Posts Tagged ‘energy’

Snow blankets London for Global Warming debate

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Snow fell as the House of Commons debated Global Warming yesterday – the first October fall in the metropolis since 1922. The Mother of Parliaments was discussing the Mother of All Bills for the last time, in a marathon six hour session.
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Greenpeace on fusion: whatever it is, we're against it

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

CERN boffins are confident that fusion, the holy grail of cheap, safe power will be economical and usable within thirty years. It’s a finger in the air sort of estimate, based on projects from the Age of Scientific Optimism, such as the Los Alamos and Apollo moon landing projects.
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Peak oil: postponed

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Oil supplies will actually last for far longer than our politicians think, the scaremongers fear, and the oil companies tell us. So says Dr Richard Pike, head of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and someone who isn’t afraid to stir controversy.

Whither, then, Peak Oil?

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A Puny Wind

Monday, January 7th, 2008

Domestic “microwind” turbines, recently championed as “power from the people” by opposition leader David Cameron, are about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

A study of domestic turbines was published by renewable energy consultants Encraft in December. According to the study, only one of the 15 household wind turbines generated enough to power a 75W light bulb. The average daily output was 393.3 Watt hours: an average of 17W.

In all, only three of the turbines generated over 400 Watt hours of electricity, with one generating 1,790 Watt hours.

Four of the turbines didn’t even make it into three figures. By way of comparison, a washing machine consumes 4kW (4,000W), and a fridge-freezer 1.9kW. [PDF,1MB]

The average turbine also operates at only 1.84 per cent of capacity.

The carbon-obsessed BBC has suggested that a domestic turbine may contribute about “a fifth” of a household’s electricity needs – but the reality is this is only true if the household’s only electricity need is one fifth of a single crack-den-dim light bulb.

Encraft stresses it’s early days, which is true – the first 13 sites only went live last January, with 13 more following in October.

However, it appears that the measured windspeed for many sites fell below the predicted figure. Turbulence in built-up areas makes for poor windflow. Or as SK Watson, of the Centre for Renewable Energy System Technology at Loughborough University, observes:

“Those areas with higher capacity factor are where urban areas tend not to be!”

Worse, the measured energy output from the domestic turbines was far below the “theoretical” energy predicted.

Er, quite.

The trial has suffered other problems. One turbine was stolen, another damaged, and a further one was beseiged by pro-bat protestors. Several needed their inverters replacing.

“We have had some reality checks,” Encraft admits.

However, Encraft MD Matthew Rhodes, quoted in The Guardian found one “benefit” from the white elephants. Apparently, seven out of ten people who see a turbine say it reminds them to save energy.

The logic is, apparently, that when one sees one of these monuments to self-righteousness, one dashes back to turn the lights off.

But surely there must be cheaper ways of inducing feelings of guilt and low self-worth in the general population – such as availing oneself of the latest Radiohead album, perhaps?