Category Archives: sustainable energy

Renewable Energy; Declining Costs

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

 

AD Insanity

 

Putting “waste” into an AD plant to make “renewable ” energy can make sense, despite the energy cost of the plant. However, growing crops to feed the plant is both insane and immoral.

The energy cost of the steel, plastics used in the construction of an AD plant, plus the energy involved in construction, can sometime make environmental sense and make a small contribution to energy security, However, it is as well to remember that 1 tonne of Nitrogen fertiliser nutrient, made in a modern and efficient USA fertiliser factory, according to UN-sponsored research, typically takes 21,000 (yes, twenty one thousand!) kWh to produce and deliver.  N fertiliser produced in eastern block countries may use as much as 20 tomes more power. So, using fertilisers, to grow crops, to harvest using diesel to cut and transport to an AD plant, to digest to produce methane, to burn in an engine to drive a generator to produce even less electricity is insanity based on ignorance. What is more, that land could be used to produce food and we need food security and so do 100,000,000 people in central Africa which the UN reports are on the edge of starvation death.  That is immorality on a global scale sanctioned by ignorant government. in Brussels and Whitehall.

(There is a chapter on renewables in general and AD in particular in “Survival”.)

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 31 July 18

 

 

shale-gas agricultural-sprays

Dolly Parton, a woman of great wisdom, said “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain”. Look again at the picture and the electricity pole. Our lives depend, at least to some degree, on power supply. Without it , we die. Energy and food supplies don’t just happen; there are risks and the worst risk is to do nothing. The real question is whether we can do things with professional standards.


 

In the 24th June issue of New Scientist, a comment column observed “In this post-truth world …….. the power of facts is in retreat from public discourse”.

This is a potentially shattering observation in terms of not just the drowning of common sense but, quite likely, of the survival of the human race. Now, more than ever, science has to sell itself against attack by vested interests using social media.  Let us look as some examples.

  1. “Agricultural spay chemicals are dangerous and should never be used.”  It is true that they are dangerous and so is starvation.  Could we have a balanced, fact-based discussion?
  2. “Shale gas exploration is dangerous and will damage the environment and threaten our children’s health.” It is certainly true that shale gas exploration has risks and when we run out of energy to heat people’s homes, people will die. Could we have a balanced, fact-based discussion?

Why is it that we as a society vote into power politicians who distort the truth?  Why is it that we do not educate the next generation to NOT allow social media to distort the truth about events of every day?  Science is, or should be, fact-based common sense.  So, all scientists, do not distort the truth; tell it how it is.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd., J24 uly 17

Farming, the utilities and UK economic life

Dom Arnold’s JCB Fastrack and 360 excavator on its way to assist in laying cables from the North Sea wind farms under farmland in Norfolk to the National Grid to supply the economicm life of the UK.

Farming is not just food production, it is the back-bone of the economic life of the UK. It is not just the food chain which is integrated with so much of UK industry, it is the land itself.

The land is what the whole lot stands on, even the City of London and all its financial activity. It is the land across which we travel and which carries the life blood of economic activity.  It is the land across which the water, electricity and gas are channelled to carry energy to the people and their businesses.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ld. 7th June 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sustainable farming

According to UN sponsored research, I tonne of N nutrient, made in a modern, efficient USA fertiliser factory, typically takes 21,000 (yes, twenty one thousand) kWh to manufacture and deliver to farm. Yet, we lose around half to groundwater with rain or irrigation. This will dramatically affect how we farm.  Part of the answer is to recycle waste to farm land.  How to do this safely and how doing this can also reduce irrigation need by up to 90 % is detailed in a referenced work on sustainable agriculture.  All these and how the global population  will reach crisis, and when, can be downloaded for free on the Sunday 12 Feb.  Search  Survival” by Bill Butterworth Amazon.

Welcome

Welcome to Followers and Visitors from http://www.safeshale.co.uk We shall be posting items here on shale gas, mainly Sundays and sustainable land management on Wednesdays.

For those who have visited this site in the past, but not Safe Shale, and are interested in shale gas exploration and production in the UK, you might like to see past blog entries at http://www.safeshale.co.uk

The circular economy: 4. Tipping point ignorance

 

 

 

World population and food

I have used this before on this blog and repeat it because it is a very significant concept. Courtesy of “The Furrow”, journal of John Deere.

We are loosing bio-diversity.  Estimates vary on how many species become extinct every day but is hundreds, even many thousands every year. Does it rally matter?  Similarly, we are damaging the environment we live in very significantly.  How many bricks can we pull; out of the bridge before it collapses?  Could we reverse these changes and are we likely to even try?

The science: The inescapable logic is that, at some point, the changes become irreversible.  That is an over-simplification; if we allow a species to become extinct, that is in reality, irreversible. However, the truth is that it is much more complicated than that.  There will not be a single point, as if a gun was fired.  What will happen is more like a gradual starvation to death. We really do not know how rapid that will be and it will vary according to circumstances. Without any doubt, our environmental destruction is already in progress. It will progress like an exponential population growth curve upwards – except this one is downwards.

The bad news: We really do not know if we are already on the really slippery and steep part of the decline, if that is tomorrow morning or next year.  However, on the information we have now, it is very unlikely to be 10 years.  So it is no good leaving it to our kids.

The good news: it does appear that we are still on a gentle slope and that we still have time to avoid the really catastrophic decline in our environment. BUT, not much time.

Bill Butterworth 6th March 16

PS, I have used this Figure in the introduction of my latest book due out in April, “Survival! – Sustainable energy, waste, shale gas and the land.”