Posted: September 1st, 2013 | Author: Sam | Filed under: Action, Energy | Tags: activism, balcome, climate change, direct action, fracking, protest | No Comments »
28 Days Later: Please spread far and wide
A Rolling Blockade of the Balcombe fracking site, 1st September – 28th September
Fracking company Cuadrilla’s governmental licence to drill in Balcombe ends on September 28th. The government may be allowing them to drill but they have no social licence from the people of Balcombe to frack their land and threaten their water supply. Neither do they have any mandate to begin an entire wave of fracking across the country. The vast majority of people in the UK want cleaner, greener energy.
After the upsurge of climate activism at Reclaim the Power in August, let’s make these last 28 days count. Let’s halt their work at Balcombe, and also send a strong message to those wanting to frack elsewhere.
A blockade has been on-going at the drilling site, but trucks have still been getting through. Now it’s time to up the ante.
We invite groups from around the country to come and play a part in a 28 day rolling blockade.
Think creatively and act responsibly. Pick a weekday before September 28, gather friends and useful kit get yourselves to Balcombe.
Fracking is stoppable, another world is possible.
Posted: May 25th, 2013 | Author: Sam | Filed under: Action, Energy, Events | Tags: activism, climate camp, climate change, direct action, energy, no dash for gas, resistance, sustainability | No Comments »
Is Climate Camp back?
Big decisions are being made now about how we’re going to power the UK. The government’s policy of increasing our reliance on gas is pushing millions into fuel poverty. This – coupled with ruthless cuts to essential services – leaves many with an impossible choice between heating and eating. And the same policy guarantees that we’ll miss even our modest carbon reduction targets. Both the financial and the climate crises are related to the pursuit of profit above all else, in the interests of the few and at the expense of the many.
We need a win. And one win we need is a secure future for generations to come, where profits don’t trump the public interest and where we have safe, clean energy to meet our needs.
Be part of creating something BIG this summer, get involved now and Reclaim The Power.
We can fight back, as the student, trade union, women’s, disabled rights and anti-cuts movements have shown us. There has never been a more critical time to take action. The solutions are there to be grasped.
21 people went up two chimneys but 64,000 came down
Last October, 21 environmental activists shut down EDF’s West Burton power station for a week in protest at the government’s Dash for Gas. West Burton is the first of up to 40 new gas fired power stations being planned. With your help, including a solidarity petition signed by 64,000 people – they fought off EDF’s attempt to sue them for £5 million.
This summer, inspired by their action, we are building a wide coalition of groups and individuals who will be coming together to Reclaim the Power. We’ll plan together. We’ll put forward solutions. We’ll cross the border from anger to action. It was people power that stopped new coal and stalled plans for a third runway at Heathrow, that made bankers’ greed and tax avoidance toxic and that is now fighting austerity attacks on workers, women, pensioners and the disabled. Together, we will stop the dash for gas.
Want to be part of creating Reclaim The Power? Wondering where we’ll be, how you can get there or what you need to bring? More info to come soon, keep up to date at:
Posted: May 13th, 2013 | Author: Sam | Filed under: Energy, Gardening Club | Tags: food, garden, growing, organic, permaculture | No Comments »
3 Sisters Companion Planting Skill Share Sunday 18th May!
The Three Sisters – corn, beans and squash – are 3 great plants that grow and thrive together. Corn provides a natural pole for bean vines to climb. The beans take nitrogen to the corns roots, improving the fertility of the plot by providing nitrogen for the following years corn. Bean vines also help stabilize the corn plants against the wind. Shallow-rooted squash vines become a living mulch, shading emerging weeds and preventing soil moisture from evaporating, improving the overall crops chances of survival in dry summers. Spiny squash plants also help discourage predators from approaching the corn and beans.
The large amount of crop residue from this planting combination can be incorporated back into the soil at the end of the season to build up the organic matter and improve its structure.Corn, beans and squash also complement each other nutritionally. Corn provides carbohydrates, the beans are rich in protein and squash yields both vitamins from the fruit and healthful, delicious oil from the seeds.
Last year the 3 sisters shared an vibrant and full bed in the front meadow. This year, to give them more space, we’re going to be venturing to the newly mulched sunny plot in the back.
Next Sunday 19th May every one is welcome to come and join in the preparing of the beds and planting of the vegetables. Growing Sundays will be starting at the usual time of 2pm and ending at dusk, but feel free to drop in whenever you like. I’m not an expert on this, in fact I’ve never done it before, so hopefully every one can share what they know and work on it together and we’ll all come away knowing a little bit more.
If you have any questions please give us a call on 07890751568 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: April 18th, 2013 | Author: Holly | Filed under: Cool Projects, Education, Energy, Events | Tags: climate change, energy, peak oil, resistance, sustainability | No Comments »
The Energy Group at Grow Heathrow is kicking of a series of Sustainable Technology training days with a workshop on how to build your own generator from scratch – Saturday 27th April at 11am – 6pm
The small Wind Turbine that was kindly donated by one of our supporters isn’t quite up to scratch for our battery bank. We need to make some new windings, so what better opportunity to share our knowledge than by inviting people to come and share in the experience.
We’ll be going through winding our own coils with ceramic coated wire, setting the magnets in resin and then configuring the coils to produce energy as the magnets pass.
The workshop will be accompanied by a delicious lunch. Donations gratefully accepted where possible. Check out our Facebook event or email us at email@example.com for more information.
Come on down to Grow Heathrow to get skilled up for the Self Empowered Energy Revolution!
Posted: February 1st, 2013 | Author: Sam | Filed under: Action, Energy | Tags: activism, direct action, energy, resistance | No Comments »
A national weekend of fuel bill assemblies and action will be taking place from Friday 15th – Monday 18th February.
Find out what’s already planned and get organising in your own area. There will be a mass fuel bill assembly at the Department of Energy and Climate Change
Join and share the Facebook event
Call out for Stop the Great Fuel Robbery below.
Reblogged with love from fuelpovertyaction.org.uk
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 13th, 2013 | Author: Ian | Filed under: Cool Projects, Energy | Tags: energy, skills, sustainability | No Comments »
For the first part of this article, see How we built our wind turbine – Part 1.
So we had ourselves a wind turbine, but no place for it to go. What’s more, for the turbine to cope with the wind and rain it would be subject to, it would need a good coat of protective paint. Over the next few weeks, the finishing touches were put to every part of our turbine – de-assembling, painting, sanding, painting again, checking and then re-assembling.
The turbine head was painted with Hammerite for maximum durability. The rotor disks were taken apart and re-assembled several times, making slight adjustments each time to make sure the disks were parallel and spinning with as small a gap as possible between them. When we were finally satisfied with the assembly, the blades were attached and the bolts were secured in place with a generous application of threadlock. The turbine blades were then painted, each one given several thin coats of gloss paint, to make sure the final coat was as smooth and even as possible.
To connect the turbine to our existing power system, we had to run armoured cable from the base of the scaffolding tower that we would be mounting the turbine on through the greenhouses to where our batteries were stored in the living space. The turbine would be generating 3-phase electricity, so the supply would have to be passed through a bridge rectifier to convert it to 24V DC power. A charge controller connected to a 1000 Watt heater acting as a dump load ensured that the batteries wouldn’t be overcharged on windy days. To make the power system as accessible as possible, a new display board was created to show how everything was wired up, which included an ammeter connected to the wind turbine supply to show how much power it was generating at any given moment.
With all these tasks to complete as well as the other commitments we had going on, it wasn’t until after the Christmas and New Year break that we were able to sort out a weekend for the final installation of the turbine. The last few details were seen to – designing and building a custom hinge to allow us to raise the turbine into position on the pole that ran through the middle of our scaffolding tower, cutting steel cable to the right length for our guy lines, balancing the turbine blades, and lifting everything up onto the tower platform. And so it was that a few hardy souls braved the cold, crisp January weather to stand on a platform high above the Grow Heathrow greenhouses to raise our turbine into its final position.
Success! The turbine was up! And just in the nick of time, too. As the evening shadows lengthened that Sunday, the first visitors arrived to begin a week long arts residency at Grow Heathrow. As excited as we all were to have our turbine finally up, we had to wait a couple more days for the wind to pick up enough for it to start spinning, at which point we could be sure that it was all working according to plan. And then the following weekend a howling storm blew in from the North Sea, and our turbine was given a thorough workout that proved it could handle strong winds without a hitch.
In the year since the Grow Heathrow turbine was erected, it’s harnessed the energy from the wind to provide us with much-needed power, especially during the winter and on grey, overcast days when there’s not much sun around. The turbine has become one of the most prominent features of the site, being easily visible from the road outside, and it’s something we always look forward to showing off to visitors whenever we give tours of the site.
We’re now thinking about how we can add another turbine, to give us even more energy. Now that we’ve done one, building another should be much more straightforward. And we’re keen to share what we’ve learned – if you know a community-based project that would like to build a turbine of their own, please contact us and we’ll do what we can to help.
Posted: January 8th, 2013 | Author: Ian | Filed under: Cool Projects, Energy | Tags: energy, skills, sustainability | 1 Comment »
It’s been almost a year since the Grow Heathrow wind turbine was installed, so to mark the occasion I thought it was a good time to share the process of how and why it came about. For many of us, this was our first experience building a wind turbine, but hopefully it won’t be our last.
Since Grow Heathrow is an off-grid site (meaning that it isn’t connected to the National Grid), all the energy that’s needed on-site has to be generated on-site. Shortly after the greenhouses were refurbished, we installed four 190 Watt solar panels on the roof of the southernmost greenhouse, which provided us with an abundance of clean electricity whenever the sun was out. As summer moved into autumn, our thoughts turned to winter, when there would be much less solar energy available for our solar panels to harness. We knew we had to diversify our energy sources, so we started making plans to build a wind turbine.
Having seen DIY wind turbine demonstrations at successive Climate Camps by V3 Power, and taken part in a turbine blade carving workshop run by Cambridge Greentech at the Sunrise Off Grid festival during the summer of 2011, we knew that we had the means to build a turbine of our own. All we needed to do was figure out what size we wanted it, then make sure we had enough funding to get the necessary materials. The turbine design we would be using was the one developed by High Piggott, which is based around the principle of using fairly basic materials and tools, so that anyone with a reasonable level of competence can have a go at building one. With a well equipped workshop and enough people, you can build a wind turbine without too much difficulty in a few days. Unfortunately, we were facing the prospect of building ours in a converted greenhouse, without a reliable electricity supply, in the middle of winter, and with a bunch of enthusiastic but inexperienced volunteers.
Cambridge Greentech very kindly agreed to help us with our turbine. They had organised wind turbine building workshops before, and they were able to source all the necessary materials and specialist tools for us. We decided to go for a 2.4m diameter turbine that was rated at 700 Watts, which would complement our existing 24V solar panels. A crowdfunding campaign helped us reach our funding target, and a date was pencilled into our diaries – the first week of November.
The first day of the workshop arrived – a damp and chilly November morning. Everything was as ready as it was ever going to be – we’d cleared space in the workshops, installed a brand new diesel generator, found some willing volunteers who wanted to learn how to build a wind turbine, and started building a scaffolding tower for the turbine to be installed on. The CGT van arrived, so fully loaded with equipment that the suspension was struggling to cope. After getting it all unloaded, we sat down with a mug of tea to review how the next few days were going to unfold.
Materials list: A solid block of smooth-grained pine for the turbine blades, two solid steel discs for the rotors, various lengths of steel angle and flat bar, 3 different sizes of steel pipe, 24 high strength neodymium magnets, 3 kilos of insulated copper wire, 1 kilo of resin, a hub for a caravan wheel, 16m of steel cable for guy lines, 20m of flexible 3-core cable, rectifiers with heat sinks and an enclosure, threaded bar, bolts and washers, all kinds of miscellaneous bits and pieces, and plenty of gaffer tape.
Tools list: draw blades, spoke shaves, chisels, files + rasps, cabinet scrapers, dividers, measuring tools, jigsaw, block planes, hand drills, MIG welder, grinders, stick welder, metal files, a good soldering iron, and wire cutters.
The work involved would be divided between three groups – the woodworking crew, the metalworking crew, and the electrics crew. The wood crew would spend most of their time carving the 1.8m long blades for the turbine. The metal crew would be concentrating on the turbine head, tail, and mounting poles. The electrics crew would assemble the alternator and bridge rectifier. Each crew was supervised by someone from CGT – Nikki looked after the metalwork, Pete cast an expert eye over the woodwork, and Scotty handled the electricals. So that everyone got a chance to get involved in every part of the process, the crews would change over at the end of each day.
As the days went on, the shape of the turbine started to emerge from the raw materials we’d started with. The days were short, cold and damp, but there were enough hands around to keep us all supplied with hot beverages and warming food. A lighting rig allowed us to keep working after sunset, although it was a relief for all when we downed tools at the end of each day and the noise from the generator and the grinding and welding could fall silent, at least until the next morning.
Although we’d wanted to have a finished turbine by the end of the workshop, that proved to be beyond out capability. For one reason or another, each stage of the build took longer than expected. But we had at least assembled all the components needed for our turbine, and when we turned it, which generated a voltage when turned – success! The ending of the workshop coincided with bonfire night, so we had ourselves a celebratory bonfire to wind down after a few days of intensive productivity.
Coming up in Part 2 – the final installation.
Posted: April 24th, 2012 | Author: Joe | Filed under: Energy | Tags: peak oil, transition | No Comments »
As the developed-world economy tries to gain momentum, it faces a persistent headwind. The oil price remains stubbornly over $100 a barrel, acting like a tax on Western consumers. Some blame the high price on evil speculators—Barack Obama unveiled plans to increase penalties for market manipulation on April 17th. But there is a simpler explanation: that supply is inadequate to keep up with rising demand.
The concept of peak oil—the idea that global crude production may be at, or close to, its limit—is far from universally accepted. One leading asset manager talked recently of the world being “awash with energy” because of the exploitation of American shale gas. Nevertheless, oil is still the main fuel for cars and trucks. And crude output (as opposed to alternatives such as biofuels and liquids made from gas) has been flat since 2005.
A number of countries (including Britain, Egypt and Indonesia) have turned from net oil exporters into importers in recent years. And although rich countries have curbed their energy-guzzling a little, demand continues to surge in emerging markets.
This has left the oil market very vulnerable to temporary supply disruptions, such as the war in Libya. Speaking at a conference in Dublin this week, organised by the Institute of International and European Affairs and the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, Chris Skrebowski, a consulting editor of Petroleum Review, argued that spare capacity in the oil market could be eroded by 2015.
The peak-oil concept was devised by the late M. King Hubbert, who correctly predicted in 1956 that oil output in the lower 48 states of America would peak by around 1970. At the conference Michael Kumhof, an economist at the International Monetary Fund, presented the findings of a forthcoming working paper which showed that adding the idea of a “Hubbert peak” to energy production greatly improved the ability of a model to forecast oil prices. Based on an expected 0.9% annual increase in production over the next decade, the model predicts that real oil prices will nearly double over the same period.
The economic damage caused by such a rise is predicted to be modest, perhaps 0.2% of global GDP a year. In the past changes in oil prices have had a limited long-term impact, since any losses to oil importers are matched by gains by oil exporters. To the extent that high oil prices played a role in the recessions of the early 1980s and 2008-09, the main reason is that oil-producing countries tend to have a lower marginal propensity to consume their income, denting global demand.
Nevertheless, Mr Kumhof worries that if oil prices are high enough, the economic impact might increase substantially. On the most extreme assumptions, it could be 2% a year.
Even if the world can find more oil—in the Arctic or tar sands, say—the longer-term question is whether the era of “cheap energy” is over and how the world can adjust if it is. Developed economies are built on easy access to cheap energy, importing goods that are transported from around the world, with consumers driving many miles to work in air-conditioned offices and then flying off to sunny climes for their annual holidays. Persistently high oil prices would clearly lead to substitution (electric cars, natural-gas-powered trucks) but the transition costs could be significant.
Furthermore some potential substitutes for, or new sources of, oil (such as biofuels and tar sands) are a lot less efficient, in the sense that they require significant amounts of energy simply to produce. To the extent that this equation (energy return on energy invested, or EROI) is deteriorating, that must surely have an effect on economic growth.
“What is the minimum EROI that a modern industrial society must have for its energy system for that society to survive?” ask Carey King and Charles Hall in a recent paper*. The academics’ answer: “Complex societies need a high EROI built on a large primary energy base.”
This issue is not much considered by mainstream economists, who are too busy focusing on monetary policy, the impact of fiscal austerity or the need for labour-market reforms. But just as the industrial revolution was built on coal, the post-second-world-war economy was built on cheap oil. There will surely be a significant impact if it has gone for good.
This blog was taken from The Economist magazine.
Posted: April 20th, 2012 | Author: Ian | Filed under: Energy, Events | Tags: energy, film showing, grassroots, wind turbine | 1 Comment »
April the 28th and 29th will see a weekend packed with activity at Grow Heathrow, all about grassroots renewable energy solutions. We’ll be working with wind turbines, solar panels, bike generators, rocket stoves, earth ovens, wood burners, solar ovens, sound systems, and more.
Joining us for the weekend will be renewable energy experts from V3 Power, Cambridge Greentech, the Tin Village, and Cultivate Brighton.
Saturday will be a day of designing, building discussing and tweaking. We’ll be continuing work on the Transition Heathrow bike generator, building some DIY solar panels, plumbing in hot water to our shower, building a rocket stove, and taking the Grow Heathrow wind turbine down for scheduled maintenance. In the evening there will be pizza from our earth oven and a special off-grid screening of ‘Pulling the Plug’, a documentary about the future of the UK’s electricity supply.
Sunday will be a renewable energy open day for locals to come along and check out all the projects that Transition Heathrow and our visiting guests have been working on, including some nifty practical demos. It will be a fantastic opportunity for people in the community to get hands-on experience of different types of renewable energies, and to learn more about what renewable energy is, and why it’s becoming increasingly important in our communities.
Join us from 2 to 6pm on Saturday, or 12 to 4pm on Sunday. All ages and levels of experience welcomed.
Posted: October 20th, 2011 | Author: Ian | Filed under: Energy | Tags: energy, transition | 1 Comment »
When it comes to electricity, Grow Heathrow is entirely off-grid, meaning all the electrical power used is generated on site.
With our friends at Cambridge Greentech, we have arranged a four day workshop to design, construct and install a small DIY wind turbine, using basic materials and tools. We’ll be following the design guidelines laid out in Hugh Piggott’s book: “A Wind Turbine Recipe Book”.
To make this possible, we’ll need to raise some funds. So Transition Heathrow is launching it’s first ever crowdfunding campaign. If you want to help energise Grow Heathrow for the winter, then use the Donate button on our website to make a contribution.
But that’s not all! The workshop is designed to teach the skills needed to make your own wind turbine, and we’re looking for people to join in. Participants will learn woodcraft, metalcraft, electronics, and more. The workshop will be over four days, from the 2nd to the 5th of November. If you’d like to attend, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our site number 07890751568.
We’re hoping to raise £1000 in the next two weeks. We rely on donations to fund these kind of projects, so if you’d like Grow Heathrow to continue doing what it does, please donate what you can.
And if you don’t have any spare cash, please send this on to someone who you think might!