Friday, September 20, 2013

Solar and wind

A news feature from Juan Cole, on the increasing use of solar energy usage around the planet, is very encouraging.  I'm not sure that I agree entirely with his opening statements about the predicted rise in sea levels, which have been dismissed recently with a report from the IPCC which turns some of its figures on their heads, nor that the population of the world will increase at quite the rate he states, but the information about the number of solar plants being built around the world are great.

It seems like an odd idea, but we have several places in the world where huge deserts sit doing nothing.  Shouldn't solar plants be possible in these areas?  Or would the heat actually be too much for them?  It seems odd that we build solar plants, or install solar panels, in parts of the world where the sun doesn't shine consistently, yet seem to ignore those parts where it never stops shining.  Somebody will no doubt tell me I'm not a scientist so I don't know anything, but I'd be interested to hear more on this.

You'll notice in Cole's story that wind energy is mentioned three times.  At present there's something of a backlash against wind farms, unfortunately.  Some people think they're unaesthetic, for one thing, though having seen a number of wind turbines quietly circulating in the breeze, they strike me as having a particular beauty - kind of like windmills do. (I imagine windmills were once thought to be a blot on the beautiful landscape too.) And other people claim all sorts of illnesses as a result of living near them.  This opinion piece by Simon Chapman appeared in the ODT the other day, and seems capably to debunk these concerns. 

At present we have people protesting the digging of wells in search of oil around the country - the Government just yesterday opened up several sea and land areas for this, much to the irritation of the protesters.  I think we have other options besides oil (and much of the plastic that uses oil), and I'd like to see more people getting behind solar and wind and sea power and anything else that uses natural resources that won't deplete, so it distresses me when some people seemed opposed to anything, and everything.

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