Archive for January, 2012

One from our pasture spoke at this debate at the Natural History Museum which you can watch online:


It is the first of four Earth Debates hosted by the Natural History Museum in the run up to Rio Earth Summit 2012. For the forthcoming debates see:  http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/biodiversity/earth-debates/watch/

The title is catchy but as the speakers also acknowledged not entirely accurate. “Trying to express the values individuals place on the environment in monetary or other terms” would be more accurate but yes it is a mouthful.

The problem with ‘price’ though is that it implies a commoditisation process: markets, supply, demand…’prices can go down as well as up’.

The idea is not to commoditise nature but to ensure that its value is recognised when money related decisions are made. Yes values, as well as prices, can go down…but the current situation we have is one of zero price / zero value as seen in decision-making and all we are trying to do is to change this imbalance to give nature a fairer representation against hard cash, jobs, economic growth arguments.

The debate contains some very interesting discussions between the panellists and in response to questions received. One in particular, a type of question we often get, is worth summarising here.

A question from Ethiopia was taken during the debate about whether valuing nature negatively affects the poor.  Trying to understand the economic value of nature is not harmful to the poor – as once a value for a resource is estimated we can make those who can afford to pay for the services they receive pay while protecting those who can’t. The example given was water: it is possible to allocate an amount of water deemed to be necessary for basic human needs, then put an increasing price on higher volumes to ensure companies and institutions who can afford to pay do so, and more importantly do not waste water once it is no longer free.

Economists talk about values, monetary expression of values and so on but we are also aware that there are other components to value and hence economic value is only part of the picture. Decision makers should not ignore other values (in other words arguments in favour of nature protection) such as scientific drivers, cultural and spiritual values and so on.

While some of these issues have been discussed amongst economists for some time, it was refreshing to see such a multidisciplinary audience on the night and the hope is that the debates continue to be watched by multidisciplinary audiences.

If we have made one progress since Rio 1992, it is that now more and more people acknowledge that not a single discipline or school of thought or political persuasion can save the planet alone….as for whether we can save it if we work together, I remain positive.

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– experiences of fitting household solar energy – Getting FITS XIII is part of a series of blog posts by Limu on the attempt to install solar power at home with the help of the UK Feed in Tariff.

The new PV system had one bit of teething trouble in the first few weeks, as the fuse tripped a couple of times. The installer were quick to come an sort the problem, and on the second time they replaced the relevant part. The smart meter they provided was useful as it showing’0’ was what alerted us to the problem.

This meter runs from a sensor clipped over the wires bringing the electricity generated into the main house electricity system. This transmits wirelessly to a neat white box I’ve put in the hallway, which shows what is being generated.

The system is running smoothly now, with the smart meter ticking over at low levels during the day. Oddly, the system shows a very low level of generation (6 watts) at night, which is apparently due to the electricity flowing into the system to operate the inverter and other kit. I’m looking forward to seeing the generation levels rise through the spring.

We are adjusting to having a different kind of electricity supply. The main change is to try and run large appliances like the washing machine and dishwasher during the day, to take advantage of the free electricity. On the best sunny day in December when two of us are working at home our two computers seemed to be powered mainly by solar energy during the day.

As the generation increases, we can try to transfer more energy use to the middle of the day during the summer. Maybe roasts will have to be at lunchtime and showers taken in the morning rather than late evening. As we watch our smart meters and understand more about our energy use, I’m sure we’ll discover more options.


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– experiences of fitting household solar energy – Getting FITS XII is part of a series of blog posts by Limu on the attempt to install solar power at home with the help of the UK Feed in Tariff.

The process of registering for FITS payment has gone smoothly, my energy company seems to have had its administration system well-organised. I’ve received confirmation that my solar PV system is registered and now am making arrangements to receive the FITS payments quarterly.

For those thinking of installing PV in the future, the process was fairly straightforward because my installer was in regular and clear communication. Following installation they provided the FIT application form and other paperwork (receipt which is proof of ownership, and MCS form – see FITS VIII), which I sent recorded delivery to the energy company (and phoned to check it had arrived).

It’s a relief to have met the 12th December deadline, which caused plenty of controversy that may not be over yet. The High Court ruled in December that the Government’s plans to cut the solar Feed-in Tariff (FiT) were unlawful, but Energy Minister Greg Barker has since said the Government will appeal this decision: http://www.greenwisebusiness.co.uk/news/minister-to-appeal-solar-fit-high-court-ruling-2917.aspx .

The future design of FITS payments is being reviewed by Government, with one option being to lower the per KW tariff as systems get larger. This would spread the subsidy available over more households, but could be less efficient in terms of maximising the renewable capacity supported per pound. Another plan is to build in adjustments in the subsidy level to take into account the costs of panels, which is the major variable in the costs of installation (with labour and scaffolding costs more stable).

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