Community Energy in Lewes

Ouse Valley Energy Supply Company, or Ovesco as it is commonly known, is a powerful inspiration for enthusiasts of community renewable energy….Standing on a hill above Lewes you can not only see the solar PV installations completed by Ovesco but also arrays of panels inspired by their projects. The local football club, the leisure centre and many local homes, have all followed the example of Ovesco. Other sites are looking to follow and there are also plans for community wind and hydro-electric schemes.

Solar Data Treasure Trove

I have not kept it secret that I’m a fan of solar power. Leaving storage hangups aside for now, the fact that the scale of available power is comfortably gigantic, that perfectly efficient technology exists, that it’s hard-over on the reality axis (vs. fantasy: it’s producing electricity on my roof right now), and that it works well almost everywhere—what’s not to like? Did you trip over that last part? Many do. In this post, we’ll look at just how much solar yield one may expect as a function of location within the U.S.

Basking in the sun

Who hasn’t enjoyed heat from the sun? Doing so represents a direct energetic transfer—via radiation—from the sun’s hot surface to your skin…We have already seen that solar PV qualifies as a super-abundant resource, requiring panels covering only about 0.5% of land to meet our entire energy demand (still huge, granted). So direct thermal energy from the sun, gathered more efficiently than what PV can do, is automatically in the abundant club. Let’s evaluate some of the practical issues surrounding solar thermal: either for home heating or for the production of electricity.

The roads to our alternative energy future

How fast do we need to transition off of fossil fuels? What industrial capacity is available today for different alternative energy technologies and what is likely to be available in the future? What might we do if we can’t replace fossil fuels with alternatives fast enough, and what might the consequences be? I finally got around to re-doing these calculations, and wanted to go through the numbers.

In The World After Abundance

Most discussions of the future of electric power start from the assumption that maintaining a grid of the modern kind, designed from top to bottom around ample supplies of cheap fossil fuels, is the only option there is. It’s long past time to revisit that notion. Are our current ways of electricity production, distribution, and use merely the extravagant habits of a temporary age of excess, and what might an appropriate system for producing and using electricity look like in an age of scarcity?

Critical comments on “The Energy Report” by WWF and Ecofys

The Energy Report aligns with several others in recent years in confidently claiming that we could transition to full reliance on renewable energy, without any disruption of high material living standards or the pursuit of economic growth. These reports are typically quite impressive involving glossy formats with lots of coloured graphs and pictures, a large cast of heavy-weight authors, and a long list of high-powered endorsements.

ODAC Newsletter – Apr 22

Confusion around the true extent of the spare oil production capacity of Saudi Arabia increased this week following a statement by Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi that his country had reduced production in March by 800,000 barrels–this despite the loss of 1 million barrels/day of production from Libya. Al Naimi went on to claim that global markets are currently oversupplied.

The limits to solar thermal energy

Whether or not renewables can save consumer-capitalist society depends heavily on solar thermal electricity, because unlike wind and photovoltaic energy it can be coupled with large scale storage and so can deal much more effectively with the problem of the intermittency of wind and sun. But can it enable total dependence on renewables?