No time to abandon energy density

Energy density - more than an engineering detail []

When James Watt’s separate steam condenser began to displace Thomas Newcomen’s early atmospheric engine, it did not require government targets or financial incentives to encourage the take-up of the technology. Watt’s idea succeeded simply because it took less than half as much coal to deliver the same quantity of mechanical work. Watt’s innovation was part of a long-term trend in energy production; it was part of a continuous move towards using fuels of greater energy density and so lower carbon intensity.

What is the future of civilisation as the oil runs out?

Contribution to the Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival at Gateshead on 6th November:

Anne McElvoy chairs a debate about the impact of a future energy crisis on our way of life, recorded in front of an audience at the BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival 2011
How will our world change as traditional energy supplies shrink and climate change forces us to use less fossil fuels? Should we return to a locally-focused pre-modern lifestyle where travel is a luxury for the few, will conflict over declining resources destabilise the globe, or will science save the day?
Debaters include Paul Younger, Director of the Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability, the philosopher Melissa Lane from Princeton University, scientist Colin McInnes and gobal energy specialist Neil Hirst.

Winds of change must blow through the energy sector

Offshore wind - Scotland’s renewable Grands Projets

Energy production should be a simple matter of physics, engineering and economics taken strictly in that order. But in Scotland we have added our own colourful politics into the mix. Some see a future where nationalist renewable electrons will flood south along the interconnector, while others argue unionist nuclear electrons will need to flow north when the wind stops blowing.