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  #16  
Old 4th April 2017
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Re: The Exponential Age?

When it comes to technology and environmental legislation history is littered with examples of bad decisions and lack of foresight.

Just for the record let's add two more.

Ernest Marples, Transport Minister (and also a civil engineering magnate) shut down nearly half of the British Rail network in the 1960's, putting it beyond further use in favour of building new roads for both passenger cars and freight.

I predict that within fifty years the same government will be telling the public to use the trains that no longer run. Indeed, I predict that some lines and stations may even reopen.

Back in the early noughties Gordon Brown (as Chancellor of the Exchequer) and John 'two Jags' Prescott implored motorists to buy diesel cars to save the planet from global warming.

I predict that within five years anyone driving a diesel car within ten miles of a primary school will be regarded as Public Enemy No 1 for polluting the environment.
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Old 4th April 2017
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Re: The Exponential Age?

The world of work is changing dramatically. Something will have to change socially to handle the implications. Especially for non skilled and even semi skilled workers where the future is bleak unless the issues are addressed.

Don't see any politicians in any country even beginning to recognise this.
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Re: The Exponential Age?

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The world of work is changing dramatically. Something will have to change socially to handle the implications. Especially for non skilled and even semi skilled workers where the future is bleak unless the issues are addressed.

Don't see any politicians in any country even beginning to recognise this.
This is true. The move to online sales will decimate jobs in the retail sector, just as sourcing from the far east has decimated our manufacturing industries.

However, it seems to me this is a very short-term business model, for without jobs how will anyone be in a position to buy products online?

Amazon's foray into food retailing is a particular concern, especially when one hears of Amazon delivery drivers having to have a dump in the back of their vans as they are not allowed the time to stop for a break.
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Re: The Exponential Age?

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Originally Posted by Naughty Nigel View Post
This is true. The move to online sales will decimate jobs in the retail sector, just as sourcing from the far east has decimated our manufacturing industries.

However, it seems to me this is a very short-term business model, for without jobs how will anyone be in a position to buy products online?

Amazon's foray into food retailing is a particular concern, especially when one hears of Amazon delivery drivers having to have a dump in the back of their vans as they are not allowed the time to stop for a break.
Thanks for that Nigel. I was just eating a late supper when I read it. The supper is now in the dog

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Re: The Exponential Age?

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...Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean...
"Nuclear Power - Energy too cheap to meter!" What happened to that prediction? Power will never be cheap in our lifetime, or that of the next generation.
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Re: The Exponential Age?

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"Nuclear Power - Energy too cheap to meter!" What happened to that prediction? Power will never be cheap in our lifetime, or that of the next generation.
Too true!

Electricity is fast becoming unaffordable except for lighting, even though the wholesale price of gas is cheaper than for many years.

Twenty minutes in the shower now costs about 60 pence. The Electricity Board used to claim 2 new pence for a four minute shower if I remember; but then who spends four minutes in the shower?

Mind you, I seem to remember we told the same about gas when it was first brought ashore form the North Sea, and indeed the Dartford Tunnel.
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Re: The Exponential Age?

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"Nuclear Power - Energy too cheap to meter!" What happened to that prediction? Power will never be cheap in our lifetime, or that of the next generation.
Many years ago our utilities were government owned until some greedy pollie/s were lobbied (bribed) into privatising our energy companies. They argued that competition would see prices fall (ha! ha!)
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Electricity is fast becoming unaffordable except for lighting, even though the wholesale price of gas is cheaper than for many years.
Twenty minutes in the shower now costs about 60 pence. The Electricity Board used to claim 2 new pence for a four minute shower if I remember; but then who spends four minutes in the shower?
Mind you, I seem to remember we told the same about gas when it was first brought ashore form the North Sea, and indeed the Dartford Tunnel.
There's a big debate going on in Canberra right now about rising electricity and gas prices (any increase in one automatically boosts the other). The National Energy Market wholesales power to a number of privately owned energy companies (providers) who theoretically compete with each other for the retail market (like company owned petrol stations) who clearly collude to keep the price high. When the global oil price rises, up goes the price at the pump. When the global oil price falls the pump price doesn't - it's just a case of old fashioned GREED. Australia doesn't do nuclear power but there's a big push by the left towards renewable energy, solar and wind powered electricity which makes good sense in Oz because we have sunshine and wind to burn - you've only to hear the ravings of our federal parliamentarians to realise that their collective long-winded debates could supply enough wind power to prove cheap electricity for the nation ! But of course vested coal interests are 'agin' it arguing that it is too unreliable by siting the recent South Australian power failure (who have heavily invested in renewables) that blacked out the entire State for 24 hours during a heatwave. The failure wasn't due to wind or sunshine failure but to an automatic overload feature of the system that triggered an unnecessary shutdown. Our conservative government jumped on the failure to push for heavy public investment in a huge new Queensland coal mine - it would be interesting to take a peek at some of our pollie's share portfolios. Rant ends! #
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  #23  
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Re: The Exponential Age?

I guess Australia doesn't have the benefit of a National Grid in the way that the UK and most of Europe does?

We have been shutting down older coal fired power stations over the past twenty years or so because they are inefficient and highly polluting. These have been partly replaced by more efficient gas and biomass power stations, but the network capacity has fallen significantly in recent years, whilst consumption has risen.

Wind power has partly filled the gap but despite the wind turbines seemingly everywhere they rarely provide more than about 10% of our power, and can never be relied upon. Likewise solar power.

This website provides an interesting insight into where our power comes from. There is also a link to the French Grid, which shows that France provides power to many neighbouring countries.

We rely on about 3 GW of power imported from France and the Netherlands, where they usually have a surplus of nuclear and wind power respectively. These are supposed to be two way links, but from what I can see we import a lot more than we export.

So, all we need now is some bright spark to suggest that we all drive electric cars, which will probably result in a total blackout.

We really need to invest more in power, but despite being the world's financial capital, London is notoriously risk averse when it comes to investing in big capital projects with long term returns, so we let the French, the Germans, the Chinese and everyone else profit from it, but then worry about security.

I also find it infuriating that politicians and the media always target car drivers when talking about pollution, whilst lorries, buses, coaches, ships and diesel powered trains barely get a mention.

Shipping is becoming a particular problem, as it is difficult to police, and most big cargo ships burn heavy fuel oil, which is filthy stuff. It was recently claimed that the six biggest container ships emit more CO2 and NOX than all of our cars combined!
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Re: The Exponential Age?

NN

It was your local MP who when he was PM who failed to get the UK power industry building plants in 2003 to 2005. If he had done his job properly we would be seeing some new Nuclear Power plants coming on stream this year.
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Old 6th April 2017
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Re: The Exponential Age?

Nigel, Derek - thanks for your inputs, sorry for the delayed reply due to preoccupation with my other posts.

Nigel, thanks for that interesting GBNG Status graphic. Being unfamiliar with some of the acronyms I don't fully understand it but I see that you rely largely upon nuclear that we don't do for safety concerns (Fukushima etc). But we do have a National Energy Grid (market) but unlike the system you have with close proximity to the European grids. I heard a conversation about it on ABC recently. Due to the vast distances between our capital cities there are big transmission and infrastructure issues. It supposedly works flawlessly except recently when SA got blacked out during a heatwave. The NEM should have automatically cut in but due to some connivance by private and political interests and ideologies intent on blocking the move to renewable energy, supply from the national grid was deliberately delayed.


The full scale adoption of renewable energy in Oz is dependent upon the development of new and cheaper Battery Storage Technologies. Leading the charge is Tesla (unintentional!). I'm no techie but the issue is concisely put at https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/ba...3h4aAqWe8P8HAQ
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Old 7th April 2017
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Re: The Exponential Age?

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NN

It was your local MP who when he was PM who failed to get the UK power industry building plants in 2003 to 2005. If he had done his job properly we would be seeing some new Nuclear Power plants coming on stream this year.
You are quite right, but 'wor Tony' was all about populist politics.

Nuclear power was a highly divisive issue during Tony Blair's presidency, so I suspect he wanted to keep the subject at arm's length to avoid losing his popularity.

It is only in recent years that coal fired power generation has become a truly dirty word in Europe. Given Labour's past I don't suppose Tony would have wanted to extinguish all hope of a resurgence in deep coal mining.

Politics is a funny old business.
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Re: The Exponential Age?

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Nigel, Derek - thanks for your inputs, sorry for the delayed reply due to preoccupation with my other posts.

Nigel, thanks for that interesting GBNG Status graphic. Being unfamiliar with some of the acronyms I don't fully understand it but I see that you rely largely upon nuclear that we don't do for safety concerns (Fukushima etc). But we do have a National Energy Grid (market) but unlike the system you have with close proximity to the European grids. I heard a conversation about it on ABC recently. Due to the vast distances between our capital cities there are big transmission and infrastructure issues. It supposedly works flawlessly except recently when SA got blacked out during a heatwave. The NEM should have automatically cut in but due to some connivance by private and political interests and ideologies intent on blocking the move to renewable energy, supply from the national grid was deliberately delayed.


The full scale adoption of renewable energy in Oz is dependent upon the development of new and cheaper Battery Storage Technologies. Leading the charge is Tesla (unintentional!). I'm no techie but the issue is concisely put at https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/ba...3h4aAqWe8P8HAQ

This is interesting. However, the problem with all of these technologies is that they are inherently wasteful of energy. A storage battery can only deliver about 60% of the power that you put into it, whilst the control gear involved is only about 90% efficient at best.

Likewise, long distance power transmission lines and undersea links are inherently lossy; which is why many use DC power to minimise capacitive losses at least. Resistive losses are unavoidable.

We have a few large-scale power storage plants here in the UK, which are effectively hydro-electric generators put into reverse when there is a surplus of power in the grid. I don't know how efficient these are, but they can provide large amounts of power at very short notice.

So whilst storage batteries may save the power companies from having to invest in generation capacity for peak periods they don't actually save energy unless used by consumers to directly store their own wind or solar power for their own needs.

This is my argument against electric cars. The Greenies see them as a pollution free utopia, whilst conveniently forgetting where the power comes from! In truth, they simply create even more pollution 'somewhere else'.

Look at it another way: is it more efficient to burn gas to boil water to create steam to drive generators to transmit power along hundreds of miles of overhead cables through dozens of step-up and step-down transformers to charge a battery to turn electric motors to drive a car, or simply to put petrol in the car to drive an efficient engine through a gearbox?

Electric cars would be fine if all of our power was renewable, but not when we still rely heavily on burning coal and gas.
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Re: The Exponential Age?

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Look at it another way: is it more efficient to burn gas to boil water to create steam to drive generators ...
Are gas-fired power stations really still using steam turbines? Or do they use gas turbines to drive the generators directly which would presumably be more efficient? Also, much research seems to be going on into using battery-powered trains rather than erecting more miles of overhead cables.
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Re: The Exponential Age?

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Are gas-fired power stations really still using steam turbines? Or do they use gas turbines to drive the generators directly which would presumably be more efficient? Also, much research seems to be going on into using battery-powered trains rather than erecting more miles of overhead cables.
Some coal fired power stations have been converted to gas and biomass in recent years, (some have also burnt oil in the past). These rely on boiling water to generate steam, and so are quite inefficient (about 27% I believe); and certainly less efficient than a modern internal combustion engine!

Coal fired stations are only used when demand is high owing to high operating costs and emissions.

Newer gas fired power stations use a more efficient system called Combined Cycle Gas Turbine, in which the hot exhaust gasses from the gas turbine generators pass through boilers to generate steam to drive more generators.

The older power stations are being shut down because they are polluting and inefficient, but the capacity they provide has not yet been fully replaced, which is why we are warned of a risk of blackouts over the next few years.

The idea of using batteries in trains seems impracticable to me given the huge amount of power that is required. The Class 91 for example uses 6 MW motors, plus power for hotel services such as lighting, aircon and so forth!

Beardy's new Azuma fleet will have diesel engines to power them when on remote lines without overhead electricity. This might also come in handy when the overhead lines come down north of Peterborough every week! The only downside is that speed will be limited to 100 MPH on diesel power, but that is no hardship when travelling through stunning scenery en route to Inverness.
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Re: The Exponential Age?

The Azuma electro-diesel idea seems more sensible than the present system of running Voyager diesels on electrified lines to cope with routes that are not fully electrified. The thought of overhead cables on Ribblehead Viaduct horrifies me so I hope that some alternative can be found quickly! Batteries to act as a backup for short distances seems feasible, and they can be charged from the overhead power lines as well as using regenerative braking on downhill sections. Here's an interesting article:
http://www.esg-rail.com/are-battery-...ification.aspx
I suspect locomotives as such have probably had their day and the future lies with multiple-units in which each carriage has its own motor and power supply.

As for diesel emissions, YouTube is full of videos showing old diesel locos resembling steamers given the amount of smoke being chucked out! The last Class 66 diesel has been delivered as even those relatively modern locos cannot meet new emission regulations.
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