Archive for Electricity

France Leads The Way By Turning Out The Lights

Posted in America, Britain, Environment, Modern World, UK, USA with tags , , , , on 02/02/2013 by floroy1942
Shanghai At Night

Shanghai At Night

According to reports, France has taken a major step towards saving the planet without even realizing it. The French government have apparently just passed a law that forces shops and office blocks to turn out their lights at night, quoting “light pollution” and “electricity savings”.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

The law states that all of these buildings must turn off all lights within one hour of the last person leaving, or by 01.00hrs every night and the projected savings in electricity are staggering. It has been calculated that this one measure will save sufficient energy to power 750,000 homes for an entire year! The actual figure is two terawatt/hours of electricity a year. When you consider the implications of this, it is an enormous saving of power at a time when demand is growing at an ever-increasing rate year on year.

World Energy Consumption On The Rise

World Energy Consumption On The Rise

As we have more and more gadgets in the house requiring this precious resource, plus of course the introduction of electric cars, the energy demands of today’s society will grow to such an extent that the power companies will be unable to fill demand in the future. This in effect, will necessitate a mass building programme of extra power stations which will need more of the Earth’s resources to feed them.

London

London

When you look at the night skyline of  all the major cities in the world they are a mass of light from glaring advertisements to whole skyscrapers lit from top to bottom. If you think about it, this is wasting power on an unprecedented scale the like of which is incomparable. We are using coal, natural gas and nuclear power to satisfy our increasing needs, and this is before millions of people ‘go green’ and buy an electric car to ‘save the planet’.

Power Guzzler!

Power Guzzler!

There are many people who are against nuclear power, but what they do not realize is that as demand increases we will need many more power stations to keep up with demand. If they are all gas or coal powered we will hasten the day when the whole planet will have the problem currently inflicted upon the people of Beijing, China. A poisoned atmosphere!

Sydney Australia

Sydney Australia

For this reason it is wise for us all to look at ways to reduce our power consumption, and the step that France has taken is the right way to go. It only remains to be seen how soon all countries follow this lead and impose the same law. When you think about it, I am sure you will see that it makes sense.

Roy.

Nuclear Power Demonstrations After Japan

Posted in Britain, Demonstration, Environment, Europe, Germany, Insanity, Modern World, Nuclear, UK, USA with tags , , , , on 13/03/2011 by floroy1942

I guess it was inevitable that the anti-nuclear lobby would be out demonstrating even before the dust had settled on the Japanese reactor  in Fukushima. Students were out in force in Germany yesterday, just a day after the disaster, demanding the shut down of all nuclear power plants in the country.

OK! But Give Us An Alternative

As soon as I saw the reports on the news, I remarked to my wife that while these people may demand an end to nuclear power, none have a workable suggestion to replace the electricity generating capacity of the nuclear plants. Passion is one thing, but common sense often dictates the reverse!

 Until man devises a safer way of satisfying the needs of our power-hungry society, we are stuck with what we have. It may not be ideal, and in certain circumstances i.e. when abused like Three-Mile Island and Chernobyl or a natural disaster as in Japan, things can go ‘pear shaped’. These are the risks we have to take.

There are those who say we should concentrate our attention on wind, solar and hydro-electric power or bio-fuels, but all are totally impractical on the scale required to satisfy our energy needs.

The Heart Of Our Power Generation

I have written often enough on the practicality of these alternatives and will therefore not go into detail again here. I just refer to you to a previous post on the subject, but suffice it to say, the alternatives listed are not a workable solution as a replacement for nuclear power:

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/germany-the-nuclear-dilemma/

Our biggest problem is the ever increasing demand for more and more electricity, and we have reached the stage where there is little or no spare capacity in many western countries. Our consumption rates are at an all-time high and increasing year on year. There has to come an end to our greed!

London’s Wasted Gigawatts

Take a look at the world’s major cities for example, and see how many office blocks and shop fronts are lit up at night like christmas trees, even though they are empty. Take another look at all the neon signs and advertisements that festoon our cities and ask yourself, can we continue in this way? It may look nice, but in real terms it is sheer unadulterated waste. Should this wastage be outlawed we could probably shut down several nuclear plants based purely on the energy savings. The problem is not nuclear power itself, but the selfish, arrogant use we make of what is generated!

Times Square New York- Watts In An Advert!

Now a new energy ‘gobbler’ is emerging on the market in the form of all-electric cars. For sure, they will help to solve the climate change problems but they are a hidden menace in the form of the demands they will make on our power generating capability. Can you for one second imagine the energy requirements of tens of millions of electric cars plugged into the net every night? On top of our ever-increasing demands for everything else, such an addition would overload our power grids within seconds. I have also covered this topic in a previous posts as follows:

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2009/12/19/future-transport-electric-hybrid-hydrogen-or-bio/

We have a saying in England: “You can’t have your cake and eat it!” Not very practical because what is the point of having cake if you can’t eat it, but never-the-less it makes a point. As a species, we cannot continue expanding our power requirements ‘Ad Infinitum’ and not expect a backlash. The fact is, we have to make good with what we have, and at the moment that is nuclear power, and distasteful as that is, we have no alternative! There is no quick fix for our energy needs until scientists unlock new forms of power generation, and that will take years.

Chernobyl- One Disaster Is Enough

Considering the risks attached to nuclear power generation it is perhaps more prudent to improve safety measures at the plants. No-one wants a repeat of Chernobyl, which was caused by human error and not an inerrant fault in the design, but as the Japanese situation has indicated, better safeguards are required to ensure a nuclear reactor can be quickly and safely shut down in the event of a natural disaster before over-heating becomes a factor.

The USA At Night From The ISS Station

The risk of a real atomic explosion is minuscule, but the possibility of the escape of radioactive material still causes concern. This needs to be addressed by the scientific community as an urgent priority. The general public should not be put at risk under any circumstances, for as we see at the moment, any incident involving nuclear power brings out the protesters. It would be nice if they could come up with a really workable alternative, but to date they can’t!

Each and every one of us can do our bit towards reducing the energy drain. Switch off the lights and other electrical appliances like the TV and video recorder when not needed, and use low energy bulbs wherever possible. In every home it may be a small thing, but collectively, it all adds up.

The World Hot Spots

Governments need to introduce laws that prevent entire office blocks and shops from being lit up at night when they are empty, and a curb on all the neon advertising could be introduced. Sounds impractical, and many will say a bit daft, but just for one moment imagine how much power would be saved. It will boggle your mind! If we continue to put so much pressure on our electricity generating companies, we may well be left with no choice but to take such measures.

Roy.

Germany – The Nuclear Dilemma

Posted in Britain, Demonstration, England, Environment, Europe, Germany, Government, Modern World, Nuclear, Radioactive Waste, UK, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 09/11/2010 by floroy1942

Germany hit the news this past week due to the demonstrations against nuclear power in the country, but what of the core question: Can we do without nuclear power?

The Gorlagen Express

It all centred around a train-load of nuclear waste being transported to the storage depot at Gorleben after treatment in France. Gorleben is the site of old salt mines that have been used for radioactive waste storage for the last three decades.

Throughout these thirty years, each successive train-load has met with demonstrations by anti-nuclear activists, but this year the demonstrations had a higher significance. The increased anger felt by the protesters was centred on the German governments recent decision to extend the life of the countries 17 nuclear power stations by a further 12 years to 2032, a reversal of a year 2000 decision to phase out all nuclear facilities.

Chernobyl - Nightmare Scenario

The German people have always been against nuclear power since the first experimental atomic power station was opened in Kahl-am-Main in 1960. Already nervous at the idea, this fear was heightened by the Three-Mile Island (Pennsylvania) incident in 1970, and more significantly, the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 which covered Germany in radioactive dust and required a massive clean-up operation.

Since the introduction of nuclear power to the world there have been accidents in many countries in which small amounts of radioactivity have escaped, all were due to human error and no-one in their right minds will ever be convinced that it is a 100% safe method of generating electricity. But there again, what is 100%  safe these days? I’ll tell you – Nothing!

The problem lies in the fact that we have become ‘power’ hungry, and since we entered the digital age the electricity requirements have jumped ten-fold in the industrialised nations. Coupled with this is the lack of a viable alternate method of supplying our energy needs. Our hunger for more power has become so great that to satisfy it with wind, sun, biofuels or hydro-electric power is utterly impossible, despite what their supporters say.

Another sticking point is the ever-increasing demands from developing counties such as India, China and the like as they take their first steps to becoming great industrialised nations.

It would appear that at present, no-one has a foolproof second option. If demonstrators were asked for an alternative, most would probably reply “wind”. There are already wind turbine ‘farms’ dotting the landscape in Europe and other countries, but the technology is afflicted by many problems.

Turbine Blade Convoy in UK

First and foremost is their size, which makes them expensive to produce and maintain, and they require specialists with special equipment to erect. They also have to be erected far away from cities and towns, therefore the construction of power lines to get the output where it is needed is costly.

Turbines have a limited life and need constant maintenance because they suffer from cyclic stresses, due to their sheer size and differing wind forces that fatigue the blades and bearings at a high rate.

Typical Wind Generator Construction

The most significant problem is blade stress, because as a blade reaches the top of its arc it is subject to more wind pressure than at the lowest point of its arc. The huge column on which the whole thing is mounted interrupts the wind flow and as the blade passes, it is subject to ‘negative’ stress (or momentary wind load relief). these two factors combined exert great strain on the blade, its mounting, and the bearings. This problem alone caused many of the earlier models to fail quickly.

Just as important is the fact they are unsightly, and do we really want to cover every high point on the planet with wind turbines?

The Enercon E-126

The highest output from a wind turbine (the Enercon E-126) is a mere 7.58Mw, and that’s on a good day, for as we all know, the wind is a fickle thing. Germany’s nuclear power stations generate 20,490Mw of power per year, that’s 26.1% of total energy needs compared with 6.5% fulfilled by wind power from its in excess of 21,163 wind turbines. No! I am afraid wind is not the answer, no matter what the pundits say.

Energy From the Sun?

The sun is a constant source of energy, at least during daylight, but to generate our needs from solar panels would require covering half the country, and then you wouldn’t be able to use the lights after sundown. No! I don’t think that is practical either.

There are those who say we should burn bio-fuels or resort to hydro-electric power sources but the fact is, bio-fuels have ready proven to be a dead duck because the ground required to grow them is also needed to grow food. The problem with hydro-electric  is, not all countries have rivers or coastline.

The Only Other Viable Alternative?

So the bottom line is, we continue to use fossil fuels that are slowly destroying our planet, or we go with the nuclear option, at least for the foreseeable future. Your choice!

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