Tag Archives: carbon footprint

Two Chinese companies are planning to build a giant solar plant in Chernobyl

23 Nov

Two Chinese solar companies have plans to build a huge solar farm in one of the scariest places on earth, the Chernobyl exclusion zone. On the 26th April 1986, one of four nuclear reactors at the Chernobyl power station exploded. As a result, the disaster released at least 100 times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Much of the fallout was deposited close to Chernobyl, in parts of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. More than 350,000 people resettled away from these areas, but about 5.5 million remain. Scandinavia was badly affected and there are still areas of the UK where farms face post-Chernobyl controls.

After the nuclear plant’s meltdown, Soviet officials set up a restricted area around the site called the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Even though it’s been 30 years since the accident, this restricted area is still exceptionally large. A 1,000 square mile exclusion zone of forests and marshland surrounds the former Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine and has been largely off-limits since the 1986 disaster. However the site is an excellent choice for the location of a large solar farm. Not only is the land cheap and unused, but there is already substantial electrical infrastructure in place left over from the nuclear plant.

Shu Hua, the chairman of GCL System Integration Technology said “There will be remarkable social benefits and economic ones as we try to renovate the once damaged area with green and renewable energy,” Making the best of a bad situation could prove motivating to others as the global community begins the hard work of implementing the Paris Agreement.

Ukraine has been trying to find an investor to build a large solar farm in the exclusion zone for several months and now the two companies, GCL System Integration Technology (GCL-SI) and state-owned China National Complete Engineering Corp (CCEC), announced their plans to start building a 1-gigawatt solar power plant in an unspecified region of the Exclusion Zone. Comments made by a GCL-SI manager suggested that the plant would be built in an area where the radiation is under control. The site itself has already gone through several rounds of inspections by the company’s technicians. GCL will build and install the solar components, while CCEC will manage and supervise the entire project. Neither company disclosed where exactly the solar farm would be built, or how much the project will cost.

Prior to the Chernobyl project, the Chinese have successfully reformatted contaminated land into renewable energy generators and therefore are the perfect candidate for the construction. Radiation levels around the remains of damaged reactor building still remain dangerously high and are likely to remain so for thousands of years. In the 30 years since the meltdown, scientists have already seen some evidence of the radiation causing harm to local animals.

To discourage urban expansion from absorbing more farmland, China has implemented policies that encourage solar and wind power plants on damaged land. China is currently the world’s top solar power generator with 43 gigawatts of generating capacity expected by the end of the year,

Though they have become the number one manufacturer in solar power, China has been encouraged to slash their carbon footprint since they reportedly derive 66% of their energy from coal use, according to the Energy Information Administration. The nation has since announced plans to eliminate all CO2 emissions by 2030 by expanding their international solar power presence and tripling their generated wind power.

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Solar Joins 1,000 Year Old Gargoyles On Cathedral Roof

3 Nov

A cathedral in Gloucester is having a huge upgrade by installing solar panels to help cut its energy bills by up to 25 percent. Despite its 1,000 years of history, the cathedral was keen to embrace modern technology and is having 150 panels fitted on its roof.

The cathedral is based in southwest England and was built around the year 678 and is coronation site for King Henry III, the burial site of King Edward II and famously had a featuring role in three Harry Potter movies!

Mypower are in charge of the installation and say the cathedral will be the oldest in the UK and maybe even the world to have a “commercial size solar panel system on the roof.”

The great advantage of installing solar panels on cathedrals is that they are really tall. And the fact that they are surrounded by ornate buttresses and gargoyles and other fancy architecture means that the solar panels will mostly be hidden from the ground, meaning the cathedral gets to cut its energy costs by a quarter without really sacrificing its historic, architectural integrity. The panels will generate 25,000 kilowatts of energy a year, enough to power seven semi-detached homes for a year or make an impressive 250,000 cups of tea!

Mypower, the installation contractor on the project and the firms’ managing Partner Ben Harrison said they’ve had to work around twists and spots where the roof has sagged over time. He said they’ve worked closely with the cathedral’s structural engineers and architect to guarantee the work is completed properly. “At times it’s been extremely tight in terms of manoeuvrability around parts of the site, particularly when the work required us to work just inches away from centuries-old gargoyles, but we put strategies and measures in place to protect the building from any damage.”

A further advantage of building on cathedrals and older churches are that they were usually built pointing directly from east to west, leaving a huge area of south-facing roof that’s ideally situated for maximum solar gain.

The Church of England is running a Shrinking the Footprint campaign, and the solar array will help Gloucester Cathedral work towards the campaign’s goal of slashing carbon emissions “by 80 percent by 2050.” Given that the Church of England has declared climate change “a great demon”, and has even stripped itself from the dirtiest fossil fuels, I suspect we will see many more churches going solar as the costs come down.

Once finished, the 1,000 year old building will become the oldest cathedral in the UK, and possibly the world, to claim a commercial-sized solar panel PV system. The installation forms a key part of the £6 million Project Pilgrim scheme to make the cathedral sustainable for future generations.

Winters Coming: Time To Update Your Boiler?

31 Aug

With winter around the corner, its not surprising homeowners start to worry about their increasing energy bills. Now when it comes to your energy bills, heating accounts for about 60 percent of what you spend annually. About 16 percent of that goes on distribution charge, basically the cost of the gas pipes that get the energy into your home. What about the other percentage? An efficient boiler makes a big difference!

Modern boilers are more efficient for several reasons, but their main advantage is that they are mostly condensing boilers. In a conventional heating system (gas boilers for example) most of the combustion products (heated gases) pass through the boiler’s heat exchange surface, passing the generated energy to the heat distribution system – underfloor heating, radiators. Afterwards, the combustion gases are released into the atmosphere through the boiler’s flue. Therefore, a certain amount of heat is lost, because together with the gases, a considerable amount of steam that forms during the burning process (due to the water contained in the natural gas in its initial state) is being pushed out. The released steam carries an untapped amount of evaporation energy that conventional boilers are unable to make use of, and something that a condensing boiler is capable of converting into additional heat.

Installing an efficient condensing boiler can save you significant amounts of money, but also improve your carbon footprint. Here are some other examples:

Reduce your electricity bills: Because condensing boilers are so energy efficient, they need to burn much less fuel to extract the same amount of energy to supply to your home. This means considerably lower fuel bills, which is a relief in today’s unstable fuel market with prices rising all the time.

Cut your carbon footprint: Condensing boilers have much lower CO2 emissions than other boilers available, and because of this are much more environmentally friendly. Every year a condensing boiler could save up to 1.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide that would otherwise escape into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Save space: Condensing combi boilers don’t need a hot water tank, saving you space. Next to a clunky older boiler type, a condensing boiler is sleek and will often fit into convenient spaces the size of an average kitchen cupboard.

Simple controls: Condensing combi boilers don’t need timers for hot water as they produce hot water when you turn the tap on. Also heating controls have changed so much over the last decade and as a result it is now as easy to control heating your home than ever before. With these changes comes longer life boilers and savings from heating your home smarter and more efficiently.

Faster heating: Upgrading your heating system and heating controls will not only reduce your energy bills but will also help heat your home faster.

In conclusion a new boiler can save 1.5 tons of CO2 each year. Not sure exactly how much that is? It the equivalent of the emissions given off on a return flight from London to San Francisco; a flight covering 5,351 miles!

Sometimes, wanting to be greener and reduce your carbon footprint and energy bills can seem daunting when you have to find the total cost of installing some measures, that’s why Eco People has become FCA approved so we can offer you a variety of finance options when we provide you with a quote. Call us on 020 8883 4595 for more information or visit us at www.eco-people.co.uk

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A Birdhouse That Gives Out Free Wi-Fi When The Air Quality Improves

2 Jun

There is something really cosy about a birdhouse isn’t there? Well an Amsterdam based start-up company called TreeWiFi agree and are planning on combining it with a much loved technology around the world…Wi-Fi!

They are planning to build bird houses that can measure the amount of pollution in the air, and make them levels visible through an LED status light. The birdhouse will measure when the air is clean and when it is, will give out free Wi-Fi. The roof of the birdhouse will then light up green to show people that the air is of good quality and that Wi-Fi is available on the street.

The technology works by the treehouse sending air quality data to a server where it is analysed and made public for everyone to see.

The brilliance behind the TreeWiFi is its ability to measure air pollution around the world in a much cheaper way than regular government owned air quality measuring stations. The more birdhouses installed means we can get a much more realistic idea of the air pollution around cities and towns.

Currently in Amsterdam air quality is not measured locally and thus local citizens tend not to get involved in improving air quality. The Wi-Fi element will not only offer researchers a better understanding of the workings of air pollution, but also motivate citizens to get involved in reducing air pollution. TreeWiFi also aims to encourage people who live in a city to use their bikes and public transportation more often, and to organise car-free days in their districts.

The project began with funding from the Awesome Foundation Amsterdam in March 2016, since then the team has grown from founder and designer Joris Lam to five in total. TreeWiFi is now hoping to raise €6.500 to further support the development of the prototype and to be able to build five units that they can place in the city of Amsterdam for testing.

Founder Joris Lam hopes to install at least 500 units in the city of Amsterdam, or other European cities who want to tackle air pollution. Due to the project’s fun and relatable approach to a subject otherwise hard to bring attention to, the reactions have been positive from local citizens.

We think it’s a great idea all round – Who would love to see the TreeWifi installed in your local towns and cities? Would they make you more aware of your carbon footprint and air polluting ways? Or are you just here for the free Wi-Fi? (We had to ask!)


The Benefits of Solar Panels

29 Jan

It has been argued that solar power will help in reducing the effects of global warming. Many theorists argue that global warming will prove a huge threat to the earth’s ecological system in years to come. Global warming threatens the survival of human society and countless species. Luckily, decades (or even centuries) of research have led to efficient solar panel systems that create electricity without producing global warming pollution. Solar power is now very clearly one of the most important solutions to the global warming crisis.

Solar power is a form of renewable energy, so its use reduces the strain on exhaustible materials like coal and oil – materials which are fast running out. More significantly, solar power doesn’t pollute the earth’s atmosphere with harmful emissions in the same way that coal and oil do. Once fitted, solar panels emit no pollution whatsoever, and only the construction and installation process contribute to the Earth’s carbon footprint. Solar panels are, in fact, the most environmentally friendly of all available renewable technologies.

The Benefits

Solar power provides energy security. First and foremost no one can go and buy the sun or turn sunlight into a monopoly. Combined with the simplicity of solar panels, this also provides the notable solar power advantage of energy security.

Carbon footprint advantages. Research shows over the life of a solar installation it produces on average of 20x less CO2 than coal power – at least! Solar panels are carbon negative after three years. As during this time they produce as much energy as was consumed during their manufacturing and installation.

Solar power creates jobs. As a source of energy, solar power is a job-creating powerhouse. Money invested in solar power creates two to three times more jobs than money invested in coal or natural gas. (see table below for example from 2014).

Earn money for the electricity you generate. The Feed-in tariffs in the United Kingdom were announced in October 2008 and took effect from April 2010. It applies to small-scale generation of electricity, paying a fixed sum for eligible technologies. Feed-in tariffs normally cover all of the energy generated, not just what is fed into the grid. You can also sell the electricity you generate but do not use back to the grid.

Solar power is reliable. The rising and setting of the sun is extremely consistent. All across the world, we know exactly when it will rise and set every day of the year. While clouds may be a bit less predictable, we do also have fairly good seasonal and daily projections for the amount of sunlight that will be received in different locations. All in all, this makes solar power an extremely reliable source of energy.

And finally, one of the biggest advantages to the homeowner…
Cut your electricity bills. Sunlight is free, so once you’ve paid for the initial installation your electricity costs will be reduced.


Become an Eco-Friendly God or Goddess today with our helpful tips!

22 Oct

Here are our three top reasons why becoming eco-friendly is a brilliant life decision!

  1. The pain of paying high monthly energy bills will be replaced by a warm and joyful feeling when those lower energy bills arrive at your doorstep.
  2. Who doesn’t want to reduce their carbon footprint and save Mother Nature?
  3. A great feeling of accomplishment by helping the environment and encouraging other like-minded people to embrace an eco-friendly way of living!

So where do you start?

A prime step towards being energy efficient and eco-friendly is insulation. Depending on where your insulation will be placed and what type you’ve opted for, you can save up quite an amount of money. Sealing air leaks not only keeps you warmer, but prevents the constant need to get up and fiddle with your thermometer, thus making sure you remain green and keeping your pockets turned the right side in. Unfortunately, an often neglected factor, the Insulation is a key factor towards achieving and maintaining energy efficiency.

Purchase good quality windows and doors. They will release the strain on your heating systems as they will be sealed and insulated correctly. This will let less heat escape giving you a comfy and cosy living environment. Not to mention release the strain on your energy bills.

When it comes to your bathroom, choose a dual flushing toilet. You know the kind, these toilets offer two flush options, one for liquid waste usually 3 litres per flush and one for solid waste, approximately 6 litres per flush. There’s nothing more to it!

Consider a green wall for your property! Not only will green walls make people turn their heads in interest, but are a fantastic way of staying energy efficient. Consisting of a frame, panels that are waterproof, irrigation systems and plants, this kind of your home’s outer shell is a great way to save up money, as well as energy. The frame is placed along the walls, making sure there’s air between them to avoid having to deal with moisture. Then, the panels are set up, as a means of holding the whole thing together. Green walls have a great deal to brag about. If you’ve covered your walls in green, you’ve chosen sustainability and durability. In addition to providing quality thermal and acoustic isolation, they work as natural air cleaners, even more so if you cover your home’s interior with them!

Finally, think about the type of light fixtures you chose to install. By carefully selecting energy efficient lighting you can help lower your energy bills. For instance have you ever thought about LED light bulbs?

There you have it…five steps to work towards for an eco-friendly 2016! Why not give our team at Eco People a call on 020 8883 4595 to see how we can help!

A Costa Rica Lodge Uses Pig Poo as Power!

4 Sep

The lovely Lapa Rios Eco Lodge situated in Costa Rica manages to make pig feces a clean energy alternative at their environmentally friendly resort. The lodge was established firstly as a nature reserve – in place to protect local wildlife and support a primary school. Lapa Rios Eco lodge makes use of green construction whilst using solar power for electricity and pig poo to entirely power its kitchen.

Since its launch, sustainability has been a core value at Lapa Rios Eco Lodge. They have been committed to conserving the incredible region and creating a sustainable property for nearly twenty years. In 2003 Lapa Rios became the first hotel in Costa Rica to receive five-leaf status from the Costa Rica Tourism Board’s (ICT) Certification for Sustainable Tourism, an organisation that evaluates a property’s sustainability level and awards one to five leaves.

Now, without looking at pictures you may wonder about the condition of the lodge (with it being powered by pig poo). Well…wonder no more as the lodge is visually beautiful and tranquil as any five-star hotel should be. It may be a lot more enjoyable to anyone with a sense of adventure or imagination.

Comprising the resort are the main lodge, Brisa Azul restaurant, and 16 bungalows. Guests stay in the bungalows, which are hand built and have thatched roofs of local suiita palm. Outdoor showers allow guests to take in natural surroundings while washing off the mud from a vigorous hike or the saltwater from a swim in the gulf. Afterward, guests can nap in the hammock on the veranda wrapping around the bungalow. Due to Lapa Rios’s location on the edge of the rainforest, guests can get up close and personal with the wildlife. A green living persons dream right?


Reducing their carbon footprint and decreasing energy consumption is at the forefront of Lapa Rios operations, as they continually seek out alternative energy options. At present solar power is used to heat all the water and to provide daytime lighting needs. Food scraps from staff and guests aren’t thrown away, they’re fed to the pigs. Methane gas from the pig manure is then used to fuel the kitchen stove. Another sustainable practice of Lapa Rios is visible in the erosion channels and retention walls, which are constructed with rocks, in lieu of rebar and concrete blocks.

The hotel recycles more than 80 percent of the waste generated in the kitchens, dividing the organic waste into two functions: vegetables, fruit trimmings, and egg shells get turned into compost. The rest is sent for the pigs.

It is brilliant to see a resort like Lapa Rios appropriately embracing the true meaning of sustainability and I would love to stay there anytime!


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