Solar is getting more efficient and lower cost. Wind turbines are, in terms of energy pay-back a better bet. But we need tidal and wave power, and other renewables, too, in a balaced mix of sources.
The cost of renewable energy has declined precipitously. Between 2009 and 2014, the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules declined by 75 percent, while the cost of wind turbines dropped by 33 percent. Furthermore, the cost of residential solar PV has been declining significantly in recent years: in 2015, it was competitive with natural gas generation in India and nearly so in China. Battery storage is also becoming less expensive, which will make distributed energy even more affordable. Between 2008 and 2014, battery costs have declined 20 percent each year. (Credit to World Resources institute)
Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd 6 November ’18
Only farmers can deliver the following. According to World Bank figures, the global production of urban waste is above 2 billion tonnes and rising. My own experience of composting urban wastes suggests that, technically (if the regulators could come to terms with this) maybe 25% of that could be composted and put to farm land, and possibly more if put to forestry land. If the compost contained only 2% of each of N, P and K, then that would be 10 million tonnes of each. One tonne of N nutrient, made in a modern USA factory, takes 21,000 kWh to make and deliver. So, or the N alone, that would save the use of 210,000,000 kWh of electrical power generation, most of which comes from burning coal and oil. Bearing in mind most N production in the world is several times less efficient than in the USA, and that the rest of the figures err on the side of caution, then recycling urban waste by composting to land would save probably around 1 trillion KWh pa and the associated Carbon dioxide production. As a rough guide, that would save 350,000,000 tonnes of Carbon dioxide being pumped into out atmosphere, every year.
There is a bonus, crops grown on high organic Carbon soils need less irrigation and less crop protection sprays. Cereal crop lodge (fall flat) less. Crops yield a little more. What we need is active, controlled enabling, not ever-increasing suppression and indifference form government.
Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd. 18 October 18
It is not impossible to turn global warming upside down.
The New Scientist this week comments on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that we have 12 years to save the planet. Interestingly, while pointing out that the evidence is overwhelming that the rise in global warming is human-made and really dangerous and already producing problems, they also argue that the evidence is that we can do something about it.
What this blog is sometimes about is that composting urban waste globally could make a real contribution to limiting and even reversing by locking up Carbon in organic matter and by reducing and eliminating the manufacture of Nitrogen fertilisers (which, according to UN-sponsored research takes 21,000 kWh to make one tonne of N nutrient – and that is in a modern and efficient USA factory).
Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 16 October 18
HDD (Horizontal Directional Drilling) under the Solent for two gas pipelines. 4500 tonnes of arisings went to proximity farm land.
From a farming point of view, offering to accept the arisings from HDD (Horizontal Directional Drilling) has advantages, other than getting a little cash from crossing through your gate (a “gate fee”). Generally, the “cuttings” from drilling will add mineral particles to replace erosion losses. (2 to 3 million tonnes are lost to the sea every year.) Sometime, the drill has gone through chalk and this is probably less contaminated than agricultural lime. There may be some very small advantage from the spent fluids, too.
From a wider environment point of view, recycling to proximity land gets trucks off the public road and does not waste space in declining landfill. Regulation and permissions? Well, there are usually good, soil science-based arguments to support this recycling but it does take time. Fortunately, there are changes coming in the Environment Agency which may make recycling to land easier (where there are good science-based reasons and evidence) and, hopefully, quicker.
In the UK , around 80 % of the cultivation energy we use is to undo previous traffic compaction and around 50 % of the energy we use to manufacture and spread fertiliser goes into the groundwater. This is neither profitable in the short run nor sustainable in the long.
The nature of the Nitrogen molecule carrier/store dramatically affects not only N fertiliser losses to groundwater, but how it gets into the plant and promotes growth.
Nitrogen fertiliser can be applied in two forms; as soluble in water (such as ammonium nitrate) and as organically bound N (as part of long, Carbon-chain molecules).If the molecule is relatively small and in-organic (mot part of a Carbon chain molecule), then it can be absorbed across the root-hair wall and progressively built up by the plant metabolism into amino acids and plant proteins. This route has served us well and saved countless billions from starving and postponed their death.
There is a problem. While “artificial” or “synthetic” fertiliser N certainly has its place, the energy cost of manufacture and the losses to groundwater are unsustainable. The alternative will be discussed in the next post on this blog.
Also see “Reversing global Warming for Profit” by Bill Butterworth published on Amazon.
A normal pond? Not quire – note the white colouration of the water, This is spent drilling fluid from drilling through chalk to bring cables off the North Sea wind farms.
The attached below link is to the Dutch drilling company, VSH website. The pictures (scroll down a bit) are of the drilling operation bringing cables off the North Sea wind farms to the site at Holt in North Norfolk. This brings renewable energy to the UK consumers. What Land Research does is to take the cuttings and spent fluids from such operations and re-use them, usually on agricultural land to replace the 2.5 million tonnes of top soil which the UK loses by wind and rain erosion, down into the sea, every year. Renewable energy with zero waste from such construction operations.