Energy

Still in ‘hurry up and wait’ mode and can’t be bothered any more to comment much on the COVID idiocy that Boris the henpecked clown and cohorts are inflicting on the UK. It’s just a shame there’s no opposition worthy of the name. Labour are so wokely unelectable it’s untrue, and the flaccid Limp Dems and Greens just as bad. Across the political spectrum they’re all heavily invested in the “Carbon Dioxide is evil” meme. Dozy lot.

While we’re waiting for the go from the lawyers, I took some time out to think about heating and lighting, two things I am very much in favour of, having grown up in a series of cold and draughty building sites my parents chose as homes. Ever woken up with ice cubes in your beard? I bloody well have and I’m not in favour of it. Building regs be damned.

It has always created a sense of slack jawed amazement in yours truly about electrickery and the cognitive dissonance surrounding energy policies from all mainstream political factions. The end result of decades of muddled ‘green’ thinking has led to an energy crisis in the offing. Across continental and island Europe (Including Ireland and the UK) we are going to run short of electrickery because we’ll be relying upon big silly propeller driven generators to provide all our energy needs, all the while shutting down working power stations, which will be a bit of an own goal when the wind stops blowing, as it has been known to do during the coldest months of the year. The Russians haven’t stopped laughing at us since 2010.

Frankly, with huge, energy gobbling data centres being planned across the Emerald Isle, this situation promises to create interesting* power shortages, because no-one seems to have done some fairly simple sums or bothered to ask some basic but pertinent questions about power supply.

Here’s a couple of interesting topics to look up; fracking and Small Modular Reactors.

Fracking could provide a quick and dirty interim solution because an area called the Northwest Ireland Carboniferous Basin has been identified as shale rich, this comprises parts of Fermanagh, Cavan, Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and Roscommon. There are also deposits in the West Limerick and North Kerry areas.

However, the Eejits who think we’ll all burn alive if anyone so much as lights a cigarette have the people in power by the lugholes. Ergo, fracking is currently banned in Ireland.

Small Modular Reactors are based on a simple and very safe nuclear technology, proven in nuclear powered ships for over forty years, which would supply serious baseload electricity supply. Rolls Royce do a good series. Yes, series. Not just one type but several. Not to mention the major players in the global market like NuScale Power (US), Westinghouse Electric (US), General Electric-Hitachi Nuclear Energy (US), Terrestial Energy (Canada), and Moltex Energy (Canada). The projected footprint for such sites is no more than twenty five acres. About half the size of a small family farm. Yet such a reactors output can be as much as the plated capacity of a hundred and fifty 2MW wind turbines, each of which needs 40 to 70 acres of land each. Nor do SMR’s hold any risk for wildlife, unlike wind farms, which are known to kill bats (Many of which are endangered species) and birds (Specifically Hawks and Eagles) alike.

Now consider this; each wind turbine averages an output of between 20-25% of plated capacity output at peak efficiency. So that means for example that a V120 2.2 Megawatt turbine actually outputs around 400 Kilowatts. From over twice the acreage as required for a single SMR that can put out a steady 300 lovely cosy Megawatts. For the hard of arithmetic among you, that’s 750 times more, I repeat, seven hundred and fifty (Thanks Mick) so you will need 750 wind turbines covering 56,250 acres to equal the output of one Small Modular reactor. Erratically. Intermittently. That’s more than 227 Square kilometres. Enough to wipe out several of Ireland’s larger National Parks.

An SMR can generate a steady 300MW for ten years without reload. With a considerably lower environmental footprint one might add, both in terms of materials and local ecological impacts. Zero emissions, steady output of clean baseload supply. Maybe even enough to power all those electrical fantasy batterymobiles the politicians tell us we all have to purchase by 2030, or is that 2040? What we’re going to buy these things with I have no idea as they’re several times the price of cheap and dependable ICE technology.

Then there is the option of Thorium molten salt reactors, in reality actually Uranium 233, a shorter-lived and less dangerous form of Uranium than Uranium-235. Which has been a workable but neglected technology since the 1960’s. Such power generators have two main advantages. First; they cannot be used to create weapons grade fissile material. Second; any shutdown or system failure carries little or no risk of contamination outside of the reactor vessels. They also produce much less toxic waste, and can, I am informed, burn the fuel from older and more toxic leftovers from older generation nuclear power stations such as the old Magnox power plants.

As for fracking, the claimed environmental hazards of this method, contamination of water table etc aren’t real. A properly sleeved bore means that gas cannot leak into the water table and thus any potable aquifer. The only real ‘evidence’ against fracking was highly localised phenomena where gas naturally leaking from the strata in certain areas of Wyoming, Texas and I believe Louisiana had contaminated the local water supply long before any actual fracking took place. As for the claimed risk of ‘Earthquakes’, the worst attributed to fracking so far have been around 2.1-2.3, which are all but invisible except to seismometers.

As for other means of staying warm in the chill of Winter, regrettably, Fusion power will always be twenty years in the future while the current models of reactor are being used. Even the giant ITER under construction in Southern France will never output the promised power. Why? Because it’s a Tokamak, and like so many other methods of nuclear fusion, the physical design of Tokamaks mean they can only ever produce a ‘bang in a bottle’. I would be delighted to be proven wrong, but I won’t be.

Of course when the idiots in power finally get the memo a good many of the population this side of the Irish sea will have gone back to burning dried peat for heating. Because no-one wants to be wet and cold all the time. Maybe all those currently employed as COVID inspectors will find new ways of making people’s lives miserable by being retasked as smoke spotters. Who knows?

When the power outages hit this January and February coming, just think; when you wake up with ice on your lips and that fancy air source heat pump gives out less heat than a wet fart. Then look at your electrickery bill and wonder who will let you take out a third mortgage to pay it. Consider thus; you could have had warmth and light in abundance. Could have had fracked gas. Could have had small nuclear. Might not be scrabbling down the back of the sofa for coins for the leccy meter.

Here’s an energy spokesperson on the matter.

Oh well, I’m off to buy some shares in the companies that produce thermal underwear. If the prognostications are any guide, it’s going to be a cold Winter. Don’t forget to wrap up warm now. I bloody well will do.

*Interesting as in having to warm one’s hands over a candle during the depths of winter. If of course, candles are still ‘allowed’.

4 thoughts on “Energy”

  1. Forcing some safe watery mixture into the Earth is Baaad.
    Forcing suffocating carbon dioxide into the Earth is super-plus-good.
    I just do not want to be anywhere near a Carbon Capture bore hole.
    CO2 is not your friend when it comes bubbling up faster than the plants in the area can use it.
    Anyway, why do they not call it Oxygen Capture? After all they are bunging more O2 down there than C.

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    1. The whole Carbon Capture thing doesn’t make sense. The only place these disaster scenario’s occur is in the ACP 8.5 data models, which are notorious for producing results unsupported by reality, as well as failing to take into account the following factors; clouds and albedo, magnetic variations and assume that despite all these solar flares the sun keeps on slinging our way, assumes that the suns output is a constant.

      The Earth’s climate is a very complex dynamic affected by many more variables than just infra red absorption and back radiation. Nor is the Earth a ‘black body’, something which my Engineering teachers told me is a mathematical convenience rather than a reality. Sometimes equations are not your friend.

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  2. I hate to pull up an educated man on his maths, but 300MW / 400kW is 750, not 75. Assuming it’s not a typo in the basic figures, of course….

    Also, I heard that once a Thorium reactor has been started with some pure fuel, they run quite happily on the waste that has been buried from the old Magnox reactors. There’s apparently about 200 years of such fuel currently stored. Sounds like win/win to me.

    The way I understood the ban on petrol/diesel vehicles in 2030 is that the vehicles don’t have to be all electric – hybrids are still permitted. It’s still a bloody stupid thing to be doing, though. I have a suspicion that every car I am likely to own in my lifetime has already been built.

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    1. I thought it looked wrong, but I was is a hurry to get out of the house. Will correct. The figures look even worse word those big silly propellor things now.

      Thanks for pulling me up.

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