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Topic Title: E&T magazine - Debate - Anyone for fracking?
Topic Summary: Fracking is one of the best things to happen to onshore gas exploration for a century
Created On: 23 January 2013 11:16 AM
Status: Read Only
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 03 March 2013 01:29 PM
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ReSusTech

Posts: 8
Joined: 21 February 2013

Reply to HazelGroveWolf , Apologies in advance, this is a bit of a long post.

"Wind is horribly inefficient"

At what? This statement does not make sense in either engineering or scientific terms.
If you mean WTs (wind turbines) then this is probably also not correct, depending on your definition of 'horribly inefficient'. Large WTs are probably about the same efficiency as unabated coal, about 40%, the problem is fundamentally availability and variability of wind energy which is not the same as efficiency. However WTs have a far less damaging effect on the environment than fossil fuels, both from the procurement (mining & transport) to the dumping of waste products, solid ash and gasses. Gas I would agree is significantly less horrible than coal in this respect but still problematical.

"you cannot control it and it can never contribute meaningfully to the grid"

The point of WTs is not to control the wind but to collect/harness some of its energy as efficiently as possible and use it to supplement our energy demand and reduce carbon emissions. I would suggest that the Germans have demonstrated perfectly well that it can contribute meaningfully.

"I've no objection to meaningful low pollution energy generating plant but it has to lay claim to that title."

Here again I would suggest that the German experience clearly shows that wind lay claim to that title, it may have introduced a significant visual impact but this is aesthetics and nothing to do with supplying low pollution energy.
I perfectly understand that you, along with a great many others, do not like WTs but that is a different issue from their usefulness. Personally I don't like to see the countryside swamped with houses and if all the coastal towns get flooded by rising sea levels due to business as usual then this will probably mean thousands more new houses in Gloucestershire, personally I'd rather see a few turbines, at least there will be most of the open space left under them for food production.
The real underlying problem is not a shortage of energy but too much demand, and not just for energy, and the reason for this is fundamentally too many people, but we don't like to talk about this because it is not PC. Incidentally, I'm not talking about reducing the current population I mean making serious efforts to stem population growth. This may be getting slightly off topic but we need to consider the bigger picture if we are to create a lasting, secure and sustainable energy infrastructure which incidentally is a worldwide challenge, not just a UK problem.

"These points also imply backup conventional energy generating plant."

No, what these points imply is; we need some mechanism to match and/or decouple the variability of wind, and other intermittent resources, to and/or from our energy/power demand.
Backup conventional energy generating plant is only one possible solution to this challenge and not one I believe is desirable or necessary, except possibly for the short term. I am also reasonably sure that we have the technologies that could provide an alternative solution(s) to this challenge but we still need some time to commercialise these, see next comment.

"Bulk electricity generation efficiency needs a leg up and that probably means gas in the short to medium term."

I'll go with this, at least for about a decade, at a push 2030.

"Remember electricity represents a small but significant portion of the energy mix."

If you call 35.86% of UK total energy consumption used for power generation (DUKES 2007) 'small but significant' then true, personally I don't. One has to remember that every 1KWh of electricity requires over 2KWh, probably nearer 2.5KWh, of other energy (currently mostly fossil) to produce it. Also our energy mix is moving towards electricity use so the percentage is probably increasing. We need al the help we can reasonably get from non fossil sources.

"Have you ever considered the environmental impacts of rare-earth metal extraction in China for the stators in wind turbines?"

Yes. That is why we need to find alternative solutions, materials or technologies that do not rely on scarce commodities. Recent advances in graphene research suggests that we may be able to make highly efficient solar cells from this, generators using superconducting materials instead of rare earth magnets may also offer opportunities, I have heard they may be using this in military aircraft to reduce the generator size and weight by about two thirds.

Finally
"It is simply silly to expect or even require an international treaty on energy policy."

Why? I far as I am aware there are some already in existence, not global ones admittedly, but that's probably necessary. Any way if you start from the premise that something is not worth considering so there's no point in considering it then it definitely won't happen, I expect they thought the same about the slave trade at one time.

Edited: 03 March 2013 at 01:54 PM by ReSusTech
 03 March 2013 03:20 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: ReSusTech
The real underlying problem is not a shortage of energy but too much demand, and not just for energy, and the reason for this is fundamentally too many people, but we don't like to talk about this because it is not PC.

The other reasons are that there is no easy painless solution and it is a political vote loser. However at some time in the future we will talk about it and quite likely that will be when it has become an issue which is causing more serious issues and so cannot be ignored.
Incidentally, I'm not talking about reducing the current population I mean making serious efforts to stem population growth.

To do this we then have to advise some of our children not to have children when we ourselves had children.....yes that is a difficult one!!
This may be getting slightly off topic but we need to consider the bigger picture if we are to create a lasting, secure and sustainable energy infrastructure which incidentally is a worldwide challenge, not just a UK problem.

This will require people to be more or less happy with what they already have and thus seek to maintain what we have rather than grow any more. The difficulty with this is that the largest % of the worlds population do not have what the smallest % have and they want it, after all they saw it in the media. When we think about the energy used per person by the West then think about if, for example, 1.3 billion Chinese and 1.1 billion Indians are to use the same then the world as things currently stand cannot support it. Some governments are going to have some issues in the future as their people start to demand better living standards.
Finally
"It is simply silly to expect or even require an international treaty on energy policy."
Why? I far as I am aware there are some already in existence, not global ones admittedly, but that's probably necessary. Any way if you start from the premise that something is not worth considering so there's no point in considering it then it definitely won't happen, I expect they thought the same about the slave trade at one time.

How about the international treaty on nulcear weapons and the four countries who are not part of it and have Nukes but do not admit to it? The problem with IT's is that they are not fully enforced and those who do not want to be part of them simply do not join or else join when it suits and leave when it no longer suits. Let's think about the EU agreement on financial matters which originally set out how much debt countries were allowed to have and which was flouted by many of the members and so eventually led to the financial crisis. An international energy treaty would be very complicated and complicated treaties tend to have loop holes which are then used to the detriment of the treaty. With regards to 'slaves' there are still lots of them in this world, it's just that it's done in a way which is mostly hidden from the view of the general public and so we are all happy that we are basically 'nice guys and gals'. Nice idea though!

Regards.
 06 March 2013 08:13 PM
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stableford

Posts: 64
Joined: 04 April 2006

A bit more research might be needed by some of the parties to this conversation.
Fracking does not necessarily have to be hydralic. It can be a liquid gas, normally a hydrocarbon as used by a few firms in western Canada, and is recaptured. Its not the cheapest transport media for the proppant, which is water, but it does have less issues of water supply.
I think overall a mixture of technology will be required for a weaning off hydrocarbons.
One of the objections to wind turbines comes from noise, yet the new sheerwind turbines could counter that argument, and open up new generation locations.

I throw it open, back to the floor.
 09 March 2013 05:57 PM
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HazelGroveWolf

Posts: 93
Joined: 25 July 2008

Its all getting a bit silly, what are the government buffoons doing? Can anyone defend this?
Using wood for electricity generation
Bonkers.

Edited: 09 March 2013 at 06:04 PM by HazelGroveWolf
 10 March 2013 01:48 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: stableford
I think overall a mixture of technology will be required for a weaning off hydrocarbons.

I agree with this but of course it needs to be correct mix.
One of the objections to wind turbines comes from noise, yet the new sheerwind turbines could counter that argument, and open up new generation locations.

I tend to think the primary concern relates to their unreliable contribution to our energy requirements. When the wind stops they stop and when the wind velocity is too high they stop. I would rather see the money and tax breaks go into tidal schemes.


Regards.
 10 March 2013 01:57 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: HazelGroveWolf
Its all getting a bit silly, what are the government buffoons doing? Can anyone defend this?
Using wood for electricity generation
Bonkers.

Politicians can defend just about anything, as well you know, but at least we will be able to get some useful energy from those wooden seats in Parliament.

What they have not really thought through is what happens if all the coal fired powered stations around the world start switching to wood. We need to get the gas out of the ground and make use of it but invest some of the money into Nuclear development for the longer term, as well as tidal schemes where they are feasible and also into improving energy efficiencies and reducing energy transmission losses.

Regards.
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