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Green Energy - How to not use it  

1) Green Energy - How to not use it
2) Railways - History and Future
3) A Silly Story
4) Cinderella
5) Croess
6) The House
7) How to Control Your Government
8) After Expenses: Is it time to abolish the House of Commons?
9) Say "Yes" to the EU
10) Dihydrogen Monoxide - An Appeal
11) The Train Operator's Guide to Getting Students Drunk in a Brewery
12) The Well
Department of Comment, Satire & Tripe
From Rags to Power

Someone's getting worried about us producing too much dangerous gases from our power stations and carrying on doing so by building loads of gas-fired power stations to keep us going for 50 years longer (or until the gas runs out - knowing our government, they will try to make it whichever is later).

It would be nice if the environmentalists could agree on how you want to be environmental. Some time ago someone (a very clever someone) recommended putting a fleet of wind turbines on top of some wild, open moorland at a place called Shap, in Cumbria, Northern England. Very nice idea, it was agreed by a lot of people. Just next to the M6 and the electrified, high speed West Coast Mainline. It would be difficult to increase on the noise produced there really, you might think, though the government did manage it before by building the M6. However, it's very remote, the natural habitats have been ruined already, the landscape is spoilt forever, there's lots of constant wind, and the wind turbines, as mentioned before, would be hard put to increase the amount of noise there.

The environmentalists blacked this idea, even though it involves drastically cutting the greenhouse gases they're against. Most of them had probably never even been there before. But they made so much noise we didn't even hear what Shap had to say on the subject.

We have reasons for blacking wind turbines too though, and our rules for renewable energy are noted in public for the first time ever here:

 1)The equipment must blend into the landscape - it should either be buried, carefully formed to look natural, or painted sky blue (top bit) and grass green (bottom bit) so that it looks natural.

 2) The renewable energy source should be transported to the plant by rail. After all, we don't want to put all these expensive little engines out of business.

So there.

Now we think that one of the best ideas is geothermal energy which involves taking a load of cold water and pouring it down a hole, expected to be at least 7 km (4.375 miles) deep, to a load of hot rocks underground with big cracks between them. The water seeps through the cracks and is then drawn up out of another pipe as steam to a turbine, which it drives in the normal manner. That technology is there no problem, and after tunnelling under the Alps, parts of the Andes, the Rocky Moutains, most of London, New York and Paris, the English Channel and the Severn Estuary (the Severn Tunnel is about 7 km long) digging a vertical hole downwards should be no trouble. Also the steam should rise up the shaft under some very simple laws of Physics, thereby leaving this as a no-energy-input, massive-energy-output idea.

While previous scientific discoveries mean that we should have the required hot rocks available anywhere, transporting all that water to the plant by rail (see demand 2) will cost an awful lot of money.

Tidal energy is a good idea. Harness all those tides we've got around the place doing us no work except for smoothing out some kid's work for the day on your local beach or removing all that litter and sewage you don't want any more to somewhere more convenient i.e. the next beach along the coast.

Stick a dam across the Severn estuary and it will a) shorten the distance by road and rail from Barry to Minehead and b) allow you to generate loads of cheap electricity by getting the waves to turn turbines. Very cheap. Except for building the dam, which the Severn will promptly try to wash away. Do it right and it won't impede shipping or the movement of Severn fish. The Severn goes up and down so much in the Bristol Channel thereabouts it doesn't exactly need to be a dam - the amount of water flowing through it will have a good enough effect anyway - so it could just be a bridge with turbines in some of the arches.

Except the environmentalists, desperate to save our environment from the closure of the local coal-fired power station, are fighting back (again). If your respective all-important deity had just put in an application to build a world with green trees, happy species and a couple of humans ("only a week's disruption, if that") he'd never get planning permission these days.

So much for that.

No-one's really followed hydro-electricity enough really. Most of the hydro-electric plants installed so far have been in rural mountainous areas where they've been left to get on with life in peace and quiet. There they have successfully generated large quantities of electricity at fairly minimal expense in terms of organising fuel, which tends to precipitate into the relevant areas at irregular intervals.

Now we aren't so much recommending covering the countryside in a few thousand of these, but we are suggesting putting a turbine into all reservoir dams around the country to generate some cheap energy for the locals thereabouts. Shouldn't be too expensive, and planning permission shouldn't be too hard to get, given that the dams are already there.

The other one is solar energy. As we are looking at Great Britain (land of gentle breezes and cool showers!) here, we'll rule this one out for major use, though everyone can choose to implement this option as they wish.

And on biomass - cow's intestines ok, animal and human dung fine, trees ummm. Trees do take a long time to grow, in case you haven't noticed, but not very long to burn. Sometime we'll put this to a practical test by setting fire to a small willow (dead, of course) and seeing if we can boil half a ton of water off it.

Nuclear power is in from time to time, but whenever anything goes wrong with a nuclear power plant so much hot air is produced it should be possible to power most of the country on the wittering. The Government also never seems to have the confidence in the technology to install such power plants in the middle of London, so we assume from that that they aren't really all that safe.

Or we just use the supplies of coal we still have. Should be possible to mine it cheaply by now.

This is the end of our argument.

This article was originally released on the Seasonal Area on 16th April 2006 and was brought here as old news 29th April 2006 (news doesn't remain news for very long). Slight tweaks and corrections were made in March 2011. It may occasionally be returned to the public interest.

Last modified 14/03/11

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