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Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air,
This review is from: Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air (Hardcover)Remarkable book. It sets out in straight forward terms the issues but lets those with a mathematical leaning understand the issues from that perspective. If you have any professional or serious interest in enviromental issues this is a good place to start developing a comprehensive understanding of the trade offs.
Extraordinarily clear and engaging I am recommending it to all my colleagues
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Initial post: 27 Jul 2013 14:22:25 BDT
Where does he discuss the trade-off between cheap reliable fossil fuels and expensive intermittent 'renewables'? I must have missed that chapter. Or are you referring to chapter one where he dismisses fossil fuels with some arm waving about global warming (of which there's been none this century) and peak oil ( which neglects the recent discoveries of massive quantities of shale gas and shale oil all round the world).
In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jul 2013 11:00:43 BDT
Andrew Cardle says:
This is a straight forward book about numbers and the demystification of the "twaddle" surrounding climate change and energy policy. David Mackay sets out to explain complex physics in order to generate "energy numbers and policies that add up". The starting point is an assumption set out in chapter 1 motivations "that we want to get off fossil fuels, lay a factual foundation, so that you can see which proposals add up".
There is an interlocular relationship between energy cost, quality of life, and its consumption. David Mackay steers clear of that ethical debate. "We live in a time when emotions, and feelings count more than truth and there is a vast ignorance of science". His focus is a review of the scientific facts.
One of the unfortunate things about the power generation market is the time it has taken for non-experts and the unwilling (Enviromental Groups) to appreciate the challenge of intermittency and generation cost by primary feed stock source. David copiously covers the energy generated by feed stock but on the premise that fossil fuel burning, going forward, is not an option.
Why is all of this important; Last year Coal overtook gas to become the UK's dominant electricity generation fuel as a result of cheap Coal Exports from the US after the shale gas boom you refer to; 39% up from 29% in the previous year and close to the historically prevailing balance (Coal, Gas, Oil, and Nuclear). This shift is driven entirely by the prevailing cost drivers in the market.
Recent events in the United States reconfirms that prosperity is founded on secure access to competitively priced fuel. Our own history confirms the same conclusion. As a nation we are rich in relatively cheap energy your point regarding shale oil is well made but was not referred to in either David's book or my review on account of the technology being unproven at the time of writing. Given the size of the Shale Oil Industry in Scotland in the 17th & 18th century this was an omission.
David in setting out why we are discussing energy policy states: Everybody has a vested interest in security of supply. I recall only too well the rolling blackouts that proceeded the three day week. Life was miserable. When Generals talk of bombing countries back to the Stone Age what they actually mean is destroying electricity generation and its transmission
My point was and my one critic of David's book was his outright dismissal of the fossil fuel option. As a nation we are sitting on over 200 years of coal consumption at current levels of consumption. Our park of Coal burning stations are at the end of their "economic life" on account of the cost of the removal of their C02 emissions not on account of their mechanical condition.
Even if we made 80% of our electricity with windmills (a probably impossible and colossally disruptive and expensive undertaking) we would reduce our CO2 emissions by just 16%.
My conclusion from reading David's book is that our industrial future in not based on wind turbines and solar cells. Life is difficult when you tell the truth but impossible when you don't speak the truth. We have to face up to the fact we are a densely populated manufacturing based economy and the green agenda is a trade off in our quality of life decision matrix. With that in proper perspective we can move on. David's book sets out the issues and the trade off and that made an enormous contribution to the debate.
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