Times they are a-changin’

How times have changed, if you think of people protesting against a power station, it’s more likely to occur to you that it would be a nuclear power station with all the controversy they entail.



However the news today is of protests against the DRAX coal fired power station. This power station is the largest coal fired power station in the UK and in western europe contributing 7% of the nations power, the size enables it to also to be relatively efficient and clean in comparison to smaller coal-fired power stations. Also personally I much prefer to hear about coal being burnt to produce electricity than gas which can be used for domestic heating or production of chemicals.

I was never sure how burning gas was meant to be ‘green’ apart from the plants being slighly newer, and therefore more efficient. Does gas burn at a higher temperature with a higher Carnot effieciency or do other losses in the plant have a larger influence on the final efficiency?

The protest is probably good as long as people don’t invade the site and get hurt or damage the plant in anyway, it did make the news today and highlight the problem of CO2 production. I don’t think protesting against this particular plant is good though unless there are some particular reasons why it is more responsible for the pollution than the rest of society is? Shouldn’t we be applying our effort to make the processes more efficient, or the uses of electricity to be more efficient?

Will the same protesters be protesing against the construction of the new nuclear power stations that the goverment says are back on the agenda? I expect that some of them will be.

I have to read David Mackay’s book `You Figure it out’ available from his website. Also Richard Kemp has pointed me at zerocarbon2030.org/ which is site that explains the argument for shifting to nuclear power.

The independent’s coverage can be read here with quote from cambridge Physics Graduate:
`Stephen Stretton Cambridge physics graduate´

Tony Blair’s target on curbing emissions is based on the science of 1990 not that of 2006. This year we’ve seen the evidence that the Earth is becoming effectively ill. We’ve already reached the tipping point on
the permafrost. It will come in the Amazon in the next three to five years.We need a 90 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. That means less air and car travel, electric cars, banning night flights, congestion charging, changes to domestic heating and electricity from renewable sources.

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