Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Price of Heating Oil and Coal


If you Believe you are being
Complain to the Authorities

Heating Oil Pricing

I have written several posts in the last 12 months on the excessive cost of heating oil in the Republic of Ireland. When compared with the North of Ireland, just up the road a few kilometers, where the price of home heating oils is some 20%+ cheaper. Much of this massively inflated cost is due to Irish Taxes - Carbon Tax, and VAT.

What concerned me a great deal was that in Northern Ireland there was a reasonably healthy variation in price between the lowest and the highest prices, but in the Republic the variation was minute.

I made a complaint to the Competition Authority at the time. I was gratified to see that my individual and personal complaint was taken seriously and was entered into a database of similar complaints. If and when sufficient evidence is accumulated, legal proceedings will ensue.

As late as 3rd May 2012 the Director of Public Prosecutions had a conviction against a Galway supplier who was fined.

The Price of Coal and other Solid Fuels

Price fixing is one thing, price gouging is quite another. Price fixing and cartels are a game generally player by the larger players. Price gouging in coal and other solid fuel prices is played by mainly the small players. That is not to say the larger players do not also participate in the game.

A bag of smokeless coal can sell for anything between €14 per 40Kg bag to €21 per 40 Kg bag. That represents a major rip-off and major price gouging.

I am more concerned about solid fuel prices in one way because there is a national trend towards the use of stoves and other solid fuel heaters. This trend is driven by two factors:

(1) The high price of Heating Oil mainly pushed by Government taxes, making the use of oil heating non-viable for many households.
(2) The Recession / Depression gripping the country, whereby many households can only afford fuel on a week by week basis, and where they are having to seek the cheapest possible heating options.

If you experience Rip-Off prices or cartel behaviour - please do not just sit there and moan about it Make a Formal Complaint.

It costs nothing to make a formal complaint - just your time and a little effort. For the most part staff at the national agencies are very helpful, and you will make a difference.


Friday, May 25, 2012

5% Cut in Number of TDs Irish MPs


Why Bother?
What's the Point?
A tiny 5% cut in the number 
of Dáil Deputies

There is to be roughly a 5% cut in the number of MPs sitting in the Irish Parliament from 166 members to 158.

Give us a break lads!! - What's the point of a tiny 5% cut I ask?

How about a 50% cut in the numbers and the rest get paid when they clock-in for Parliament sessions on a day by day basis and NOT otherwise.

Also then top off their expenses at a maximum of €10,000 p.a. in ticketed / receipted and approved expenses. Those actions might give some hope and moral lead to the Irish people, and offer a glimmer of hope that there is a tiny vestige of ethics attached to politics.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nuclear Risk 200 Times Greater


Probability of Contamination
From Atomic Powerplants
200 Greater than Expected

A recently published report from The Max Planck Institute states that the probability of contamination from severe nuclear reactor accidents is much higher than previously expected, and that Western Europe has the worldwide highest risk of radioactive contamination caused by major reactor accidents

Catastrophic nuclear accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima are much more likely to happen than previously thought. The Institute has made calculations based on the operating hours of all civil nuclear reactors and the number of nuclear meltdowns that have occurred, scientists have calculated that such events may occur as frequently as once every 10 to 20 years.

The figures are based on the current number of reactors. The calculated RISK FACTOR is some 200 tines greater than previously estimated.

The researchers also determined that, in the event of a major accident, half of the radioactive caesium-137 would be spread over an area of more than 1,000 kilometres away from the nuclear reactor. Their results show that Western Europe is likely to be contaminated about once in 50 years by more than 40 Kilo Becquerel of Caesium-137 per square meter.

The International Atomic Energy Agency defines an area as contaminated when radiation reaches these levels.

Because of the implications and in view of their findings, the Max Planck researchers are calling for an in-depth reassessment of the risk levels associated with nuclear power plants.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Wind Lens Turbines Another Look


Wind Lens Turbine Design

The way to go?

The more I read about the "wind lens" turbine design, the more convinced I become that this is not a "snake oil" deal like EEstor and their "vapour ware" super battery.

There is some serious research going on and this research has been published. The research and the researchers do not have the smell of investment hunters or snake oil merchants about them. Snake oil and vapour-ware merchants keep their cards VERY close to their chests - they work with all of the tricks of a stage magician. The people working with wind lens design are very different. It would not take rocket science or much of a lab to test the theory in any case.

Some fair sized upscaling of the design is now taking place. The brim could also keep the "BATTY" people happy, as a net could be stretched over it thus saving wildlife from becoming sushi!!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Another New Water-Splitting Hydrogen Catalyst


 Another New
Hydrogen Catalyst

The above team of scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a new catalyst to cheaply and effectively split water into Hydrogen and Oxygen. This one is based on nickel-molybdenum-nitride but the real secret is microscopic with a surface structure in the form of nano sheets.

The Magic is in the Surface Structure

The structure of the nano sheets of the metal alloy surprised scientists with its high-performance as a catalyst. The nanosheet structures offer highly accessible reactive sites – consider the surface area difference between bed sheets laid out flat and those crumpled up into balls – and therefore more reaction potential.

High efficiency catalyst have been hard to find. An electro catalyst to to split water needs:

(1)    To be highly durable and not dissolve away too quickly,
(2)    Have high catalytic activity i.e. uses little electricity to do the job,
(3)    Have a high surface area, and
(4)    Be of reasonably priced.

The strength of an element’s bond to hydrogen determines its reaction level – too weak, and there’s no activity; too strong, and the massive initial activity poisons the catalyst.

Platinum is the standard for electro catalysis. It combines low over-potential with high activity. With a price tag of around $50,000 per Kg platinum and other exotic metals are un-economic.

The metals in the new compound are both abundant and cheap at around $20 per Kg for nickel and $32 per Kg for molybdenum. It checks out at around a thousand times less expensive than platinum.

Efficiency Even More Important than Price

Nickel takes the reactive place of platinum in this catalyst, but lacks electron density. Molybdenum is able to enhance its reactivity. While effective, it still couldn’t match the performance levels of platinum. The team used Nitrogen, and expected the applied nitrogen to modify the structure of the nickel-molybdenum, producing discrete, sphere-like nano-particles. But they discovered something quite different.

Exposing the compound to high-temperature ammonia infused the nickel-molybdenum with nitrogen. It also changed the particles into unexpected two-dimensional nanosheets.

The new catalyst performs nearly as well as platinum but at one thousandth the price. The team emphasise that their new catalyst does not represent a complete solution to the challenge of creating affordable hydrogen gas, it does however offer a major reduction in the cost of essential equipment.


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Austerity Poverty Anger & the EU Fiscal Treaty


Anger Blinds Reason
The Irish People are Very Angry
Hurting in the Harsh Economic Climate
They cannot take more cuts and austerity

The Irish League of Credit Unions recently carried out a survey which clearly outlined the level of poverty affecting Ireland since the austerity programme was introduced..

Because the situation is so negative the Irish League of Credit Unions have commissioned a quarterly survey to monitor the situation.

Here is an outline of the first survey findings:

(1) Half a million people 500,000 Irish citizens have no money left at the end of each month.

(2) 1.60 million have only €100 left each month after paying for essentials And they wonder why business' are struggling!!

(3)  Disposable income is  continuing to fall, and that is perhaps the most worrying finding. Where is the "tipping point" the point of no return?

(4) 51% of the population have experienced a fall in their disposable income in the space of just 6 months.

(5) 45% have problems keeping up with car payments.

(6) 40% of people have switched insurance companies to try and save some money.

(7) 20% are switching to a smaller car to save money

(8) 7% are thinking of giving up driving altogether as it is too expensive.

Add to the above findings the MASSIVE swing to solid fuel heating because of Carbon Tax and VAT, to try and save some money. And the fact that so many have to make the decision to Eat or Heat with Fuel Poverty pushing towards 50%!!.

The recent increases in Carbon Tax, the VAT rate, the Household Charge and other proposed charges or Poll Taxes, the massive impact on petrol and fuel prices, coupled with an increase in Road Tax affecting the take home pay of workers, all conspire to directly deepen the harshness and depression of the situation. 

I will vote YES in the EU Treaty

In this harsh and depressing economic climate, the Irish Government is asking the people to vote for more fiscal changes in the form of the EU Fiscal Compact Treaty.

I am personally in favour of this amendment but so many people, who are hurting very badly in the current economic harshness, will simply tend to lash out in anger and vote NO - just to put one-up to those they perceive as their tormentors.