Thursday, February 28, 2008

Carpe Rantum


Carpe Rantum
A Rant a Day
The Head Shrinks Away

It has been "suggested" that some of my posts are nothing much more than "Rants". The purpose of this particular post therefore is simple - it is to defend myself from such character assassins.

Let it hereby be know to all readers of this blog, and all who hear gossip from readers of this blog, and all sneaky lurkers who peek into this blog through their RSS readers, that I uphold fully my right to rant.

I need my rants more than I need my four mugs of strong coffee or my laxatives or my Valium. I have, under Irish Law (at least for the present) the right to rant. I have the moral right and obligation to rant at politicians, bankers, wankers, gougers, and rip-off merchants. I will continue to rant as it keeps me from insanity (sometimes).

Thank you for listening.

God Bless Americum!!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thin Film PV Cell Development Inches Ahead


Looks like nice Christmas Wrapping Paper??

More Developments
in Cheap
Plastic Solar Cells

Adapted from a Press Release 01/02/2008 Fraunhofer ISE

Many teams of researchers all over the world are working on the development of organic solar cells. The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems presented some new ideas which will speed developments at the world’s largest trade fair for nanotechnology, the nano-tech 2008 Tokyo on last February 13th to 15th.

Organic solar cells can be printed (like a newspaper) onto very thin and cheap plastic sheets, which makes them inexpensive to manufacture. Organic solar cells are not intended just yet to compete with classic silicon cells because they are not efficient enough - but that will probably change with newer developments.

Until now, the front electrode that faces the sun, has been made of expensive indium tin oxide because this material is transparent. But now there is an alternative: The Fraunhofer crew has interconnected a poorly conductive transparent polymer electrode with a highly conductive metal layer on the rear side of the solar cell. This connection is done trough numerous tiny holes in the solar cell. This has the advantage that allows a low-priced material to be used.

I am always facinated by developments in nano technology and especially with regard to Solar Cells. I look forward to reading the various announcements of new discoveries and developments as they happen - and they are happening at a faster and faster rate. I have no doubt that thin film PV cell will become highly efficient and really cheap in the coming years.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Plurion and Dr Know


The Undercover Reporter
Addresses "Dr Know"
on Plurion

Dear Tony, On reflection, would you feel that “Dr Know's” post regarding Plurion deserves a more specific answer than I provided ? Something like the following, with a few links that your readers can check out for themselves ?

An Open Letter to Dr Know!
from An Under Cover Reporter

The senior people involved in building the 1 sq. meter Plurion battery back in 2001/2002 were presumably the authors of the paper titled; Introducing Cerium Based High Energy Redox Batteries authored by R L Clarke, S. Harrison, B. J. Dougherty, S. Mohanta, J.P. Millington.

The paper was presented in April 2002, and I guess that "Dr Know" is one of the authors, though not, of course, the late J.P.M.

His post includes several rather odd comments. The Regenysis (correct spelling) project was discontinued at a very late stage as E.ON were buying into the electricity company that had developed it. The putative reasons for its discontinuation are set out in:

The IP and general know-how relating to the project were acquired by, and are still owned by, VRB Powersystems, ( of Vancouver, manufacturers of a vanadium redox flow battery that works. One large unit was recently purchased by an Irish Wind Farm company, others have been installed in Africa.

It is not clear what “Dr Know” means in referring to "reviewable documents" in the context of Plurion patents. The term is not one we in the patent fraternity use. The patents themselves (incl. applications) are accessible via various patent databases, while the non-patent literature they cite is available in large libraries. His "hint" is obscure. Patents are accessible worldwide, irrespective of which national patent office they were filed at.

“Dr Know” refers to a "bomb" - of course the cancellation of Regenysis came as a shock - but the other players in the game carried on, it didn't affect them. "Burning cash" ? The costs of the Regenysis project were never, as far as I know, published, so I wonder how “Dr Know”knows ?

Plurion has so far burned through $16 million (as quoted by PESWiki) plus maybe another £10 million in Scotland (£9.3 million from ITI). Not chicken feed!

But the most interesting dichotomy is the "another 3 years, maybe more" of which “Dr Know” speaks, contrasted with Dr Iain Vallance's brave assertion, in this blog, that a fully working unit will be delivered in the next 10 months or so. Come on, gentlemen, make up your minds. Is it his figure or yours we're supposed to believe ?

Tony - as usual, you're most welcome to edit as you think fit, but at least your readers can check out the facts for themselves.


My thanks to both "Dr Know" and to the "Under Cover Reporter"for their brilliant contributions to this debate about Plurion and the development of the redox battery. Ed.


Plurion - from An Under-Cover Reporter


An Angle on the Plurion Story
An Under-Cover Reporter!!

Dear Tony,

Haven't tuned in to your Wood Pellet Blog of late, until today, where I see some very recent material. I'd like to offer two comments, for you to use as you think fit, but - as before - asking that my identity be not revealed, even though some people have a pretty shrewd idea of it.

Firstly, YES - I plead guilty - I DO have an agenda, and this is what it is. A group of entrepreneurs (I won't name them, but their names are right there on the web) have for over 20 years been setting up technology-based companies, raising money from investors and other sources, and taking their money and burning through it, with no return.

Companies involved included xxxxx Engineering Ltd, Electro xxx (California) xxxxx Technologies Inc (California) - folded, private investors lost pretty much everything, Xxxxxxx Inc (took grant money from US EPA and other sources) - seems to have folded. Define "Rip-Off" merchants as you wish - these guys come pretty close to most people's definition.

(Removed the company names - just in case someone causes trouble) Ed.

Secondly, I'd put it to you that it is quite wrong to describe the recent sale of 70% of Plurion as a mere "Shuffling of Paper" Oh No! This was a Venture Capital Company (ITI Scotland), after 2 years and 4 months, delivering its considered verdict on the likely success of Plurion. And that verdict, as you see, is that "they wanted out". ITI Scotland were the only people outside of AIC to have a pretty good idea of the facts, the problems, the rate of progress - and their decision speaks volumes.

So what happens now ? Highly significant was the fact that the news of Plurion being sold back didn't cause so much as a twitch to the AIC share price which has been pretty much dead flat at 245-250p for 6 months. The AIC share price is underpinned by hopes for their big project, recovery of metals using "new technology" at Tsumeb mine in Namibia (check the Weatherly Mining website). This is a potentially $billion project (if you believe in it). AIC couldn't afford to jeopardise the big project, and so decided best to buy back Plurion, thereby stopping any bad news getting out. . My guess is it will be quietly, quietly wound down. I cannot see them delivering a unit to E.ON by the end of 2008 as Dr Vallance wrote to you.

Professional electrochemists are watching AIC with fascination ( Few believe their BLAB project will succeed, because Atraverda ( are already in production with this technology and believe they have cast-iron patent protection.

The latest spin-off RedOx Biofuels Ltd is looking more and more like a dead duck. An annoucement on the AIC website on 15th Nov 2007 trumpeted an investment (reversing into an AIM-listed cash shell). Nearly 4 months on, no more news and those who have studied the AIC patent which presumably underpins this, find it a joke, full of mistakes and fallacies. The EverClear project at Berkeley Pit, Montana, has closed - it was only a demonstrator - and demonstrated that 30 year old technology, available to anyone, worked! Big deal!

So all eyes now on Namibia. Have these guys really developed a technology that solves a problem which has defeated the world's mining giants for 100 years ?

We aren't 100% sure what this technology might be, though we've been led to believe it might be a form of leaching. What we know, or think we know, suggests it's another will-o-the-wisp.

AIC is a £100 million company - and I would bet my bottom dollar, investors will lose every penny of it.

And as for me - I'd ask you to judge me on the accuracy of my predictions so far. I said Plurion was a can of worms - and that seems to have been the painful conclusion reached by ITI Scotland, the only people with the hard facts before them.

Kind regards


Monday, February 25, 2008

Tidal Generators


Another Tidal Generator Design

A company called "OpenHydro" have a design for an underwater generator not unlike the design I just featured by Dr Turnock. I guess the way these things go is that there are a rash of designs come available and it is only time will tell those that prevail.

Here is the company blurb:

The Open-Centre Turbine is an example of a simple idea proving to be the most effective solution. The functionality and survivability of equipment in an underwater environment demands simplicity and robustness. The Open-Centre Turbine meets these demands, with its slow-moving rotor and lubricant-free construction and operation minimising risk to marine life. The Open-Centre Turbine, with just one moving part and no seals, is a self-contained rotor with a solid state permanent magnet generator encapsulated within the outer rim, minimising maintenance requirements. Open-Centre Technology is unique and covered by a suite of worldwide patents.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Plurion Redox Battery Update


Shuffling the Cards at Plurion

I have written a couple of pieces on Plurion in Scotland and their work on developing a new-ish angle on Redox storage batteries for grid level storage. After a deep and echoing silence, the company has made an announcement. However, the new amounts to no more than there has been another bit of paper shuffling and that further announcements on the real stuff, the technologies readiness for the marketplace, "will be made in due course".

Here is their blurb:




Applied Intellectual Capital ("AIC") (AIM: AINC) is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with ITI Scotland ("ITI") to purchase all of ITI's interest and rights in the Plurion joint venture between ITI and AIC ("Plurion") for a sum exceeding ITI's investment. This agreement has resulted in AIC holding approximately 80% of Plurion's share capital on a fully diluted basis.

(Gee it's all changing hands AGAIN!!!)

Plurion has been working with ITI and AIC over the last two years on a research programme for the development of Flow Battery technology. A fully developed version of this technology would be capable of storing megawatt hours ofelectrical energy for later distribution. Applications of this technology wouldbe of particular relevance to smoothing the availability of electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind and also deferring power networkinfrastructure expenditure.

(Yea - like we didn't know that already)

Plurion is working with AIC on a Research and Development programme to move its technology from bench top to commercial scale and has built a test facility at Glenrothes in Scotland. This facility is capable of testing and demonstrating flow batteries of up to 250kW in capacity.

Plurion's product development is nearing completion and once key milestones have been achieved Plurion will establish manufacturing facilities.

A further announcement will be made in due course.

(You will notice they didn't even give the vaguest hint of WHEN things will be happening!!! Much as I am facinated with the possibilities of this technology, I would not be tying up my money (if I had it) by investing in Plurion just yet!!!)


Friday, February 22, 2008

Correction from Dr. Turnock


OOps Did it again - mis-quoted - Here is the Correction!

Hi Tony,

One minor correction - should be 20m not 50m (last paragraph)

Best regards

Dr Stephen Turnock


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Compact Under Water Generator


Looks like a big Generator but this is a little test tiddler

Compact Tidal Generator

Why Do some Good Ideas Make it, while others Get Lost in the Works?

(Adapted from a Press release 13th June 2006)

Two researchers a Dr Steve Turnock and a Dr Suleiman Abu-Sharkh at Southhampton University came up with a neat design for an underwater generator which uses very few moving bits. The project got its funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council which also published the news of the developments.

Wow it doesn't get much simpler that that!

What makes this design interesting is its simplicity. “This is a compact design that does away with many of the moving parts found in current marine turbines. It’s a new take on tidal energy generation,” says Turnock. Most generators are essentially wind turbines turned upside down and made to work underwater. They include hefty gearboxes and have to rotate the blades to face into the flow of the water. They turn a half a circle between tides. Gears and moving parts require expensive maintenance and eat up energy from the system, especially when they are used underwater. All this adds to the cost and lessens the power generated.

The Southampton design does not need to turn around because the design of its turbine blades means that they turn equally well, regardless of which way the water flows past them. The blades are also placed in a specially shaped housing that helps channel the water smoothly through the turbine.
Another beauty of the Southampton design is that everything is wrapped in a single package that can be prefabricated so there will be few on-site construction costs. “Just drop it into flowing water and it will start generating electricity. It will work best in fast flowing, shallow water,” says Turnock, who foresees rows of these devices secured to sea floors and riverbeds.
The present prototype is just a tiddler at 25 centimetres across. The researchers are planning larger scale models with improved propeller blades that will further increase the efficiency of generating electricity. All being well, the team envisage the generator becoming commercially available within five years.

The originators "Notes to editors":
Using funding from EPSRC and industry in the early 2000s, Abu-Sharkh, Turnock and their team created a novel tethered underwater vehicle thruster that used electricity to turn a ducted propeller, providing thrust to control the vehicle’s position and speed. Tethered underwater vehicles are extensively used in the offshore industry for conducting underwater inspections and robotic manipulation. An overall propulsion system based on electrical thrusters is much smaller and lighter than the traditional hydraulic thrusters used in tethered underwater vehicles. So using the new ones reduces the weight of the vehicles, meaning that they require less power to move them and so are cheaper to run.

The concept of an electricity generator sprang out of the fundamental research involved in the hydrodynamic and electrical design of the integrated electric thruster. These thrusters, manufactured under licence by the local Hampshire company TSL, are already in use around the world for a variety of underwater vehicle applications.

Funding for these tests (which build on the original EPSRC-funded work) was provided as part of the University of Southampton’s School of Engineering Sciences’ MSc programme in Maritime Engineering Science.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. The EPSRC invests more than £500 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC also actively promotes public awareness of science and engineering. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research.

A Test Rig with the Generator Under Water

Speaking to Dr. Stephen Turnock

This morning I had a very interesting talk with Dr Stephen Turnock. A nice guy who took time out to speak about his work.

He told me that the tests to date on the generator have shown satisfactory results and that contracts for the commercial development of the project are in the pipeline. The initial focus of this design will most probably be towards smaller installations, rather that huge 50 meter type of generators. So line up all you guys with small tidal inlets and mountain streams, this yoke might be a better bet than a wind turbine!!

Best wished to Stephen Turnock and his team. Looks like this one will get through the maze!


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

WoodPellet Boiler Czech and Irish Prices Compared


Costly Ireland

A ScreenPrint of the Czech Dealers Site

En Tech Ireland are advertising Atmos Wood Pellet Boilers. The price seems very high to me compared to the price you can get on the Continent. They are also asking a VERY hefty fee for installation at €1250. Here is the link:

I asked my plumber what he would charge to plumb-in a pellet boiler to an existing heating system, and he said it would be about a days work and he would charge me around €400 at most. If I had someone come and commission it for say €250, (commissioning is about 2 hours work on average), that gives a total of about €650. This would represent a saving of €600 on what En Tech are asking.

En Tech's Price list

Atmos Pellet Boilers price Guide

Boiler Output .... ... Cost .. ... Extras** .. Installation .... Grant ......Net Cost
D 15 P – 15KW ... €3,330 .. € 2,360 .. . € 1,250 .... ... € 3,000 .....€ 3,940
D 20 P – 20KW ... €3,760 .. € 2,360 .... € 1,250 .... .. € 3,000 .....€ 4,370

The "Extras" would include a Hopper, and Auger, Flue extention pipes, and plumbing fittings, also maybe a safety system and a flue draught regulator. The requirement would vary greatly between different installations - so it would be impossible to quote one price. But €2360 sounds very high unless you are including the cost of a full double walled stainless steel flue. In many cases all that would be needed is a couple of flue bends into an existing chimney.

Czech Prices.

The Czech Republic price for the Atmos D15P is €1899 this includes the local VAT of 19% not too far off the Irish 21%. You could easily ship this boiler to Ireland for around €300 - €400 That's a total of €2300 including shipping costs to Ireland and represents an immediate saving of €1030 on the Irish basic price. If someone was shipping a number of these units the unit cost for shipping could go down to maybe €150 per boiler or less.

The Czech Republic is now in the EU so there are no difficulties in doing business.

The D20P is on offer by the same shop at €1999 inc. 19% VAT. Add say €400 shipping and the resultant saving is €1361.

Here is the direct link for the D20P boiler:

Here is the contact details for the company:
Bravura s.r.o.
Kopecna 20, 602 00 Brno
Czech republic

ID : 26228203 VAT-ID : CZ26228203

Tel. : + 420 543 331 528

Cheaper without the Grant?

By my claculations, if I were to import one of these Atmos boilers, get my plumber to instal it for 300- 400 Euro make a hopper and buy a cheap auger, I would come out better than buiying it from En Tech and getting the grant. I would also have no hassle or expense of meeting SEI standards or have commissioning charges. Grants just drive up the prices in my opinion.

Commissioning charges are a JOKE. It takes no more to tune and commission a Pellet Boiler than it does an oil boiler. Try asking some punter for several hundred euro to tune his boiler!!!



Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Clarification from VarioLight


A Vario Finished LED Bulb - The Finned Metal base is a Heatsink

Liam Ellis Clarifies a Point

Hi Tony,

Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I'm glad that you have popped up a piece on LEDs on your blog. However, there is just one point that needs to be clarified.

Tony - Cree don't produce heatsinks or finished LED Bulbs, they only produce the led modules!!.

This fact may cause some confusion with people reading the article, as the main crux of the LED is indeed its heatsink. Think of the Cree LED module as a good BMW engine. We make good BMW car bodies for it and the end product is a good BMW complete car.

The Chinese and several other UK and Euroupean manufacturers use poorly designed and cheaper car bodies "Heatsinks" and what you end up with is a "Lada" !!!

I just dont want people to be ripped off just because they decide to go with a Cree product. We stand by Cree 110% but its what you do with their LED's that really makes the differance !!



Thanks for clarifying that point Liam. Ed.


Monday, February 18, 2008

LED Lighting The Future is Bright!


LED Lamps Replacing Halogen Downlighters
A Photo sent to me by Liam Ellis

Talking About LED Lamps
with Liam Ellis of Vario Lighting Ireland

A few weeks ago I had a very interesting e-mail from Liam Ellis of Vario Lighting in Co Meath. Liam’s company manufactures various end products using Cree LED modules. Cree is US based and is one of the top producers in the world of high power LED lighting.

I later phoned Liam and had a most interesting conversation on LED lighting. Here is an extract from Liam’s e-mail:

My name is Liam Ellis and I set up a company just over 3 years ago in Navan Co Meath that is Ireland's first, and as yet only, High-End LED product manufacturer. I’m very much on the smaller scale of things but growing.
We have LED units in warm and cold white for replacing halogens without loosing any light levels!!

Our 2.34 watt unit = 20 watt halogen and
our 6.93 watt unit = 50 watt halogen.

Tony I was wondering what your thoughts were on LED's? If you were thinking of doing an article on your blog about them, there is not a lot I don’t know about them. So just ask away if you need some answers. Anyhow I just thought I’d say hi and keep up the good work!!

Liam Ellis.
Vario Lighting.

The Price of LED Lamps

I asked Liam about the price of LED lights. At the moment he agreed that these lights are quite expensive and are really only for the specialist market like commercial displays etc. A replacement lamp for a halogen down lighter currently runs at about 20 times the price of an equivalent halogen lamp. Mind you, they do last a virtual lifetime and they are at least twice as efficient as CFL bulbs so they would eventually pay back but that would take a while. However there is a price break on the horizon. In the next year or so the price of high power LED lamps will tumble.

The Chinese are already producing low priced LEDs but these are not of good quality. China has not got the quality control thing going properly at all yet - but we should thank them all the same, as they are forcing the West into better price efficiency.

Problems with LED Lamps.

I asked Liam about one of the problems with the high-powered LED lamps, that they tend to blow due to overheating. Liam says this is not a problem with the Cree brand, as these have proper heat sinks to dissipate the heat generated. It is the excess heat that causes the damage.

Another problem I discussed with Liam is the fact that the colour of the light of a LED lamp will tend to “go off” as it ages. Liam pointed out that this is mainly due to overheating and to poor quality of dye in the substrate of the device. Where high quality control and proper heat sinks are used, colour drift is not a factor.

New Even Higher Power LEDs on the way.

Liam told me he is looking at the first few samples of an exciting new breed of LED. These are Super High Power LEDs with light output equivalent to halogen lamps of several hundred watts.

The Future of LEDs

I talked with Liam about the future of LED lighting and we agreed that LEDs are exciting technology and will become better and cheaper in a short time. In a couple of years there will be reasonably priced LED replacements form many of the current bulbs. These will last near enough for a lifetime, will have perfectly balanced colour temperature, be highly efficient and easily dimmed or used in colour changing displays. You will be able to dial-up a colour mood for your room. LEDs will be 100 safe as they generate little heat and they are also just about 100% environmentally friendly as well.

The price of LED lamps will soon come way down which will make them an attractive alternative for the average householder. But just now they are really only for the specialist market.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Installers from Hell Sunday Times wants your story


Have you had
Installer from Hell??

Colin Coyle of the Sunday Times has contacted me regarding a story he is writing-up on Wood Pellet Boiler Installers and peoples experiences with them. He wants to contact anyone with a "story" to tell.

If you have had some hassles he would like to talk to you. If you are willing to share your story - please contact him immediately. Contact details at the end of this article.

Here is his e-mail to me:


Colin Coyle from The Sunday Times here. I'm writing a piece for this Sunday about problems people are having with wood pellet boiler installers. Many of them seem to be totally unqualified to do the job and SEI offer little support. SEI is now planning to introduce an accredited training course in March but it seems to be two years too late for a lot of people.

I have hear one or two horror stories already but would like to speak to you after reading your blog. I would also like to speak to people who may have contacted your blog with problems.

The usual way we would do that is to ask you to forward on this email to them. Then it is entirely up to them if they wish to contact me or not. The story is focused quite tightly on the installers rather than being critical of the technology overall, as there are obviously many benefits once the teething problems are sorted out.

If you get this message, could you drop me a line with a contact number for you or ring me on the office number below. It's my direct line. Best regards and well done with the blog, Colin

Colin Coyle
The Sunday Times
4th Floor, Bishop's Square,
Redmond's Hill, Dublin 2
tel: +353 1 479 2437 fax: +353 1 479 2421


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rubbish & Law of Diminishing Returns


Rubbish and the Universal Law

The Minister for the Enviornment increasing substantially the charge for LEGAL waste disposal will lead directly to only one thing IMHO, an exponential increase in ILLEGAL dumping.

The law of Diminishing Returns

Where towns and cities have imposed too much cost and inconvenience on the motorist by way of parking charges, fines, and clamping, they have witnessed a huge migration of business to suburban shopping malls where parking is provided for free.

Already illegal dumping from cars of sacks of rubbish is on the increase. It might be prudent for the Minister to consider that the same Universal Law might apply in the case of disposing of rubbish.


Monday, February 11, 2008

WoodPellet Efficiency Query - Follow-up


The Query

"My father was advised to install a wood chip burner in his new house. He was advised that it would be economical. He is now using 2 tonne of pellets a month to heat a 6,000 sq ft house. Common sense would dictate that this cannot be right but the supplier has been out and looked at the product and says it is working perfectly. Can anyone advise how we can go about trying to prove that we have been duped?"

Here is my tuppence worth to start the ball rolling:

1. Wow - 6000 sq foot is a huge house – more like a mini-hotel. It is well over three times the size of a typical average semi-detached 3-bed home - even four times the size. So here you could treble or indeed quadruple the average heating cost.

2. 2 tonnes of pellets equals roughly 1000 litres of heating oil – I would say for 3 to 4 average sized houses is not too far off the normal.

3. Just how well insulated this new very large house will have a big bearing on heating costs.

4. The pellet boiler could be some of the problem. For instance: (a) what is the efficiency rating of the boiler, (b) have all the baffles been properly inserted in the boiler flueways? (c) Has the boiler got a proper flue draught regulator to stop the heat being sucked up the chimney in windy weather?? (d) has the boiler been fully tuned for efficiency, and what type of regulator system has it got??

5. What level of heat is being maintained in the house, in how many of the rooms, and for how many hours? If you are heating a house to say 23 degrees for 16 hours a day then you are going to eat fuel.

There may indeed be nothing wrong with the heating system - just with the size of the house!! Just like a big gas guzzling car - a big house will suck up the juice!!


Wood Pellet - Wood Chip Query


Has anyone any advice for this guy???

glendac has left a new comment on your post "Wood Pellet Prices & SEI Grants Addendum":

My father was advised to install a wood chip burner in his new house. he was advised that it would be economical. he is now using 2 tonne of pelletsa month to heat a 6,000 sq ft house. Common sense would dictate that this cannot be right but the supplier has been out and looked at the product and says it is working perfectly.

Can anyone advise how we can go about trying to prove that we have been duped.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tilting at Windmills


What have Don Qioxote
Minister Eamon Ryan
Got in Common??

Am I being too synical in my old age? Every time I hear Miniterial announcements I get a weary feeling of déjá vu. But the spark of hope still burns and I sincerely hope Minister Ryan's announcement of a guaranteed tarrif for windmill electricity will indeed stimulate the desired growth in off-shore wind farms and not simply start another circus like the SEI home grant scheme.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Ireland's Energy Future?


Ireland's Preparation
the Energy Crisis

The Flood is Coming

The Dry-Up is Coming

I was thinking about Ireland’s current level of preparations for the looming energy crisis. It struck me that if Noah, while building his ark, had only done the same level of planning as we are presently engaged in, he would have ended up with a bit of a problem on his hands when the flood came.

Government Member Contemplating the Energy Crisis

Are we all just going to sit around contemplating our collective navels while the flood gathers??


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Minister Ryan has a Normal Brain


Mix-up in X-Rays Clarified
Green Minister Ryan does have
a Normal Brain

Minister Ryan does have a normal sized brain after all. The X-Ray was incorrectly attributed to the Minister. I can fully clarify the matter here and now. You will see from the above photograph that the Minister not only has a good lump of a brain but has even got some bright ideas!!

Hopefully the bright ideas will go a bit further than “ban the bulbs” in addressing Ireland’s woeful energy future. It is NOW, and not in years to come, that we need to be thinking home produced ethanol and bio-diesel, electric cars, massive wind farms, and bio-mass solid fuels etc.

Hopefully more brains, if they exist, in Dail Eireann (the Irish Parliament) will be illuminated.


Solar Cells reach 42% Efficiency


SpectroLab achieve 42% efficiency
in PV Solar Cells

SpectroLab Inc., part of the Boeing organisation, have got their "Concentrator Solar Cells" to the amazing level of 42% efficiency. Plus they expect to push that still further in the next couple of years.

This is one of two major field of play in Solar Cell development, "thin flexible film solar cells" being the other. I have covered both in previous posts.

Solid State v/s Mechanical

I believe these are among the most exciting and important segments of sustainable energy technology being developed. Many of the other development involve mechanical devices such as wind turbines etc., and as most of us know, anything with moving parts will inevitably wear-out and cause problems. Whereas with "Solar Cells" because these are "solid state" there is nothing to wear out.

Wind turbines, wave generators, bio-mass driven steam turbines, even geo-thermal, all need an army of maintenace people to keep them running. They are also technically difficult to install, have an impact on the enviornment in terms of looks, noise etc. But with solar cells you have zero noise, little difficulty in installation, and almost zero maintenance.

This is an area to watch.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Wood Pellet Prices Comment



Eoin said...

I'm no expert on pellet stoves but you can get them for a lot cheaper than 330/tonne.

You can get them for 245/tonne here if you order in bulk (3 or 4 tonnes.)

That crowd say that at the moment they only supply Leinster but that in 2008 they will start suplying nationwide.

So maybe it's just your current suppliers are ripping you off ??

Thank you Eoin for your input to this discussion. You are of course correct in what you say. Balcas, the original Irish supplier, has cheaper bulk prices also. However the cheaper price you quote is, as you say, for 3 to 4 tonne BULK lots of wood pellets. Few users however have the luxury of having bulk storage facilities which are large enough and damp proof enough to take that many loose wood pellets. Wood pellets need absolutely 100% dry conditions - otherwise they turn to sawdust. Proper dry bulk storage would cost another couple of thousand Euro to install and there is no grant for this.

These non-bulk storage customers therefore have to rely on Bagged supplies and are hit with the much much higher prices.

I am glad I decided to hand back my wood pellet grant to SEI because if I was now caught in this trap it would drive me insane!!! I predicted many of these problems that are now coming to light, and I pointed them out to SEI - who of course totally ignored me. SEI in their wisdom decided to stimulate the market by throwing money at it. But they did NOTHING to stop the cowboys and price gougers from preying on the people.

SEI did they even bother to consider the supply situation for wood pellets. Balcas told me SEI did not even take the trouble to contact them on their ability to supply the market at the time when they were the sole supplier.

As you can see, I am not too happy with our tax money being given so freely to SEI!!


Monday, February 04, 2008

SEI Grants - a Lure and a Snare?


Come into My Parlour
said the Spider to the Fly!!

Taken from comments:

Eileen said...

I found your site when looking for somebody to repair a Wood Pellet Burner.
It just stopped working on Saturday night so we have no heating and I'm getting nowhere with the company we bought it from in Dublin!
Your question 'do you regret going wood pellet' struck a chord - even though I really love my boiler!!
Eileen, Galway

Well Eileen, some people have suggested that they were lured by the promise of really cheap heating costs into investing in some cases as much as €5000 on top of the SEI grant. Now they feel a bit like the fly in the spiders web - tied down to a difificult and expensive to maintain system and a fuel which is no longer cheap and which at time is very difficult to access.

SEI have done nothing to protect the user from cowboys and price gouging. Whereas they should have guaranteed prices, maintenance and supply - if they really wanted people to turn to the alternatives.



Wood Pellet Prices & SEI Grants Addendum


2 Tonnes of Wood Pellets to
1000L of Oil

In case the last post caused any confusion, it takes roughly 2 Tonnes of Wood Pellets to give the same heat as 1000 litres of heating oil. That is where my calculation is derived from.

The cost therefore of 2 tonnes of pellets roughly matched the cost of 1000L of heating oil, or in some cases provides a moderate saving. However, the savings being muted originally by the Wood Pellet Brigade was that it would cost roughly half the price of oil to run a system. This most surely is NOT the case now.



Wood Pellet Prices and SEI Grants


A Rant about the SEI Grant and
Current Pellet Prices v/s Oil Prices

Oil prices are down a small bit. At the moment Kerosene is selling at between €650 and €680 per 1000 litres depending on the dealer.

So what do you think is happening with the price of wood pellets????

You got it – they are shadowing oil prices almost to the penny!!! This was not supposed to happen – do you remember? When they sold you that very overpriced pellet boiler, the main selling point was that you would save a fortune on fuel costs – what a load of bollix that has turned out to be!!!

Current Pellet Prices have reduced their price to €331.55 a tonne from €349 a 5% reduction. Kerry Biofuels have held their price so far.

On the 10th December heating oil was at €680 on the lower end. Now take away 5% and what do you get????? Yep you guessed €649 close enough to €650.

Do you regret going wood-pellet?

Forgive me for being cynical – it’s hard not to be in this instance. SEI grants my arse, what use have these grants been to people in terms of savings or payback??? They have invested a substantial lump sum in heating gear only to be rewarded with no savings or payback on their systems. In fact the pellet systems are likely to run at much higher maintenance costs due to the silly prices being charged for parts.

Do you regret getting your wood pellet system??? I have been hearing reports of endless technical problems with some, and now on top of that, there appears to be price tracking of pellet prices against oil prices. That’s very handy for the dealers with a captive audience which has kindly been provided by the SEI grant scheme.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Get the Finger Out!!


Qatar is planning
Either huge Solar or Nuclear plants

Qatar one of the major oil producers is planning either the world's largest solar complex or a dirty great nuclear power plant because they have common sense about total reliance on a fast dwindling world resource. Thankfully, they would appear to be leaning towards the solar option.

Some 3,500 MW (3.5 Giga watts) of solar capacity is in the immediate planning. The longer-term plans are to generate 20% of power from renewable resources by 2036. The solar generation plants will be spread over several sites. Solar capacity could be increased to 4,500MW by 2036. Now these are the guys with the oil - and here are we gobshites, withoput a drop of oil to our names, and we are not up to speed with these guys.

The nuclear and the solar options are two totally separate possible pathways of proceeding and are mutually exclusive. Thankfully the planners seem to be indicating that the solar option is the most likely option to succeed.

Get the Finger Out!!

Here you have a country rich in oil and gas and they are making major plans for alternatives. We in the oil starved West would do well to take notice and get the finger out and start to make realistic plans.