Category Archives: Small business sector

Cleaning London’s air and cutting road deaths in the capital

The first of five plans for transport backed by Transport for London is a project to ship thousands of tons of waste generated by the growing houseboat population, by barge instead of by road-going refuse trucks.

Air pollution created by refuse truck trips will be significantly reduced as tons of waste is moved by water-freight, cutting 2.4 tonnes of CO2 a year. Houseboat waste is sorted into different bags before being collected by barges and taken to processing depots. The scheme, run by social enterprise iRecycle and Powerday, a London-based waste management company, originated at Camden Market where food waste being recycled rose from zero to 40%.

iRecycle transports the majority of their clients’ waste on barges powered by bio-diesel produced from the used cooking oil they collect. As part of the circular economy, its food & beverage clients are encouraged to buy from the farms that use their fertiliser created from food waste.

The amount collected — boosted by the addition of house-boat waste — will rise to 60%, eventually cutting thousands of road trips by refuse trucks. Air pollution will be further reduced when all 1,880 boats on London’s waterways use the service. For other advantages of inland waterway freight see the 2019 Gosling report.

anti Dennis-Eagle-Elite-6The Thames Tideway company has invested in a new fleet of 22 high vision “low entry cab” trucks designed to be safer for pedestrians and cyclists. These cabs have windows specially designed to improve drivers’ vision, allowing them to spot vulnerable road users more easily. The extra-wide and low windows are especially effective at helping drivers to spot cyclists getting too close, especially at junctions and crossings.

In a ground-breaking scheme, new cycle freight infrastructure is being created close to Archway station to promote zero-emission deliveries.

Equipped with electric-bike charging points, the depot will have space for 10 cargo bikes at one time. It is aimed at minimising diesel and petrol vehicle deliveries by providing additional storage for businesses that do not have enough of their own.

Five large underground waste bunkers are being created in Vauxhall, by Business Improvement District Vauxhall One. Local business waste stored in the bunkers will be collected by the BID’s zero-emission electric vehicle on a bi-weekly basis. The truck, converted from a truck currently used to jet-wash pavements and collect fly-tipping, will remove a third of the existing recycling trips in the area.

Electric vans are travelling to businesses to collect waste — replacing trips made by diesel trucks. The vans return the waste to Borough Market where it is processed and then consolidated in the market’s compactors. 28 tonnes of waste have been collected by zero-emission vehicles since April, saving 70 diesel vehicle trips a week, re-timed to avoid the busiest times. Participating businesses are offered free recycling collections.

Goods vehicle movements in London have increased by around 20% since 2010, contributing to poor air quality, congestion and road danger; the five plans made by Transport for London, outlined above, will reduce air pollution and road accidents. 

 

 

 

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“ECOaction” in Banda

“ECOaction” in Banda was founded in 2012 by Reagan Kandole.  This waste management education project is engaging young people and the rest of the community in collecting waste and creating employment opportunities through reusing and recycling waste. In the capital city of Uganda, Kampala 730,000 tons of waste is produced every day and, at present, only an estimated 1% is recycled.

ECOaction’s goals are:

  • to address high unemployment and the increase in bio and human waste;
  • to stress the benefit of an eco-friendly society beyond trash, where empowered and responsible citizens live in harmony with their environment;
  • to engage the community in environmentally beneficial livelihood activities, increasing community events and activities that can improve the environmental situation and
  • to increase opportunities in welding/carpentry/and using many kinds of waste apron plastics aim to recycle/reduced/reuse.

To this end waste management workshops are conducted and biodegradable and non degradable waste is recycled.

ECOaction’s products include: children’s playgrounds, telephone kiosks, chicken feeders, bathrooms, shelters, bins, chairs, green houses, aprons from plastic, waste composting and public art installations.

Karen Kana visited the project in 2017, meeting single mothers, children, men and some twenty youths from the wider community – over a hundred in all – who are creating a centre from recycled materials, engaging in urban gardening, briquette making from biodegradable waste, composting and exploring other income-generating activities. The community is also working on a project with Uganda Christian University in Mukono to create greenhouses from recycled plastic bottles to improve urban gardening and nutrition.

Project coordinator David Turner writes: “We are going to partner with CYEN, a UK based NGO which has been involved in youth social enterprise projects for last 5 years and want to expand their social enterprise environmental intervention by working with our project”. CYEN’s Ugandan NGO, ChrysalisUganda will be hosting one of our large recycled plastic collection bins and we plan that young social entrepreneurs from their Butterfly project will be learning the techniques of recycling plastic, as part of their training programme.

“We also hope to remove local children from the backbreaking plastic bottle collecting, by incentivizing their parents to recycle higher value bottles, which will enable them to earn more and use this money to pay for their child’s education,” says Ben Parkinson, Director of ChrysalisUganda, who work to reduce child labour in Kampala:

“Companies estimate that only 4% of their bottles come back for re-use and surely we need to address this by improving the amount that recyclers are paid for the bottles or finding some way to subsidise this.  Bottle picking is known as the least well paid work, where adults cannot find even enough for their children’s school fees.  Ecoaction Banda have evolved products which could help address this imbalance.”

 

 

 

 

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Hawes: as government sheds commitments, ‘we are going to provide for ourselves’

As large-scale cuts in public expenditure began to ‘bite’, the 2010 Conservative manifesto presented the Big Society as its flagship policy, later endorsed by the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition. The Big Society Network was formed, owned by The Society Network Foundation charity. It had £2 million from the National Lottery and public-sector grants. However in July 2014, the Charity Commission investigated alleged misuse of funds by the network; it went into administration and was wound up. David Cameron did not use the term in public after 2013 and the phrase ceased to be used in government statements.

Years earlier the people of Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales were realising this vision, because, as John Blackie, a district and county councillor explained: “Here we say (to government), ‘If you aren’t going to provide for us, we are going to provide for ourselves’”.

Necessity has been the mother of invention.

Hawes: 1137 population, 683 dwellings

The Wensleydale line and Hawes railway station had closed in 1959. Then both police houses closed. Last year one of the town’s two banks left, leaving Hawes with a single branch open three days a week. “One of the big issues here is that we are losing young families; if we lose services we lose families,” Mr Blackie said. Four local schools in the Upper Dales are only half full, he added.

In 1992, Dairy Crest, its biggest employer, sold the Wensleydale Creamery, featured in the 1989 Wallace & Gromit film: ‘A Grand Day Out’.

Four of the creamery’s managers and a local businessman bought the enterprise and revived it. More than 200 people now work there and it produces 4,000 tonnes of cheese a year.

Since then the business has gone from strength to strength and a new dairy was built there in 2014.

In 1997, the community opened the Upper Wensleydale Community Partnership, in a place where people could get access to council services and pay rents and rates five days a week. Before this, a council clerk visited Hawes one day each week.

Over the years they began to run their library, post office and police station. The police moved in, using a room in the community centre which moved to a new site in 2005, bringing the library with them and opening it five days a week instead of two. These local services would have shut down if locals hadn’t volunteered to run them ‘on their own terms’. The town has a retained Fire Station, crewed by firefighters who provide on-call cover from home or their place of work.

After years of dwindling bus services the community launched its own Little White Bus in 2011 to meet the trains at Garsdale station seven miles away. Today they have a fleet of 10 minibuses that rely on 53 volunteer drivers and nine part-time staff, ferrying 65,000 passengers a year. They also have a Land Rover to take children from the most remote farms to and from school.

After the village was hit by Post Office cutbacks, the Northern Echo reported in 2014 that the Upper Wensleydale Community Partnership had voted to run a post office at the Community Office, a sorting office in the town’s business park and outreach services in Askrigg and Bainbridge. The move followed the retirement of Hawes postmaster whose departure left residents facing a 17-mile drive to the nearest post office. Councillor Blackie said he would also aim to relaunch post office services in some of the 11 villages where sub-post offices had closed over the past 17 years.

Their latest enterprise (October 2017) is taking a three-year lease of the petrol station which was closing down. They hope to install a 24-hour self-service pump and an electric charging point and – one day – to buy the site, offering community shares. It is the first in the country to be run by its community, (part-time staff and volunteers) not for profit but to save local people from making a 36-mile round trip along narrow roads to the nearest filling station open full time. Hawes is so remote that they qualify for a government rebate of 5p per litre to keep the prices down.

Many readers will wish them well as, next year, the partnership plans to buy two plots of land to build affordable homes for rent in perpetuity . . .

and as the Wensleydale Railway Association plans to rebuild the railway from Northallerton to to join the Settle-Carlisle Railway at Garsdale, re-opening the station in Hawes.

 

 

 

Swiss voters embrace shift to renewables and ban new nuclear plants

Reuter journalists Michael Shields and John Miller reported from Zurich that Swiss voters have backed the government’s plan to provide billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy, ban new nuclear plants and help to bail out struggling utilities in a binding referendum.

The Swiss initiative mirrors efforts elsewhere in Europe to reduce dependence on nuclear power, partly sparked by Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011. Germany aims to phase out nuclear power by 2022, while Austria banned it decades ago. “The results shows the population wants a new energy policy and does not want any new nuclear plants,” Energy Minister Doris Leuthard said:

“The law will boost domestic renewable energy, cut fossil fuel use and reduce reliance on foreign supplies”.

Leuthard said the package would cost the average family 40 francs more a year, based on a higher grid surcharge to fund renewable subsidies. Under the law, 480 million francs will be raised annually from electricity users to fund investment in wind, solar and hydro power. An additional 450 million francs will be set aside from an existing fossil fuels tax to help cut energy use in buildings by 43 percent by 2035 compared with 2000 levels.

Solar and wind now account for less than 5% of Switzerland’s energy output, compared with 60% for hydro and 35% for nuclear. Under the new law, power from solar, wind, biomass and geothermal sources would rise to at least 11,400 gigawatt hours (GWh) by 2035 from 2,831 GWh now.

Most parties and environmentalists hailed the result. “The voting public has … paved the way for a future that builds on sustainability, renewable energies and energy efficiency. Today’s decision is good for the climate, the environment, our jobs, the Swiss economy and the whole population,” the Social Democrats said.

The growing number of American visitors to this site (left) will contrast this decision with the stance of Myron Ebell, who led President Donald Trump’s transition team for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He recently complained that the new administration is moving too slowly to unravel climate change regulations.

 

Visitors from 10 countries came to this site in May. Noting the Slovenian contacts we were pleased to read that the European Commission has agreed to finance a grid-integration project between Slovenia and Croatia through the Connecting Europe Facility. It will improve the links between the electricity grids of Slovenia and Croatia, and drive renewable energy development across the region, allowing smaller power producers to participate in the local market, and including storage solutions in order to stabilize security of energy supply. Source: https://www.pv-magazine.com/2017/05/22/eu-supports-integration-of-renewables-between-croatia-and-slovenia-with-e40-million/

 

 

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Germany’s people-powered energy and American micro-grids

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Source (2013): https://ilsr.org/germanys-63000-megawatts-renewable-energy-locally-owned/

A 2015 National Geographic article with the most remarkable photographs: Germany Could Be a Model for How We’ll Get Power in the Future … led to the ISLR article written earlier this month.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ISLR) informs readers that its mission is to provide innovative strategies, working models and timely information to support environmentally sound and equitable community development. To this end, ILSR works with citizens, activists, policymakers and entrepreneurs to design systems, policies and enterprises that meet local or regional needs; to maximize human, material, natural and financial resources; and to ensure that the benefits of these systems and resources accrue to all local citizens.

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Instead of expanding or connecting to the national energy grid, some companies, municipalities, and individuals are creating miniature grids of their own that can operate independently – “microgrids” – providing options for groups that want lower energy bills, more control over where their energy comes from, or a level of reliability that the grid cannot provide.

The costs are high and they are economically viable for only a limited set of situations. As Karlee Weinmann, ISLR Energy Democracy Initiative Research Associate pointed out, however, the cost of new technology invariably falls as it is adopted: “The cost of materials, installation, and maintenance for the components that make up a microgrid are going down, so the value proposition for a microgrid increases in turn. The general viability of microgrid projects is also reinforced through replication, like anything else, so the more that various stakeholders test the technology, prove its value, and improve upon it, the easier it is to justify buying in . . . As we see it, the future of the grid will be far more decentralized than the system we have now. Rather than paying a far off utility for electricity, which in many cases comes from problematic, dirty sources, customers’ money can stay closer to home.”

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Hurricane Sandy, which cut power to 8.5 million people, one million of whom went without power for a week, was cited by the ILSR report Mighty Microgrids as one of the key motivators of regional investment in microgrids. While up to 60% of backup diesel generators failed in medical centers and other essential facilities, Princeton University’s 20 MW microgrid kept the campus operational in island mode for three days while a connection to the grid was being restored.…

Regulations governing interconnection processes can also hinder microgrid adoption, particularly because these regulations vary from state to state. Opposition from utility companies is often a factor that makes the regulatory environment hostile or resistant to positive change. In an ideal world, a national standard would be adopted.

Richardson concludes: “Perhaps in the future, microgrids will be a common feature of communities . . . connected by the larger grid and selling electricity to each other as necessary. For now, they represent a useful tool for businesses and communities that need reliability that the grid can’t offer or that can leverage scale to reduce energy costs”.

 

 

 

Corbyn’s environment and energy plan

Corbyn has launched an environmental manifesto that outlines his plans for the UK to achieve 65% of energy from renewable sources by 2030 – without fracking.

corbyn-eee-manifestoHe undertakes to use the precautionary principle to protect the environment and people from harm – not a pay-to-pollute approach allowing the richest corporations and individuals to wreck our planet.

Jeremy Corbyn plans to put cities, councils, devolved governments and communities at the heart of an efficient decentralised energy system with:  

  • a shift to largely renewably generated electricity and hydrogen powered buses and cars;
  • a network of low-emission zones;
  • cycling on safe cycle lanes and hire schemes in every town and city;
  • more nature corridors created to connect protected nature sites, providing pathways for wildlife such as bats and butterflies and
  • a ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides which harm pollinating insects including bees and encourage bee-friendly plants in our parks, urban spaces and countryside.

Jeremy Corbyn also encourages the British public to take action as individuals to help to meet the Paris climate agreement.

A “publicly run, locally accountable energy system”.

He has promised to promote over a thousand local energy companies in the next parliament and legislate to give community energy co-operatives the right to sell energy directly to the communities they serve.

Launching the report in Nottingham, the Labour leader said, “We want Britain to be the world’s leading producer of renewable technology. To achieve this, we will accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy, and drive the expansion of the green industries and jobs of the future, using our National Investment Bank to invest in public and community-owned renewable energy. This will deliver clean energy and curb energy bill rises for households; an energy policy for the 60 million, not the Big 6 energy companies.”

It would launch a National Home Insulation plan to insulate at least 4 million homes and phase out coal-fired power by 2025. The Labour leader estimates over 300,000 jobs would be created in the renewables sector as a result of these measures.

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At the event in Nottingham, Jeremy Corbyn said that Labour would reinstate the department for energy and climate change in its first month of government, as part of its plan to rebuild and transform Britain, “so that no-one and no community is left behind”.

 

 

 

Promoting a cleaner environment: water transport

Why get stuck in a traffic jam and miss delivery deadlines? Cut costs, cut emissions and cut fuel consumption and deliver on time on the waterways. This was one of the themes at the Commercial Boat Operators Association’s AGM at Digbeth’s Bond Warehouse. The full report may be seen here.

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CBOA is a trade organisation which aims to sustain and increase freight carriage on our waterways. Advantages are economies of scale and fuel efficiency, decongested roads, fewer fatalities and injuries and higher energy efficiency, producing less air pollution with lower emissions. Large loads are taken off the roads: from aggregates down the Severn, grain down the Mersey and a ‘serious enquiry’ about carrying sludge and biomass along the Leeds and Liverpool canal. CRT news reports that last June a 270 tonne electricity transformer (weighing as much as 18 doubledecker buses) was delivered to Hull and transported on the River Trent to Staythorpe Power Station.

Peter MathewsThe writer had an informal exchange with Peter Mathews, the chairman of the West Midlands Canals and Rivers Trust. As he said he was keen to make links with local universities he was given three leaflets passed on by Birmingham’s Professor Rex Harris, who has worked with a team to convert a barge to run on hydrogen fuel. Ian Lane, Waterways manager (WMCRT), came for the last hour only, but whilst walking back to city with him it emerged that both have many creative ideas – some centring on the new Icknield Port development.

There were three invited speakers:

The first speaker was Antoon van Coillie of Blue Line Logistics, Belgium. This dynamic entrepreneur said that in due course his company’s barges will transfer to hydrogen fuel. An umbrella organisation, Inland Navigation Europe, promotes waterway transport in Europe: “After all, why get stuck in a traffic jam and miss deadlines when you can cut costs and deliver on time on the waterways? Increased waterway traffic is so important because it is not only cost-effective, it also makes for a more sustainable transport network. INE strongly believes in the innovation power of waterway transport, both in terms of organisation and technology: “On new ships, air emissions such as NOx and PM are also radically decreased. The same development is expected soon for existing vessels . . . Next to optimized propulsion and dual fuel LNG vessels, we see the first vessels emerging that run on hydrogen and electricity”.

cboa greenstream100% LNG driven ship, emission reduction 80% Nox, 100% SO2, 99% PM10, 25% CO2, 18% energy savings

The second speaker was Dr Tom Cherrett, University of Southampton, who described plans to set up a floating depot (dummy barge) like those in Amsterdam. A floating depot will be used by TNT for collecting and delivering parcels in the city centre.

floating depot amsterdamIt will be moved by boat using the canal network and small electric vehicles will undertake the last-mile deliveries. Dr Cherrett is one year into a three-year project for the floating depot which is designed to reduce the impact of freight and service trips. 24 partners are on board.

“We see the first vessels emerging that run on hydrogen and electricity”

The third speaker Steven R. Mears, is a senior naval architect with Keel Marine Ltd, which designs all types of craft and trades worldwide. They are moving towards designing hybrid power systems which offer motors/generators running at optimum efficiency/emissions. This provoked quite sharp questioning from two audience members as to why they were not ‘going for hydrogen’. Mr Mears sees the adoption of hydrogen fuel cell as being ‘some way off yet from being low cost and readily available’, adding that ‘LNG and hydrogen means the tanks take up lot of space’.

Those who support the use of the cleanest form of fuel should note Professor Rex Harris’* point that hydrogen tanks take up the space usually given to ballast – and he lists other advantages here:

hydrogen 32fuel future graphic

A small team set up the Protium project which applies new technologies (eg solid state hydrogen stores, permanent magnet drives) to a traditional mode of transportation, in a practical demonstration of how to redress atmospheric and fresh water pollution and resource depletion, by long term sustainable means.

Because this is an inherently efficient mode of transportation, the use of hydrogen in this context is expected to become commercially viable at a much earlier stage than in automotive applications.

*Professor Rex Harris, Department of Metallurgy and Materials, University of Birmingham. I.R.Harris@bham.ac.uk Web page: www.hydrogen.bham.ac.uk