World's first home with launch pad for a FLYING car will be built in UK

The first landing pad for a flying car is being constructed in a new-build £10 million home near Nottingham.

The pad is being built at the home in the village of Edwalton by property developer, Guy Phoenix in partnership with VRCO, a Derby-based company working on a flying car design.

The electric powered NeoXcraft two-seat vehicle will be able to zip to London in half an hour and VRCO expects to have a prototype in the air next year.

The pad will have a renewable energy source to recharge the electric aircraft and is 6 metres in diameter. Pictured an artist impression of the two-person vehicle and the house 

The pad will have a renewable energy source to recharge the electric aircraft and is 6 metres in diameter. Pictured an artist impression of the two-person vehicle and the house 

The pad will have a renewable energy source to recharge the electric aircraft and is 6 metres in diameter. Pictured an artist impression of the two-person vehicle and the house

The pad is six metres in diameter and has a renewable energy source to recharge the aircraft which will be included in the asking price for the home, called Hermitage,  when it is put up for sale after being completed early next year.

Mr Phoenix said: 'My interest in the craft is of course is to bring bigger cities including the capital within commuting distance of Edwalton. Currently a commute to London, as I often do myself, can take anything from two-and-a-half to five hours depending on traffic. This vehicle would enable the user to travel short and medium distances  - in the very beginning until range can be extended - in a fraction of the time it takes to travel by road.

'I appreciate helicopters currently fill this void, however, this craft will undoubtedly improve on what they can offer. Not only are they a nuisance in the noise pollution, there are numerous restrictions as to take off and landing. It has been suggested to me that the NeoXcraft will sound more like a leaf blower than a helicopter and therefore disruption to local residents will be kept to a minimum.

'With a number of the most expensive homes ever sold in the area being mine, my intentions are to offer a craft with Hermitage in early spring next year. The house itself has been built to a level rarely seen in construction in both design, finish and technology applied.

'Fairmont, its immediate neighbour, is now on the market but with four offers already refused this house will not be sold for less than the asking price. The investment into Fairmont eclipses the asking price and whoever ultimately acquires the property will be buying one of the most amazing homes on the market. So together the Guy Phoenix brand delivering luxury homes and the VRCO brand soon to deliver the future in transport I am sure will work well together.'

The NeoXCraft flying car with foldable wings and an airborne speed of 210mph could be in the air by 2020. Its fans fold down to become wheels for land-based driving

The NeoXCraft flying car with foldable wings and an airborne speed of 210mph could be in the air by 2020. Its fans fold down to become wheels for land-based driving

The NeoXCraft flying car with foldable wings and an airborne speed of 210mph could be in the air by 2020. Its fans fold down to become wheels for land-based driving

HOW IT WORKS

When the vehicle is safely on the ground, the pilot can transform it from flight to road mode with the push of a button, according to Mike Smith, chairman and co-founder of the project.

The propeller housings, which feature wheel structures on the outside, will then tilt downwards, allowing the vehicle to drive.

The car is computer controlled, and the pilot 'will follow a series of voice commands to drive it in the air and on the road', Mr Smith said.

The flying car is a short-range driving vehicle but a medium-range flying vehicle, he said.

To recharge the pad uses stored and solar energy to recharge and includes an 'etched data store code' which is scanned from the air and allows the car to land autonomously.

The futuristic 'NeoXCraft' is expected to sell for £1.5 million and will use four high-powered fans to reach speeds of up to 210mph (320kph).

 Mr Phoenix is in talks with planners and the Civil Aviation Authority about how the craft will land and take-off.

He added: 'Helicopters currently can land 28 times a year without planning, we hope this to be extended once noise pollution calculated. As this is a worlds' first I have no prior application to refer to.'

Hermitage is currently under construction and will be available in Spring 2019 for £10 million. Included in the price will be a NeoXCraft flying car

Orders are already being placed for the car which the company hopes to be selling by 2020.

The NeoXCraft, which will be controlled via a computer programme, is the joint vision of Nottingham-based aviation company VRCO and the University of Derby.

Upon release, only a few people will be qualified to pilot it in the air and along Britain's roads.

It's hoped future models will feature autonomous software that will allow them to fly passengers around the country with no driver.

The craft, which has parachutes installed in case of an emergency and carries no solid fuel,  is undergoing multiple safety tests over the coming months.

Hermitage is currently under construction and will be available in Spring 2019 for £10 million. Included in the price will be a NeoXCraft flying car 

Hermitage is currently under construction and will be available in Spring 2019 for £10 million. Included in the price will be a NeoXCraft flying car 

Hermitage is currently under construction and will be available in Spring 2019 for £10 million. Included in the price will be a NeoXCraft flying car

To recharge the pad uses stored and solar energy to recharge and includes an 'etched data store code' which is scanned from the air and allows the car to land autonomously.

To recharge the pad uses stored and solar energy to recharge and includes an 'etched data store code' which is scanned from the air and allows the car to land autonomously.

To recharge the pad uses stored and solar energy to recharge and includes an 'etched data store code' which is scanned from the air and allows the car to land autonomously.

Hermitage will include a variety of neat features such as climate control, solar panels and armored glass in its windows

Hermitage will include a variety of neat features such as climate control, solar panels and armored glass in its windows

Hermitage will include a variety of neat features such as climate control, solar panels and armored glass in its windows

The University of Derby's Institute of Innovation has been involved with the project.

When on the ground the pilot is able go into flight with the push of a button.

The propeller housings, which feature wheel structures on the outside, will then tilt downwards, allowing the vehicle to drive.

The car is computer controlled and the pilot will follow a series of voice commands to drive it in the air and on the road.


UK Renewable Energy Industry Urges Government To Allow Onshore Wind Auctions

Clean Power

Published on October 26th, 2018 | by Joshua S Hill

October 26th, 2018 by


14 major renewable energy companies have penned a joint letter to the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, urging him to drop the current restrictions on onshore wind which prevent it from competing in the Government’s power auctions.

Currently, the UK awards power through its Contracts for Difference auction scheme. However, the auctions are currently only being offered to one of two “pots” of renewable energy technologies — the pot which includes “less established technologies” such as offshore wind and onshore wind on remote islands. The other pot, however, includes “established technologies” such as solar and onshore wind, and auctions have not been offered under this pot for some time.

Thus, 14 major renewable energy companies, made up of project developers and supply chain companies, have sought to convince the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, to resume pot 1 Contract for Difference auctions between 2019 and 2025. Specifically, the authors of the letter claim that re-opening pot 1 auctions “would provide a payback to consumers of £1.6 billion.”

“In addition to being the cheapest form of new power generation, an analysis from the BVG has found that onshore wind has the potential to deliver 18,000 skilled construction jobs, 8,500 longterm skilled jobs, and stimulate supply chain investment, resulting in 70% UK content in projects, in those areas where there are no objections to its development,” the authors of the letter wrote.

The letter was signed by project developers ScottishPower Renewables, SSE, innogy, Statkraft, and Vattenfall, along with supply chain companies Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, Vestas, CS Wind, RJ McLeod, Farrans Construction , AE Yates, REG Power Management, Athena PTS, and RSK.

“Thanks to a rapid fall in costs, new onshore wind power can be secured at a subsidy-free price. However, the considerable upfront investments and lack of investor certainty associated with a merchant approach to onshore wind development means that there is a risk this low-cost, lowcarbon power source, and its potential, will not be sufficiently utilised without contracts to procure new capacity.

“In order not to miss the opportunities for growth in supply chain companies and consumer benefit, it is crucial that a decision on procurement through CfD auctions is made now.”

There is an irony in preventing onshore wind from competing for power in the UK, considering that it is the cheapest way of generating new power. In addition, as a poll in July highlighted, a clear majority of UK residents not only support onshore wind but are actively in favor of putting an end to the Government’s effective ban on onshore wind.

”We trust the Secretary of State will take account of the views of these major UK employers who are offering to build subsidy-free projects as part of the clean energy system of the future,” said Emma Pinchbeck, RenewableUK’s Executive Director. “His department’s opinion polls consistently highlight the overwhelming level of public support for onshore wind. New onshore wind would be a triple win for consumers, the environment and UK businesses.”


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UK RHI proposal would limit installations of biomass boilers

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The U.K. government recently opened a public consultation on a proposal that would alter the Renewable Heat Incentive to exclude further support for biomass installations in urban areas on the gas grid. The U.K. Renewable Energy Association has spoken out against the proposal, calling it too restrictive and stressing that policy should be focused on improving standards.

The U.K. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy opened the consultation on Oct. 16. It closes on Nov. 27.

Information released by the BEIS explains that Defra’s Clean Air Strategy, published in May 2018, proposed that further support under the RHI should not be available for biomass installations in urban areas with access to the gas grid. The consultation published by the BEIS contains details of the proposed restrictions and asked for input on the scope and nature of those changes to RHI eligibility.

Within the 21-page consultation document, the BEIS explains the change would apply to new RHI applications starting when the new regulations come into force, including domestic and non-domestic biomass boiler installations of all sizes, along with biomass combined-heat-and-power installations. The restrictions, however, would not apply to existing RHI biomass boiler installations or to biogas RHI installations. The document cites the production of fine smoke particles and other air pollutants as the reasoning behind the action.

The REA said the proposal would limit options for decarbonizing heat. If enacted, the group said the proposal will stop the installation of highly efficient and clean biomass boiler technologies from benefitting those in urban areas. According to the REA, modern biomass boilers are already strictly regulated, ensuring their emissions are tightly controlled, with more than 75 percent of boiler models emitting less than one-third of their legal limits.

"The latest proposed reforms to the RHI risks being a knee-jerk policy reaction to the air quality crisis,” said Neil Harrison, chair of the Wood Heat Association. “The industry has lobbied for many years for actions to ensure the very safest levels of emissions from biomass boilers in all parts of the U.K., not just urban areas. Modern biomass boilers, fitted with high-performance filters, achieve particulate emissions equivalent to that of conventional fossil fuelled boilers, while making significant carbon savings.

“The government should be promoting and enforcing quality standards, rather than applying a blanket ban. Such a ban would cut off one of the key options for the decarbonization of heat in larger public and private sector buildings, and would ignore experience from every other developed country which has seen the successful deployment of biomass heating across their economy,” Harrison continued.

Urban air quality can be best minimized by addressing the much more significant emissions coming from transport and properly enforcing controls provided by Smoke Control Zones and other existing legislation,” he said.

Additional information on the consultation is available on the BEIS website.


Scottish Power to develop ‘sizeable’ UK solar portfolio following fossil fuel divestment

Published: 22 Oct 2018, 17:54

By:

David Pratt's photo

Scottish Power will look to add to its wind assets following the same of CCGTs and hydro generators to Drax.

Scottish Power has confirmed that solar will feature in its future generation plans following the sale of over 2.5GW of gas and hydro assets to Drax, becoming the first 'Big Six' energy company to go fully renewable.

Speaking to the Guardian late last week, chief executive Keith Anderson said the company was looking at solar as “a good opportunity” for investment due to its falling technology costs and its ability to complement the generation output of wind assets throughout the year.

This reasoning was behind Vattenfall’s efforts to co-locate solar with a wind farm in Wales last year as according to senior vice president for the wind business division, Gunnar Groebler: “It matches very well because usually when you have a sunny day you have less wind and vice versa.”

The need to address interseasonal generation profiles was pointed to this summer in the UK, when periods of hot, still weather saw the UK’s wind fleet produce lower than expected output. While some moments saw high output send the grid’s carbon intensity and power prices tumbling, Scottish Power intends to protect against future periods of low wind generation.

Details of the energy giant’s plans remain unclear, having only recently completed the Drax sale and jettisoning its fossil fuel assets. However, the company told Solar Power Portal that it is seeking to add significant levels of generation to its portfolio.

A ScottishPower Renewables spokesperson said: “Solar has seen major cost reductions, and we are actively seeking opportunities for solar in the UK. We are working on our initial plans, but we have ambitions to develop a sizeable portfolio of projects.”

The company has a pipeline of renewable energy projects worth £5.2 billion to be spent over the next four years, adding to its 2.7GW of wind projects either operating or under construction. This will add more than 3GW of new generation, and while 2.9GW is set to be offshore wind – adding to the UK’s leading position globally – Scottish Power is expected to outline its deployment strategy for solar in the coming months.


UK’s plastic waste is a burning issue

In August, exchequer secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Tackling the scandal of plastic pollution is one of our top priorities.” But it’s now confirmed what many have long suspected, that the UK recycling industry is riven with corruption (Report, 19 October) and only now is government dimly aware of the problem. Taxing coffee mugs and plastic straws, and placing a charge on plastic bags are commendable actions, but in the face of ever-increasing plastic production, single-use or not, are minuscule and potentially token. In addition to stamping out the illegal export of waste and reducing single use plastic at source, a radical upheaval of domestic recycling is required. Local authorities pay waste management companies to collect, sort and, hopefully, recycle domestic plastic waste. Yet they only recycle a proportion of it and ship the rest abroad. Much ends in landfill or in the oceans. The council tax we pay for these destructive processes could be better deployed.

With rapid progress now being made on carbon capture, home and industrial-based pyrolysis (waste to energy), and other plastic-to-fuel processes, there is a strong case to stockpile plastic that is difficult to recycle or contaminated. In compacted or granulated form at 10% of its previous volume, it can be stored for future use as feedstock for negative emission energy production and other innovative uses. We used to have grain mountains and wine lakes. Why not temporary plastic mountains?
Patrick Cosgrove
Chapel Lawn, Shropshire

As your report (Ban on plastic waste imports costs councils in England up to £500,000, 20 October) says, we export more than two-thirds of the plastic waste we create, while countries such as China are banning the import of these wastes because they cannot deal with them any more than we can. So is it not time for a rethink? Many plastics cannot be recycled, and, once mixed, the problem becomes near-impossible, so a more sensible approach would be simply to burn these “unrecyclables”, making sure we recover energy from the borrowed oil they represent.

This can be done well in properly designed furnaces, perhaps even with carbon dioxide removal, while the heat created can be used for generating electricity. Better still, we should stop pretending that we can recycle these mixed materials, and simply collect all household rubbish and burn the lot.
David Reed
London

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I can ignore the Brexit elephant no longer


Passion proves a winner for Aberdeenshire farmer

David Smith.


Scotland’s Orkney Islands may see electric plane service by 2021

Eight-seater two-engine propellor plane on a runway.

Enlarge / A Britten Norman Islander plane, similar to the kind used in the Orkney Islands to shuttle people short distances.

Up in the remote northeast of Scotland, residents of the Orkney Islands use small island-hopping aircraft to commute around the archipelago. The longest flight in the area is 15 minutes, traveling 33 miles from the city of Kirkwall to the island of North Ronaldsay. The shortest flight takes an average of 80 seconds to travel 1.7 miles between the islands of Westray and Papa Westray. That flight holds the Guinness World Record as the shortest commercial flight route in the world.

Now, Scottish airline Loganair and aircraft modifier Cranfield Aerospace Solutions are working together in the hopes of turning the Orkney Islands' 10 inter-island routes all-electric, perhaps even establishing the world's first all-electric commercial flight routes.

Electric planes are still something of a pipe-dream for environmentalists and technologists. Jet fuel is extremely energy-dense compared to batteries, and flight requires a lot of energy at little additional weight. Electric flight startups are either developing hybrid battery/jet-fuel planes or banking on the continuous improvement of batteries to make their visions viable years down the road. While the most optimistic see the advent of lithium-air batteries and engine efficiency improvement as a path to commercial electric flight, others have focused on decarbonizing jet-fuel synthesis.

But flights as short as those in the Orkney Islands don't need the same kind of energy efficiency as long-haul flights do. Cranfield told Scotland's Press and Journal that it believed it could simply modify the eight-seater Britten Norman Islander planes that Loganair already uses among the islands instead of designing an electric plane from scratch. Paul Hutton, CEO of Cranfield, said that he believed it would only take £10 million to create and safety test these specialty-use battery aircraft. Cranfield is seeking a grant from the UK government to support the project.

Loganair CEO Jonathan Hinkles told the Press and Journal that a three-year timeline is possible if grant funding is found for the project. That would make 2021 the earliest that all-electric commercial flights could be put into service.

Hutton told the BBC that the added benefit of electrifying the Orkney Islands flights is that there's an abundance of renewable energy, especially wind energy, already on the grid in the area. Charging a battery between flights is easily the greener option compared to burning jet fuel.

Local council likes this plan

Loganair operates the inter-islands flights on behalf of the Orkney Islands Council, which subsidizes transportation between the sparsely populated islands. Orkney Islands Council Leader James Stockan told the BBC that the council supports electrifying its inter-islands flights if they can be proven safe, because it could help save money on expensive jet fuel. "This is a community with a strong track record when it comes to innovation, and I am pleased that this pioneering project looks set to be developed in Orkney," Stockan said.

Though replacing the jet fuel burned by small island-hopping planes in a remote part of the world may seem like a drop in the bucket in efforts to reduce emissions, starting small is often a path to thinking big. If the shortest flights in the world can be flown successfully, gradually longer and longer commercial electric flights may someday be attempted.


Europe’s clean transport revolution continues

There is now a clear EU majority, led by the Nordic countries, for tougher targets on car emissions, writes Sanjeev Kumar. The big questions now relates to charging points for electric vehicles and whether they can charge fast enough, he writes.

Sanjeev Kumar is Director for Energy and Environment at Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW), a consultancy.

The European Union is slowly but surely driving towards cleaner cars. EU governments, MEPs and the European Commission have begun compromise talks on carbon dioxide emissions targets for new vehicles, and their eventual decision could radically reshape the car market.

This represents a huge transformation for Europe. Even if the EU has been a driving force for global climate change policies, it has until now shied away from measures that might have a major impact on its carmakers.

But the political power lines have shifted in recent years, not only within the European Parliament but also inside the Council of Ministers.

Indeed, the current gap between MEPs and governments is relatively slim. EU environment ministers agreed in Luxembourg on October 9 to cut CO2 emissions by 35% for cars and 30% for vans by 2030. That was just days after MEPs voted at their October 3 session in Strasbourg to cut vehicle CO2emissions by 40% by 2030.

'Disappointed' EU capitals agree on 35% car CO2 cuts

EU environment ministers took until nearly midnight on Tuesday (9 October) to agree on a common position for car and van CO2 emission cuts for 2030 but several member states were left “disappointed” with the final agreement.

The current trilogue negotiations between MEPs, the Council and the Commission may be influenced by recent warning by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the world is “running out time” on global warming. But MEPs already have a strong hand. Earlier this year, they successfully pushed the Commission and Council to raise the EU’s 2030 renewable energy and energy savings targets.

Even if the Council is more cautious, its target is still much higher than initially sought by Germany, Europe’s carmaking champion. Although the German government has warned about targets hurting exports and threaten jobs, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s SPD junior coalition partners are now siding with those seeking bigger CO2 cuts.

There is now a clear EU majority, led by the Nordic countries, for tougher targets. France, home to Renault, Citroen and Peugeot, has said it wants a 40% cut. And, as the local elections in Bavaria and Belgium showed on October 14, there is momentum behind green parties.

New direction

While officials hammer out the legal details, the EU’s direction is clear: climate change, local pollution and falling clean technology costs are driving deep changes in alternative systems. Intense competition across the value chain of clean vehicles from Japan, China, South Korea and US adds further pressure.

Emissions from transport are a priority because this is the only sector where the level is much higher than in 1990. Alternative fuels are used by less than 4% of cars currently on the road. Diesel, once promoted as the climate-friendly fuel, is now collapsing as a market. Indeed, most major carmakers are now investing heavily in alternative technologies, with China now leading the way in cheap electric vehicles (EVs)

There is also local pressure on both carmakers and consumers, with city authorities around Europe now enacting bans on dirty cars. Just days before the Parliament vote, on September 30, the Brussels capital region began imposing fines of up to €350 on drivers with diesel Euro 0 and Euro 1 vehicles. And at national level, governments are pledging to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars over the next few years: this month, Denmark said it would ban them by 2030, following pledges by France and the UK to do so by 2040.

Is Europe ready?

The big questions for the market are about capacity and infrastructure: are there enough charging points? There are currently just 100,000 charging points in the EU, but the Commission wants 2 million by 2025, a 20-fold increase. Can they charge fast enough? Some carmakers are already answering this: Toyota is working on an electric car battery with a much longer driving range and a much shorter charging time. And can electricity networks rise to challenge? The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which supports trans-European networks and infrastructures is actively addressing this issue, identifying missing links and bottlenecks to resolve.

But it is also an opportunity for Europe to capture EV market share. With Chinese, US and Japanese competitors gaining rapidly, it has to adapt. And the demand is there: a recent survey by campaigning NGO Transport & Environment found that 40% of Europeans say they want their next car to be electric or fuel cell-powered. While EVs currently have a market share of just 1.5% in Europe, their numbers are rising fast.

In this context, it’s not hard to see the economic as well as the environmental case for cleaner cars. And it is one that more environmentally-conscious MEPs and member state governments are finally winning in the EU’s corridors of power. It will take time to transform Europe’s car culture, but it is changing.


Fracking in the UK: what is it and why is it controversial?

Fracking restarted in the UK on Monday – the first such operation since 2011. The oil and gas firm Cuadrilla commenced work at a well in Lancashire after seeing off a last-minute legal challenge on Friday.

The aim is to extract shale gas to contribute to the country’s energy supply but environmental campaigners fiercely oppose it.

What is fracking?

It is short for hydraulic fracturing, a means of extracting gas or oil trapped in rocks deep underground. It is one of the technologies the industry has turned to as new sources of easy-to-extract oil become harder to find.

Fluid composed of water and chemicals, with added sand, is fired at high pressure into the rocks. This creates fissures that allow gas and oil to escape and be brought to the surface.

How big will it be?

That is hard to say. Several companies have bought up vast swathes of shale gas acreage, including Cuadrilla, the petrochemicals firm Ineos and IGas, but none are likely to produce gas at commercial volumes for a couple of years at least.

Estimates of how much shale gas the UK has vary, although the British Geological Survey believes there is more than 3.7tn cubic metres of gas in the Bowland shale – a formation that runs across most of north and central England.

There is far less certainty about how much of it could be extracted economically. Most industry figures are cautious about predicting a British shale boom and comparisons with North Sea oil are widely seen as fanciful.

Why is it controversial?

The Cuadrilla fracking site in Preston New Road, Lancashire.

The Cuadrilla fracking site in Preston New Road, Lancashire. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

For a start, any form of gas, while cleaner than energy sources such as coal, is still a fossil fuel and burning it is at odds with efforts to reduce carbon output. There are also specific concerns associated with fracking, such as fears it could contaminate the water table. It has been linked with small earthquakes such as those that took place in Lancashire in 2011, triggering a moratorium on the technique and ushering in tighter regulations.

One form of pollution that is often overlooked is the noise and emissions caused by the juggernauts required to bring water to fracking sites for injection into the ground.

Labour has a policy of banning fracking, the Scottish government has a shale gas moratorium and the Welsh government has promised to block any applications.

The industry argues gas is a key part of the UK’s transition from dirtier fuels such as coal to a low-carbon future, providing a bridge while renewable energy sources are increased.

Will it reduce energy bills?

Despite David Cameron’s claim that fracking would bring down gas prices, few expect the industry to grow to a scale where it has any significant impact on pricing.

The amount of gas likely to be produced from any fracking boom is not going to outweigh the effect of global markets for oil and liquefied natural gas, which the UK imports from Qatar and elsewhere.

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However, it could improve security of supply, insulating against the threat that gas imports could be disrupted or rise in cost because of geopolitical events, such as tension with Europe’s major supplier, Russia.