Environmentally friendly – the greenwash continues!

” New Army’s HQ Land Forces base is opened in Andover” bbc news story as below.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-11240456

Towards the end of the article: “The new headquarters’ buildings provide a modern working environment that is more efficient, economical and environmentally friendly.” Note the term Environmentally friendly.

Then

Those in married quarters will remain in Wilton and commute to the new workplace 20 miles (32km) away. The Army has arranged “assisted transport” for those who do not drive.

And there are 2,000 of them, many who will have moved to live near their existing place of work, I  wonder if staff commuting and availability of local accomodation was ever considered. It makes a complete mockery of the term environmentally friendly!

I suffered the same foolishness when working for the Foreign Office. Living in Kent and commuting by train to London, (as everybody in the department did) I, along with everybody was re-located to a site near Milton  Keynes, right out in the middle of the countryside, everybody had to commute by car a significant distance.

Again, the environmental and cost saving claims were no more than greenwash and foolishness. All it meant was the FO could sell an expensive London office, sod everything else!

With regard to the new environmentally friendly offices. No mention of solar or wind?

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Why Isn’t Solar Energy being used in Egypt?

In July I took the family on a last minute trip to Egypt, booked on Monday, travelled on Wednesday!  Okay, flying is not the most environmentally friendly thing to do, but I’m not going to keep the kids at home for the sake of my personal views. Anyway, the seats would otherwise be empty – enough of that!

We stayed at one of the many fairly standard European hotels, in our case the Steigenberger Nile Palace.

July is hot! Very hot and with clear blue skies. Loads of solar energy covering the place! We cover up and work hard to keep the kids either covered or heavily sun creamed, hats are a must as are long sleeved shirts.

My point? There was all this very high quality and quantity solar energy but not a solar collector in sight! I even went on the hotel roof looking for them, then asked one of the senior hotel manager’s, a very informed Egyptian who agreed that there was no use of solar energy in the hotel and little use in Egypt, certainly none of the other hotels in Luxor used solar power.

Apparently this aversion to solar energy dates back 30 years to a project initiated by President Sadat to build a new village in the desert, the houses all having solar water heating. So, a failed state project 30 years ago and there is still no solar energy in Egypt!

Another problem associated with installing solar power, either for direct water heating or PV panels for electricity is the subsidy on petrol and other energy. Yes, the Egyptians will complain about the high price of energy, yet its still cheap and for the average egyptian, investing in solar panels such as we use in the west – to get every last therm from the sun, is just too expensive!

Solar Energy and the International Hotels

For the hotels, and taking the Steigenberger as an example, none of this should apply!

The Steigenbereger, as a German hotel chain (but so should all the international hotels) should have their roofs covered in solar water heating panels. Its not like a hotel doesn’t need hot water!

  • Cooking
  • Dishwashing
  • Washing bedsheets
  • Hot water supplies in Guest’s rooms

With the consistent sun in Luxor (and Aswan) solar panels might well be capable of generating all hot water requirements, certainly during the summer and possibly well into the main winter tourist season. The energy savings would be huge, each panel potentially producing twice or three times the volume of hot water as the equivalent in the UK – to an extent making the investment 3 times as effective! Even considering the subsidised energy in Egypt, a solar water heating installation would soon pay for itself, anyway, the international hotels shouldn’t be taking advantage of advantageous energy prices, any subsidy being aimed at the lower paid Egyptians, not the Western Tourist!

See: Google maps of Luxor – International Hotels, play spot the solar panel! (actually there aren’t any)

Low cost appropriate Technology

As for the average Egyptian, I was talking to an Egyptian who I would say was middle income, his view of solar heating was the high cost panels used in Europe and had missed the point that the only reason we used these was because we had so little sunlight. I suggested that all he needed was a long black hose connecte dto his water system, laid zig zag on his roof leading to a third tap in the kitchen or the bath. Even if it was only sufficient for perhaps a single bath in the late afternoon or enough for washing dishes during the day, it would soon pay for the pipe and then be free hot water!

There was little need for a technical solution

And the Embassies in Egypt

Images above show Google maps image of the accomodation in Islamabad and the main embassy in Cairo – no solar panels!

The same criticism of the major international hotels applies to the British Embassy in Cairo, not a single solar collector on the roof of the Embassy building!

I’ve also looked at the roofs of the accomodation and British High Commission buildings in Islamabad, again no sign of any solar water heating yet these are ideal locations for solar energy! But again, there is relatively low cost energy which acts as a distraction. Even so the FCO (Foreign Office) should be doing better!

What do they say on their website? Try a search for fco solar energy and you get this page: https://ukinegypt-stage.fco.gov.uk/en/about-uk/environment/renewable-energy which says nothing about what the FCO is doing, it is just a load of dogma! (bullshit is a better term).

For both the International Hotels and other corporations and the Embassies, there is an opportunity to show that the UK (and the west) is taking climate change and sustainable energy seriously by using the alternative energy sources that they promote in countries far more suited to these technologies than the cold and cloudy United Kingdom!