Ride the Future

Video Found At : Energy Bulletin

The Earth keeps turning, the Sun keeps burning, and the future will look a lot different than today as we drag down Carbon Dioxide emissions “by hook or by crook”.

We have to be wary of possible “crooks”. There are still technology “snake oil salesmen” out there, trying to impose Genetically Modified crops on us, or Nuclear Power, or Carbon Capture and Storage (to justify the continued use of Coal), and using the vehicle of science to push their wares :-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/agriculture/8048917/Climate-change-threatens-UK-harvest.html

“Climate change threatens UK harvest : Climate change could push up food prices by causing large-scale crop failures in Britain, the Met Office has warned. : By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent : Published: 08 Oct 2010 : Rising temperatures could mean events such as the drought in Russia this summer, which pushed up grain prices, hit countries like the UK. But they said the worst effects of climate change could be limited by investment in better farming and the development of new drought resistant or heat tolerant crops. This could be done by aid money, breeding and new technologies like genetic modification (GM)…”

http://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/908/crop_failures_set_to_increase_under_climate_change

Look out for terms like “new crops”, “crop development” or “modified crops” :-

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101007092817.htm
http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/5/3/034012/

See the use of the word “biotechnology” in the actual research paper :-

http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/5/3/034012/pdf/1748-9326_5_3_034012.pdf

But, as everybody can probably guess, most farmers in the world will not be able to afford Genetically Modified crops, and anyway, nobody really yet knows if GM crops confer the benefits claimed – there is some evidence that “life scientists” don’t know the full range of effects on organisms from gene splicing.

Continue reading Ride the Future

Rattle, Rattle, Little Turbine

So, what happens when you put a number of small wind turbines on houses and tower blocks and start measuring the power output and other statistics ?

People complain about noise and get the things turned off :-

http://www.warwickwindtrials.org.uk/resources/Warwick+Wind+Trials+Final+Report+.pdf

Ellen’s Collaboration

Video Credit : Ellen MacArthur Foundation

I can’t decide whether I’m inspired or concerned by this little film from Ellen MacArthur.

It seems to focus quite heavily on cars, and one of the collaborators is Renault.

It also talks a lot about electricity, and another one of the corporate names shown is National Grid.

And then it also talks a lot about waste, and the company that sponsored Ellen’s sail around the world was B&Q, the chain that spawned a thousand home makeovers.

None of these companies appear to want to follow the sustainability principles spelled out in the movie.

Is it just a little bit too high-brow to be talking of “closing the loop”, when most people in the world are simply concerned with finding their next meal or coasting towards their next pay cheque ?

Who is this video designed for ? What’s the intended audience and how are they being asked to respond to it ?

Tell me I’m wrong to be ever-so-slightly sceptical.

See How Far We’ve Come

Modern civilisation has brought us electricity, electronic games, electronic music and the future looks very bright with solar electricity.

Look how far we’ve come !

http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/10/05/first-large-scale-solar-energy-plants-public-lands

“The White House Blog : The First Large-Scale Solar Energy Plants on Public Lands : Posted by Secretary Ken Salazar on October 05, 2010 : Today, we took a big step on our nation’s path to clean energy future with the approval of the first large-scale solar energy plants ever to be built on public lands. The Tessera Solar Imperial Valley Solar Project and the Chevron Energy Solutions Lucerne Valley Solar Project will both be built in the sunny California desert. Together, the projects could produce up to 754 megawatts of renewable energy, power 226,000 – 566,000 American homes, and support almost 1,000 new jobs. These two projects reflect the priority President Obama has placed on growing America’s clean energy economy. From spurring the deployment of energy-saving windows and advanced batteries for cars to installing solar panels on the White House roof, the Administration is incentivizing and promoting clean energy technology on a historic scale. At the Department of the Interior, we have a special responsibility to help lead this effort. As stewards of our nation’s public lands, we oversee deserts, plains, and oceans that can make significant contributions to our nation’s renewable energy portfolio…”

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iMUnrmqM-z3tMC3a3JZRFIqrJKHQD9ILFH9G1?docId=D9ILFH9G1

“Here comes the sun: White House to go solar : By DINA CAPPIELLO : 05 October 2010 : WASHINGTON — Solar power is coming to President Barack Obama’s house. : The most famous residence in America, which has already boosted its green credentials by planting a garden, plans to install solar panels atop the White House’s living quarters. The solar panels are to be installed by spring 2011, and will heat water for the first family and supply some electricity. The plans will be formally announced later Tuesday by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley and Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush both tapped the sun during their days in the White House. Carter in the late 1970s spent $30,000 on a solar water-heating system for West Wing offices. Bush’s solar systems powered a maintenance building and some of the mansion, and heated water for the pool. Obama, who has championed renewable energy, has been under increasing pressure to lead by example by installing solar at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, something White House officials said has been under consideration since he first took office. The decision perhaps has more import now after legislation to reduce global warming pollution died in the Senate, despite the White House’s support. Obama has vowed to try again on a smaller scale…”

http://news.thomasnet.com/companystory/Solar-System-tops-off-efficient-NREL-building-584926

“Solar System tops off efficient NREL building : October 4, 2010 – Solar panels are being installed on roof of Research Support Facility to help building generate as much electricity as it uses. While RSF adds 222,000 square feet of office space to NREL campus, building’s energy use only increases NREL’s overall consumption by 6%. The 1.6 MW photovoltaic system comprises more than 1,800 panels soaking in 240 W of sun each. Additional PV will be installed on RSF expansion and on nearby garage and parking lot to help zero out energy equation.”

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/greenhouse/post/2010/10/white-house-solar-panels/1

“Obama will soon put solar panels atop the White House”

http://www.solarpowerinternational.com/sepa2010/public/Content.aspx?ID=603&sortMenu=104000&MainMenuID=603

“SOLAR POWER INTERNATIONAL, 12 – 14 October 2010, Los Angeles, California, USA”

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2010/10/germany-adds-nearly-1-of-electricity-supply-with-solar-in-eight-months

“Germany Adds Nearly 1% of Electricity Supply with Solar in Eight Months : by Paul Gipe, Contributor : Published: 04 October 2010…”

http://power-shift.org/solar-panel-mirror-booster-30-increase-in-power-output-with-mirrors
http://www.solarbuzz.com/fastfactsindustry.htm

Continue reading See How Far We’ve Come

Wind Power : Material Fatigues

Image Credit : Cape Cod Living

James Delingpole follows in a long line of commentators with zero engineering experience in pouring scorn on a technology that could quite possibly save our skins :-

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100056158/wind-farms-yet-another-brewing-disaster/

I don’t know what he harbours in his heart against wonderful wind turbines, but he seems to be part of a movement who delight in their failure. Just ask the Internet to show you “exploding wind turbines”.

For example :-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKkTUY2slYQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nSB1SdVHqQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkGXoE3RFZ8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOfHxINzGeo

Clearly, you need to be in full protective fatigues when battling this kind of bad press…in fact “fatigue” is exactly the right word to come back at Mr Delingpole’s cracked warning (of cracks in wind turbine bases).

Continue reading Wind Power : Material Fatigues

Irrepressibly Positive

Image Credit : IndyMedia

Campaign activism. For so long it’s been about negatives, bannings, stoppings, full of anti-attitudes.

But now, here today, in glorious technicolour, I am announcing the formation of a pro-positive, cheerleading, bouncy, public movement of natural-born optimists.

“In Praise of Carbon-free Planes” is a new movement all about accentuating the positive of aeroplanes that produce clean air and holy water from their engines, that cost virtually nothing to run and make people exceptionally happy.

It’s a wholesome campaign, a virtuous club of the more-than-willing. There’s nothing at all down, negative, bad or wrong, evil or morally questionable or worrying about Carbon-free Planes. They are calorie-neutral, so you can eat as many as you like in your cereal bowl for breakfast.

Plus, they’re such a light concept, they’re gossamer-thin, wispy and transparent. So, they don’t exist, but that’s no reason not to call for them.

Just like we’re calling for smoke-free, smog-free, Carbon-free Coal. And icky-spill-free, conflict-free, Carbon-free Petroleum Oil. And chemical-free, Carbon-free refineries, exhaust-free particulate-free Carbon-free cars, vans and trucks.

Continue reading Irrepressibly Positive

George Marshall : The Dying of the Light

In the orange light-filled advertising corner : the oil and gas companies proclaiming new, untold riches beneath the melting Arctic. Technology will make us stronger, less polluting and improve the lives of the countless poor.

In the blue chain-smoking activist corner : Climate Change and Peak Oil are really, really serious, destabilising and horrible and we should all get depressed and go and lie down in a darkened room for a while.

On the other hand, most people don’t fall in one camp or the other. We worry about Climate Change some days, but we’re too pre-occupied with trivia on other days.

We have a natural in-built “happy button”, according to recent research mentioned in New Scientist magazine, so we can’t sustain feelings of doom and gloom for too long unless we’re clinically unwell :-

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727791.000-how-to-be-happy-but-not-too-much.html

We’re born to be sunny, optimistic (Teddy Miliband’s favourite word) and relaxed, only reserving adrenalin and noradrenalin for times of stress.

So why does George Marshall try to convince us that everyone is dangerously susceptible to “apocalyptic” language ?

http://climatedenial.org/2010/09/29/collapse-porn/

People can cope with being given bad news as long as they have some strategy with which to combat the problem.

It’s not wrong to tell people the truth about Climate Change just in case they get scared and worried.

Alarm is a good thing – I’d rather a fellow pedestrian shouted at me to “look out !” if I’m about to be mown down by a car as I cross the street, rather than just watching on and wincing at the crunch moment.

Continue reading George Marshall : The Dying of the Light

Tu Me Manques, David Miliband

I don’t know about you, but I’m missing David Miliband from the political fish-eat-fish top table already.

If he were to ask me, which he won’t, but anyway, if he did, I would recommend that he starts reading up about Energy production and supply, over the next 18 months or so before he gets invited, acceptingly, back into the Shadow Cabinet of the UK Government.

If he were to spend his time on the train between South Shields and Westminster looking into energy security matters, into crustal petrogeology, the Middle East oil fields, Wind Power, solar and marine options, he could make a strong comeback into the limelight – as opposed to the “lemon” light he’s been cast into, thrust into, so far.

If he becomes acquainted with the ways and wiles of engineering and fossil fuels over the next few years, the viability of Renewable Energy solutions, the transport explosion phenomenon and how to control it, then he will be able to offer solid assistance to his younger brother Teddy – who appears to be mistakenly sold on the idea of new nuclear power.

And if Ed Miliband were to ask, (again, which he won’t), I’d say – atomic energy cannot save us; carbon capture technology cannot save us; algae biodiesel can only trickle, even Frankenstein GM algae biodiesel; Peak Oil is almost definitely here; efficiency of use alone cannot save us. We have to go right out for a non-combustion, Renewable Energy future.

Edward Goes Greenward

Don’t get me wrong. Despite the fact that the election of Ed Miliband to the leadership of the UK’s Labour Party proves that it’s still a very small club for posh boys at the top of the working man’s political authority of choice, Ed Miliband does have some advantages from his experience in the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

He’s probably the only person in the shadow Government who has the faintest idea about where electricity comes from, and what the future should hold for energy resources and energy services, in an increasingly tightened global economy. We definitely need somebody at the highest rank disputing the Government’s mistaken policies, who knows that energy production is not the black art of a magician, and has a price, and consequences.

Both “Ed” and his brother David have had important roles in managing the country, but Ed has avoided falling into a number of gaffe-traps that David has smilingly and innocently dropped into. And he hasn’t always adopted the lobbying positions from large energy companies. Unlike David, who, it appears, could probably be persuaded to say anything on behalf of Big Energy Business, especially Big American Energy Business and the Airlines.

The right-wing press are accusing Ed Miliband of being a closet communist, or crypto-fascist, just about, as he was an acolyte, avatar and archivist for former “Premier league” Gordon Brown, but they should be more concerned about his commitments to a revolution in Energy, a European-led Low Carbon energy revival.

The Labour Party has swung Ed-ward. And he’s not going Redward. Edward is going Greenward.

A Combustion-free Future

Combustion of Fossil Fuels and Biomass is a major cause of chronic respiratory problems around the world.

Many people seem to know that smoky stoves in the Global South cause lung disease for millions of children in poverty.

But what will happen as more so-called Renewable Energy is built in the United Kingdom ?

This answer from Almuth Ernsting points the way :-

“Forth Energy have put in a planning application for a power station in Dundee which will burn 1 million tonnes of mainly imported wood per year. Altogether, they want to build four power stations in Scotland which will burn a total of 5.3 million tonnes. That’s the equivalent of nearly two-thirds of the UK’s annual wood production. Such a large new demand for wood will, directly and/or indirectly, mean more industrial tree plantations and more logging at the expense of forests, climate and communities. If approved, Forth Energy’s power stations would attract an estimated £300 million in subsidies every year – paid as “Renewable Obligation Certificates” through a levy on electricity bills. Local residents would be affected by more air pollution in a city with already high levels of pollution. There are also serious concerns about the impacts on the Firth of Tay and Eden Estuary,which is a Special Area of Conservation. There has been a large number of objections from residents in Dundee already. To read more background information and to object to the application through our webform, please go to: http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/forthsep2010.php

The solution : stop burning things to make energy ! It’s really, really simple. Use Wind Power, Solar Power, Wave Power, Tidal Power, Geothermal Power…

“The Two Marks” – Mark Delucchi and Mark Jacobson make similar arguments :-

Go Beyond Oil

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gt9FazoUMIDxODUKwX2TF5LxndsQ

“Protesters condemn ‘dirty oil’ at World Energy Congress : (AFP) : 14 September 2010 : MONTREAL — Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in the streets of Montreal Sunday, calling for an end to “dirty, risky” oil exploration, ahead of a global gathering of energy experts. A dozen protesters covered in molasses staged a “Black Tide Beach Party,” while dozens of others carried banners that read “Too dirty, too risky, go beyond oil.” A blond baby boy smeared in brown sticky molasses wailed in his activist father’s arms, while protesters used megaphones to slam the provincial Quebec government of Jean Charest for inviting oil companies to the five-day World Energy Congress at the sprawling Palais de Congres. Some 5,000 participants from industry, government and academia, were expected to attend the conference, slated to officially open Sunday evening. The event is expected to tackle global energy issues, such as improving access to energy in the world’s poorer regions and the role of new technologies in ensuring a sustainable energy future. Many protesters directed their anger at BP over a devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year. But Julien Vincent, a campaigner for Greenpeace International, said BP was only part of the problem. “British Petroleum is one part of a big industry that’s got an abysmal safety record and an abysmal record in terms of its obligations toward protecting communities,” he told AFP. “You also have oil from Shell dripping out over Nigeria right now. You have oil spills that have taken place in China that have flooded ports,” he added. “The entire industry needs to be told to sit back and listen up.” …”

http://www.wecmontreal2010.ca/en.html

Continue reading Go Beyond Oil