Personally, I think hydropower is a better long term solution, because
1: it doesn't produce waste, which is a minor issue, since toilets can get clogged
2: it doesn't rely on fuel, such as coal, gas, or uranium (or some other type of radioactive goop)
3: it's really, really clean, I mean it's about as clean as it gets
4: it has no disposability issues– wind turbines are nearly impossible to recycle, so they just get junked in a landfill
5: it lasts a really, really long time– think Hoover Dam, Grand Coulee Dam, etc
6: it generates a bucketload of power– more than most wind farms or solar arrays
That's just my take on it from various things I've read on the Web.
wind and solar are feel good stuff. They make virtually 0 power in the grand scheme.
some newer, larger, hydro is pretty potent, but the trouble there is that there are only a few sites where you can DO that, so you can't make enough of them to power the world. Dams have an environmental and logistical impact ... getting up and down for boat transports is a hassle, and the dammed area is now flooded, so everyone would have to leave to make a new one in many areas. Hoover generates very little power, but its very old, we can do better now.
nukes have their own brand of waste, security, and problems. So, I sort of agree... dam where you can, as much as you can. But where you can't nukes are probably the answer until we invent something better (power from space? better solar? chemical (eg hydrogen to burn)? Waste heat recovery? Whatever the future holds on those.
It makes sense to me to have solar power for individual homes and such - where people can save on electricity bills and just to have every home less dependent on the electric company.
Definitely. My house is close to a small river (or big creek, if you think that way), and it actually has a waterwheel built into it, which is pretty cool. The waterwheel actually generates most of our electricity– although we don't use a whole lot, especially in the summer– and there's a cutoff at the main breaker panel to prevent feeding the electricity into the main grid, which can cause problems in an outage.
Actually, windpower generated 24.8% of UK electricity in 2020, more than coal or nuclear.
But where you can't nukes are probably the answer until we invent something better
Agreed. Personally, I'm holding out for some sort of nuclear fusion– like ITER in Japan, I think that's one of the Russian tokamak (essentially means donut-shaped) designs. There's a really interesting book on the subject, titled Sun in a Bottle. I forget who wrote it, it's been too long, and so the author's name has succumbed to CRS (cognitive relapse syndrome, otherwise known as Can't Remember Sh*T).
Throughout my lifetime nuclear fusion has always been 20 years away.
agent max wrote:
I will point out that the UK is a tiny fraction of the size of the US
True enough - the US has a lot of space to put windpower in. However, the really high and reliable winds are offshore. The UK has a lot of large turbines on monopiles in about 10-20m depth of water. The next generation will be floating in water of much greater depth. Some of them are already deployed: https://www.equinor.com/en/what-we-do/floating-wind.html
Wind and solar are probably the optimal "first converters". They can then be used to split water (for the hydrogen - good for transmission and storage). If we can get past the engineering challenges then tidal-stream power (not tidal barrages, which are environmentally damaging) could produce a lot of electricity, with the advantage of reliable generation times.
"Run of the current" hydropower is probably a bit limited for most people. Big dams have their problems - some physical (they trap sediment and so cause downstream erosion of river deltas - e.g. the Aswan High Dam causing the depletion of the Nile delta) and they may cause geopolitical problems over water supply: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Ethiopian_Renaissance_Dam
Note the "The second phase of filling was completed on 19 July 2021, without the agreement of Egypt and Sudan". Even Donald Trump weighed in: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-54674313
Excluding gravitation and dark energy, the ultimate source of all energy on planet Earth comes from nuclear fusion. We call it The Sun, at the center (focus for purists) of our Solar System.
Nuclear fusion drives wind, solar, coal, gas, tidal and any other aspect of energy sources we like to mention. There is no magic.
BTW the clear colorless CO2 from burning coal and gas is a greenhouse gas. Clearing the flue gas coming out of coal-fired power stations via electrostatic or any other type of particulate precipitator is very old technology designed for a completely different purpose than addressing carbon emissions.
Pulverized coal does not explode and that combustion technology is used whether its low grade brown coal or high grade black coal.
Clearing the flue gas coming out of coal-fired power stations via electrostatic or any other type of particulate precipitator is very old technology designed for a completely different purpose than addressing carbon emissions.
I beg to differ. Filtering the gas products from a coal power station is specifically to remove carbon particulate (aka soot) from the emissions.
Solid carbon particles, in other words unburnt coal, is not what is meant by the term ‘carbon emission’. Gaseous carbon dioxide is a carbon emission and it passes straight through a precipitator. That’s why carbon capture and storage is one new technology that might have a future.
The main product of precipitators is fly ash, yet another waste disposal problem.
Fly ash as one waste product from coal combustion, specially in power stations, has been used for many decades in concrete as a cheap, useful and very available pozzolan.
Trouble is there is too much fly ash and not enough concrete to make full use of it. Besides, the only nice thing to say about fly-ash is it isn't a direct contributor to greenhouse gases. Beyond that it contains many dangerous chemicals and even potentially dangerous levels of radioactive materials.
Nobody has found a complete answer and use for carbon dioxide yet and probably never will. The problematic stuff comes from trees growing in vast quantities for literally millions of years. Same goes for wherever/whatever oil is.
A smart and developing, but not here yet, solar->electricity->hydrogen cycle combined with various current and new storage and distribution systems seems to me to be the most likely future, giving 2 sources of workable energy - electricity and hydrogen. The only waste is what to do with used silicon etc and maybe non-reusable H2 fuel storage containers.
The main 'waste product' to consider is people in these old technology industries, particularly their jobs. That's why the steps taken should be carefully transitioned.
silicon is an element. It is, by definition, recycled. I can't speak for things made of compounds of it, though. Chips are pretty pure I believe, but like those plasticish things you can throw in the oven? No clue.
The paranoid and sarcastic guy in me says that the "oh noes C02!!" stuff is how government plans to tax breathing; that its all a scam to play off a generation raised to believe the end is near.
If we had more trees, they could absorb basically all the CO2 and we wouldn't have an issue.
That's certainly true and is a much better way of manging human-induced greenhouse effects rather than being a freak at either end of the opinion spectrum - i.e (manipulated) Greta at one end through to complete (manipulated) denial at the other end.
Trees are in fact one sensible but not complete solution. (In any case cutting down native forests to make way for oil palms or for making wood chips etc is borderline, if not outright, criminal. We should be planting new trees worldwide regardless.
So how many trees are needed to take up the carbon dioxide we emit every day? The answer is about 15 trees for the carbon dioxide that a person releases based on the food they eat.
Of course, if the predictions and experience so far is correct there is plenty of gravel to be processed in the aftermath of glaciers as they retreat and eventually disappear. Let's face it, gravel is glacier waste, that obviously needs to be recycled too.
its all a scam to play off a generation raised to believe the end is near.
Got that right. Here in the US of A, we were told back in the 70's that "OH NO THE EARTH IS WARMING WE'RE ALL GONNA BE ROASTED IN ABOUT 5 YEARS!!!" Fast-forward to 2000 and Al Gore runs his entire presidential campaign on "The earth is going to be unlivable in 10 years." Fast-forward to today and the government is predicting "sometime in the mid-21st century."
I think most ordinary people stopped believing that stuff a long time ago. Or maybe I'm just optimistic...