Heavyweight physics prof weighs into climate/energy scrap

Zero-carbon UK plans for all: Greens, nimbys, even Libs

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

The baseline plan is D, the “domestic diversity” plan, where the UK emits no carbon and lives off its own resources as much as possible. This means:

A 30-fold increase in wind power over the 2007 installed power. Britain would have nearly three times as much wind hardware as Germany has now … wave power requires 7500 Pelamis deep-sea wave devices occupying 500 km of Atlantic coastline … tide power comes from 5GW of tidal stream installations, a 2GW Severn barrage, and 2.5GW of tidal lagoons, which can serve as pumped storage systems too …

Nuclear power (40GW) is a roughly four-fold increase of the 2007 nuclear fleet … clean coal (40GW) corresponds to taking the current fleet of coal stations, which deliver about 30GW, retrofitting carbon capture systems to them, which would reduce their output to 22GW, then building another 18GW of new clean coal stations. This level of coal power requires an energy input of about 53 kWh/d/p of coal, which is a little bigger than our current rate of burning of fossil fuels, and well above the level we estimated as being ‘sustainable’.

This rate of consumption of coal is roughly three times the current rate of coal imports … the UK would not be self-sufficient for coal [even if all our own mines re-opened].

Next, MacKay offers Plan N, “the ‘NIMBY’ plan,” for people who object to a land filled with windmills and who won’t have nuclear plants either. This means massive imports of energy.

First, we turn down all the renewable knobs … (Don’t misunderstand! Wind is still hugely increased over its 2007 levels – by a factor of 7.5, to be precise) …

25GW of nuclear power could, I think, be squeezed onto the existing nuclear sites. I left the clean coal contribution unchanged.

This plan requires the creation of five blobs each the size of London (44 km in diameter) in the [North African] desert, filled with solar power stations. It also requires power transmission systems to get the power up to the UK, and storage systems to store energy from the fluctuating sun. Once we’ve decided to import solar power from other countries, there’s little point having solar PV on our roofs at home – the same panels could always generate more in a sunnier country.

This plan gets … 72 per cent of the UK’s electricity [thus, most of its power] from other countries.

You could say you’ve exchanged a pipeline to Russia — or tankers out of the Gulf — for HVDC lines to Libya in this scenario. MacKay nonetheless thinks that the relationship with Colonel Gadaffi would be much more positive than our current dealings with the Saudis, Iraqis, Moscow et al.

Next, there’s a plan for those who just hate nuclear:

We can create a nuclear-free plan by taking plan D, keeping the renewables, and doing a straight swap of nuclear for desert solar power.

This plan imports 64% of UK electricity from other countries. I call this ‘plan L’ because I think it aligns fairly well with the current policies of the Liberal Democrats.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?
How artificial lighting could offer an artificial promise
prev story


Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.