"Then it is dark; a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains." - John Cheever

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Lethal Standby Button

Sorry to do the first environmental post of the new year - freaking out about this was one of the Fitzroy themes of 2005, and I'm sure it will continue this year. Amongst all the news of shrinking ice-caps etc, this news item made me very depressed about our incapacity to do anything about the environment. If we are struggling to do something about the TV Standby button, what hope have we got?

8 comments:

Colin said...

Microgeneration will save us:
http://www.newscientist.com/channel/earth/mg18925352.900

john said...

I guess with rising energy prices in the coming years people are likely to get into this kind of thing for purely economic reasons (maybe this is what the rest of the article says, could only read the first bit). I like the idea of a windmill in my garden / on my roof generating at least some of the household electricity...

Colin said...

Well you know, it would be uncharacteristic for me to post a link that actually worked properly.

The article's quite positive though (I've got the print version). The main question mark is whether the grid could cope, as it's designed for power to flow one-way into your home. The idea is that at times your house generates a surplus that feeds back into the grid. Technically, you should get paid for it, although they'd need to work out how to do the metering. There's a big government report due out soon.

I wonder if the 'TV standby' stuff only applies to TVs, or whether it means all electrical appliances. On an average night I have my phone, laptop, pda and mp3 player all charging up - none of which I used to possess, and there must be lots of people in the same boat.

Tom said...

I love the idea of microgeneration. For every catastrophy story, there's also an optimistic one about new technologies, local initiatives or grass roots schemes that might save the day. The problem is, once I've read about them in the Guardian Society or New Scientist or whatever, I never seem to hear about them again.

Colin said...

There needs to be far more government support to drive these things forward. A windmill for you house, for instance, will take about 10 years to pay for itself. What's its usable life beyond that? The government should offer tax breaks or something to make them cheaper, driving uptake, which increases economies of scale, which reduces costs further etc. It would be easy to do, but the will doesn't seem to be there at a high enough level.

john said...

No pricelist from these people. Ominous. From a quick and highly unscientific google the only people setting them up privately appear to be local councillors.

Tom said...

I agree. Although there are probably a few people like us who might think about buying microgenerators etc, none of this is going to happen unless the government really gets behind it with massive subsidies, huge promotional campaigns etc. But I just don't get a sense that it's ever high enough on the agenda of anyone who really counts.

All too often, politicians seem to wait until after they've left office before talking about the stuff that really matters. I saw an interview with Clinton in which he seemed to be genuinely worried about global warming and adamant that something had to be done - but why the fuck didn't he do anything during the 8 years when he was the most powerful man in the world?

Colin said...

John, the other Scottish manufacturer of rooftop wind turbines is Renewable Devices in Edinburgh.