Eco Advocacy

Advocates on Sustainability, Energy, Compliance, Planning and Environmental

Sustainable Energy

Transport/ Alternative Sources of Energy

Renewable Energy comes in many forms including Biomass, Geothermal, Solar Energy, Wave Energy, Tidal Energy, Hydroelectricity, etc. Each of these subjects deserves a thesis. Here is a short description of each of the processes together with links to more detailed information: -

 

Solar power

Is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. This is somewhat dependent on technical advances in the conversion rates of the photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Moreover, battery power would be required during night hours or when there is poor sun during daylight hours.

For further information, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_energy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power

http://www.solarenergy.com/

Super tanker in Bantry Bay, Ireland
Super tanker in Bantry Bay, Ireland

 

Biofuels

Biofuels have been proposed as an alternative by some commentators. Bioethanol is made by fermenting plant materials and biodiesel is made from vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled grease. Biofuels typically include Biodiesel and Ethanol. In 2008 biofuels provided a mere 1.8% of the world's transport fuel. Bioethanol production relies on the cultivation of large amounts of plant material. A major issue with biofuels is that arable land would have to be take out of food production to produce bio fuels. Given that the human population of the world is increasing at a rate never before seen, little of no land could be made available for production of biofuels. Moreover, there is a danger that more tropical rain forest would disappear to satisfy the demands for same.

For further information, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biofuel

 


Hydrogen

Hydrogen can be used to power future transportation and may be the power of the future given that hydrogen is the most common element in the Universe. Power can either be through the use of electric motors powered by fuel cell technology or by improved internal combustion engines. In both cases emissions would be zero. The difficulty is that Hydrogen power is currently prohibitively expensive, but progress is being made in the technology to achieve this. A big challenge is to source the hydrogen from renewable resources. Honda has produced the first 'commercial' hydrogen powered vehicle in the form of the Honda FCX Clarity, although this has limited availability.

For further information, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_cell

 

Train near Royal Canal, County Meath, Ireland
Train near Royal Canal, County Meath, Ireland

Tidal

Tidal energy capture usually consists of the construction of barrage dam type structures is being examined as a means of converting tidal movements into energy. Turbines installed in the barrage wall generate power as water flows in and out of the estuary basin, bay, or river. There are downsides to this though, the most obvious one being that the structures in themselves are visually obtrusive. There are also ecosystem considerations as the flooding of mud-flats within the estuary together with altered saltwater flow which changes the hydrology and salinity within. Therefore, the construction of same will pose challenges.

For further information, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidal_power

For further information, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidal_barrage

 

Wave

Wave Energy refers to the capture of energy from the motion of surface waves of the ocean. This is still a developing science, which is still in experimental stage but looks promising.

For further information, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave_power

http://www.darvill.clara.net/altenerg/wave.htm

 

Geothermal

Geothermal: work on this form of energy generation is much more advanced that other alternatives. Energy capture ranges from installing a series pipes in the upper layers of the earths crust typically about a meter deep ion domestic type situations. On a commercial basis, exploitation of hot springs, which often occur on fault lines is usually indicative of thermal energy close to the surface.

 

Deep geothermal is a developing technology and based on the information available to date is one of the more promising forms of alternative energy and is successfully being used at a number of locations globally.

For further information, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_energy

http://www.seai.ie/Renewables/Geothermal_Energy/

http://geothermalassociation.ie

 

Biomass

Biomass: usually refers to plants, which are specifically grown as a crop for the purposes of energy generation.

For further information, see:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biomass

 

Wind

Wind: the conversion of wind energy into a useable energy. Wind turbines and windmills are typically used to generate such energy. Wind turbines will be located in areas of optimum use of wind, which will usually be on mountains, coastal areas and in the sea itself. They can be visually obtrusive and also present challenges in terms of flicker and nuisance. Therefore sensitive sitting is crucial and they should always be located in isolated locations miles away from dwellings. They also present challenges for birds such as raptors.

Notwithstanding the above, having conducted significant research into wind energy, it is obvious that large turbines (big wind) are not a sustainable alternative. Small turbines to serve single domestic properties may well have a part to play in the debate on sustainability. It is important to differentiate and distinguish these from 'community wind'. We have noted a move to justify large turbines under the guise of 'community wind' in an apparent effort to justify their imposition on the landscape which is regrettable and unacceptable. 

The following should be noted regarding 'big wind': -

  • Wind is erratic and unpredictable; especially on land. All wind turbines have to be backed up with other sources of energy when the wind doesn't blow. In periods of high energy requirement, such as frosty weather, there is typically no wind whatever. Conversely, when there is too much wind, turbines have to be turned off to protect the machinery. Any more than 10% of energy derived from wind power creates enormous issues with management of the grid (see 'The Limits of Wind Energy' - Adam Smith Institute)
  • If sited on land, upwards of 250 ready mix lorrie loads of concrete is typically required under a single turbine to anchor it (in the absence of natural rock). This is an obscene use and waste of finite natural resources. Moreover, the manufacture of concrete gives rise to very high carbon emissions.
  • There is also a heavy requirement on aggregate to construct roads to provide access for each turbine site. Additionally there is a heavy requirement for the removal of trees to facilitate same.
  • Moreover, a massive amount of rebar (reinforcement metal) is required in the foundations. This is in addition to the steel component required to manufacture the turbines in the first instance.
  • The magnets for the turbines are made from a rear alloy 'Neodymium-Iron-Boron' and are made in China. The environmental consequences there have been utterly devastating (see 'In China, the true cost of Britain / Ireland's clean, green wind power experiment: Pollution on a disastrous scale').
  • There are also major issues with bird strikes and bat strikes from rotating blades.
  • Also there is major issues with infrasound and indeed common audible sound depending on the proximity to such machines.
  • Finally, and by no means least, there are major issues regarding obtuse views of the landscape. Ireland is noted for its sentry and with the Wild Atlantic Way and Irelands Ancient East, is is condensed that wind turbines are wholly incompatible with Irelands tourist industry.

We encourage decision makers to take note of the forgoing and look to REAL alternative options. Regrettably there has been a level of immaturity about the issue of wind turbines with many wrongly believing they they are the panacea to all energy needs. Anyone who bothers to research adequately the issue will discover that it is anything but. We are happy to support and advise and facilitate discussion on REAL sustainable alternatives.

Hydroelectric

Hydroelectric: the capture of energy from running water such as in a river is perhaps among the oldest of the alternative energy’s as was seen in the 17-1800’s when countless water mills were erected on river banks to power massive mechanical apparatus. In the 1900’s this was developed into a far more commercial scale energy capture with the construction of massive dams. Examples being the famed Hoover Dam on the Colorado river in the USA, The Three Georges Dam on the Yangtze river in China, the Golden Dam situate on the Golden river, in Tasmania, Australia and Ardnacrusha power plant situate on the Shannon river in Ireland. The downside is that large areas usually have to be sacrificed to flooding to facilitate the dam.

For further information, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroelectricity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ardnacrusha_power_plant

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Dam

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Gorges_Dam

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoover_Dam

 

Nuclear Power

Nuclear Power was formally advocated as a clean alternative to coal, oil and gas for generating electricity and for producing hydrogen through electrolysis. Nuclear power is not a viable option for the following reasons: - the nuclear fuels of uranium or plutonium are required in the process and this is a finite resource with some estimates suggesting that there is only enough to last another 50-years. Moreover it also a very dangerous form of energy as evidenced from various accidents in America, Russia and Japan. There are also inherent problems in dealing with radioactive waste.

For further information, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power