Sunday, 8 August 2010

Solar Britain

Where will future supplies of energy come from?

Some of the future suggested non renewable solutions with my opinion:

Nuclear
Too dangerous and expensive. And unnecessary.

Oil
The auto industry in combination with 'big oil' want a 'business as usual' solution - one where their considerable investment in internal combustion engine technology can continue to make 'profits as usual'.

Carbon Capture and Storage - CCS
The coal industry also require business as usual - thus they argue that there is a solution which will miraculously deliver 'clean coal'. There is no such thing as clean coal. CCS is a technology which has never been attempted commercially - it is still in the research stage and nobody knows whether or not it will work.

Some 'Renewable' alternatives:

For me, the solution lies in producing a surplus of renewable electricity using whatever renewable source is available in each locality.

So, in the UK, a massive investment in offshore wind is necessary.

There is also a large resource in tidal energy around the UK coast.  This can be harnessed with tried and tested technology.

 Tidal range technology (eg the much discussed tidal barrage on the Severn estuary) and tidal stream technology (which can be sited at various locations around the UK coast) are both technologies which can deliver large and  predictable amounts of electricity.

Photovoltaic cell technology (PV) is a fully developed technology that works in Britain just as well as it works in places with a comparable climate - for example Germany. Gemany is a world leader in PV installations.

The UK government should invest heavily in all these technologies. This would create thousands of badly needed jobs.

In hotter countries, for instance countries in the mediterranean region or in Africa, solutions which utilise the abundant sunshine available need to be adopted. As well as photovoltaics, these can be solar tower technologies or, for example, solutions which utilise stirling engines to capture heat from the sun for conversion  into electricity.

All these technologies exist in a fully tested and commercially ready state. They will all benefit from considerable state directed investment.

The reason these technologies are not being developed faster than they are is because of the dead hand of the old technologies as presided over by the likes of BP and the other international oil giants.

The outrageous reckless behaviour of BP in the Gulf of Mexico tells you all you need to know about the modus operandi of these massive players.

Research and investment in energy storage is needed for intermittent renewable technology

Hydrogen energy storage -tried and tested and proving very useful for stationary applications, but too problematical and expensive for mobile applications.

A hydrogen infrastructure for transport would be expensive and problematical.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Solar Britain

The future of our planet does not depend on technology alone.

In the discussions regarding climate change and global warming, the politics behind the arguments, arguably, is decisive.

Scientists and technologists have a clear idea of how we can achieve a zero carbon britain.

However, for me, the slow rate of progress being made so far indicates that the problem is not a mainly technical or scientific one but the problem rather is how do we achieve the change needed given the existing politics and economics.

Thankfully there are campaigns working towards altering the politics of climate change

Previous work i did for an MSc at CAT  was mainly technical.

This blog is all about  challenging the dominance of the market based thinking which is holding back progress towards a zero carbon world.