Category: Energy (Page 1 of 5)

King’s Energy: Grant funded – ‘Mapping the Food Waste-Energy-Water-Emissions Nexus at Commercial Kitchens’

This guest blog comes from Julie Allen, Energy Manager at King’s.

In June 2020, KCL (along with Arizona State University, Dublin City University and City University of Hong Kong) submitted a grant application to GCSO (Global Consortium of Sustainability Outcomes) for a proposal to create a Certification for Sustainable Kitchens – and we got the grant!

In March this year, our interim findings were published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, in a paper entitled ‘Mapping the Food Waste-Energy-Water-Emissions Nexus at Commercial Kitchens: a systems approach for a More Sustainable Food Service Sector.’

I’m a published Author!

To break it down, here is a little background.

I have many years of experience in the commercial catering sector. There are always efforts to address food waste, OR energy consumption, OR water consumption, but never anything to look at the whole life cycle of the food going through a commercial kitchen. So that’s what we did. Our role at King’s was to provide energy consumption data from King’s Kitchen (which is excellently managed!). We also had to manage the expectations of our colleagues in other universities, as there can be a huge difference between theory and practice.

The paper looks at the impact of food on the climate – from the water used to grow the food, the transportation carbon miles, the energy to grow and prepare it, the amount of waste generated (not only from food preparation but also packaging) – and an analysis of a particular meal from field to fork. It’s been a fascinating journey looking at how different countries, organisations and sectors produce and sell food, even down to expectations around metering (we were asked to meter each tap until I explained it would take the whole grant!).

It’s been a fantastic journey, which isn’t over yet – we’ve had an extension until December 2021, so watch this space for further developments!

If you have any further questions or want to get involved with King’s Energy, get in touch.

King’s Energy: A guide to eco-friendly energy suppliers in the UK

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

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

If you’ve kept up with our blog you will know we have devoted a lot of time to making switching energy providers as easy as possible for you. Of course, we would also prefer energy efficiency to be at the forefront of your mind when switching. As such, we’ve selected a few companies to review so you don’t have to!

How do I know if a company is eco-friendly?

Unfortunately, greenwashing is rife, so it can be difficult to make sure you’re not just falling for a marketing ploy when you think you’ve found the perfect company. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Carbon Offsetting – Many companies which call themselves “green” simply offset the carbon they produce, for example by planting trees. We have criticised this in the past but if done alongside other measures it can also be a positive.
  • Energy Source – Companies are obliged to tell you where their energy comes from. As much as possible, look for tariffs that offer renewable energy.
  • Tariff – As mentioned, the energy source often depends on the tariffs offered. Make sure to check these to see which best fit your needs in terms of usage, cost and of course, efficiency.
Octopus Energy

Octopus has a wide range of tariffs which can be confusing for those who haven’t read our blog! However, if you choose the “Super-Green” tariff then they will provide you with 100% renewable energy in addition to carbon offsetting. To help with costs they will also reward you and a friend with £50 when you switch.

Green Energy UK

Green Energy UK are the only UK energy company to offer 100% “Green” gas as well as 100% renewable energy so in that sense they are the best pick. However, they are on average 38% more expensive than other suppliers so get a quote before you make the decision to switch.

Outfox the Market

Outfox the Market is the cheapest supplier of renewable energy. They offer 100% renewable energy, from wind power, but because they are less established than their competitors they are also lower-rated by customers. Make sure to read reviews online before deciding in this case.

Bulb

One of the more-established eco-friendly energy companies in the UK, Bulb offer 100% renewable energy, from hydro, solar and wind power, as well as 100%  carbon neutral gas. They are also, on average, 17% cheaper than the “Big Six.”

Ecotricity

Ecotricity is the UK’s vegan energy supplier, offering 100% renewable energy. They are approved by the Vegan Society and support anti-fracking campaigns as well as Extinction Rebellion, so if you are passionate about helping environmental causes then they could be the right provider for you. However, they are relatively expensive so again make sure to get a quote before deciding.

So there you have it, these are the 5 we selected to look at this week. If you know of another environmentally-friendly supplier, let us know in the comments below!

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

How to reduce, reuse, and recycle your way to a more sustainable lab

This guest blog comes from Dr Nicola Harris, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Chemistry

Lab-based research is not sustainable. If you work in a lab, think about how many tips, gloves and plastic tubes you throw away every day and then think about how many labs in the world do the same. In fact, labs are estimated to be responsible for 5.5 million tonnes of plastic waste per year. Unfortunately, alternatives to single-use plastics in the lab can be hard to come by or are labour intensive, and safety concerns mean that clinical and contaminated waste needs treating – usually by energy-intensive incineration or autoclaving (or both).

As well as the need to reduce plastic waste, CO2 emissions, electronic waste and over-consumption are also all problems with lab research. Labs use 10 times more energy than offices and 4 times more water.

We are all familiar with reduce, reuse, recycle at home – but how can we apply these in the lab? Here are some tips to help your lab move towards being more sustainable while our suppliers catch up. These tips are primarily based on my own experiences in life sciences research – I do protein-based research, with a lot of molecular biology and RNase-free work. Check out My Green Lab and LEAF for more tips!

Reduce

Probably the most important step to take right now, with the biggest impact.

New equipment – do you really need it? Can you borrow someone else’s? Does another group need something – can you share and buy it together instead of getting one each?

Reagents. If you need something, double check you don’t have it already tucked away at the back of a shelf before ordering more (a lab inventory is very useful for this). Do other groups have some you can borrow?

Consolidate autoclave runs. Does it only run when full?

Reduce lab energy consumption. Turn Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) freezers up to -70 °C, using around 30 – 40 % less energy than -80 °C. Regular defrosts will also help freezers consume less energy. Shut fume hood sashes when not in use – a single fume hood uses the same amount of energy as a household. Turn other equipment off when not in use – most things don’t need to be on overnight and at the weekend (turning off also increases the lifetime of the equipment).

Use pipette tip refills instead of new boxes. You can autoclave refilled boxes yourself, and tip refills come in RNase-free filter tip varieties too!

Improve sterile technique. Reduce plastic waste by using a glass or metal cell spreader – these can be sterilised with ethanol and a flame and are as sterile as a plastic disposable spreader (in my opinion more sterile, as people’s hands go in and out of the packet for the disposable ones!).

Think about what you are doing and why. Protein research does not really need tips to be sterile, for example. Buffers generally don’t need to be filtered and autoclaved, and the purest water isn’t necessarily required.

Reuse

Glass alternatives. Many single-use plastics have glass alternatives that can be washed and reused. Buffers can be made in glass bottles instead of plastic tubes, and cell cultures can be grown in autoclaved glass bottles. Reusing glass many times over will result in fewer emissions, even if it needs autoclaving. Remember that disposal of contaminated plastics requires autoclaving or incineration anyway – so you might as well autoclave glassware instead.

Plastics can be washed out and reused. This may not be an attractive option, however, as it is fairly labour intensive.

Re-home old equipment. If you need new equipment, there are options to buy equipment that other labs no longer need (for example from Warp It and Richmond Scientific). Similarly, if you no longer need some equipment then it can be used in someone else’s lab.

Recycle

Unlike at home, recycling in a lab can be difficult. Waste contractors can be unhappy about taking waste that could be contaminated – but it is worth talking to them about it if you are able to.

Plastic reagent bottles. Check the resin type (1, 2 and 5 are most commonly accepted), remove the hazard label and wash out thoroughly for recycling.

Uncontaminated card and paper. The easiest thing to recycle from labs – packaging in particular.

Take-back schemes. Lots of companies do take-back schemes – for example, New England Biolabs take back their cold shipping polystyrene boxes, and Starlab take back their pipette tip boxes and tip wafers. Check with your suppliers to see if they offer any take-back schemes (or encourage them to start one!).

Ice packs. Most life sciences labs will be familiar with the huge pile of ice packs that can build up in a dusty corner of the lab. Good news – 2B Scientific recycle ice packs.

One step further

The above examples are some easy-to-follow tips – there are many more things that can be done to make your lab greener. For example, you can talk to companies about their sustainability policies, challenge them on their plastics, and feedback about their packaging. You can also liaise with your waste contractor to find out how they feel about recycling. Check My Green Lab and LEAF for bigger-scope ideas to improve your lab sustainability.

Take away messages

  • It’s ok to start small
  • If you are new – don’t be afraid to ask questions and make suggestions
  • Go for ‘easy wins’
  • Switch suppliers to support greener companies (e.g. we switched to New England Biolabs for our DNA purification kits and 2B Scientific for protein expression kits)

Don’t worry if you can’t do much – lab culture can be hard to change, and you may not have much control over how things are done in your lab. But every step helps – try something, and your example may encourage other people to take greener steps too!

A big thanks to LEAF and the King’s Chemistry sustainability team for the inspiration and ideas to make our lab greener.

Find out more about King’s Lab Sustainability Champions here.

Resources

My Green Lab https://www.mygreenlab.org/

LEAF https://www.ucl.ac.uk/sustainable/staff/labs/take-part-leaf

Richmond Scientific https://www.richmondscientific.com/

Warp It https://www.warp-it.co.uk/

Starlab https://www.starlabgroup.com/GB-en/about-starlab/sustainability.html

2B Scientific https://www.2bscientific.com/

New England Biolabs https://www.neb.uk.com/news/the-neb-shipping-box-recycling-programme

 

King’s Energy: Changing your energy supplier – What do you need to consider?

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

If you’ve stayed tuned to our blog over the past few weeks, you will have seen that changing supplier is much easier than people think! It’s approaching that time when you will be signing leases and moving into your homes for the next academic year, so let’s take some energy-related weight off of your shoulders.

How do I change supplier?

Changing supplier is easy. All you will need is your postcode, your last energy bill and about 10 minutes of your time. We recommend using a price comparison website such as U Switch or MoneySuperMarket to make sure you have the full range of options and filters available to you. Once you have chosen a new tariff, the new company will communicate with your old one to ensure that you don’t miss out on any energy and to make the changeover as smooth as possible. This usually takes up to 21 days.

What should I consider?

Cost – This goes without saying. Most people switch because they can save money, and sometimes it can be hundreds of pounds per year, so always keep your options open.

Customer reviews – What better way to know what people actually think of a company than to read their reviews? People like you or I have been in this position before and are well placed to advise us of their switching experience.

Exit penalty – If you are on a fixed contract there may be a penalty for breaking this early. However, the fee is usually waived if you switch a month or so before the end. In any case, it’s better to check with your existing company to see how this might apply.

Energy source – Of course! Here at King’s Energy, we believe we all have a responsibility to safeguard our planet by using renewable energy as much as possible. With most price comparison sites you can have this as a filter for simplicity, but you can also ask any energy company for the source of their energy. It should be noted that renewable energy suppliers are not always as expensive as you would think, so it is always worth checking.

Greenwashing – Renewable energy is becoming more fashionable but unfortunately, some companies want the benefits without the necessary investment. Be careful of “greenwashing,” where companies may claim to be environmentally motivated, but their energy doesn’t match these claims. Most genuine renewable energy companies have REGO (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin) certificates.

Summary

At King’s Energy of course we want you to save money, but we also want to encourage everyone to do their part for the planet by considering renewable sources of energy. The most sustainable energy companies in the UK are GEUK, Ecotricity and Octopus UK. Need more information? No problem, stay tuned to our blogs for more details on which energy companies you should consider when you switch.

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

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!

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!

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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