Friday, 23 February 2007


Some major changes are happening here at Home-Brew Power!

Our hosting company notified us this month that our monthly bandwidth had far exceeded it's limits for traffic.

We have now migrated the website to a new unlimited bandwidth package which can now handle unlimited monthly website traffic. Whilst doing this we have upgraded the website space to 21Gig so this should now hopefully resolve all the recent traffic problems.

We are currently migrating the old Home-Brew Power files to the new DNS server location so you may notice picture links are down. Please be patient and service will resume as normal over the next 48 hours.
Andy Mahoney

Tuesday, 20 February 2007


Homebrew Search Links Now Active!

I have now recoded the master template files on so the 'Google Search Box' works correctly.

You will find the search box at the top of all the Home-Brew Power webpages, please use it to either search the WWW or click the box to search this site only.

The website is expanding all the time and more content is added on a daily basis.
Enjoy your visit and why not purchase February's edition of Homebrewpower from the links to the right of the page?

Editor: Andy Mahoney

Friday, 16 February 2007


World Climate Gigs Planned!

World climate change gigs planned More than 100 of the world's top musicians will perform at a series of worldwide concerts this summer to highlight the threat of global warming.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Black Eyed Peas will be among those taking part in the Live Earth gigs on 7 July.
The eight Live 8-style gigs were announced by former US Vice President Al Gore, whose global warming film An Inconvenient Truth is up for two Oscars
Johannesburg, London, Shanghai and Sydney are among the host cities.

We have to get the message of urgency and hope out Al Gore
Three other concerts will take place in the US, Brazil and Japan, with the cities still to be decided. There will also be a concert in Antarctica.

Mr Gore made the announcement at a press conference in Los Angeles on Thursday, joined by actress Cameron Diaz and rapper Pharrell Williams, who will perform at one of the shows.
"We have to get the message of urgency and hope out," Mr Gore said.
"The climate crisis will only be stopped by an unprecedented and sustained global movement."
Other artists confirmed for the Live Earth concerts include Bon Jovi, Kelly Clarkson, Sheryl Crow, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Snoop Dogg, Lenny Kravitz and the Foo Fighters.
British performers will include Keane, Snow Patrol, Duran Duran, Bloc Party and Paolo Nutini.
Pharrell Williams said it would be "the biggest party on earth".

Brit Award winners Muse also hope to take part - but will have to consider changing their schedule as they already have a gig lined up in Ireland on that date.
Organisers of the concerts, who are leading a climate change campaign called Save Our Selves (SOS), hope the concerts will reach a global audience of two billion people on TV, radio and the internet.

Proceeds will go towards the creation of a foundation to combat climate change led by the Alliance for Climate Protection, which is chaired by Mr Gore.

Carbon neutral

The concerts' producer Kevin Wall won an Emmy Award for producing the Live 8 concerts in 2005, which were organised by Bob Geldof to put pressure on world leaders to eradicate the debts of the world's poorest countries.
Mr Wall said each concert would last from four to eight hours. Alongside the big names, the line-ups will also include local talent to appeal to regional audiences.
At the press conference, organisers said Live Earth "will become the model for carbon neutral concerts and other live events in the future".

A meeting of global political leaders in Washington this week has reached a new agreement on tackling climate change.

Delegates agreed that developing countries as well as rich countries will have to face targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Thursday, 15 February 2007


Greenpeace V's Nuclear Power In Court!

The UK government's nuclear strategy was thrown into disarray this morning when environmental campaign group Greenpeace won a legal victory in London's High Court.
A judge ruled that the government's consultation process during a review of energy policy last year had been "very seriously flawed" and "procedurally unfair".
Mr Justice Sullivan said that, as a result, Greenpeace's application for a quashing order should succeed.

The judgment, given in oral rather than written form because of the urgency, comes just weeks ahead of a planned government energy white paper in March, which had been expected to give the go-ahead to new nuclear plants.

Buoyed by the government's indications last July that a new generation of nuclear power stations should be built and run by the private sector, nuclear companies have already been positioning themselves for the contract work which they expect to result
Last July, in the wake of the energy policy review, Alistair Darling, trade and industry secretary, told parliament that nuclear power had to be part of Britain's energy supply over the next 40 years to avoid over-reliance on imported gas and to meet ambitious targets for cutting carbon emissions.

Nuclear power currently provides about 19 per cent of the country's electricity supply, but its share is due to fall to 7 per cent in the next two decades as old plants are decommissioned.
In a judicial review challenge heard earlier this month in the High Court, lawyers for Greenpeace argued that the consultation process leading up to that indicative green light given for new nuclear plants was seriously flawed.

Mr Justice Sullivan agreed, finding that information on two critical issues – the economics of new nuclear building and the disposal of waste – had been inadequate during the consultation period, and that information of any substance only emerged after this had concluded.
As a result, he said, there could be no proper consultation, let alone the "fullest public consultation" which the government had promised.

The judge's decision could be subject to appeal.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007


UK wind power reaches milestone The UK has become only the seventh nation in the world to have more than two gigawatts (GW) of operational wind power capacity.
The milestone was passed on Friday when the Braes O'Doune wind farm, near Stirling, began producing electricity.

Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling described it as a "major landmark" for the UK wind industry.
The government has set a target for 10% of electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2010.

The 36-turbine Braes O'Doune wind farm, built and operated by Airtricity, has a generating capacity of 72 megawatts (MW), enough to supply electricity to 45,000 homes in the area, according to the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA).
Maria McCaffery, BWEA's chief executive, said passing the 2GW mark, equivalent to two coal-fired power stations, was a "tremendous step forward".

"This is a day for celebrating the achievement of a significant milestone for our industry and underlining the position of wind energy as the true leader in the renewables revolution," she said.
Mr Darling said renewable electricity played a central role in the government's efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

1. Germany - 20,622MW
2. Spain - 11,615MW
3. USA - 11,273MW
4. India - 6,053MW
5. Denmark - 3,136MW
6. Italy - 2,123MW
7. UK - 2,016MW
8. Netherlands - 1,564MW (Source: BWEA)

"This is a major landmark. In the last 20 months we have doubled the amount of wind generated electricity we have."
Mr Darling, who officially opened the Scottish wind farm, added that more green energy sources were needed.

"If you are serious about tackling climate change then we have got to be serious about making sure that we have more renewable forms of energy, including wind power.
"We want 20% of our electricity to come from these green sources (by 2020) and we are working hard on removing any barriers to achieving that aim."
Latest government figures show that 4.2% of the UK's electricity is generated by renewables, including wind, solar, hydro and biomass.

Onshore wind farms have proved to be controversial, with a number of high-profile projects facing fierce opposition from local residents.
Plans to create England's largest wind farm in Cumbria were thrown out last March after campaigners said it would ruin the landscape of the Lake District.
The £55m development would have seen 27 turbines, each 115 metres (377ft) high, erected at Whinash, near Kendal.

'Wildlife threat'

And proposals to create one of Europe's largest onshore wind farms on Lewis, the most northerly Hebridean island, have been challenged by wildlife groups.
They say the 181-turbine development will harm important peat bog habitat, and threaten wild bird populations.

However, local councillors on Thursday backed the £500m project, although a final decision on whether the scheme can go ahead is likely to be made by the Scottish Executive.
Despite having some of the best wind resources in Europe, the UK is still a long way behind the world's leading nation on wind power.
Germany has more than 20GW of wind energy capacity, 10 times as much as the UK.

1. Wind causes blades to rotate
2. Shaft turns generator to produce electrical energy
3. A transformer turns this into high-voltage electricity
4. Electricity is transmitted via the power grid

Monday, 12 February 2007


LED's - Are they ready to enter the mainstream lighting industry?

The LED is a form of Solid State Lighting (SSL). LEDs are almost universally thought of as being a very recent technology but it might surprise Voltimum users to know that dim yellow light was first produced from a silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductor using electricity in 1907 by Henry J Round. Because of many constraints, this discovery was not really acted upon for several decades until the first commercial LEDs were produced in 1968. However, the first bright LEDs did not appear until the 1980s, and development has accelerated since then to include white light LEDs (WLEDs).

LED technology:

LEDs are essentially microchips but are not made from silicone. Instead, they are made from crystals derived from combinations of inorganic substances (typically gallium indium nitride (GalnN), and gallium phosphide (GaP). They are 'cooked' as wafers in a reactor under high pressures and temperatures. The design of the LED is such that these substances are arranged in ways (layers) that allow light to be emitted when an electric current is applied. This lighting effect is termed 'electro luminescence'.

An LED is a particular type of semiconductor diode, comprising a chip of semiconducting material impregnated with 'impurities' (the materials) to create a structure called a pn junction. A DC electric current of the correct polarity passing through the junction creates charge carriers, so that when an electron meets a 'hole', it falls into a lower energy level. In this way, energy is released in the form of a photon, so light is emitted as electro luminescence.

The wavelength of the emitted light varies according the materials, and there are now many of these being used to obtain the necessary brightness and colour. It is in the chemistry of the material combinations that much progress is currently being made. Different bright, pure colours can be produced depending upon the precise mix of materials. Deeply saturated red, green, blue, ultraviolet, orange and yellow colours are all attainable, as is white with different colour temperatures (eg: warm white and pure white). Colours can be near ultraviolet (UV), visible or infrared.

Despite the colours available, LEDs actually produce narrow spectrum monochromatic light. This means that these devices are around 90% efficient ('efficacy' is the correct measure of efficiency in lighting terms - in lumens/W), many times more efficient than conventional incandescent lamps (a mere 9% or so). This is a crucial benefit bearing in mind the increasing risks associated with man-made global warming. However, it is important to remember that LED lighting may not always be the most energy efficient available; it depends on the specific application, and on the LED colour. For example, the 90% efficiency is only achieved by low output red LEDs. LEDs for general lighting are typically around 40% efficient at best.

The monochromatic light output of LEDs also means that special techniques must be used to produce white light from the coloured output. This is achieved in the following three ways: Firstly, by adding a downshifting yellow phosphor to blue LEDs. This mixes the light to eventually produce white light. Secondly, by combining red, green and blue LEDs so that relative intensity colour mixing produces blended white light. Lastly, it is achieved by introducing phosphors to ultraviolet LEDs to produce visible white light.

Gallium nitride, with various doping materials added, and / or a phosphor coating, is one way of producing WLEDs, but some recent WLEDs have used no phosphors. Instead, they make use of homoepitaxially grown zinc selenide (ZnSe) on a ZnSe substrate. This allows emission of blue light from its active region and yellow light from the substrate at the same time.

It should be noted that LED efficacy can vary greatly. For example, low light output LEDs (such as for instruments and back lit displays) have a higher efficacy than bright ones. Efficacy also depends on the colour, as already stated.

White light from LEDs has already been possible for many years but early on, the resulting light was of poor quality and not very bright. The 'holy grail' of LED lighting technology is to produce a WLED that will eventually be bright enough and cheap enough to replace many conventional lamps.

LEDs are extremely compact. This means that to produce enough light for general lighting applications, they have to be made in clusters - usually called 'arrays'. Although LEDs are highly efficient, some heat is still produced, and in arrays, this heat will need to be conducted away. In fact, high output LEDs can produce a lot of heat, and for these, thermal management can be problematic in keeping the LEDs sufficiently cool to stay healthy.

Also, to achieve the best lighting performance from LEDs, dedicated fittings are necessary. This, in the long term, should be a significant benefit in itself, because there are major and exciting possibilities available to lighting designers and architects, as well as for end-users.

Semiconductors based upon special organic materials can also be used to make OLEDs. These hold great promise but are less highly developed, though some in the lighting industry think that OLEDs may be even more exciting longer term than 'conventional' LED lighting.


British Gas Finally To Cut Energy Prices...........

Did you turn up the heating as the snow fell on Thursday morning? If so, British Gas's announcement of its first cut in energy prices for seven years must have seemed perfectly timed (though the reductions don't actually take effect until 12 March).

Credit where credit is due. British Gas - which has lost 2.7m customers, 14 per cent of its client base, in the past three years - is making significant reductions to the price of both its gas and electricity, as well as introducing an even better deal for vulnerable customers on pre-payment meters. Gas bills will fall by 17 per cent, while electricity is coming down 11 per cent. That's a £167 annual saving for the typical customer who buys both from British Gas.

However, the figures are worth setting in context. The average household's total gas and electricity bill topped £1,000 for the first time last year, having risen 72 per cent since 2004.
Moreover, price cuts could have come sooner. All energy companies, led by British Gas, increased their prices throughout 2005 and the first half of 2006 because the cost of wholesale gas rose dramatically. Yet in the second half, prices collapsed in the wholesale gas market - crucial for the cost of both domestic gas and electricity - ending 2006 50 per cent lower.

Energy suppliers buy their gas in advance, so customers were never going to benefit immediately from the collapse. Yet consumer groups want to know what has taken suppliers so long.

Much to campaigners' irritation, at least part of the delay seems to stem from the six big energy providers jockeying for position. Before Thursday, British Gas had already promised to cut prices "in the spring" while one of its rivals, Scottish & Southern, said last week that it also intended to reduce bills, though it has not said when and by how much.
"We need to see some action rather than simply good intentions," says Georgina Walsh, of the consumer watchdog Energywatch. "Wholesale prices have been low for so long that bills should already be falling."

Analysis from TheEnergy, a company that helps consumers switch energy provider, suggests suppliers have never had it so good. The company's founder, Joe Malinowski, believes British Gas's full-year results, to be published on 22 January, will show it made record profits in the second half of last year, having lost money during the first half.

Its best estimate is that customers are currently paying an average of around 2.8p for each kilowatt hour of gas, while suppliers are being charged around 1.2p on the wholesale market. The current price at British Gas is closer to 3.1p, reckons, or 2.3p if all costs other than acquiring the gas itself are stripped out.

Profit margins are just as robust in the electricity sector. The average domestic buyer pays more than 11p for each kilowatt hour of electricity. Around 4p of that is accounted for by suppliers' costs, other than the cost of generating electricity, which is now below 4p, following the fall in gas prices. So the typical customer is financing a 27 per cent margin for his or her supplier.

These figures suggest there is plenty of room for a price war. British Gas may have stolen a march on its rivals this week, but it is unlikely to be the only company delivering price cuts.
Jeff Slaughter, head of home services at online price comparison site uSwitch, wants British Gas's competitors to declare their hands. Consumers have lost out because energy suppliers have been watching each other, he says, rather than concentrating on customers.
"We'd like companies to be as specific as possible about what they're going to offer customers and when," he says. "The time for price cuts is now."

Every day that prices stay unnecessarily high causes more damage, critics argue. Especially as consumers are paying top dollar when they're using most energy - bills are always highest in the first quarter of the year.

To switch or not to switch?

* With energy providers playing a cat-and-mouse game on price cuts, customers have a dilemma. Should they change gas and electricity supplier straight away, or hope their current providers will cut prices by more than rivals in the months ahead?

* "There is a case for waiting to see whether a price war develops over the next few weeks," advises Joe Malinowski, of "I think there will be better propositions available sooner rather than later."

* British Gas's price cuts make its prices for both gas and electricity much more attractive, for now at least. But if you're with British Gas, don't assume you're paying its best prices. Its Click Energy 2 tariff is now the cheapest dual fuel - gas and electricity combined - deal going in the UK, but most customers aren't getting it. The good news is that existing customers can switch to Click, if they do so via an online price comparison service.

* Malinowski is convinced that by 12 March, when British Gas's price cuts take effect, other providers will have followed suit - and that there will be plenty of cheaper deals. It's worth seeing who offers what before deciding on your switching tactics, he says, particularly as you can't get the new British Gas prices for a few weeks.

* In the meantime, this is the most expensive time of year for energy. It may be possible to save money even before the price cuts, if you're currently paying bills by cheque or cash. Switching to direct debit will get you an automatic price cut.

Sunday, 11 February 2007


Google Enters the Energy Business

I read on the Google blog that they plan to begin installation of 1.6 megawatts of solar photovoltaic panels (PV panels) at their Head Office in Mountain View, California. They reckon it will be ‘the largest solar installation on any corporate campus in the U.S., and think it’s one of the largest on any corporate site in the world’. But something puzzled me – do they have enough room for all those panels?
Apparently ‘The panels will cover the roofs of the four main buildings of the Googleplex, and also those of two additional buildings across the street. There will also be a portion of this installation on new solar panel support structures in a few parking lots. The amount of electricity that will be generated is equivalent to powering about 2,000 UK or 1,000 average California homes. 'We’ll use that electricity to power several of our Mountain View office facilities, offsetting approximately 30% of our peak electricity consumption at those buildings.’

You can see how much roof space they have available in this photograph I came across (from Google Earth). So I looked into how much space you’d need to generate 1.6 megawatts from solar PV panels. According to one set of calculations I found on a mail order PV panel site ‘Solar Solar’, Google are going to need 919 PV modules generating 185 watts each. This will cover 13,250 square feet or one third of an acre. The campus covers 22 acres, so it would seem that giving up 1.36% of that space in roofing and parking isn’t such a big deal.
For you or I the cost of 919 PV panels would be anything from £0.5 million to £5 million. For some reason prices in the UK are at the higher end. Luckily for Google, the California Energy Commission has a very good rebate system for homes and businesses, particularly if Google use a ‘Grid tie’ system – putting electricity into the grid during the day when the sun’s out (so the meter goes backwards) and drawing it back at night on an off peak or reduced rate. So it seems Google may now technically be entering the energy market. Googlejuice! Googlegreen!
I dare say it won’t be too long before we can see something demonstrating how many greenhouse emissions have been saved by Google’s solar move - like this one at the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Institute. has recently undergone extensive redesign.
I hope the new layouts are much easier to navigate.
Please note the navigation links to the far right hand side of the website.
The Picture Album is now fully functional with ALL my work and progress so far, take a look and enjoy the fruits of my labour.

If you have surfed in on then feel free to bookmark the website. The concept of homebrewpower is to provide you with an up to date portal rich in projects, files, info & pictures all related to creating sustainable, eco, green, carbon neutral heating & power in your backyard!

Main topics covered are as follows:

Micro CHP / CHAP creation & installation
Green power generation
Eco power generation
Energy saving practices, tips, hints & projects
IMAG Generators 1PH & 3PH
Alternative energy
Green Energy
Latest Eco projects and builds from around the world
Eco building products
Solar Panels Photovoltiacs
Solar heating

Enjoy & Have a good look around.

Andy Mahoney

Thursday, 8 February 2007

February 2007 Homebrewpower-Magazine-Out-Now-£2.00-Instant-Download

February 2007 Homebrewpower Mag Out Now - £2.00 Instant Download


I am very pleased to announce that the February edition of Homebrewpower Magazine is now out.
It is a brand new monthly publication. If it reaches 2000 purchases then it will become my full time job and will give me the opportunity to bring you the latest news on Eco & Sustainable energy from the UK and around the world.

Please help me make this happen. I need interest from around the globe, I call on advertisers, sponsors, people & groups to purchase this months magazine.

If this works out I will be able to develop my hobby and magazine all year round and bring you the information you want each and every month. I have spent a full month every evening designing, writing, changing & researching Homebrewpower mag and hope this is a taster of things to come.

The more who purchase Homebrewpower Mag the bigger and better it will get.

Homebrewpower will bring you future info on the following.
M CHP Micro Combined Heating & Power Installation and systems (CHAP)
Solar PV
Solar Thermal
Alternative Energy
Hydro Power
Geo Thermal
Wind Turbine Installations
DIY Projects
Technical Advise
Case Studies
UK Reports
Site Visits
On Test This Month
Startling Photography and Graphics
In The News
Plus Much Much More............

My future is in your hands.

Owner & Publisher Of Homebrewpower
Andy Mahoney