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Topic Title: Renewable Energy Feature in June IET mag
Topic Summary: A must read! Totally unbelievable
Created On: 08 July 2010 07:19 PM
Status: Read Only
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 08 July 2010 07:19 PM
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Here's a link to the online version

This is a must read if you're in any doubt about the idiotic depths now being plumbed by the IET. And the author's bio says he's "one of ten top business school students from around the world to reach the finals of a Time magazine essay competition". Sure made me laugh out loud.
 19 July 2010 09:58 AM
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I see that no-one has bothered to reply, but it seems wrong to let this note go unanswered.

I read the article in the original, and I read it again on-line, but I must be missing something which justifies the "idiotic" label.

There is almost no chance that all developing countries can achieve current Western standards. There is therefore a question about which standards are most important to meet. Drinkable water from mains is indeed a luxury, and one which many places which now enjoy it may not be able to support indefinitely - for example, south-west USA is approaching a water shortage, which might be held off by reusing grey water. China is an example where no tap water is drinkable, in hotels you get a 2L flask of boiled water which is good for tea or to drink cold the next day.

It seems foolish to build new coal-fired power stations when the rest of the world is working to move away from that technology. As bad as the Edinburgh tower-block flats built in the 1960s and now being demolished. So many Western appliances now offer delayed start, to make use of off-peak electricity, it would not be a big change to allow a delay until electricity is available.

If anything in this area is idiotic, surely it would be the refusal to consider alternatives in the long term.

regards, Rod Dalitz (CEng MIEE FInstP)
 19 July 2010 02:52 PM
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The author notes that the poor people of South Africa have been suffering from rolling electricity blackouts and crippling price rises. However he criticises them for wanting to build a new coal fired power station to meet demand. Intstead proposing they spend vast sums of money on hugely expensive, intermittent and unreliable solar & wind schemes. He then goes on to criticise developed countries for the sin of having reliable electricity supply on-tap:

However, this focus on supply security is exactly the stumbling block to the widespread adoption of sustainable energy sources... do we really need a constant energy supply?

Can you believe this question is being asked? And by an electronic engineer? Let me help the author out. Here's the answer: YES WE DO NEED A CONSTANT ENERGY SUPPLY

... It is a luxury of the first world to expect a 100% supply, and dangerously it is a luxury that third world countries aspire towards.

This is nonsense. There is absolutely NO danger in developing countries achieving reliable supply for 100% of their population. On the contrary, it is highly desirable for them to do so; morally, economically and environmentally: Abundant, cheap electricity supply generates health, wealth and prosperity. Richer countries take better care of their environment and have lower population growth rates.

He then switches to a bizarre point about bottled water being better than tap water. How is it environmentally friendly for drinking water to be distributed via plastic bottles? Consider the millions of tonnes of non-biodegrable bottles which go straight to landfill - the massive road transport costs of distributing millions of bottles via daily 2-way car trips to supermarkets. Why not use the existing water pipe system to distribute?

Finally he proposes a massively complex and expensive electricity micro-generation and trading system. However, he notes that even this system won't work very well:

It is accepted that local generation would not be able to meet 100% of demand 100% of the time... consumer expectations on supply security will need to change....It should no longer be considered strange that the lights turn on and off at intervals.

How about the life-support machines at my local hospital? What about manufacturing industry and data centres?

Electric cars will be charged at times of excess supply and be able to sell their stored energy at times of high demand.

What if I need my car in an emergency to go to the hospital? (assuming they have any electricty there to keep the lights on)

Edited: 01 August 2010 at 01:49 PM by Ipayyoursalary

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