Pump Storage Hydro Power for Malvern

This is copy of an article by Robin Coates, first written for Malvern Hillistic in December 2017.

This is an article about what at the moment is a speculative idea that explores how a problem may possibly be turned to a valuable local scheme for energy generation.

You may know the reservoir that is on the East side of the British Camp (Herefordshire Beacon). Many years ago this was built to store water and provide a header tank for Malvern’s water supply. It had its own treatment plant at the base of the dam. Some time ago it ceased being used for this purpose. We guess that this may have been as a safety precaution, we note that the water level has been kept low for some time or because treatment was centralised on a few large plants. Dams have quite rightly very rigorous inspection schemes for public safety reasons. The dam is owned by Severn Trent and if it is not being used for water supply it will be a financial burden with high maintenance costs. This will encourage Severn Trent to consider removing its water holding ability as a dam.

We pondered whether an alternative might be to create a pumped storage hydro-electric scheme. This would enable the dam to be a financial asset rather than a liability. It would work by releasing water from the dam into pipes that are linked to turbines at the bottom of the hill and then to a large pond. The turbines generate electricity at peak times. Then at off peak times, either cheap electricity at night or surplus daytime renewable energy is used to pump the water back up to the dam. To do this there needs to be another large pond at the bottom of the hill to store the water ready to be pumped back up.

For the electricity generating companies to provide us with peak power there are many power stations that operate for a very short time and therefore at very high cost. The payments made for this power are many multiples of the normal wholesale rate paid to generating companies.

As we change the mix of methods of generation from fossil fuels to renewables we need more storage solutions. Pumped storage hydro-electric is one of these. It needs rather special geography to be able to have two reservoirs with a big height difference and tends to be very capital intensive. In Malvern’s case at least we have the high level dam, easy access to the dam, pond, turbine and pump house site (this could also be below ground) and grid connections reasonable close.

It is possible that for safety reasons the existing dam can only be used half full but that is still plenty of water for peak power.

So it is a great idea but there are so many obstacles to overcome if this is to be realised. Initially it would need the full support of the AONB and the Malvern Hills Trust, Severn Trent Water, any other landowners, The Malvern Hills District Council Planners and local people. If there was at least tentative support from these areas then a major Feasibility Study would be needed to check the environmental, engineering and financial details. Raising funds for this wouldn’t be easy as there is always the risk that the scheme will not go ahead and an organisation would need to be created to commission the report and later on see the project through and become the operator.

Assuming all the agreements could be arranged and the environmental, engineering and financial feasibility is sound then it would be a case of raising the money to carry out the scheme. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this could be funded by local residents. As we did with the much smaller and simpler Malvern Community Energy Coop for the Cube PV panels.

In a few years’ time there will be more local grids connected to the national grid and the local generation by renewables will be feeding our buildings at lower cost, might Malvern be one of these local grids. At Malvern Community Energy Coop we will be tentatively exploring the issues raised, no promises but what an exciting possibility.

If you would like to find out more, get involved or be kept up to date contact us on robin@robincoates.com

 

Shopping without Plastic Bags?

This is written by Andrew Jameson, initially for the Quaker newsletter.

David Attenborough’s television series The Blue Planet has had great success recently in drawing attention to the menace of waste plastic in our rivers and seas. The problem is that our brilliant scientists have invented an extremely useful INERT material which nature is unable to recycle by the usual natural processes. The actual offending items range from the extremes of microbeads which are added to e.g. toothpaste and skin products to give a “scrub” action, to the millions of “free” supermarket bags we used to see blowing across fields and hanging off trees.

What can we do to lessen our use of, and dependence on, plastics? Here are a few modest proposals.

  1. Natural Choice in Barnards Green, Malvern (used to be Hunts Greengrocers) is a traditional family business, vegetables and fruit are all in “loose” displays, with different sized paper bags available. Also stocked: Seville oranges, Yorkshire pink rhubarb, local ice creams, dairy products, Teme Valley sausages and more. Home delivery free in Malvern. 01684 567467.
  2. The Cheese Board (opposite Natural Choice) has local English wines and ciders as well as cheese and cooked meats. I recommend the Hereford Hop cheese. Cheese is cut to order and wrapped in paper. 01684 891900.
  3. Green Link, 11 Graham Road, Malvern has large containers of Ecover washing up and laundry liquid etc, bring along your Ecover bottle and refill it. Melanie and I have used these for years with no ill effects! Ecover detergents are less harsh than other products. 01684 576266.
  4. Cotteswold Dairy, based in Tewkesbury and the Welsh Marches, is an independent family owned firm. Cotteswold offer a traditional doorstep delivery in Malvern using glass bottles which are collected and re-used daily. http://www.cotteswold-dairy.co.uk/. 01684 298959.

Community Resilience

This is copy of an article by Robin Coates, first written for Malvern Hillistic in September 2017.

Transition Malvern Hills & Malvern Youth & Community Trust – Community Resilience.

When the Transition Towns initiative was set up it was recognised that helping individuals reduce their Carbon Footprint needed to go hand in hand with supporting the development of community resilience. As this would assist individuals and communities feel more able to face the challenges ahead.

Sadly we now regularly see extreme weather events from around the world on the news and of course more each year as global warming increases. We can see how devastated communities can be. Also there are many examples of how communities get together to create enhanced conditions and possibilities in times of need but not devastating crisis.

In this article I want to talk about what felt to some of us a local crisis and has been turned into being a wonderful local resource, doing great things daily. It is a story of great collaborative effort by Malvern residents committed to supporting the Community.

In 2012 Transition Malvern Hills heard of Worcestershire County Council’s plan to demolish most of the Youth Centre on Albert Rd North and it was decided to join the group that was emerging to support the campaign to save the building as a Youth and Community Centre. After much sweat and tears by all the campaign team our efforts succeeded in WCC leasing the building to the organisation we helped to set up, the Malvern Youth and Community Trust. Whilst the lease didn’t require us to pay a rent it didn’t come with any support and we are responsible for all the costs (running, maintaining and developing what was a very dilapidated building). This meant the building had to be used extensively by the community to generate sufficient funds to at least pay the running and minor maintenance costs (approx. £75,000 per annum). In addition there would need to be a major effort submitting grant applications to charities and potential donors for all the repairs and development of the building and projects.

The centre’s new name was the Malvern Cube and we have recently had our 5th birthday.

What a vibrant place it is serving over 3,000 residents a month. Where else in Malvern can you see/partake in the variety of activities and support groups on offer and go to a café that has all ages and all abilities sharing the space.

Whilst many residents might just come for their Bridge Group, French Lesson, a favourite band or wellbeing group many will notice the enormous variety of offers and people using the Cube. When we encounter difference in a relaxed and friendly environment it helps us break down our stereotypes and reduce any tendencies we have to isolate ourselves. This together with joining, engaging, learning with others and supporting one another are a key part of creating resilient communities. Unless we have the meeting spaces where we “bump in” to difference rather than stay in our same grouping this doesn’t happen. (To get a snapshot of what goes on see the calendar of events on www.malverncube.com).

The Malvern Cube is designed to be such a space with Jon the welcoming manager, a café, 7 different sizes of meeting rooms and a building slowly developing and improving. The Volunteer Trustees group and all the volunteers, so essential to making the place work are very proud of what we have created, for and with the Community, which of course we are all a part of.

Have you visited lately, this August and September after lots of grant applications we were able to resurface the Basketball court/car park, improve the disability access to the rear Theatre entrance with an automatic door, lay new flooring and decoration to the entrance lobbies, bring the Theatre floor it back to its former glory and install energy efficient windows to the back stage rooms and toilets.

Over the 5 years we have spent over £250,000 improving the building. The grant giving organisations and local businesses who have supported us are listed on our website.

In line with Transition Malvern Hills energy reduction aims we have dramatically improved the energy efficiency of the building replacing one of the boilers and heating systems, insulated the wall and installed new windows. The Co-op we created (Malvern Community Energy Co-op) enabled 60 local residents to raise the £40,000 needed to install 120 PV panels on the roof. They generate the same amount electricity that the Cube uses altogether (but because they only generate in daylight hours this provides half the Cube’s consumption and balancing the import and export with the grid).

We mustn’t forget to mention the lovely garden with the community vegetables in their raised beds, the Quaker Peace garden, the Connect learning disability beds and the new Pizza oven. All helping to remind us of our connection with Nature, the wider community of life.

If you would like to find out more so you can use/benefit from the Malvern Cube or offer help as donations or volunteering contact www.malverncube.com or Jon White  manager@malverncube.com, also transitionmalvernhills.org.uk/wp/events/ Robin Coates robin@robincoates.com

Our Brian makes the news with his gaslamp that runs on dog poo.

One of the main members of Transition Malvern Hills Brian Harper has made the news in the Guardian with his gaslamp that runs on dog poo.

The Article is here 

Brain would also like to acknowledge  Methanogen (UK) Ltd who provided the Digester. This got edited out by the Guardian.

He was also on the BBC TV . And on Radio 5 Live, BBC Hereford and Worcester and BBC World service.

The story has also appeared in the Malvern Gazette and other newspapers

Build a wind turbine in one day! – Cancelled

This workshop has been cancelled due to receiving too few
paid bookings.

Get hands-on with a unique wind turbine making experience!

This one day workshop will be held on Saturday 9th December 2017 at The Cube, Albert Road North, Malvern, WR14 2YF.  Select here for a map. This is being run by V3Power.

They bring all the tools, materials and expertise. You leave with practical skills, an understanding of how and why wind turbines work, and a huge sense of achievement

The practical tasks are achievable regardless of skill and experience. The number and range of tasks means everyone stays interested and engaged throughout the day!

Different groups take different amounts of time to build the turbine but Tom the instructor says he allows for seven hours to build the turbine, and investigate it outside. Tom will define the start time nearer the date but either 9am or 10am.

Cost per person: £70. This covers the cost of the materials and parts used to build the turbine. Having made mistakes and wasted materials and money making my own turbines through trial and error this workshop tuition is value for money.

A lunch break will definitely occur but lunch will not be included in the booking fee. As the Cube cafe will not be open bring your own lunch, tea and Coffee will be provided.

The Cube has a visitors car park However, it is possible to walk to the cube from either of Malvern’s two railway stations.

We will build the turbine inside and weather permitting we will investigate the finished turbine in the garden.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask Tom at V3Power.

If you’d like to book a place for the workshop, please email: info@v3power.co.uk and tell Tom how many people you are and would like to book a place. Tom will then tell you his details so you can pay V3Power via either BACS transfer, or Paypal.

V3Power.co.uk have spent a decade teaching people how to build their own wind turbine using the reliable Hugh Piggott design and common workshop tools. Hugh’s turbines have powered homes worldwide from India, South America and Scotland.

V3Power have developed a new low cost demonstration wind turbine to teach the science and engineering of wind turbines. This turbine can be built in one day by just ten people.

What Happens?

Together, your group and the instructor build a wind turbine to generate electricity using simple materials and a range of hand tools. All participants carve a wooden turbine blade, wind a copper coil, and manipulate powerful magnets.

  • Blades; each person carves a wooden wind turbine blade with an aerofoil shape based on an introduction to fluid dynamics and blade design.
  • Mounting; each person cuts, shapes & drills a metal component to assemble the turbine mounting, and the group assembles roller taper bearings.
  • Electrical generator; after an introduction to electromagnetism each person winds a copper coil, prepares its output wires with solder and the group works together to connect them into a three-phase stator. Each person secures powerful magnets into a rotor to make up the other part of the generator.
  • Electrical system; the group learns about the different components that make up a safe wind turbine electrical system whilst wiring them together to make a battery charging circuit.
  • Assembly; the group bolt together the components to complete the turbine and learns about the importance of mechanical overspeed protection, blade balancing & maintenance.
  • Testing; the group connects the turbine to their electrical system, watch it spin and charge some devices!

Please note; although you are welcome to keep and reuse the blades that you make on the day, due to the cost of the other provided components the instructor needs to reclaim the rest of the turbine at the end of the day for other future workshops. However, during the day you will learn about building and erecting wind turbines, so you will be left with a set of working turbine blades, and all the theory to get you kick started on making your own wind turbine.

new Gleaning coordinator for the West of England

We have revived the following email:

Hello,

I’m the new Gleaning coordinator for the West of England, and I was hoping you could help me!

The Gleaning Network coordinates volunteers, farmers and food redistribution charities to salvage the thousands of tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables that are wasted on farms every year across the UK and Europe, and direct this fresh, nutritious food to people in need. We also research and raise awareness about the scale of food waste on UK farms, and campaign for an end to this scandalous waste!

I need to get word of what I’m doing out to farms, specifically Orchards, so that they know to get in touch if they have any surplus. Can you help, either by word of mouth and letting any orchards in your area know about what I’m doing? Also, if you could tell me about any orchards you know of that would be really helpful, obviously any contact details would be even more helpful. Here’s some info for farmers.

Find out more and sign up to be involved as a volunteer here

Cheers and chickpeas!

Heather Mack
West of England Gleaning Coordinator
http://feedbackglobal.org/
westengland@feedbackglobal.org
Please note I work part-time, please be patient waiting for a reply.

Build a Wind Turbine

An update from Duncan:

This is a photo of the stator we’re making for our 1.8 metre diameter Hugh Piggott wind turbine. I thought you might like to see it.

For those of you who don’t know what this object is and does

Two weeks ago we laid the coils of wire we’d made in the plywood mould (also made by us) and poured in polyester resin to make the rigid stator casting. On Tuesday we opened our stator mould, removed the casting and got our first look at what we’d made.

The stator contains six coils of wire, now sealed in a disc shaped casting of now set and solid polyester resin. The stator is bolted to the turbine frame. A rotor disc mounted on ball bearings holds eight magnets and spins over the six coils. The movement of the magnetic field from the magnets past the coils generates electricity.

Long flexible wire “tails” lead out of the casting and connect the coils together to generate three-phase electricity.

The magnet rotor is bolted to, and thus turned by, the wind turbine blades.

Members of Transition Worcester are planning to build a wind turbine. They will be using a tried and tested design produced by Mr Hugh Piggott who has designed homemade wind turbines for people in many countries.

They would welcome anyone  who would like to join them in making this turbine.

Select here to download the poster.

If you would like to be involved or to know more about renewable energy please
contact us or the Transition Worcester energy group transitionworcester@gmail.com.

Sustaining the Energy

We will be holding our Annual Network Meeting on 19th June 7:45pm at the Cube,  Select here for a map.

The main talk will be by Jon Halle, who is the co-founder of Sharenergy Co-operative, which has helped over 100 community energy groups across the UK to get up and running – from solar in Somerset to wind on Shetland. The talk is Sustaining the Energy, How to keep building community renewable energy in turbulent times.

There will also be a talk on the latest Zero Carbon Britain report by Robin Coates.

Select here to download the PDF of the poster.

For the formal part of the Annual Network Meeting here are:

Making it Happen

This is copy of an article by Robin Coates, first written for Malvern Hillistic.

zcb cat IV

In February the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) launched their third Zero Carbon Britain (ZCB) Research based publication called Making it Happen. More about this below but let us first see how the story has unfolded.

The first CAT ZCB publication in 2013 Rethinking the Future, demonstrated that we could achieve a Zero Carbon Britain with minimum changes to modern living standards. We could do this using current proven technology for renewable energy generation, energy efficiency measures, rethinking our transport and changes to our diet and land use. They showed it was possible to this by 2030. It was a very comprehensive and well evidenced report full of helpful explanatory graphics. Transition Malvern Hills gave presentations in Malvern.

The main criticism levelled at the report was that their research did not take into account how intermittent renewable energy was, in the UK the wind doesn’t always blow and sun shine.

This prompted CAT to do an extraordinary research project, they modelled the weather records in hourly slots over a 10 year period and the power demand figures for all forms of energy use in the UK for the same period. This resulted in the publication of second report giving both the levels of intermittence and the energy storage that would be necessary to meet demand in the periods of low or almost no generation as well as the most effective ways to create the storage. Again this was well received and there has been a considerable increase in storage solutions since then with large schemes being built and domestic scale products now being sold.

CAT soon realised that demonstrating the solutions that would enable us to get to ZCB wasn’t enough. The reports and presentations were helpful but the change wasn’t happening fast enough or in an integrated way. They then started a multi-disciplined research project on the barriers that were stopping what needed to happen. This brings us to the third report just published, Zero Carbon Britain – Making it Happen.

Once again very well researched with great examples of how the barriers can be reduced or dissolved they go into detail on Politics and Governance, Economics and Finance, Psychology and Behaviour, Overcoming Carbon Lock-in, Changing Worldviews and Values and Communications.

The comprehensiveness of the interlocking issues explored demonstrates very effectively how we are so often trapped in a world view with its supporting structures and social norms that get us to believe the very opposite of what is in both our and societies best interest and often carry on doing things that we know in our hearts are not sustainable.

There are excellent summaries of psychological research, here is a helpful paragraph on our values and how we perceive others, there is more on how those negative perceptions are reinforced.

“Perceptions and misperceptions are fundamental to believing in the possibility of change. As described elsewhere in this report, research by the Common Cause foundation revealed how, regardless of age, geography, wealth and voting behaviour – 74% of people attach more importance to compassionate values – embracing justice, tolerance and responsibility – than to wealth, image and ambition – so called selfish values. But 77% of us think others hold dominantly selfish values. The contradiction might partly explain the lack of political enthusiasm for more shared, common, collective solutions to our problems. A shift in attitude and faith in each other matters far more than any post-facto, obsessively detailed platform of minutely priced policies.

This links to an excellent section on the underlying assumptions (about human nature) embedded in the Neo-Liberalism worldview that is currently so dominant and has led to so many of our current problems both environmental and social.

A very simple example linking politics and carbon lock-in is we are told that renewable energy subsidies are the problem leading to us having higher energy bills. We are not told about the massive tax breaks given to Fossil Fuel companies which are subsidies by another name but paid for by us indirectly. An IMF quote used in ZCB Making it happen illustrates this.

“Low carbon alternative technologies, infrastructure, services and behaviours are often more expensive than fossil fuel-based alternatives. This is because there is not a level playing field: there is a greater level of government subsidy given to the fossil fuel industry, and the societal or ‘external’ costs of the industry (for example, the health costs of air pollution) are not currently accounted for in their pricing (IMF, 2015).”

A recent example:

“Theresa May gives a £10,000-plus bribe if you live near a frack site. If you live near a wind farm, nothing …The asymmetry is amazing.” Barry Gardiner, Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary (Mason, 2016)

There is so much informative reading in this report and you can download a short summary or the full report at no cost from www.cat.org.uk we hope it stimulates you think and act with us on this major challenge of our times.

We leave you with a thought provoking quote

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs (29:18)

A Million Views for the the Repair Cafe

Malvern Hills Repair Cafe have been told by the BBC that the video they produced following their visit to the repair cafe  a couple of sessions ago has now been viewed on their website ONE MILLION TIMES !!!

Just in case you haven’t seen the video, and want to increase the viewer numbers even further, here is a link to it …

http://www.bbc.co.uk/…/uk-england-hereford-worcester-387178…

Our congratulations to the repair cafe, showing we can make a difference.