October 29, 2013 at 10:15 am #9104Raúl Ilargi MeijerKeymaster
My personal view of how communities should manage the production and distribution of their basic necessities is very different from what has become th
[See the full post at: Energy Is A Power Game – 3 (They Cheat And They Lie)]October 29, 2013 at 3:19 pm #8925gurusidParticipant
Its the final evisceration of empire, instead of the centre exploiting the periphery, the periphery now eviscerates the centre.
Besides, in a neo-liberal global economy, being owned by the PRC is nationalisation. The people (Chinese) will be fine… :blink:
Sid.October 30, 2013 at 3:54 am #8926steve from virginiaParticipant
Heaven forbid the UK establishment demand that Britons use less gas or oil, they will let events reduce energy consumption for them.
Too bad the English don’t have products to offer in trade for fuels other than bad loans. That sort of thing went out of fashion when Maggie arrived as well.October 31, 2013 at 1:23 pm #8939YassineMember
Very interesting article (and series in general).
IMHO, the only way out of this conundrum is community-owned renewable energy-based systems.
Why community-owned ?
You said it yourself ” it’s essential and crucial to the well-being, and indeed the survival of a community, to control production and distribution of its basic needs”. In contrast, the return to domestic ownership of energy companies will not change anything (except on the tax avoidance scandal) because it should be obvious to anyone that the average british capitalist can be as greedy as your typical Hong-Kong tycoon. Nationalization has some enticing characteristics, the main one being to stop the shakedown of british citizens for private profits. However, as the example of EDF shows (82% of its shares belong to the French state), this is not a remedy to the underlying problem : our endless drive to consume ever increasing quantities of energy towards ever more frivolous ends. Indeed, as a study of the history of power systems can show (e.g look into why France’s heating rely on shitty electrical converter and poor insulation or why AC is so developped in the US), the drive for higher consumption has always originated in the willingness of power companies (and their upper management) to expand indefinitely and this is a phenomenon that was even worse in state-owned companies (e.g. in France in the 80s, EDF built an average of 5 1 GW nuclear plants a year). Consequently, I view the community-owned system as the only possibility to plan according to the real needs of the people (which are, by the way, roughly 4 times smaller than what we consume now).
Why renewable-based ?
The first two reason should be obvious : climate change and depletion of the reserves of fossil fuel recoverable in an economically sane framework. The third one concerns economies of scale : if you want a community-based system, you need a power plant (or several) that is (are) more or less adapted to the size of your community. Does it make sense to build a 1 MW nuclear power plant ? No, because the “competitive” price of nuclear energy can only be attained with gigantic plants (like the 1500 MW Areva-designed clusterfucks that the perfidious Albion just decided to buy). However, with solar (and wind), substantial economies of scale disappear once a certain power threshold is crossed (between 250 to 500 kWc for PV, 1 and 2 MW for wind turbines). Consequently, it is possible to generate electricity with community-sized plants only with renewable energy. The fourth reason is psychological : as I have said before (and will say again), all of this makes sense only if we drastically reduce our energy use. And herein lies another “strength” of decentralized renewable energy compared to centralized conventionnal plants : we can have a visual impression of the impacts our energy usage has, whereas with centralized generation we tend to believe that using energy is nothing more than flipping a switch. This, I believe, can be a driving force in curbing our energy waste.
Is it technically feasible ?
Again, here, the drastic reduction in consumption is a prerequisite (otherwise land use conflicts seem unsurmountable). Considering the management of intermittent ressources, I agree with the 15-20% limit (in annual energy) you mentionned in the 2nd part IF we decide not to change anything in the way we plan and operate the power systems. The current practices are the results of decades of experience in managing centralized and controllable power plants and are wholly unsuitable to decentralized intermittent generation. The strategy until now has been to tweak them as little as possible in order to attain the government-mandated goals of renewable integration and we have already seen impressive achievements (such as 40% of intermittent renewable energy in the spanish mix, in instantaneous power). My humble opinion is that if we allow ourselves to rethink all the concepts and methods pertaining to the power system (such as spinning reserves, load following, how the distribution network is planned, etc) a 100% renewable system is possible. Of course, not all can come from intermittent sources, there has to be some measure of storage in the mix, and probably controllable renewable sources (e.g gas turbine running on methanized waste, or small hydropower, all depends on the potential of each territory). Moreover, we will have to take all the advantages we can from the control we can have on when we use energy. During the industrial revolution, it was common to site energy-intensive industries near energy sources (think steel mills near coal mines) because it cost less to transport the iron than to transport the coal. The problem tomorrow will not (mainly) be to transport energy in space (the grid does it with no marginal cost) but to transport it in time. Storage can do that (transport energy in time) but at a very high cost (both economic and environmental) and so maybe adapting our energy intensive industries to work only when there is ample sun and wind (we are making a lot of progress in the prediction of those) will prove to be beneficial endeavour.
Is it economically viable ?
Again, load reduction is a prerequisite. If we divide our consumption by 4, and electricity provisioning cost twice more (which is an estimation that takes current prices of renewable sources, without future gains), we are still in for 50% reduction in our electricity bills. Moreover, if the network is planned according to the reduction in consumption, a LOT of capital could be freed-up. Ultimately, I don’t believe that the economic equation in itself will be the biggest obstacle, compared to, for example, the combined political and economic power of the industry incumbentsOctober 31, 2013 at 1:48 pm #8940Raúl Ilargi MeijerKeymaster
why not write me a proper article on this?
theautomaticearth •at• gmail •dot• comNovember 3, 2013 at 1:16 am #8947GravityParticipant
Gravity is a renewable algorithm.
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