The Burning Answer – Solar Power?

by Admin on November 20, 2014

“We’ve got to beat global warming and renewables are the way to do it”, according to Professor Keith Barnham (Professor of Physics Imperial College London), author of a new book The Burning Answer, a must-read for all those concerned about climate change. On Friday November 7 Keith gave a fascinating talk on the potential of Solar Power to a public meeting at imaGine, jointly hosted by the Circuit Ecoteam and Transition Evesham. Someone who used to play football with David Haslam for Birmingham University Methodist Society, Keith now passionately believes that solar energy can provide the UK with most of its energy as early as 2020 if we follow the lead of Germany and Japan.

Keith pointed out that the growth of solar PV Germany between 2007 and 2012 has resulted in a 20% reduction in wholesale energy prices and at times over the Easter period 2014 Germany was generating 36% of its electrical power requirements from solar energy”. David showed an ad in the meeting which informed us that on Sunday Oct.19th when four UK nuclear power stations shut down and Didcot power station caught fire, ‘Nothing Happened’ because 25% of our electricity was being provided by wind power. Keith emphasised the important difference between energy and power and the significance of the timing. Since wind energy is complementary to solar, they could produce three quarters of UK power requirements. Biogas could provide another 17% and only 5% back-up from electricity storage would be necessary. If PV development in UK were to continue following the German example, solar power output could be 22 times larger than the proposed new EDF Hinckley nuclear reactor well before its start date of 2023.

Keith believes that if offshore wind installations continue at the rate they have achieved in recent years, Britain could have enough offshore wind power for an all renewable electrical power supply by 2020 – three years before Hinckley, though he thinks it unlikely it will be built. His presentation also pointed out that onshore wind power and biogas from waste need to increase faster to provide their contribution to an all-renewable power supply by 2020. However vested interests in nuclear power, and political decisions which support fracking and scale back development in renewables, could stop the recent encouraging progress.

Looking to the future Professor Barnham spoke about his ‘Plan B’ which would involve moving the 1.5GW turbine array in the Atlantic offshore from Hinckley at half the cost of building the new reactor, as well as being completed up to four years sooner. Finally reference was made to the potential of tidal lagoons – especially in Swansea Bay, the development of further pumped energy storage and the use of Concentrated PV (CPV) designed to track the sun.

In summary the future is about actions, attitudes and politics, and though a global effort is needed we can all do something. Through the Transition movement we can encourage more local community investment in renewables – especially solar – and all switch to Good Energy (who supply 100% renewable electricity), Ecotricity or Co-op Energy, and persuade local authorities, civic buildings and churches to do the same.

Mark Boulton

Elaine December 16, 2015 at 6:11 pm

This is a serious quitseon that a serious answer need to be given.The solar power calculator . I am sure you would have come across in your life time. How does that work? It is exposed to light, and the sensor has elements that work on that light energy.Solar battery, when exposed to light during day time, stores that light energy as electrical energy. At night, when you need it, you turn it on and presto .! the light comes on like magic. Mind you the light will not be available for ever and ever you have to charge it again the next morning. You have to do nothing. It just senses the light in the morning and it automatically does it. Hope this is clear.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: