Thursday, December 27, 2007

Carbon Carousel Fraud

Letter to the editor
The Independent Sent 27 December 2007


the article 'My carbon-free year' (Independent Thursday 27 December 2007) claims that Donnachadh McCarthy's home was `carbon-negative for energy' during 2007. This would be great if it were true, but the claimed carbon footprint of -141 kg was obtained only by using a carbon carousel fraud.

The home sometimes exported and sometimes imported green electricity. For every kWh of electricity exported, the net footprint was credited with -430g of CO2. Fair enough. But when the home imported a kWh of electricity, the effect on the footprint was declared to be zero. This is a fraud, since under this accounting system a building that imports 1 kWh on Monday and exports 1 kWh on Tuesday (and thus makes no net contribution) would be judged to have removed 430g of CO2 from the atmosphere! When this error is corrected, we find that Donnachadh McCarthy's impressive home is not carbon negative. It has a CO2 footprint of +24 kg.

It is a terrible struggle to make a British home carbon neutral!

David MacKay

Here are the details of the correct spreadsheet
``How the eco-savings add up''

CONSUMED CO2 footprint

Gas usage
609 kWh 116 kg

NET export
of green electricity

114 kWh
-92 kg

Solar electricity
produced and
used on-site

420 kWh

(Other items in the table all as before, zero.)

Net footprint
+24 kg

PPS - They didn't publish my letter.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Life-cycle analysis database

Yippee! I've been trying to find a free database of LCA information (to answer questions like 'what's the embodied energy or embedded energy of a fluorescent light bulb?') and now I think I have found one -


Sadly the EU database didn't seem very user friendly. I've now found the
The University of Bath database
which looks small but useful.

Climate change in our lifetime

My first blog. (I've been writing webpages for ages, but I thought a blog might be useful for my soon to be finished book.)

1998 was a record hot year (the hottest in the last few decades). Today I heard in a talk by Vicky Pope that the climate models of the Hadley Centre predict that from 2010 onwards, every year has a 50% chance of being hotter than 1998.

Vicky Pope also showed a graph by Eleanor Burke showing predicted droughts. The graph showed the percentage of the world predicted to have "severe drought". In the past this percentage has bobbled around 2 or 3%. By 2060 it was projected that the percentage would be up to 20%.

I hadn't seen climate change expressed by climate scientists in such strikingly 'soon' terms.