The recent U-turn by of some of the UK's leading environmentalists - and one-time nuclear energy opponents - on the issue of nuclear energy, has caused vigourous debate in the media. Their reasoning is that we simply don't have the capacity to produce enough renewable energy to meet our needs. But as this comprehensive Ecologist report from 2007 shows the UK is really a renewable energy powerhouse.
Well, now we have it; nuclear power is once again going to save the day. In the past it helped save us from coal, now it is going to save us, if the rest of the world follows our example, from global warming.
The coal industry of last century is the prime reason Merthyr Tydfil has the worst health in the UK. Now, with more coal and cash to carve from one of Europe’s largest opencast mines, developers and the local authority are back to finish the job. Words and photographs by Amy Scaife
Two firms in the wind power sector illustrate how companies in the developing world can take advantage of increasing access to technological know-how, while staying within the bounds of intellectual property law, says Joanna Lewis.
Three years ago, winter was not a good time of year for residents at Hoathly Hill in West Sussex. A community founded in 1972 on the principles of Rudolf Steiner, many of Hoathly Hill’s residents enjoyed the sense of quiet self-sufficiency that living on a smallholding in Sussex’s High Weald gave them.
Every year, each square metre of the UK receives between 900 and 1200 kWh of solar radiation. Capturing just some of this energy could make a significant contribution to fulfilling our energy requirements.
There is much talk of the possibility of a future ‘hydrogen economy’, which will power all our vehicles and homes. It is important to remember that hydrogen is not an energy source; it is an energy carrier. To obtain hydrogen it must be split from either natural gas or water molecules. The former, most widely used, method not only requires energy but also gives off carbon dioxide (CO2) in the process. Hydrogen produced in this way requires more energy to make than will eventually be returned when it is used. It makes more sense from a climate perspective to burn the natural gas itself than to convert and re-convert it to hydrogen in this way.
Even among green campaigners, nuclear energy is quietly gaining ground as a potential solution to the impending energy crisis. However several issues – particularly those of raw materials, cost and waste – remain unaddressed within the mainstream of opinion.
Each year, UK livestock produce some 60 million tonnes of collectable faeces. If left to run into water-courses or even spread on fields, this waste can lead to the same problems associated with excessive fertiliser use – algal blooms and aquatic life starved of oxygen.
Today's energy policies are concerned overwhelmingly with generating electricity. But 84 per cent of the energy we use at home is to heat our rooms and hot water. What if that energy could come from a source which is not only renewable, but is cheap, readily available, and even improves the environment it is extracted from? Adam Nicolson reports on the growing potential for wood fuel in Kent
The world fervour for biofuels continues to grow at an alarming pace. In this comprehensive special report, the Ecologist examines the facts, fictions and fabrications behind this ballooning industry. The results are worrying...
The world’s forests are natural carbon ‘sinks’ that remove and store atmospheric CO2. So why, in the name of saving the earth, asks Renton Righelato, are we cutting down these precious resources to make way for fuel crops?