Monday, 13 February 2012

Being Bold With Renewables.

Its now dawning on an increasing number of people that the renewable energy sources of choice aren't going to hack it in the future.

Wind power only produces its full capacity for a fraction of its availability. Usually, when its very cold outside, we're experiencing a high pressure system with low winds. We very rarely have Arctic-style blizzards, where it's extremely cold and windy. Most snowfall and frost for instance is coupled with low winds.

Solar experiences similar issues: cold weather happens in winter (obviously), but in winter we have short days and long nights, so energy production is curtailed. Happily for solar, we sometimes experience cold weather with clear conditions, which at least helps with energy production. Sadly in winter the sun is low in the sky and is extremely weak.

Wave power could be worthwhile, if it could be harnessed in a safe manner. Unfortunately we often experience huge storms which threaten wave power installations.

So, what do we do?

We look at a naturally occurring naturally cyclic phenomenon: the tides. The Severn barrage has been on and off for years, generally opposed by the bird-loving naturalists.
Well I'm sorry, there isn't anything there that can't fly off and find another feeding ground elsewhere along the UK coast. Its time the strategic national interest was put before a bunch of birds.
Lets start thinking of us for a change and get something in place that will generate regular zero-emission energy. The major upside of tidal energy production is its predictable, so that conventional fossil fuelled power stations know when to be online to take up the slack when the tide has gone out.

2 comments:

  1. Salt water and electric equipment are a tough combo. Maintenance would be an unaffordable nightmare.

    Frack your damn gas! Remember, in Nature the only capital crime is stupidity.

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  2. Tides have been harnessed for centuries. There's an old tidal mill in existence not far from me. The French have had a tidal barrage generating electricity for decades. I went there as a kid once.

    The River Severn has a huge tide and a huge amount of water able to generate a significant amount of electricity. Its regular as clockwork, unlike wind and generates no emissions, unlike fossil fuels.

    If we were bold enough, we could build the thing, but it seems birds get higher priority that the national interest and security of energy supply. Instead I assume the UK government want us to be open to blackmail thanks to greater reliance on Russian gas supplies.

    Not what I'd consider forward thinking.

    As for gas fracking, I'm still sceptical, considering first attempts here triggered earthquakes. It may be that a lot more work needs to go into understanding our geology and the reasons for the tremors before fracking can go mainstream.

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