Author: Helena Fazeli (Page 2 of 3)

King’s Energy: LED light bulbs – What are they and why is King’s switching to them?

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

 

The LED, or Light Emitting Diode, is a relatively new form of lighting that works through an electrical current passing through a microchip, illuminating the diode, and the result is visible light. To prevent performance issues, the heat LEDs produce is absorbed into a heat sink. No doubt you will have heard plenty about LEDs, not least through our previous blog posts, but why is it so important that we change all King’s lighting to LED?

The advantages of LEDs

First, in terms of practicality, LEDs produce light up to 90% more efficiently than incandescent bulbs. LEDs are ‘directional’ sources, meaning they concentrate light in a specific direction, unlike incandescent bulbs which emit both light and heat in all directions.

Next, the lifetime of an LED gives it a huge advantage over its market counterparts. Where the lifetime of a CFL or incandescent bulb is adjudged to be when it is “burnt out,” LEDs do not burn out. Instead, they experience something called “lumen depreciation,” whereby their brightness dims slowly over time. Therefore, their lifetime is a prediction of when they will be 30% less bright than when you purchased them.

Now to the technical part, but don’t worry I’ll keep it simple for now. LEDs are much brighter than the other options on the market. Some LEDs can reach 90+ in the Colour Rendering Index (more on that later). In addition, you can also choose which colour you would like and sometimes you can even change colour!

Last but not least, LEDs are much more energy-efficient than any alternative on the market. Not only do they last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs, meaning you can minimise both production and waste, they also use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs. They are more expensive initially, but they pay for themselves many times over in savings over their lifetime. It’s no wonder then that King’s are trying to modernise our light sources by switching to LED across all facilities.

CRI & Colour Temperature

If you are considering investing in LEDs, you may come across the acronym CRI (Colour Rendering Index) and hear about colour temperature. First, the CRI refers to the quality of the light. It is judged out of 100, with 100 representing sunlight. Think of it this way, if you have a light with about 70 CRI it may simply reflect off your lecturer’s bald head. If you had a light of 90+, you’d be able to see every liver spot and mole – scary stuff!

Now, in lighting, when we talk about colour temperature we do not mean if a light is hot or not. Instead, we refer to the colour of the light, measured in Kelvins. Usually, you can get LEDs that range from 3000K (warm, yellowish light) to 6000K (cool, white light) but you can also get RGB (Red-Green-Blue) where you can change colours at will!

What is King’s doing?

Here at King’s we’ve set some ambitious energy targets and switching to LED is one way we can become more energy efficient. We’ve already begun the switch, but there’s still a long way to go, and here’s where we could use your help. If you notice any old incandescent bulbs anywhere around campus please reach out to let us know. You never know when one may have slipped through the net.

As always, if you have any further questions or want to get involved with King’s Energy, get in touch!

Appreciating our local green spaces

This guest blog comes from Abbie Russell, Engagement Officer and Sustainability Champion at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN). With contribution from Louise Bolderstone, James Hollands, and Annicka Ancliff.

With this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme of ‘Nature’, we couldn’t not talk about our local green spaces – the value they bring. For some of us, visiting the local park has been a highlight of the day or the week during lockdown. There’s a lot of research, including IoPPN research, that suggests that exposure to trees, the sky and birdsong in cities is beneficial for mental wellbeing. 

One thing I do miss about working on campus is going for lunchtime walks through the park (shout out to Ruskin Park near Denmark Hill Campus!) with colleagues. It was so nice, that the Bee Team (aka IoPPN Main Building Sustainability Champions) organised regular lunchtime walks, the Ruskin Park Appreciation Walks, and we would be joined by colleagues from all over the faculty. It was a great chance to network, share ideas, research, and meet new people.

When lockdown hit – we decided to keep the conversation going online, with Teams meetings and a refresh of the Yammer group. We changed the name to Local Park Appreciation. This allowed us to open up this space to the entire King’s community and it now has 111 active members.

In this blog we explore some of the groups favourite local green spaces.

Hilly Fields, South East London (Abbie Russell, IoPPN)

My favourite thing about South East London is the number of great parks and amount of green space. I’ve recently discovered Hilly Fields since moving to a new house and it’s my new favourite sunrise spot. From the top of the hill, you can see for miles – trees in one direction, and city in the other.

Hilly Fields is in Brockley and is surrounded by lots of other green spaces: One Tree Hill, Ladywell Fields, and Peckham Rye Park.

Beckenham Place Park (Louise Bolderstone, Research Management and Innovation)

In the last year I have got to know Beckenham Place Park even better as it has been the focus of my weekends and I have walked in it with a friend most weeks, although prior to that I was a regular visitor. My appreciation and knowledge of this wonderful place has expanded in an equal proportion to the contractions of my horizon.

The park has benefited from additional funding in the last few years contributing to a place that provides a variety of activities for everyone, from open water swimming to exploring the ancient woodland to relaxing with some food or drink from the onsite café. However, its true value lies in the space afforded to everyone to enjoy by virtue of it being the largest park in the borough and at times, it feels like the entire borough is trying to squeeze in.  That does not detract from enjoying its beauty though because there is always a way to find a solitary path. I get a sense of calm from walking around and seeing all of the different plants, trees and greens offering a counterbalance to the craziness of the world during these last months. I love the twisted trees that have stood there for so many years and I have comfort knowing they have been there through many trials and continue to stand.

I have witnessed a transformation in the park’s popularity in the last year but its natural lifecycle has continued regardless.  The bluebells are nearly out again, after the carnival of daffodils.  Snow has surprised everyone and covered the open greens and settled gently in the woods. The parakeets continue to reign supreme and the wild meadow areas have sprung up and down again hosting kaleidoscopes of butterflies and hardworking bees.  There is peace and life co-existing simultaneously in this place and it brings me joy to see the old and the new living in harmony.  No matter what the next year brings, I know that Beckenham Place Park will be there.

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Greenwich Park (James Hollands, Registry Services)

During lockdown, the importance of getting outside and seeing green spaces has never been more important – both for our physical and mental health.  As I live in Woolwich, one of my favourite walks has been walking along the Thames Path to Greenwich, and then walking along around Greenwich Park.

Located near to the River Thames in South-East London, the park is open all year round and is listed as Grade I on the Register of Historical Parks and Gardens.  During London 2012 it was used for Olympic equestrian events as well as the Modern Pentathlon.  The park has a large sweeping green space which means even when the park is busy, you can walk around it easily.  The park is home to several tree and plant species, which means that even in wintertime, there is something out in bloom, and it also has lovely clean fresh air.

The park is on 2 levels, and at the top of the hill in the park is the Royal Observatory, which the prime meridian passes through.  There is also a beautiful view at the top of the hill from which you can see Canary Wharf and the National Maritime Museum.  I love to be able to sit and look at these views, whilst enjoying the tranquillity of the park.

I would recommend giving the park a visit.  It is a short walk from Greenwich railway station, Greenwich Pier, and multiple bus routes.

                                 

Southwark Park (Annicka Ancliff, Research & Development, IoPPN)

In the last few months, Southwark Park has been my favourite walking/running spot. I used to follow the Thames Path on walks but since there are more people out and about I have preferred the park to avoid the crowds.

There was one run in particular which will always stay in my memory and that was the other day. It was so sunny and the park was buzzing, I saw a few runners and other people either using the outdoor gym or doing other fitness activities. In the course of my run, I was greeted by a tiny puppy which was an absolute delight and then a little girl offered (or possibly showed) me a flower I kept running past her but shouted my thanks at her.

It has been so nice to see people enjoying the parks more as the weather has improved and the lockdown has been eased.

What about your own local parks? Let us know and get involved online.

All King’s staff and students are welcome to join the Local Park Appreciation group on Yammer.

 

Sustainable Development Goal 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

In 2015, the United Nations released 17 ‘Sustainable Development Goals‘ (SDGs). These 17 interlinked goals seek to guide us in creating a fairer and more sustainable world for all by 2030. Each goal outlines the current situation, sub-goals and targets, as well as indicators for measurement. We focus here on goal number 7: ‘Affordable and Clean Energy.’

SDG 7 – what is it? 
SDG 7 focuses on ‘ensur[ing] access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all’. The goal’s three ‘outcome targets’ include ‘universal access to modern energy,’ ‘increas[ing] the global percentage of renewable energy’ and ‘doubling the improvement in energy efficiency’ (SDGs, 2021). In other words, we must ensure access to electricity to all, while increasing the share of renewable energy in our global energy usage.

The UN has identified that 789 million people around the world have no access to electricity, which means they are most likely having to use alternative and, often, unsustainable sources to heat their homes and cook their food. It is vital that when these people gain access to electricity, it is sustainably sourced and renewable electricity. International cooperation is required to make this a reality. Indeed, as of 2017, only 17% of total energy consumption was derived from renewable sources, with the energy efficiency improvement rate falling below the UN’s 3% target.

Achieving global goal 7 will have an impact far beyond electricity usage. It is closely related to SDG 13, ‘Climate change mitigation,’ as well as many other goals, including poverty eradication (SDG 1), health (SDG 3), gender equality (SDG 5), transport (SDG 9), sustainable cities (SDG 11), etc.

What has the UK done?
As a result of the coronavirus, this past year has seen some important milestones in the UK’s journey towards increasing renewable energy. In 2020, renewable energy overtook fossil fuels as the largest source of UK electricity. More recently, over Easter weekend, figures suggest that 80% of UK energy consumption came from low-carbon energy sources and there was no coal generation on the grid. 39% of this figure is accounted for by wind power and 21% by solar, marking an improvement from the fossil fuel-heavy consumption of recent years.

While these figures occurred on a Bank Holiday and during lockdowns, these achievements are commendable and demonstrate that positive change is possible.

What has King’s done?
Since 2017, all electricity directly purchased by King’s has come from 100% UK wind energy and since signing a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in 2019,  20% of our purchased electricity comes from PPA wind farms. In addition to this, we have solar panels at the Cicely Saunders Institute, Great Dover Street Apartments and Champion Hill, as well as a combined heat and power system and a ground source heat pump at Denmark Hill. Also, as you already know from our previous posts (hint, hint), we are in the process of switching all light bulbs to LEDs. Finally, as of the start of 2021, King’s has fully divested from all fossil fuels, nearly two years ahead of schedule.

What can you do?
While individual action is not the silver bullet solution, each of us can play a role in achieving SDG 7. You can switch the bulbs in your house to LEDs when they next need changing in order to reduce consumption and waste. We also recommend checking with your energy provider for the sources of your electricity. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can both switch to cheaper, fairer and more environmentally-friendly energy, check out the Citizens UK Fair Energy Campaign, as well as how student group King’s 4 Change is supporting the campaign at King’s. Finally, in a previous blog post, we outlined some easy and accessible ways to save energy at home and there’s more on the way!

As always, if you have any further questions or want to get involved with King’s Energy, get in touch!

King’s Energy: Reading your energy bill

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

We’re reaching the end of another academic year. It’s that time when we have to choose who to live with for the next year. We also have to decide which energy company we want to trust both with our money and with supplying fair and clean energy to our new homes. Energy bills can be confusing with all those numbers but don’t worry, it’s not as daunting as it sounds – here is King’s Energy to answer the questions on your mind!

How do I read my energy bill?

Your energy bill should include several key pieces of information, namely: consumption, time period, personal projection, tariff information, payment methods, when your contract ends, your meter reference number and a QR code. It will also specify if the bill is actual or estimated, which might be the most important part! Some of these are fairly self-explanatory but the ones which could help you save money are:

Actual or Estimated

In order to work out your bills, your supplier needs to know how much energy you use. Your supplier will estimate your energy bill based on past usage if you don’t send them your readings. You should therefore make sure you check your meter and let your supplier know, as your usage may be less than expected.

Meter Reference Number

While you check your meter, cross-reference the number on your bill with the one on your meter because you might actually be paying for somebody else’s electricity.

Personal Projection

Not only does this allow you to see how much energy you are expected to use and therefore allow you to assess how to reduce your energy consumption, but it can also be used to compare other energy deals with your existing plan. You may be able to switch suppliers to get a better deal.

How do I read my meter?

If you have a smart meter, your readings will be sent automatically to your supplier. If you don’t, then try to read your meter every time you get a bill. First, you need to establish if you have a single rate digital meter, two-rate digital meter or dial meter, here’s what they look like:

Single rate digital meter

Two-rate digital meter

Dial meter

*If the pointer is between two numbers, always read the lower number.

Can I change my supplier?

In most cases, this can be done before the end of your contract. Ultimately which supplier you go with depends on your usage and needs. Citizens Advice offer a great comparison tool to see which provider will best support your needs and check out Citizen’s UK’s Fair Energy Campaign if you know you want to switch to a fairer and more environmentally-friendly supplier.

Over the coming weeks, we will break down the best suppliers for you in terms of cost and environmental impact. If you have any further questions or want to get involved, get in touch!

 

Image source: How to read your gas or electricity meter, Citizens Advice.

King’s Energy: We tried to reduce our carbon footprint using Giki Zero

This guest blog comes from Rebecca Lindsay, BA Philosophy and Spanish student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

Giki Zero is a relatively new website that allows you to keep track of your carbon consumption and take personalised steps to reduce it. Over the last couple of weeks, the Energy Team have been trying out the various features to really get a feel for its potential. So, does Giki Zero really work?

Upon the first appearance, Giki Zero presents a sleek and intuitive interface. Its bright colours and shapes are appealing, but its practicality even more so. Just sign up (for free!) and answer some brief questions about your lifestyle – diet, commuting, housing, etc. – and you’re away! Immediately you’re presented with a score that reflects your individual impact on the planet:

Higher than 500 is considered “good progress”, whereas anything above 1000 is “true planet saver” status. By adding more data, and committing to more of Giki Zero’s suggested steps, you can increase your score (and flex on your friends). If you live with other people, you can even invite them and work as a team!

You’d be surprised how easy it is to reduce your carbon footprint. There is a range of difficulties to choose from when selecting steps, ranging from “easy peasy” to “hardcore”. Many of them you may already do, such as walking to work or turning the lights off when you leave a room – add these to increase your score!

As you add more information, Giki Zero will suggest more steps suitable to your lifestyle. Since you’re reading this blog right now, why not get involved with King’s Sustainability to tick ‘Join A Local Sustainability Team’ off your list?

Giki also has a mobile app called Giki Badges, which lets you scan your shopping to see its carbon and health impact, so you can take Giki on the go!

Overall, Giki Zero is a very easy and accessible way to monitor your carbon footprint. But don’t just take it from me, here are some testimonies from the rest of the team:

“I found the Giki Zero app to be really useful, with ideas that I hadn’t realised would affect my carbon footprint – like using soap rather than shower gel – but also things that I do as normal that are a ‘good thing’ with regards to my footprint! It’s challenging and fun!”Julie

“What struck me the most about Giki-Zero was just how simple and personalised everything is. My initial Giki score didn’t sound too high but when it was put into context, my carbon footprint was significantly higher than the UK average. We often read a lot about numbers and averages but seeing this in black and white was truly shocking. To help me come to terms with my shock, Giki suggested some relatively easy fixes that I would not have otherwise thought of, such as switching to soap and refusing unnecessary gifts (long overdue!). Beyond this bit of fun, you are also able to further personalise your account with actual figures and it provides competitive challenges and landmarks. All of this makes it fun to save the planet, and perhaps this is how we can actually engage more people to do so.” Mason

“The app has this aesthetically pleasing interface that reminds you of a video game and immediately draws you in. What I appreciated the most about it is that you are not asked to change your lifestyle in a day but you have access to a wide range of suggested steps from “easy peasy” to “hardcore” that you can take to decrease your footprint. You even have the option to team up with members of your household or your friends. It’s simple, fun and I feel it helps me make better choices one step at a time!” Angeliki

Be sure to give Giki Zero a try and let us know your thoughts at energy@kcl.ac.uk!

Explore the London Student Sustainability Conference posters

King’s Sustainability Team had the fantastic opportunity to co-host the London Student Sustainability Conference (LSSC) with City, University of London on Wednesday, 24th February 2021. Over 30 students presented their sustainable research and projects through presentations, posters and performances.

The posters from LSSC 2021 can be viewed here. Look out for the poster competition prize winners, including King’s students Liza Konash (BSc Nutrition) and Mia Lewis (BA International Relations) for ‘Best Overall Poster’ for the vegetable bag scheme Fetch Ur Veg.

Recordings of the events can now be found on our Kaltura.

If you’d like to stay in touch, sign up for our monthly newsletter and follow us on InstagramFacebook or Twitter.

 

King’s Energy: Lighting – What are my options and why does it matter?

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

To me, lighting always seemed like a pretty alien concept. You move into a house already fitted with a certain kind of lightbulb. When they run out you survive the darkness for a few days until your landlord replaces the lightbulb or one of your more science-minded housemates gets irritated enough to figure out how to switch it. Added to the fact that there are so many options on the market, the technical names and language can make choosing the right lightbulb overwhelming.

Lighting is actually far simpler than we’re led to believe. You want to figure out three things: the size of your lightbulb fixture, your desired luminosity and the type of lightbulb technology you’d like. We focus here on the latter.

What are the options?

There are four main options on the market: incandescent, halogen, CFL and LED lightbulbs, but what are they and how are they different?

Incandescent: These are the classic – your OG lightbulbs if you like. They contain a small filament that is heated until it glows. Chances are when you think of a lightbulb, this is the one that you think of. The problem is, incandescent bulbs emit 90% of their energy as heat and if you retain a brightness of 800 lumens your energy cost is £4.38 per bulb, per year.

Halogen – These are pretty similar to incandescent lightbulbs except they also have a small capsule containing halogen gas. This capsule helps prolong the life of the lamp and keeps it clear as the reaction “recycles” the halide gas within the capsule rather than depositing it inside the lamp. However, they are significantly more expensive to run, and the European Union banned the import and production of Halogen bulbs in 2018, so there goes that option!

CFL – CFLs, or Compact Fluorescent Lamps, are those fancy twisted bulbs. This “twist” is actually a glass tube filled with mercury vapour and gas with an electrode at either end. When an electric current passes through the tube, it ignites the mercury vapour and creates UV light. This is invisible to the naked eye so there is a phosphor coating on the tube which, when it comes into contact with the ignited gas, fluoresces…get it? Not only do they look cool, but CFLs are up to 70% more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs and they last much longer.

LEDs – The new kid on the block. LEDs (Light-Emitting Diodes) work by sending an electrical current through a microchip which illuminates the LED…modern stuff! LEDs really are modern, and the future of lighting. The annual running cost of an LED bulb at 800 lumens is £0.92…yes you read that right. They also use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs and can last up to 25 years.

So what is King’s doing?

Here at King’s, we recognise the potential of LEDs and are working to switch our existing bulbs over. The Franklin Wilkins Building, Macadam and New Hunts House are fully LED, while there are currently two projects for Rayne Building common areas, some labs and Britannia House to convert to LED. We have also commissioned a survey of all the campuses to find out our current lighting status and where we need to upgrade to LED.

For more information on recognising your lightbulbs and the benefits of switching to LED, tune in this Tuesday 13th April for our #TakeoverTuesday on King’s Sustainability Instagram. And as always, feel free to get in touch if you’d like to get involved with Energy at King’s.

12 ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and take action on the climate crisis

This guest blog comes from Josh Hill, a zero-waste brand owner with Soseas and scientist. 

Are you suffering from eco-anxiety? Thinking about global warming and increased pollution but overwhelmed and feeling powerless to do anything about it?

In this post, we’ll be giving you 12 ways you can implement today to reduce your carbon footprint. 

While tackling the climate crisis requires systemic change, taking action, however small, on an individual basis can help us remain hopeful and can inspire action from those around us. We remain mindful that not all have the resources to make the changes outlined below. Simply sparking a conversation with loved ones can have an impact, so do what you are able to do 🙂

Food

Food and the industries surrounding it are hugely wasteful. With 820 million people across the world not having enough food to live an active and healthy life, we have an ethical obligation to eat sustainably for the planet and its inhabitants.

#1 Eat more greens

One of the most polluting industries is animal agriculture. This is for multiple reasons, including:

  • The land being used for animal agriculture often results from the clearing of carbon trapping biomes, such as forests;
  • The animals themselves emit greenhouse gases whilst alive;
  • The subsequent transportation of animals and meat.

The solution is simple and effective – eat less meat! Try meat-free Monday to start and take it from there.

#2 Eat local and seasonal

Having all foods available year-round has its drawbacks. In order to keep supermarket shelves stocked with sun-loving fruits and veggies year-round, they have to be imported from far-flung corners of the earth.

To avoid the air miles associated with this practice, eat locally and seasonally. The best way to introduce yourself to this way of eating is to visit your local farmers market or sign up for a local veg box scheme.

#3 Reduce your food waste

It is estimated as much as ⅓ of all food ends up being thrown away, but it doesn’t have to be this way! By reducing your food waste not only will you reduce your impact but you’ll save money too.

Here are some tips for reducing food waste:

  1. Freeze any leftovers you have
  2. Only shop for what you need and write a list to avoid deviating from that
  3. Store food correctly (not always refrigeration) to make sure it lasts as long as possible
  4. Try pickling and preserving
  5. Get creative with what’s left in your fridge

Clothing

The textile and clothing industry is another hugely polluting industry, particularly when it comes to fast fashion. Not only this, but fast fashion is associated with unethical working conditions.

#4 Ditch fast fashion

Fast fashion is a hugely polluting industry. Producing mass amounts of clothes is hugely resource-intensive and the decomposition of the large proportion of un-bought and un-used clothes going to landfill results in a huge amount of greenhouse gases as they decompose.

A great alternative is to aim for a capsule wardrobe. This simple, minimalist approach to clothes makes sure you’re always in style whilst maintaining a low number of classic items – buy fewer clothes but make them last! 

#5 Shop preloved

An easy addition to ditching fast fashion to supercharge your efforts is to shop vintage and preloved clothing. Not only will you help save clothing from going to landfill but it’s often a cheaper alternative to buying brand-new.

Home

It can be hard to tell just how polluting and resource-intensive your house is but here are some small things you can do!

#6 Unplug electronics

Your electronics can still draw on power when on standby or switched off. Instead, unplug items or switch them off at the socket to make sure they’re not draining excess electricity.

#7 Switch to LED bulbs

LED bulbs are certainly more expensive than traditional filament bulbs. Fortunately they use 75% less electricity and can last up to 25 times longer making them an essential eco switch at home!

#8 Turn down the temperature

Turning down your thermostat and your washing machine temperature can seriously reduce the amount of electricity you use.

Remember, most electricity supplied to households results from burning fossil fuels, so reducing your electricity consumption will indirectly reduce your carbon footprint!

Whilst we’re on that subject…

#9 Switch to a green energy provider

As many countries vow to reduce their emissions in line with the Paris Agreement a rise in renewable energy sources has been seen. With this, many alternative energy providers are now providing energy solely from renewable sources.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can both switch to cheaper, fairer and more environmentally-friendly energy and support your community in doing so, check out the Citizens UK Fair Energy Campaign, as well as how student group King’s 4 Change is supporting the campaign at King’s.

Transport

Transport represents one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases resulting from human activities, specifically car and plane travel. Let’s look at the alternatives.

#10 Drive less

Driving less is a great way to cut your emissions. Try cycling or public transport as an alternative to your morning commute. Not only will this reduce CO2 emissions but also other harmful pollutants.

#11 Try staycations

Air travel is another hugely polluting industry. Avoiding unnecessary flights by going by train when possible or opting for a local staycation is a great way to cut down on emissions.

BONUS

#12 Get involved!

Sign petitions, go to protests, engage on social media, and share with your peers and community. Use your voice and use your vote!

Do you have any other tips for reducing your carbon footprint at home? Comment down below and let us know your favourites!

 

 

King’s Energy: A look into the pros and cons of renewable energy sources

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

With energy being such an important issue these days, no doubt you’ve heard of renewable energy. But what counts as renewable energy? Which energy source is best? How does it work? So many questions!

Don’t worry, here at King’s Energy we’ve got you covered. We’ve picked out the 5 main renewable energy sources and crunched them into a simple pro and con for each.

Solar Power

Let’s start with the obvious – solar power. We could all do with a little more sun, but why not make the most of the little sun we do have?

  • Pro: Low-maintenance. Once solar panels are installed, not only can they drastically increase the value of a building, but they also last for 30 years meaning you need to do little besides sit and save money on your energy!
  • Con: Unfortunately they aren’t suitable for every roof type. If your roof has slate or cedar tiles, then it may not be possible for you to install the racking necessary to mount the panels. Additionally, the initial cost of installing solar panels is fairly high.

Wind Power

I think we can all agree that wind is something we get plenty of on these shores, but just how efficient is it?

  • Pro: Space efficiency. Wind turbines actually take up fairly limited space for what they produce and new initiatives such as floating wind farms could see this increase further in years to come.
  • Con: Output is intermittent. While we do get a lot of wind in the UK, it is not 24/7, meaning wind turbines should be paired with some form of energy capture technology.

Hydropower

As an island nation we have an abundance of water, so why not consider using it to fuel our everyday lives?

  • Pro: Reliable. Usually, hydropower plants are installed near stable bodies of water meaning the supply is constant. As such, it is a good option to have when your wind turbines or solar panels are not meeting demand.
  • Con: Hydropower faces a unique set of environmental and social challenges. It can adversely impact the surrounding environment and populations by changing the course of rivers and other bodies of water, altering animal migration habits, impacting land use or even displacing local populations.

Biomass

A rather controversial one, but a good means to ensure that nothing goes to waste – or is it…?

  • Pro: Reduce waste. Biomass can make use of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of organic matter which currently sits in landfill sites.
  • Con: Space and cost requirements. Transporting and storing the waste is a costly and time-consuming process. Competition for arable land for other agricultural practices is also an issue, and the drive to create biomass farms can result in deforestation and food security issues in some regions. It is therefore crucial for bioenergy projects to be assessed against the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental.

Hydrogen

What many consider to be the silver bullet – but is hydrogen all it’s made out to be?

  • Pro: No harmful emissions! The only emission from hydrogen is clean drinking water.
  • Con: Volatility. Hydrogen needs to be stored in liquid form as it is volatile and prone to combustion. This makes it incredibly hard to store and transport.

Which of these do you think is the way forward? Let us know in the comments below.

If you’d like more information or want to get involved, email us at energy@kcl.ac.uk or head over to the King’s Sustainability Instagram.

King’s Energy: Home energy saving tips

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

King’s Sustainability understands that not all have the resources to switch to renewable energy. This blog, therefore, outlines some simple and accessible ways to save energy at home. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can both switch to cheaper, fairer and more environmentally-friendly energy and support your community in doing so, check out the Citizens UK Fair Energy Campaign, as well as how student group King’s 4 Change is supporting the campaign at King’s

Ask not what your planet can do for you, ask what you can do for your planet: How to save energy from your home

Okay so let’s ignore the political reference here, the point is that you want to become more energy-efficient, but you don’t want it to cost you, right? Well, good news for you – at the King’s energy team, we’ve put our heads together and come up with five startlingly simple ways you can save energy at home. And guess what, they’re basically free!

  • Don’t have double glazing? Use clingfilm instead

No, you did not read that wrong. While of course, it is not as effective as double glazing, using clingfilm around the edges of your windows can help your house to retain heat and therefore actually save you money on your heating bill.

  • Put tin foil behind your radiators

Yes, we know, it sounds crazy but you’re here to save energy on a budget and this is the ultimate method! Aluminium is a great conductor of heat (ever tried touching your foil when it’s fresh from the oven? Don’t!) and putting it behind your radiators will allow your rooms to retain heat and stay warm for longer. You may feel silly doing it but wait for the rebate on the energy bill and it’ll all be worth it!

  • Don’t leave anything on standby

An obvious one, we know. And one that should be redundant in the UK given we have those lovely switches on our plug sockets. However, we’re all guilty of this from time-to-time. If you see an orange or red light then turn it off, and yes, that includes your phone charger!

  • Be patient

Yes, we are still talking about energy. Be patient with your thermostat. Did you know that blitzing the heating doesn’t actually turn up quicker? Set it to your desired level then relax and wait for it to catch up. Your feet will be toasty in no time.

  • DO NOT BLOCK YOUR AIRBRICKS

Oooh capitals, must be serious eh? Right. Air bricks are vital for ventilation and prevent CO2 build-up. They may not be the most attractive things in the world but if you cover your air brick you may find yourself getting very sleepy, and not in a good way.

So, there you have it! Five things you can do at home to save money and do your bit for the planet. King’s are making great progress with their energy usage, and in the spirit of lockdown, it’s time for us to play our part from home too!

If you’d like more information, or want to get involved, be sure to email us at energy@kcl.ac.uk or head over to the King’s Sustainability Instagram page.

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