Archive for the ‘Transition’ Category

PV, or not PV, that is the question

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

The door-bell rang.  I opened the door to a cowering salesman “I’m not selling anything” he whimpered “I just want to save you some money on your electricity bill”. 

This guy wasn’t from Scottish Energy or any of the other Gannets trying to woo me away from my current provider.  He was offering to install photovoltaic panels (PV) on my roof – for free!

The contract was for 25 years.  The deal was that I use the energy they create to save on my bills and they collect the feed-in tariff.  After 25 years the PV panels were mine, at no extra cost.

He took-out his I-phone, tapped his way to the compass app and checked my roof orientation (I know it faces East/West) and confirmed that my roof was ideal.  His colleague would be visiting a neighbour tomorrow, could he call in to talk it through?

PV can look neat when it's designed-in

I know South-facing is the optimum direction.  And, not being one for ‘appendages’ on the outside of my house (I won’t even have a TV aerial or upvc windows) I said I would think about it.  And I did.

So, I use the energy they create.  But we’re out all day and, as PV doesn’t work in the dark most of the energy will be fed back into the grid; they gain from that, not me.  Wonderful!

I looked on the ‘net’ for alternatives; there are loads out there.  I could buy the PV  and collect the feed-in tariff myself .  But the pay-back is estimated at 10 years, and that’s for optimum orientation. So it would be longer for me.

I’m nearly 60 and looking to down-size in the next few years.  So considering the options:

If I take their offer I might save a few pounds in the short term, but the house would be lumbered with ‘their deal’ when we moved.  New owners would be prevented from installing their own system and collecting the feed-in tariff.   PV panels don’t look pretty.  How do I repair my roof if I need to?  The technology will go out-of-date.  And the house owner will have to pay to remove them after 25 years when they break down. What affect would this have on the value of my house? 

If I installed my own I’ll have moved before they’re paid for.  The technology will be ageing.  They could devalue the house.  And who can rely on any government’s promise to last 25 years? 

Retro-fitting anything is never as good as designing it to fit in the first place.  A development in Derby has incorporated PV within the construction and, I have to admit, it looks neat.

So, I don’t think PV’s for me, but it might be for you.  There is much to think about.  And don’t be swayed by the door-step salesman.  Do your homework.

TRANSITION: Thinking the unthinkable

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Remember the petrol tanker drivers’ strike in 2000?  Panic buying, fuel rationing, general mayhem; fresh food shortages in the supermarkets.  

That sudden interruption in supply affected us, mainly as ‘motorists’, and for only a few days. 

But what happens when the oil runs out?

Think…is there a singe part of your life that wouldn’t be affected?

Stats show that world-wide oil production has past its peak; new finds are fewer and harder to exploit and, like it or not, our lifestyle, or that of our children, will be forced to change; there will be no choice!

Prices will rise as oil becomes scarce.  Producers will protect their resources.  Users will be held to ransom. Wars could break out.

It’s not ‘IF’ the oil runs out, it’s ‘WHEN’!

The ONLY alternative is to plan for NO OIL.

But who is going to take the lead?  It’s not even on governments’ agendas so why do we need to be concerned today?

‘Transition’ is about changing the mindset; the way we do things; the way we live.  It’s not about ‘Climate Change’ or ‘Saving the Planet’. It’s not about reducing your fuel bills or the ‘Green Agenda’.

‘Transition’ groups worldwide are taking up the cudgels; there are some serious players involved but the many fanatical, do-gooder, eco-warrior types could be a distaction for businesses trying to get to grips with the consequences.

The big challenge for businesses is: 

How do we trade and compete in the world as it is today while preparing for the world as it will be tomorrow?