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Messages - silkman

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Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars. And trucks, and....
« on: January 14, 2018, 01:23:40 PM »

As a man if a certain age, I can confirm that if you put your foot down in an i3, it really goes... but quietly!

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: January 06, 2018, 10:29:39 AM »
I  see that Taishan in china seems to have overcome construction troubles and the first EPR there is scheduled to come on this year, (construction began 2009, originally scheduled to come online in 2013)

They just announced yet another delay pushing things back to later this year for the first of the EPRs  and to 2019 for the second of the pair with a consequent hike in cost.

If the Chinese are struggling to get this over the line what chance is there of Hinkley Point coming on line before new battery technology makes it an overpriced dinosaur...........?

Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars. And trucks, and....
« on: January 02, 2018, 12:20:56 AM »
The Hopwood Supercharger was recently increased to 16 stalls, so Tesla must think it will be popular soon.  Lots of Model 3 reservations, perhaps?

Tesla's investment in its UK charging network is, to say the least, amazing when you consider that the right hand drive version of the Tesla 3 won't go into production until 2019.

Multiple charging points are being installed across the UK motorway network though Hopwood with 16 seems to be at the top end. Musk is clearly intending to ensure that his customers don't suffer the problems I faced last week but it comes with significant up front cost.

It's a good job he has deep pockets!

Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars. And trucks, and....
« on: January 01, 2018, 10:59:50 AM »
Following up on my post before the holidays about my purchase of a BMW i3 and the subsequent discussion it triggered, I thought I'd report on the early experience of going electric in the UK.

Firstly, I really like the car and the way it drives. It's a small car that feels big if that makes any sense and will be perfect for the vast majority of my local usage, charged as often as I can with locally generated electricity from my solar array. But how did it perform on my 300 mile round trip to Bristol along busy roads in some difficult weather?

The answer is pretty well but I can't say the same for the robustness of the UK charging infrastructure. In preparation I'd registered for all three of the major charging networks and the first long trip of 155 miles was achieved seamlessly with a single stop at a Motorway service station (Gloucester on the M5), use of the Ecotricity fast charging facility with time for a bowl of soup and a sandwich.

With my destination in Bristol reached and with grandkids in full Christmas mode all was well until I set out to recharge for the return journey. Bristol is a very eco-friendly city with numerous charging stations but I failed to find an operational one in three locations. No matter, I thought. I've enough in the battery to get back to Gloucester services and I'll sort it there, which I did to an extent though I had to use a slower 7 amp Type 2 charger that meant I would need an additional stop.

So on to Birmingham and Hopwood Services and an available 32 amp charger - only to find that that too was out of action. After a frustrating 45 minutes and a conversation with a Nissan Leaf owner now desperate to use the sole charging point within his range I set out to cover the last 70 miles knowing that I would need to resort to the i3 range extender to get home. It worked fine, justifying my decision to pay for the insurance of the extender and I got home to Cheshire having used about four litres of petrol.

The conclusion: the car is fit for purpose but the UK charging network isn't. As the numbers of EVs grows the challenges will get greater.

It's interesting to note that at Hopwood there were Tesla charging points a plenty but no Tesla in sight.

Happy New Year!

Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars. And trucks, and....
« on: December 20, 2017, 02:36:18 PM »


I totally agree. Replacing ICE vehicles with EV's is just a start. But it has to be a journey..... and mine will start on the M6 through Birmingham!

Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars. And trucks, and....
« on: December 20, 2017, 09:49:32 AM »
While I can accept the overall logic of Geoff Beacon's arguments about EVs I'm happy to be taking a path that currently represents the art of the possible.

My move from diesel to an EV that offers, in my view, the closest alignment of my needs with the lowest possible day to day carbon footprint is doing two things.

Firstly, I'm no longer contributing to the local burden of Nitrogen oxides and PM 2.5 that is making air quality hazardous in congested parts of my small home town. Secondly, I'm making a real, visible statement about the direction of travel.

I'm not going to change the world with this approach any more than the zero food miles associated with the organic vegetables from my allotment will change the impact of the local supermarket but I'm setting what I think is a good example to friends, neighbours (some of whom think I'm nuts!) and most of all to my six grandchildren.

Have a great holiday season, everyone. My primary target is to get from here to Bristol for New Year down two of the UK's busiest roads without reverting to an ICE. One small step......

Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars. And trucks, and....
« on: December 19, 2017, 07:47:00 PM »
The 2017 i3 without the range extender has the same 33 KWh capacity battery as mine but has a slightly better battery only range courtesy of its lower weight, realistically around 120 miles.

I have grandchildren 150 miles away in Bristol (almost Jim Hunt territory!)and came to the conclusion that I'd benefit from the Range extender for security.

I see it a as logical intermediate step and have a lease deal that will allow me to change when a better option becomes available and the UK charging networks get a little more reliable.

Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars. And trucks, and....
« on: December 19, 2017, 02:48:08 PM »
I've just traded in my seven year old formerly "eco-friendly" diesel for a BMW i3. Here it is Knutsford Services on the M6 contributing a massive £3.73 to Dale Vince's Ecotricity account.

I've got the range extender version. Unlike a hybrid it only has electric power but has a small 650cc ICE engine that, when needs must, will drive a generator to maintain charge in the battery. Its battery range is about 100 miles and the range extender adds a further 75 or so if you need it, using the nine litre fuel tank.

I haven't needed to resort to the extender yet and don't intend to but I like the extra security it offers given the current undeveloped state of the charging network in the UK.

In truth it's a bit of a compromise but with a solar array on my roof and most of my miles Local I think it will work well for me.

Consequences / Re: Hurricane season 2017
« on: December 10, 2017, 12:51:32 PM »

That's brilliant news. You've provided a lesson for all of us, proving that when circumstances demand it, where there's a will there's a way!

But I have to have an answer to one more question.

How is the Mango?

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: December 09, 2017, 10:33:06 AM »

Those are fantastic. Much better than ours this year. We'll have enough to go with the turkey on Christmas Day as is the law here in the UK but that will be about it.

It's not all bad though. We have a good crop of parsnips and swede and the purple sprouting broccoli is looking good for the Spring - assuming I can keep the pigeons at bay!

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: October 15, 2017, 08:11:43 PM »
Here in NW England, ex-hurricane Ophelia apart, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is upon us. It's time to harvest the gourds and squashes ahead of Halloween and winter soup.

It's been a mixed season for us this year. Our staple squashes, Crown Prince and Barbara, cropped poorly due to lack of sun over the latter part of summer but we had some fun trying out some American "heritage varieties" including Hubbard and Long Island.

Here's the haul. It's the highlight of our harvest. They store well, eat well and are very pleasing to the eye. At least I think so.

It's on to the parsnips, swede and sprouts now.

Policy and solutions / Re: Batteries: Today's Energy Solution
« on: September 14, 2017, 09:57:11 PM »
Drax, the UK's biggest power station, in East Yorkshire is planning to install "up to" 200MW of battery storage as part on an investment programme to convert its remaining two coal fired units to gas. The other four units have been converted to biomass, controversially sourced from the SE US:

Makes the 22 behind the meter 4kw units we've just installed in Cheshire social housing with the help of a government grant look puny. They're reducing electricity bills for the tenants by around 35% though.

Consequences / Re: Hurricane season 2017
« on: September 09, 2017, 12:13:00 PM »
Road Town airport BVI.

I spent some time there back in the 90's. There were chickens on the runway then.

Just how you come back from this sort of impact I just can't imagine.....

Arctic sea ice / Re: Northwest Passage thread
« on: August 23, 2017, 09:23:09 AM »
The Shackleton has just emerged from the NW Passage and is now in the Amundsen Gulf to the Southeast of Banks Island.

The air and sea temperatures are interesting. I'm not sure at what depth the sea temperature measurement is made at (others may know) but 7.6C seems to indicate a significant amount of heat in place after a long ice free summer.

"Oceanographic research ship Ernest Shackleton (UK/Norway)

Last reported at 2017-Aug-23 03:00 UTC. Time now 2017-Aug-23 06:52 UTC.
Position N 70°00' W 118°30'.

Wind from 140 at 18 knots
Barometer 1008.3 mb
Air temperature 9.3 ° C
Visibility: greater than 10.8 NM a
Dewpoint 9.3 ° C
Water temperature 7.6 ° C "

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2017 melting season
« on: August 20, 2017, 11:04:21 PM »
Here are hourly Webcam images from the Shackleton archive for August 20 while it was sailing through the Franklin Strait:

I'm no expert but I'd venture to suggest that this supports the view that the Canadian Ice Service is playing it safe.

Unfortunately Sailwx is having a bit of a meltdown and has miraculously transported the ship back to the Antarctic but the air temperature where it actually is were well above freezing and the water temperature would favour melt. Scroll down for the table of data.

Arctic sea ice / Re: Northwest Passage thread
« on: August 20, 2017, 09:12:38 PM »
Meanwhile Serenity has made its way to Nome and was caught on the Webcam there.

Nice day for a cruise!

Arctic sea ice / Re: Northwest Passage thread
« on: August 20, 2017, 01:24:55 PM »
The Shackleton has now negotiated its passage of the Bellot Strait and is well on its way down the Franklin towards ice free open water:

Arctic sea ice / Re: Northwest Passage thread
« on: August 16, 2017, 10:06:28 PM »

The RRS Ernest Shackleton is currently in Baffin Bay, a long way from its home at Port Stanley in the Falklands.

It's clearly on the way to the NW Passage to support the Crystal Serenity with its ice breaking capability, helicopter and zodiacs as it did last year.

A nice little earner for the British Antarctic Survey I'm sure but at the cost of the mixed blessing of increased high cost eco-tourism.

It will be interesting to watch the progress of this second Serenity trip nonetheless.  At least it delivers a clear message about the dramatic changes taking place in the Arctic.

Arctic sea ice / Re: Northwest Passage thread
« on: August 16, 2017, 02:52:25 PM »
Crystal Serenity has left Seward on its way to the Arctic and the NW passage:

What sort of ice conditions will it face when it gets beyond Cambridge Bay? Time will tell.

Consequences / Re: Wildfires
« on: August 08, 2017, 12:08:02 AM »
Siberia is ablaze again today. I believe Putin is down there somewhere.

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: August 06, 2017, 12:07:08 PM »
Excellent job, Neven!

Just remember the old joke - What's worse than finding a slug in your salad?.......... finding half a slug!😉

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: August 06, 2017, 10:08:39 AM »

I think the shrub in your last pic is Hypericum:

We have it in our garden too. It's related to St John's Wort.

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: August 06, 2017, 08:57:40 AM »
In our experience the battle with the humble slug is never ending. Building barriers just doesn't work, probably because the slimy invaders' eggs are waiting to hatch in the soil. You can see clear evidence of this if you look carefully at the base of even sound cabbages. There's always a baby slug or two tucked away. Lessons for certain politicians here in both the US and the UK.....?

Rule one is to keep your garden neat and tidy and the ground cover, other than what you intend to eat, at a minimum.

Rule two is to grow plants in pots or modules and transplant to the garden when they're more mature - works really well with brassicas and lettuce.

Rule three is not to be squeamish about eating stuff with slug damage........

Both of these are fun:

Arctic sea ice / Re: Arctic Image of the Day
« on: August 05, 2017, 10:29:30 PM »

Arctic sea ice / Re: Arctic Image of the Day
« on: August 05, 2017, 10:19:17 AM »
Open water at Eureka on Ellesmere this morning. Currently 2C.

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: August 04, 2017, 09:02:54 AM »

The photo isn't too clear but it definitely looks fungal to me. I'd be interested to hear how well your potatoes did before you planted the latest crop.

Arctic sea ice / Re: Arctic Image of the Day
« on: July 29, 2017, 10:56:53 PM »
Absolutely perfect summer's day at Barrow today. The temperature at the time of this picture was 68F.

San Francisco weather!

Antarctica / Re: PIG has calved
« on: July 14, 2017, 12:05:50 PM »

What's the scale of this incipient event, relative to the Larsen C calving?

Arctic sea ice / Re: Northwest Passage thread
« on: July 13, 2017, 09:58:56 AM »
Here's a couple of links to cruise ship environmental impact to illustrate the problems. It's bad enough on the open ocean so it has to be a major concern in the Arctic.

Counting crew and passengers there will be close to 2000 people on the Serenity, lots of them living the high life. That's a lot of sewage and grey water usually dumped at sea with minimal treatment to dispose of somehow and somewhere....

Arctic sea ice / Re: Northwest Passage thread
« on: July 13, 2017, 09:44:23 AM »
It was accompanied by the RRS Ernest Shackleton last year which stirred up a fair amount of controversy here in the UK:

It also used its helicopter and inflatables for moving the tourists around and for sight seeing.

Mixed feelings I think amongst the local population, torn between the economic benefits and the ecological damage.

Given the current sea ice trend it's difficult to see the attraction of the currently pristine environment not being exploited by others. It's another very worrying sign of the times.

Arctic sea ice / Re: Northwest Passage thread
« on: July 13, 2017, 01:12:42 AM »

Policy and solutions / Re: Other earth observation fora
« on: July 10, 2017, 10:39:32 PM »
Volcano Cafe is to vulcanology what this Forum is to the Arctic Ice.

I followed it closely in its previous format as Bardarbunga was erupting. Loads of interesting stuff about a climate-related topic:

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: July 01, 2017, 10:17:18 AM »
But you have mangoes! I can only dream. I'd swap you for a cabbage any day!

That said, I've just stripped Virginia Creeper off a south-facing wall and planted two vines. Cheshire Chardonnay? Probably not, but given the direction of travel we might we might as well go with the flow.

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: June 26, 2017, 06:21:45 PM »

Thanks for your kind words. The boss (Mrs S) is delighted too. We pride ourselves on never leaving the plot without something to put on the table. A small cauliflower would fit the bill admirably in winter. I hope you enjoyed the modest morsel!

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: June 24, 2017, 03:17:02 PM »
First real summer harvest.

Family lunch tomorrow  :)

Consequences / Re: Population: Public Enemy No. 1
« on: June 23, 2017, 09:41:25 AM »
I have to disagree.

It's not necessarily the carbon footprint of burgeoning populations, especially in Africa, that is the issue. It's the impact of their perfectly legitimate aspirations, driven by smart phone technology, to share in the wealth of the old European elite.

Without addressing the problem of economic migration the world faces a very uncertain future and the threat of Climate Change will be lost in the ensuing chaos.

Both Trump and Brexit exemplify the problem, offering temporary xenophobic "solutions" that will only exacerbate the issue.

It's not a surprise therefore that the resolve of two of the nations that should be leading the way in the Climate Change debate now have other more important problems to deal with - fundamentally driven by global population growth.

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: June 16, 2017, 02:41:05 PM »
I thought it might be time for an update on the Silkman plot. Things are going pretty well courtesy of a mild Spring and we're now harvesting lettuce, radish, rhubarb and spinach and I've just dug our first root of first early potatoes.

The battle is now to keep nature at bay - weeds, slugs, pigeons etc. We have a visiting badger (as yet unseen as it's nocturnal) which we are happy to tolerate as it likes slugs but last week it managed to make a real mess of a raised bed. Clearly it's partial to a strawberry or two as well!

We're also trying trombocino for the first time. Has anyone grown them?

Our onions look very like Etienne's this year. It will be interesting to see how they turn out.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: May 26, 2017, 09:47:48 PM »
The beautiful early summer weather we're enjoying here in the UK right now has resulted in a new record for solar generation - 8.7GW and 25% of demand at 1pm.

I'm currently involved with a Charity-funded study of the impact of behind the meter battery storage in social housing with solar arrays and tenants in fuel poverty. I had a text from one of my "clients" this evening "2.4 units (KWh) (purchased from the Grid) in a week of heavy usage. How can I not enjoy the sun?"

Add the potential revenue streams from provision of grid balancing services and it starts to look really interesting in terms of ROI for the social housing providers as well as their tenants.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: May 18, 2017, 09:32:38 AM »
In the UK solar farms and agriculture get along pretty well and the income from renewable energy can be a real boost to farm income:

Sheep farming is a good fit and the impact on wildlife and biodiversity is positive. I have personal experience with a small array the was installed in Cornwall very early in the solar industry development phase that works very well in this way.

Sheep are used to keep undergrowth under control in some wineries in Western Australia and also generate an additional return. More photogenic than a solar array certainly but the principle is the same.

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: May 13, 2017, 03:10:39 PM »
Hi Etienne

Good compost needs self-generated heat and if you spread it it won't work so well.

Onions are hungry little beasts. Yours look perfectly healthy to me - no sign of rust which is a real problem here - but if the compost isn't providing the nutrients they'll need a feed. The easy way is to give them a dose of a general purpose fertiliser but if you want to be totally green, liquid manure made from something like comfrey ( would do the trick.

Greenland and Arctic Circle / Re: What's new in Greenland?
« on: May 11, 2017, 09:32:34 AM »
Surface melt up and running in the SW:

Science / Re: 2017 Mauna Loa CO2
« on: April 20, 2017, 08:58:13 AM »
Having now checked back in earlier Mauna Loa threads the 400ppm theshhold was passed on May 10th 2013, less than four years ago. I find that very frightening:

Science / Re: 2017 Mauna Loa CO2
« on: April 20, 2017, 08:46:10 AM »
Up, up and away!

The Keeling curve breaches 410ppm.

The rest / Re: UK Snap General Election Poll
« on: April 19, 2017, 09:20:24 AM »
My Tory MP has a 15000 majority and does what he's told by the party. I know him well and I'll be pleased to let him know I'll be voting Green!

If I were in a constituency where the local Lib Dem had half a chance I'd nod in that direction.

The Tory right wingers scare me but it's the total loss of any focus on anything other than short term political interests that's more concerning. Any possibility of the UK being a positive force in addressing AGW right now is off the table which is a massive shame.

I was in North Wales yesterday looking at the now impressive wind farms off shore. The way the wind is blowing now it will be fracking of shale beneath Cheshire that will be top of the Brexit agenda in this part of the world.

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2017 melting season
« on: April 11, 2017, 09:37:02 AM »
I don't know but it's been like this for a few weeks:

It was my first port of call over breakfast. Much missed if it's not restored.

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: April 06, 2017, 05:12:08 PM »
Call me old-fashioned but I planted first early potatoes today in a trench accompanied by some well rotted farmyard manure  - exactly the way my Dad taught me to in the late 50's.

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: April 06, 2017, 04:47:20 PM »

That sounds pretty good to me. One simple trick we use for thirsty crops like pumpkins squashes and courgettes (zucchini) is to cut the bottom off a 2 liter plastic water bottle, embed the neck in the soil near the roots and use it as a reservoir to water the plants. Examples here for courgettes:

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: April 04, 2017, 06:08:36 PM »
Looking good Etienne!

I'll look forward to seeing the fruits of your labours later in the season.

Best wishes


Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: April 01, 2017, 10:22:26 AM »
..... but I need the exercise  :)

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: March 31, 2017, 05:17:05 PM »

Potatoes are a great idea when opening up a new piece of garden - partly because you have to dig to plant them😊

Good luck with it all.


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