Nick Rosen

palestine-image_id-card
Energy

Solar Panels for Palestine – Donate Now

Whatever your views on the Arab-Israel conflicts, and on the Hamas atrocities of October 9th, nobody can no doubt that the humanitarian crisis demands immediate action by all of us – especially now that UNWRA has been exposed as a deeply suspect organisation. Sending money to huge bureaucracies like Save the Children or UNWRA – you know for sure that much of it goes in admin, bribes and other priorities than your own.

So if you want to help Palestinians on the ground in Gaza, who are surviving on tiny morsels of food, limited water and intermittent energy, if you want all your money to go straight to those in need – then we have a way.

Our cameraman in Gaza, will spend what we send him on buying solar panels, and film himself donating them to ordinary families. He has already been donating cash this way – brought in via Egypt.

He shot our latest Youtube footage, showing him distributing donated money – 50 shekels at a time. You can see the ID cards of the women as he hands them the money. You can see they are innocent citizens and not terrorists. Watch the video on our socials, and tell your friends.

Insta
https://www.instagram.com/reel/C3SFn31IQld/?igsh=a3Nxa3R4YjFnNDZo

Facebook
https://fb.watch/qaYFhPNFqc/

Tiktok
Banned

Youtube shorts

But solar panels are more valuable than money – they are the gift that keeps on giving. We have found a supply of panels in Gaza, and any donations received will be used to purchase them and give them to communities in need of energy to power their lights and phones.

Please paypal to nick@off-grid.net and we will get the money straight out there the next day.

Mark your paypal: Solar Panels for Palestine.

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mirissa-seastar-generator-and-beach
Energy

50-year old Diesel Generator In Mirissa Beach

Mirissa beach is known for cool Eurotrash, beautiful surfing and whale-watching. In common with most of the country outside the dapital, the beach community struggles with an unreliable electricity grid. But it is not known as a centre of off-grid technology – and for good reason. Like most of the country, households in Mirissa depend for backup power on diesel rather than solar. The Perkins generator at the Seastar Hotel is a relatively modern example of a near-century-old design.

It sits in the courtyard of this friendly hotel, maintained by locals, at the end of the long golden beach, that has become increasingly popular over the years.

Western surfers share the waves with Sri Lankan fishermen, who hover near the shore all day, line fishing, while most of the catch is hoovered up by industrial vessels on the horizon.

When the power goes out, about once every couple of days, the huge old generator roars into action. It certainly helped me out when I was trying to go online. Happy Birthday, Generator. You can see the film here.

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Self-Sufficiency

Gridless in Gaza

The tragic war in Gaza has left hundreds of thousands off the grid  – with no water or power and very little food.

Off-grid has obtained exclusive footage from the streets of Southern Gaza – available to watch on our youtube channel – offgridnet .

It is quite dangerous to gather this footage and our thanks go to our long-standing cameraman in the region. We are not naming him for security purposes.

After they queue for hours at aid stations for tiny amounts of sustenance,  and to recharge their phones – Gaza residents then return to bombed-out shelters to cook morsels of bread on campfires and go to the toilet in whatever unused corners they can find.

They search the trash for materials for their fires to cook by. Off-Grid.net is trying to send solar panels and batteries to Gaza but there are many obstacles.

The Israeli army prevents batteries and solar panels from getting through, claiming the equipment has a military purpose.  But this claim ignores the humanitarian emergency unfolding, and makes Israel’s IDF look as though they are deliberately imposing siege conditions on the Gaza population.

Hospitals are another place where Gazans can charge their phones and pick up water.

Please contact us if you want to help us provide off-grid aid to Gaza  – contact

news@off-grid.net

 

Please contact us with footage from off-grid zones, anywhere in the world.

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Energy

Poorest Countries Barred From Building Green Economy

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan has   issued a rallying call for 2024, in a statement   claiming that the rich countries are using the green   transition as an excuse to boost their own economies   at the expense of developing ones. According to the UN’s trade chief, the world’s   advanced economies are greenwashing to make their   own eco-credentials look better, while preventing poorer countries from developing quickly.

Grynspan attacked the EU for taking Indonesia to the WTO over its restrictions on nickel exports and requirement to process the ore locally. She said Jakarta wanted to move up the value chain by making products from the nickel.  It is only reasonable for a country with an overstretched electricity grid to want to use its own nickel tp produce its own batteries, fro example – rather than being forced to export to China or Canada.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan has issued a rallying call for 2024, in a statement claiming that the rich countries are using the green transition as an excuse to boost their own economies at the expense of developing ones.

“They don’t want it to be exported in the raw form, but with value added. So they were taken to arbitration in the WTO. They lost in the first instance precisely because global trade rules have not been adjusted,” she said.   She said that the Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures should be reformed.  Jakarta has appealed but because the US has blocked the formation of a WTO appellate body, the case has stalled. The EU is considering taking enforcement actions such as tariffs on Indonesian goods.   It makes for a “chaotic system” where richer, bigger countries have more power.

“Many trade rules forbid policies that can be used by developing countries. And the developed countries have more fiscal space to subsidise in the areas that are good for ‘quote, unquote’, the environment,” Grynspan, told the Financial Times in an interview.

She said the international trading system, which had allowed states such as South Korea and her native Costa Rica to progress, was no longer working for the poorest.  “Trade and investment have been the two pillars for developing countries to really go on to a path of dynamic growth,” she said. But they now face two big problems, locked out of markets by the fast pace of technological change and facing new barriers erected in rich countries.  “The least digitally prepared countries are falling farther behind in digital,” said Grynspan. “The other problem is that industrial policy …could affect developing countries’ ability to compete.”

The US landmark Inflation Reduction Act has $369bn of subsidies and tax breaks for domestically produced goods such as electric vehicles. The EU has responded in kind with increased subsidies and policies to stimulate production of silicon chips, critical minerals and green technology.  “Developing countries see a lot of these policies as protectionist. They don’t have the …

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Energy

World’s Largest Carbon Capture Facility: Game-Changer or Fossil Fuel Smoke-Screen?

In the race to Net Zero, the construction of the world’s largest carbon capture facility in Texas exposes all the contradictions of the energy industry in one emblematic project.

The importance of the Petra Nova plant cannot be overstated. By burying the CO2, its backers believe they can eliminate the biggest single criticism of fossil fuel consumption. Bloomberg breathlessly reported it would sequester  “1.4 million tonnes” of carbon per year.  This sounds like a lot, and The Guardian report says “The plant will inject 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the ground each year.” Whichever,  its success would be a proof of concept for the fossil fuel industry. Hundreds more plants would follow, say the owners, JX Nippon. But a careful look at their figures shows their claims just do not add up.

Positioned as a crucial solution to avert climate catastrophe (if it actually works)  the “$1bn” facility aims to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from a nearby coal-fired power plant.  Petra Nova began operating in 2016 at the power plant in Texas, and shut down less than four years later after a fire (and following a plunge in oil prices during COVID-19).  It restarted on Sept. 5,  JX Nippon said last month.

The W.A. Parish Generating Station is a 3.65-gigawatt (3,653 MW), dual-fired power plant located near Thompsons, Texas. The station occupies a 4,664-acre site and consists of two four-unit plants; one natural gas and the other coal (2,697 MW).  With a total installed capacity of 3,653 MW, it is the second largest conventional power station in the US, and supplies about fifteen percent of the energy in the Houston area. Critics argue it was initially responsible for the rolling blackouts of the 2021 Texas power crisis.

As mentioned above, and reported in breathless tones by Bloomberg, the carbon capture plant claims it can bury 1.4 million tonnes a year – but the coal-fired power station emits over 16 million tonnes per year, (assuming it is operating at 70% capacity). And the Gas-fired plant would emit another 3 million tonnes (at 70% capacity). So the claims of 1.4 million tonnes of CO2 per year, which Reuters reports as a target but Bloomberg report as an actuality, is less than 10% of total emissions from the power plant. It would require another $9 billion of investment just to sequester all the CO2 from this plant alone.

With some viewing carbon capture as nothing more than a distraction backed by the fossil fuel industry, the above analysis shows the maths of the Petra Nova project  just dont add up. If it wasnt for the government subsidies the plant would not make anything like enough to pay for itself, and produce a return on investment.

So if the Petra Nova project really is a huge white elephant, then what is it all about really?  Why would some …

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Energy

U.S. Electrical Grid Needs Off-Grid Energy

To say that the United States electrical grid is outdated would be an understatement. Built largely during the first half of the 20th century, the grid has struggled to keep up with the explosion of electrical demand and technological advancements. It’s a patchwork system, plagued by inefficiencies, that was not designed for the diverse energy needs of the 21st century.

The electrical grid’s limitations aren’t just a theoretical problem; they have real-world implications. Extreme weather events, which are increasing in frequency due to climate change, pose significant risks. The recent Texas energy crisis, where a winter storm left millions without power, is a glaring example. Natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires also highlight how easily large sections of the grid can be knocked out, leaving communities without essential services for days or even weeks.

The centralized nature of the U.S. grid further compounds these issues. The existing structure often creates monopolistic scenarios where a single provider controls a regional grid, limiting competition and innovation. This affects not just pricing but also the motivation to transition to cleaner, more sustainable forms of energy. The end result is an inertia that is hard to overcome.

Off-Grid: A Viable Alternative

One promising way to address these myriad issues is through the adoption of off-grid energy solutions. Off-grid systems, often based on renewable energy sources like solar and wind, are modular by design, meaning they can be scaled up or down as needed. This provides a unique flexibility that the traditional grid simply cannot offer.

Local Energy Production

One of the most significant advantages of going off-grid is the potential for local energy production. Communities can produce their own electricity, thereby reducing the distance that electricity has to travel. This not only minimizes transmission losses but also reduces the vulnerability to centralized grid failures.

Decentralization and Competition

By encouraging off-grid solutions, we move towards a more decentralized energy model. This fosters competition and allows communities to tailor their energy systems to their specific needs, whether that be cost-efficiency, sustainability, or resilience.

Environmental Benefits

Incorporating off-grid energy solutions like solar panels and wind turbines can also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By shifting away from fossil fuel-based electricity, off-grid systems offer an environmentally friendly alternative that aligns with global sustainability goals.

Legislative Reform: The Case for a New Category of “Local Energy Producer”

Given the clear advantages of off-grid systems, there’s an urgent need for legislative action. One such change could be modeled on the UK’s Electricity Act of 1989. A new category, “Local Energy Producer,” should be introduced, granting off-grid solutions a formal standing within the regulatory framework. This could involve tax incentives, grants, or subsidized loans to encourage local communities to invest in off-grid energy solutions.

The limitations and vulnerabilities of the U.S. electrical grid are not insurmountable problems; they are challenges that present an opportunity for transformative change. Off-grid energy is not …

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Earthshot Nominations announced at “Summit” sponsored by Bloomberg

Two British companies have been named among 15 nominees for the 2023 Earthshot “Green Oscars.” Just five of the finalists will get £1m each for their solutions to  some of the earth’s most intractable environmental problems.

The stand-out nominee is Enso is a car tire manufacturer with a revolutionary product. There are 1.5 Billion vehicles on the planet  – all running on tires which give out thousands of tiny particles, so small they are lodged in the lungs of humans and animals.

While major producers, including Goodyear (GT.O), Bridgestone (5108.T), Michelin (MICP.PA) and Continental (CONG.DE), are trying to fend off competition from cheaper Chinese rivals, Enso has pioneered a tyre which is not made from fossil products, and  has none of the  toxicity of normal tyres, which on average contain about 200 components and chemicals, often derived from crude oil.

This year, California is expected to be the first authority to demand tyre-makers demonstrate they are seeking an alternative to 6PPD – a degraded form of which is lethal to some fish and has been found in human urine in South China.

The European Union’s upcoming Euro 7 emission regulations will set standards for tyres for the first time.  “It’s not quite a perfect storm,” said Gunnlaugur “G” Erlendsson, CEO of UK-based startup Enso, which has developed more durable tyres specifically for heavy EVs, which Michelin and Goodyear have reported can wear out tyres up to 50% faster.

“The unintended consequence of electric cars is we’ll have more tyre pollution unless we have better tyres,” said Enso’s Erlendsson, whose tyres, in testing emit 35% less than premium EV tyres from major manufacturers. But that still makes them reponsible for hundreds of deaths per week worldwide.

Bridgestone and Goodyear declined to discuss the industry’s emissions challenges.

But Michelin, Continental and Pirelli (PIRC.MI) told Reuters they are pursuing alternatives to 6PPD, with Michelin and Continental adding collective industry action may be necessary to find solutions.

Asked about Euro 7 regulations, Michelin said it wants worldwide standards to squeeze the higher emitting tyres, which are usually cheaper, out of the market. Continental advocates a global abrasion standard with transparent labelling for consumers.

Nick Molden, CEO of British-based testing specialist Emissions Analytics, said the “dirty end” of the list of tyres the company has tested are “cheap Chinese imports” common in the European market.

The Chinese makers of Rockblade, Mazzini and Ovation – among the worst-performing tyre brands on Molden’s list – did not respond to requests for comment.

Data provided to Reuters by Emissions Analytics shows new tyres from the large makers developed so far are unlikely to solve the problem.

For example, while tests carried out on Continental bicycle tyres made using dandelions show a 24.5% drop in carcinogenic aromatics – which help cars hug the road – the chemicals in the particles they emit are similarly toxic overall, …

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Energy>Solar

Campaigning For UK Solar Owners Underpaid By Utility Companies

Paying top whack for the right to be ripped off

The London Times has exposed shockingly low rates paid by some Utility companies for surplus PV power generated by their customers. And Solar panel owners are comparing ways to claw back some of the money.
Suppliers charge 34p per kWh — but pay as little as 1p for the electricity they buy from householders, despite higher energy prices.

One reader on the web site says: “Ofgem should make it mandatory that the energy companies pay for export at a similar price as the import price, similar to octopus flex tariff.

You can get together with other off-grid subscribers to start your own local community energy company. Go to the Off-Grid Map Page to get started.

“If Government really want to support and promote Roof solar panels there should be net metering and stop all the noise about batteries etc, consumer pays the same price for export and import. In Australia two third households have solar panels whereas in UK it’s 10%.”

And another readers adds: “Only in the UK are you ripped off ! In France and Germany excess solar power is banked so acting as virtual batteries. You pay a nominal sum to get it back. In Spain price reduction/ subsidies can be as high as 60% for pv and battery.”

the precise way UK consumers can fight back against the rip-off Utility companies is complicated. you can buy cheaply between midnight and 06:30 and sell back anything unused and not needed for the following day. The differential between “buying cheap” and “selling dear” are fairly constant and do not appear to be markedly affected by the Ukraine situation.

“The best sell-back prices are usually between 16:00 and 19:00, says another reader. “There are apps that automatically manage the process, including the weather forecast for you precise location so you will know how much solar you should have). This allows a degree of automation as to what to buy and sell. It is a real eye-opener. My 4.2kWp Solar PV and 12.8kWh battery storage system is being installed this week. Cannot wait. The economics are transformed by the “agile” rates.”

However, the government did not set a minimum that suppliers that have to pay. E, which has about 300,000 customers, pays the lowest at 1p per kilowatt hour (kWh) exported, according to the website Eon and EDF pay 3p per kWh, although they have better rates if you also buy energy from these suppliers.

A typical 3.5kW solar system costs about £5,500, and this would produce about 2,646 kWh a year, although it depends on your location and the weather.

If you don’t have a battery to store your electricity (they cost between £3,000 and £6,000) you will lose about half of it —

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Community

USA VanLifers soars above 3 MILLION

As homelessness increases across the USA, the VanLife population is growing rapidly.

From around one million VanLifers in 2020, according to the RV Industry Association, the figure went to 3.1 million in 2022, according to Statista. Off-grid.net estimates it has now reach 3.5 million Americans living permanently or mainly in vehicles – including RVs, buses, cars, vans and other wheeled accomodation. In addition there are up to 500,000 living on boats or in boatyards.

Most are forced into this way of life, but some choose the option because they want to spend their money on other things than rent, or work less hard to meet their weekly expenses. ‘I’d rather have my small paid-for space, than a big $400 a month payment,’ says Leslie, seen typing on her laptop in the photo above. ‘I miss the space of a house. But I would trade that in any day for not having the stress and the weight on my shoulders of having to meet a rent payment or utility payment every month.’

VanLifers are part of the digital nomads category. They generally combine remote work and travel for various reasons and lengths of time.

Timothy Eastman photographed individuals, couples and families living in RVs. His images show how ‘home’ can be defined and redefined through choices, circumstances and quality of life considerations.

The amazing series of photos only shows RV dwellers rather than less conventional conditions such as full time out of cars.

All The Past We Leave Behind: America’s New Nomads is available from Kehrer Verlag

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off grid showhome under construction in 2021
Community

Welcome To Our Showhome – Open Day 27th August

The off-grid showhome started as a lockdown project – a spur of the moment bid for some land in an online auction in 2020.

Now it is a full -fledged reality and our next open weekend is August 27th 2023 – we welcome local residents who want to see what is happening , and also anyone who  is considering a similar project and needs advice on how to build.  Contact news@off-grid.net for more info – You can also watch the youtube film which shows the building process. Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95qqnOWnfk4.

In years to come, the wood will benefit the environment in many ways, and also benefit the local community.  After all – they helped to plant it after we put out a call on Facebook seeking volunteers. They will use the shed to make tea and shelter from adverse conditions.

Three local scythers turned up in a 1950s LandRover. They looked like the Detectorists from the BBC series starring Toby Jones, except that instead of metal detectors they had long handled Austrian scythes which they honed frequently, as they slowly scythed their way through bracken and overgrown grass without disturbing the earth beneath, saving all sorts of tiny wildlife from abrupt eviction.

Each tree required a stake to be pounded in the ground, then a spade-slit for the tiny sapling itself.  The tree-guard slides over the tree and is fastened to the stake and presto – add ten years and you have a mature English woodland.

It was laborious process and by the end of the first day we had only scythed half the field and planted 150 trees.  Out of 500

We headed back up the track expecting to return a week later.  But then came another lockdown. The second day of planting never happened a year later.

Now the woodland is beginning to take shape, the shed is built and our neighbours have erected their shelters as well.

Please come and visit – and help plants some more trees.

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Syringe going into a graphic representation of AI
Community

If AI Was A Virus What Would The Vaccine Be?

We can’t stop the development of Artificial Intelligence by government decree any more than we could have stopped Covid by government decree.

The sum of human knowledge used to be an unimaginably vast entity, consisting of acres of books and images, stretching across countless libraries, that could never be known by one generation, still less by one human. Now, thanks to AI, it can exist all in one place, a server farm in California, along with the algorithms that bombard it every second of every day.

The AI cat is out of the bag – $350 billion has already been invested in commercial applications, from internet search to composing music to gold prospecting.

Who knows how many tens of billions governments have already spent on military applications of AI each year? That’s a secret. The next global war will probably be fought by computers. The next generation of drones is probably being field-tested in Ukraine as we speak.

AI is potentially as big a threat to humanity as Covid was, or bigger. And many are now calling for tighter controls. But a recent appeal by Yuval Harari and several hundred leading experts, for AI research to be halted or slowed immediately has had no effect, and it may be in years before any such edict could possibly be agreed and issued, by which time according to Harari himself, AI bots may have moved beyond human control.

Harari fears computers which assimilate and recombine all human knowledge far more quickly and efficiently than humans, could take control of that knowledge unimaginably fast. He argued in a recent New York Times article, that AI could control humanity by controlling our language. He is right. All knowledge is language. Even images are a kind of language.

Nobody owns language, and never can. But fortunes are spent on pure language – the advertising, publishing, and computer software industries, have between them $1.3 trillion annual revenues. And some languages are more powerful than others.

At the heart of the debate is copyright. Who owns the entirety of human knowledge when it is recombined in new ways? Does it belong to the OpenAI computer company that is the current market leader? Or does it belong to the countless writers, researchers, publishers, photographers, filmmakers, to name but a few, whose work has now been hoovered up to feed the algorithms? And by far the largest part of what is in the AI/big tech memory banks is the entire history of all our social media, and email. It belongs to us, to all of us. But if we want to retain our ownership, the only way is to start fighting for it immediately.

The key questions is what barriers, if any, should there be to universal access to this entity, “the sum of human knowledge?” If it belongs to all of us, then should we all have …

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Carbon Dioxide emission in the European Union - 1965-2021
Energy

EU owe $11.36 TRILLION to Cop27 Loss & Damage Fund – new report

Calculations by Off-Grid.net show the EU total liability under the new Cop27 agreement announced in Egypt today, is $11.36 trillion.

Assets of the Loss & Damage fund are currently standing at zero, but countries will be under pressure to contribute quickly. The speed at which this should be paid is open to debate and clearly depends on what each country can afford, but the total EU bill is relatively easy to calculate.

About $2 trillion of the $11.4 trillion is directly attributable to the EU itself, rather than being owed by its 27 member countries, because the basic tenets that the European Commission has promoted since it was first founded in 1952, encouraged, indeed coerced, its member states to burn fossil fuels.

Loss and damage refers to the most severe impacts of extreme weather on the physical and social infrastructure of poor countries, and the financial assistance needed to rescue and rebuild them.

It was the most contentious issue at the COP27 conference, and has been a long-running demand by developing countries since 1992. For nearly two weeks, the EU and the US refused demands from poor countries for a new fund to address loss and damage, arguing that existing funds should be redirected for the purpose. Early on Friday morning, the EU made a U-turn, to agree to a fund on condition that big economies and big emitters still classed as developing countries under the UNFCCC rules, which date back to 1992, should be included as potential donors, and excluded as recipients.

From its very first moment, the EU was all about burning energy – it had been brought into being to foster the burning of coal, the production of power, and the regulation of giant corporate interests.

It launched in 1952, called the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). In 2002 Romano Prodi said: “The ECSC was a courageous and hugely significant leap forward for Europe. It was Europe’s first step in pooling a part of each country’s sovereignty for the greater good of all who took part. It was the ECSC which first established shared, supranational institutions for Europe – the basis of the EU as we know it today and a milestone in political history. History will record the founding of the ECSC as a defining moment.”

The stated aim of the ECSC was “economic expansion, employment and better living standards.” They achieved all three – but at what cost?

The Coal and Steel Group had a High Authority to:

• supervise the market;
• monitor compliance with competition rules; and
• ensure price transparency

The aim of the 1952 treaty, as stated in its Article 2, was to contribute, through the common market for coal and steel, to economic expansion, employment and better living standards. Thus, the institutions had to ensure an orderly supply of coal and steel to the common market by ensuring equal …

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