them, they appear to have been remarkably effective.

In Germany, Spain, Italy and France, for example, renewable energy investment boomed after the introduction of feed-in tariffs, though it has since slowed abruptly as governments have backed off to avoid a glut in supply.

According to the European Environment Agency, Europe had already achieved an emissions reduction of 18 percent by last year, putting it on course to overshoot the 2020 target, even if the E.U. economy recovers by then.

According to the E.P.I.A., the photovoltaic industry lobby group, 10 of the 27 E.U. member states had already achieved their 2020 photovoltaic targets by 2012, and most of the others were close.

With many European consumers squeezed between stagnant or falling incomes and soaring power bills, and governments desperately trying to cut back on public sector spending liabilities, green feed-in tariffs have come under increasingly sharp attack in the past year.

Power utilities have blamed them for rising electricity bills while traditional oil, gas and even nuclear generators have accused them of skewing the competitive playing field — a complaint that ignores the fiscal, regulatory and contractual advantages that they themselves have negotiated with various governments over the years.

Last month, for example, the British government agreed to a 35-year guaranteed price for power from a new nuclear plant to be operated by the French utility EDF. The price set, almost double Britain’s current wholesale electricity price, was effectively a feed-in tariff under another name, supporters of renewable energy say.

“Claiming that a guaranteed feed-in tariff for photovoltaic has to be stopped because it does not fit anymore in the new world is, of course, pure hypocrisy,” said Claude Turmes, a member of the European Parliament from Luxembourg. Mr. Turmes said that President François Hollande of France had backed EDF in its negotiations for a feed-in premium to build the British reactors, even while government policy was shifting away from feed-in tariffs for renewables.

Although cost of living concerns have increasingly been raised by critics seeking to roll back green energy incentives, Ms. Olson, of the Netherlands energy research center, said a cost-benefit analysis of German feed-in tariffs in 2011 made by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, had found that the benefits outweighed the costs paid by electricity users.

“The €10.9 billion surcharge from the feed-in tariff was in large part compensated by savings on fossil fuel imports of €7.1 billion,” she said. “The presence of renewable energy in the electricity market also brings down the cost of peak electricity by about €4.6 billion. These two factors alone offset the costs, even without calculating in the health and environmental benefits or the jobs created.”

Cutting back on support for green energy now, in response to a short-term oversupply, could seriously damage future investment prospects, clean energy advocates and some financial analysts say.

“Photovoltaic has attracted the largest share of renewable energy investment for the past three years,” said Arnulf Jäger-Waldau, a senior scientist in the renewable energy unit of the European Commission’s joint research center, in an interview. “In 2012, worldwide it attracted $137.7 billion, or €105.9 billion, in new investments.”

“When politicians put in high feed-in tariffs and then abolish them, they create too much uncertainty for the market to grow well. It is better to enact a more modest feed-in tariff directly coupled to the actual cost of developments and maintain it over many years,” he said.

By 2015, present overcapacity on the market should be absorbed, Winfried Hoffmann, president of the European photovoltaic industry lobby group, said in an interview. “Two years from now, we will see a new wave of cost-effective production units,” he said. By then the period of consolidation will be over.

“Many companies will not survive, but some will. If we do not do our homework and prepare the ground today for this next wave and this growing market, then the window of opportunity will be closed,” he said.

Michael Eckhart, global head of environmental finance and sustainability at Citigroup, warned that policy shifts risked undermining investor confidence.

“Don’t let the public policies lag,” he said, “because once we leave, we’re not coming back.”

SOURCE:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/11/business/energy-environment/solar-power-begins-to-shine-as-environmental-benefits-pay-off.html?pagewanted=1

Leave a comment »

Green Home Renovations – Why Are They So Popular?

It’s one of the biggest trends in home renovations, but just why are so many homeowners choosing to “go green”?

green home renovations

Because green home renovations give you benefits that other upgrades can’t, like:

1. They make your house stand out

No matter when you try to sell your house, having a bunch of green upgrades will help set it apart from the competition. Remember, you’ve got to convince buyers to choose your home over all the others that are on the market in your neighborhood!

green home renovations

2. They lower your living expenses

With costs for just about everything else going up, it’s nice to know that there’s a way to cut back on your utility bills. Depending on the renovations you make, you can drastically reduce your energy and water bills.

For example, getting double or triple-paned windows can shave 30% off your energy bills.

By replacing the old appliances in your kitchen with ones that come with an Energy Star rating, they’ll actually pay for themselves within 5 years!

If you seal the cracks around your home, it can add up to big savings. In fact, the Department of Energy says that the average American home has enough cracks in it to equal a 3×3 foot hole in the wall! Imagine how much of your air conditioning and heating bills are being wasted!

If you’re not sure exactly where to start, consider getting an energy audit. Odds are your local electric company offers them for free!

woman - green home renovations

3. They make your home healthier

If you think that only good things can come from a fresh coat of paint, think again. The average paint comes with VOCs (short for “Volatile Organic Compounds”). Low and no VOC paints are much more eco-friendly — and, as an added benefit, they’re much safer for the people living around them. In fact, it can be incredibly dangerous for pregnant women to be around VOCs.

By using low or no VOC paints now, you can breathe in healthier air — and then have a big selling point whenever your house goes on the market!

4. They look great

Bamboo floors are one of the most common green home renovations, and it’s easy to see why. They look just as elegant as traditional hardwood, and they come in just as many different shades — but they’re much better for the environment.

That’s because bamboo is a grass, instead of a hardwood. In fact, bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants on the planet. The trees that have to be cut down to make hardwood floors can take decades to grow back, but bamboo grows back at a rate of two inches per hour!

green home renovations

5. They give your older home a new feel

Even if it’s been standing for decades, making a few green home renovations can make your home look and feel much more modern. And, remember, countless surveys show that homebuyers respond much better to that new vibe!

6. They help the local economy

Some green building materials get to take advantage of the title just because they didn’t have to use up a ton of gas to get to you. Since they’re not riding on diesel-fueled trucks for thousands of miles, they’re helping you breathe in cleaner air. As an added benefit, by buying them, you’ll get to spend your hard-earned money with a locally-based company, instead of sending your money halfway around the world!

 

SOURCE:  http://greenliving4live.com/2013/11/green-home-renovations-popular/

Leave a comment »

%d bloggers like this: