Wind: £3.33 billion per GW (cancelled) vs nuclear: £5 billion per GW

We just lost a proposed £4 billion, 1.2 GW offshore wind installation. RWE cite `technological challenges and market conditions'. We're spending £16 billion for 3.2 GW of nuclear and a whole load of uncertainty about waste the taxpayer appears to be responsible for.

Offshore windfarm: £3.33 billion per GW vs nuclear: £5 billion per GW. Oh good. (Looking here the windfarm output figure is an annual average output based on meteorological models/data, not peak output, so should be comparable.)

Let's hope this was more `technological challenges' than `market conditions' and that the market conditions didn't include mixed signals from government. Losing 1.2 GW of carbon-free generation right now? Madness. (Yeah, I know there's carbon in the production of wind turbines...)

I'm for nuclear too: despite the issues involved, Hinkley Point is still 3.2 GW, whatever the per-watt price. But it's awful to see projects like the Atlantic Array get so close to reality and then fail.

Peak oil a go-go

On Wednesday, UKERC is launching its report on peak oil - the ‘assessment protocol’ via that link is a great lit review for the smorgasbord of energy future opinions. UKERC is, as far as I know, the first ‘mainstream’ academic body to examine the peak oil issue.

I’m attempting to incorporate energy into models of food production, though rather than directly asking about peak oil, the model will hopefully say something about what could happen, given x or y energy scenario. The aim is to (try to) keep it simple: most approaches to the problem, e.g. at the Oil Drum can feel a little like you’re being beaten to death with graphs.

Chickpea Earth

Note: this is a long, rambling entry that swings from naval gazing to some interesting stuff on global energy futures.


There's a gymball in my bedroom: silver, 800mm wide. Having stared at it for a while, I started to wonder - if the sun were that gymball, how big would the Earth be? A few sums later I got 7mm. Some frantic measuring of dried pulses followed, and a chickpea emerged as the perfect - if slightly lumpy - candidate for sitting on the floor next to the gymball. There it sits still, so every night I can stare at it and mutter to myself, 'that's just stupid.' I include a photo of chickpea on gymball. But photos, this description - they don't do it justice. Find a gymball of equal size, get a chickpea: hold it between thumb and forefinger, having made sure to watch a video of the sun first. (Some would argue 'blue marble' better captures the wonder of it; each to their own.)

Incidentally, you can scale to anything you like at this website. At the scale above, chickpea would be 85 metres away from gymball.

I've also been trying to wrap my noggin around our place on Chickpea Earth. This has included an alarming assault on my sense of Earthly security, such as a list of all the ways in which we might never have existed. Some of these were covered in rather sensationalist tone by Tony Robinson's channel 4 series, 'Catastrophe Earth'. This quote sums up the general approach:

85000 years ago, humans were just heading out of Africa; the meteoric rise of our species makes us feel indestructible. Yet we are more vulnerable than we might care to imagine. We live on a thin crust that floats on a sea of pressurised molten rock and we rely on the proximity of a star to keep temperatures optimal for life. Meanwhile our planet moves through space, which is populated by numerous flying objects.

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