Correcting the world’s wrongs…

Very interesting article on a few levels from the Guardian.

This article points to a number of the central themes of the climate change and renewable technology agenda. Ideas such as industrialised countries fighting against the prevailing world trend and actually lowering carbon emissions, the take up of renewable energy technologies within a framework of investment and remuneration (FIT), and the ever-present threat of dependence on the dirtiest fossil fuel energy sources, even in the face of vast renewables potential in all areas of the world.

Last, but certainly not least, is the reference to the main reason why Germany (and Germans) have embraced the concept of sustainability to the extent they have.

But despite the problems, Germany remains committed to its green agenda, driven, some say, by the need to correct the world’s wrongs – a sentiment that goes back to the second world war and the postwar generation who challenged their parents afterwards for just standing by.

“That has led to a very strong environmental and anti-nuclear movement,” says Green party MP Hermann Ott. “It ultimately led to the foundation of the Green party and made us very strong. If something goes wrong, you have to speak up and do something otherwise your children will ask you in 20 to 30 years, ‘Why didn’t you do anything?'”

Why didn’t you do anything? A powerful question and one which millions of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people are already asking the industrialised western countries and one which many millions more will be asking countries such as India and China in the decades to come. One of this generations (and many to come) biggest problems, set against past tragedies. An example of what not to do can be very powerful.

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Getting rid of fossil fuels…

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As news of weather stations reading beyond the 400 parts per million of Carbon Dioxide comes in, I ask when and how will we be able to leave fossil fuels behind and therefore be able to avoid runaway global climate … Continue reading

Japan’s nuclear dream over…? Ummm, not really!

I posted something on the issue of Japan becoming a nuclear-power free country about a week ago and what impact this would have on the country, particularly coming up to the heavy power usage summer period.

I suggested that Japan would become a very important case study for other countries considering going away from nuclear power.

Well, it seems that this isn’t now going to happen and that at least two nuclear power reactors will be brought on-line very soon, to deal with a reported 15% power deficit in the western area!

I have to say i’m a bit surprised, given what has very recently happened to the country. In some ways it’s a good thing and will lead to far less CO2 being emitted from alternative power sources, including oil and gas. It’s also actually a bit predictable, given Japan’s renewable power system is not yet able to support the country’s power needs. A very tempting situation to be in for the Government – having a fleet of 50+ reactors just standing by, ready to supply vast quantities of power.

A bit more time needed for the renewable power sector.

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The nuclear debate: Monbiot v Simon…

Wow…

Probably the most interesting 5,000 words i’ve read for many years. If you are into energy production, the environment or sustainability, this small exchange between George Monbiot and Theo Simon will really bring the issue of nuclear power into focus.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/apr/10/monbiot-simon-nuclear-letter

The article in full: Theo Simon response to George Monbiot

The two issues which really do need to be investigated are the ‘need’ for new nuclear power (can renewables fill that gap and quickly enough to prevent runaway climate change?) and the issue of what happens to the nuclear waste?

As things stand, i’m in favour of a new generation of nuclear waste-processing power stations, not power stations which will create the next waste legacy for generations to come. I’m also very interested in exactly how renewables will fill the gap, but fear that coal and gas will inevitably fill the gap instead, as is happening already in Germany and Japan.

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Experimental Thorium reactor…

This is just too much to take – the UK is continuously giving up and falling behind every other country in terms of renewable technology. Now India is pressing ahead with an experimental Thorium reactor!

Article pdf: India plans ‘safer’ nuclear plant powered by thorium | Environment | The Guardian

This is exactly the sort of technology which governments need to get behind and develop as there is no profit for private companies to make from this very early stage of development, or maybe only after 10 years, which is a long timescale for an investment.

Tidal, wind, CCS, nuclear thorium… when is the Government going to get the idea and invest in our future manufacturing industry – renewable technology? Shocking.

And here is why it is so annoying… Green house gas levels are rocketing and the time-scales for hitting the 2 degree warming level are reducing.

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Renewable energy grid…

Some good ideas for the energy grid across Europe and North Africa. The idea is to use the solar power from the N. African sites to counter-balance the production in Europe from wind, tidal and biomass. Part of the plan is that the two different production centres operate at different times of the year and day, with solar in the day, which is then supported by the other types at night.

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Nuclear monbiot…

This is getting scary… This is the third article in as many days from George Monbiot which i’ve agreed with!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2011/mar/16/japan-nuclear-crisis-atomic-energy

This article is basically how I see the nuclear debate. Renewables over nuclear but with a massive pinch of realism thrown in. I started counting the number of coal power plants in China, on the Wikipedia page but lost the will to live after 180! There were at least twice that number in all (in terms of capacity over 1KW).

If either commercial nuclear power or far more efficient renewables technology isn’t brought forward very soon, it won’t matter about the debate. Countries like Russia, China, Brazil, USA who have access to huge coal reserves will just concentrate on that. The other avenue to explore is ‘clean’ coal, but this is even less appealing than nuclear!

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Monbiot on nuclear…

I’ve just read 2 George Monbiot articles (1 from March last year, and the article linked), and I actually agree with both of them! Normally I hate his aggressive style but he seems to be turning that down a bit more recently.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/21/pro-nuclear-japan-fukushima

A good article, which puts forward a lot of realistic points, such as many people and groups exaggerating the dangers of radiation, the batteries which are needed to store the electricity that the renewables produce are still far off where they need to be, base load still needs to be established and nuclear had less impact than fossil fuel sources.

The first fossil fuel which countries are already turning to (or sticking with in many cases) is coal. I’ve read some estimates that there are over 300 years of world coal reserves, based on present usage. It is the most abundant fossil fuel and produces are large energy output. The infrastructure and technologies are already in place to exploit coal. It is also fairly cheap to extract and to process (certainly more than nuclear). All this leads to it being the top choice for many countries.

I said in the previous post about the latest nuclear technologies potentially being a solution. I’m still not convinced but it’s far better than coal or oil. Gas is also a poor choice, given it’s relatively limited reserve and the fact that natural gas is made up mostly of methane, which as a green house gas is more than 20 times as damaging as CO2.

The solution is to develop a mix of sources, with a continued emphasis on developing the renewable technology. The combination of solar and improved battery technology can work, it will just needs more time and investment.

If nuclear is ACTUALLY less polluting than coal, oil or gas, it should be seriously considered, particularly as renewable technology is not at the stage where it can contribute to the majority of the country’s power needs – I wish it could and hope one day it will be different!

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* since I posted this: not sure how I missed the reference but Monbiot’s article title… ‘Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power’, is a reference to Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’! A nod to humour there and I don’t believe he actually does ‘love’ nuclear.