Green is NOT the new Red White and Blue

Green is NOT the new Red White and Blue Green is NOT the new red, white and blue, not on the stars and stripes, anyway. In late May, the Green Investment Bank was announced as the first ever public bank in the United Kingdom. With an initial £3 billion, GIB will invest in clean energy technology, with the goal of lessening the country’s reliance on fossil fuel and developing technologies to keep the UK competitive in the economies of the future.

Such support for green energy investment stretches across the Atlantic: A similar effort is being made in the United States, known as the Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA).

In England, the Green Investment Bank received support from all corners: from green-minded advocates, from private sector businesses, from trade unionists and top-level ministers alike; even while fiscal austerity measures have insisted on sharp cuts across government programs.

In America, insiders on Capitol Hill have been doubtful that an American clean energy bank will be established any time soon – largely due to the current political stalemate in the US Congress and a much different public perception of the global energy crisis.

Emily Baker, the vice president for federal policy at the National Venture Capital Association, told Alex Wagner of Huffington Post that “when it comes to the commercial side, VCs can’t provide the capital – and it’s too risky for commercial and investment banks…no question the issue has gotten even more complicated than it was…now that Republicans took control of the U.S. House of

Representatives, her group is “trying to help Congress members connect the dots on how this is an investment that will pay long-term dividends…Everybody had been behind the GIB.

Whether or not American politicians are willing to take an affirmative position on an issue which many do not even think exists is doubtful at best. Especially with new presidential elections around the corner, the time for change in the sector may be an awkward one; and for bi-partisan greenies, it can be argued that Obama might not have done enough for

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is taking impressed by the move toward a low carbon economy in the United Kingdom.

Green Groweth the Holly

Prince Charles

As 2010 is drawing to a close, one lesson I learned about achieving green dreams is the merit of ingenuity as opposed to trying to make the ancient family car start by repeatedly kicking it.

How did I come so far outside of the box? Well, because the industry did. In the UK that is! I think that I can safely say they are this year’s winner of the Most Creative in the Quest for Alternative Energy Award.

A personal favorite that I recently wrote about is Adnams Bio Energy anaerobic digestion plan – working in partnership with National Grid – which uses brewery and local food waste to produce renewable gas to be used as liquid fuel.

There are also firms that flex unpredictable muscles of imagination such as EDF energy, REA (Renewable Energy Association), Segen Microgeneration, PPL Training and British Eco to name a few.

Here are some more surprises:

At Didcot sewage works in Oxfordshire, England, Centrica will be producing renewable gas from sewage for the use of households.

Here’s how it works:

Sewage arrives at the plant, is stored for 18 days, and is turned to sludge – then the solid part of the waste is further treated in anaerobic digestion – similar to Adnams’ green beer gag (plus other companies have come up with similar ideas) – so that bacteria breaks down the biodegradable material and behold: you’ve got enough gas to power about 200 homes!

Of course the gas is cleaned before it is fed into the grid. This process takes around 20 days from lavatory flush to the re-piping into homes.

This is the first time in the history of turning sewage into gas through anaerobic digestion that the bio-gas has been pumped directly into the grid for home use.

The project is a joint venture between Thames Water, British Gas and Scotia Gas Networks and costs about $4.3m.

It is held by those who know that 15% of all gas consumed could come from human waste, sewage and food thrown away by supermarkets and households.

Meanwhile, Centrica plc, the parent company of British Gas, today announced that its British Gas division has acquired a 15.96% stake in AlertMe, a UK based company providing home energy management services, for $9m cash. British Gas, following the transaction, will also hold a seat on AlertMe’s Board.

As part of the investment, the increasingly eco-minded British Gas signed a commercial agreement, potentially worth over $32m, to deploy AlertMe products and services to UK customers and help them to save energy and providing smarter ways to take control of their energy use.

Prince Charles

OK OK – and here’s the Really Big UK Green News – I mean Royal!

One Prince Charles, heir to the throne of Wales is supping up his Gloucestershire estate with ground and air source heat pumps to reduce carbon emissions and cut electricity bills!

The Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall say that the nations have less than 100 months to save the planet from irreversible damage due to climate change.

Who’s doing the job? Why, it’s one Ecovision Systems

He’s working quick to reduce his “fossil fuel footprint” also at his Highgrove digs and his Georgian home.

The Prince, whose annual report last year revealed that his household had generated 18% less C02 emissions than the previous year, declares himself “carbon neutral” because he “offsets” his emissions through an outside agency.

At Highgrove he has installed solar panels and woodchip boilers; rainwater is collected and used to irrigate land and flush bathrooms! The estate’s insulation is eco-friendly thanks to a double-glazing and reed-bed sewage processing system.

All of which is installed by Ecovision Systems, a firm that has also installed equipment at historic English houses such as Castle Howard in North Yorkshire and Harrow School in north-west London.

Cheers to the UK! The world of green energy apparently has a lot to live up to!

Energizing Brew

A new facility in the UK, Adnams Bio Energy anaerobic digestion plan, using brewery waste and local food waste will begin producing renewable gas which can be used as liquid fuel among other things.

Working in partnership with National Grid, the facility expects to generate up to 4.8 million kilowatt-hours of energy per year – that is enough to heat 235 family homes annually.

Well, the average home in the UK burns 56 kilowatt-hours of gas per day. The same amount of energy which could be generated from the waste left behind from brewing roughly 600 pints of beer.

Some 28 million pints of beer are enjoyed daily by Britons — well, the waste from brewing that much beer could produce enough biomethane to heat 47,000 homes.

The Adnams plant plans to be able to produce enough renewable gas to power the company’s brewery and run its fleet of lorries, while leaving up to 60% of the remaining output available for injection back into the national grid.

By diverting waste from landfill, the plant will also prevent the release of methane into the atmosphere.

Biomethane is like natural gas. Once it’s upgraded to grid specification, it may be injected into the gas network to be used by customers.

National Grid suggests that biomethane could account for at least 15% of domestic gas consumption by the often-cited year 2020.

The Adnams Bio Energy plant has three digesters – these are sealed vessels in which naturally-occurring bacteria act without oxygen to break down up to 12,500 tons of organic waste every year. In addition to producing biomethane, the process also yields a liquid organic fertilizer.

Working in connection with Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, Adnams Bio Energy has also deployed British solar thermal panels at the plant and will soon install cutting-edge photovoltaic cells on site, thereby creating a sort-of mini energy park.


Fiber Optic Rods Seeds

Well, the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai is now underway with some of the most amazing sights seen at any World’s Fair. Also, it is the largest and most expensive World’s Fair to date, with over 190 countries participating. While each pavilion holds amazing sights and sounds, one has stood out especially to nature lovers: the UK Pavilion, otherwise known as the Seed Cathedral, designed by British designer extraordinaire, Thomas Heatherwick. The massive structure seems alive with its swelling “hairs” and the promise of life encapsulated in each.

Interior Seed Cathedral
The Seed Cathedral stands at 66 feet high and features 60,000 transparent fiber optic rods, each 25 feet long and containing one or more seeds embedded in one end. The outside of the structure looks like a dandelion about to disperse its seeds. The rods gracefully sway with each breeze.

The interior of the structure is illuminated with exterior light which seeps down the rods. At the end of each rod are real seeds donated by China’s Kunming Institute of Botany in cooperation with the UK’s Kew Royal Botanic Gardens’ Millennium Seed Bank Project. Well, the potential for life is encased in each of the tiny seeds.

Heatherwick’s objective in designing the pavilion was to invent a structure which is a direct reflection of its purpose and contents.

Delana from WebEcoist writes:

“The pavilion is a testament to the power and beauty of life, and it grandly echoes the grace of nature and the beauty of plants. It also stands out among the other pavilions at the Expo, most of which are technology-based and filled with flickering images and booming sounds”.

During the evening, the structure glows from within. That is, light sources in each rod facilitate the light to travel outward. Inside, each seed is illuminated in order to highlight its form and structure. Even clouds passing overhead are experienced within the Seed Cathedral as subtle flickers of light and shadow because the fiber optic rods were specifically designed to be sensitive to fluctuating exterior light changes.

When the Expo is over in October, the seeds will continue life in a new niche. The fiber optic “hairs” will be distributed to hundreds of schools in the UK and China.

Summer Solstice Draws Crowds of Druids to Stonehenge

More than 30,000 Druids and curious spectators attended this year’s annual Summer Solstice ritual at the ancient Stonehenge monument in southern England.

The event, which ushers in the summer solstice (when the longest day of year is marked) is said to have magical as well as healing properties to all who gather to see the sun’s beams piercing between the geometrical positions of the monument. A few couples were on hand to “tie the knot” in traditional Druid fashion, and were dressed in what are said to be authentic Druid costumes.

The Druids are said to be an ancient animistic pagan cult who lived in the British Isles as long as 2,000 years ago – during Roman times. Originally, they worshiped trees and practiced human sacrifice, usually with unfortunate captives from the many wars these people were involved in with other groups who lived in what the Romans referred to as Britannia. Their religious beliefs were banned by the Catholic Church and Church of England for centuries, until contemporary groups began to present the religion in milder forms, during the 17th Century.

“It’s the most magical place on the plant. When you touch the stones from inside the ‘circle’ you feel warmth like you’re touching a tree and not stone – you’re absolutely drawn to its love” said a Druid participant, who owns and antique and New Age objects shop.

The party began the night before and went on into the wee hours, until the sun was first noticed peeking though the clouds and touching Heel Stone, the central focus point of the monument. A number of vendors were offering al kinds of “magical” Druid charms and amulets, which added something special to the occasion.

Even non pagans were impressed, which was helped this year by good weather. Many came because they said that the mystical qualities of the event were good for “healing of the soul” as well as the body. One person, a yoga instructor from Lithuania, said that “this place gives us so much energy and hope that we can forget about the problems of our everyday lives and believe that all our wishes will come true”.

And if they believe it, their wishes most certainly will come true – for a day anyway.