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)
01 August 2010 at
01:49 PM by