Nuclear power

There has been a lot of debate recently about whether there is a need for new nuclear power within the UK. I believe it would be possible to get away with no new nuclear power stations if the vast array of different renewable technologies were properly utilised, and this includes not only wind, but wave, tidal, biomass, energy from waste, hydropower and solar.

However, it looks like it will not be possible to reach the necessary point where renewable energy sources are able to produce enough power for the UK, and even with drastic changes to policy it is still unlikely. Thus, it seems like the only option is to either create new fossil fuelled plants, or new nuclear. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. In an ideal world, gas would be used as it releases relatively little in the way of carbon emissions and it is flexible. However the UK's gas reserves are dwindling at a very quick rate, and so there is increasingly the need to rely on overseas gas. This has it's own problems, as the recent dispute between Russia and Ukraine shows, and so there is the need to find an alternative. Of the two non-renewable alternatives to gas there is coal or nuclear. Obviously nuclear has a radiation risk, but new coal plants like that planned for Kingsnorth in Kent emits massive amounts of carbon emissions, and so I would class new nuclear plants to be the lesser of two evils.

If you have comments post below.

Electricty generating speed bumps

Due to today's lack of major stories relating to the renewable energy sector in the UK I thought I would give my opinion on a story I read in the Guardian last weekend. This article dealt with a new idea to generate electricity using the kinetic energy in traffic by utilising updated speed bumps. This seems like a very good idea on the face of it.

However, one has to question where these will be sited. It is a fact of physics that energy cannot be created or destroyed, and so the energy from the electricity will have to come from the vehicles passing over the new devices. As such the vehicle will lose energy (presumably in the form of speed) whilst it travels over the speed bump, and so if the driver wishes to maintain the speed it will need to increase fuel consumption. As a result there is the potential that siting these will result in increased fuel usage in the vehicles to allow the electricity to be generated. It would also be the case that this would be a very inefficient way of generating electricity, since the internal combustion engine in the vehicle is less efficient than even fuel oil fed conventional power stations, and on top of this there are the inefficiencies in associated within the speed bump.

I do appreciate however that since the idea of a speed bump is to slow the traffic down this could be a good thing, especially if the bumps were tuned so that they only took energy out of the traffic when it was above a certain speed. In these cases it would be good, and for this reason i could see these being particularly useful in areas where braking is happening, such as at the bottom of long hills and also on stretches of roads where it can be determined the drivers will slow down after the speed bumps.

No windfarm UFO strike

According to Ecotricity it turns out that the UFO damage to the wind turbine which was so sensationally reported on the front page of The Sun as well as many other international news sources wasn't done by an extraterrestrial body after all. According to Dale Vince, the MD of Ecotricity, this damage was in fact more likely a result of metal fatigue. The turbine manufacturers are currently looking at the damage to try and determine exactly what caused it. Whilst all the other turbines have been checked and have been given a clean bill of health, I can't help but wonder what sort of effect this well publicised failure will have on future wind energy projects throughout the UK. I can imagine the anti-wind lobby is already looking how best to use this to their advantage and I personally wouldn't be surprised if this incident is used to object to new wind power generation applications, particularly those involving Enercon and Ecotricty.

More information can be found on the Ecotricty website and the BBC website.

Shock news - a civil servent with sense!

I read in today's Telegraph that the head of the UK's Environment Agency, Lord Smith proposes that more should be done to increase the use of renewable energy on public land. His proposals include fitting all public buildings with solar PV and solar heat technology, making sure all new public buildings have the minimum environmental impact possible, and the use of vacant public land for the siting of wind turbines where practical.

Whilst his proposals would be relatively costly, I believe it will have multiple benefits for the country. Firstly it will reduce the carbon emisions through decreased use of fossil fuels, which would also help tthe balance of payments at the national level. Secondly, it is likely that at least part of this new equipment will be constructed within the UK creating and safeguarding jobs at this time of economic woe, with further jobs being created at the installation stage. Linked to this, such a large procurement of such technologies may help in reducing their cost through increased unit production, and therefore greater efficiency. Finally such a scheme will prove to be an example that such radical changes can be done (as has already been proved elsewhere), which will hopefully encourage greater uptake of renewable technologies within the private sector.

The original article can be found here.


This is a new blog which has been created with the sole purpose of informing people of the major changes affecting renewable energy within the UK, as well as my personal opinion on these occurances. In addition there will also be my views on the renewable energy which I come across.
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