View Full Version : Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers

24th Nov 2014, 03:32
Basically reaffirming what many of us already knew (or at least suspected):
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs

Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers ? The Register (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/11/21/renewable_energy_simply_wont_work_google_renewables_engineer s/)

Merely generating the relatively small proportion of our energy that we consume today in the form of electricity is already an insuperably difficult task for renewables: generating huge amounts more on top to carry out the tasks we do today using fossil-fuelled heat isn't even vaguely plausible.
energy would become horrifyingly expensive - which means that everything would become horrifyingly expensive (even the present well-under-one-per-cent renewables level in the UK has pushed up utility bills very considerably (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/03/28/decc_energy_costs_comedy/)). This in turn means that everyone would become miserably poor and economic growth would cease

We better hope someone comes up with a viable fusion solution, and quick.

24th Nov 2014, 04:16
Wow what a shame, especially as I lived on solar for well over 20 years.
Never noticed it not working for me.:rolleyes:

24th Nov 2014, 04:19
The solution is simple, it starts with the "N" word, no not that one.

A humongous amount of N power is the only way to cut CO2 in a short amount of time. You then couple that with generous amounts of wind and solar up to the point the grid engineers say is enough.

If you take CO2 to be a problem, then it is a multi-pronged approach that is needed.

24th Nov 2014, 08:32
Renewable energy? You don't mean like hydro-electric power do you?

Despite all their dirty oil, which they sell south, the Canadians generate an incredible amount of non-renewable energy this way :rolleyes:

24th Nov 2014, 09:58
it starts with the "N" word, no not that one.

Nickers ?

24th Nov 2014, 10:15
One problem with 'renewable energy' is that it is rather dependent on where you are. Australian/Californian/Arizona desert - solar is fine. Antarctica or Alaska, or even Scandinavia, solar is rather less dependable, especially in winter.

Hydro? Fine if you have suitable rivers. Australian/Californian/Arizona desert - bit of a problem there.

Wind? Depends where you are, and some of those nice bright clear windless days in the middle of winter, you don't generate as much as you need...

24th Nov 2014, 10:21
The problem is that politician and the like want a magic pill approach which allows life as we live it today to carry on but with a sudden switch to renewable energy based on today's technology. Given that, most intelligent people can see that this isn't going to work.

What is needed is a holistic approach which minimises waste energy, so the total required is as small as possible, then renewables are used where they are appropriate, and finally non-renewables to make up the balance. As technology improves through concentrated research and development, the balance between renewables and non-renewables can be shifted. Ultimately we have to face the fact that we have had cheap energy for far too long, and we have to start facing the real hidden costs we are paying for this.

Unfortunately politicians are only interested in things that can be achieved within their term, and from which they can milk some self-aggrandisement. Its much easier for them to get a photo opportunity next to an onshore wind turbine, than an underwater tidal turbine, although the latter produces far more energy.

Radeng: Horses for courses!

Shaggy Sheep Driver
24th Nov 2014, 10:23
And then when we've all starved and frozen in honour of the great C word, a volcano farts somewhere and releases more greenhouse gasses into the air than man has done in his entire time on this planet.

24th Nov 2014, 10:25
it starts with the "N" word, no not that one.

Like you OFSO I haven't a bloody clue what the "N" is.

Nipple ring?

24th Nov 2014, 10:34

24th Nov 2014, 11:08
All that does not apply to Scotland We will be 100% renewable by 2020,Mr Salmond said so. And he wondered why he got a 'NO' vote!

24th Nov 2014, 11:40
Thanks PTT got it. Nucular.

No renewables from nipple rings or nickers then.

Private jet
24th Nov 2014, 11:51
Population control.

Ultimately that is the only long term solution.

Humans use energy and produce waste. The more of them there are then the more energy consumed and waste produced. The crux of the problem is the amount of energy required, not where it comes from. That is treating the symptom and not the underlying disease.

There is no hope of politicians addressing the problem, but it will happen naturally one day, I suspect when the population begins to outstrip the ability to supply sufficient food. I'm sure there will be wars fought over food production in the same way as wars are fought over oil.

24th Nov 2014, 12:22
Per cited article, the Register (publication) does not seem a credible vehicle for any sort of information or factual discussion.

Facile, provocative, manipulative and misleading seem to be the cornerstones of the Register's editorial policy in science reporting, and likely also indicative of the publisher's approach and mindset in general.

Their deliberate mis-translation of the source reference (which seems mostly to be budget-cycle agita for ongoing US Federal funding for nuclear power development budgets) is so excessively polemical in style and thrust as to hardly warrant thoughtful commentary for rebuttal.

Thomas coupling
24th Nov 2014, 13:01
How much energy would the globe save if 75% of all office lights were switched off at night? 50% of all street lights, too. Are we doing this just to look good from space?

24th Nov 2014, 13:03
Thanks arcniz,
You got in before me. That pimply-faced rag, the 'Register' is, quite frankly, pathetic.

They should just stick to IT for teenagers.

24th Nov 2014, 13:51
Hydro? Fine if you have suitable rivers. Australian/Californian/Arizona desert - bit of a problem there.

Actually, we've got quite a lot of hydro (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowy_Mountains_Scheme) in Australia. You see, contrary to popular belief outside Australia, the country is not 95% desert and we don't actually live out in the desert.

I think the point of the original article was not that we can't replace enough electricity production with renewables, it was that even if all electricity production was CO2 emission free, the remaining emissions from other activities are far too high.

I have a suspicion that most people really don't grasp the scale of the task, and like to think that some sort of magic technological fix to their electricity supply will result in slightly higher electricity bills and life as normal, with no need to bite the bullet on other areas, particularly motor vehicles.

When I was a kid we were going to run out of oil in 20 years (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Limits_to_Growth), but Australia had enough brown coal in the Latrobe Valley to last us for 500 years (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Victoria_%28Australia%29). 40 years later the oil is still going to run out in 20 years (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil#Timing_of_peak_oil), but the long term future of Latrobe Valley brown coal must be in serious doubt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazelwood_Power_Station#Environmental_impacts).

Nuclear cars anyone?

24th Nov 2014, 15:40
How much energy would the globe save if 75% of all office lights were switched off at night? 50% of all street lights, too. Are we doing this just to look good from space?

You do get that lights are on at night so people can see, right? There's not that much point having them on during the day, because there's this thing called 'the sun' which lights up most of the planet for several hours.

Street lights that don't have reflectors and blast half the light into the sky, sure, if the cost of replacing them with better ones is less than the energy wasted, they should be replaced. But who wants to be forced to walk home in the dark because some hippies think they're 'saving the planet'?

As for offices, I think it's a good bet that the computers in most companies are burning far more power overnight than any lights that are left on. And, no, no company in their right mind is going to turn off their servers every night just to make hippies happy.

If you really want to save energy, the answer is simple. Ban planes. I burn vastly more fuel most years flying than I do driving, keeping my house warm, or running the lights in the house.

24th Nov 2014, 15:50
I agree with henry_crun in post #4.

24th Nov 2014, 16:03
Our regional (county) council has plans to replace all streetlamps with LEDs which consume a fraction of the power of the existing lamps.
Furthermore, they will be reduced to half-power 'after midnight' in many locations.

BTW, what happens to all the light which is generated? does it just keep on going out into Space?

24th Nov 2014, 16:27
Post #1 contains the quote that the UK generates less than 1% of its power from renewables. This is wrong. I don't know exactly what the current figure is, but this site http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/ lets you see how much power the UK requires, and where it comes from. Looking at it, our average demand is about 35 GW. The amount coming from wind varies (obviously!) but seems to average at at least 2 GW. Hydro adds around another 0.5 GW so that adds up to something of the order of 7% from renawables. These figures do not include 'unmetered' wind and solar which must now be fairly substantial. 'Unmetered' - in the sense that it doesn't appear in the minute by minute figures for the grid because it is being produced and consumed without being visible to the central generators. I guess most, if not all of it, is metered for accounting purposes but the meters are only read at intervals.

I have a 3 kW solar array on my roof. Most of the electricity it generates goes straight into the grid because I don't use much electricity when the sun is shining. I generate about 50% more electricity than I have to buy in from the grid. I do have the benefit of a new house, lots of low energy bulbs and a solar water heating system - but it does show what a reduction in demand is possible.

Since we have no real means of storing electricity at the moment I absolutely agree that renewables are unlikely ever to make more than a modest contribution to the nation's needs. I think nuclear (fission) is great for the base load - at least until the problems of nuclear (fusion) are solved. Its a real shame that the UK dropped behind in a field where we were world leaders and we have not commissioned a new nuclear power station for a generation. New ones will come on line eventually. In the meantime, we are going to need the coal and gas stations to fill the major peaks and troughs that renewables will never be able to supply.

I'm intensely suspicious of the largely hidden costs of most wind projects although I've seen the cost of solar dropping to a point where I think a lot of schemes are likely to be self financing without subsidies.

24th Nov 2014, 16:32
We could do a lot by reducing the electricity used to light offices, and often homes. I have never been in an office of even relatively small size where the lights were not on all day. While lights individually are not the biggest users of power the sheer volume must have a significant cumulative effect.

flying lid
24th Nov 2014, 16:57
BEIJING China, which does nothing in small doses, will need about 1,000 nuclear reactors, 500,000 wind turbines or 50,000 solar farms as it takes up the fight against climate change.

China climate push needs 1,000 nuclear plant effort to work (http://powersource.post-gazette.com/powersource/latest-alternative-energy/2014/11/21/China-climate-push-needs-1-000-nuclear-plant-effort-to-work/stories/201411210190)

There you go - were all fu**ed.


24th Nov 2014, 17:07
At least here in the United States we have multi-millionaires that are setting examples for us poor little people on how to be energy efficient and how to reduce our carbon footprint.

There is a cable channel called "Home and Garden", 'H&G' for short. They have shows on this network that features new homes. A few weeks ago they featured a new home that was built in Aspen, Co. by a famous Hollywood movie producer.

Now this home was breath taking fabulous, costing over 10 million dollars. The proud owner was eager to point out the solar panels and other energy saving devices in his new home. Not to mention the three hybrid cars in the heated garage.

Then he got into his G-550 and flew back to California.

John Hill
24th Nov 2014, 17:20
Tokelau and Niue are trying to go to 100% solar power and it will be interesting how it works out.

Windy Militant
24th Nov 2014, 18:35
Having youngsters keeping isotopes in their trousers would definitely be one way to curb the population boom! :}

24th Nov 2014, 19:26
Then he got into his G-550 and flew back to California.
We have one of those hypocritical p:mad:s in this country. He arrives in a private aircraft, drives a Prius to the venue of his speech on energy conservation, then it's back to the airport and his private aircraft to another fleecing of the gullible.

25th Nov 2014, 02:27
Maybe after signing on to the biggest (so far) solar project in California and they now have to pony up another $500 million+ because the new plant doesn't generate as much as advertised.
Right now they can think themselves lucky that they haven't managed to burn the whole project down like its forerunner Solar I did.

But the folks that built it made off with their millions of dollars in subsidies up front, paid for of course by the taxpayers, of which I am one. We are also on the hook for any future discrepancies in output.

All part of the great Renewables/Carbon Tax scam. And today the intelligent ones who dreamed all this up have admitted that their scheme to buy in electricity from 6pm - 8pm (when the sun is going down and before the regular generating plants are allowed on line) isn't going quite as planned. Seems nobody really wants to sell cheap electricity to us.

But in come the hydro folks (owned by Warren Buffett) with expensive stuff.

So all the purported savings are rapidly evaporating.

Who would have thunk it?

Barking mad the lot of them.

25th Nov 2014, 02:50
Per cited article, the Register

I do believe that article was in reference to a linked article at the IEEE, which by all means is reputable. I didn't even bother having a good read of the rag article, just went to the IEEE one.

Statistics and metrics.
The problem with statistics and metrics is in this sort of subject its politicized, hence you have to dig into the exact meaning and intent of the author and mythology of quoted statistic.

There are several good examples of this in power generation, hence just looking at averages of website etc can be deceiving.

The large modern grid is an extremely delicate and complicate beast. It has more going on in the background than most people could possible conceive, even electrical engineers are amazed when the get a full grasp of it.

Our modern society is interconnected not only in infrastructure, but in economic terms. Renewable are great, but they are variable on both short and long time scales, and can be unpredictable to boot. The greater penetration the greater the impact these variables have.

This can mean a large amount of spinning reserve on line just to account for the unpredictability and variability, negating somewhat the carbon benefits. Then there is the type and amount of standby and what type, all this costs money that has to be paid for by someone.

Theirs no conspiracy of big business, just engineering and facts. The fact is a lot of the problems can be over come, the fact is it costs a lot of money. The fact is a lot of the problems and the true cost are fudged over by the left.

John Hill
25th Nov 2014, 03:06
The problem with 'spinning reserves' is the use of systems that cannot be quickly brought online. Thermal generator stations, (oil, coal, nuclear et al) required many hours or days to start from cold, hydro systems wind up in a few minutes.

25th Nov 2014, 03:28
Then there is the type and amount of standby and what type, all this costs money that has to be paid for by someone

Yes John, that was the meaning of what I wrote there. I love hydro, but its not without its hassals. I believe the two headed ones in that pretend state we have and all the greenys protested the Franklin dam when it was going ahead.

I also believe theres a greenhouse problem with rotting plant mass for a while after they are developed. Though I'm not sure of the scale.

John Hill
25th Nov 2014, 03:32
How long is 'soon after', some hydro plants are a hundred years old!

25th Nov 2014, 03:39
How long is 'soon after', some hydro plants are a hundred years old!

Who knows, would need to do the research. But the point is "if" you need to cut in a hurry, then they are not the be all and the end all in the short term. Say under 20 years, and frankly we couldn't realistically build enough of them.

John Hill
25th Nov 2014, 03:54
.... and frankly we couldn't realistically build enough of them.

Wrong country?

25th Nov 2014, 04:23
Not interested in individual countries John, The planet if the CO2 argument is correct doesn't give a sh!t about individual countries unless its the major contributer to the overall:p.
The problem when your trying to maintain TW's of power 24/7 you need some solutions that are applicable to multiple regions.

Thats not to say if a countrys power requirements, both actual and project can be meet by some indivual source it shouldn't, horses for courses.

Basically it comes down to maths and engineering, which need to take into account, economics, which need to take into account politics which need to take into account social perception.

John Hill
25th Nov 2014, 04:37
Not interested in individual countries John...

Did you not mention the 'pretend state'? Tasmania I presume?

25th Nov 2014, 04:50
Yes Mr Hill he meant Tassy - the pretend
State of double heads and webbed feet.

My first encounter with a real life greenie
was on board a F27 going MEL-LST. She or
it was going down to a Franklin Dam and
sported a full mustache that even Groucho
would envy. She or it was an idiot of the
first degree as well - hadn't a clue of the
reasons why the dam needed to be built
in the first place.

25th Nov 2014, 05:06
So do tell us; why did the Franklin dam (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_Dam_controversy) need to be built over 30 years ago, and how did Tasmania survive without it and then in 2006 become an exporter of electricity (http://www.basslink.com.au/cms.aspx?Page=The-Basslink-Interconnector&Id=12)?

25th Nov 2014, 05:25
Because doing things like that are in reference to long term plans, like several decades or 100 years?

Now be truthful, yes it does export electricity, but its market driven and not Hydro.

The annual usage for electricity in tassie outstrips hydro, in fact they have some nice shiny green house gas emitting methane power stations supplementing supply.

If they had half a brain instead of half a brain in two heads they would be home free and exporting wholesome power.

What I laugh about is the own goal by the greenies in being anti hydro back then and anti Nuclear now,

25th Nov 2014, 08:39
Renewables are working for Germany. They may have 'lost the battle', but they have most certainly 'won the war'.

Whats there rate of increase coal usage again, now they have commited to shutting down Nuclear.

Last I hear the Germans where have huge grid stability issues with the not so great, but large amount of renewables they are using.

Last I heard Merkel is stuck between a rock and a hard place on coal and renewables at the moment.

25th Nov 2014, 12:43
Since we have no real means of storing electricity at the moment I absolutely agree that renewables are unlikely ever to make more than a modest contribution to the nation's needs.In fact, the majority of the loads in an average home can just as easily operate from direct current as from alternating current mains - water heaters, kettles, ovens, lights etc. are resistive loads. The television, computer, sound system etc. all have power systems that transform the a.c. mains into d.c. for use within the equipment's circuitry. The reason for using a.c. mains is because of the need to minimise transmission losses in a wide area grid by transforming up at source and back down at the point of delivery. In the longer term, locally generated electricity - i.e. batteries charged by solar cells on the roof - are not subject to the same transmission losses and the domestic supply can be direct current. I predict a move towards solar cells with batteries for domestic consumption by the end of this century. Increased consumer demand will bring down the current high prices for the solar cells to competitive levels.

It's the Arabs I feel sorry for. :(

Well, maybe not. ;)

25th Nov 2014, 19:46
More research required. You're a touch out of date

Really, things are changing pace fast, I think I read that only yesterday. Will have to re look it up un the database when I get back into uni this morning.

25th Nov 2014, 20:52
As far as I know rh is right in that present wind (Induction machine) technology can only supply about 20% of any grid before it becomes unstable.

After an excellent landing etc...

25th Nov 2014, 23:26
technology can only supply about 20% of any grid before it becomes unstable.

Sort of correct, but there are tricks with large distributed grids that they do which can give good short term penetration. it really depends on a lot of factors. Hence the comment about the grid and its complexity.

So you need to be careful on exact terms in metrics people use when they trow out penetration factors, installed capacity, nameplate capacity, available power. utilized power.

People have a habit of throwing out figures with metrics out of ; ignorance, deception, good faith.

Like a lot of other things, its too politicized to be able to make a robust casual judgment from your favorite political rag.

26th Nov 2014, 03:24
Black sheep
You could be right.
50 odd years ago my father ran our house on 50 VDC power. We lived in a fairly remote area but it was a combination of his independence, aversion to giving money to big companies (NIE in our case) and his quest for cheaper energy that resulted in this.
We had several banks of lead acid batteries usually from electric bread carts and the like but also from wartime subs. We did not live far from Lisahally docks which might explain the submarine connection.
If I remember correctly the 50 volt threshold was because you could get standard size lightbulbs to suit then.
We had several usually Lister generators that could be run for both charging the batteries and to supply 240 AC when needed.
We never bothered with luxuries such as TVs.
He had a 24 DC wind charger at one point, he had hammered the blades out using an oxygen cylinder as a template to get an aero foil shape and this worked very well until a rather high wind tested the blades beyond their "design" limits.
I once asked him in childish naivety why more people did not have wind chargers, his prophetic reply was that the goverment has yet to find a way to charge us for the wind, when they do you'll see more of them.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
26th Nov 2014, 08:47
Running houses on low voltage DC is a red herring. Modern electronics allows low voltage DC (such as one might get from a battery) to be converted to 240vac very efficiently.

You can have your DC local generation, and keep your mains-powered stuff.

26th Nov 2014, 10:23
Isn't the DC problem the fact that storing any significant amount of power in batteries is still very expensive? Battery technology has advanced in terms of the ability to store more kWh/kg or kWh/cu m, but I'm not so sure that we have made big advances in kWh/ or kWh/$. It's all very well using second hand milk float or submarine batteries but these aren't available in sufficient quantities to make any real difference to grid requirements - and they are presumably only second hand because they aren't very good anyway.

I would think it more likely that the breakthrough in having enough renewables that they don't de-stabilise the system will come when we can convert any surplus renewable power to hydrogen or other fuel which can be stored and then be used to power gas fired power stations or perhaps, power vehicles. The stored hydrogen might meet the need at night when the wind isn't blowing. Note that the gas power station capacity would still have to be there, sitting idle much of the time, fully maintained, adequately staffed and connected to the grid. It will never be cheap!

Tidal energy has the theoretical potential to provide a relatively stable form of renewable energy, but my observation is that the environment from which the power has to be extracted is so aggressive that it is very difficult to utilise it economically.

26th Nov 2014, 12:08
I did a small project in undergrad on energy conversion for a tidally driven turbine. The exercise was to figure out the mean power generated minus transmission losses, etc.

It was in interesting exercise, but over the course of the project the prof kept throwing curve balls at us:
power interruptions for unplanned maintenance, biologics/migrations, and a bunch else.

The take away was that such a project was well beyond what a bunch of undergrads could have made work, but there is some potential for coastal areas depending on tidal patterns. Not all coastal areas nor tidal patterns are identical. As with hydro, the tidal energy concept is location dependent.

Won't do Nebraska much good, in any case. :p

26th Nov 2014, 12:23
You can have your DC local generation, and keep your mains-powered stuff. Why bother? I'm talking about the long term. There is actually no need at all for a "National Grid" with remote power stations pumping electricity all over the country. In the long term, this will become obsolete and by the end of the century most, if not all, domestic electricity will be supplied right there at the point of consumption by solar power. For large scale commercial use in factories, the factories will generate their own power on-site (much like ICI's Billingham site in the fifties and sixties, with its full-scale coal-fired power station).

That is my prediction. All this other "renewable" global warming, save-the-planet nonsense is a red herring. It is economics that will drive the change - and the change has already started across large parts of California.

But what would I know? I'm only a white haired old fart: a "silver surfer" who knows nothing of technology. :hmm:

26th Nov 2014, 16:04
LED lighting and high efficiency TVs will need very little power and it 'may' be possible to run them from power stored in batteries. However, if we still want 3 kW kettles, 6 kW cookers, air conditioning etc, and we want them not only to work when the sun is shining but also at night, then we still have to be able to provide every home with at least a 60 amp 240 volt power supply. And that's assuming there is a gas supply for heating. Unless there is a radical change in battery technology, I can't see enough solar power being stored locally (even assuming it can be generated during the long dark days of winter here in the UK) to do away with the grid and a network of power stations to feed it.

Solar (and wind) power provides a useful contribution, but can't provide a reliable 24/7 source on its own ...

26th Nov 2014, 16:40
Blacksheep says: There is actually no need at all for a "National Grid" with remote power stations pumping electricity all over the country. In the long term, this will become obsolete and by the end of the century most, if not all, domestic electricity will be supplied right there at the point of consumption by solar power.

I agree, mostly. Probably large central power providers will always have a mission for allocating bulk power and backup juice for various destinations and users. For something so common and essential to modern life, the central backbone resources and distribution pipes can always have a role to play in providing redundancy and load-balancing supplies, even if many users are primarily self-reliant or are multi-sourced to the extent that no single provider controls their energy circumstances.

The present "model" for electrical power generation-distribution is mostly designed around technologies, designs, materials and practices that were fully mature sometime in the 1900-1950 time-frame. In many developed places the generation-distribution system performs well and provides great value to the users, but is still archaic, inefficient, failure-prone, and maintenance-intensive. Sure beats sitting in enforced darkness, though.

Economics do not favour an unlimited future for the "old" system design goals and usage profiles. Materials - especially metals for transmission lines - are becoming relatively more expensive in monetary capital cost and support cost, even as costs dramatically decline for intelligent controls and semiconducting devices and materials and gadgets for better utilizing and more artfully manipulating power storage, allocation, distribution and use.

One is surprised to note that only a few comments here so far have addressed the screaming fact that relatively very new and already fully- available technology related to the recent Nobel for Blue LED's is doing and eventually will effectively replace near ALL the present-technology lighting on the planet, over a span of 20 years - maybe, with new technology that reduces the power-consumption of nearly all illuminating needs and applications on the planet by a ratio of 10 to 1 in the no-brain case and possibly as much as 40 or 50 to 1 in cases where electronic controls for reducing power when nobody is around (for example) and similar extenuation from need for constant full-power illumination expense can apply in empty places and seldom-visited spaces.

By being near-eternally reliable, obsessively diligent, and fiendishly rapid in deciding and switching work, almost lossless semiconductor electrical power switches that shuffle power inside storage and regulation boxes soon may commonly be privately owned, rather than property of Power Central. Energy customers will soon and increasingly have access to their own means for generating mix and match power at their own building or farm or factory site, so that they can take in various sorts of externally generated energy supply, mix it and blend it with locally generated energy supply and storage, and then parcel it out over "intelligent wiring" systems that know how to efficiently make the right amounts of the right voltage, current, frequency, impedance, etc. according to real-time demand and projected near-term need for hundreds and thousands of recipes for intelligent actively collaborating and negotiating power-consuming devices of many styles and flavours. Flexibility, efficiency, and substantial independence from single-source outside power suppliers will be the style of the late 21st century and probably any or all others to follow.

We're just beginning to crawl out of the caves, in regard to energy, power, sources, sinks, dependencies and economies of scale. Long-life high-energy-density batteries that are relatively safe and cost-effective seem likely to be the next disruptor in the queue.

Infrastructure does take time to conceive, time to build and time to amortize, so progress in this direction may be difficult to see and appreciate. Private users may have little incentive to brag, and Power Providers will be doing everything to keep their revenues up, so the real buzz may be absent until much of this transition is fait accompli. For those really interested, a quiet hum, originating near everywhere, might be the best thing to track.

Loose rivets
26th Nov 2014, 23:51
I don't know why everybody doesn't do what the Vanderbilt family did at Biltmore. They had a DC room, a battery room and an AC supply from the village that was built down the road to service the estate.

They paid a dollar a day for the builders and two dollars if they had a pony.

Surely, everyone could build a home like this if they really tried.


Oh, just another little snippet. To the left of centre you can see the rounded tower. It contained the circular staircase and in the middle there was a vast iron chandelier. It weighted c 2000 lbs. When they decided to electrify it, they found the bolt - it was in shear - was warn almost through. Heck of a welcome to an entrance hall of wealthy people if that series of iron loops had cookie-cutter'd them.