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No Ed, No, it won’t

Yes, the Paris climate change conference can save the planet
Ed Miliband

Let’s just take everything the IPCC says as being true, just for the sake of argument. Is a meeting of fuckwits and politicians (but I repeat myself) then going to save it?

No. Solar getting cheaper, batteries getting better and cheaper, that’s what will. And that means engineers, not fuckwits and politicians.

21 thoughts on “No Ed, No, it won’t”

  1. “Solar getting cheaper, batteries getting better and cheaper, that’s what will. And that means engineers, not fuckwits and politicians.”

    To be fair, that’s exactly what the IPCC actually says. They’ve been absolutely clear that there is no huge threat to the planet. Ed MIliband’s simply rejecting the scientific consensus on climate change.

  2. @SMFS… That’s hardly a recent revelation… Prof John Brignell wrote about it in “Numberwatch” at least 5 years ago.

  3. batteries getting better and cheaper

    Unlikely, if you’re referring to chemical batteries, which are already operating close to the limits of physics (which is why progress is measured in a few percent per annum, rather than some variant of Moore’s Law). What’s needed is some completely new method of storing energy; perhaps super-capacitors, although these are also bound by the laws of physics.

    Absent such progress in storage technology, solar will remain suited only to low latitudes, where peak sun coincides with peak demand (for aircon). In the north it will remain an excellent method for transferring money from the rich to the poor (© Peter Bauer).

  4. Noel –

    Miliband: “I’m not gonna be a back-seat driver.”

    Naughtie: “Well having crashed the car it’s difficult to do that.”

    Miliband: “Thanks.”

    LOL. Classic Ed.

  5. I knew Ed was going to be on the radio this morning. I felt all the charisma leave the room a few minutes before he started talking.

  6. Chris Miller>

    Nonsense, batteries are far from the only energy storage solution we have to choose from. Whether we’re electrolysing water for hydrogen, or synthesising hydrocarbons, or using flywheels, or pumped hydro, or any number of other possible options, the only factors that matter are the cost of solar power and the efficiency of the storage method.

    Futurology is a guessing game, but my guess would be that we have enough investment in existing infrastructure that we’re going to end up with synthetic hydrocarbons powering our cars. Maybe we’ll dam the Strait of Gibraltar and use the Mediterranean as a really massive hydro pond.

    Whichever way it ends up, really cheap energy as the input is a game-changer.

  7. All very exciting, but which of these technolgies will give due weight to inclusivity and cultural sensitivities generally?

    What we don’t want is to find that, a) we have a source of clean, sustainable and cheap power, but, b) we’re no better than an Oxford college circa 1926.

    There is also the danger that cheap power might reduce the tax yield potential, thus leading to a reduction in National Joy. Let’s tread carefully.

  8. All very exciting, but which of these technolgies will give due weight to inclusivity and cultural sensitivities generally?

    One advantage of high usage of renewables, is that the inhabitants of the hot dusty places floating on oil will at long last be able to get back to their traditional ways of earning a living.

    Goat herding mainly.

  9. Dave
    The straits of Gib is an interesting point.
    Before sail could tack against the wind, if you sent a boat into the med there it would stay.
    Surface current is west to east, continuous, deep current is east to west, continuous.
    So a potential source of current energy.
    Same probably applies to the Dardenelles.

  10. There’s a lot of potential energy being wasted in the form of dirty little rats running about modern cities and spreading disease. Let’s catch them and hook them up to bicycle pedals to create energy.

    Or is that culturally insensitive to rats?

  11. ‘Solar getting cheaper’…

    Mr W you persist with the confusion over kW, a unit of energy, and kWh, a unit of consumption.

    We do not use kW, we use and pay for kWh.

    Costing solar according to the cost per kW is confusing fixed costs with cost of consumption, in the latter case the cost for solar is ZERO… how much cheaper does it have to be?

    The fixed cost is irrelevant.

    The problem is not the fixed cost, nor the consumption cost, but the intermittence, variability and unreliability of output such that solar (and wind) cannot be relied upon to keep the tension on the grid and provide base load, or respond to peak demand without backup, no matter how many windmills or solar arrays there are.

    The only ‘battery’ we currently have is pumped storage into reservoirs with hydro generators. So next to none.

    But even if we were to get these other magic batterries that engineers are working feverishly on (engineers can only engineer science, by the way, and if the science is not yet discovered they have nothing to engineer) what electricity will we all be using whilst solar and wind are recharging the batteries?

    Fossil fuel/nuclear = on demand electricity controlled by Human hand.

    Solar/wind = not on demand electricity controlled by Nature

    Is that really so hard to understand – and why solar, even if panels cost 1p per million is no substitute for fossil fuel or nuke?

  12. @Dave

    And which of these new storage technologies provide superior costs, efficiency or energy density compared with chemical batteries? Energy storage is the crucial weakness for intermittent energy generation (wind, solar, tidal) and there’s no effective solution in sight (it’s also the limiting factor for electric vehicles). That’s not to say that someone in a lab won’t come up with a genius solution tomorrow, but we can’t count on that happening.

  13. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Chris Miller: there’s also a really big problem with being able to bung large reactive loads (i.e voltamps reactive) onto the system in a hurry if it looks like going out of whack. The grid people talk about MVAR and even GVAR which you sometimes need to be able to deploy in a hurry to keep supply frequency at 50Hz (a lot of electronics handles slight under- or over-voltages better than it does the frequency wandering around). The system is operating at the margin of stability as it is.

  14. kW isn’t a unit of energy, it’s a unit of power. Energy/time.

    kWh is a unit of energy, Energy/time*time = Energy.

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