COB OVEN BUILDING WEEKEND IS POSTPONED – NEW DATE TBC
A lot changes in a few decades. I wonder what those 60s activists saving the whale would think of us now, as thousands of people across the UK sign up for text alerts so that they can pitch up a tent near Manchester to stop fracking. They’ll have to accept that activism’s moved on. Marine mammals have got to try a bit harder or they’ll be forgotten to the 21st century’s totally new narrative. It’s 2013. We’ve got to save the shale.
Welcome to the Northern Gas Gala.
24 hours after first major activity begins at IGas’ Barton Moss site, people will be converging for The Northern Gas Gala. All are warmly invited to join residents in a show of front-line protection against those that threaten us and our environment. Stay informed by signing up at northerngasgala.org.uk, to ensure you receive an invitation to this most poignant of parties.
All those signed-up at northerngasgala.org.uk will, when the Gala beckons, receive a text message with a start time.
WARMING! The arctic is melting. Frack less. Fly less.
Grow Heathrow is looking for bike mechanics to help run our weekly bike workshop. It’s just a few hours in the afternoon. We can move the day of the workshop to a day that suits you best. Please contact us or drop by if you or anyone you know is interested.
Also any donations of allen bolts would be wonderful, as we’re quite low
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Come on down to Grow Heathrow to get skilled up for the Self Empowered Energy Revolution!
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
Call out for Stop the Great Fuel Robbery below.
Reblogged with love from fuelpovertyaction.org.uk
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.
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.
This blog is a bit late but here goes. The rain held out and joining plenty of other stalls, including dance classes, giant jenga, gnome painting and the Com.Cafe puppet show, Transition Heathrow had a great day with Heathrow villagers at this years Sipson Spring Fair.
In the Transition Heathrow area we had a mini selection of all the spaces from the Grow Heathrow site giving residents who haven’t yet visited a peek of what goes on in Vineries Close. A growing area giving away free tomato, salad and coriander plants and wild flower seed bombs, an energy space with a bike powered phone charger, arts and crafts with face painting and mural art, bike doctor and tandem riding and information stall, plenty of new friends were made.
A big thanks to all who came out for the day, its community events like these which bring everyone together and make people value and protect what we have here in Sipson.
Have a look at some pictures from the Uxbridge Gazette. And a big thanks to Kate Birch (Heathrow Villages Community Development officer) for making it all happen.
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.
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.