mich, in Spain they have similar to the Denmark thing. It is a field of mirrors that reflect the rays of the sun to a point at the top of a tower. The heat produced makes steam which powers a generator to produce electricity. Here are two fields side by side -
Ahhh Mark, that is correct, the mirrors were in Spain not Denmark. I forgot they moved on after the windmills to the remarkable train system Spain has, soon 90% of the population will be able to access it. Then they moved on to the tower and mirrors. Thank you for clarifying the correct place. It is extremely interesting, the steam created by the mirrors turned into electricity?
Bixa, I wish I could remember the facts and figures on how much electricity this provides but it seems I did not retain that information. I will try to find the information of the internet. Cheers! Mich
Just to put that in perspective as statistics should never be viewed in isolation - these type of generation plants vary between 11 and 20 megawatts. The smallest at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan that is having trouble now is 460 megawatts. That plant in Japan has numerous reactors, the largest being 1380 megawatts and that one complex can produce between 4500 and 7500 megawatts.
So - to produce the same amount you'd need between 375 and 750 of the solar places. That'd be a bit of an eyesore, wouldn't it?
the steam created by the mirrors turned into electricity?
In simple terms yes. The high pressure steam turns a generator - imagine a water wheel but a lot more complicated and technical. The force of the steam on a blade turns the wheel (turbine) which turns a generator like a lot bigger version of what you have on your car.
Yes, I agree, the current application would not be practical versus the same output as a nuclear plant. But this is a newer source and perhaps in time they will be able to apply smaller mirrors? stack them strategically instead of spread out over such a large area?
I am more skeptical of the safety of nuclear versus wind or solar powered facilities so I am hoping for improvements in technology. Nuclear facilities are not that pretty on our landscape either. Cheers, Mich
If you stack the mirrors you run the risk of causing a shadow on the ones lower than the top row as the sun moves. But it might be an idea. In my mind though the more things you have to do to create the electricity, the less efficient it becomes. e.g. - step 1 - reflect sun light step 2 - focus sun light step 3 - heat water, and the container, to superheat point. step 4 - focus steam jet on a turbine blade step 5 - turn turbine and oppose friction forces (to which is attached the first part of the generator) step 6 - use the turning of the first part to create electricity in the coils of the second part. Finish.
Virtually every normal power plant goes from step 3 to step 6, the only difference is the way to make the steam, either nuclear, oil, coal. Hydro-electric plants use the power of water and gravity to do step 4 to 6. Wind power and wave power turn the turbine using those forces, so do steps 5 and 6. Any other source of oil/fossil fuel still has to heat the water - and the energy from burning something isn't very efficient. You lose efficiency because you cannot get all the energy out of e.g. a litre of oil, when you set fire to it.
However, consider a solar panel. Just an ordinary bog standard home or garden one - Step 1 - turn sunlight into electricity. Step 2 - there is no step 2......... Ergo - (one of the only Latin words I know) stop pratting about with lots of the other ways to do it and focus your billions of dollars on making solar panels more efficient.
So, just to change the subject slightly, but tied hand in hand with power generation, is the subject of emissions and how that effects global climate change, previously called global warming until they realised they were wrong (but that's another bee in my bonnet).
The energy source we use to generate electricity has to be in line with the thinking on reducing harmful emissions. Scientists propose that we in the UK should reduce harmful carbon emissions so that in 2050 they are at just 20% of what they were in 1990. To do this we must do various things. However, the question is, which of the numerous permutations as regards power generation, methods of travel, manufacturing output etc etc should be the viable one.
To help you see the scale of the problem there is a web site where you can play with all the settings of different things to try and achieve the goal. It takes a bit of loading and is a little bit complicated, but after a few minutes of mucking around (moving 'sliders' up and down to increase/decrease different factors), you can see if you can do it.
Note - it uses statistics of how efficient things are from recent figures. It may be that come nearer 2050 solar panels/wind etc are more efficient. Also note how much it affects things if you build as many nuclear power plants as possible. Then try it without building any at all. See how many 'sacrifices' like having a lot colder house and no car it takes to balance that back again.
Definitely. I insulated the loft of a house I had and got a grant for it. Can you still? On one side of the equation you have how to generate enough power, on the other side you have the efficient use of it. They have to be balanced.
Anyway, Annie, you didn't answer a question of mine. Do you use a dishwasher? Plus then - is your washing machine piped into the hot water system? What temperature do you wash clothes at? What temperature is your central heating set to? Have you a tumble dryer? How efficient is your fridge/freezer? (maybe it's not yours actually). You don't have a car do you? How 'green' is the food you buy - does it have to travel a long way (imported) to the shop you buy it from? Do you leave your computer/television on standby? What about your clothes? Are they mostly from manufactured material or natural? I've read what you said about the use of the cleaning products and I gather you are a lot more in tune with all this stuff than most of us, and live accordingly, but how much do you actually do? Just out of interest and to see what really is practical.
It is true that we as individuals can and should learn to use less energy and to pollute less.
However, I think much of the harping on that by developed countries is also a red herring. For instance, while we spend more to buy a product that is labeled as green, the plant that makes the product is actually in a country with cheap labor and no emissions laws.
If people in the first world lived a little more as people in the 2nd & 3rd worlds do by default, there would be less energy consumption overall. That is good, of course, but it needs to be applied by companies and governments as well as individuals.
I imagine there are times in the UK, for instance, where you either use the tumble dryer or your clothes will wind up molding on the line. But while a responsible person in the first world is making sacrifices in money or convenience for the sake of the environment, factories owned in your world are sucking up energy and spewing out pollution across some other border.
You can actually see this with the naked eye on parts of the border between Texas and Mexico. Even as Texans turn down their thermostats and sort their garbage, ominous smoke is floating into their air from US-owned companies 12 miles away on the other side of the border. Texans can see and smell it, but it's getting into the atmosphere of the rest of the world as well.
Well I'm just waiting to see if one of the reactors in Japan will really blow up and shower us all in radiation. If that's the case then I'll probably wait for a while until I buy a newer more economical fridge.
Anyway, Annie, you didn't answer a question of mine. Do you use a dishwasher? Plus then - is your washing machine piped into the hot water system? What temperature do you wash clothes at? What temperature is your central heating set to? Have you a tumble dryer? How efficient is your fridge/freezer? (maybe it's not yours actually). You don't have a car do you? How 'green' is the food you buy - does it have to travel a long way (imported) to the shop you buy it from? Do you leave your computer/television on standby? What about your clothes? Are they mostly from manufactured material or natural? I've read what you said about the use of the cleaning products and I gather you are a lot more in tune with all this stuff than most of us, and live accordingly, but how much do you actually do? Just out of interest and to see what really is practical
In the flat I rent, a dishwasher was installed in the kitchen, but it has been broken for the past 18 months or so and I wouldn't use it unless it were totally full. No point getting it to work half empty. But full... it might actually save some water/energy.
washing machine is all piped. most of my washes are 30C or 40C, but I do wash the bedlinens and bath towels at 60C. I would wash them at 90C if it were possible from time to time, like after someone had the flu/a virus.
Central heating has been turned off for about a week now, as the temperature during the day outside has gone above 15C. When it is on, it works on a timer, about 2-3 hours in the morning and the same in the evenings. We turn it off if we're warm, turn it on if we're cold - after we've tried to put a jumper on and drinking hot beverages.
The estate agent believes in washer-driers, but I only use it if I do a 60C wash or if it's so damp that the clothes would simply not dry even after three days on the clothes horse. why at 60C and not with the other programmes? because the wash comes out really wet and won't dry otherwise. just stink the house. I have tried.
small under the counter fridge with a broken ice compartment... that they placed by the oven. Do not start me on the subject, I've been fighting for months with the agency for them to change this. It might happen one day. Watch out for the pig shit coming from above, though...
True, I don't own a car, I only have a push bike. My destination must be over a mile or totally foul weather for me to consider using public transports. I walk everywhere. I try and avoid supermarkets as much as I can. My meat and eggs (once or twice a week only) comes from an independant butcher whose suppliers are local - farmed within the same county. My veggies are either bought from a small greengrocer's chain. I do try and buy local seasonal produce. Or they are local organic veggies from a farm a few miles out of town, where a former colleague's brother works. cheese, etc come from a small deli chain. recycled toilet paper is bought from one of the german supermarkets. wine comes from either the lovely independant wine shop or from the coop supermarket, which has a reputation for fairly-traded products. pulses/legumes/grains/cereals/seeds/nuts come from the healthfood shop where I buy most of my refillable environmentally cleaning products. I do try and choose all of these as local as possible. Spices from the indian shop.
I have no television. My housemate has one in her bedroom, but I think it is an efficient model. My laptop is either in use or turned off fully.
90% of my clothes are second hand - usually from the daughter of my mom's best friend, who is a total shopaholic. the rest from charity shops or clothes swaps. The rest, I try to buy from ethical companies and at least organic threads.
My deodorant is a "crystal" one. my skincare all comes from www.innocentoils.com good quality products at reasonable prices. I usually cook everything from scratch.
My aim is to only buy something if it is absolutely necessary and to limit packaging at all cost. I try to think about the consequences of all my actions before I do anything.
Although you wouldn't believe it if you'd catch a glimpse of the mountain of books (several new or "as new") that I am buying for university!!
oh, before you ask... yes, I do a lot of this because I am a tight so and so. I believe that if you add it all up, it costs me much less than what other people spend on themselves. Remember I'm on a student budget... without help from the government.
Dans les grandes choses, les hommes se montrent comme il leur convient de se montrer; dans les petites, ils se montrent comme ils sont.
Well well. Thanks a lot for that Annie. It certainly answers the questions. Fridge at the side of the cooker? Yeah, really good idea. It seems certainly true that one of the benefits of being less of a 'consumer' is saving money. But is that the case for food as well? The local shops are as cheap as a supermarket? Though I certainly wouldn't mind paying a bit extra every time for better quality. No need to answer, just a thought. Thanks again.
The UK government introduced subsidies for people with land who wanted to install a big array of solar panels to produce electricity. But only 1 year later they've decided to cut these. They say they want to save the money for small scale householder type situations. There is the argument that all that happens now is that "The emphasis on small scale installations is likely to reduce the total amount of energy generated from the scheme". The advantage stated is though that it will be "encouraging public engagement in renewable energy."
Something being viable has never stopped the government though has it? In any case, I suppose it depends on where you draw the line. A solar panel will produce electricity in the UK but not as much as in Mauritania, but it'll still make some. I think it's probably the same with water heaters. I can't see though they produce that much in the winter months at all. The UK just doesn't get a lot of sun compared to many countries. I definitely noticed the difference when I lived in Germany for example.
In the US and particularly in Montana where the Republicans currently rule the legislature (but thank god not the governor, who can veto their crap legislation), corporations have legislators in their hip pockets. If there is anyway that enriching a CEO can produce a job for some poor schmuck, it is marked down as a good thing.
They are actually trying to pass laws that would limit conservation, alternative energy and net-metering (making your own power via sun or wind and putting the surplus onto the grid for full value credit off your power bill). Reasoning? These things might kill potential fossil fuel jobs. What a joke. (Except it isn't funny.)
There were major incentives for people to install solar energy solutions in France, with tax breaks and a guaranteed buy back of excess energy. Unfortunately, it was too successful, so the government has cancelled most of the measures. While I admit that the first incentives might have been a tad too generous, it is completely shortsighted to discourage continuation of the scheme.
There is an article on the BBC website this morning which brings a smile to my face. Partly because of the irony and partly because of the "be careful what you wish for...." thing.
I remember some time ago (years probably) Germany saying that from a certain date all nuclear power stations would close in the country. I also remember them later saying that some of the older ones would remain open longer than planned for. I recently read that because of the Japan problem they would now close the old ones down immediately - which appealed to the 'Greens' immensely. However, here is the catch -
Most nuclear power stations are in the south due to the big cities and industrial areas. If they shut them down they have to bring power from wind farms in the north (and/or increase coal fired generation). That means running cables down the country through a scenic area. So the greens have a dilemma -
They don't want more coal. They don't want nuclear. Many object to unsightly wind farms. Nor do they want the cables running through the scenic area. (Nor, probably, do they want to give up their cars, holidays abroad, dishwashers, central heating etc) Alas, alack, woe is me - what to do?
Mark, yes, that's the issue... if people want all he tralala, they have to have the energy to power it and maybe make concessions one way or another. Hence these greenies should know better and accept that they can't have it all. They should remember their mantra starts with REDUCE!
Dans les grandes choses, les hommes se montrent comme il leur convient de se montrer; dans les petites, ils se montrent comme ils sont.
It's the great torment of the two main green parties in France, the purists and the not-so-purists (i.e. realists). Real people have trouble deciding which to support, because they know that if they vote for the 'pure' Greens, most of the programme will never be applied because it's impossible (at the moment), but a little bit of it will, and at least it makes a statement. If you vote for the realists, they will manage to get more laws passed, but the laws are more watered down and less effective...
And as for turning off the nuclear reactors providing 78% of the electricity in the country (also the cheapest in the EU)... even the Greens don't have an answer to that for at least 30 or 40 years.