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No wind, no sun

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


BrianW Report 20 Dec 2021 09:10

Today is a bad day for hopes of going carbon-neutral electricity generation.

At the moment, wind is contributing just 4% of power, solar is producing nothing at all, hydro 3%.
But nuclear is providing 14%.
The bulk of the rest is from gas fired, 58%, and coal fired stations, which are supposed to be in the process of being decommissioned, have been brought back on-stream and are putting in 5%.


Jacqueline Report 20 Dec 2021 10:40

Perhaps more research could be done on wave and tidal power - they seem to work most of the time!


JoyLouise Report 20 Dec 2021 10:52

Someone’s missed a trick, Brian.

Plenty of wind coming from Number Ten and (to use one of BJ’s favourite words this year) its cohorts. Absolutely full of bluster at the moment.

Never thought I’d ever write this - I felt just a tad sorry for Raab this morning when he was trying to excuse BJ’s behaviour and latest gaffe. I thought he was like a rabbit caught in the headlights when trying to convince us why it’s a different rule for medics from that of government ministers and staff. And, yes, his tongue ran away with him there because he did say ‘a different rule’! :-0

If you can watch him on Catch-up look for his second error almost at the end.

Now I can’t see much wrong in six or seven staff members who have spent several hours together at work ending the day with a glass but wasn’t BJ’s wife sitting with them too?

What a self-entitled breed they appear to be - but not really very clever are they!

So, Brian, get your balloon out as there’s an awful lot of hot air to catch around No 10 at the moment.


ZZzzz Report 20 Dec 2021 11:01

I remember seeing a sticker on a hot air hand dryer in a ladies toilet when they first came out " to hear the words of any politician press this button "


JoyLouise Report 20 Dec 2021 11:14

:-D :-D :-D


RolloTheRed Report 21 Dec 2021 11:22

In any economy changes in primary energy source only happen slowly. Thus the UK coal economy took something like 200 years (1600-1820 ) to displace burning wood and water/ wind mills. As a power source for mechanical energy and steel making it took until 1820-1840 - marine wind power was still doing well up until 1914.

The primary delaying factor on new (coal) technology was drag ( why invest in mining coal when drift mine, burning wood and peat does the job and push - railways, new mills, steam ships demanded coal on a scale impossible without dangerous deep mining. Coal was also essential for heating and power in booming C19 cities.

Ironically coal ( to be followed by gas and fuel oils ) is now well out of favour due to the side effect of global warming. As in the past changes in primary energy are subject to opposing economic forces with coal losing out. (OZ has got this wildly wrong ).

Without a demand for heavy duty electrical storage then such technologies would not be developed i.e. without powerful windmills and solar farms no large scale energy storage. For that reason coal, nat gas remain in business for the moment.

It is not a proof of some sort of refutation of climate change with energy from burning stuff for ever and ever,

However there are a range of upcoming technologies which will fill the gap - and create billion$ of stranded assets. Top of the list is iron/air storage which costs a fraction of lithium/air. True it is very heavy but in the context of storing wind/solar power not an issue. There is no shortage of iron while lithium supplies, along with cobalt, are limited.

Tidal power, dams and assorted hydraulic technologies fall far short of need for future no carbon energy.

The next 30 years could well be very bumpy. Many people believe that life will go on much as usual with a new primary energy source. It won't, they are in for a big surprise.

Drop the pilot


JoyLouise Report 21 Dec 2021 12:22

We need to be looking at new ways to utilise flow resources because, as we all know, the world’s stock resources are finite.

One problem that is overlooked by some is that a lot of the world is doing catch-up so, although those countries may be aware of the global situation, they may not co-operate without legislation - something their governments may not be keen to introduce yet as it could be counter-productive to their economies.

It’s a bit like telling our tin, lead and coal mine-owners of the 18th and 19th centuries to stop digging. What(?) - with all the money yet to be made!

There is no incentive for catch-up nations to stop.


Florence61 Report 21 Dec 2021 15:22

Very recently, the cable that lies under the sea bed from Harris to the mainland was replaced after it had been damaged last year. Whilst it was out of action we had no electricity until they had to fire up the Diesel power station which acts as a back up in an emergency.
That power station was burning diesel for a year. It also meant that the turbines couldnt operate so thousands of pounds lost as no electricity being generated.

Why it took a year to replace the cable is all down to various things, like weather etc.

We cannot totally go completely green and rely on turbines to produce our electric. This last week has been flat calm and the turbine near me stood still. At the opposite end is a gale of say 60 mph plus also switches the turbine off for safety.

I live in a newly built eco energy house with no coal fires, no gas, no oil. Its all electric with underfloor copper pipes . Water is passed through the pipes and heated to about 30 degrees and the heat rises through the floor.

So thats good isnt it for the enviroment?Until a storm like recently puts the power off and i would be left unable to heat, cook or have hot water as I have no alternative.

Yes wave power has been explored and I think Orkney has one system in place but there would need to be very many more to make this an alternative form of energy.

When the oil prices went sky high a couple of years ago, people here that had modernised with oil central heating went back to cutting peats to burn in their agas and open fires to save money!

Florence in the hebrides


BrianW Report 25 Dec 2021 09:49

Now it's a complete reversal of what it was a few days ago.
No solar but 65% carbon neutral (wind 42%, Nuclear 22% and hydro 1%)

Completely agree with Gran, wave and particularly tidal power need to be developed promptly to provide a 100% reliable zero carbon source.


Inky1 Report 25 Dec 2021 09:58

Is Nuclear truly carbon neutral?


BrianW Report 25 Dec 2021 10:08

The carbon in nuclear is in the construction, as with practically all power systems, but near enough zero in operation.


RolloTheRed Report 25 Dec 2021 12:51

The service life of nuclear power stations falls way short of what is practical. The only way they can get built is for the buyer ( always a govt ) to provide massive financial subsidies which then get transferred to other energy sources such as gas, solar, wind. So far construction of next gen nuclear power by EDF in Europe is way behind on date and massively over budget. There are also myriad problems to deal with expired nuclear plant used in submarines and carriers.

There are nowhere near enough tidal / hydro electric sites to make a meaningful global contribution to carbon free power. As well as the carbon construction budget for hydro there are terrible environmental fall out problems as can be seen in the USA, River Nile, Snowy River. UK Govt has , wisely, not taken forward scheme for Swansea, Bristol Channel. France is removing hydro from Normandy.

Solutions to the no wind / night time problems of solar and wind power have been developed and as they are deployed this particular love child of those opposed to carbon free energy will disappear.

Beware of blue hydrogen which is as bad or worse than current natural gas.

Australia has en economy largely built on exploitation of the enivronment and the ancient peoples that it belongs to. Coal, iron mining do not have a future. Neither do the hydro schemes which support farming in SE Australia. There are plenty of other, better places to source middling cheap wine.


Inky1 Report 28 Dec 2021 11:55

Problems: Surely all expired nuclear plant, not just the 'tiddlers' in boats?

During the 60's I was employed in the CEGB. And for part of that employment I was in the Bulk Supply Tariff unit. (Trying to calculate the overall unit charge that would recover full costs of the Magnox stations.)
I am certain that there was never any allowance added for the eventual shut down costs.

How does one put a price on the environmental impact of nuclear plant?
How many years will it take before each plant is fully decommissioned?
What legacy are we leaving for future generations?


RolloTheRed Report 28 Dec 2021 13:14

During the 1960s my father was a friend of one of the boffins that brought the Bradwell (Essex) power station on stream. Before the reactor core was loaded we were invited on a tour of the core which was quite amazing. Not a place many people have been. Back then people outside of the industry were under the impression that nuclear was clean ( compared to coal ), safe and had a long life.

Even after Three Mile Island that remained the general impression until Chernobyl. Now of course we know from the massive decommisioning costs in the UK, Japan, France, Germany etc etc that the whole industry was never financially viable. Coal mining using modern techniques would probably have been a cheaper bet as decom mines if fairly easy to do. Dreamers of course say that in 50 years we will have fusion power.

Decom submarines and carriers is extraordinarily difficult 'cos the vessels ( amazingly) were never designed with scrapping in mind.

So far as the UKGovt has and solid plans for energy they are not very green.
1. coal mining, Wales, Cumberland
2. coal, wood chip importing
3. extracting methane from natural gas and calling it blue hydrogen. Pilot sites show that methane leakage makes the technology worse than nat. gas raw.
4. large scale nuclear power stations- one under construction, two more planned
5.electric aeroplanes
6. large turbofan jet planes as now somehow made green and efficient
7. not electryfying the rail network - as a speciman failure SEE Paddington - Swansea
8. electric cars with zero thinking about the load on the grid or decom lithium batteries. Last week the requirement for developrs to install charging apparatus was shelved - not because the developers couldn't pay but NatGrid cannot support them without huge investment.
9. Air ground pumps replacing domestic power such as gas. Leaving aside that such pumps cost far too much and don't work on cold days there is again the inconvenient problem of load on the Grid esp area grids.
10. Farming.
11. Wind / solar power nowhere near required capacity,
backup storage (days of no wind etc ) zero
12. container shipping , cruise liners - no plans
13. Mini nuclear power stations from Rolls Royce

A really competent government with the population solidly behind it might get a handle on all this over a couple of generations or so. As it is there is going to be large scale panic. Even if the UK more or less got its climate act together India, Brazil, China , NAFTA will please themselves.


Kense Report 28 Dec 2021 21:00

Rollo, another UK problem is that the Government wants to increase trade with far off countries at the expense of trade with neighbours.


RolloTheRed Report 29 Dec 2021 09:36

Prior to brexit the UK's biggest trading partner was the Irish Republic. The attempted and impossible recasting of UK trade , politics and defence to a distance will sooner or later bring about the ruin of England, I assume the Scots have an escape plan.

From a distance
The world looks blue and green
And the snow capped mountains white
From a distance
The ocean meets the stream
And the eagle takes to flight
From a distance
There is harmony
And it echoes through the land
It's the voice of hope
It's the voice of peace
It's the voice of every man
From a distance
We all have enough
And no one is in need
And there are no guns,
No bombs, and no disease
No hungry mouths to feed
From a distance
We are instruments
Marching in a common band
Playing songs of hope
Playing songs of peace
They are the songs of every man
God is watching us
God is watching us
God is watching us
From a distance
From a distance
You look like my friend
Even though we are at war
From a distance
I just cannot comprehend
What all this fighting's for
From a distance
There is harmony
And it echoes through the land
And it's the hope of hopes
It's the love of loves
It's the heart of every man
It's the hope of hopes
It's the love of loves
This is the song for every man

Bette Midler


JoyLouise Report 29 Dec 2021 09:53

That last sentence of Inky's, 'What legacy are we leaving for future generations?' is something that has always been in my mind when thinking or writing about nuclear power. For me, the eventual consequences of the way nuclear waste is disposed of will be equally as bad (if not worse, eventually) as the more obvious legacy of many years use of coal, oil etc.

One of the easier ways to lower emissions of greenhouse gases is to stop eating beef and it will help humankind out enormously as cows' emissions are almost (if not there already) equal to that of cars. There would, of course, be a huge outcry from cattle farmers - but they will be no different from millions of people worldwide who have had to change tack as far as making a living is concerned.


RolloTheRed Report 29 Dec 2021 11:32

The methane released by raising beef animals does not persist long term (9 years) in the atmosphere but is very potent while there. . The industrial production of beef as practiced in North Ameria, Brazil has any amount of serious environmental downside as well as the methane problem. It is in NAFTALAND that farming methane and climate change collide.

The story in Europe is very different even though the current govt is keen on dragging the UK into US/OZ methods for cattle and poultry.


Inky1 Report 29 Dec 2021 11:54

" 13. Mini nuclear power stations from Rolls Royce."

If UK does lean towards these smaller units, They may not need to be located far away from towns - though NIMBY's would shudder at the thought.
With nuclear, as with conventional power stations, there is the necessity to get rid of the 'waste heat' by use of water (sea or river) or cooling towers.

Two early UK attempts to utilise this heat:-
Pimlico Heating Scheme
Initially this utilised heat from Battersea Power Station.
Spondon 'H' Power Station
Heat transferred over to the British Celanese production unit.

Both the above resulted in very good thermal efficiency.

Maybe waste heat from mini nuclear units could also be used in some way?