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The Burning Answer - at 50%


So - the argument has sashayed out from atomic structures (almost) into the world of semi-conductors - which I expecting because, after all, Keith Barnham is a scientist and this is his field - and he's invested more than a few bob of his own money in the technology.

The strength of his argument rests not only on the potential efficiency of the solar cell, but in the comparison with the overall cost and efficiency of the alternatives, in particular that of nuclear power, where the politicians and the energy companies cheat and collude into presenting us with a future that appears benign and cost effective. Nuclear energy is neither of those things, of course.

But as I get into the latter half of the book, Keith has now shown a bit more of his 'solar hand', because when he talks about 'solar energy' he really does mean EVERYTHING that can be attributed to the effects of the sun on our planet. Although PVs get top treatment, he also bangs the drum for the other 'solar natural' energy sources, such as WIND and BIO-FUEL -and that means that he's looking for a complex energy generation solution, rather than different, non-renewable, ways of getting a turbine to spin round.

Oh yes - and here's something to try and get your head round: the difference between ENERGY and POWER. He says that what we need is POWER, not ENERGY - and that conventional power generation has it the wrong way round.  I think I understand it to mean that energy sources that are available at the time and location of demand represent POWER generation (I need to pick up a box and carry it into a room NOW; I need POWER for that and all I had for breakfast was a boiled egg and a piece of toast) whereas energy sources that are available regardless of actual requirements represent ENERGY generation (so I undertake a high-protein regime and build my body to the extent that it makes women (and men) swoon - in order that that I can then pick up a box . .  one day . . . maybe). But if anyone can help me that (the idea, not the body-building), I'd like to hear from you.

And coincident to all of this, here's a video that I discovered yesterday that sort of demonstrates the complex solution that Barnham advocates.


RIBA CPD in 2015

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