Wera Hobhouse blasts UK’s over-reliance on gas and inaction on renewables

Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Climate Emergency and Energy, has taken aim at the Tory government’s energy policies:

The Conservatives have utterly neglected the UK renewables industry to the point where coal power stations are being fired up. They need to come clean on a firm end date to fossil fuel use in the energy sector, but Boris Johnson studiously avoids this topic.

It’s insulting that the Prime Minister is talking a good game on green electricity whilst families are left feeling the pinch this winter, thanks in no small part to the UK’s overreliance on gas and Government inaction on renewables.

Liberal Democrats nearly quadrupled renewable energy in government, but the Tories have since dropped so many balls on this they could fill a children’s crèche.

If we’re to make any significant progress towards meeting these green ambitions, we need serious investment in renewable energy – not a Prime Minister full of bombast and bluster and a Government dragging our green record through the mud.

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48 Comments

  • For much of September we had very little wind and as a consequence, very little electricity from the installed capacity of almost 25GW. It doesn’t matter how many more turbines are installed, if the wind doesn’t blow there will be hardly any output.

    In such circumstances, we either sit in the dark or use a reliable source such as gas. But the plan is to phase out gas, so I suggest buying candles. By then, all our hospitals, industry and tech activities will have shut down. Hopefully, common sense will kick in at some point.

  • Jason Connor 5th Oct '21 - 4:33pm

    That’s true Peter but can more energy be made from solar and tidal power.

  • John Marriott 5th Oct '21 - 6:50pm

    What IS wrong with TIDAL energy? No sun or wind required. Make it so!

  • Our latitude makes solar unsuitable for national grid quantities of electricity. Our variable weather makes it unreliable in the summer and our short, dull days makes it reliably useless in the winter. It may have some applications such as keeping a few batteries topped up. Some people invested in roof installations but I have grave doubts about the outcome once you unravel the subsidies, generous tax payer funded energy purchase, payback of capital employed and other catches such as debt that remains part of your house liability even when you sell it. Recycling is another major problem. The glass sheets contain toxic chemicals. There is no good way of recycling and if discarded, these chemicals will leach out.

    Wave power and tidal schemes are normally quite sensible in concept but absolutely devastating in practice. The reasons are that heavy engineering is required. This is very expensive to install and maintain. There may be a high risk to maintenance workers too in an offshore environment. But by far the worst problem is corrosion. This, combined with the mechanical stress just makes it too expensive.

  • @Peter

    My goodness, the amount of hot air that you just spewed out would be enough to fuel all of London for the next decade…Maybe we need to attach a turbine to you 🙂

    “The reasons are that heavy engineering is required. This is very expensive to install and maintain. There may be a high risk to maintenance workers too in an offshore environment”

    Just because something costs more to maintain, does not mean its not a good idea, especially when we are considering the longer terms impact and costs that climate change would have on us all and future generations.
    And as for high risk to maintenance workers…. And yet we have many highly skilled workers, working in high risk environments, from Mines, to Oil Rigs to Nuclear Power stations to Fire fighters….. I think that argument is a non starter

  • Barry Lofty 5th Oct '21 - 8:19pm

    Peter they should make you a consultant on sensible solutions for our future energy supply.

  • Peter 5th Oct ’21 – 4:14pm:
    For much of September we had very little wind and as a consequence, very little electricity from the installed capacity of almost 25GW.

    And on a fairly windy day still generating only 13.2GW – little more than half of their nameplate capacity…

    GridWatch:
    https://gridwatch.co.uk/?oldgw=

  • Peter Martin 5th Oct '21 - 8:29pm

    The problem with the wind is that it may not blow. The problem with solar is the sun may not shine. There are environmental issues with tidal power and also it doesn’t work at all at full and low tide. Most days that’s 4 times a day. There’s not enough water for hydroelectric and geothermal isn’t an option except for places like iceland.

    So that just leaves nuclear. Has anyone mentioned that? The safety figures are good especially for 4th generation reactors. I’m OK with the idea, In fact I live quite close to one.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2018/06/11/if-nuclear-power-is-so-safe-why-are-we-so-afraid-of-it/?sh=62b6690e6385

  • John Marriott 5th Oct ’21 – 6:50pm:
    What IS wrong with TIDAL energy?

    Not economic, long construction time, high risk of cost overrun, and environmentally damaging. The most cost-effective proposal was the Cardiff-Weston Barrage across the Severn estuary which would generate “up to 5%” of the UK’s electricity at a projected cost, in 2010, of £34 billion. For less than half that cost the Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project proposes to supply 8% of Great Britain’s electricity by 2030…

    ‘The Morocco – UK Power Project’:
    https://xlinks.co/morocco-uk-power-project/

    The Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project will be a new electricity generation facility entirely powered by solar and wind energy combined with a battery storage facility. Located in Morocco’s renewable energy rich region of Guelmim Oued Noun, it will cover an approximate area of 1,500km2 and will be connected exclusively to Great Britain via 3,800km HVDC sub-sea cables.

  • @ Peter Martin “The problem with the wind is that it may not blow”.

    As my chum John Marriott would say, Mr Martin, “Get a grip”.

    If it didn’t blow it wouldn’t be a wind.

  • Nonconformistradical 5th Oct '21 - 8:58pm

    @Peter Martin
    “So that just leaves nuclear. Has anyone mentioned that? The safety figures are good especially for 4th generation reactors.”
    We’re not likely to suffer the very large earthquake issues – except we might get a tsunami from one elsewhere…

    Cooling the reactors might become an increasing problem in a warming world:-
    https://nuclear-news.net/2019/07/01/nuclear-reactors-in-france-face-temporary-shutdown-due-to-extreme-heat/

    It has already been a problem…during the 2003 heatwave
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/aug/12/france.nuclear

  • You are right, other generation processes have high risk maintenance too, such as off-shore wind turbines. Oh dear, that is very expensive too.

    All of which explains why clean, low cost and very reliable gas is the preferred form of electricity generation and why the price of gas is soaring.

    Is it not Lib Dem policy to shut down mines and oil rigs? Some object to nuclear too.

    By the way, greenhouse gas absorption bands are now saturated. More greenhouse gases will make very little difference to our climate.

  • Some of you may remember that in November, 2020, I reported on a paper by Happer and Wyngaarden. They showed that the IR absorbance bands of greenhouse gases were saturated which means that increasing the atmospheric concentration of these gases would make very little difference.

    That paper was highly mathematical and very difficult to follow. I had the benefit of hearing a number of lectures by Happer so I already knew what he was talking about.

    There is now a new paper that confirms the results of H&W. This paper is much simpler and very easy to understand. I strongly recommend having a look at it because it cleverly assesses climate change by a process that does not involve the uncertainty of flawed models.
    http://www.ijaos.org/article/298/10.11648.j.ijaos.20210502.12
    I suspect that this paper has the potential to end climate change.

  • Nonconformistradical 5th Oct ’21 – 8:58pm:
    Cooling the reactors might become an increasing problem in a warming world:

    The UK’s nuclear power stations were generally built on the coast so they are not dependent on river flows for cooling. The exceptions were Oldbury on the Severn estuary, Trawsfynydd which used water from Llyn Trawsfynydd reservoir, and Calder Hall and Chapelcross which recycled their water via cooling towers (all now decommissioned). Any future nuclear power stations requiring cooling are likely to be built on coastal sites, as is the case with Hinkley Point C currently under construction…

    ‘Tunnels | Delivering Hinkley Point C’s cooling system’ [December 2019]:
    https://www.newcivilengineer.com/innovative-thinking/tunnels-delivering-hinkley-point-cs-cooling-system-16-12-2019/

    The tunnels will have the capacity to transfer 120,000 litres of cooling water per second, and not one but three will run under the Bristol Channel – 3.5km-long intake tunnels 1 and 2 run 33m below the seabed and one 1.8km outfall tunnel runs 24m below the seabed. […]

    The tunnels are connected to the seabed via vertical shafts up to 40m deep. The shafts are capped with huge heads which open to allow water to pass in and out. The largest heads are 44m long and around 8m high and weight just over 5,000t. […]

    The project team is keeping people safe now as well, with measures to prevent a similar nuclear disaster to Fukushima Daiichi which was swamped by a tsunami in 2011. At Hinkley, the sea wall is 13.5m high and the platform height of the reactor reaches 14m. The reactor itself will have four backup systems, each completely different.

  • Peter Martin 6th Oct '21 - 1:46am

    @ Nonconformistradical

    “Cooling the reactors might become an increasing problem in a warming world”

    We might have to build them all in Scotland then? 🙂

    @ Peter

    “…….this paper has the potential to end climate change.”

    Let’s print off lots of copies then just to make sure! Or, are we likely to overdo it and plunge the Earth into a new ice age? 😉

  • John Marriott 6th Oct '21 - 7:57am

    @[email protected] (and all the other experts on power generation)
    Yes, wave and tidal power may have their drawbacks, most of which would appear to be cost. However, while the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow, the tides keep ebbing and flowing the last time I checked. Oh to be so dismissive! Who would have believed you a few years back if you had told them that by 2030 most of us would be running around in electrically driven cars. Why, they might even be propelled by hydrogen! As for more nuclear power, fine, as long as it uses nuclear fusion; but not the present set up, which saddles mankind with a shedload of radioactive material to keep safe for thousands of years. Commercial nuclear fusion would appear to be many years down the line, unless…..

    Where there’s a will there must surely be a way.

  • Nonconformistradical 6th Oct '21 - 8:45am

    @Peter Martin
    “We might have to build them all in Scotland then?”

    Well, maybe – might depend on the future behaviour of the polar jet stream which, instead of undulating gently as it used to has in recent years been exhibiting huge loops so sometimes the British Isles are surrounded by warm water from the south and sometimes by cold water from the north.

    In case people hadn’t noticed there have been a number of so-called tropical storms, some of which have been quite strong tropical cyclones, causing a lot of damage well north of tropical latitudes e.g. Sandy Hook. A tropical cyclone needs a surface water temperature of around 26 deg C to sustain itself over water – normally they form between 5 and 30 degrees latitude in the northern hemisphere. Implication being that the latitude range over which such storms can sustain themselves might (might emphasised) be widening.

  • Nonconformistradical 6th Oct '21 - 8:47am

    @Jeff
    “The UK’s nuclear power stations were generally built on the coast so they are not dependent on river flows for cooling.”
    Indeed.

    Where do you think the river water ends up? Rivers generally flow into the sea….

  • Barry Lofty 6th Oct '21 - 9:59am

    I have no credentials or expertise on the issue of the environment just my own kind of logic which is that any form of energy for heating or travel etc comes with some form of impact on our environment and human beings have shown themselves to be pretty lax in the treatment of so many aspects to life on our planet. Surely a proper rational approach to our energy needs and travel would not be too much to ask and an approach that encompasses everyone whatever their means because whatever the constant panic over this issue, sadly, there is so much wrong in our country and the world at this moment in time that needs to be addressed.

  • John Marriott 6th Oct '21 - 10:03am

    Not being an expert on energy generation (as someone once remarked; “when the desire for physical exercise comes over me, I lie down and wait for it to go away”) I believe I have got my nuclear fusion confused with my nuclear fission. I believe it’s the latter to which I intended to refer, as a cleaner form of nuclear power; but only available at present in a laboratory.

  • Peter Martin 6th Oct '21 - 11:37am

    @ John,

    You were right first time. Fission is splitting of the atom; atoms such as Uranium and Plutonium. This is the technology we currently have available. Fusion is the combining of Hydrogen atoms . This technology exists insofar as we have H bombs but not yet a process which is usable in a controlled way, although according to some reports we may be fairly close.

    According to the nuclear power industry they are safer than anyone else. I suppose we might think “they would say that wouldn’t they” but at the same time we shouldn’t dismiss their claims out of hand.

    https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-security/safety-of-plants/safety-of-nuclear-power-reactors.aspx

  • Peter Martin 6th Oct '21 - 12:11pm

    @ Nonconformistradical,

    ‘“The UK’s nuclear power stations were generally built on the coast so they are not dependent on river flows for cooling.”
    ……..Where do you think the river water ends up? Rivers generally flow into the sea…’

    Sure but you’re missing the point. There will always be a problem of heat pollution in rivers. Warmer water can hold less dissolved oxygen which can adversely affect aquatic life. Keen fishermen will perhaps have noticed that fish struggle to breathe on very hot days and come to the surface where there is slightly more dissolved oxygen. The smaller the river the bigger the problem. But, by the time the water enters the sea it really doesn’t matter much at all.

  • Laurence Cox 6th Oct '21 - 12:19pm

    @Peter

    You are very easily taken in. The Science Publishing Group, who publish this journal are on lists of ‘predatory publishers’. That is to say they charge people for publishing their articles and do not bother with proper peer review, the foundation of scientific publishing. See:

    https://www.4open-sciences.org/articles/fopen/full_html/2018/01/fopen180001s/fopen180001s.html

    I don’t doubt that the authors believe what they have written, but without proper peer review it is worth no more than publishing it in their own blog.

  • Peter Hirst 6th Oct '21 - 3:16pm

    This government is incompetent in that its policies depend on knee jerk responses to prevailing situations with no long term strategy. It could have foreseen this rise in energy prices post Covid and invested in more renewable capacity. Because it is not committed to renewable infrastructure it has to wait for the pressure to build before acting.

  • John Marriott 6th Oct '21 - 4:09pm

    Thanks, Peter. The problem for me is that both words begin with ‘f’! Seriously though, it’s interesting how nuclear power appears to be enjoying a Renaissance. France, I think, went heavily nuclear decades ago, while Germany at the same time built a new nuclear power station on the Weser and never put it on line. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima show us how risky nuclear power can be. But, what do I know?

  • Jenny Barnes 6th Oct '21 - 5:30pm

    I strongly recommend “Sustainable energy without the hot air” by David Mackay https://www.withouthotair.com/about.html
    Towards the end he suggests various scenarios for the UK’s energy / electricity production. He does use the rather odd energy unit of kWh/day, but it’s consistent. No BTUs or bbls of oil. (or indeed “enough for n houses”)

  • @Laurence Cox – It seems that your Mr Beall is a retired librarian with a thing about open source journals. I also understand there are lawsuits.

    I do know more about the main author of the paper. He read Physics at Oxford then founded a company that manufactures sensors. These sensors use infra red technology to measure the concentrations of gases in the atmosphere. Such gases include carbon dioxide and water vapour plus a number of others. He spent his working life in this field and is now retired. I can’t think of anyone more suited to write a paper about the interaction of infra red and greenhouse gases – exactly his speciality.

  • @ John Marriott

    … though funnily enough, Chernobyl has turned out to be the most amazing rewilding event in Europe probably since the Black Death.

    Rewilding is all in vogue nowadays… maybe we should build a lot more reactors and ensure that the designs contain a few flaws in the name of conservation.

  • Peter Martin 6th Oct '21 - 11:40pm

    @ John Marriott,

    ” Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima show us how risky nuclear power can be. But, what do I know?”

    Aberfan plus many other coal mining tragedies showed us how risky coal mining can be. Nothing is risk free. Gas explosions cause deaths every year. Burning biomass creates particulate pollution.

    If you take a look at this graph you’ll know more than you did before!

    https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/exports/death-rates-from-energy-production-per-twh.svg

  • Neil James Sandison 7th Oct '21 - 10:01am

    For too long we have been heavily reliant on a limited number of fuel resources and been the prisoners of those fuel suppliers . Climate change should be seen as an oppertunity to develop to wider types of energy generation as we wean ourselves off of fossil fuels , As we invest in these new fuels and learn to operate them at their optimum efficiency so the costs will reduce as we have seen with wind and solar . We as a party should remain open minded and be willing to invest in further research and development in these alternatives.

  • John Marriott 7th Oct '21 - 10:08am

    @Peter Martin
    I vividly remember the tragedy of Aberfan, do you, or did you get it from “The Crown”. However, the repercussions from Aberfan are largely felt by the relatives of all those little children, who lost their lives. The repercussions from a nuclear disaster will continue to haunt the area concerned possibly for hundreds of years. Yes, nuclear is very safe; but, if it goes wrong, we know what can happen. That’s why many people are vary wary of nuclear energy.

  • Peter Martin 7th Oct '21 - 10:37am

    @ John,

    Yes I do remember Aberfan. I wasn’t very old at the time and I do remember feeling sick at the thought of what had happened. There had been a pit accident, just before WW1 near where I grew up, and that had cost over 350 lives. The human cost of coal was, and is, well known in the local community.

    I can understand the concern over nuclear power and radiation dangers. I can also understand why we might want to be somewhat sceptical over the official figures on the deaths from nuclear accidents, but even if we multiply them by 10 or 100 they are still extremely good. The cause of the Chernobyl disaster makes interesting reading. Apparently some bright spark decided to test the safety systems by disabling them one at a time. When the last one didn’t work quite as expected it was a case of OOPS!

    James Hansen, a prominent US climate scientist, makes the case that there is really no alternative to nuclear power if we are going to halt climate change. We can and we must make it even safer.

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/nuclear-power-must-make-a-comeback-for-climate-s-sake/

  • Jenny Barnes 7th Oct '21 - 12:20pm

    Mining and burning coal typically creates a radiation exposure around 5 or 6 times more than nuclear power. However, in neither case is it a significant health hazard, being around 100 times less than natural background. Even more if you live near granite heathland like Dartmoor.

  • Jenny Barnes 7th Oct '21 - 1:34pm

    People are very bad at estimating risk, paying much more attention to spectacular one-offs like air crashes and Chernobyl, while ignoring or down playing continuous low level risks like air pollution or road casualties.
    For example estimates of deaths in London each year from air pollution are around 4k.
    Total (including all long term effects) deaths from Chernobyl – again about 4k. 30-40 immediate casualties.

    The Chernobyl disaster was in in 1986, so over 30 times as many people have died in London from air pollution since then as were killed by Chernobyl.

    And of course we’re averaging 80 Covid19 deaths / day. That’s 30k or so annually.

  • Safety often comes down to the size of the hazard and the size of the risk. Nuclear safety is very stringent so the risk is actually very low. However, the hazard, if the worst happened, could be huge. Another factor that is a special case for nuclear is that the hazard could prevail for hundreds of thousands of years during which the integrity of the safety precautions could change dramatically. There is also an element of the unexpected. For example, we can almost rule out a serious earthquake in the next hundred years, but in the next hundred thousand years is a different matter.

    I can accept the uncertainties of nuclear but it explains why people are right to be uneasy. The risks are relatively easy to quantify when they are under strict control but we cannot guarantee the same in the long term.

  • Jenny Barnes 7th Oct '21 - 4:05pm

    If we’re talking about high level nuclear waste, then it’s no longer significantly radioactive after 10,000 years, not 100,000. And there isn’t really very much of it. It’s vitrified for storage purposes. Now, by comparison, if we’re thinking about gas fired electricity, with CCS, the CO2 needs to be liquefied and stored underground (presumably) for 1,000 years. It’s not likely that underground storage would remain sealed for anything like that long.

    If we’re talking about Chernobyl type incidents, then as above, we’re already killing many more people with air pollution.

    Personally, I’d go for a fleet of 7 to 10 nuclear power stations of 3GW capacity, like Hinkley Point C. Current nuclear capacity is about 6 GW, most of which is near the end of its life. 21 to 30 GW of nuclear capacity would cover about half to 2/3 of our current demand, and remember we need a lot more for: electric cars, hydrogen for steel and aviation, electric heating etc.

  • @Jenny – I could go with that. I also quite like the idea of factory built small modular reactors built by Rolls-Royce. They are 440 MW which would power a small city and cost £2bn each but the unit price should come down if enough were built.

  • Laurence Cox 8th Oct '21 - 1:11pm

    @Peter

    That link is not the only one that lists The Science Publishing Group amongst predatory publishers; it is just rather more detailed in its criticism than most. I don’t know what your background in science is, but I have a BSc in Physics, a PhD in Astronomy and then spent the whole of my working career in applied research in Electro-Optics, using atmospheric transmission of infrared radiation codes as part of my toolkit for systems design and modelling. I know what HITRAN is and have used the database of molecular lines for high-resolution work, not least when the company I worked for was developing a near-infrared optical sensor for measuring methane levels indoors on oil and gas rigs.

    I repeat what I said above: if the work has not been properly peer-reviewed then it has no significant scientific value, no matter who the author is.

  • @Laurence – I was talking to the assistant editor last week and the author yesterday. Would you like me to pass on your comments?

    I’m glad you are familiar with HITRAN. Have you read the paper yet?

    You will no doubt understand the logarithmic relationship between absorbance and concentration and the fact that when no more absorbance is possible due to band saturation, further increases in concentration make little difference. HiTRAN shows that greenhouse gases have reached that stage.

    That is a matter of fact based on the HITRAN data. James Happer has shown exactly the same result. Regardless of the paper, physics is telling us that the bands are saturated. That applies to water vapour, CO2, CH4 and N2O and mixtures at current atmospheric concentrations.

    The greenhouse effect is finished. This explains why greenhouse gases were able to warm the planet by 33 degrees K but concentrations as high as 8,000 ppm a few million years ago did not kill off the life developing at that time.

  • Of course, I meant William (Bill) Happer at Princeton.

  • Laurence, you may well know the author as well, David Coe, who founded Codel International, a company that makes IR sensors and was therefore in the same business as you. I can forward your posts to him if you like.

  • I’ve looked very carefully at the claims made by the retired librarian with the alleged grudge against open source journals. I abandoned the tedious job of manually counting the number of so-called predatory journals on his list but it must be at least 500, not counting about 150 on the update list.

    Let us say for argument sake that a retired librarian with no scientific credentials has expertly reviewed a representative number of scientific papers per journal (say 100 per year, so let us say 10%, i.e. 10 papers). So he reviewed 6000 papers across a wide range of all possible scientific disciplines per year to arrive at his damning conclusion.?

    A cursory glance at this stuff suggests that he disliked open source and put the lot on his list. No one can find any other evidence or criteria on which he reached his conclusions. His university shut down his site. I guess that they were worried by the lawsuits. Sorry, Laurence, I don’t think that your claims are credible, it looks like you are desperate to find a means of discrediting a fine piece of work and please be careful not to join Mr Beall, the retired librarian in the lawcourts charged with defamation.

  • Peter Martin 8th Oct '21 - 8:06pm

    @ Peter,

    “Regardless of the paper, physics is telling us that the bands are saturated. That applies to water vapour, CO2, CH4 and N2O and mixtures at current atmospheric concentrations.”

    No it isn’t. I’m not a climate scientist but I do have a degree in Physics and I can swear with hand on my heart that the vast majority Physicists are not saying this.

    “The greenhouse effect is finished.”

    What a silly comment. It’s like saying the laws of gravity are finished and that one day everything that isn’t fixed down will float off into space. The GHE has always been with us and a good thing to. We’d all be frozen solid if it didn’t exist! But on the other hand we don’t want too much of it.

    “This explains why greenhouse gases were able to warm the planet by 33 degrees K but concentrations as high as 8,000 ppm a few million years ago did not kill off the life developing at that time.”

    It wouldn’t. Why would you think it would? But your “few million years” is more like 500 million years and even then CO2 levels weren’t quite that high.

    https://blogs.agu.org/wildwildscience/files/2009/07/Picture-211.jpg

    Human beings and most modern mammals have evolved in the last 60 million years or so. None would survive with such CO2 levels. Even if some cockroaches did quickly adapt to survive, most of them would also have to learn to swim to survive the rising sea levels!

    If you think you could survive 8000ppmv of CO2 you could try putting a plastic bag over your head but I honestly would advise against it!

  • @Peter Martin – thanks for injecting a bit of long needed humour.

    Just picking up on your last sentence, don’t put a plastic bag over your head if you don’t think that you could survive 8,000 ppm of CO2. The Navy think you could work in 5,000 ppm though it is a bit extreme. But your plastic bag over your head would collect much more than that.

    Every time you breathe out, you produce about 40,000 ppm.

  • Laurence Cox 10th Oct '21 - 2:33pm

    @Peter

    I don’t know where you get the

    “You will no doubt understand the logarithmic relationship between absorbance and concentration and the fact that when no more absorbance is possible due to band saturation, further increases in concentration make little difference. HiTRAN shows that greenhouse gases have reached that stage.”

    statement from, but my copy of The Infrared Handbook, published on behalf of the US Government in 1978 and used by everyone in this field, says (on page 5-13) that for strong-line absorption the effective absorption scales as the square-root of the absorber quantity, not the logarithm.

    I don’t have any access to HITRAN and its database any more (I’m retired too) so it would be a waste of time me trying to find the error in your friend’s work. And don’t try threatening me with a defamation case; it is a technique commonly used by people with something to hide, like the late Robert Maxwell.

  • Peter Martin 10th Oct '21 - 4:05pm

    @ Peter,

    “You will no doubt understand the logarithmic relationship between absorbance and concentration and the fact that when no more absorbance is possible due to band saturation, further increases in concentration make little difference. HiTRAN shows that greenhouse gases have reached that stage.”

    1) A logarithimic relationship isn’t the same a saturation. Saturation means that no extra absorption occurs with increasing concentration. A logarithmic relationship means that it increases as the power of the concentration.

    2) IR energy radiates from the outer layers of the atmosphere so it is the properties of the atmospheric gases at very low pressures that are important not what is measured low altitudes.

    3) To understand the cooling process involved in the radiation of IR from the atmosphere you need to be thinking about energy is radiated from the upper layers into space rather than how it may or may not be absorbed and radiated at lower altitudes. The lower pressure and the highly reduced concentrations of all molecules mean that saturation simply won’t be occurring there, even if it is, but actually isn’t -its just more logarithmic, at lower altitudes.

  • John Marriott 6th Oct ’21 – 7:57am:
    As for more nuclear power, fine, as long as it uses nuclear fusion; but not the present set up, which saddles mankind with a shedload of radioactive material to keep safe for thousands of years.

    If we were a ‘nuclear free’ country like New Zealand that might be a consideration, but we already have a substantial stockpile of nuclear ‘waste’ from power stations, military, medical, and industrial sources. It doesn’t take up much space and the storage costs are a largely fixed overhead. Adding incrementally to it isn’t going to add significantly to those costs or the stockpile legacy. Uranium-fission power stations, like Hinckley Point C, currently under construction, only extract 1% of the potential energy from their fuel. It is possible to reprocess and recycle that spent fuel for use in a different type of reactor which can reduce the volume and half-life of the remaining waste. An example of such a design is Moltex’s Stable Salt Reactor – Wasteburner (SSR-W)…

    ‘Reduces Waste’:
    https://www.moltexenergy.com/reduces-waste/

    Moltex’s Stable Salt Reactor – Wasteburner (SSR-W) uses the nuclear waste from past and present operations as fuel, significantly reducing waste stockpiles.

    Moltex is a UK company based in Warrington, but has had to go to Canada to find support to construct its first power station.

    Another possibility, currently under development by India and China, are Thorium reactors which only require around one-hundredth of the fuel as an equivalent uranium reactor and produce little waste.

    ‘Thorium: A safer alternative for nuclear power generation?’ [May 2011]:
    https://newatlas.com/thorium-nuclear-power/18204/

    Though all nuclear reactors will produce waste products, a reactor fuelled by thorium will produce far less long-lived waste products than one fuelled by uranium or plutonium, with waste decaying to the same level of radioactivity as coal ashes after 500 years.

  • John Marriott 6th Oct ’21 – 7:57am:
    Commercial nuclear fusion would appear to be many years down the line, unless…..

    …perhaps one of the smaller privately-funded projects out-innovates the large state-funded ITER and STEP projects. Tokamak Energy seem confident they can deliver…

    ST40: Rapid progress to commercial fusion:
    https://www.tokamakenergy.co.uk/technology/st40/

    We now aim to demonstrate ST40 as the first privately-funded fusion machine to achieve the temperatures required for commercial fusion – 100 million degrees.

    100 million degrees is the temperature required to overcome repulsive forces between deuterium and tritium ions and get them close enough together to fuse.

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