Monday, June 15, 2009

Making the most of wind

I have in the past expressed doubts in the past on wind as a decent enviROI+ energy source.

I still have them.

However, there seems to be no doubt that this renewable option is here to stay, and likely to get a lot more prevalent.

Hence I am always prepared to see how best to make the most of this. And I reprint this letter from the Indy as a consequence:

Sadly, the past few days have demonstrated why policy action is required to help address a major dilemma facing such [green] technologies.

The UK recently enjoyed a burst of high pressure with three hot and sunny days and temperatures averaging about 80F. This has led to the first surge of high summer energy demand, because people have deployed fans and air conditioners in the workplace as well as other cooling systems. During this period of high energy demand the country's 2,500 wind turbines have been almost motionless. During the three days, wind's share of UK electricity supply was 0.2%, 0.1% and 0.0% respectively.

We must begin to recoup our vast investment in intermittent renewables such as wind. A recent written answer in the House of Lords highlighted the cost of subsidies for renewable energies at over £30bn between now and 2020, at today's prices.

The answer lies in fitting electrolysers to wind turbines and solar panels to allow them to generate hydrogen which can be used later. Intermittent renewables should now be treated and viewed as a secondary energy source, with huge energy storage potential. The hydrogen they produce can then be used in hydrogen-adapted vehicles, gas-fired power plants, zero-carbon homes and the chemicals industry.

British companies are leaders in the development of the hydrogen economy and should be supported. When hydrogen is used in a combustion engine the only by-product is water vapour.

By supporting renewables as back-up suppliers with the ability to store energy, wind and solar can become regarded as more important and reliable renewables.

Now, I don't know if hydrogen is the best way to capture energy generated above demand from sources that only deliver at the whim of nature, but I certainly feel the principle of such systems should be assessed and, if feasible, embraced as a matter of urgency.

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