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    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeDec 23rd 2010
     
    I dont think so! ---- Biomass is too polluting, not sustainable, AND NOT ZERO CARBON!!!!

    How can it be called sustainable when it is NOT sustainable --- do you want to a Britain looking like some parts of Africa with no trees?

    How can it be called safe when other countries are not allowing it because of the toxins in the emissions?

    I am not sure about it being energy secure for sure there will be fights over wood in the coming years may be even wars!

    I have heard tell that the UK wants to import vast quantities of biomass so how is that local?

    I know I am being harsh but I hate pollution and worry about smogs and poor air quality in our urban environments and do not think that Biomass is the way to go -- sorry.
    • CommentAuthorJeff B
    • CommentTimeDec 23rd 2010
     
    I don't think biomass will turn out to be THE fuel of the 21st century. We are only 10 years into the 21st century, so quite a long way to go yet. The future must surely be electricity but generated using some totally new technology. I can't believe that humankind will have to go on burning "stuff" to produce energy - seems quite primitive really. Biomass is impracticable for folk in cities (where the majority live) for the reasons you cite, but useful for those of us out in the country. In the meantime it has to be preferable to burning precious non-renewable materials like oil or gas!
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeDec 23rd 2010
     
    Geothermal in some parts of the world will have a large role to play as will wave and tidal race (we may well realise this here sometime). Hydro-electric and pumped storage (Norway will become a battery), Iceland is still working towards the 'hydrogen economy' but they have to sort out there existing one first. There will be lots more nuclear using existing technology and I hope concentrated solar in Souther Europe/North Africa.
    And there will be a huge DC 'Super Grid'. That's just Europe. Wind will not be developed as much as it can and biomass is really very short term, co-firing in existing plants and some small scale ones is all that will happen. Gas will be our main source for the next 50 to 70 years. By then IR energy harvesting will be feasible and hopefully our housing stock will be vastly improved. The big issue is liquid transport fuels, there really nothing better than diesel and gasoline. Improvements in working practices and our transport infrastructure really are needed fast (faster than improvements in the housing stock I think). I am not sold on battery technology, though I do not know that much about it and there are some interesting improvements to be made at the nano-scale and with fuel cells.
    Using less and use what we do effectively is really the quickest and easiest way froward at the moment. Two years ago I decided to cut my domestic energy by a third, think I have managed it, but now very hard to improve more without large investment.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeDec 23rd 2010 edited
     
    The point is, burning fuel of any kind is not 'the way to go' - really unnecessary for space heating and only 20%-of-present necessary for all other purposes.

    Posted By: SteamyTeaUsing less and use what we do effectively is really the quickest and easiest way froward at the moment
    Negawatts, as Amory Lovins' RMI calls it http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/kamal-ahmed/8053270/Energy-giants-face-Mr-Negawatts-challenge.html
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeDec 23rd 2010
     
    I like tidal power which has huge potential once we solve the storage problem while the tide turns (in several respects).

    Yes transport fuel is a headache anything big cant work on batteries so biofuel could be an answer but there are huge conflicts with food supply, this is another reason I don't like biomass for heating -- I'd rather eat.
    • CommentAuthormartint
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010 edited
     
    Tony
    <>I am not sure about it being energy secure for sure there will be fights over wood in the coming years may be even wars!<>

    We have a few acres of woodland at the rear of the house, and last Sunday evening, in the dark (moonlit night), a group of 4 guys in two 4WDs with trailers turned up and started loading wood (logged into 0.5m lengths and tidily stacked). I challenged them, and they said that they thought it was 'council', rather than private, as if that should make a difference. By the time I got there one vehicle had already departed, with about 2 cubic metres of wood. The second vehicle was unloaded without too much argument - but claimed they didn't have the mobile for the first vehicle, so couldn't call him back.

    Then called the police. Got told off for challenging them - should have dialled 999, and waited 4 hours for the plod to turn up. Helpfully suggested not to leave it lying around, couldn't I keep it somewhere secure! I have about 30 cubic metres stacked at various points in the wood, with more to be felled shortly - at what cost could I build a secure enclosure for that lot?!

    I had been concerned about security, but this is the first time I have been 'raided'. I agree that this is a sign of things to come - as more people get wood burning stoves / boilers, and gas & electric become ever more expensive, (and severe winters become more commonplace as a result of climate change).

    For me this is environmentally friendly (apart from the particulates), as there is very little energy involved in the production of the wood fuel, and the trees have to be felled as part of a woodland management project. But for many, especially those wanting pellets, wood will be imported. Our local Forestry Commission office put in a pellet stove a year or two back, only to find that they couldn't source the correct quality of pellets, (uniform size & moisture content) in the UK, so import them from Scandinavia!
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010
     
    Posted By: martintat what cost could I build a secure enclosure for that lot?!


    Feel a case of the Tony Martin's coming on (went to same school as me), not that they have any trees in Norfolk.
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010
     
    Martin -- I suspect that your story is just the tip of a very large iceberg, sadly and things will only get worse from here on in.
  1.  
    Fuel for the 21st Century? ( an for all existance other than the last recent little bit )

    The Sun
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010
     
    Posted By: jamesingramThe Sun

    And a little nuclear thrown in for a giggle.
    And the really big one gravity. Will the find the Higg's this coming year.
    • CommentAuthorpmcc
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010
     
    I agree with Tony that woodland in densely populated areas (much of England) will become a highly contended resource. Also agree that large-scale wood burning is unsuitable for most areas. I see 2 main drivers: 1. Agricultural land will be in great demand for food production once importing food on a large scale becomes more expensive/scarce; 2. We should leave the few good remaining areas of woodland as wild land as far as possible, to allow at least some part of the native biota a bit of space (a desert with nothing but us and our works is too awful to contemplate).

    So wood burning in most areas would be very small scale, based on thinnings from gardens, etc. Certainly not enough to cause significant air quality problems.

    In many upland areas it may well be feasible to sustain biomass for energy without displacing the remaining scraps of non-human life.

    The problem with all non-fossil non-nuclear energy sources is scale. We don't have enough wood to satisfy more than a small fraction of our current needs. We don't have enough land to significantly change that. Marine energy doesn't look like it can scale to anything like current fossil fuel levels, but longer term could be a significant resource nonetheless.

    I see the main challenge as storing energy in ways convenient for the point of use, not so much how to generate it in the first place. Reason - apart from pumped storage we don't have good solutions today, and need new breakthrough technology for batteries and utility-scale storage.

    Really, everyone interested in this topic should read MacKay's Without Hot Air. It's hard to have a useful discussion about individual sub-topics such as wood burning and marine energy without understanding the big picture with numbers. MacKay's conclusion is clear - we either go nuclear in a big way or change our lifestyles to drastically reduce energy use. I suspect that when push comes to shove it's likely to be a bit of both.
  2.  
    Posted By: SteamyTea
    Posted By: jamesingramThe Sun

    And a little nuclear thrown in for a giggle.
    And the really big one gravity. Will the find the Higg's this coming year.


    BOO!! to Nuclear :tongue: , if you get it your eyes it stings#

    What we need is Cavorite
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010
     
    shame it does not exist
    • CommentAuthorJoiner
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010
     
    Jeez, Martin, the plod were right. There are some SERIOUSLY nasty specimens out there. But then, I guess, you'd have lost two loads without a hope in hell of catching the scroats by the time the police turned up. At least you managed to get the registration number of the one vehicle????
    • CommentAuthorJoiner
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010
     
    And didn't realize quite how incredibly complex a nuclear fission set-up would be until I saw it on the Robert Winston's programme...

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00x13kj/How_Science_Changed_Our_World/

    Complex, sure, and the idea that anyone could reduce the complexity to a workable scale is difficult for me to get my head around. But then I look back at what's been done just in my relatively short lifetime...

    Now that's where development money should be going and it should be an internationally-funded project to limit 'ownership' and make the technology available to everyone. It's too important to reduce to a commodity. But that's a pipe-dream.
    •  
      CommentAuthorDamonHD
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010
     
    I don't agree with "MacKay's conclusion is clear - we either go nuclear in a big way or change our lifestyles to drastically reduce energy use" and I've even talked to him about it. Indeed I did a version of his "can we live off renewables in the UK" as a Web page to show that---with some belt tightening and if we were to accept industrialisation of quite a lot of countryside with windfarms etc---we could manage on local renewables:

    http://www.earth.org.uk/can-we-live-on-local-renewables.html

    That's without nukes.

    I'm not against nukes, but they're just as inflexible as wind and solar in some regards and there's going to be a lot of contention for the fuel IMHO.

    Rgds

    Damon
    • CommentAuthorgcar90
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010
     
    Coal fired generation will continue to be the fuel of the 21 Century as use explodes in developing countries due to its relative abundance and low cost. Only technology to replace coal, one for one, at a price less than coal will go a long way to solving the worlds co2, nox, sox and pm and other hazards and become the fuel of the future, but can this be achieved soon enough. Tony implies there is no silver bullet so that must be right mustn't it?
    • CommentAuthorjamesingram
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010 edited
     
    Yes, shame about Cavorite , nice idea from H G Wells though.
    Is nuclear needed?
    http://www.noneedfornuclear.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=51:is-nuclear-needed&catid=29:the-arguments&Itemid=63

    this is worth a read as an alternative to Mackays route
    http://www.zerocarbonbritain.org/
    "zerocarbonbritain2030 is a positive, realistic vision for an energy progressive society free from fossil fuels. It provides political, economic and technological solutions to the urgent challenges raised by climate science. It explores the synergies between sectors to create the first fully integrated solution to climate change."
    • CommentAuthorpmcc
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010
     
    "with some belt tightening and if we were to accept industrialisation of quite a lot of countryside with windfarms etc---we could manage on local renewables"

    For sure we could live on it, and a lot less too. Just don't expect that the world will be much like today's.

    Building out renewables on the herioic scale envisaged to somewhat displace today's fossil fuels would be a gigantic project. I suspect it would consume a large fraction of our energy and material resources to build and maintain it. There would be huge land use issues. I also am wary about the claimed energy return on investment in a wholly renewable powered world.

    Local renewable energy schemes are wholesome and worthwhile, but it's hard to see that replacing today's enormous centralised energy and transport systems in any similar form. 60+ million people in the UK depend on these systems. Major changes to food, work and population distribution and security must follow.

    Nuclear invokes strong reactions from many, and it's easy to see why. It's hard to be fully objective, but IMO there seems to be much disinformation about waste management, safety and weapons proliferation. The bottom line, though, is that fission is the only major source of concentrated energy once fossil fuels become too expensive to use (or are voluntarily left in the ground... hogs rising).
  3.  
    Just to add figures to thoughts on biomass/ biofuel energy in UK. The ethanol project on Humberside has stated requirement for 1,100,000 tonnes of wheat /yr, DEFRA detail anticipated yield at 7.2 t/ha= 152,000 ha requirement. Large biomass plant with 2,400,000 t requirement/yr, anticipated coppiced biomass yield 9 t o.d.t /ha/yr= 266.000 ha requirement per plant.
    Previous UK Gov stated need to persuade farmers to move 60,000 ha from wheat to dedicated biomass production by 2013. There would appear to be fundamental flaws in this "cunning plan"e.g. is priority food/ biomass/ bioethanol production? Sadly we do not appear to have available land and the 60k ha will not supply needs of one large biomass energy plant.
    Being surrounded by seas full of tidal energy surely we can harness the massive hydraulic power if we apply our little grey cells .
    Rgds
    Brian
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010
     
    Posted By: SteamyTeathe really big one gravity
    Can't believe my eyes - I've been scornfully peer-banned from mentioning that on sensible GBF. Course it's the big one - all our present messing about is just messing about.
  4.  
    What comes down has to go up
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010
     
    Posted By: Brianwilson Being surrounded by seas full of tidal energy surely we can harness the massive hydraulic power if we apply our little grey cells.

    Brian, the potential is there to generate power enough to exceed our total requirements, but the real lucrative places to site such arrays like off the N of Scotland are also extremely fierce locations to operate and service the devices and I think they are a long way off yet.
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010
     
    Posted By: fostertom I've been scornfully peer-banned from mentioning that on sensible GBF. Course it's the big one - all our present messing about is just messing about.

    What about atmospheric pressure.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010
     
    Nah, this is gravity, but not as we know it Jim - on a more fundamental level, bending time and space, where no man's gone before (as far as we outside the US Military know).
    • CommentAuthorMike George
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010 edited
     
    • CommentAuthorgcar90
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010 edited
     
    This is similar to Sandia Labs work on syngas production Mike

    http://mobile.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=23996&sr=true&srtype=9

    http://www.zyn.com/flcmc/meeting/presentations/Burdick_S2P.pdf

    It a nice idea, I like it, but still dependant on low energy density sunlight to do the job and of course even in the best climates only a maximum of about 7 hrs of good sunlight is available per 24hrs. So to produce say 1 million barrels of synfuel would take some enormous amount of land and infrastructure to build and maintain.

    This thermochemical process would be better employed in conjunction with a more energy dense non fossil heat source that could run 24/7.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010 edited
     
    Posted By: gcar90a more energy dense non fossil heat source that could run 24/7
    Like what?

    Other than earth-core geothermal, all energy on earth comes from the sun - all other renewable energy sources are derivatives of solar - so nothing can be more effective and efficient, subj to tech development, than direct solar.

    Unless we're saying that e.g. the atmosphere are such a huge albeit inefficient solar collector, that it's easier to harvest the effect of the solar that they collect (e.g. by wind/weather capture) than by collecting direct by PVs - or by algae tanks which must be vastly less efficient than PVs (?) so require much more solar-exposed area.

    Talk of converting power station CO2 plus water into hydrocarbon plus oxygen begs the question of where the energy's to come from, to pump that chem reaction 'back uphill'. That energy input is still required even with the cleverest catalyst to facilitate the process.

    The same considerations apply to recovering all other kinds of used-up resource material (as an alternative to mining more of the virgin stuff) - raw materials as well as fuel/energy materials. Everything is possible provided enough 'free' energy can be captured in order to pump the various chemical reactions 'back uphill'. Solar is the only source for that - or nuclear or earth-core geothermal or robbing the earth's angular momentum (aka wave/tidal power) - or freaky gravity!
    • CommentAuthorgcar90
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010
     
    Efficiency of the thermochemical process as linked to by Mike is dependant on maximum temperature achieveable so, with present technology and likely near term future technology an emisions free heat source capable of several 1000 degrees C would be most efficient in the c02 and H20 splitting. ie the Sun as you have pointed out. However effectiveness should be determined by the Capacity Factor of such a heat source which in the case of say, solar would be low due to 2/3 of the day the sun not being around, too weak - early morning and late afternoon, periods of cloud cover, occurence of dust storms and the intensity variation through the seasons.

    Earth geothermal heat is from a sun's products rather than from a SUN by way of radiant heat since its energy is derived from radioactive nuclei deep within the earths core who's energy was originally created through Supernova nucleosynthesis of the heavy elements; primarily Uranium, Thorium and also Potassium 40.

    Looks like the cupboard is fairly bare for high temperature non fossil heat sources on a commercial scale presently but certainly some of those aformentioned heavy metals have been used to produce temperatures of around 800C+ at several labs around the world over the last 30 years.
    • CommentAuthorgcar90
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2010
     
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: fostertom</cite>Talk of converting power station CO2 plus water into hydrocarbon plus oxygen begs the question of where the energy's to come from, to pump that chem reaction 'back uphill'. That energy input is still required even with the cleverest catalyst to facilitate the process.</blockquote>

    Absolutely - must be cheap and abundant energy to facilitate the task.
   
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