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Energy

A far from perfect storm

Global warming may yet prove to be the one thing which saves us from our largely misguided attempts to respond to global warming.  This is because, while the crisis is real enough, the solution that we have bought into is an absolute stinker.  While a great deal of corporate profit …

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A problem shared is a problem doubled

At seven minutes to five on the afternoon of 9 August 2019, a lightening strike caused the loss of 150MW of distributed power (i.e., a large number of small wind, diesel and solar generators) from the National Grid.  This sudden loss triggered the safety system on the giant Hornsea wind …

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This isn’t going to work

If an energy policy sounds too good to be true, that is usually because it is.  Take, for example, just one of the jigsaw pieces in current policy for reaching net zero by 2050: electric car batteries.  Jillian Ambrose – who should know better – at the Guardian reports this …

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The only thing worse than an energy collapse

We learned recently that one of the last coal power stations in the UK is bidding to become the first commercial nuclear fusion plant on Earth.  The news should be taken with a large pinch of salt… nuclear fusion has been 25 years in the future since before I was …

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When green gets real

The great thing about life in the decades after the signing of the Kyoto protocol was that nothing really changed.  Sure, politicians talked up targets for getting to “net zero” at some point in the future.  But besides that, we all kept consuming; and as our demand for goods and …

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Seeing the harness but not the horse

You can count on one hand the number of economists who have even the slightest inkling of the role of energy in the economy.  So whenever I come across an economist who appears to give energy an important role, I am always interested to read what they have to say.  …

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Mere statistics

In the current political climate, fossil fuels are deemed to have no redeeming features.  The fact that everything we take for granted, from abundant food to high life expectancy and from clean drinking water to an absence of slavery, is based on fossil fuels is entirely overlooked.  The transition to …

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Upsetting a delicate balance

Until the 1860s, whale oil had been the main fuel for lighting and for use as a lubricant.  Until recently it was believed that excess hunting had resulted in the decimation of whale populations by the mid-nineteenth century.  However, while hunting had taken its toll, it appears that whale populations …

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A zero sum game

As a young child I remember being gripped by the unfolding drama of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission.  Coming in the wake of two successful moon landings, the Apollo 13 mission appeared routine.  It was all too easy to forget just how dangerous space flight was – and still is.  …

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Jevons in the fall

In the 1860s, some British economists began to wonder if the economy was about to enter a steady-state.  With so much of its economic activity automated with coal-powered steam technologies, surely Britain could rest on its laurels.  Instead of having to dig ever deeper to extract ever more coal – …

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