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contains articles about a
range of subjects
Green energy suppliers
cleaner cars, cleaner fuels
RENEWABLE ENERGY FACT SHEETS
Solar Water Heating
Green electricity is
electricity generated from renewable sources, such as wind, hydro, solar
It powers a growing number
of homes and businesses in the UK.
Renewably generated electricity, along with
electricity from other sources, is pooled into the national grid which
then supplies everybody via local electricity networks.
Signing up to a green tariff does not mean that the
electricity you use at home will be green BUT it does mean that
somewhere on the grid, your consumption is being matched by an
equivalent supply of green electricity.
No fossil fuels will have
been burned to produce your power, so you have not added to the
pollution that is contributing to climate change.
The production of your
electricity has not generated any hazardous nuclear waste that has to be
Some green electricity
companies will invest a proportion of your money in community renewable
energy projects or other projects to benefit the environment.
The switch is hassle free,
you won’t need new cables or meters.
It doesn’t necessarily
cost more. Some providers guarantee to match the standard tariff of
your local energy supplier.
If you use green
electricity to power your business premises you will be exempt from
paying the Climate Change Levy (CCL).
I KNOW IT’S GREEN?
Every unit of green
electricity generated comes
with a certificate of proof
that it is green (Renewable Obligation Certificate or ROC). Companies
use the proof to demonstrate to the Government they have met their legal
Some companies keep
a proportion of the certificates
for the extra green electricity they have supplied to you.
Others sell the certificates
to other electricity providers who can then use them to meet their legal
obligations without actually having generated any green electricity
certificates is the best option for the future for green electricity.
This is because there are a limited number of them and by keeping hold
of them companies are increasing demand which in turn encourages new
development. As importantly, keeping the certificates means that their
price goes up thus discouraging their trade between energy providers.
CAN I GET IT?
A number of suppliers
provide green electricity tariffs but it is worth noting that some
suppliers could be “greener” than others. Friends of the Earth
recommend a small number of suppliers out of the total market because
only sell green electricity, or;
produce green electricity in a
large percentage of power stations they own, or;
buy or generate one unit of
green electricity for every unit a person buys, and;
hold onto at least some of the
proof (ROCs) that they have done so
the Earth do not recommend suppliers who do not meet all of the above
criteria nor do they recommend power companies who operate fossil fuel
based power stations or “Carbon Dinosaurs” as they are called by FOE.
tables on the next page outline the various green electricity products
and providers in the market place. It also shows which providers are
recommended by Friends of the Earth.
Back to top
Driving a car is the
second most ecologically damaging thing that most of us do
(air travel is the worst). Advances in vehicle design and
fuel quality now mean, though, that cars are being made
cleaner and more efficient. The best contribution you can
make to cutting pollution is, of course, to cut your number
of car journeys but new advances mean that the trips you do
make by car can be less polluting than before.
RUNNING ON GAS
One option is to convert your car to run on Liquefied
Petroleum Gas. LPG is very cheap due to the significantly
lower fuel duty imposed by the Government. A litre of LPG
currently costs about half the price of petrol or diesel on
Emissions of carbon monoxide are much lower than for
petrol and of carbon dioxide slightly lower (about 12% less
than petrol). LPG causes less wear and tear to the engine
and exhaust of the car. Disadvantages, though, include cold
start problems and valve-seat wear.
There are now over 650 LPG refuelling sites around
Britain (and the number is expected to double within two or
three years) including ones in Halifax, Keighley,
Huddersfield, Burnley and Bradford, but not, as yet, Hebden
Bridge. A list of sites is available at the ATC or on the
Energy Savings Trust Powershift website (see below).
Most types of vehicle can be converted to run on LPG but
converting a smaller car may mean losing most of your boot
space to the LPG tank. The typical cost of converting a
petrol car to run on LPG is around £1000 to £1,500. If
looking to buy second hand, you may be able to pick up a
ready converted ex-fleet car.
Another option would be to invest in an electric vehicle.
Britain has over 37,000. They are highly efficient - it can
cost as little as 1p per mile compared with around 10p for a
typical petrol car. They are extremely quiet and produce
zero tailpipe emissions.
The disadvantages are the weight and capacity of the
battery (their range is only about 40 to 70 miles) and the
fact that production of the electricity produces its own
pollution (unless it is generated from renewable sources).
Electric vehicles can be recharged from any 13 amp socket in
around seven hours. However, many companies appear to be
dis-investing from electric vehicle production for more
investment in hybrid and fuel cell technology.
Hybrid vehicles use a combination of conventional fuel
(petrol/diesel) with electricity to power the engine. The
electric fuel system is used at lower speeds and for
stop-start driving in urban areas. Conventional fuel is used
either to drive the vehicle directly outside urban areas, or
to travel at higher speeds, or to recharge the batteries.
Switching fuels in this way enables reduced emissions. These
vehicles do not require external recharging and claim to be
capable of up to 80 miles on a gallon of petrol.
In the longer term, fuel cells offer the prospect of
emission-free vehicles. A fuel cell is an electrochemical
device that produces electricity by mixing hydrogen with
oxygen taken straight from the air. The only emission from
the exhaust is water vapour. The manufacture of the hydrogen
could however result in greenhouse gas emissions.
Fuel cell vehicles are not currently commercially
available, but DaimlerChrysler and other major car
manufacturers, including Honda and Toyota, have pledged to
have fuel cell vehicles available by 2004.
All new cars will soon be clearly labelled to show their
carbon dioxide emissions and fuel efficiency.
At the end of the day, though, the best thing you can do
is to reduce your car use. More information is available from the ATC.
Thanks to Friends of the Earth (Freephone 0808 800 1111),
the Environmental Transport Association (01924 415334) and
the Energy Savings Trust (020 7222 0101) for the information
in this article. The Energy Savings Trust Power-shift
Programme web-site is very useful:
THE TOYOTA PRIUS
The Toyota Prius is the world’s first petrol/electric
family saloon. It costs £16,495 - but the first 200
customers can get a £1000 grant from the Energy Savings
Trust Powershift programme.
It has an official fuel
consumption of 55 – 61 miles per gallon. Since its launch in
Japan in 1997, more than 43,000 Prius models have been sold
around the world. The Prius is now on sale in Britain. Honda has also just launched a hybrid car – the
Back to top
with the 11 million turkeys that will never see the light of
day again (that’s if they were lucky enough to see it in the
first place!) the government’s "are you doing your bit?"
campaign predicts that this Christmas will yet again see the
creation of a monstrous mountain of festive "waste". It will
consist of at least 1 billion Christmas cards, over 6
million Christmas trees, 4,200 tonnes of aluminium foil,
125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging, and enough wrapping
paper to cover Guernsey, with a bit to spare!
Fortunately there are several ways to minimise the damage
our celebrations might cause the environment. Along with
those lovely people at Hebden Bridge Post Office, Kerbside
will be collecting and recycling all Christmas cards that
are not being saved for making into next year’s gift tags.
Buying recycled cards and gift-wrap, or even making your
own, will also reduce the environmental impact of our
seasonal excesses. If you can’t find a properly rooted
Christmas tree locally you should be able to find out where
your nearest stockist of replantable trees is by contacting
the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (0113 213
A commitment to local organic produce would also
help soften the blow caused by the mass transportation of
85,000 tonnes of sprouts around the country. Organic sources
should also be sought to help offset the effect of our
consumption of 60,000 tonnes of chocolate, and 200 million
litres of soft drinks, along with the 23 pints of Christmas
beer, 7 units of spirit and three bottles of wine that the
average adult supposedly enjoys!
When it comes to
presents perhaps we could all make an effort to shop locally
for gifts that are durable, not over packaged, energy
efficient, made from recycled materials, and are recyclable
themselves. Toys that wind up or use rechargeable batteries
help to reduce our environmental impact.
Over 33 million
disposable batteries were purchased during the festive
season in Britain last year and 98% of them will now be
lying in landfill sites polluting our environment! (Battery
chargers are now available for even supposedly
non-rechargeable batteries…what a great idea for a present!)
Finally, perhaps everyone could consider donating some
of the £12_ billion that is spent on presents, or the £200
million spent on new tinsel and baubles to a worthy cause…