Meeting electricity needs in 2050

Brief notes from the discussion at Imperial College, London, September 18, 2013. Much is verbatim and without referenced sources. Thanks to Imperial for hosting the event. Co-organised by  the Network of Energy Doctoral Training Centres (@energycdtnetwor) and Energy Futures Lab (@energy__YES)

– thanks to the above for their hospitality

Panel Speakers:
Prof. Jim Seka – chair in Sustainable Energy
Dr Paul Fennel – senior lecturere, Clean Energy, Imperial
Dr David Kennedy – CE, Committe on Climate Change
Malcolm Grimston – Assoc Fellow, Chatham House
Steve Hargreaves – Corp Strategy Director, EDF Energy
.. and a room of 100 or so question filled audience

Opening comments:
– Importance emphasised of carbon sequestration, renewables and nuclear
– Commercial markets will not be able to regulate/plan for long term energy management – they typically only plan 4-5 years ahead
– Most nuclear plants small 10-20MW reactors, multiple small units colocated – easier to manage, safer than large monolithic structures
– Uranium proven to be plentiful – fossil reserve estimates have inc 250% (switching to thorium brings other benefits)

Major savings in gradual investment rather than making change in a rush at the end

– ‘prices increase by £100 by 2020 but flatten out after’
– electricity price doubling over past 10 yrs driven by gas increases
– policy costs hit electricity use not gas
– ‘don’t believe prices will ever return to 10 yrs ago’

UK has about 10 major electricity intensive industries we need and dont want to them to relocate

1.2billion people dont have access to electricity, many developing countries have only limited access, but a growing need

CCS (carbon storage) can work today, but is expensive

Energy efficiency – social change?
— hand-holding, area driven approach best for making people change
— may achieve 1/2deg required from the 6deg necessary (climate change)
— to everyone’s advantage, but not to the (competitive) advantage of any single country
— would be great benefit in flattening out prices
— energy efficiency actually increases demand for other energy consumption

1st solar generation in 1883, wind in 1884, whilst Edison’s fossil powerplant started just before in 1882

Development of India or China alone (current estimates), if not low-carbon, is enough to tip the environment and override any savings by the rest of world

Decarbonising industry – industry accounts for 65% of energy use, compared to domestic (35%) upon which the media is focused
— 10% of 35% is only half the saving of 10% of 65%

Any govt that charges an effective carbon tax would be unelectable from hike in energy costs

USA saving carbon by using shale gas, but exporting the coal it would have used itself! – common to other countries that developed an alternative cleaner energy source

Most effective/economical: Energy efficiency, Biomass, CCS

Have a total-view tax system that taxes pollution-creating generation and consumption, rather than domestic consumers or clean industry

Low carbon investment drives economy

Maximum turbine generation limited to 1.5MW by stress forces on the drive train – also applies to marine systems, eg. tidal power

Remote (WIFI) control energy sockets for ‘continuous’ consumption analysis

Thermopiles generating 12v on any 60deg temperature gradient

@Metro_Online modern #computer screens causing #depression #health #co2 #Apple

exposure to light at night may cause depression
– commenting on an article from today’s Metro newspaper, page 37.

A new study suggests special cells in the eye respond to bright light, elevating stress hormone levels and affects the brain’s centres for mood, memory and learning.

This is not the first news on this topic, there has been talk for some time as modern LCD screens, and in fact more and more lighting products not computer related, use ultra white (6000K-plus virtually ‘full spectrum’) LEDs as their light source. The older screens used cold cathode tubes, and all? new laptops having a long battery life have LEDs now as they use so much less energy. These screens are also in computer LCDs, televisions, mobile phones, tablets and ereaders. To make it worse, how many of these devices would we routinely reach for if we cant sleep .. doh!

This is great is you suffer from SAD (you dont so much have to buy expensive daylight lamps), but it’s also known that if you cant sleep at night you need to avoid such white lights: I know of people who have to switch their day-lights off by 6pm or they feel wired all evening.

Gone are the days of cosy yellow tungsten lights (hello energy saving LED), but it does raise a worrying question: should we be exposed to this intense white light so much?

Of course, in many devices there is the option to turn down the brightness (or in ereaders to reverse the colours), and this makes a dramatic energy saving too. But many, the young especially, influenced by companies such as Apple (ok, prob not true, but had to mention them somewhere) are used to enjoying the strong vibrant colours of fully bright screens.

I shall be giving my evening activities some thought on this, but hopefully it wont keep me awake at nights. Perhaps start work earlier in the morning and avoid late nighters. Maybe the paper-publishing industry demise is further away than we thought.

Tech news & thoughts this week #energy #co2 #smartphone #windows8 #teach #razr #4g

There’s no sense blaming the big six for soaring bills
Don’t rage about your gas bill this winter, but shout at your MP about the need for a realistic long-term energy strategy

Leaving aside “peak oil” scaremongering, we must accept that carbon fuel supplies will remain permanently volatile as global demand continues to rise. Our own North Sea nest egg is running out, but even if it wasn’t it would still be affected by global price trends — determined as they are by the threat of conflict in Iran on shipments of liquefied petroleum gas from the Gulf, by President Putin’s cold hand on pipelines from Russia to Europe, by rising energy use in emerging industrial nations, and by events such as the earthquake which caused the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
The response that is needed is, first, major investment in national grid and gas storage facilities, so that short-term fluctuations in wholesale markets can be absorbed and domestic tariffs don’t have to be loaded to protect against them.

Vince Cable: making the transition to low carbon economy
but real questions are being asked about the ‘green investment’: is it all coming from subsidies and tariffs (‘dividend’) imposed on energy customers? Incidentally, most wind turbines are made in Germany, solar panels from China; the local workers are installers and maintainers .. All for green energy, but whilst it’s a political card is it really being deployed in the best way?

George Osborne urges energy giants to ‘look again’ at price rises as npower blames Government green policy

Microsoft sold 4m Windows 8 upgrades in first weekend

Does crowdfunding work?

Which site is best for DIY web publishing?
Tumblr has a lot going for it, and sets a high standard for modern, attractive, streamlined posting of regularly updated, media-heavy content. The downside, though, is that Tumblr is all about streaming chronologically ordered posts and currently doesn’t let you create pages that are accessed via more traditional site navigation. .. It’s great for personal blogging and many other scenarios, such as multiple authors contributing to an event-based site, or for a separate news-orientated blog as an adjunct to a brochureware site, but it isn’t the right choice for all users. .. Tumblr is pretty well sweeping the board as a modern blogging platform, but it’s by no means the only CMS available. Open Source CMS currently lists 277 competitors, but there’s a strong argument for the safety of numbers by sticking with the most popular options – namely WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.

Motorola Razr i review

Google gets a wake up call from Apple VP (vice president)

Google Nexus 4 smartphone specs and pricing revealed
As expected, the Nexus 4 is manufactured by LG and will feature a 4.7in screen with a 1280 x 768 resolution and pixel density of 320ppi. .. The device will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.5GHz quad-core processor, which will be paired with 2GB of RAM. The device will offer 8GB of on-board storage, but there will be no memory expansion slot available. .. Other key features include an 8-megapixel rear camera and NFC connectivity. .. shipping will start on 30 October

Forever doesn’t mean forever, warns ads watchdog

EE 4G data caps that are broken in 5 mins

£20k scholarships to boost Computer Science teaching
The government is offering 50 scholarships worth £20,000 each to graduates wanting to train as Computer Science teachers. – yes, that’s 50 across the whole country ..
Gove said the government was trying to “produce the next Sir Tim Berners-Lee” – who actually has a degree in physics from Oxford. And contrary to Gove’s opinion, Tim didn’t invent the Internet .. doh
Also, computing skill doesn’t necessarily come from having a degree: many professionals studied it as a profession/ vocation, not as an academic subject. Experience of current working practices comes from actually working in the business, not from courses studied in college. This was always the advantage of FE, employing working specialists, an ace being thrown away.
And many can remember the dubious ability of some university lecturers to teach .. Bet they have 2:1s and above (the minimum to get govt. support to qualify).

Why Office 365 is far more important than Windows 8