Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Solar Power Innovation


New Fresnel Solar Lens

Remember as a kid playing with a magnifying glass and burning paper etc. using only the sun? A US company is using the same basic idea of a very large magnifying glass to generate power from the sun. Only difference is in the type of magnifying glass being used.

IAS (international Automated Systems) claim to have developed a (sort of) new solar technology. They also claim to be the first company to offer the possibility of competing head-to-head with fossil fuels for power production. They also claim that their current development systems already beats the World Government's goal for solar power cost per kilowatt by the year 2020.

The actual idea is anything but new. What is new is the type of lens which is a segmented thin-film very large Fresnel lens. This huge lens focuses the sun's energy, in the same way as a little toy magnifying glass. It is capable of producing super-heated steam for power generation.

The lenses are inexpensive, efficient, and require virtually no maintenance, (except cleaning I guess) ( the tracking gear would also need a bit of oiling from time to time ;-) ). More typical solar reflectors are quite expensive and require a good deal of maintenance. Once installed, IAS lenses need no further adjustment – so they say!

These Fresnel lenses can be run out really quickly from a manufacturing production unit. Nearly one megawatt of IAS solar panels were manufactured in a short 24-hour run, according to the company publicity blurb.

I guess the breakthrough is that the IAS solar lens can be produced at a tiny fraction of the cost of photovoltaic solar panels on a watt for watt basis.

I hope it is not just another investment magnet. We will wait and see how it pans out in the next year or two.

Have a look at their web site:


Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Big Switch


The BIG Switch
use Gas
(The Gas Board) instead
of the
ESB (Electricity Supply Board)

Two ways to save a lot of money on your electricity bill:

(1) Switch all your old type light bulbs for CFL or LED bulbs and you will save more than 15% on your bill each and every month, and

(2) Switch your custom from the ESB to the Gas Board (or Board Gais as it is called in Ireland) and save a guaranteed 10% every month on top of your light bulb saving. The Gas Board is now in the business of selling electricity!! I wonder how long it will be before the ESB start selling gas?

Switch now - don't bother ringing the ESB, I did it already, and they told me that they have no intention of lowering their prices.



Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Irish Housing Bubble Bursts


I am re-publishing a piece I posted nearly two years ago. Because I am shaken by how quickly the property bubble has burst - but not in the way I expected. We have brought a lot of extra problems on ourselves by fact of our government allowing the housing speculation and unbridled greed to run riot like Australian wild fires.

The Bubble will BURST!

I am again tempted to write leakage material outside the general parameters of this blog. What has sparked this rant is a news item on EuroNews about squatters in Barcelona.

The phenomena of squatting has grown along with the drastic rise in property prices coupled with a growing number of vacant properties. Squatting in Barcelona is a growing movement with its own theatre, newspaper and community centre.

This rang immediate alarm bells in my head.

The property situation in Ireland is much the same. With 25% of newer homes are vacant why? House prices in Ireland are up to 60% above real values why?

The situation is almost at the critical mass point, like a nuclear reactor where the control rods have been removed and the mass of uranium exceeds fission starting levels and the whole thing is set to explode like Chernobyl.

What are the factors.

IMHO I see the elements as follows:
1. The dispossessed, the young couples who cannot afford the artificially inflated house prices. 2. The property speculators who have money to buy and speculate on many homes keeping the prices inflated and keeping the properties out of use. 3. Lack of proper Government controls. 4. Lack of proper housing initiatives by the government.

IMHO a Squatters Movement would be Justified Morally in Ireland

I am amazed there has not been a radical seizure of empty speculative properties in Ireland by squatters. They have every rational justification for so doing. The housing situation is a disgrace and an embarrassment to the country. it has made the rich into the super rich, while denying homes to the less well off. One in one hundred 1% of Irish are millionaires - I would only guess that many of these have made the money on property speculation.

It is about time to place a punishing tax on second homes and on property speculation. It is also time for a MASSIVE housing plan for Ireland.

Ireland is a country for the rich, not the poor.

We the Irish have detached ourselves from our history and our Christian past to become "empire builders" within our own land. The Irish empire consists of property and money. The new peasants, fuzzy-wuzzies and wogs of this Irish "Empire"are the poorer Irish. Some Irish are also empire building overseas with this property fever.

Slavery in Ireland

There are two forms of slavery being perpetrated in Ireland at this time.

1. The inexcusable sex trade where children are trafficked into and through this country, currently over 300 non-national children on the missing list in Ireland. This is a total disgrace to Ireland.

2. The young couples who sign up essentially as indentured slaves for 20 to 30 years of their lives in order to get a house to live in. They are borrowing sometimes at 100% mortgages and amounts equal to a 15 full years salary. If the slightest thing goes wrong with the economy or with their health - they will end up in negative equity and financially enslaved for the rest of their lives.

And there was I thinking that slavery was outlawed in the civilized world!!!

The current situation is immoral and cannot be allowed to last.

As the financial structure of Ireland rapidly disintegrates all around us, I wonder if the ensuing depression will bring some sense of reality and fairness back into our lives.

We had lost the run of ourselves during the "Celtic Tiger" in Rip-Off Ireland.



Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Attic Insulation Grants Ireland part 2


Attic Insulation Grants.
What attic insulation grants?

The Ministers were mistaken!

There is NO attic insulation grant

The Ryan and Gormley attic insulation grant does not exist as such. It would appear that there is, in actual fact, NO ATTIC INSULATION GRANT at all.

According to the SEI information published on their website, there has to be a minimum grant amount claimed of €500. The attic grant is €250 so this means you would have to carry out at least one other project on your home, and pay two BER assessments in order to get a miserable attic grant.

The SEI system is again another complete arse-up. I personally would not waste my time with it. If all you require is a bit of attic insulation, go to HomeBase get the stuff at 50% off and either do it yourself or have someone do a nixer for you.


A simple and effective system to promote attic insulation could have been achieved by simply having a householder purchase the insulation materials from a bona fide dealer, then send in the receipts for a 50% money back grant. It would have been simple and easy for everyone. But OH NO!!! they had to make it complex and keep the "gombeen men" in the formula.

The "experts", the "advisers", and the "installers" are lining up to register at SEI and have a heyday.

I am greatly disappointed and disgusted with this idiotic attempt at promoting attic insulation. It is complex, it encourages money makers, and it is another insult to the people of Ireland.


Monday, February 09, 2009

Attic Insulation Grants


The Ryan and Gormley
Attic Insulation
Grant Scheme

Eamon Ryan and John Gormley jointly announced the Irish national insulation grant scheme. They claim it will create 4,000 'green collar' jobs and help the unemployed building workers.

The hype has the late launch of the scheme pinned as " the national insulation programme for economic recovery" (cringe – cringe!!) The basis is a fund of €100m for insulation projects for this year. They are very optimistically estimating that 50,000 homes will be upgraded. I would say that there is not a snowballs hope in hell of reaching this target.

The grant system is too darn complex.

There will be a €250 grant towards the estimated €700 cost of attic insulation. The BIG catch is the, “if you go down in the woods” BER. This BER has claws that will tear chunks of money from you. You will have to have TWO - yes (you don't need new glasses) - TWO that is 2 - BER assessments in order to get the miserable attic insulation grant. That means you have to cough up €200+ as your part of the two fees for the BER assessments – that is your grant money down the toilet straight away.

The lads say the scheme will give €700 annual savings on household heating bills. That is not far off my entire heating bill which is about €1100 – so would that mean I would get to heat my house for €400 pa ?

The schemes will be administered by guess who? - Sustainable Energy Ireland.

The SEI Conditions

A BEFORE and an AFTER works BER assessment must be completed.

Roof Roof Insulation: €250
Wall Cavity insulation: €400
Internal Wall Dry-Lining: €2,500
External wall insulation: €4,000
Heating Controls High Efficiency Gas or Oil fired Boiler with Heating Controls Upgrade: €700
Heating Controls Upgrade: €500

Grants are payable when measures are completed in compliance with the scheme’s Terms and Conditions.

Flush the pan please!

If you are one of the few people able to afford the cost of a complete home heat upgrade, and if you are able to put up with the tradesmen, the disruption and mess that it entails, and if you have the patience to jump through all of the SEI hoops involved, it might be worth your while going the SEI route for a whole house upgrade.

For the small guy who just wants to put a bit of extra insulation in the attic, the scheme is a dead loss.

Any incentive needs to be (1) Very Attractive, and (2) simple and easy to use. This scheme is neither.

Screw the grant.

My suggestion, get your insulation materials for half price at Home Base. and get the guy next door to do a nixer. It will work out well cheaper than going the SEI option and getting the grants.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Recession – Biomass – National Government


National Government

Ireland is staggering under the current global financial crisis. Thousands are losing their jobs and the country’s financial deficit is deepening rapidly.

The government are in crisis and appear to be suffering all the classical signs of shock. They are like rabbits caught in the headlights.

So – How to Save Money and Make Jobs?

Guys - Instead of poring money into the corrupt, dishonest, and greedy banking system - how about the idea of an “national government” issuing an emergency order requisitioning all fallow land in the country and starting a massive planting of willow and other biomass? Follow this with setting up say 150 small biomass fuel manufacturing, storage, and distribution facilities in every town land in the country.

In just two years time there will be the first crop of willow. This, when processed, will greatly cut the need for imported fuels.

In the meantime, the tilling, planting, and tending of the plantations will provide thousands of jobs. The building, installing, and operation of the treatment and manufacturing facilities will provide many more thousands of jobs. The distribution and sale of the bio fuels will give many more jobs again. The savings to the exchequer on imported fuels will help to balance the books.

and the really good part - this is a completely sustainable enterprise with benefits FAR - FAR into the future.

My tuppence worth. Thanks for listening.