I’m over half way through a masters in renewable energy.
I keep reading or hearing comments like:
“Wind farms are NOT the answer to our energy needs.”
And I think, “Yes you’re right”. No serious proponent is suggesting wind power can in the near future supply all our energy needs. It is theoretically possible for the UK to extract enough energy from the wind to cover our entire energy budget. But there are practical difficulties- not least the fact the balancing of supply and demand. There are already mechanisms and strategies in place to balance power on the grid, and cope with expected and unexpected spikes. Estimates are that the grid with these existing measures can cope with up to 20% penetration- that is 20% of our total energy use could be supplied by wind.
We are nowhere near that. There is not a rampantly aggressive and uncontrollable drive to build more and more wind farms to the point of our energy system relying too much on them.
The other thing I hear is:
“Wind farms don’t work”.
And I think, “Er in what sense?” Newspapers like The Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph simultaneously complain about how wind power is highly subsidised and that it also doesn’t generate very much electricity. These complaints are contradictory if you’re talking about the same wind turbines. There are financial mechanisms to balance the playing field between old, established technologies like combustion, with newer technologies that have not been around so long that experience has honed the designs and reduced the costs. But these mechanisms, call them subsidies if you must, only work if you are delivering useful energy to the grid. If your wind farm is not working, you are losing money, and the companies developing and investing in wind farms are not in the business of losing money.
The problem is that despite energy efficiency messages, our energy use per capita keeps on rising. And our generating infrastructure is ageing, at its heart is a bedrock of decades old coal-fired generation that must be taken out of service some time soon with little prospect of an economically viable upgrade.
Energy efficiency and responsibility should be playing a key role, but there already a lot of effort spent on encouraging this that falls on deaf ears. Part of the problem is that people read and hear messages on energy use with words like “our”, “us” and “we”, and read it as a lecture from someone using words like “your” and “you” with a superciliously holier than thou attitude. Requests for people to take a little responsibility and care are often received as if they are being asked to make unreasonably herculean efforts, or drag our lifestyles back to the stone age.
Wind power cannot be the answer, it cannot solve all our problems. But it has a role to play in moving us to a more sustainable future.
Had to smile today. We were out in Shipley visiting a Will aid solicitor and popped into Asda. There was an announcement on the tannoy about the driver of a VW golf. Who as it turned out was parked in a parent and child space.
Well the tannoy announcer went ballistic about how selfish it was to use parent and child spaces if you don’t have babies or toddlers with you. It was a rightful rant. Only hope that the owner of the golf didn’t have a child in a removable baby seat, and that they had got what they truly deserved.
I’ve got conflicting emotions about this story.
On one hand the fine seems a little petty, and out of proportion. But on the other hand the man lives in a house with a reasonable sized garden, and has been warned- several times. It seems he doesn’t want to think about his rubbish beyon making sure it goes in the bin.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask people to think about what waste they produce when they buy their food, to be honest. Am I being too Marie Antionnette here? I don’t think so. In times past we would be creative with our food. We would eat everything on our plate because it would be rude not to, and we would save and reheat the left overs. We’d be creative with our cooking. Now we just throw out anything that’s 5 seconds past the useby date, and don’t do anything to avoid it.
It’s true our supermarket culture sells a lot of over packaged goods. Recently a columnist tried to live a plastic-free lifestyl. But there are alternatives- even in the supermarket. Meat can be bought in a simple plastic bag with a sticker. You can buy some of your veg loose and despite having a plastic window, a mushroom bag takes up less room in the rubbish to a box.
We have a very good stystem in our street. We have a fortnightly recycling collection, with which you can recycle almost everything reclcylable but only 1 in 10 houses in our street use it. It seems too much effort and something needs to be done to snap people out of their complacency.
Yes there are circumstances where fortnightly collection won’t work, in high rise blocks in inner cities you have no storage space for example. But because a system doesn’t work in one area doesn’t mean it is universally useless. In some areas food waste is recycled weekly- putting the pressure on people to think about how much of everything else they use without causing a health hazard.
In short the man should have been fined. About £30 would have been sensible.
Friends who’ve met me socially recently may have been party to a conversation about a half remembered news story about a plan to make giving alcohol to children illegal. Well I’ve found the story. A charity called “Alcohol concern” styling itself as a “National Agency” called for it to be illegal to give under 15 year olds alcohol because of the rise in alcohol consumption.
The consensus among the random sample of the public in on these conversations was against Alcohol Concern’s proposals. We felt that kids need to be introduced to alcohol in a safe environment, under the supervision of their parents. If drink isn’t some forbidden fruit, it won’t get abused on the streets. And guess what, research shows we were right. Although James Graham’s reaction suggests this is nothing to be smug about.
Alcohol concern seems to be to the control of alcohol, what Mediawatch UK is to taste and decency on TV, and Brake is to sensible motoring.