Green Energy Hardware ‘the key’ to New Industrial Era

April 27, 2011

Today’s edition of the Aberdeen-based Press and Journal publishes an article by Jane Candlish, available online here, states as fact:

“The SNP Government has licensed 42 major renewable energy projects in the past four years, meaning 33% of Scotland’s power consumption comes from renewables … However, that figure rises to 58% when projects under construction are taken into consideration.”

These numbers, e.g. 33% and 58%, are wildly different from that reported for the UK as a whole for power distributed through the National Grid. Is Scotland that much different than the UK as a whole?

I’ve written to the paper to ask:

Could you please provide me the authoritative source for these numbers?

If no source, could you please advise what power generation methods you classify as “renewable” and how much power is produced for each method, e.g. wind, wave, current, biofuel, etc. compared to what many call “non-renewable”, e.g. coal, gas, oil, nuclear, imported from France, etc. ?

Are these numbers including significant power generation which is distributed to customers via means other than the National Grid?

Over what period of time have you measured? The last week, the last month, the last year?

The analysis I did late last year with National Grid data for the whole of the UK as reported by the National Grid suggests a completely different story.

Update 26 Apr 11 at 10:15 a.m.

The reporter who wrote the article quickly replied to my email:

It was Alex Salmond who quoted these figures, which I had originally
stated in my article. These words were removed during the editing
process, changing the meaning of the final piece which appeared in the

Shale Gas as Reported by Russia Today

April 20, 2011

The “RT” television channel, Russia Today, today covered the emerging Shale Gas industry in the USA. They focused on the low price for gas, and the high-cost of production; accordingly, shale gas producers they say are losing money. They also focused on the threat to the environment caused by the “secret” chemicals used for “fracking” which ends up, as they say, in drinking water. A representative from Gasprom said that they aren’t worried about the competition to their traditional gas business because of these factors.

Ozone Hole is Back

April 19, 2011

In the mid-1980’s the world decided to ban CFC chemicals, e.g. Freon, used in refrigerators and other industrial processes, due to the impact those chemicals were having to create a “hole” in the ozone layer over Antarctica. The presence of ozone filters the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation, which is dangerous to people and other life forms on this planet. Banning CFCs was said, as I recall, by scientists to be the only solution to closing the ozone hole. So they were banned and we now have less efficient (e.g. requires more energy and/or less effectiveness) refrigerators.

Apparently, the ozone hole has re-appeared. I was reminded of this by a comment in Jerry Pournelle’s web site where he commented on this. I also came across an undated report by ABC News (USA) “Ozone Hole is Back and Big“.

Is this because the world did not indeed stop using CFC’s to the extent required to stop the hole? There have been rumors of this over the years. Or, are there other causes than CFC’s in making the hole? And if the latter, how come in the mid 1980’s was it protrayed that CFC’s was the only solution? And, how “normal” is the hole as a feature of nature?

What does this teach us about other “there is only one answer” to problems?

Update 21 April: Our Clouded Hills replies with what some could infer are ad hominem comments. But he also points out some science which I will take note of. I think he forgets that I’m the guy who sent him Bishop Hill’s book when it was clear he was writing blog posts about the book without actually having read it.

Engineering Thinking

April 18, 2011

Steve McIntyre in his recent posting entitled “The Smug Loop” elaborates on a topic which has occurred to me numerous times as I encounter “experts” in climate science or read about it. His point is sumarised by:

As someone who’s interacted with this niche over the past number of years, my recommendation has consistently been that people who are worried about the impact of increased CO2 need to provide an “engineering quality” exposition of how doubled CO2 leads to (say) 3 degree C and thence to problems. More cerebral, rather than less cerebral.

Engineering quality. Right on. That’s what we (the world) are missing related to the debate on climate change (man-made or otherwise) and the debate on energy futures.

I have yet to see such an “exposition” expressed and explained in an engineering way. I’m sure such things do exist, but anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise.

  • all the papers authored by the Scottish Government on so-called renewable energies
  • The Royal Society of Edinburgh’s initiative to determine “why people don’t get it about climate change”. I questioned the leader of this august body on their panel’s membership, and when asked about engineers I’m told “we’ve spoken with those types at Longannet Power Station”.

“Speaking with” is different than “thinking like” and producing engineering quality deliverables.

Jimmy Carter and Fukushima

April 2, 2011

Here are a few things I did not know. I did not know there was an explosion incident at a plutonium enrichment plant in Canada in 1952. Related to that, I did not know that ex-President Jimmy Carter had a role, as a young Naval Officer, in dealing with the incident. The episode is covered nicely in a recent article in the Economist.