Monday, 23 January 2017

pedal power, sunshine and doublethink

Last May was the first (short) time that the UK ran its entire power grid without coal all the way since 1882, although there was some subsequent scurrying to find enough power from other sources.

And last year, when I was out cycling, I would sometimes pass the edge of a nearby field, being converted for solar power. My picture at the top of the post is a frosty morning snapshot of one of the fields, taken a few days ago, when I passed it on the train.

Yes, by now, it is complete and in service, and I believe each of two nearby schemes is capable of producing a few megawatts of power. Compared with a 2000-3000 Mw power station, this isn't a lot, although it is sufficient to power the adjacent 1000 or so homes, at least when there's enough sunshine.

These local field schemes have been somewhat contentious. In one case the original site wasn't used, although an adjacent one was found and seems to suit the local population as well as the farmers. It changes the nature of some of the farmland, alongside the increasing poly-tunnels for fruit growing and now these mainly flat solar panels.

Most advertising of them add a few sheep running around to make it all look more picturesque. Eagle eyed may spot German sheep in this particular photo. German farmers soon discovered that the sheep were by far the best way to manage the grassland around the panels.

So now the UK's big energy agenda is to move from coal to natural gas, towards renewables (biomass) and to wind, tidal and solar power. Nuclear is still in there, assuming the fabled French/Chinese/British plants ever get built and don't just follow the Trumpian example of driving busy diggers around a muddy plot of land.

This British and European route towards decarbonisation is quite different from the new one advertised by America on their White House web site. Although their same description also expresses the need for responsible stewardship of the environment.

You can tell, I'm still getting used to the idea of post truth, alternative truth, newspeak and doublethink.

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