The Need for Renewable Energy Sources

Home » News » The Eco- Corner
untitled (16)

To use an old-fashioned expression, electricity doesn't grow on trees. That is, it is not something which is there to be taken without much trouble. It can't be dug out of the ground like coal, or pumped out like oil or gas. It doesn't occur naturally except, most spectacularly as in lightning during a thunderstorm. Nobody has managed to harness lightning for any useful purpose although Benjamin Franklin, one time American Ambassador to the Court of Britain, is reputed to have tried. Static electricity was also known in the 18th century, but only as an interesting phenomenon of Nature.

Not until the industrial revolution, when power was needed to drive all kinds of machinery, was large scale generation of electricity a possibility. The advantages of electricity were clearly demonstrated to me on a visit years ago on the farm where my father grew up. In an old barn there was still the circular track round which a horse paced, harnessed to a pole attached to the upper stone of a grinding mill. There were also the pulleys and shafts of the next generation of power from a steam engine of the type now to be seen at fun fairs. In a corner was the electric motor which was the last mode for driving the now superseded corn mill.

The energy to drive the motor had, of course, to come from a power station which could have been miles away, but still dependent on burning coal to raise steam to drive a turbine which in turn drove the generator, a complex process which still produces most of our electricity today. Sad to relate, the overall efficiency of the system is miserably low at about 32%. Put more bluntly, two thirds of the available energy in the fuel is wasted. Some goes up the tall chimneys and is lost to the atmosphere, and some in the cooling towers.

Something better is surely needed, first because of the waste of heat, secondly because burning coal, gas or oil pours C02 and other pollutants into the atmosphere, and thirdly, because these fuels will eventually become too difficult to extract or come to an end altogether. We need to begin the search for renewables and non-pollutants before it is too late.
Bob Weighton

popular recent storiesAlso in the news

Alton Webteam

Alton All Saints Hard of Hearing Group invite friends to join us for T @ 3, a light afternoon tea, on the third Sunday afternoon of each month, from 3pm, in All Saints church hall.The next one is on Sunday 18th NovemberDo come and join us for home-made cakes and a...

Alton Webteam

Tuesday 6th November — Lip Reading with Maggie Short, Lip Reading Tutor, 2.30pmTuesday 20th November — Drop-In and catch up with friends and the activities of Knitters Anonymous over a cup of tea, 2pm in church hallFurther advice and support on hearing related matters may be obtained from deafPlus, 35 — 39 High Street, Aldershot GU11 1BH 01252 316005 ...

Alton Webteam

The Annual Harvest Festival Service, led by Rev Rachel Sturt, Anna Chaplain, for the Alton All Saints Hard of Hearing group, once again attracted a good congregation. With the generously donated food displayed amidst the autumn berries and hops the traditional harvest hymns were sung with great enthusiasm. The chosen readings were read by Jean, Liz and Julia, with Rev Rachel encouraging...