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Pembrokeshire South East Energy Group

Prepare for the Goodlife

12th March 2010

Prepare for the Goodlife

          At their last meeting on the 25th February, Pembrokeshire South East Energy Group were treated to a most interesting and informative description of the various forms of renewable energy equipment currently available on the market. This information was provided by their speaker for the evening, Robin Bowen of Goodlife Incorporated.

          Robin, a recently returned native of Pembrokeshire, described, to the fascination of his audience, how he had travelled the world gaining vast experience in this field. Sweden had provided some of his early training. Here he became expert in his understanding of the theory and practice of harnessing geothermal energy for industrial and domestic heating.

          He explained that heat pumps can be either ground source or air source. For a ground source pump a large area of land was required in which to lay the necessary pipes; a large pond was even better. The heat pump, effectively a refrigerator working in reverse, sucks the heat out of the ground or water, concentrates it and pumps it around the home. Where there is insufficient land a deep bore hole can be used, though this is very expensive. Coils of pipes, known as a 'slinky' are also sometimes a suggested alternative. These require less land but can sometimes take so much heat out of the ground in winter months that the ground does not recover sufficient heat in the following summer, resulting in solid frozen earth the next winter.

          Air source heat pumps are an option where land is scarce. These are not quite as efficient as the those buried in the ground but still return three to four times as much energy as is required to drive the pump. He explained that in America he learned how the Unico system, an advanced heat pump system, was used to provide a very efficient form of space heating. It heated the air and not the fabric of the building and hence achieved a faster rate of warming.

          Whilst in America Robin also experienced the latest in wind turbine developments. While servicing the hub of a particularly high turbine tower he found himself in the middle of an intense thunder storm. His only course of action was to stay put. It was in every sense of the word a hair raising experience.

          Accumulating such varied and advanced expertise meant that Robin was soon in great demand. He was much sought after in many parts of the world. He did however decide to turn down one very interesting project. He had very good reasons for so doing. The work was in Afghanistan.

          On returning to the UK, he has found himself involved in large scale solar thermal and photo voltaic projects, providing energy solutions for hospitals and many local authority buildings. Even in the domestic context these technologies can prove very cost effective. Solar water heating panels though costing 3000 to 4000 can currently save the householder almost 200 per year. Photo voltaic panels used to generate electricity cost more, roughly 6000 per 1kw of installed capacity. This however will prove most cost effective from the 1st April when home generators will be paid 41.5p for each kwh generated.

          Robin did add two provisos to this general picture. It was best to use, where ever possible, a south facing roof for these installations. Also check that your installer is registered with the Micro-generation Certification Scheme. It is only work completed by one of these installers that qualifies for the new Feed-in Tariff.

          His advice regarding wind turbines was clear; generally avoid turbines of less than 5kw. Also avoid fixing turbines to a wall of your house. There have some quite alarming stories of walls of buildings collapsing through the weight and pressure of the turbine.

          Larger scale wind turbines, particularly those sponsored by local communities, producing considerable quantities of clean green electricity, will also be more financially attractive with the new tariffs payable from 1st April. The main problem in South Pembrokeshire is obtaining planning permission for such ventures. However times are changing and Pembrokeshire Cost National Park and Pembrokeshire County County are now becoming more tolerant and flexible in their responses to these proposed developments.

          Robin was thanked by the Chair for his most interesting and thorough description of his work. Pembrokeshire people were most fortunate to have a man of his experience and expertise living in their midst.

          The meeting continued with the Chair thanking all members for their stirling work in ensuring the success of the recently held Question Time Event. Particular praise was due the Group's Secretary, Janet, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes. Members remarked on the very many positive comments they heard from members of the audience: in all a most worthwhile event.

          It was also reported that the energy survey of South East Pembrokeshire by Dulas Ltd was continuing and it was hoped that firm conclusions regarding the viability of a community energy project in the area would soon become available. In the meantime invitations had been received by the Group to update four local community councils on progress.

          The meeting closed with the announcement by the Secretary that the speaker at the next meeting would be Julie Ashton-Davies from the Community Foundation in Wales an independent charity that provides a permanent source of funding for community-based projects in Wales. The meeting will be held on Thursday 18th March at 7.00pm in the Regency Hall, Saundersfoot. All members of the public are cordially invited to attend.


Past Articles
12th February 2010Parliamentary Candiates at Green Question Time in Saundersfoot
15th January 2010Weather & Climate: A Question of Energy
4th December 2009Sustainable Community Ventures: Regeneration in Pembrokeshire
13th November 2009Community Initiatives: Sustainable Wales leads by example
16th October 2009Climate Change Challenge for Candidates & Micro-generation with wind turbines
2nd October 2009A Visit to Castle Pill Wind Farm: Quiet blows the wind
11th September 2009Renewable Sustainable Energy: An Energy Survey for South East Pembrokeshire
10th July 2009A talk by Lorraine Dallmeier of Infinergy: Wind Power - Pembrokeshire's Potential
12th June 2009St. Oswald's, Jeffreyston - Pembrokeshire's Beacon of Sustainability
24th April 2009Solar Panels: Three Cheers for Sunny Pembrokeshire
13th March 2009Ashton Hayes Community Energy Reduction & Hot Water From the Sun
13th February 2009Could Pembrokeshire go carbon neutral?
14th November 2008Environment Wales to provide 'Start-Up' Funding for PSEEG
17th October 2008PSEEG to become a Registered Charity

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