Sunday, 10 January 2010

All wind and no Substance?

An article in the Sunday Telegraph (Jan 10th) by Cristopher Booker made almost as a throw away aside, an excellent point about the relative merits of various forms of alternative energy.

Now before I go further I should make my own views on the matter clear. I believe the UK should have, as a matter of national policy, complete energy independence. Further I believe it makes sense that this should be as clean as possible. This reguardless as to weather the theory of man made global warming is right or not.

Mr Booker’s point concerned power generation by wind turbines. He pointed out that the recent cold snap had effectively been largely windless. The point being that wind generation is not necessarily to be relied upon. Even over an area as large as the UK you can suffer a massive drop off of the power wind generators are capable of delivering.

One wonders why those who promote wind turbines so often quote near maximum out put in their figures, it would be more honest and accurate to quote averages, andy one who ever tried to fly a kite as a child knows that some days you can and some days you can’t.

If we had been reliant on wind power this winter we would have been in deep trouble.

So what can be relied upon to deliver power?

Well there are the tides. They are driven by the sun and moon and unless there were a disaster of unimaginable proportions are regular and utterly reliable.

Then there is nuclear energy. This is the route the French took decades ago, French steely self interest being less inclined to wilt before short sighted nimbi left/green luddite foot dragging.

It is interesting to note that the main reason our power generation capacity is not effectively carbon free right now is because of the Greens.

That is why not only are we not carbon free - we are in danger of soon being in a position of being unable to service our full power needs. We already have to buy nuclear generated electrical power from France.

I have said before. Surely we can use existing defunct deep coal mines to sequester spent nuclear material?

What is to prevent us building nuclear power facilities underground near the top of such mines and sequestering the spent fuel deep in the geologically stable depths of the mines. If there were ever a leak it would be contained underground and no spent fuel would need to travel overland.

It is also worth noting that recent evidence suggests that low levels of radiation may be far less dangerous than originally supposed at the dawn of the atomic age, even Green Patriarch and possibly now former poster boyJames Lovelock is now in favour of generating electricity by means of nuclear energy

With enough spare power capacity the possibility opens up of generating hydrogen from seawater in sufficient quantities to substitute it for petrol in internal combustion engines. The technology to burn Hydrogen in an internal combustion engine is relatively simple and could easily be adopted.

The only emissions from vehicles running on hydrogen would be water vapour then those inclined to hate 4WD vehicles would need to find some other excuse to do so. I suspect we can be assured they would do so.