IPCC wants change but do you?

The IPCC has finally released the news that we all expected, we are helping climate change along quite nicely and it’s about time we did something about it.  For many people this would not come as a surprise but they are still many who will not give in to the scientific evidence and still stand up and say it’s all ‘rubbish’ and the scientists are blowing hot air.. Yes puns intended!

A favourite is the ability of many people to cherry pick information to base their reasons on but it is normally quashed quite quick by many others.  You can expect that the people who deny climate change will never be convinced about climate change.

So what now?

The IPCC wants countries to start using more renewable energy which I’m sure that many people in the UK would be willing to, however, as always, money is the factor which stops everyone.  Solar panels are the obvious choice for many people but prices are still high and the feed in tariff has been dropping in price each year making the who FIT scheme a lot less appealing.

The cost of solar panels is dropping though and fast with the average price coming in at around £6,000 now meaning that you can get your money back in 6 to 7 years and with many money saving tips and idea’s you may even make it back quicker.  Perhaps with the IPCC producing the latest report wanting to push countries and governments in to using more renewable energy the UK may start investing in more technology, research and incentives to get the UK on track to reduce the CO2 emissions.

Posted on April 13th, 2014 in Green News by JP No Comments

Can the Council cut down bills more

Over Christmas it’s of course been getting dark very early an we have not had that much sunshine so my experiments have been put on hold for now.

Walking around I noticed they are quite a few ‘school crossing’ signs which are they to of course warn drivers to watch out for children crossing the road mainly and so they pay more attention in case any children run out in to the road.

I also noticed the lights flashing on Saturdays and Sundays means that they waste electric every weekend and of course bank holidays.  If the council upgraded these lights, added in a small circuit board that was programmed to only flash the lights on weekdays I sometimes wonder how much money they would save / c02 emissions.

If you think of how many schools they are in the UK and whether each of these signs are going on/off on the weekends where there is no need there will be a lot of wasted electric.

Perhaps a upgrade of signs like this could help the UK further reduce the c02 emissions and if they really tried they would also invest in some signals which were powered by solar power alone.

school patrol sign

school patrol sign


Perhaps these new school patrol signs will be the way forward.  As you can see they have a small 30watt solar panel on them while provides the power for the LED lights.  Of courses changing all these signals would be costly but you have to think about the future and the fact we ‘are’ trying to reduce the c02 emissions for the UK as a while.

It’s only a small saving but a saving none the less.  The technology is here now so why are more councils not investing in signs like this?

Posted on January 27th, 2012 in Solar Power by JP No Comments

BMW i3 Electric car and i8 Hybrid car

BMWi i3 Electric Car

BMW i3 Electric Car concept


BMW are going to venture in to the green car market with 2 new cars, the BMW i3 and the i8.  Both these cars are still in a concept phase but they do have working models on both which are currently being tested.


The BMW i3 (as pictured left) is a full electric car BMW will offer.  As with all electric cars the BMW i3 is still going to be limited to around 100 miles on the battery but they are stating that the battery can be fully charged in 6 hours via a normal domestic plug socket and claim they will be able to achieve 80% charge from a high powered socket within the hour.


The car is made from a carbon fiber mix which means it’s going to be very light, this will enable the battery to be smaller as it wont have a big weight to push around.  As always though these electric cars are going to be for people who live and work in cities and will be no good for travelling around the country because of the small range they offer, lack of charging stations and of course the amount of time to actually charge the car up.

BMWi i8 Concept Car

BMW i8 Concept Car


The BMW i8 concept car is a hybrid super car running on both petrol and electric.  BMW are claiming this car will be able to go from – 60 mph in under 5 seconds and claim a 94 mpg which is unheard of.


The BMW i8 will also be made out of a carbon fiber mix meaning for a sports car it will be very light.  This will help and will be needed if the car is going to reach the figures BMW are saying for the 0 – 60 time along with the mpg.


The i8 should be able to run around 20 miles just on the electric motor but I would guess this will without a doubt depend on the speed you are travelling.


Both The i3 and i8 are expected to go on production in 2013 by which time many of the facts and figures will no doubt change.  It’s been estimated (various web sites) that the i3 will have a price tag of over £20,000 while I do not disagree with this figure I would expect it to be much higher given the prices of the current electric / hybrid cars.

You can find more information by visiting the BMW i series official site: BMW i Series



Posted on September 9th, 2011 in Green Cars by JP No Comments

Don’t have a FIT over the feed-in tariff

Today I’ve spent most of the day trying to get my head around the FIT ( Feed-in Tariff ) with some success but plenty of disappointment.


As the number of solar panels I own starts to rise I decided to see it I could apply for the FIT with my electric supplier British Gas.  I’ve ended up ringing them a number of times along with various other companies trying to get to the bottom of the FIT and I’m still awaiting answers!


How to sign up for the Feed-in Tariff


The whole idea of the feed-in tariff is you install some solar panels (or wind turbines) and the energy produced basically feed in to the house.  This energy is used by the house appliances but any left over is in a sense fed back in to the grid.  This electric fed back in is where you will make the money.


However it’s not as simple as it sound.. nothing ever is!  The solar panels need to be MCS certified by a registered company.  This certificate basically approves that the panels are save and not dangerous which is good and I have no complains about that.


The panels in my home are in the back garden on A frames, there is nothing to install, I bought the panels, pulled out the legs on the frame and that’s it, the panel is installed.


This as it turns out does not matter they still need to have a MCS certificate.  Regardless of how the panels are, so laying flat on the grass, on a A frame or on the roof they need to have this one certificate to say they have been installed correctly .. but my question is how can the solar panel laying on the grass or on a A frame be installed incorrectly?


I understand that panels installed on a roof should be done by trained professionals as it’s a dangerous job but I fail to see why the panels at ground level such as mine should need these certificates.


After finding out this information I’ve contacted a local company in Durham to see if they can help, after speaking to someone late morning I’m still waiting to see whether they can come and issue a certificate (and for how much).


From this point I decided to look at the setup a little different so my idea is:


Using the solar panels and grid tie inverter but NOT applying for the FIT scheme


Sound like a good idea, I can still connect the solar panels to the grid tie inverter which then ‘plug’ in to a normal plug socket in the house which will feed the electric back in to the house thus reducing the electric bill.


Again it sounds good but it seems that all Inverters need to be G83 registered.  This certificate is all about protecting the ‘grid’ – for example if the power in my street was turned off so some work could be carried out the correct inverter will know this and turn off the electric supply, this means of course the people working on the electric out side will not get a nasty shock from my solar panels!


I started to think about this a little more and thought I best check with British Gas again to ensure I’m doing nothing wrong.  I phone the help line for renewable energy and spoke to someone about this situation.  The conversation went something like:


me: I would like my solar panels to connect to a G83 certified inverter, this inverter will connect to the house mains via a plug socket feeding electric in to the house but I don’t want to apply for the FIT scheme, is this OK?

British Gas: errr what


Not quite what I expect from the dedicated renewable team from British Gas!


After the pointless phone call I went back online for more research and I have found that if you are connecting renewable energy to the mains in the house the inverter has to be G83 certified.


It has been quite interesting though today finding out that as always there are plenty of hoops to jump through it you want to try and save money and do things yourself.


I’m now waiting to hear back from British Gas (I sent them a e-mail this time) to see whether I can feed electric back in to my house grid without trying to earn money from the FIT scheme via a G83 registered inverter.  I have a feeling this is going to be a while before I get a good answer!


Mastervolt soladin 600 inverter

Mastervolt soladin 600 inverter

The inverter I was looking at using is called a ‘MasterVolt Soladin 600w Grid Tie Inverter’  This inverter is  G83 certified and has a ‘plug and play’ design.  Once you connect the solar panels to the inverter you use a standard 3 ping plug and simply plug the inverter in a standard socket in your home.  The inverter does lots of clever things but basically feeds the electric being generated by the solar panels back in to the house’s power grid.  The idea is the house can use this power rather from drawing from the grid to power devices in the house.

I did ring the UK office for Mastervolt for some further information but the lady I spoke to basically told me to ring another company which was a supplier.  Absolutely rubbish customer care/support from quite a large company!




To sum up all of the above:

If you want to apply for the Feed-in Tariff:

Solar Panels / Wind Turbines need to be MCS approved: Installed by a company with the ability to give you the MCS certificate at the end of the installation

Grid Tie Inverters: The inverters need to be G83 certified for the UK

For larger installations you will also need to have isolation switches, however for the size of the installations I’m trying to use it’s not necessary.

I’m still waiting for companies to get back to me with regards to setting up my idea but I’m not holding out much hope as it seems speaking to someone in the ‘know’ is hard.



Posted on September 5th, 2011 in Feed-in Tariff by JP No Comments

DZ Energy – Portable Solar Solution review

In my last Solar Energy review I took a look at the SolarGorilla portable charger which as it turns out was hopeless.  Although the idea behind the portable charge was good and the number of attachments was very good the kit was let down by the solar panels which would not charge anything unless you live in Spain!

Today I took delivery of a ‘DZ Energy portable solar solution’.  This portable solar panel came with only a couple of attachments, 2 LED lights and a few other ‘bits and bobs’.

Below is the video of the Solar Panel review, I also compared the solargorilla to this DZ Energy product whilst filming to show just how bad the gorilla’s solar panels actually were.

Posted on September 2nd, 2011 in Solar Panel Reviews by JP No Comments

Caravans and Solar Panels update

A few posts back I was talking about ‘should more caravans have solar panels‘ in the UK as many don’t seem to have solar panels when really it must be worth while spending a little to have them installed.

I’ve been in contact with various people from ‘Park Resorts’ with regards to having solar panels installed on the caravan I own.  It seems to have taken a while with some very slow replies and then being ‘fobbed’ off basically from head office but I’ve finally started finding out whether I can have / put solar panels on my caravan.

Head office were not much help basically telling me they don’t offer solar panels on new sales or even as a side line and I should speak to my actual park manager.  After sending the park manager a e-mail I finally had a reply which was positive so at least a step in the right direction.

Although no one at Park Resorts seem to have a clue about solar panels the park manager has shown some interest and offered some help on installing the solar panels if I were to do this myself.

When installing the panels I of course have a couple of options, on grid and off.  Having a solar setup that is off grid will be easy enough as I have already done this.  Installed the panels on the caravan, battery, inverter and jobs done (basically).

If I want to go on grid and take advantage of the FIT (Feed-in Tariff) then it will get a little more complicated.

First off the installation of the solar panels will need to be done correct including the correct equipment installed to feed the electric back in to the grid.  If / when this is complete then I would need to inform the electric supplier for the caravan park which is where it may get confusing.

I’m obviously not the only person on the caravan park that owns a caravan so I need have to ensure that everyone knows I would be using the FIT and because I don’t get the actual bill (Park Resorts is billed who then bill us) I would need a setup to know how much electric I’ve used and how much we have put back in.

With Help I’m sure it’s possible so it will be something I look in to a little more.  I’ve already contacted the electric company and my ‘friends’ at Sun Shine Solar as they do offer solar panel installation for caravans.

SunnyDale Caravan Park

SunnyDale Caravan Park

So if I installed solar panels on my caravan would I see a return?  Most people know that installing solar panels on a home roof will show some return but generally not cover the costs of what the house will use but with a caravan and a good setup on the roof I ‘think’ that a good return will be possible.

Looking at the maths you have to consider that electric use in the caravan will not be anywhere near as much as a home.  The electric is not always on and only friends / family use our caravan so it’s in use around 1 week a month on average.  You also have to consider that the park goes on shut down for a few months of the year as well which means no electric being used but the solar panels feeding in all the time during shut down.

The last thing to consider for myself is there are no obstructions or cover where my caravan is meaning that in theory no matter where the solar panels are placed on the roof we will get all the daylight / sunlight offered in any given day.

As always I’m still waiting for replies from various people to try and work out whether installing some solar panels on the caravan is going to be cost effective so another update will come in time.



Posted on August 30th, 2011 in Solar Power by JP No Comments

Durham Council to install solar panels

Durham City
Durham City

Durham Council are looking to make a large investment in Solar Panel this year bu spending £6 million on there solar scheme.

The Council are planning on installing the solar panels on 5 buildings they own in the Durham area.  They have already applied for planning permission which they should find out whether the bid is successful around September.

Like many local councils they are trying to reduce the the carbon emissions for the area and of course in the long term the solar panels will hopefully start giving the council a profit.

The £6 million loan will be paid back at a massive £466,000 a year but they are hoping (and I presume estimated) that with the feed in tariff they should make back £700,000 a year.  This means not only will the panels pay for themselves each month but it will also give the council a nice profit.

There is no doubt that a investment in the area of this much money and solar power will drastically reduce the carbon footprint of the Durham area.  Hopefully other councils will take advantage of the feed-in tariff before the government change the pricing and time structure to the current tariff.
Posted on August 28th, 2011 in Green News by JP No Comments

Can I run my TV from Solar Power



Since building the solar panel charging station I’ve tried a few devices to see whether or not I’ll be able to run them just by using the battery which is of course charged up via the 60w solar panel.

Today I looked around the living/sitting room and decided to try the TV, BT Vision box and a few other devices that you would normally find in the living room.

The video I’ve done does show that it is possible to run everything from the 1 battery but of course the more devices you run, the higher the watts used and the less battery life you get.

After completing the video I started editing it and decided to look up why I keep on getting random ‘buzzing’ sounds.  Today the TV when plugged in was generating a odd sound.  At first I did think it was the inverter but it was coming from the TV.  I did a quick search online and it ‘seems’ that the problem stems from the inverter.

The inverter I have is a 2000w “Modified” Sine Wave.  According to some websites (can’t always take sites as the whole truth) some electrical devices have a problem with the modified part of the inverter and they do say that if I was to use a “Pure” Sine Wave inverter I would in theory not have any strange buzzing sounds.

I may test this theory but the Pure Sine inverters are very expensive and this setup is all about saving money!

As a final thought for anyone who has watched this, if my Maths is wrong please feel free to tell me.  I’m by no means a expert when it comes to working out watts / volts / amps just going off what I’ve been told or read.

Posted on August 26th, 2011 in Solar Power by JP No Comments

Solar Powered Laptop

samsung solar panel netbook

samsung solar panel netbook

Samsung have released there solar panel netbook to various places around the world with the latest being in South Korea.  The netbook is also available in Europe, africa and the U.S

The Netbook basically has a PV (photovoltaic) solar Panel on it’s back cover (the side with the screen on) and when in sunlight charges the internal battery.

Depending on what you read, 2 hours in the sun will produce somewhere between 30 – 1 hour worth of power for the netbook but I would suspect the amount of time will vairy depending on what you are using the netbook for.

The Netbook will also charge up

The concept is a very good one which will allow for less charging time and thus less cost to the user.  I’ve not of course seen or tried one of these netbooks but one of my thoughts is whether this will actually charge up in day light of whether it actually needs direct sunlight.

If you read back on a post I made a while back regarding the ‘Powergorilla’ this portable charging device was hopeless unless the panels were in direct sunlight so I wonder if the solar panel on the samsung netbook would be the same.

Posted on August 25th, 2011 in Solar Power by JP No Comments

Solar Energy – What can I run off it

I’ve had the solar energy solar panel charging station for a while now and it’s time to begin testing what I can or cannot run from this setup.  The battery is fully charging and everything is working just right however I did have some issues while charging the battery!

When I first got the battery there is a small spot which is meant to go green when the battery is fully charged but I’ve been having issues with this and it’s never (and still has not) gone fully green.  To make sure I’ve ended up buying3 different gadgets to test the battery level.

I’ve bought a multi-meter which works well and 2 LED displays which shows the level of the battery.  One of these though didn’t work and is now in the bin the other is working fine.

Apart from that small issue (which I also talk about in the video) I started some tests to see what I can run from the solar charging station.

So what next??

Looking back on the video it looks like there are going to be many devices within the house (more so the kitchen) that this setup will not run.  I have a couple of choices if I want to run a kettle / toaster which would be to either buy some which run on a much lower watts or increase the size of the inverter.

By far the cheaper of these would be to buy a new toaster and kettle but I’m trying to save as much money as possible not buy in more products.

I’m busy doing my maths to work out when else I can and can’t run so in the next video I’ll venture in to the sitting room and see how running a TV and a few other devices will work.

Posted on August 22nd, 2011 in Solar Power by JP No Comments