Wednesday, December 30, 2009

WoodPellet Woes try SEI for Help


A Plea for Help with more
Problem Wood Pellet Heating

I received the following comment to my blog in the form of a plea for assistance with yet another problematic wood pellet heating system.

dorothea kildare has left a new comment on your post "Heating System Questions":

Hi, having huge problems with benekov P20 pellet burner. ignition failure and burning 1.25 tonnes of pellets per month prime energy cannot seem to pin point problem can anyone help Dorothea Kildare

A Reply

Dorothea, I sympathise with you on the problems you are experiencing. The research I did for this blog led me to the decision to NOT go with wood pellet heating - despite having received grant approval for a grant of 4,200 Euro from SEI.

Why did I not take the grant?

SEI Sustainable Energy Ireland is a highly funded govermentally appointed organisation that has vigorously promoted wood pellet heating with massive grants, advertising, web sites, and promotions all over the country.

That's the promotion and hype bit which was well done - but on the other hand, what they failed utterly to do with some of the many millions of Euro of our money at their disposal, was to put strategies in motion to protect the consumer. They left the Irish consumer hanging out to dry!

In fact, they effectively unleashed a rash of untrained cowboys and rip-off merchants on the Irish public, who were greedily driven by the huge grants.

1. SEI had a system of registered installers, which many of the unsuspecting public took to be a guaranteed system for their protection. However the list was not worth the paper it was written on because any cowboy or rip-off merchant could register.
2. SEI made very poor attempts to ensure the effectiveness of equipment, the cost or value to the public, or indeed the safety of the very equipment they were actively promoting. Many systems have seriously ineffective fire protection.
3. SEI made no attempt to regulate the quality, or indeed the supply of the fuel, this resulted in many problems with poor quality fuel and with some shortages.
4. SEI to date have made no great shakes in rectifying the mess in pellet heating which was at least partly created by their lack of planning and action.

SEI, IMHO, have failed badly in promoting wood pellet heating by encouraging an unbalanced market driven by greed. However, you may have a chance to plead that they do something to assist you in your situation, given that they failed to properly protect the public in the first place. It could perhaps be argued that people bought into wood pellet and other sustainable energy products on the recommendation of SEI, and that SEI therefore bear some responsibility for ensuing problems. It is worth a try. I suggest that you consider writing to your TD and to SEI and maybe you will get some help. I have found that if you make enough noise, you will eventually get some satisfaction - if for no other reason, they will do it simply to shut you up. So - go for it!



EEstor Missing it's Deadline yet again?


Don't Hold Your Breath

With just a few hours to go, it looks like EEstor is about to miss yet another of it's own deadlines for revealing the much trumpeted super capacitor battery or EESU.

Makes you wonder if they are for real at all, or just stringing us all along? I would not be a happy traveller if I had any money riding on this project!


Spirit of Ireland Energy Proposal


A Small Scale Sea Water pumped hydro storage in Okinawa Japan

"Spirit of Ireland" Energy Proposal
Where is it at?

As the year draws to a close, I have been pondering the prospects for future energy generally, and specifically for two Irish projects. One is Steorn’s “Orbo”, which I must say I cannot put much, if any, faith in at all, and the second is the “Spirit of Ireland” wind-hydro-storage proposal.

While initially greatly enthused by the Spirit of Ireland proposal, I have, over the year, expressed some reservations regarding both the structure of the proposed SOI organisation, and also regarding the proposed procedural strategy.

I have not been in a position to make any judgements on a technical level, as I lack the specialised knowledge, maths and science to do so.

There have been various loosely stated suggestions and plans forthcoming in dribs and drabs on the SOI discussion forum. These plans and strategies have worringly changed quite a bit over the year.

I recently became aware of a technical critique published by Andy Wilson, Director of Sustainability Institute. I wrote to Andy and requested permission to quote from an article he published pertaining to the Spirit of Ireland proposal. Andy has kindly allowed my to quote from his article. I have interjected with some remarks, these are in italics. The full article can be read at:

First though, here is Andy’s reply to my request for permission to quote. His contact details and that of Sustainability Ireland are at the foot of the letter:

Hi Tony,
Thanks very much for the email. It’s good of you to ask permission to quote.

There is absolutely no problem in that regard, and if you want to give
links to the source that would be appreciated.

People have often asked me why I don't debate the issue on the Spirit of
Ireland forum. I usually reply that to do so would be give weight to
something that has absolutely no credibility - unless one counts short
term storage to smooth out daily peaks and troughs in electricity supply
and demand. Even then, there would be massive environmental concerns about the consequences of the sea water leaking out from the reservoirs.

Please feel free to get back to me if you have further questions.

Best wishes,

Andy Wilson
Sustainability Institute
Co. Mayo

Extracts from Andy Wilsons Comment of the “Spirit of Ireland” Proposal

The (Spirit of Ireland) proposal apparently is to erect enough giant wind turbines to fully meet Ireland's electricity requirements.

(And additionally it was part of the original proposal to export surplus power to other countries, thus helping to pay back the investment –ed.)

Ireland currently uses some 25-30TWh (Terawatt hours, equivalent to one billion kilowatt hours) of electricity per annum.

(That’s approximately 3,400,000 one bar electric fires going 24/7 for the full 365 days - ed.)

The present wind capacity is about 1100MW (Megawatts), delivering some 2.9TWh of electricity per annum or about one tenth of the total demand. The Spirit of Ireland proposal is to massively ramp up wind capacity.

To produce an equivalent amount of electricity from wind as is currently used by Ireland would require an installed capacity of around 10,000MW (10,000MW x 8760 hours per year x 30 percent capacity factor).

14 Billion Euro worth of Turbines needed?

(Assuming an average turbine size of 1.5 megawatts – that would mean a total of some 6,666 – six thousand six hundred and sixty six turbines - (sounds a bit of an evil number doesn’t it!!) - would need to be erected, and that is one hell of a lot of turbines. With an average installed cost of $2m per megawatt – the bill would come out at approximately $20 Billion Dollars or about 14 Billion Euro. Please correct me if I am way off in my calculation. –ed.)

It must be pointed out that the Spirit of Ireland plan does not envisage an installed wind capacity of 10,000 MW, but only a fraction of this. In other words, even if all the surplus energy could be stored until needed, with no conversion losses, it would be nowhere near enough.

Difficulties with storage

The only proven technique for storing electricity on a large scale is pumped storage. Surplus electricity is used to pump water to (relatively) high altitude storage dams. When extra electricity is needed, the water is let out of the dams through turbines. Ireland already has one such pumped storage facility, at Turlough Hill in the Wicklow Mountains. Built between 1968 and 1974 at a cost of around £20 Million, it comprises two reservoirs. The upper reservoir - the one used for electricity generation - contains 2.3 million cubic meters of water.

The total energy storage capacity of Turlough Hill is thus about 1.6GWh (Gigawatt hour: one million kilowatt hours), or roughly one two-hundredth of one percent of Ireland's annual electricity demand.

Ireland would need 500 to 1250 Turlough Hills

Ireland would need 500 to 1250 Turlough Hills in order to balance out seasonal variations in supply from wind farms.

For wind installations to provide Ireland with electricity all year round, a storage capacity of up to ten or fifteen percent of total annual demand would be necessary. For the sake of argument we will assume a storage requirement of 2.7TWh.

Storage Potential

The potential energy (pe) of water in pumped storage is expressed by the formula: pe = MgH
Where M = mass, g = acceleration due to gravity (9.81 m s-2), and H = height (head) Thus 1kg of water raised 1 meter has potential energy of 9.81 joules. 1m³ of water (1000kg) raised 1 meter has potential energy of 9810 joules. m³ raised 100 meters has potential energy of 981,000 joules

Converting to kWh: 1m³ raised 100 meters has potential energy of 0.27 kWh. 10,000,000,000m³ raised 100 meters has potential energy of 2.7 TWh. This is equivalent to a lake of 1000km² in area and 10 meters deep. To allow for evaporation losses, seepage and sedimentation, one might increase volume by a further 15 percent. Hence a lake of 1150km², or three times the area of Lough Neagh. The construction of an artificial lake of this size, at a raised elevation, would present some interesting challenges.

(If, on the other hand, as pointed out on the Spirit of Ireland Forum, the proposed glacial valley/s allowed an average depth of say 100 meters – the combined lake size would need to be 115 km2 a much more realisable size -ed.)

Finally, here is a link to some discussions on the Spirit of Ireland Forum which contains a partial rebuttal of some of the points raised.


Friday, December 25, 2009

By the Way - Happy Christmas and New-Year


By the way
Have a Happy Christmas
and New-Year

That is if you can be happy when considering the following which faces the world tomorrow:

1. Melting Glaciers.
2. Dwindling carbon fuel stocks.
3. Exploding population figures.
4. Global weather disruption.
5. Serious financial crisis.
6. World leaders who are completely impotent - Copenhagen - Finance - Security - - .


Steorn's Orbo Perendev Keppe Motor


Top 10 Weird and Wacky Energy League

Steorn's Orbo is in the running for a listing in the weird and wacky top 10 "free energy" devices to be held in Hawaii in January 2010.

Names like Perendev, The Keppe Motor, similar somewhat concepts to Orbo, will battle it out for a placing with names like the "Searle Effect Generator" the "Kapanadze Free Energy Generator" and the "ERR Fluxgenerator"

All of the 20 or so contenders claim to have viable devices which produce more energy than the input and which claim to be able to solve the energy crisis. The problem is that in 10 years or so over-unity devices like the "perendev motor" have failed to produce the goods. If the dang darn thing actually worked - the Chinese would have it copied and would have been selling to us by the million.

Twilight Zone

It seems to me that there is another dimension out there in which dreams become reality - for some - but for the rest of us unbelievers, they just remain as weird and wacky gizmos.

A number of features seem to be common to many of these inventions;

(1) The claimed effects appear to be easily duplicated in various video demonstrations etc.

(2) However, their inventors are super sensitive and secret about their machines and aim to vigorously control the environment of any observations - they only allow very limited viewing or testing.

(3) Despite the various video demos and hype, all of the devices have failed to make it to market despite many many years of trying, protestations of "ready for mass production", and various other hype.


All of the three factors mentioned above fully apply to stage magic tricks. So what conclusion would you draw when applying simple logic to observing these claims??


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Orbo comment


A Comment on Orbo
from an unidentifiable person

El Ch� has left a new comment on your post "Steorn's Orbo Battery Powered?":

The battery is "needed" -- for the moment -- but Steorn is also just setting scoffers like you up, IMO. The thing is to run these devices well past the point of any possibility of the battery being the motive force behind it all. Their claim: the battery really is just a "reservoir". And the reservoir could thus be many other things, as well.

And then what will you scoffers be able to say, when it's clearly not really being run-by-battery..?

Don't believe the (anti-)hype,

My Reply:

Thanks for the input "El Ch?" I appreciate a good debate,

It would seem that you are a believer in Orbo? I, on the other hand, sit straddling the fence but perhaps leaning a bit towards the side of the disbeliever.

The "anti-hype", as you put it, that you have read in my post is my own anti-hype. It comes simply from asking a few pertinent questions and from a bit of basic electrical knowledge.

A simple question for you - would you be prepared to bet $10,000 that within say 2, even 3 years of R&D, the Orbo claim would have come to commercial fruition according to their original hype??? That all electric cars, phones and other gizmos would never again have to be charged, and that a domestic refrigerator sized Orbo could be purchased in the shops that would 100% power a household for all electrical needs?? In other words, oil, wind, geo-thermal, and all other current power generating methods would be obsolete??


Steorn's Orbo Battery Powered?


Orbo's electric Motor

There is nothing new about Steorn's Orbo's concept - the perpetual motion idea has been around since the middle ages. More recently there have been a rash of magnetic motors and other self generating devices.

The original Orbo that failed to work in London, was a magnet only device. If that could have been shown to run for a couple of years it would have been something.

The new "improved" Orbo is nothing more than an electric motor driven by a battery. It has another added section on top, in the form of a dynamo - to "re-charge" the battery!!!

If my eyes serve me properly this is a
VERY high capacity 10 amp/hour battery
Sufficient to run a small motor for weeks!!

The battery in the Orbo machine appears to be an exceptionally high-capacity re-chargeable battery of 10 ampere hours. A battery of this capacity - fully charged, would run a well balanced small motor for weeks.

Here is a question - why does a machine that generates power need a high-capacity battery??? Would not the tiniest capacity suffice if the thing actually worked???


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Electricity Savings Incentive


How to Reduce Electricity Usage

Ireland, like most other developed countries, badly needs to cut down on carbon emissions and generally reduce or at least stabilise projected energy consumption. In it’s recent emergency budget, Ireland has imposed a “carbon tax” on fuel, I am pretty sure it will have little or no impact on usage. I think this because a carbon tax is a negative motivation and does not positively reward using less fuel.

A Positive Incentive

I have been thinking about a positive incentive based on domestic electricity usage. A similar system could be worked out for business' but would be much more complex to operate.

The idea is basically to have a tariff system that rewards low users. The cost per unit of power would be say 10% lower than the current norm for the first step. This would allow careful users to keep their electricity bills really low. There would then be a higher rate for the next step by adding say 15%, and finally a top rate for very heavy users would be at a much higher cost of say plus a further 20%.

Something like the following:

Basic cost per unit of say 13 cent.
Next step of tariff costs 15 cent.
Top rate tariff would cost 18 cent per unit.
(just a rough example)

For the first 12 months, there could be an allowance for those with electrical storage heating. This would give those householders time to change to other forms of heating and avail of grants for sustainable energy solutions. At the end of the first year, the new tariff system would apply across the board.

Effective but not Popular

Its introduction would be far from popular, but because money is such a strong motivator, it would be a very successful means of reducing the national electrical requirement, modifying the huge bill for imported fuels, and reducing carbon emissions over coming years. It would also encourage a different way of thinking about power usage and that in turn would encourage insulation and the use of low powered lighting systems.

How Many Politicians does it take to change a Light Bulb?

On the back of such a motivating power tariff system, the introduction of simple and effective energy saving strategies are essential. IMHO the single most effective and also the simplest to implement would be a really big push and promotion to have every last light bulb in the country replaced with CFL, LED, or at least halogen bulbs. This alone would make a huge reduction in our future energy requirements.

The half-arsed approach the Irish government has currently adopted to changing the light bulb in Ireland will take years and years to have much of an effect. We need to re-think the strategy!!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

SunMachine Pellet Boiler Update


Some pictures and details of the unique
SunMachine Pellet boiler

In my previous posts on the German company "SunMachine" I gave some basic details of their very innovative wood pellet machine CHP Unit (Combined Heat and Power).

I wrote to the company requesting some more specific details and photos etc. It would seem the company are further developing the design and were therefore not forthcoming with information, I received the following answer in reply to my request:

Dear Mr. McGinley, Sorry for replying to you not earlier. We would like to thank you very much for the short publication to our Sunmachine® Pellet as wood pellet CHP machine. That’s great to hear and that you are interested in more information. At the moment we are doing a lot of improvements and further developments on our CHP machine within the next months. In the same way we are currently developing a new corporate design which means, that the Sunmachine® Pellet will be presented in new colors too. Based on this current situation we would prefer to do a more detailed publication first in Spring. Would that be fine for you?
Thanks and best regards,

Roland Schmid
Head of Corporate Communications
Sunmachine GmbH
im Innovationspark Allgäu Am Riedbach 1

D - 87499 Wildpoldsried

I Poke around and find some interesting bits

So me - being me - I go and do a litle digging and poking around for further details of this innovative design. I came accross a video on YouTube (link below) and other details which I share here with you.

So what I have is pictorial, some are pulls from the video and others from pdf literature. They give a bit more of a picture of the SunMachine pellet boiler. It looks as if the air supply is delivered up through the hopper and the delivery tube along with the pellets, that is, if I am correct, another innovative feature of this unit.

I would love to see a simple pellet boiler only version of this machine. I am not convinced of the CHP concept, and it makes the unit very expensive overall. A simple boiler should be able to deliver 14+Kw of heat - more than enough for a small to medium sized well insulated house.

This is a good quality drawing of the unit
you can see it even better if you click on it

This series show the hopper and pellet delivery system

Close-up of the top of the boiler

Looking down the air and pellet delivery tube into the grate
If you look carefully you can see a pellet in the act of dropping

A detail of the flame - looks like a pressure jet burner!

Finally, I have included a link to a YouTube video showing the machine and its test set up the quality of the video is not great but you will get a fair idea of the unit nevertheless.

One thing struck me though, was the noise of the unit. if it is as noisy as I think, it would require major sound baffling and might need to be in an out building. I would also guess that most of that noise on the video is coming from the Stirling engine?


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Steorn Big Time Advertising Spender


Hey Big Spender!!

Steorn, it seems, do not believe in half measures when it comes to advertising, only when delivering working models of its Orbo discovery!!

I usually watch world news on AlJazeera, as I find the BBC and US news too insular. Guess what popped up before my eyes? - an advert for Orbo.

The advert features the public criticism and condemnation Orbo received on its last outing, but nothing much else - other than it asks us to "believe" - like something on one of those God channels.

Here is a You Tube link for the advert:


Steorn and Orbo Back to the Future


Steorn and Orbo Re-Birth??

Back from the grave Steorn and Orbo? They are re-launching with working models at their Dublin base.

When Steorn launched originally, about four years ago, I got all excited like a child on Christmas eve. Their publicity at the time suggested they had a working device ready to be developed and mass produced. They quoted power output figures per cubic centimetre etc. like it was all tested - measured, and ready to go. - - - - Then it all died ignominiously in London.

Now, just over a week to Christmas, when we least expected it - they have a re-launch. This time - they assure us - it will work. What they seem to have however, judging from the videos, is little more than a toy - certainly nothing that would power your household needs.

You can visit or watch the presentation video and a live video stream at the link below:

Even Got Plans on line

Steorn have even published a pdf download link with an exploded drawing of the Orbo device, looks like DIY experimenters could perhaps even replicate it.

When Steorn launched originally, about six years ago not, I got all excited. Their publicity suggested they had a working device ready to be developed and mass produced. they quoted power output figures per cubic centimetre etc. Then it all died ignominiously in London.

I wish Orbo well and hope that it leads to something. However, I have really major reservations. If the thing works, like they seems to be saying on the video, why has it not already sold millions and be running just about every electrical gadget on the planet?? Why indeed!!

Much as I hope for some energy breakthrough and would truly like to believe, why am I not confident of a future for this device??


EEstor and Santa Nicklaus


All I want for Christmas!

What do I want for Christmas, apart from world peace, economic recovery, and a 100% agreement at the Climate Conference???

Well one small thing that Santa Nicklaus might bring is for EEstor to actually deliver 100% on their EESU or Supercapacitor before the end of the year.

Mind you, it would not be a good Christmas for everyone. The people in the lithium ion battery business would not like it one bit as overnight their product would be obsolete.

EEstor would need to hurry up there is just over 2 weeks to go!!!

Here is a link to an interesting piece which talks about EEstor:


Monday, December 14, 2009

Sustainable Energy Advisory Service


A Message that
I feel I need to repeat

from time to time!!

I get a lot of very nice letters of support and thanks for my blog, for which I am most grateful.

I occasionally get a batch of letters requesting very specific information that would require a good deal of time to research and answer. This annoys me, especially when most of the information is contained in my previous posts.

I estimate that I have put around 1000 - 1200 hours of my time into this blog since I started it in 2006. I have made many international phone calls, did a fair bit of travelling, trawled the Internet for information, and of course also I have received much helpful input from a few readers.

Point is I have maintained this Blog purely as a hobby in support of a sustainable future for the planet, and simply for the personal interest, without any reward whatsoever.

I feel a Rant Comin' on!!

I therefore get a bit peaked when I receive very specific requests from individuals, who, I am sure, just have not engaged their brains and thought the situation out, expecting a service as if from a highly funded government agency or a contracted consultant.

I include the latest example below. If I were to do the simplest research and write a report in response to this letter, it would take me a minimum of two hours and a half dozen phone calls. If I was in business I would expect to ask a fee of at least £150 for the time and expenditure involved. I think I was most civil in my reply - don't you?

The Letter

Hi. I read your blog re; rip off merchants, could you give me a run down on wood pellet heating we are moving to Ireland very shortly. The quotes we have received have been staggering!! Or, do you know a reasonable company, thank-you. Is it a good alternative to fossil fuels?
Ken .. ..

My Answer

Hi Ken - Most of your questions have been answered in my blog - go through the archive.

I am not a consultant - the blog is a hobby, you will have to do your own research but maybe you would share your findings like I do?

Tony McGinley


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

EEstor Information


Some Technical Information
about EEstor's EESU

I have been writing a bit about EEstor and their proposed Ultracapacitor / Battery they call an EESU (Electrical Energy Storage Unit).

It is hard to find any hard facts about this secret company and its secret battery, but I came across an informative "Knol" (an Internet unit of knowledge posting) which offers quite a bit of info and a bit of science for those interested.

According to the post, a 52 Kilowatt/hour unit would cost no more than $2200. It would have a 6 minute charge time and the operating voltage is a whopping 3500 volts.

Here is the link:


Saturday, December 05, 2009

EEstor and Lockheed in love affair?


Update on EEstor's UltraCapacitor
and a
Secret love Affair with Lockheed?

I came across a very interesting video interview on YouTube made at a conference with Lockheed execs. It would appear that Lockheed are excited about EEstor’s ultracapacitor. There would appear to be a secret love affair AKA a "working agreement" between the companies.

Have a look at the YouTube video interview, it's worth a look just to see the wriggling that is going on. I have pasted the link below.

These Lockheed guys are being REALLY - I mean R - E -A – L - L - Y tight lipped but there are still a number of indicators that there may be something brewing.

There wasn’t as much secrecy about the atom bomb when it was being developed as about EEstor. These guys fairly wriggle to avoid a straight answer!!!