Sunday, September 20, 2009

Green Death

Dr Brignell at Numberwatch is channeling Tom Clancy this month

A clear starry moonless sky looked down upon a frozen Britain . A deep depression had passed through and deposited unprecedented quantities of snow on town and country. Snow ploughs and gritting vehicles had cleared a way through on the major routes, but footpaths and side roads were still not negotiable. A stationary high had now settled across the country and in the windless air the temperature was plunging steadily, already below -10C. On the hills giant wind turbines stood motionless in the still air. They were giant impotent icons of a failed religion and stark monuments to onerous and now pointless taxation over many years. In the gloom they seemed to point accusing fingers up into the sky.

At the control centre of the national Power Grid there was a nervous quiet, punctuated by short bouts of hushed conversation. They knew the crisis would occur in an hour’s time, at about 7 am. They had already made the dreadful decision as to which towns would be made to experience suffering and death by being deprived of power. This was a different world from the last time there were serious power cuts in 1970. It was now totally dependent on computer and related technologies. Owing to decisions made (or, to be more accurate, not made) in the first years of the century, the nation was grossly underpowered for such a circumstance. The domestic demand was already high, as almost everyone had left the heating on over night.

Some people had managed to get through to places of work. Cleaners turned on the lights and the great machines of industry began to hum. The power consumption crept up towards the critical point.

read the rest

I like the idea of green power, but it is not very good for base load without a lot
of storage and planning. It can work for a house with a battery backup (or generator),
or for a town that has a fuel cell storing electricity or a pump filling a reservoir, but
for a national grid it's not so great.

I think we should look more like France, not like Denmark. Denmark is hip and cool
and green, but it depends on the kindness of strangers for power when the wind doesn't
blow. France is nearly self sufficient in nuclear power that powers their great metro system
and superfast trains, etc. If we're borrowing the money anyway, we can build the windmills,
but we should also build the nuclear plants and clean coal fired plants.

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