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News from the farm   |   Renewable energy

Green power and a generation of guilt

Time is running out for any hope of keeping climate change within two degrees Celsius and thereby avoiding the cataclysm of self-perpetuating, runaway global warming. I feel ashamed of the mass inaction of my generation and the impact it will have on future generations; they will look back in anger and disbelief at how we fed our material appetites with such scant regard for the health of our planet. Despite the urgency, and the scientific consensus, governments continue to put energy prices, votes and industry lobbying ahead of our collective future.

Riverford uses a staggering three gigawatts of electricity a year – equivalent to the output of eight football pitches’ worth of solar panels. Since 2007, we have bought green electricity from Ecotricity; mostly generated by sun and wind, and currently supplied through the National Grid. Ecotricity’s calculations show that with their help, we’ve prevented 665 tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere over the last 12 months alone. It would take nearly 321,000 trees to absorb that much carbon in a year.

Perhaps we might feel absolved of responsibility – but I think we can, and should, do better. I would rather someone else bought that green electricity and we generated our own. I dream that within ten years, the advance of battery technology will enable us to generate most, if not all, of our own power from on-farm wind turbines and solar panels. Then I will be able to rest easy, without shame. It will be a technical challenge, and probably need outside investment, but I suspect it will be a better use of our money and give a better return than any bank or pension fund can offer. We hope to work in partnership with Ecotricity on this project.


    Peter Soul

    2 Years 8 Months

    Er ... three gigawatts is a rate of usage (or output) of energy -- not an amount of electricity that you might use in any period of time. In fact three gigawatts is several times larger than the output of a typical nuclear power station!

    My guess is that you mean three gigawatt-hours of electricity a year (this is what 3 GW would add up to in an hour, but spread over the year). That would be the electricity consumption of around 800 households -- how does this compare with the number of them that you supply with vegetables?

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    2 Years 8 Months

    Guy' article seems not to be about energy consumption comparisons. However, would a better comparison be the energy cost of producing a similar basket of produce bought in a supermarket, data for which I doubt is collected. If it were, that would form a very interesting basis for discussion.

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    2 Years 8 Months

    I saw something interesting on tv about a farmer using cows waste in an anaerobic digester to produce methane. This produced enough energy to run his cheese production business and the rest of his farm. Plus he had a surplus to sell back to the grid. Not my area of expertise, but maybe worth checking out.

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    Becky Blench

    2 Years 8 Months

    Thanks Julie - what a great idea. There are some really amazing solutions out there and sharing them with others is a great way to encourage other businesses to think creatively

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    Annonie Mouse

    2 Years 8 Months

    Hi Julie
    You might be thinking of Wyke Farms, near Bruton in Somerset
    Not far from us, cycle past often. Lovely cheese too, would love to see them convert to organic :)

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    2 Years 8 Months

    Why the CO2 'Theory' Fails

    1. FACT. There is no evidence for the CO2 climate driver proposition in the real world using real data over hundreds of thousands of years. World temperatures do not follow CO2.
    The world is not warming and has not been doing so for 18 years. Even under fraudulent UN-MetO-NOAA manipulated data the world is not warming. ALL the alarmist predictions of CO2 warmism have failed.
    See and links in Article about BBC-MetO charlatan John Hammond's Science Denialist claims, in WeatherAction blog (sec3)
    FACT Changing CO2 has no effect EVEN the Models used by the Met Office and UN's Climate Committee (the IPCC) show CO2 levels have no effect on the Jet Stream or extremes which come from the Wild Jet stream changes which they fail to predict. It is meteorological fact that the recent very wild weather extremes and contrasts follow from wild Jet Stream behavior.

    2. FACT. Even if CO2 had an effect the idea that Man’s 4% of total CO2 flux rules the other natural 96% flux in and out of sea/land making it follow man’s activity is a ridiculous conspiracy theory of nature.
    It follows War should be declared on termites which emit 10x Man's CO2 equivalent. Why has this not happened?

    3. FACT. The reason why the CO2 atmosphere theory can never work is that the Ocean-atmosphere interface controls the amount of CO2 in air – a warmer ocean (which holds 50x more CO2 than the atmosphere) emits CO2 and vice versa. This is very basic physics*.
    Just as when you warm a glass of fizzy drink more CO2 comes off and it absorbs more when it is cold. Putting more CO2 above the glass of fizzy drink does NOT however warm it up!
    Ocean temperatures CONTROL atmospheric CO2 levels. It is an observed fact in millions of years of data that Ocean temperature changes LEAD atmospheric CO2 changes.
    Irrespective of these facts there are 2 other reasons why CO2 warmist theory must fail: a) the surafce cooling effect of plants b) Non equilibrium thermodynamics in the atmosphere - ie the assumptions of the ‘theory’ are nonsense. *Henry's Law.

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    Richard Hobson

    2 Years 7 Months

    This contains so may misconceptions, inaccuracies and distortions, (disguised as FACTS) and shows such a lack of understanding of basic principles that it would take a 10,000 word essay to refute and correct.

    Suffice it to say that to question the opinions of the vast majority of World climate scientists is sheer folly and to write in CAPITAL LETTERS adds no weight or credibility to any of the verbiage above.

    I'm not surprised the writer chooses to hind behind such an absurd pseudonym. I wish they were purple too!

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    Guy Singh-Watson

    Guy Singh-Watson has over the last 30 years taken Riverford from one man and a wheelbarrow delivering homegrown organic veg to friends, to a national veg box scheme delivering to around 80,000 customers a week. Tired of meetings, brands and the assumption that greed is our predominant motivation, Guy converted the business to employee ownership in 2018, using the proceeds to buy a small farm and return to growing organic vegetables. In common with many of Riverford’s new co-owners, Guy is an advocate of using business to shape a part of the world, however small, to be kinder, more considerate and sustainable; more like the world most of us want to live in.  His weekly newsletters connect people to the farm with refreshingly honest accounts of the trials and tribulations of producing organic food, and the occasional rant about farming, ethical and business issues he feels strongly about.

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    The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity losses will be the defining stories of our future, but it is not too late to change direction. 

    Here at Wicked Leeks, our mission is to help inform and inspire positive change. Our journalism is free to all because of this, but we want to reach as many people as possible who share our desire for a better world. We know our readers are some of the biggest advocates of sustainable living, and you can help us grow this movement by sharing this article widely, with your friends and on social media. Now is the time to act.