The Milk Float Thread


Reducing petrochemical revenues to the area would reduce the funding for munitions…

But probably just drive the fight for battery mineral resources down into Africa.


I used to work in facility operations. When I was running the machine I quite often found out whether my lunch break was going to be 10 minutes (in the control room) or 90 minutes (if I wanted it) at 30 minutes’ notice. Booking anything in would have been hard, trust me.



We best continue fucking up the planet then :+1:


Well that’s one option, I suppose.

Perhaps a better one would be to recognise that solving large-scale problems is going to require large-scale public support and, people being what they are, that’s not going to be forthcoming if the best that’s on offer is a second-best lifestyle. I’m all for electric vehicles in principle and I believe that we will fix the most serious problems with them (limited range, finding a clean electricity source) in due course. I just don’t think that abolishing individual control over them is going to be popular enough to catch on.

In fact as I sit here I’m struggling to think of any common item which has ever made the transition from being widely controlled by individuals to being widely provided by a third party*. It always seems to have gone the other way. I suspect that human nature is behind that.


*Maybe the exception is housing, at least in the UK. For a very long time only the rich owned their own houses. The poor had to rent, or live in a tied cottage, or similar. Then individual home-ownership became common. Now that seems to be going backwards. But I don’t hear the young people whooping with joy over it …


Conjures the picture of an aircraft steered by the passenger committee. :scream:


I somehow suspect that, if we all changed to electric cars overnight then we would still require petrol to put into the generators we would need to charge the things, owing to the National Grid being a bit short on Watts, currently.

On this basis, I’d rather cut out the middleman and get a decent night’s sleep by putting the petrol straight into the car.

Obliviously, once we have a nuclear power station at the end of every street and/or the entire planet is covered by solar panels and wind turbines, I’m happy to review my decision.


It turns out nukes are pricey and wind is hard work (rather a low power-to-infrastructure ratio). But solar PV wouldn’t need to cover nearly the whole planet as long as a) we could find a decent way of storing the leccy for a while and b) we’d be prepared to buy it from people who own tropical deserts.

It will happen eventually, assuming we don’t drift into a global version of the Easter Island cock-up. It’s possible that we will though. Mrs VB reckons that one of the most prescient lines in all of popular music is David Byrne’s “… and as things fell apart, nobody paid much attention …”.



So still exploiting the ME then, and by extension supporting the horrendous contraventions of human rights that the people who “own” the deserts perpetrate.

Same old, same old. It’s all rather depressing really.


I don’t know enough about sunshine in the deserts to know where the best deserts would be. In the short term, at least, transport connectivity might be an issue (we’d have to get the energy out somehow). The Saudi deserts are large and they (should) have the money to get ahead of everyone else in paving them with PV. But the Sahara can be sunny too, which might involve everyone from Egypt across to Morocco. I drove across the deserts in the SW US once, including Death Valley, and there wasn’t much cloud cover there. The Chinese deserts are large as well.



Sahara also means bits of N Africa that are just as nasty as Saudi and Iraq.

Libya, Chad, Sudan. Great stuff.


Well I did say that this was an issue. The Australians have deserts though. We wouldn’t need to pave all of this area. Current electricity usage would require only a small fraction of the available sunshine. If we scaled it up to replace fossil fuels for heating and transport (the latter being where we came in) it still wouldn’t be enormous.



Transmission of the juice is bound to be an issue though. What are the losses over big distances?

The US will be ok, as will the shackledraggers it can feed into their national grids. China will build the infrastructure if it’s not already under construction.

I suppose Spain will become the powerhouse for mainland Europe. As for us? Maybe in the future the oil tankers will be replaced with enormous battery ships if the losses through cables is significant.


The answers are slower coming than hoped, but this may well be the way forward at ambient temperatures.


If the superconductivity doesn’t deliver in time then it’d be necessary to convert the electricity to something transportable, ship that here, and then convert it back to electricity. People have talked about hydrogen, which is quite easy to make electrolytically. But it isn’t as easy to ship as larger molecules. Stuff like this is easier to ship and handle but harder to make in the first place. You pays your money and you takes your choice, as they say.



Today, wind at 25%, Jim is on standby for the Corry cup of tea event.


Power losses are around a couple of percent over 1000 km. I imagine that a few chunky copper cables will be somewhat easier than magic superconductors or shipping. :roll_eyes:


All chunky copper cables sound the same


Imagination is a wonderful thing.

Having a few weeks worth of fuel stored in tanks just in case someone between here and the Taklamakan desert gets it into his head to semtex the odd pylon is also a wonderful thing. Mrs VB worked for the CEGB (goodness, remember them ?) while the troubles were still on. Quite a few fingernails were bitten over the small number of wires connecting the northern generating stations to the populous south-east.

Fuel shipping is a solved problem.



It’s interesting that if you look up Super grid - - there is no mention of shipping electricity. The reason for this is obvious - throughput. With wires the power moves bloody quickly. Shipping would necessitate vast numbers of huge ships to achieve anything like the required throughput. Can you go the maths to work out how many ships would be needed for even 100GW?


Who cares how fast it moves ? The only significance of speed is that if a pylon comes down we’re all in the dark instantaneously.

What matters is whether the primary energy can be shipped in a large enough quantity. Japan generates about 1000 TWh/year of electricity and given that there are 8766 hours in a year that’s an average power of about 114GW. In 2015 34.0% of that was powered by coal, 39.2% by gas and 9.0% by oil - 82.2% in total or an average of 94GW. Japan has essentially no fossil fuels of its own. It all has to be imported. So the answer to 'How many ships would be needed for even 100GW ?" is “However many sailed in and out of Japan in 2015”. This is not a proposal. This is already happening.

The real shame with fuel transport is that the reconversion to electricity in a combustion plant is so inefficient (I blame that M Carnot). But states still prefer it to the insecurity of wires. Of course once we’re living in a globally governed utopia where all is sweetness and light and no-one argues with anyone else wires may well become acceptable.