Friday, 29 July 2016

Is the Future Thorium?

Here's a clip from an excellent NASA film about nuclear reactors and why they are vital for extended space travel. You can see the film - all two hours of it - at

People sometimes ask me don't wind turbines take more energy to make than they produce? The answer is no. But it is interesting to see what the energy return on investment is for different energy technologies. At the bottom of the list is ethanol from maize, which according to NASA scientists only produces 30% more energy than growing and processing it consumes.

At the other end of the scale, Thorium reactors, which produce no bomb grade isotopes, are by far the most efficient, producing 2000 times the energy required to make and operate them. Surprisingly, current nuclear technology is only as efficient as coal at less than a twentieth that of Thorium.

The reason we don't have Thorium reactors is that they don't produce bomb grade material, and therefore research went into the Uranium and Plutonium reactors we have today.

Perhaps Teresa May should pause a little longer to ponder on this while she makes her mind up about Hinkley C.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Is a Northern Global Grid Link feasible?

The Arctic Circle is just over 10,000 miles long. A supergrid running its full length would allow solar PV and other forms of low carbon electricity to be transmitted from daylight areas to evening areas.

It would be shorter than the 12,000 miles of the UK high voltage grid.

National grids in Canada, Scandinavia and Russia could be connected, with substantial potential for generation capacity reduction. 

The growing geothermal output of Iceland could then also be fed into it. An Iceland/UK link is already being planned.

With global warming, northerly latitudes will become increasingly attractive places to live, so this is a useful piece of infrastructure for the world's future.

Or do you think such grand projects are extravagant and environmentally dubious?

 If so, your best bet is to follow my advice and timeshift your electricity consumption out of the peak and into the trough!

Happy timeshifting!