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Renewables? Not for Baseload

January 3, 2011

Nobody more than I wants a future based on renewable energy. The question is can we get there fast enough given we seem to be moving closer to the two degree warming of the planet at which terrible consequences start cutting in.

Can renewables give us the flow of electricity we need 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to keep the lights on and the factories and hospitals and offices humming?

In the context of Britain’s serious winter, wind power is disappointing. Its contribution is down – running at 20 percent of its capacity in the last month compared to an average annual of 30 percent. In the last 24 hours wind yielded only 0.5 percent of National Grid Electricity with coal 36.4, gas 33.9, nuclear 22.7 and the French interconnector 5.2 percent.

The conclusion being drawn is that wind can’t even get Britain to one percent of its total requirements when the country needs it most and, as one analyst puts it, “That’s not enough to sustain a green Britain during a white winter. The Government must recognize the need to draw from a diverse energy mix, including clean coal and nuclear builds.”

As soon as people are back at work I will seek the following information: how close is Australia to the goal of 20 percent of energy from renewables by 2020?

One day we will be there, with nuclear fusion (as opposed to fission) being the most likely candidate but every time you ask, you learn it’s still 30 years away. We haven’t that time.

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