back to article Wind power key to UK's desperate renewable energy bid

Good news and bad news. This week's government strategy document-cum-consultation on renewable energy, and on how the UK proposes to meet its EU obligation to derive 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, shows clear signs of practicality and joined-up thinking. But making it to the magic 15 requires several …

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Overpopulation...?

When you consider that 80% of the world's resources are used by 20% of the population, the problem looks significantly less like overpopulation....

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Go

Its most about peak loading

There seems to be a lot of concentration about how much energy everyones needs and how much renewables can contribute to that. However the big big issue is peak load. If your system cannot cope with that you are busted.

It is all very well having micro turbines, photovoltaic panels, etc etc, but if they cannot deliver the peak loading when everyone gets up from Eastenders to make a cup of tea, your problem is not solved.

All the renewables suffer from the same major problem, you just cannot just wind them up instantly to produce more power. You could have massive over production capacity to cope with the peak loads, but it would mean covering a fair proportion of the whole of the UK with wind farms for example. Then there is the tricky problem of when there is no wind - and the same goes for most renewables.

A mix of renewable sources plus huge power 'instant on' power storage to cope with lack of renewable energy avilable when the demand peaks is the only way to make it work.

The only sensible renewable technology I have ever seen proposed that could beat both the huge demand and the 'instant on' power problem, was to build a whole series of tidal power generators around the UK, with a large mix of wind turbines / Solar panels / renewables to feed power into them. Building tidal generators around the UK would alleviate the 'only twice a day' problem with tides, and the additional power feeds would assist by pumping water higher (or lower), when excess power is available. Basically use tidal as both power generation and power store.

Of course you have got to build enough of them spread around the coastline (£Billions?) and build the huge number of renewables needed (£Billions?). You will probably still need nuclear/fossil fuel generators because no renewable mix will supply enough for everyone all the time everywhere.

Then there is getting over the objections of the 'save the lesser spotted warbling ground worm for future generations to enjoy' brigade. I visited one guy who proudly show me his brand new solar heating panel and then listened to how he was applying to the council for a reduction in his council tax because the nearby wind generator has ruined the value of his house. There is a motorway between him and the generator and is built on an industrial estate. I told him that I could not hear it over the sound of the cars and thought it looked quite nice compared to the industrial buildings and could not see how it had affected the value of his house - let alone ruined it.. I must have upset him or something because he has not spoken to me since. Ho hum.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't worry

We'll be ok in the end once we force through tidal power generation and get a new generation of nuclear plants running.

In the mean time people will just have to get used to "turning things OFF", stop boiling full kettles for one cup of tea or boiling repeatedly. Turn the heating down and put some clothes on sick of people wandering around with t-shirts on complaining that it's cold. Don't have every light in the house on when it's just you in. Wash at 30 degrees when you can. That's just scratching the surface.

These all require very little effort but x several million it's a big saving. If everyone sticks to a few basic rules we'll be laughing and you might have a few more £££ in the pocket each month.

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@Alan

"Consumers have as much a part to play in this as governments and businesses. Get your consumption down, and the rest will follow. Example - I bought a new fridge freezer from an online (and high street) retailer. A + rating and it has saved me several pounds a week from day 1. Not only that, but when they delivered it, they took the packaging away with them, I never even saw it. So why use cardboard packaging at all ? Why not use proper reusable crates that go straight back to the manufacturer. When a store or warehouse gets a delivery of products, the lorry doesn't go away empty, it is full of packaging for reuse."

Irony levels off the scale. What happened to your old fridge freezer? Was it servicable (How many fixable items get landfilled simply because its not economically viable to fit a spare part)? What was the emissions cost of the manufacture of the new one?

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Heating

Heating is a big one ... what a waste. People in England seem to want to make the inside of their houses virtually tropical in winter. Why not just wear warmer clothes .. you know, like you do when (if!) you go "outside" ?

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Anonymous Coward

80% of the world's resources are used by 20%

>the problem looks significantly less like overpopulation....

It depends which bit of the population gets reduced....

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Anonymous Coward

@Remy Redert

I didn't mention anything about nuclear?

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What we need is personal carbon allowances...

The air should be seen as a natural resource, and emitting CO2 as exploiting that resource. It is patently unfair if a low paid chav in a flat in Birmingham is expected to pay an premium on his tiny carbon emissions, in order to forcibly invest in reducing those same emissions, if say the Queen (as a major landowner and massive carbon emitter) makes an overall profit from wind-farms built on her land.

What we are seeing is the poor changing their life-style so that the rich can continue their life-style, and then paying for the privilege!

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Solar Panels

Maybe solar panels on the blades won't work,

How about plastered up the south facing sides of all the towers the turbines a sat apon?

The tower will be there anyway, as will the infrastructure for feeding the electricity into the grid..

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Pat

Before Privatisation costs absorbed

The electricity generation and distribution industry had rationalised and was efficient with manpower productivity maximised by the time Thatcher came to power. So she sold it. The top management gave themselves 20 fold pay rises and the profits which used to be reinvested in the industry by government statute were paid out to 'investors.'

That is why now we consumers who once bought and paid for the electricity boards over the 40 years since World War II and thus owned the 'Boards' as taxpayers now have to pay for that new investment in wind power giving the 'profiteers' higher bills.

That's Conservative Politics for you! Cameron and Osbournes

'Thatcherite' background promise more of the same wonderful economics.

We punters pay the price. They get 'Gongs' and golden parachute jobs in the city... as recently Blair to name but one.

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Pat

Land / Population

Hunting, Shooting, Fishing and a bit of Eco Friendly to keep the lobbyists off their backs... I'm talking about the Spanish population reference on the actual use land in UK not being a mathematical value of 370 odd people per square kilometre as mentioned earlier! Its a nonsense value

Landowners - split between the MOD, the Anglican Church and the 5% of the population who own 95% of everything Duke of Westminster and other Estate owners - ensure that the 58.5 million rest of the population occupy a tiny part of the remaining land.

There is plenty of land if you have the political will to use compulsory orders to build wind and solar farms.

There is also plenty of actual land space to accommodate immigration funnily enough...

You have to want to do it more than the vested interests brigade that want to tell you to 'ger oorfff my land.'

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Re: Before Privatisation costs absorbed

And the Labour Government have had how many years to change that?

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Re: some facts for the nuke haters

Thank you for that heartfelt, but meaningless, rant.

What's wrong with hating fusion power production? Is recognition of the dangers of nuclear power hate? Is querying whether nuclear is the right way hate? Is actually trying to converse and find out about nuclear power hate?

There's a lot of hate in your world.

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Anonymous Coward

JonB

First of all, I'm not Scottish, and please don't waste your breath replying to tell me why you think I am.

AC is fine.

No, it's not always easy being an English person in Scotland. It's not easy the other way around either, in case you didn't notice. There are problems with "outsiders" in many countries in fact, but what do a few drunken Glaswegians have to do with a discussion about windfarms

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Sam

Re Mark

Re: some facts for the nuke haters

No rant, just facts.

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@Sam

Facts are not opinions.

You have stated opinion.

Your opinion may be formed FROM facts, but these facts, here are not. Where they are, we do not know, but the facts are not where they need to be.

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Boffin

Read some proper facts on the subject...

I think some of you guys need to read some actual facts on the subject before commenting.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/20/mackay_on_carbon_free_uk/

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Pat

Re: Before Privatisation costs absorbed

Errrr... what Labour Government? They promised to continue with Tory policies for a couple of years and then suddenly 1997 became 2008 - or as the Thatcher said when asked what was her best legacy to the UK she replied "Tony Blair."

We have endured 28 years of Conservative policy but fortunately the world economy took off fuelled by the Fed's Alan Greenspan bubble that has just imploded.

UK ltd hopped on for the ride refusing to invest in manufacturing 'yuck... making things gosh not printing money?' The antics of 'City Boy' in his recent novel following on from his column in the Evening Standard say it all.

British Government has become essentially sidelined and struggles to catch up with economic and financial reality. An abrogation of responsibility summed up by 'more CCTV vicar?'

WE could have had 10 years of every new building with solar panels on the roof by Govt edict. We could have had installations of Wind Farms by compulsory order in the national interest. We could have had huge gas storage tanks built like the French and/or other euro-nations, giving a couple of months gas supply backup not three days odd.

Oh yes, forgot, we privatised the gas boards too! Storage Tanks or dividends and huge pay rises for the management... you choose? Er no you don't! Its now a privatised utility company. Chickens come home to roost. As always. Those who made these decisions being long gone from the scene. Noting also so too it is with 'NIMBY' Tory lobbyists and wind farms.

We could have these sensible investments, but we went to a shambles in the Middle East with Dubbya - the ill planned occupation of Iraq. An action - viz. the so called enemy army - all knew would be over in a couple of weeks.

But all could see the lack of planning regarding for what then? The devil was again in the detail. £1 billion set aside by UK plc to pay for it and 5 years later 7 billion down and more set to load the pot. Where is the 'river,' show us the turn!

So it is with catering for our future power needs.

Nuclear subs or clean power stations. A large layout for renewable energy for a future poss. return financially (actually guaranteed that definitely less costs payable than that to be incurred in managing power and food supply under the worsening climate conditions) or stumble until the North Pole melts?

The Germans can do it! Lets pull our fingers out of our collective rears and set aside politics and go for the construction of all clean projects and actually se reductions happen in CO2 levels now not in 5 years and 10 years not while I can make another buck now mentality... anyone?

Makes you sad and ought to be a non political all for one as this ball we reside on is all we got and all bounty made through industry will count for nought if we're dead! Look at Mars for a lesson people and think no price too high for life to continue.

Now that's a rant possibly :)

Anon

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Oh just... get over it

Why not just build a nuke plant? You could store all the world's nuclear spent fuel in a single storage facility 1000 ft below the surface of a mountain in the Colorado (my home state) or Montana Rockies, 100 miles from anyone.... for the next 200 years. The environmental impact would be nearly zero. No CO2, no 9 legged frogs, no tainted water supplies, nothing... except the petroleum guzzling, CO emitting trucks, trains and planes that would need to transport the spent fuel. I don't understand the resistance to this, aside from the hysterical and irrational fear around the impact of radioactive energy sources.

Also, could someone point me in the direction of some research that says CO2 is bad for the environment? I mean real data... a link would be nice. Last I heard, our O2 producing plants need CO2...

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@Blandon

"Also, could someone point me in the direction of some research that says CO2 is bad for the environment? I mean real data... a link would be nice. Last I heard, our O2 producing plants need CO2..."

1) Watch "Appollo 13".

2) Put a plant in a bowl (empty). Put it in a sealed container. Fill the container with CO2. Plant dies.

3) Try to grow alfalfa in the sahara. More CO2->Higher temperatures.

If you know so very little about agronomics, please look for yourself, we aren't under any obligation to educate you. This isn't a free adult education seminar.

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Anonymous Coward

Geothermal energy

I've just read the first half of these comments, as well as the whole article, and have only seen the first reference to geothermal energy. A little expensive up front but very inexpensive thereafter. At least this is my understanding.

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Pirate

Re: some facts for the nuke haters - By Mark

I've always hated idiots. It's 'fission'. If you're going to crticise it, at least try to understand it. And, regarding the dangers of nuclear energy...

What are the dangers involved in not having enough energy to maintain our present level of technology?

Here's a couple...

Mass starvation. No clean water supply. No easy access to transportation. The logistics of running an overpopulated country: broken. Politic breakdown on a massive scale (Weimar Republic...).

If you've figured out how to make children (and sadly, Nature's made it really easy), some or all of them will probably die.

The worst aspect of being stupid is that denial is so much easier.

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@Raelian

"What are the dangers involved in not having enough energy to maintain our present level of technology?"

I don't know if you were talking to me, so I'll ignore that. However, I can answer this one:

We won't be able to maintain our present level of technology.

That's the risk.

Not much. I mean, Brazil have a lower level of technology and they seem to all be alive. Zaire has even less. Still humans survive.

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