Sunday, 10 January 2010

Energy spinoffs turn fuel-hungry data centres into hot properties

Waste heat is being diverted into homes, offices and even a greenhouse
James Ashton

WHEN Telecity began planning its third internet data centre in Paris, one of the first things it did was to look for partners.
In addition to finding customers and hiring a firm to build the facility, it wanted someone to take the centre’s biggest waste product — heat.
The internet boom has led to huge growth in demand for the services of data centres. They are like giant warehouses that house row after row of the computer servers that power the digital economy.
The growth of data centres has consequences for the environment. They use huge amounts of electricity, often consuming as much as a small town.
Not only do they need large amounts of energy to power their servers, they need just as much energy to cool them down. That always raises the question: what happens to the hot air that is pumped out of these facilities?
In Paris, Telecity has come up with a novel solution. Its Condorcet data centre, due to open this month at a cost of £43m, will be the first in the world to be built with a greenhouse next door.
“Our initial thought process is always, is there a way the excess heat can be used somewhere near by,” said Rob Coupland, chief operating officer of Telecity.
In Amsterdam, the excess energy is used to warm the office block where the group has its regional headquarters, and also to heat the water supply of a hospital.
In Paris, it was harder to find a partner. “We looked but couldn’t find anyone who was reasonably close,” said Coupland. In the end, Telecity struck an agreement with the French national agronomic institute to build a greenhouse alongside the data centre.
The 500 square metre “climate change arboretum”, heated to at least 10C all year round, will create the climate expected around the Mediterranean in 2050. It will allow scientists to study how plants adapt to global warming.
The development has also helped to cheer up the rundown area of Aubervilliers, north of the city centre, where Condorcet has been constructed on the site of a former Citro├źn factory.
The energy efficiency of data centres has improved but a great deal more could be done. Coupland estimated that two decades ago it took twice as much energy to cool the centres as it did to power them. That has now fallen to half as much.
Telecity estimates that Condorcet will save the equivalent of 2,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year thanks to its energy-efficient design. There will be external air coolers and the roof will have a reflective white coating to stop the sun heating up the building.
Of course, that doesn’t solve the problem of where the waste heat should go. Julian Frost, head of technology, media and telecoms at the accountancy firm BDO, predicted more partnerships.
“Given the density of data centres in highly populated business areas, the use of such centres to heat office blocks could become reality,” he said. “It would also give companies and data centres alike the opportunity to improve their green credentials.”
Telecity is not alone in coming up with new ideas to improve energy efficiency. In Helsinki, the heat from hundreds of servers located beneath the Uspenski cathedral is being channelled into the local area’s heating network. The project, managed by Helsingin Energia, will produce enough energy to heat 500 houses.
Coupland said that greenhouses could be built alongside future developments.
Green Idea
SHIPPING containers may be essential to global commerce but they are not environmentally friendly. They are heavy and take up the same space whether empty or full. Cargoshell, a Dutch firm, has designed a collapsible model made of lighter materials that can be flat-packed. One lorry can transport three or four rather than one, possibly saving millions of gallons of fuel and the emissions that go with them.

Funds that give you tax breaks for going green

Venture capital trusts that invest in clean energy could be the way ahead
Tricia Holly Davis
Investors are being offered tax breaks for going green with a new breed of venture capital trust (VCT) that invests in clean-energy companies.
VCTs are a type of fund that give investors 30% tax relief on new investments of up to £200,000, in addition to tax-free growth and dividends. They were created to boost growing companies, so they are a suitable match for the fledgling clean-technology sector, particularly as firms have been struggling to access bank finance.
The value of green VCTs has tripled from just £12.5m two years ago to about £37.5m now, according to Martin Churchill of Tax Efficient Review, an investment advisory firm.
He thinks they could become even more popular, driven partly by changes to the rules on pensions tax relief, which will be reduced from 50% for those on £150,000 to 20% at £180,000 from next April. This is prompting investors to supplement their pension savings with alternatives such as VCTs.

“VCTs were never designed to generate large capital growth but rather a steady, reliable return,” said Churchill, “so if you are looking for an alternative to your current pension and something to provide a stable tax-free income stream, as well as something that’s good for the environment, then these funds are a good option.”
The clean-energy industry’s most recent boost came from the Crown Estate, which last week awarded a handful of energy companies £100 billion-worth of contracts to build large-scale, offshore wind farms as part of the government’s plan to derive a third of the UK’s energy from wind by 2020.
However, government subsidies for smaller onshore wind farms — and other forms of green power — are likely to be more attractive to VCTs.
In April, a new system of “feed-in tariffs” will be introduced, under which households and businesses will be able to sell back to the grid the energy they generate, whether that’s through wind farms, solar panels, or combined heat and power units.
The tariffs apply only to “local-scale” projects that generate up to five megawatts of energy at a typical cost of between £1m to £20m. VCTs can invest only in firms or projects with maximum gross assets of £7m.
Matt Taylor of Foresight Group, the alternative asset manager, which recently launched two green-themed VCTs, said the firm was looking to expand its environmental portfolio this year to take advantage of the feed-in tariffs.
For example, if Tesco owns a large industrial site on which it wants to install wind turbines, it could use a VCT to provide part of the finance. Those turbines could generate up to 5MW of electricity, the sale price for which would be guaranteed under the feed-in tariffs — in effect a guaranteed income stream.
“Feed-in tariffs provide greater predictability for investors and we believe there will be a strong demand as a result, so we are now looking to invest in onshore wind, as well as hydro and biomass power projects,” said Taylor.
VCTs that invest in environmental assets have largely beaten more general schemes, according to Richard Allen, a consultant for Allenbridge, the tax shelter specialist.
He points to Climate Change Capital’s Ventus Funds, which have £50m invested in small to medium-sized onshore renewable energy projects in the UK.
The funds have outperformed the bulk of their peer group, delivering an average annual return of 5.3% since their 2005 launch. When taking into account the 30% tax break on VCTs, the average return jumps to 14.4%, according to Allenbridge.
Matthew Ridley of Ventus said the firm would likely seek further fundraising this year to broaden its stake in a range of clean energy sectors, including onshore wind, landfill gas, hydro-electric and biomass.
Another new green VCT comes from Acuity Capital. It is seeking to raise £20m to back environmental projects that convert household and commercial waste such as leftover food into a form of renewable energy that can be used to heat and light homes and even power cars.
The targeted annual dividend is 10%, equating to 13.3% gross. After factoring in the upfront 30% tax relief, this will amount to a handsome 19% return.
Nick Ross, the firm’s managing partner, said the idea for the green rubbish fund grew out of legislation aimed at reducing the amount of waste local authorities and businesses send to landfill.
Britain currently dumps about 270m tonnes of rubbish into landfill each year. The government has a national target to cut household waste by at least 40% this year and halve municipal waste volumes. To meet its objective it has imposed an annually increasing tax on each tonne of rubbish sent to landfill.
The current tax rate is £48 a tonne. The National Audit Office estimates the fines could more than double by 2013.
“Acuity’s fund is attractive because the earnings are backed up by the obligation on local authorities and companies to reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill,” said Churchill.
Kavita Patel of Martineau, the advisory firm, said: “There are some good returns to be made in this market and it’s something that is close to the heart of most people, so a number of managers are gaining interest in environmental VCTs.”
However, she cautions that VCTs should still be viewed as high-risk investments. “The difficulty is that many environmental projects only come good over the longer term, whereas newer VCTs tend to wind-down after just five or seven years.”
An additional difficulty is that investments in a single company are currently capped at £1m, but the nature of most environmental projects means they need significant financial backing.
- VCTs invest in unquoted businesses with gross assets of up to £7m.
- They attract 30% upfront tax relief on investments of up to £200,000 a year. Investments qualify if held for five years.
- Tax-free growth and dividends.
- Some VCTs are “planned exit” or “limited life”. They usually aim to wind up after five years and are used for tax breaks. The Revenue is considering a clampdown.
- A VCT can keep 30% in cash. Of the other 70%, 30% must be invested in the firm’s shares.

Greenhouse Effects: 10:10 campaign

Tony Juniper

What do tens of thousands of households, the cabinet, Royal Mail, Manchester city council, British Gas, Tottenham Hotspur, the British Medical Journal, Gillian Anderson and Adnams brewery have in common? They have all signed up to the 10:10 campaign because they want to take practical action on climate change in 2010.
Having been to the Copenhagen summit, I am more than ever convinced about the huge importance of what we all do in our day-to-day lives. Although the talks failed, they will continue, and, I hope, establish the agreement we need. But my experience in Denmark last month encourages me to focus even more on my own efforts. One of my new year’s resolutions is to achieve the aim of the 10:10 campaign and cut my greenhouse-gas emissions by 10% over the course of this year.
There are various ways to do it — and this column will cover many in the next 12 months. By the end of December, I hope many of us will be in better shape to do what is needed.
An essential place to start in planning your 10% cut is to find out what your household’s carbon footprint is. There are websites that can help you to calculate your emissions: one full of useful ideas has been set up by the government as part of its Act on CO2 campaign (
There is good reason for doing this beyond saving money and “doing our bit”. One was apparent in Copenhagen: some governments believe that climate change is a distant threat of no interest to us, the voters, consumers and homeowners. That is partly why the summit failed.
The more we all start to change the culture, to demand measures to reduce our collective environmental impact, the more likely it will be that political leaders feel they need to deliver.
Copenhagen didn’t do the job, but while governments get themselves organised, we all can start the transition, and in the process make it more likely that they will eventually succeed. Sign up to 10:10 at
Tony Juniper is an environmental campaigner and former director of Friends of the Earth;

A nuclear reactor that could fit in the shed

Companies are rolling out plans to make thousands of mini power stations
Danny Fortson
John “Grizz” Deal wants to put a nuclear reactor in your back garden.
Don’t worry, it’s safe. So he says. The technology his company, Hyperion Power Generation, is developing is licensed from America’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, birthplace of the atomic bomb.
As nuclear plants go, these are tiny, about the size of a shed. They will be buried 6ft underground, can run virtually unmanned for a decade and provide enough power for 20,000 people.
That’s the idea at least. Hyperion hasn’t built one yet. “Our goal,” said Deal, “is to take the benefits of nuclear power, make it safer and get it to the public.”
Suprisingly, he is not the only one selling “nukes for the masses”. At least a dozen companies, from giants such as Toshiba-Westinghouse and General Atomics to start-ups such as Hyperion are working on plans to make mini reactors a reality. They vary from ones so small they could be put in the basement of a house to larger models that can be put into clusters of a dozen or so to give the output of a conventional power station.
The activity reflects nuclear power’s astonishing rehabilitation from pariah technology to potential climate saviour. This has already led to plans for new nuclear plants in Britain and America as well as in currently nuke-free countries such as Abu Dhabi. But these building programmes are for the huge reactors we are accustomed to.
Deal and his ilk have boiled them down into highly simplified versions that can be built and sealed in a factory, trucked to the customer and dropped into place. Designs vary but the selling points are the same: price and simplicity.
Big reactors can cost up to £5 billion and take a decade to build. Hyperion’s could cost as little as $27m and if all goes to plan they would be churned out of factories. They can operate with minimal oversight and have fail-safe systems that make the possibility of meltdown remote.
“Sellafield has 150 subsystems. Ours has 12,” said Deal. “Once it is switched on it mostly cooks along on its own, with a couple of people watching the dials.”
Backers claim that mini reactors are technologically feasible. But getting the public to accept the idea of small nukes sprinkled around the world will be a real battle.
Today there are 437 reactors in operation, mostly in North America, Europe and the former Soviet Union, all of them at heavily guarded complexes. Miniature versions could number in the thousands, from far-flung bush communities in sub-Saharan Africa to oil projects in the Arctic circle, or as Deal sees it, an eco-town in Britain. He plans to open an office here in the spring to use the country as a manufacturing base for Europe and Africa.
The plans are lofty but they remain theoretical. “This is Alice in Wonderland stuff,” said Ben Ayliffe, senior anti-nuclear campaigner at Greenpeace. “There is absolutely no guarantee that this won’t fall into the wrong hands and the idea that in this day and age we will be spreading thousands of nuclear reactors around the world beggars belief.”
Roger Barlow, professor of particle physics at Manchester University and chairman of Thorea, a group that researches alternative nuclear fuels, disagrees. “It is feasible. We are building on decades of experience here but we must have an honest nuclear programme that is not a front for the military as the first one was,” he said. The public will be rightly sceptical of a new nuclear programme, he added, but thought that their fears could be overcome.
So how would it work? Much like today’s reactors. The technology behind the different models varies but they all draw on the fission process developed and honed over the past 50 years. Small reactors have been used for decades in universities and hospitals for research. So converting them to generate power is not the leap it might seem, said Rex Loesby, chief executive of Canadian Remote Power, a start-up firm.
In fact, smaller models can be made much safer than traditional plants because they can be run at lower temperatures and will use the latest technology. “We are not competing with big plants producing power at 6 to 8 cents per kilowatt hour. They are running right at the limits of safety to get the thermal efficiencies of 40% or 50% they need,” said Loesby. “We can run at half the efficiency [of big plants] and still do better than diesel generators. That’s our competition.”
Indeed, for remote regions where national electricity grids don’t reach, the only option is usually diesel generation, one of the dirtiest and most expensive power sources.
Potential customers for the mini reactors include military bases, power-hungry industrial projects such as oil developments, or remote communities in the developing world. Councillors in Galena, Alaska, for example, an outpost of 675 people deep in the Yukon, have approved a plan to install Toshiba’s 10MW 4S (Super-Safe, Small and Simple) design. General Atomics, the American nuclear giant, is working on converting its Triga research reactor for small-scale generation.
It sounds promising but catastrophes such as Chernobyl and near-disasters such as Three Mile Island continue to guide perceptions.
“There are a lot of advantages if people can get over the safety issue,” said Loesby. “Where sufficient safety regimes and containment structures are in place, the record is stellar.” According to the World Nuclear Association, 31 people have died from accidents at nuclear plants or uranium mines in the past 40 years. That compares with 6,400 fatalities in coal power stations and mines. Because of the lack of controls and infrastructure at Chernobyl, it is not counted in these statistics.
Most of the small models envisaged are essentially boxes of uranium that have been denuded of all but a few parts. Aside from radioactive waste, the only product of a nuclear reaction is extreme heat. In common pressurised reactor designs the heat is used to turn water to steam, which powers a turbine. This would be above ground.
No mini reactor design has been approved by nuclear regulators and most companies haven’t even applied for approval, which takes years to obtain. Companies are nonetheless ploughing ahead with development. Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear group, which is working on the world’s first floating nuclear plant in Siberia, signed a deal last month with EN+, an arm of oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s Basic Element, to develop small reactors based on submarine technology.
Nuscale, a firm started two years ago to commercialise technology developed at Oregon State University, is ahead of many others. It is working on 45MW reactors that can be put side by side in a traditional power plant set-up. Bruce Landry, head of business development, envisages up to a dozen sited together to generate 540MW, equal to the output of a gas-fired power station. Unlike Hyperion, which doesn’t expect to build its first reactor until 2013, Nuscale has already submitted its safety analysis and other technical data to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission for approval.
For all of them, gaining acceptance will be an uphill battle, especially as the threat from terrorism remains such a concern. Ian Hore-Lacey of the World Nuclear Association dismisses the worries. “Reactor-grade material has never been used for weapons. It is spiked with gamma-emitters so that any bad guys would be zapped in a hurry,” he said. “Unless they had tens of tonnes of insulation material and industrial-size plants, the idea that they could take one of these plants off the back of a truck and use it for a weapon is inconceivable.”

A better way to catch the rays

Ben Marlow

KNOWN as the Frying Pan of Andalucia, the ancient city of Ecija in southern Spain is reputed to have once registered a scorching 52C on the thermometer.
Which is why a team of engineers from Whitfield Solar, a renewable-energy company from Reading, Berkshire, has been working there for the past 14 months. Whitfield is testing technology that it reckons could save the recession-hit solar-power industry millions of pounds.
The company has invented devices that track and concentrate the sun’s rays. Most current models are fixed and therefore do not make best use of the sun all through the day.
Whitfield claims its technology can not only create more efficient, large-scale solar-power systems but also cheaper models that are so light they can be moved or installed by two people.

“Our primary objective is to make the technology cheaper,” said Ian Collins, project director. “At the moment, the stuff on the market is heavy. We are replacing it with a cheap plastic lens focused on to a small cell that concentrates the light.
“Our technology captures the sun within an hour of sunrise so you can achieve up to 15% better energy use,” he said.
Whitfield plans to roll out the technology to a small number of customers after winning £2.7m of fresh investment from a handful of investors at the end of last year. It will be the culmination of more than three decades of research.
The company started life at Reading University under George Whitfield of the cybernetics department. In 2004, it was spun out and became a proper business. Since then, with several rounds of backing from investors, including the Carbon Trust, it has been trying to get the technology to market.
The tests in Spain have led to a small customer base being established there but the recession has encouraged the firm to speed up its plans to expand into other parts of southern Europe.
The company hopes to replicate the arrangement it has with Cobo, an Italian automotive group, that has agreed to make the devices in its factory.
Later this year, Whitfield expects to complete another round of fund raising. “We want to reach the stage where renewable energy becomes more competitive with mainstream energy sources.
At the moment it is driven by government incentives but we want it to become more of an economic choice,” said Collins.

Climate change experts clash over sea-rise ‘apocalypse’

Critics say an influential prediction of a 6ft rise in sea levels is flawed
Jonathan Leake

Climate science faces a new controversy after the Met Office denounced research from the Copenhagen summit which suggested that global warming could raise sea levels by 6ft by 2100.
The research, published by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, created headline news during the United Nations summit on climate change in Denmark last month.
It predicted an apocalyptic century in which rising seas could threaten coastal communities from England to Bangladesh and was the latest in a series of studies from Potsdam that has gained wide acceptance among governments and environmental campaigners.
Besides underpinning the Copenhagen talks, the research is also likely to be included in the next report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This would elevate it to the level of global policy-making.

However, the studies, led by Stefan Rahmstorf, professor of ocean physics at Potsdam, have caused growing concern among other experts. They say his methods are flawed and that the real increase in sea levels by 2100 is likely to be far lower than he predicts.
Jason Lowe, a leading Met Office climate researcher, said: "These predictions of a rise in sea level potentially exceeding 6ft have got a huge amount of attention, but we think such a big rise by 2100 is actually incredibly unlikely. The mathematical approach used to calculate the rise is simplistic and unsatisfactory."
The row comes just weeks after the so-called climategate affair when emails leaked from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit revealed how scientists tried to withhold data from public scrutiny.
The new controversy, which has no connection with Climategate, dates back to January 2007, when Science magazine published a research paper by Rahmstorf linking the 7in rise in sea levels from 1881-2001 with a 0.7C rise in global temperature over the same period.
Most scientists accept those data and agree that sea levels will continue to rise. However, Rahmstorf then parted company from colleagues by extrapolating the findings to 2100 — when the world is projected to have warmed by up to 6.4C unless greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced.
Based on the 7in increase in 1881-2001, Rahmstorf calculated that such a spike in temperature would raise sea levels by up to 74in — a jump that stunned other experts.
They say it is unsafe to use the relatively small increases in sea levels seen in the 19th and 20th centuries to predict such extreme changes in future.
Another critic is Simon Holgate, a sea-level expert at the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, Merseyside. He has written to Science magazine, attacking Rahmstorf's work as "simplistic".
"Rahmstorf is very good at publishing extreme papers just before big conferences like Copenhagen when they are guaranteed attention," said Holgate. "The problem is that his methods are biased to generate large numbers for sea-level rise which cannot be justified but which attract headlines."
One key problem cited by Holgate is that much of the 1881-2001 sea-level rise came from small glaciers melting in regions such as the Alps and Himalayas. Such glaciers are, however, disappearing fast and will be largely gone by 2050. It means further rises in sea levels would have to come from increased melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets.
These hold enough water to raise global sea levels by more than 200ft, but their recent contribution to sea-level rise has been negligible. Jonathan Gregory, a sea-level specialist at the Met Office, said: "We do not know enough about the physics of large ice sheets to predict how global temperature rise will affect them. My concern about these extreme predictions is that they could discredit the whole process because they are not backed up by solid science and that is vital in such a political area of research.”
Rahmstorf said he accepted the criticisms but his work was "the best system we have got". He added: “I agree that there has been too little research into the behaviour of ice sheets but that is exactly why I did this research. It uses simple measurements of historic changes in the real world to show a direct relationship between temperature rise and sea level increase and it works stunningly well.”
Rahmstorf said the last decade had, however, seen preliminary evidence suggesting that the ice sheets of Greenland and West Antarctica were becoming unstable. He said: "In my heart I hope my critics are right because a rise of the kind my work predicts would be catastrophic," he said. "But as a scientist I have to look at the evidence . . . my figures for sea-level rise are likely to be an underestimate of what the world will face by 2100."

Climate change: the true price of the warmists' folly is becoming clear

From the Met Office's mistakes to Gordon Brown's wind farms, the cost of 'green' policies is growing, warns Christopher Booker

By Christopher Booker Published: 7:28PM GMT 09 Jan 2010

Impeccable was the timing of that announcement that directors of the Met Office were last year given pay rises of up to 33 per cent, putting its £200,000-a-year chief executive into a higher pay bracket than the Prime Minister. As Britain shivered through Arctic cold and its heaviest snowfalls for decades, our global-warming-obsessed Government machine was caught out in all directions.
For a start, we saw Met Office spokesmen trying to explain why it had got its seasonal forecasts hopelessly wrong for three cold winters and three cool summers in a row. The current cold snap, we were told with the aid of the BBC – itself facing an inquiry into its relentless obsession with “global warming” – was just a “regional” phenomenon, due to “natural” factors. No attempt was made to explain why the same freezing weather is affecting much of the northern hemisphere (with 1,200 places in the US alone last week reporting record snow and low temperatures). And this is the body on which, through its Hadley Centre for Climate Change and the discredited Climatic Research Unit, the world’s politicians rely for weather forecasting 100 years ahead.

Then, as councils across Britain ran out of salt for frozen roads, we had the Transport Minister, Lord Adonis, admitting that we entered this cold spell with only six days’ supply of grit. No mention of the fact that the Highways Agency and councils had been advised that there was no need for them to stockpile any more – let alone that many councils now have more “climate change officials” than gritters.
Then, with the leasing out of sites for nine giant offshore wind farms, there was Gordon Brown’s equally timely relaunch of his “£100 billion green revolution”, designed, in compliance with EU targets, to meet a third of Britain’s electricity needs. This coincided with windless days when Ofgem was showing that our 2,300 existing turbines were providing barely 1/200th of our power. In fact, 80 per cent of the electricity we used last week came either from coal-fired power stations, six of which are before long to be closed under an EU anti-pollution directive, or from gas, of which we only have less than two weeks’ stored supply and 80 per cent of which we will soon have to import on a fast-rising world market.
In every way, Mr Brown’s boast was fantasy. There is no way we could hope to install two giant £4 million offshore turbines every day between now and 2020, let alone that they could meet more than a fraction of our electricity needs. But the cost of whatever does get built will be paid by all of us through our already soaring electricity bills – which a new study last week predicted will quadruple during this decade to an average of £5,000 a year. This would drive well over half the households in Britain into “fuel poverty”, defined as those forced to spend more than 10 per cent of their income on energy.
Finally, following Mr Brown’s earlier boast that his “green revolution” will create “400,000 green jobs”, there was the revelation that more than 90 per cent of the £2 billion cost of Britain’s largest offshore wind farm project to date, the Thames Array, will go to companies abroad, because Britain has virtually no manufacturing capacity.
At last, in all directions, we are beginning to see the terrifying cost of that obsession with “global warming” and “green energy” which for nearly 20 years has had all our main political parties in its grip. For years governments, including the EU, have been shovelling millions of pounds into the coffers of “green” lobby groups, such as Friends of the Earth and the WWF, allowing them in return virtually to dictate our energy policy. Not for nothing is a former head of WWF-UK now chairman of the Met Office.
The bills for such follies are coming in thick and fast. Last winter’s abnormal cold pushed Britain’s death rate up to 40,000 above the average, more than the 35,000 deaths across Europe that warmists love to attribute to the heatwave of 2003. Heaven knows what this winter will bring. And remember that the cost of the Climate Change Act alone has been estimated by our Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband at £18 billion every year until 2050 – a law that only three MPs in this Rotten Parliament dared oppose. Truly have they all gone off their heads.
Christopher Booker’s 'The Real Global Warming Disaster' (Continuum, £16.99) is available from Telegraph Books for £14.99 plus £1.25 p&p