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Wind Farms, part of the energy mix.

30th May 2009 @ 7:07am – by Martin Dominic
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With the Wind Farm Inquiry in Woore about to end, Martin Dominic, an Audlem resident concerned about Climate Change and Peak Oil, responds to our last article on this controversial subject by Roland Hall. Martin says:-

The big discussion goes beyond the relative performance of the various technologies which provide options for generating electricity and powering industry. The big discussion is about whether or not we continue to have a power generation capacity and large scale manufacturing capability at all in the not too distant future. The discussion is about time scale and energy demand.

Using information from the UK Government's National Statistics Office the following information was gleaned for the year 2006. With all fuels expressed in terms of Millions of Tonnes of Oil Equivalent (MTOE) the following figures can be simply calculated for the UK.

Fuel Use in 2006Electricity GenerationOther Energy Uses
Coal34.922 MTOE7.88 MTOE
Gas23.867 MTOE65.03 MTOE
Oil0.897 MTOE74.103 MTOE
Other fuels*3.01 MTOE18.29 MTOE
Totals62.696 MTOE165.303 MTOE
*Not nuclear

Nuclear Power currently accounts for approximately 15% of UK generation and therefore saves about 12.54 MTOE annually.

Climate change is the ultimate big issue but the rapid depletion of Fossil Fuel reserves will seriously effect westernised life styles long before climate severely impacts us. Fossil fuel reserves at current rates of consumption, taking into account fuel switching as oil and then gas become uneconomic to produce, will last just over 100 years. With increased world population and rising consumption in developing countries the period will be shorter. There is no silver bullet to solve our problem.

NuclearThe nuclear option will merely be a palliative to ease the transition from high energy consumption lifestyles to low energy communities and may extend the transition period. As can be seen from above figures our current fleet of 9 or 10 ageing nuclear power stations save us approximately 5.5% of our total fossil fuel consumption.

To provide 100% electricity generation from nuclear power plants will require the UK to build 100 new nuclear power stations in the next 100 years. (60 to replace existing power plants and 40 to replace nuclear stations which will have reached their safe design life during the period). To replace our entire energy consumption would require 264 nuclear power stations.

To date the UK has built the following nuclear plants since 1948.

Calder Hall, Chapel Cross, Hunterston A & B, Torness, Hartlepool, Heysham 1 & 11, Wylfa, Trawsffyndd, Berkley, Oldbury, Hinkley Point A & B, Dungeness A & B, Sizewell A & B, and Bradwell. 19 in number.

We would have to build this capacity in competition with the rest of the world who face the same challenges. We have exported a huge percentage of our manufacturing capacity in the past 20 years and we will have to recruit and train a whole new generation of scientists, engineers and craftsmen. To rely on the French or other nations to lead this programme is unrealistic as they will have a massive replacement programme of their own to undertake.

Time is rapidly running out for our present way of doing things and whilst Wind Turbines are far from the solution they are the beginning of a new mix of energy sources. We have over 200 hundred years of scientific and technical learning and experience to draw on and we will manage the transition necessary to avoid the economic and cultural melt down which will occur, but only if we begin soon.

It is not possible to leverage physical resources from a 10% capital reserve -that is a magic reserved for bankers and politicians.


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