Archive for November, 2009

Oh Yoshimi……

Posted in Music, weekends with tags , on 17/11/2009 by bimbo78

I had a bit of a crazy couple of days at works at the end of last week. The weather was looking particularly awful for the weekend especially on the south coast. Oh joy of joys that was indeed where I was off to. I wrote a couple of emails to my friends resident at the south coast and also to my dad who was going away to Torquay for the weekend telling them all to wear their heavy shoes. I took a half day Friday and escaped the mounting chaos of the flood forecasters. The rain decided it would accompany me all the way down to Pompey but did not fall quite so intensely as I was expecting. I arrived nice and early, Spex had also left work early so we lounged about for a bit. H then arrived after an 11 day stint at work, oh my god the poor thing. Spex rustled up some grub whilst we planned logistics. It was decided we would enter Pompey via public transport as that would be the last thing ‘they’ would be expecting, take them by surprise that’s what I say. We arrived close to the Guild Hall and piled through the door straight to the bar. This bar sold 2 pint glasses which Spex decided to partake in, luckily for him he didn’t have to order it at the bar, the guy behind me just said my word, you’ll need two hands for that! How rude!! Hannah and I decided against such excessiveness. The outcome was Spex looking Like Merry and Pippin in Lord of the rings when they find out that it does indeed come in pints.

It comes in pints!!

We wandered in and saw the support, Star Death and White Dwarfs, (shouldn’t that be dwarves?). Which is indeed an odd name for a band. A white dwarf is the final evolutionary stage of a quite small but dense star. It doesn’t have any fission going on anymore so the luminosity is caused by just thermal energy. This will fade over time and leave a black dwarf so a white dwarf is on the way to being a dead star, (which is incidentally a fabulous song by Muse: You used to be everything to me, now you’re tired of fighting….. apparently about the relationship between the British Government and George Bush) Woah there, tangent city, my head is completely full of coherent thoughts again. I need to empty them out to make room for more. It’s like in the last 2 years my head has been storing all the stuff it would have been thinking about normally and has picked now to let it all come flooding into consciousness. So you must excuse my excessive randomness.

So anyway, Star Death and White Dwarfs were really good, quite seventies and funky. They were really digging the fake smoke. A little too much it turned out as about 5 songs into their set I saw a dude in a high vis vest run across the front of the crowd and start talking to the lead singer. How rude I thought. The lead singer stopped and that’s when we all became aware of the fire alarm going off. Ooh dear, we all wandered out into the crazy wind outside and finished our drinks, luckily it wasn’t raining. After about 15 minutes we traipsed back in and the support apologised profusely before continuing. They finished with a cover which just sounded so strangely familiar, the suddenly it dawned on me. It was freaking Borderline by Madonna. Oh my god, how infinitely better than the original.

The good thing about our little excursion outside was that we didn’t have to wait long for the main event…ladies and gentlemen may I introduce The Flaming Lips, complete with big dancing rabbits at the side of the stage just like they are famous for. Unfortunately Justin Timberlake wasn’t amongst them. Now I can’t remember how long I have loved the Flaming Lips for. Not full on Oh my god they are my favourite band type love but they have certainly written one of my favourite songs ever. Yoshimi is in my top 10 songs. I also love that they are a bit out there, a bit kooky, some may say a bit like me.

So Wayne Coyne comes on the stage and gives a kind of safety announcement before getting into a giant zorb and crowd surfing, hahahahaha. He disappears off before confetti cannons cover the smiling laughing crowd in confetti and streamers. Giant balloons appear and the crowd get to bash them around as Mr Coyne sheds his zorb and starts singing. They were just amazing, I can’t actually articulate how immensely awesome were. The crowd were great too, no animosity no baying for space. People were shaking hands and singing with complete strangers, it may have had something to do with the 2 pint glasses but I just think it was the unbelievable happiness their music produces. Spex has put together a play list so there you go. At the end of the main set they went off to rapturous applause, we cheered and stamped and sure enough Mr Coyne re-entered the stage. Unfortunately it was to tell us that two people, including one of the giant dancing rabbits had not liked the strobes in the last song and the dancer was actually at the side of the stage still having some issues. Oh my god how guilty did we feel for cheering them back onto the stage. He just asked us to stay chilled and quiet for a bit until they knew everything was ok. After about 5 minutes they retook the stage and played do you realise. Woo hoo!! So maybe it was the little incidents that added to it. H had mentioned outside this is how great nights start and she was right.

In the taxi home we discussed how legendary it had been, we all agreed up there possibly the best gig ever and given how many gigs those two have been to that is indeed an immense compliment. We chatted into the early hours hearing the stupid wind picking up outside. Next day we went to the Arthur Conan Doyle exhibition at the museum, yay!! I know this isn’t a particularly feminine author to like but I do so don’t make me fight you. We mooched around other bits of the museum as there was little else to do with the storm raging outside. We took in some ‘art’ and an exhibition about the footy club before leaving. We drove along the sea front, well I say drove, I think we would have continued to move even if Spex had taken his foot off the accelerator, it probably would have been sideways though. It was stupidly wind, later I heard 100 mph gusts were reported which may explain this insaness. We had a nice quiet night on Saturday going out for dinner and then going back chatting and drinking.

On Sunday I drove back in the winter sunshine towards Dorset, I drove past the Lamer Tree Gardens where End of the Road Festival took place and I couldn’t help a smile coming to my lips. Then I arrived at Ebbys for Sunday lunch…there was definitely something wrong I could tell. I didn’t question her but have since found out. What bizarrely parallel lives we live sometimes young lady. Xx. Anyway, lunch was lovely but I was so tired and was desperately trying not to succumb to the lurgy which I could feel attacking me, so I didn’t stay long and don’t really remember much of the drive home. That’s really bad isn’t it? I shall stay longer next time and we shall drink vino and talk about everything in the world.

Right now, time to hjave a good stab at getting rid of this freaking cold. Is it too early for a hot toddy? I believe it may be.

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More power, give me all the power damn you!!

Posted in Envrionment view, green with tags on 10/11/2009 by bimbo78

OK The Problem
We all know that the UK needs to reduce it’s carbon emissions and beyond that the whole world needs to. In the grand scheme of things the UK is but a drop in the ocean when it comes to population, energy production and therefore carbon. If we became a carbon neutral country it will be fabulous but if other countries with greater populations and flourishing economies do not see things the same then we are indeed screwed, no pressure!

Sooooo….83% of global CO2 emissions are from energy production. Of this energy 82 % is generated from fossil fuels. The top 10 emitting countries emit 2/3rds of the world CO2 emissions, these being:

China
US
Russia
India
Japan
Germany
Canada
UK
Korea
Iran

But this is all skewed because of population. The US has 5% of Worlds population but emitted 20% of CO2 in 2007, conversely India has 17% World population and emitted 5% of the CO2. (International Energy Council)

So yes, indeed we need to sort this out globally.The UK is supposedly cutting emission by 20% by 2010, (that’s next year!!) 34% by 2020 and 60% by 2050. The latter two targets are legally binding with the government of the day supposedly being taken to court if we don’t reach them, (yeah right!!). Anyway, I’m getting side tracked. We need to reduce emissions and the aim of this blog is to suggest some of the lesser known alternatives. Not for big scale production but I think people need to take more responsibility for the amount of energy they consume which should involve lots of smaller scale stuff, (microgenration)to reduce the demand on the grid. This is especially important with growing population and greater demand generally caused by the increase in popularity of the electric car, (I’m just guessing that will happen). And I just want to talk about some newer bigger scale stuff too.

Righty dokey…
First Geothermal, not a very ‘alternative’ alternative I know but in the UK I think it could be regarded as being a little out of the ordinary. I remember hearing about geothermal power in Cornwall when I was first at uni, (the first time around) . Basically the rocks under parts of Cornwall have a steep thermocline, (they get hot quickly just below the surface). Anyway, it looks like things have moved on a bit and Eden Projectwant to install some geothermal to power the domes and 4,000 homes. This will involve drilling two 4,000m, (yes that’s 4km) wells to get to the hot rocks. Not as naturally occurring as the old Iceland geothermal but well done all the same. This would be good as a community based scheme I imagine.

Wave power, not to be confused with tidal power. The action of waves is used to turn turbines in various guises. I wrote a paper on this freaking years ago so was very interested to see how things have progressed. Pelarmis is the major addition made by the Scottish company Pelarmis I mentioned in my previous blog. Pelarmis is a long hinged thing and as it moves up and down in the waves it’s hinges bend pumping hydraulic fluid into it’s turbines. Pelarmis now have a commercial wave power station in Portugal called Agucadoura Wave Park , 3 snakes make enough power (2.25 MW) for 1,500 homes. There are lots of smaller scale wave power jobbies such as the duck and the LIMPET which I wrote about in the aforementioned paper , I’ll comeback and finish this off in the next few days as i would love to see if things actually have progressed.

Ahh now small-scale hydropower which encompasses Pico, Micro and Mini. Pico refers to tiny tiny schemes generating less than 5kW which isn’t really enough to run a modern day house. Pico hydropower has quite a following, it is quite an effort to go to produce such a small amount of electricity but go for it guys. It is very important in some rural developing areas, (I should put a reference here but I actually do just know this shit) where instead of hydro turbines waterwheels are used, (yes she had to get to in somewhere). Now a UK charity makes a low cost efficient waterwheel called a Pedley Wheel. Now not meaning to blow my own trumpet but, Spencer (2006) did a study into the feasibility of using old watermill sites in the UK for the production of electricity. I focussed on very small scale stuff and developed a methodology for assessing whether a site would be feasible or not. I’m not going to link to it as I think Cranfield actually own the rights to it, (I won’t vent my anger here at that, actually I shall email Cranfield and ask if I can link to it). But let’s just say some of the larger sites really are feasible especially if newer more efficient water wheels are installed. It should be made easier for such installations to take place especially where in-river schemes are proposed.

Just for Spex.. the solar chimney, I believe this would only really be feasible in hot countries. Basically a big chimney is built in a hot area, air is sucked in and warmed up in a kind of greenhouse at the bottom of the chimney, it rises up the chimney dragging in more air at the bottom and turning the turbines. Another dude has proposed the Solar Nozzle, (tee hee I said nozzle) which sort of works the same but instead of a chimney a cylinder with a wide base and narrow top is proposed, this works the same but the air rises quicker due to the narrowing. Ok not at all feasible in soggy old Blighty and they supposedly aren’t particularly efficient anyway. But as small scale producers in very hot countries it may in fact work. The Botswanan government is thinking about giving permission for the first ever commercial solar chimney power plant

Currently Botswana only has 1 coal fired power station producing 132 MW of electricity, the rest of their energy is purchased from South Africa. The Botswanans have discovered that there one and only power station does not really operate very efficiently at high summer temperatures so have decided to take complete advantage of what their country has to offer, this being high temperatures and 70% of the country being taken up by the Kalahari desert. So they have plenty of room, high temperatures and little history in a particular type of energy production, they have therefore ploughed loads of dosh into research. It’s almost a fresh faced innocence that I think should be applauded. They have taken advantage of what their country has to offer and very much seized the day. I think we could learn a thing or two as we are an island with over 19,000 miles of coast when the bigger isles are included; and also an estuary with the second highest tidal range in the world you’d think we really would be able to harness tidal or wave power to some degree. I know the tidal barrage is controversial but really if there is no freaking salt marshes left because of rising sea levels what on Earth have we actually achieved by not letting the barrage go ahead. I wrote ages ago about a scheme called ECOSTAR that could possibly generate 25% of the UKs demand for electricity!!

But what about using these of ordinary chimneys and cooling towers…., as the air isn’t be constantly replaced at the bottom the chimney and therefore not a great deal of pressure will be generated I’m not sure this will be enough to turn a turbine with an electric motor attached although i will do some more research I promise.

I’ve done a tad more research and I can’t find any info on using normal chimneys I’m afraid Spex. It would seem if it could be used then it would have been by now. I did however find all that stuff on Botswana that I have just added to my dear little blog.

Once again that is enough but I will add more about wave power soon.

I have the power!!!

Posted in Envrionment view, green, water with tags , on 09/11/2009 by bimbo78

Hey hey!! Bimbo is back and full of beans. Not literally, if I was going to be literal I’d have said Bimbo is back and full of pita bread and banana smothie but that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. I did have some beans in my pita bread earlier but I’m certainly not full of them, and anyway…….

Right ok in a return to form I’m about to get really cross about something but it involves energy production instead of cancer, (now I bet that sentence has never been used before in the whole history of everything).
The go ahead has just been given for 10 new nuclear power stations, (see the little linky). The governments arguments (Department of Energy and Climate Change) are just all wrong, so yes we need to do something now I do agree with that. We need to reduce our carbon emissions big time. One way is to give this freaking country a shake-up. We need to reduce our energy consumption but no government is ever going to encourage that too much as it would involve making unpopular decisions, can you remember the furore created by getting rid of non energy efficient light bulbs?! If such a fuss can be caused by something that I had been whinging about for about a decade then imagine what the following will do to the small minded idiotic Daily Mail readers. New build homes should all now have to adhere to the code for sustainable homes not just certain councils, and the code needs to be stronger. Solar water heating should now be fitted as standard, solar panels for lighting where feasible, wind turbines in new housing estates, (and none of your NIMBY crap, you use electricity it has to be produced somehow so deal with it and personally I think wind turbines are beautiful). So in my humble dizzy opinion that should have been the first step in making us a more efficient country in the first place, but no the governments decides it’s first action will be to commission new nuclear power stations that take a freaking eon to build and make safe. The first should be producing electricity by 2018 and that’s if it’s fast tracked!! What also worries me is if we go further along this path there will be no way back. The cost of nuclear is huge and it is a very long-term commitment. I can’t see renewables featuring much if this addition to our nuclear family, (see what I did there!) happens.

Secondly instead of ploughing money into nuclear how about a bit of cash for the lesser known alternatives? What about Pelamis, (the sea snake hisssss) And my personal favourite which if perfected could actually be an end to coal/oil and nuclear power stations; harnessing the power of Osmosis. In this country with our huge amount of coast line it could just be immense. It would also mitigate the problems that the proposed Severn barrage would cause by blocking the estuary as no barrage would be needed, they can even be built underground to keep the NIMBYs happy, not that I am pandering to them. Also and I do appreciate that the effect of this will be minimal but how about installing small scale hydropower, (yes indeed I had to get hydrogeekery in somewhere) on sewage work outfalls. Even if it just powers the plant itself, that’ll reduce power consumption and should also bring water bills down. And while you’re at it submergible hydro generators should be more accepted, I can’t get into the details of this as it would clash with my job but .. actually no, I’m going to save this for another blog as it is my particular forte, bet you can’t wait!

Credit where credit is due however, Ed Miliband has suggested changes to the planning system to make it less tedious although this does incorporate planning for all types of power station.

Ooh that felt good. I apologise if it is lacking the usual Bimbo edge but give me time.