Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Urban Wind

I've always felt that urban environments weren't right for wind power, for three reasons:

1. Lots of small turbines would be ugly - even worse than the forest of TV aerials that we see now.

2. There often isn't much wind in town, especially when the towns are built in the shelter of hills, like Lewes is.

3. The wind direction changes all the time, which makes the turbines less efficient.

Well, I've just seen an article describing a number of new designs that challenge these assumptions. Some vertical axis designs that look quite elegant, and are less sensitive to changing wind direct. And, a design that exploits the funnelling of wind by the buildings themselves.

Of course, these aren't going to be suitable everywhere, but they could help to increase the range of suitable sites.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Open Source in Government

Dr. John Pugh made a very sensible speech in parliament about software procurement. It's an esoteric field, but the same principles should be applied to software procurement in local government. 

The full debate is here. It's quite esoteric, but his third paragraph is the most important.

Monday, 29 October 2007


Is my blogger widget still working, after upgrading to OSX 10.5. If you're reading this, it is.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Green Electricity

We switched to a green electricity supplier today. It's pretty hard to choose between them, because they all have such different approches. In the end, we went with Ecotricity because they were top of the listing at

The listing compares the suppliers by the amount of new renewable energy that they're building, adjusted for the number of customers they have. Some resellers don't do any building, so they don't do very well in this rating. Ecotricity, on the other hand, topped this league for the third year running - they were 10 times better than the number 2!

Thursday, 25 October 2007

San Diego fires, 3

Just one of the San Diego fires (the Harris fire) has burned an area equal in size to Lewes District. The Harris fire isn't even the largest fire: the Witch Creek fire is two and half times larger - almost the size of Wealden District. 

San Diego fires, 2

A photo of the San Diego fires. Evidence of global warming? No, no single event is. However, climate models do predict an increasing frequency of such fires (remember the Greek fires, recently). As temperatures increase, the ground is more frequently dry, winds are higher, vegetation is drier.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

San Diego fires,1

Here's an excellent use of Google Maps for emergency response. It's a detailed map of the San Diego fires, evacuation zones, evacuation centres, road closures and so on.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Happy Feet

Carlotta Luke's Happyfeet Urban Design web site has gone live at It's a proposal for improving traffic flows in Lewes, based on her Masters degree dissertation.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Friday, 5 October 2007

Ming on Iraq

We always opposed the Iraq war. Here's what Ming has to say on the current situation.


Peak tungsten?

Here's some good news for the environment. General Electric are shutting down production of traditional light bulbs, in favour of low energy light bulbs.

I hope (but somehow doubt) that they're looking after the employees.

In case your in doubt about low energy bulbs, the technology has come a long way in the last few years, and is improving rapidly. So, you can get bulbs with the same light quality as traditional bulbs, they fit a wide range of lamps (including halogen spots), and they can start instantaeously. So, there's no real reason to not use them.

The savings make it a no brainer - a conventional bulb will work for about 1,000 hours (if you work full time, you might work 2,000 hours per year). In that 1,000 hours, a 100w bulb will use 100 units of electricity. That's about £10 worth. An equivalent low energy bulb will last 5,000 hours, and cost from £2 to £10, while using a quarter of the electricity (about £2.50 per thousand hours). So, it will pay for itself in the first 1,000 hours, and by the time you have to replace it, will have saved you about £37 in electricity - that's probably enough to pay for a new light fitting, if you need one.