Saturday, 1 August 2015

Review - Euro Weekly News - Costa Blanca North Edition

On one of our occasional holidays in Spain in Javea it was interesting to read up on the top news stories in the English local Newspaper 'Euro Weekly' read by the large Ex Pat community in the Costa Blanca area. It seems bizarre that in sunny Costa Blanca that hot weather is front page news but it is. The record global temperatures have been reflected locally with the University of Alicante reporting the highest local temperatures for 150 years. This has had a knock on effect in terms of local deaths linked to heat strokes and water shortages. Costa Blanca Environmentalists have been providing advice on best watering strategies to avoid wasting precious water and new sources of water are being sought. There is a desalination plant locally to Javea which has helped secure local supplies but is not regarded as a solution to the problem. The scorching heat has also had more mundane but very real effects with local Taxi drivers calling for shelters from the sun and people's sleep patterns being adversely affected by the heat. Just down the road from where we are staying the communal bin area caught fire a few weeks ago due to the heat causing the area around to catch fire as well. A helicopter with several  buckets of sea water was drafted in to deal with the fire. There will be similar local stories all over the world with the same variation of a theme of adjusting to the reality of climate change. It is interesting to note that no mention of 'climate change' is made in any of the articles as a even a possible cause of the high temperatures and the knock on impacts on everyday life.

On the solutions side of things there are some interesting articles/adverts in the Euro Weekly. When we first came here, 20 odd years ago, we would pass the Silvasol solar company on the way into town which I always gave me a warm glow as I went off in search of tapas. When it began it would have focussed mainly on solar thermal but now PV is of course a big part of the business. Further into town is a company called Ecoforest that sells and installs wood pellet biomass boilers! I say bizarrely but the temperatures can drop below shirt sleeves standards for a few months of the year so having even a wood pellet stove can be an of value for occasional heating during the winter months. The solar story in Spain is a mixed one with solar energy having received a lot of Public investment but now it is being taxed as part of the Spanish Government drive to search for new sources of income in difficult economic times.

Insulation is still an issue even here. As we know thermos flasks keep liquids hot OR cold. The same principle applies to buildings and for those self builders out here with cash a 'Thermo Casa' home with high insulation standards which limit the need for air conditioning is an option. I wonder how far off Passivhaus standards they are and those standards would best apply in a hot climate?

One of the most interesting articles for me was about the grants that the Spanish Government makes available to householders carrying out energy efficiency (2000 Euros) or conservation works (4000 Euros) for homes built before 1981. This is at a time in the UK where funding to support the Green Deal loans has been cut as well as Government support for the Green Investment Bank. Clearly even in an economy which is generally regarded as weaker than the UK for Spain energy efficiency is still a higher priority.

The final story which gave me pause for thought was one about putting pigeons on the pill. Pigeons often regarded as flying vermin and we have issues in Springwood and the Town Centre with hundreds of the birds doing what they do all over the place. The town of Badia Del Valles in Barcelona reckons that contraceptive laced feed will cut the pigeon population by 80%. Not sure what I think about this yet but worth investigating.

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