Electricity supply interruptions could have ‘huge’ impact on Irish society, expert warns.
This must surely go down as one of the great understatements of the year, if not the century?
Let’s just look at the current situation [pun intended].
We heat our homes using oil [bad], solid fuel [bad] or gas [bad] or electricity [good]. We are told that all the bad sources are to go, not because they are in short supply but because they are somehow causing hurricanes in America or flooding in Bangladesh. So in future all our home heating and cooking has to use electricity. There are a few who will mutter about heat pumps but they require electricity too.
Petrol driven cars are baaad, Diesel engines are even worse so all cars, buses and trains have to use [you’ve guessed it?] electricity. All those thousands of batteries are going to have to be charged every night [and frequently during the day] so that should heat up the grid a bit?
How about commerce and industry? Well, they have become pretty reliant on computers and automation and strangely enough all computers and automated equipment require electricity to work, whether it’s a robot assembling something or the cash register in your local shop.
I’m not too sure about shipping. Battery driven ships seem a bit fanciful so they’ll probably have to revert to sails [and therefore the wind]?
The single industry which appears to escape all this migration to the electron is aviation. That relies of fossil fuels [baaaad] so it’s only a matter of time before there is a call for the return of the dirigible, which of course will use batteries for propulsion [when the dirigible isn’t actually exploding].
So it looks like all our proverbial eggs are in the one proverbial basket. We are down to electricity for our very existence with no alternatives whatsoever. If there is no electricity you are stuck at home in your dark cold house, eating cold baked beans [assuming you have been clever enough to hold onto an old manual tin-opener and not once of those fancy electrical ones].
Where is all this electricity going to come from? Fossil fuels are out so we are down to those “renewable” sources – wind, sunshine, tide/wave and hydro. The only one of those which is a guaranteed source is the tide. All the others rely to a greater or lesser extent on the weather. So far they seem to be backing wind power which is notoriously fickle [as I look out my window there isn’t a single leaf stirring].
There is of course another source of electricity but that requires the use of a dirty word – Nuclear. It is the only power source that is constant and reliable even if it does occasionally render large tracts of the planet uninhabitable for a few thousand years.
So there’s your answer folks.
Soon every parish will have to have it’s own Chernobyl.
There are actually several projects for electric powered aircraft, so they are after that industry too.
In the meanwhile you are being told to park your Chevy Bolt outside because occasionally the batteries explode and catch fire.
Also the foreign country of California is ask people to not charge their electric cars because of the risk of the power grid breaking down and causing fires. It seems that in their quest to go green, California no longer generates their own electricity, they buy it from neighboring states. Don’t worry, if your electric car runs out of power on the highway, a large truck towing a diesel generator will come to you and give you a minimal charge that only takes a couple of hours.
I cannot see any way an aircraft can be powered by electricity without a generator of some kind. The only kind of source that could work is solar panels – fine until you fly into cloud [and forget night flights].
I think I read somewhere today about how they had to evacuate a plane because a passenger’s mobile phone burst into flames. I assume the plane was on the ground at the time…..
A big problem the Greenies have not & will not address is what to do with all the petroleum products which will no longer be required (in their brave new world), such as petrol/gas, diesel, etc.
When crude is separated by fractional distillation, the various products are aviation fuel, petrol, diesel, heavy fuel oil, etc. The ratio of these depends on the crude source, but there’s always some of each product extracted. So if less petrol and diesel is required as vehicles go electric, what do we do with it? Some of the fractions will still be needed, so there’ll be a build-up of unwanted fractions.
Presently the system works just fine – usage matches ratios quite well. But suggesting that electricity is generated from these excess fractions, to power all the electric vehicles, apart from being an insanely inefficient conversion, doesn’t appeal to the Greenies for some reason
I hadn’t thought of that, and it’s a fair point. If we stop distilling crude are we going to have to find alternatives for all the other by-products? it would be the end of plastics, bitumen, lubricating oil and a host of other fairly essential stuff.
And don’t forget all that diesel needed for the backup gensets. In 2015, there was 1.5GW worth on the UK grid alone (a lucrative source of income as well, as these attract a discrete subsidy). I presume, six years on, that this figure has gone up (don’t see how it could have gone down).
I’m sure you can in the emerald isle too, but here you can sign up a supplier of “100% renewables”. Pretty well guarantees that your milk float on its overnight cheap rate charge is actually burning a damn sight more diesel than many of the cars I’ve ever owned.
As Einstein put, the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.
Welcome Mark! I read a couple of months ago how the Irish electricity system was worried about next winter and the prospects for brownouts and blackouts. So they applied for [and got] planning permission to install two massive diesel generators in Dublin to be put on standby. .
Thank you. I been visiting this site for a while. One of the few bastions of sense left!
When it comes to easily and quickly available standby power, diesel gensets take some beating and they usually select themselves. Reality I suppose
Hydrogen is said to be the future. Now in my school text book you can make hydrogen in great quantity from water. Not by electrolysis or using a catalyst and sunshine which as both slow. No, you blow steam through white hot coke and this dissociates the oxygen and hydrogen. I suppose a substitute for coke could be found eventually.
I had to read that a couple of times before realising you didn’t mean white hot cocaine.
Hydrogen is fine. It’s cheap, plentiful and its combustion produces only water, but it has one slight disadvantage – it is highly explosive. It would be sensible to have hydrogen fuelled power stations, but not hydrogen in transport.
“…It would be sensible to have hydrogen fuelled power stations, but not hydrogen in transport…
Except for ministerial limousines, perhaps.
In theory electricity is the optimum end-user energy because it alone can produce heat, light and motive power – none of the others can manage that vital hat-trick themselves. Given that, it is a nonsense that we ship so many different energy products, via wires, pipes and tankers to millions of locations across every country when only one distribution system is really needed.
But, and it’s a big ‘but’ (a) you can’t get to that situation overnight, or even in a few decades and (b) those specialist products like coal and oil do their jobs so much better and with fewer downsides, downsides which will be difficult/impossible to solve for electricity.
To imagine that a whole national energy structure could be changed without monstrous up-front cost, huge complexity and on-going penalty prices is complete fantasy. I worry that national governments are being drawn into this fantasy without thinking it through, just to enjoy the warm glow of greenwash at the ballot-box, but to think or speak otherwise is almost becoming a hate-crime now.
And if it ever does happen, then with all our energy eggs in one basket, can we be confident that it will be an unbreakable utility service and not susceptible to attack by malevolent bodies, either internal or external? As I believe Richard Nixon once observed “When you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow”.
But they keep telling us how “going green” will create so many jobs?
I have this theory that negates the concept of a free lunch. Tides, for example use the gravitational attraction of the moon’s orbit. So if we impede the tides to extract the energy will we take that energy from the rotation of the Earth or the Moon’s orbit? Windmills, in sufficient number slow the wind and extract its energy. If some poor butterfly can flap its wings and cause a tornado elsewhere in the world what are the windmills doing?
The old Conservation of Energy Law. It’s a fair point and the use of tides would in theory destabalise the Earth’s rotation and/or the Moon’s orbit. The only exception to the law is nuclear energy where you are actually creating energy at the expense of matter. I suppose even then there is another theoretical problem – destroy enough matter to create energy and you upset the planet’s mass and hence its orbit?
I was watching a vlog on youtube last night and in the background to the presenter, a Combine Harvester was cutting a very large field of grain.There must have been several hours work there to cut and carry the crop and I know that as soon as one farm is finished, the Harvesters move on to the next.It crossed my mind that, I do not see how in any realistic way, the large diesel engines powering both Harvester or the tractors taking the crop to storage can be replaced by electric motors.I wonder how many people will have to die through starvation or cold before reality bites back ?
Surely it would be simple enough to revert to the horse-drawn mover and hand threshing? Think laterally
“I wonder how many people will have to die through starvation or cold before reality bites back.”
Of course, it won’t be the ‘elite’, the politicians, the rich, the famous, and the powerful, who will be included in the starving and dying, not unless there is a mass insurrection. For a vision of that future, read “The Snow Piercer”.
Maybe we should ship all the Greenies of to an island somewhere [Greenland would be appropriate?] and let them live in “sustainable” mudhuts, caves and igloos? They could then practice their new religion and leave the rest of us in peace.
As of 2018, over eighty-five per cent of generated electricity in Ireland comes from fossil fuels. So the power to re-charge your electric car comes mainly from oil. Ironic, isn’t it?
Ironic is not the word! The only thing electric cars do is to give their owners a feeling of smug satisfaction and superiority. “Look at me – I am single-handedly saving the planet.”