A reality check on renewables - David MacKay on TED

How much land mass would renewables need to power a nation like the UK? An entire country's worth. In this pragmatic talk, David MacKay tours the basic mathematics that show worrying limitations on our sustainable energy options and explains why we should pursue them anyway.

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+1 1. Judge-Jake commented 5 years ago

Interesting video,:)
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+2 2. Wotty1 commented 5 years ago

The UK is currently producing over 25% from renewables (Wikipedia 2019) Not 10%
Here in Brighton 20+ MegaWatts come from burning rubbish, 18+ MegaWatts come from burning sewage gas. 400MW comes from the Rampion wind farm (Plate rating).
The UK land area is not the only area available for windfarms, We have our sovereign sea area as well.
There is no mention of tidal energy at all.
A good talk, when was this made?
It is sadly very poor in current accuracy.
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+1 3. Kenuty commented 5 years ago

If you're grabbing information from wikipedia, you're most likely the inaccurate one.
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+1 4. snotraddict commented 5 years ago

Climate change aside, aren't Gen III or even IV nuclear power plants the only REAL way to subvert the use of fossil fuels?

It seems like the others have their own bad trade-offs. Many of them take up an inordinate amount of real estate both on land and in the oceans for the paltry returns (discounting extreme areas where it might work here and there). I thought most conservationists don't like the invasion on land or the sea.

Here on the west coast of the US environmentalists continue to fight against using sea water for our water supplies and that's hardly a nick of a transgression as installing massive infrastructures along the coasts (sea animal migrations?).

Just curious.

#2 isn't burning anything creating carbon dioxide? It's a renewable with regards to continued generation, but it doesn't seem to pass the "clean" energy test. Fact check me, please.
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0 5. RobertTusk commented 5 years ago

#4 snotraddict, your fact check.
Burning stuff does release carbon into the environment.
If you grow stuff and burn it, that is a cycle and the overall CO2 in the atmosphere stays the same.
However, over billions of years vast quantities of carbon on the planet have been stored underground in gas, coal and oil and as long as it stays there it is fine. Digging that up and burning it pushes all that extra carbon into our atmosphere.
Similarly, with peat bogs.
Vast quantities of methane are stored in peat bogs, in permafrost and at the bottom of the oceans.
Melting of permafrost and ocean warming releases that methane into the atmosphere.
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0 6. snotraddict commented 5 years ago

#5 Thank you. To a large extent that makes sense however burning rubbish and sewage, on the surface, doesn't seem to be a "net zero" game assuming a large percentage of it would be plastics but overall it's nipping at the fringe.

As a whole our bigger issue is China and India as well as other countries aspiring to become more modern. Their growth will far outstrip our "green" energy as you cannot possibly build the infrastructure required to replace fossil fuels.

New safe Gen IV nuclear is the only viable option. The public will have to get over it's anxiety about this technology. IF you truly believe in global warming, nuclear is the quickest and best option by several magnitudes. Just plain fact.
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-1 7. RobertTusk commented 5 years ago

Well sewage is organic and comes from stuff grown on the Earth so is part of the normal carbon cycle.
Rubbish - well that depends on where it ultimately came from.
A cotton tee shirt is made from plants so again is part of the Earth's carbon cycle - ditto food scraps, leather etc.
However, all plastics come from oil so burning them adds to the carbon in the system. (Also adds other unpleasant stuff).

Some perspective as regards China.
The per capita carbon footprint of China is 6.57 tons.
The per capita carbon footprint of USA is 14.95 tons.
That is despite much of the west's heavy industry moving to China.
Are you suggesting that we in the west be allowed to pollute more than a person in the east?


Nuclear should be good however most folks are not aware current nuclear position.
I am keen to know what you mean by Gen IV nuclear.
Which reactor do you think we should go for?
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0 8. snotraddict commented 5 years ago

#7 Oh come on, Flag on the Field! ;) Those funny statistics. China's output is DOUBLE what the US puts out so let's not try to diminish it by using their massive population. In 1990 they were half of the US output, by the early 2000's they overtook us and now have doubled our output. I'd bet the "per capita" in those areas that produce CO2 would far outstrip the US "per capita" number by a large degree primarily because of the shift of heavy industry to China.

Top 4 producers of total CO2 are, China, US, EU and India. Both China and India are infants in their growing economies and will only continue to grow and fairly quickly obliterate the 2nd and 3rd producers BECAUSE of their massive populations. People who can barely eat don't care about global warming. Only when you're fat and laying around do you have the luxury to think about the future.

Gen IV nuclear is being developed and supported by Bill Gates, a very wealthy and smart guy. Completely safe it'll eat the waste of other nuclear electric plants. Win-win.

Again, IF you believe in global warming, you have to get aboard the nuclear train. The world cannot produce enough energy to replace fossil fuels unless you use the biggest bang for your buck and footprint, which is nuclear. The math doesn't lie.