Monday, September 7, 2009

Why Nuclear Writers and Green Energy Writers Don't Talk to Each Other

The Energy Collective is part of something called Social Media. It is hard for me to understand what qualifies the EC as Social Media. There are of course slogans, like "join the conversation." But it is fair to ask what conversation? Most EC posts draw no comments. Some draw a few, although many of my Nuclear Green posts never make it to the EC, I am among the top five EC writers in drawing comments to my EC posts, and I would be willing to wager that I comment on other EC posts more than any EC writer. My comments are often not appreciated, and I have been informed on more than one occasion that unnamed individuals in the EC would like to kick me out.

There are I believe multiple, serious problems in the Energy dialogue. The problems of the Energy Collective simply reflect these problems. The first problem is that most energy writers have an inadequate grasp of energy technologies. Some energy writers believe things about energy technologies that contradict known facts. Sometimes I find EC writers offering as facts information which can either be contradicted by reputable sources, or can be falsified by reference to standard reference sources. These factual discrepancies are overlooked not only be EC writers but their peers. In other instances important information is simply left out.

Yesterday's EC posted a piece by the ever lovely Vicky Portwain, titled Can our Grid System Cope with Domestic Renewable Energy? Bur surely this is the wrong question. The right question was raised three years ago by George Monbiot in "Small-scale renewable power - Low wattage thinking? Ms. Portain discussed the effects of
domestic generators such as solar PV panels, micro-wind turbines, or micro-scale CHP units
on the grid. This is surely the wrong problem as Monbiot pointed out,
solar electricity supply is poorly matched to demand. In the UK, demand peaks on winter evenings. Even if we could produce 407 TWh a year from solar panels on our roofs, most of it would be wasted.
As for household wind, Monbiot notes
an analysis of micro wind machines. In winds of 4 meters per second - higher than average for most of the UK - a 1.75-meter turbine produces about 5 per cent of an average household's annual electricity. To provide the 50 per cent Dunster advertises, you would need a machine 4 meters in diameter, which would rip the side off your house.
Clearly then the question is not the effects of Micro-renewables on the grid. The question is, are home microgeneration sources rational? According to Monbiot, the answer is no.
What about the argument from some campaigners that even though micro-generators can make only a small contribution, they still wake people up to green issues? It seems more likely these devices will have the opposite effect, as their owners discover how badly they have been ripped off and their neighbours are driven insane by the constant yawing and stalling of the ill-sited windmill.
Will anyone on the EC raise the question with Portwain? I doubt it. Where is the conversation? Why don't Green Energy collective writers talk with nuclear writers? Perhaps a better question is why Green EC writers don't talk with each other when their ideas don't make sense. If "Green" writers don't carry on rational conversations with each other, how can they be expected to carry on conversations with the usually well informed, and critical nuclear advocates?


djysrv said...


As I am "nuclear writer" you should know that I've been talking with Gil Friend, an EC member, and leading "sustainable" thought and opinion leader, for at least 15 years. He and I trade Twitter posts and emails on a regular basis. We disagree on a wide range of topics, but based on mutual respect.

Also, I am going to go public with something. To the best of my knowledge, no one at the Energy Collective wants to kick you out. The problem is you want them to accept responsibility for bad and misinformed posts when in fact accountability lies solely with the authors. That's how they are set up.

The only time they'll intervene from an editorial role is if a post involves personal attacks, intemperate remarks, e.g., anti-social or hate speech, and so on.

Just thought you'd like to know.


Anonymous said...

"The question is, are home microgeneration sources rational? According to Monbiot, the answer is no."

This guy evidently thinks the same:

LarryD said...

Micro-generation will wake up people to issues all right, they'll learn first hand how impractical wind and solar generation actually are.

Wind and solars inherent characteristics limit them to niche applications.


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