Sunday, January 20, 2008

A New Energy Paradigm

LEDs do not contain mercuryThat is what we need. It was no surprise that the government has approved a new generation of Nuclear Power stations.[1] There are arguments on both sides. Wat Tyler over on “Burning our Money” gives a good account for Nuclear – pointing out that electricity “cannot be stored” and that the unpredictable nature of wind means that it is mostly not there when we want it. On the other hand Rupert Read points us to a paper by David Fleming that argues Nuclear cannot even generate enough energy to clean up the radioactive waste that we already have.

What is happening is that we are thinking in terms of “Business as Usual”. We are concentrating on how we can generate electricity on tap rather than focussing our attention on how we can change the way we use electricity – for the better.

Back in the mid 1980s I had a “Mobile Phone” and a “Portable Computer”. The phone was the size and weight of a brick. The computer was the size and weight of a suitcase full of bricks. Look at what we have now. What has driven these technological innovations? The weight and size are by-products of the real driver – they are mobile and they are used in places where there is no socket to plug into for on tap electricity. Wat Tyler is not strictly speaking correct – electricity can be stored in batteries, rechargeable batteries. The technological advances here have been to get the power consumption down to levels where the batteries can be made much smaller and therefore lighter.

So, what is to stop us pushing these developments into other static electrical devices? Desktop computers, Televisions, DVD players, lighting, fridges, freezers, etc etc?
Only the will or the NEED to do it. You charge them up when the electricity is there [the wind is blowing or the sun is shining] and you can use them whenever you like.

If we really want security of supply then we have to use sources that are secure and use human ingenuity to accommodate the imperfections. Coal, Oil, Gas and Uranium are not secure.
Many businesses are turning to CHP [Combined Heat and Power] and with new energy efficiency developments like this [Click] on the horizon one wonders whether those Nuclear Power Stations with such long lead times will ever become operational.

[1] Is there a country that has Nuclear Weapons, that does not also have Nuclear Power Stations?

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