Energy Choices

Links related to future energy debate:


Sustainable Energy – Without The Hotair” by David MacKay.

David Mackay has recently become an adviser to govt on energy matters. I bought his book a few months ago and thought it was really good, still do, and it got me thinking about energy choices and investigating some areas not really examined before like the heat pumps. It is a good starting point to consider plans. I like that it makes an attempt at comparisons by breaking down amounts of production and consumption into per person per day energy usage, to try to get things to add up. But I believe it has some flaws. He says he is discarding economics often, but then at points makes conclusions that depend on him making (mistaken) economic assumptions. He does not take into account many of the practicalities & costs of transition, starting from where at now. But that is not to say not good to have a vision of where we want to get to and be concerned to make it add up in the final form. But there is a need to have efficient bridges to get to the final vision.
The thinking behind one of his plans of several for energy production, Plan E for economics (page 211), which he says would be the result of free-market with a carbon tax is mistaken as does not take into account lots of factors such as variable cost of capital, technological trends and inertia, the effect of govt ‘picking winners’ (or not) and creating a market on costs. Although I would be guessing too on any plan I would propose, even if I would try and bring in economic, practical and environmental factors to more refined level. There are many variables and many hard to quantify, and much contested. At end of day, there needs to be some plan that adds and move forward with urgency on it.
I think his idea of the big need for pump storage is spot on, sure bet that this will need to be both for expansion of wind and useful with the expansion of nuclear.

He sees Carbon Capture and Storage as only a stopgap. But one reason to develop it is is if ignored then the market will mean others will just burn the carbon saved elsewhere anyway, so best to develop for future use worldwide.

But his general point that we have to start saying yes to change in a big way is right.

Plan B” by Lester R. Brown.

Seems to move towards some sort of detail and ambition that is required.
Also yet to examine fully this report, although have seen other stuff from Greenpeace and others with that push to localise initiatives local mixes often starting with community Combined Heat and Power, as well as big push for offshore wind, which looked promising but seem to have stalled.

All good plans including above have energy use reduction by efficiency at top of the list as the most cost-effective use of resources.


Walt Patterson on Nuclear issues including book: Going Critical

The Nuclear Illusion
A detailed critique of nuclear (Large PDF)

Frances Nuclear Power Push article.

Nuclear Engineering International magazine

World Nuclear Association

This Week in Nuclear podcast
Cheerleading nuclear. Some good points, and some overblown. A good listen at times anyway.

Atomic Insights blog with associated
podcast, which learning allot from.


Video presentation on Thorium
There are several video presentations on Thorium, all super upbeat, with an interesting history of why not chosen path.

Wikipedia article on Thorium

Thorium for the long term will supersede uranium if depletion becomes a limit.

Liquid Salt reactor with continuous processing for less waste per unit of energy, as can covert all the fertile material to fissile and use it all up as an alternative to solid nuclear fuel where lots are leftover, is interesting, but pie in the sky for now, whereas the evolution of present designs more viable for the near term.

Natural Gas:

The GET The Grand Energy Transition

While I find the solid, liquid to gas classification a bit overstretched and enters the almost metaphysical (if not plain wrong), this book does make a good case for the gas bridge to a cleaner future particularly in the U.S. in chapters that focus on the area of expertise of author, such as gas deposits found in contrast to oil.

meanwhile in the U.K. there more efforts to get non-gas households connected up to see links below:

more fuel poverty links below


The Oil Drum blog

Building energy solutions:

Heat Pumps:


Renewable Energy Association

Energy efficiency, transition & Fuel Poverty:

North Edinburgh Trust
in my area recently launch Net Your Carbons project.

Fuel Poverty:

Community Energy Solutions


DTI (now BERR) Design & Demo Unit ‘LEAP-FROGGING THE STATUS QUO’ report

Zero Carbon Hub


Read your Meter website to record electric, gas and water meter readings, to produce usage graphs over time. Dig out those old bills and put old reading on to see trends.