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The energy debate - Nuclear vs renewable


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#1 admin

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 05:25 PM

Should we build a new generation of nuclear power plants or invest in renewable sources? Can renewables meet our growing energy demands? Maybe energy efficiency is the answer...............?

-Links
Britain's nuclear power industry should act its age
Should we build new nuclear power stations?-THE SCOTSMAN DEBATE
Blair faces organised rebellion on nuclear issue
Public 'split' on nuclear energy
Minister declares nuclear 'renewable'
PM 'convinced' on nuclear future
Debate: climate change and nuclear power
S.E.P.A. - Atomic Reaction
Anti-nuclear MPs challenge Blair
Our legacy of nuclear waste

#2 peeriebryan

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 08:59 PM

I think we should address the problem at the root i.e. our consumption. If we didn't use as much, we wouldn't need as much :wink:

I heard on Newsnight recently that the average household has increased its electrical consumption by 11% since 1990, despite the government's (fairly lack-lustre) energy conservation campaigns :?

Renewables, such as wind, wave and solar, which are intermittent by nature, will become a lot more viable when an efficient way to store charge is developed. We need some bigger batteries!!

#3 Distortio

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 06:46 PM

wave power seems like the obvious choice, britain is a relatively small landmass surrounded by water, and there will always be waves. solar power is of variable viability, particularly in shetland. they'll most probably go nuclear anyway, in fact it's most likely decided already.

i'd rather every household was issued with a giant GM hamster in a wheel hooked up to a generator. let's put some of this dubious technology to use. :idea:

#4 petergear

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 12:12 AM

Surely, the answer is to use a broad a range of technologies, and to approach this from a number of angles. Nuclear has its upsides and downsides, but on a purely economical level it is BLOODY expensive - imagine how advanced Green technology would be if the government invested into it with the same enthusiasm it seems to show for Nuclear? New Zealand manage to create all their grid-power without ANY nuclear.

On an energy-saving level, Germany are leading the field in research into how to prevent energy-loss from old buildings. The German government recently implemented new legislation forcing every new German house to consume less than 7 litres of oil per square metre. Just to give you some idea of what that means, an old building typically consumes 20ltr/m2. However, the chemical company BASF set itself the more ambitious goal of bringing an older property, just outside the gates of the company's offices in Ludwigshafen, to well beyond modern standards. Here's a link to an article showing how they did it (mostly through implementation of new insulative materials & heat-exchangers):

http://physicsweb.or...world/15/7/11/1

Generally, as an energy saving means, the use of heat-pumps offer fantastic returns and can be fitted anywhere. A heat pump operates on the same principle as a fridge (but in reverse), and actually puts out far more energy than it takes to run, because instead of creating heat it is simply moving it from "outside" to "inside". To quote the HPA's website: "Heat pumps supply more energy than they consume, by extracting heat from their surroundings. Currently heat pump systems can supply as much as 3kW of heat output for just 1kW of energy input. Heat is transferred from outside air or from warm exhaust air. It can also be drawn from a water source such as river, ground or waste water. Heat from any of these sources is used to heat air or water for various heating needs." Heat pumps are a technology which has been around for a very long time but is horrendously under-utilised because people don't know about it; because it's not poplular, people are nervous about it and shy away from it. "Oil heating vs Heatpumps"? People usually unfortunately opt for the familiar and populist choice, so "alternative" technologies often struggle to get established. Here's a link to the Heat Pump Association (HPA)'s website if anyone's interested:

http://www.feta.co.uk/hpa/

Another simple and extremely effective energy-saving technology is the use of heat-exchangers in ventilation systems, which allow buildings to recover heat lost during their ventilation processes - again, sadly under-utilised, almost all buildings recover zero percent of their exchanged air, which is a shame. Here's a link to another website demonstrating the potential for this technology:

http://www.villavent...ventilators.htm

Green technology usually costs a little more sometimes to implement in the first place, but offers excellent long-term returns. I reckon the easiest way for the government to implement effective and immediate green policy would be to implement and publicise financial incentives coupled with information / education. They need to encourage people to adopt these technologies in industrial/municipal settings and private/public residential, and to make people aware of effective energy-saving technological options by issuing clear information regards what's available, where it's available from & how much it costs. Then all they have to do is sit back and watch the demand for energy plummet. I think the Government needs to approach the energy problem more laterally, flanking it from many angles, instead of from such a single-minded "how do we feed the grid & meet rising demand" approach.

Final comment: What is it they say, "You buy cheap, you pay dear"?

Hm. Chris Hodge....

Final Final comment then: Another energy-saving move would be to ban crap petro-chemical-derived tat & semi-disposable haberdashery from existence on this earth, in order to extend the life of our oilfields. Have I taken that too far? Don't think so

Final Final Final comment - I reckon that by investing in nuclear, the government would unfortunately be buying dear AND paying dear?

#5 Muppet

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 01:30 PM

Renewables, such as wind, wave and solar, which are intermittent by nature


Tidal energy is not intermittent. There is a period of slack water at any given location, but you just need to cross to the other side of Shetland to find a tidal flow at the time of slack water, so a numer of generators spread around the country would always provide power.

#6 peeriebryan

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 03:51 PM


Renewables, such as wind, wave and solar, which are intermittent by nature


Tidal energy is not intermittent.

Hi muppet. I agree with what you're saying about tidal power, but I wasn't refering to that. There's a difference between wave and tidal power. Wave energy generation devices harness the oscillating motion of an incoming and outgoing waves to generate electricity. This is dependant on the energy present in the waves. You won't generate much on a flat calm day :wink:

Here's a link to a brief summary of the main types of wave and tidal power I'm talking about Tidal & Wave Explined

I think tidal power is a far more viable energy source than wave power due to the reasons you pointed out.

#7 Gandhi

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 08:46 PM

I agree with jim jam. Nuclear is inevitable for the mean time. Until there is a way of mass storing electricity generated by renewables then there has to be another way to maintain the supply. Hydrogen is, I think, the fuel of the future, but it is just that - the fuel of the future. I doubt whether it will be a major player within my life time anyway. At the end of the day it comes down to money. Until hydrogen fuel cells and renewable generation is cheaper than petrochemical fuel or nuclear then it is just not going to happen on a mass scale.

I think we should address the problem at the root i.e. our consumption. If we didn't use as much, we wouldn't need as much


Sadly this is just not human nature. People will always just want more. I dont think you will find many of the population willing to sacrifice there own standard of living to cut down on power usage.

#8 peeriebryan

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 12:59 PM

In a recent MORI poll 54% of people said they would accept new nuclear power stations being built if they helped fight climate change, although 80% 'thought renewable technologies and energy efficiency were better ways of tackling global warming'. This comes before Labour begins its review on the future of energy, which is bound to be an exercise in lipservice. Its fairly obvious that we're getting a new generation of nuclear stations, which will be sold to us as a 'green alternative'

I think we should address the problem at the root i.e. our consumption. If we didn't use as much, we wouldn't need as much

Sadly this is just not human nature. People will always just want more. I dont think you will find many of the population willing to sacrifice there own standard of living to cut down on power usage.

In the same poll, '76% thought reducing energy through lifestyle changes and energy efficiency was better'. How many of these people will actually be willing to change their lifestyles when it comes down to it. Its the same principal as the NIMBYs in the wind power debate. Everybody bleats on about how its the way forward, as long as they don't have to make any sacrifices themselves

#9 Njugle

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 03:17 PM

Something i was made aware of recently, was our nearness to the concept of Peak Oil, as in, there is now as much oil left in the ground as has already been used, which means at current consumption only a few decades till run-out. The complication to this is that certain developing nations are using ever increasing quantities of oil in contrast to europe trying to cut down. The same report outlines that the only way to make oil last until we can secure alternative sources is to set an oil price of $182 per barrel NOW!

The other hidden point here is as petergear alluded to, plastic. Look around for something that does not contain or utilise plastic in your daily life. Life will be pretty tough without it, unless someone gets their finger out soon.

My opinion? Think big. Ever flown across the pentland firth? It's one big generator. Stick a barrier right across it and reap the tidal benefits! It might cost a billion or two, but what did that poxy parliement building cost £0.4 billion? And the return is.....?

Then again....bressay brig? How about bressay barrier! With a movable sluice gate to allow shipping through.....what the....no...mr wishart don't shoot me...please... have mercy!....uuurghhh!

#10 petergear

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 03:19 PM

:idea: Well-known local musician, John 'O Da Burns' Hutchison, is fitting BOTH heat-exchanger ventilation AND a heat pump into his new house! (If you're not sure what these are, scroll a little further back up the page and have a glance at the 'article' I wrote previously).

This is an example of someone who has the wit to realise that implementation of 'Green' technology doesn't necessarily come with a huge capital outlay, AND, it saves a fortune in the long run.

People unfortunately tend to follow the herd, even if it's at the cost of their hard-earned savings. I'm certain that to swing the tide in "renewables" vs "traditional", the key is getting people to realise that "Green" doesn't equate to "So Bloody Expensive It's Not Worth Considering".

If enough people hear about the success of John's scheme then they might be inclined to follow suit. I mean, who'd even heard of these technologies before? Moreover, even if you'd heard of it, would you have thought of putting it in your house? It's all to do with marketing, branding, advertising. It has to be approached from a hard-selling capitalist viewpoint, brands have to be trusted before people buy a product.

The German government seems to be taking a good lead, by enforcing energy-saving at a basic legislative level. It has led to a massive boost in the German economy, with a huge new growth industry (unlike the flagging US economy). "Green" technology is the Next Big Thing, and they're getting a jump on us all. I'll ask Jess what we need to do to get this government to look at the options. Or maybe we're better trying to lobby the likes of BP and Hydro Electric, and ask them why they're still pushing electric storage heaters and oil fired heating when it's possible to use heat-moving technology instead (both heat pumps and exchangers operate on the principle that energy is not created from chemical sources, eg coal / oil / nuclear, but simply moved from A to B instead directly as heat - an outrageously efficient system, 'producing', in John's case, four times as much energy as it takes to run).

Meanwhile folks, spread the word. Heatpumps! Heat-exchanger-ventilation! (sausage, it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it?)

Aaaargh, one final point, my in-laws recently installed oil.... this was part of a bloody government-funded scheme to give huge grant assistance towards insulating homes and fitting new central heating systems for the elderly (they were amused at being considered elderly, but they weren't going to turn down a freebie). They were not given an option, it was oil, or nothing. The upside was, that the same scheme did insulate their house for them, which was splendid, and it is VERY cosy..... but the fact that a completely Un-Green technology was installed as part of a "Green" scheme COMPLETELY winds me up, especially as the whole house had to be plumbed for it, from scratch. Why oh why oh bloody why :evil:

#11 Njugle

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 03:32 PM

:idea:
Meanwhile folks, spread the word. Heatpumps! Heat-exchanger-ventilation! (Bugger, it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it?)

Ther's nothing new about any of this, hark back to Gary "Ticker" the physics techer? He had the exchanger in 20 years ago, just think how stupid we all look to him!

Another one is a certain free-minded Laurenson fellow in Scalloway who draws the air for his heating system....from the ridge of his house, ie re-using the heat lost within the building...now that is clever. And when did he install that? at least 10 maybe 15 years ago! There's truly nothing new under the sun, AND on that note, what happened to solar water heaters? Why do you not have them either mr gear, hmm? We're all as bad as each other.

#12 peeriebryan

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 04:04 PM

just think how stupid we all look to him!

An ironic statement in many ways

There must be quite a few toonies kicking themselves now for not getting the district heating scheme heat exchangers fitted when they had the chance. A bit of an initial outlay, but in the long run....

#13 petergear

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 04:22 PM

Yup, agree wholeheartedly with you there Njugle!

Am busily fitting insulation (or should be if I'd drag myself away from the internet) as we speak. Was considering getting in the District Heating, but am weighing it up against heatpumps.... I wager that the heatpump comes out cheaper? I'll let you know. It could be argued that the heatpump is "greener", as well. I hope to practice what I preach regards the ventilation system too, might be a year or two down the line, but should save me a fortune.

Just a pedantic and minor word of caution - to draw heat from the roofspace would lead to temperature drops, which could lead to condensation. However if the roofspace is properly ventilated, this shouldn't be a problem, and I agree, it is a very, very clever approach indeed.

Help me here: How can we dress-up "pumping" and "heat" into some kind of sexy marketing campaign? I am at a loss. :wink:

#14 Njugle

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 04:47 PM

Just a pedantic and minor word of caution - to draw heat from the roofspace would lead to temperature drops, which could lead to condensation.


Au contraire amigo, without going into lengthy technical description, the system he uses ensures consistent heat throughout the house, similar to the newer method the coonty uses to counteract condensation. (his upstairs is lined to the peak of the ridge etc.)

Just couldn't let it lie. :wink:

#15 peeriebryan

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 08:30 AM

Here's a few interesting energy related articles


--> Making Shetland more environmentally sustainable - How's this for a quote

According to councillor John Nicolson a small community like Shetland could end up spending more energy on monitoring its energy use than it saved if it adopted ecological footprinting.

Read the article here http://www.shetlandt...ContentID=18359



--> Yell community wind farm -
http://www.shetlandt...ContentID=18359

http://www.shetland-...moves_ahead.htm



--> Sea could meet energy needs - http://www.shetlandm...power_needs.htm



--> Shetland is suffering from 'Fuel Poverty'. Apparently Shetland has the 3rd highest instance in Scotland of 'fuel poverty'. I had never heard the tem before, but this is how The Shetland News defined it

"A household is said to be suffering from fuel poverty when more than 10 per cent of its income has to be spent to keep the house warm."

To read the article you'll have to cut n paste the following code into your browser address bar because they've used an apostrophe in the URL. A real internet code no-no, so it might not work!)
http://www.shetland-news.co.uk/pages/news%20stories/01_2006/shetland's_fuel_poverty_quite_scary.htm
Follow up article - http://www.shetland-.../new_page_1.htm