Tag Archives: energy security

Land, energy and urban wastes

The USAF cemetry at Maddingly, Cambridge UK. What kind of world are we handing on to our children?

Globally, we are on the edge of a renewable energy revolution. It is not that we did not have the technology, what is different is that the technology, bit by bit, is becoming economic.  This bodes well for the human race.  However, there is a problem in that much of the economically attractive solutions, especially solar panels, need land. There is a problem with land – they have stopped making it. So we need to use alternatives including never making a roof out of tiles or inactive sheet and, instead, making it of solar panels. We need the land to produce food, fibres and timber – but in a different way.  Instead of using mineral Nitrogen which costs at least 21,000 kWh per tonne of N to deliver, we need to feed those crops on urban wastes. It has been done and can be scaled up safely. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01H63EQX0/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Nest discussion on this blog; Farming off-grid

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, December 17

The real truth about shale gas

You can download a copy for free this Sunday, 8th October,  by clicking below on “Buy at Amazon”.

Solar farm up-date economic

 

Solar is on the edge of economic without government support. This is potentially an important source of dependable, long term income for landowners.

The cost of solar panels is coming down and “solar farms” are on the edge of becoming economic without government support.I f you are a land owner, you might be offered £750 to £1400 per acre in rent for 25 years, plus an RPI escalator, to cover a hundred acres or so with solar panels.  That is pension fund stuff. However, is it environmentally sustainable and does it matter anyway?

 It is almost certainly true that the energy put into making all the solar panels so far manufactured will not be recovered in the productive life of those panels.  If the energy put into manufacture, packaging, transport by sea (most are made in China), in road transport, in mounting on frameworks, in making the frameworks (all the same actions over again), and maintenance, and decommissioning, …  All of a sudden, it does not seem possible that “PV”, photovoltaics, or just “solar panels”, could possibly be genuinely environmentally sustainable.

There is at least some research which gives a useful guide. Much of that research suggests an energy payback period, on the panels themselves, of 2 to 10 years.  The US Department of Energy quotes in one of its published documents several pieces of research from all over the world where researchers of some academic standing looked at the question and showed a wide range of results but they were all presented by the Department as positive.  The summary of research indicated that crystalline modules were significantly better than a few years ago and their efficiency would improve still more.  The conclusions were also that thin-film technology was currently more efficient than crystalline and would continue to keep its lead over crystallines.  Further, as new technologies develop, this is very likely to increase efficiencies again.  For example, the sun emits a much wider range of energy wavelengths than just the visible spectrum.  New panel technologies will collect infrared and ultra violet and maybe wider.

Nevertheless, reading between the lines, most of the quoted research appeared to be limited to the energy cost of manufacture of the panels themselves. There was limited or no indication that the total energy cost of a working installation had been taken into account. One of the bits of research even admitted that they had not even included the thin frame that surrounds the panel before putting into its packaging. So, there is some doubt about whether the research figures cover all the energy costs, not just of manufacture, but also of packaging, shipping, land transport, installation, site infrastructure, site works, supporting frame construction, commissioning, maintenance, cleaning and failures.

DOES PAY-BACK MATTER?

Maybe not.  It depends on where you sit. If it makes money for everyone involved; maybe that is good enough?  Only the taxpayer might not agree.  One thing “renewable” (but not necessarily sustainable) might be seen to deliver is less reliance in future on imported oil, gas and electricity. (Yes, we import significant amounts of electricity from France.)  There is another plus.  Whatever the energy cost, it is paid for at today’s cost.  The energy produced over the life of the installation pays back at tomorrow’s energy values; it is an investment in tomorrow.

What it comes down to is, as usual, money.  If a detailed financial study says it makes cash, then read the small print, cover the “what ifs” over the next 25 years and go ahead.  However, tone down the environmental benefit; you might be on thin film, sorry, ice.

 

 

Je suis le Roi de la mairde

 

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.

http://www.vshanabdrilling.com/en/projects/detail/landfalls-for-the-dudgeon-offshore-wind-farm.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 22 June 17

 

Importing food, doctors and nurses is theft.

George Bernard Shaw had an ageless wisdom which relates to farming food and producing our own shale gas.

George Bernard Shaw is quoted as saying; “We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it, than to consume wealth without producing it.”

The same goes for food and, for that matter, doctors, nurses, shale gas and a lot more. Why not?  Simply that it is theft from elsewhere where at least the doctors and nurses may be needed more and if we do not control the supply, there is no security.   We need to swing back to make it in Britain, wherever possible and now.

Land Research    21 March 2017

Better than the alternatives

Bentonite dispensing

Adding “Bentonite” to a drilling fluid. Bentonite is a natural clay which, if you ate much, would make you constipated but it is not toxic.

The ASA, the Advertising Standards Authority, ruled in Sept 16 that the Friends of the Earth (FOE) misled the public in a leaflet which claimed fracking can cause cancer. Despite this judgement, it is certainly true that there needs to be a watchdog on everything the shale gas industry does.  Fortunately we have one – it is called the Environment Agency (EA).  Now, it is clear that in this instance, and I have no doubt in many other of their campaigns, the FOE acted to promote their own interests in a way which was not based on evidence, in short, they actively fell short of honesty. It is also true that while there are some failings in the EA as a watchdog, it is one of the most precautionary regulators in the world.

There is another point to this and that is that the UK is not the USA and the British do have the best and safest technology in the world. Just to demonstrate, one of the British-designed drilling fluids is not toxic and you or I (I have offered) could drink it.  I would not advise drinking too much because the clay in it would cause constipation – but it would not poison the drinker.

For those who are concerned about shale, look at the facts and try to make an honest, evidence-based view. Will you conclude that shale gas is without fault or difficulties?  You would be foolish.  However, you might conclude that UK-produced shale gas is a lot better for the environment and ourselves than any and all of the alternatives currently available.  And we really do need more energy and we need it now.  Quite often in life, the choice is as with the politicians we vote for – maybe one might not wish to vote for shale gas but actually vote against the alternatives.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 14 January 2017

Dial 105

Euope ast might 2

Will the lights go out? What happens if they do?

There is an advertisement on at least one commercial radio station inviting us to dial 105 if we have a power cut. This implies that not only does the establishment know we are on the edge of power cuts on a large scale but they want us to prepare for it.  Now, I have colleagues who know far more about the national grid power supply than I do and they are quite certain that we are close to significant power cuts and, if all the relevant strains come on at once in a cold spell, then we may get a national shut down.  If we do, they some will be off for days rather than hours.  It will be inconvenient for most of us, will be very expensive for industry and cost lives.

Whatever we ought to do in terms of renewable power, the truth is that the quickest way, and lowest cost, to secure our power supply is to build gas-fired power stations. Other than nuclear (of which many of us have some reservations), gas is an almost totally clean burn. We area standing on enormous reserves of gas.  What does common sense tell us?

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 1 January 2017