Quotes Of The Day – yes – plural. Like London buses, these things.

First off, some succinctly put insight into the world of the fad diet and the public reaction to it:

Nutrition is a complex minefield of information with plenty of vested interests playing their part. There is also a lot of legacy popular thinking around (read: stuff people just accept without any critical thinking).

That’s Joe Botha, speaking sense at Memeburn. Sadly, immediately thereafter, he does rather ruin it all by detailing his “lose weight quick” plan based on the enforced dietary timetable of our distant ancestors. (Save your time and bandwidth.) But, in typical Tim style, I’m going to take those lines (and only those lines) that suit my agenda and quote them here.

And then this from Australia’s Galileo Movement on Stellenbosch University’s latest breakthrough in renewable energy:

The industrialisation of our landscape for inefficient power production.

And yes, this is exactly the issue with solar and wind power right now. I know we need to make the switch away from fossil fuels, I completely accept that. But right now, there are simply no viable renewable alternatives out there:

The issue is the inefficiency of these technologies. And exactly how much space and how much of our environment do we really want to give up to this “inefficient power production”? Yes, SA has a lot of spare space, but that’s a good thing. It doesn’t mean that we need to fill it with solar panels and wind turbines.


And we’d need to, if we were to come anywhere close to solving our well-documented long term power shortages. That Stellenbosch project needs a mirror surface area of 220m² (never mind the space in between and around them, nor the same for the tower in the middle) to provide electricity for “about” 30 houses. But not at night, obviously.

Simply not good enough.

I’m not blaming the science or the scientists here. They’re doing their best. They’re progressing, developing, and they’ll get there. But renewable energy remains expensive:

The researchers have calculated Germany’s rapid switch to renewable energy sources like wind and solar is adding another €28 billion a year to the electricity bills of consumers and businesses.

And inefficient:

What happens at night?
As there is no light at night, no energy will be produced. The PV plant will import electricity from the utility to keep operations on site going.

Ooops. The simple fact is that we’re just not there yet.
And that’s why we can’t (and shouldn’t) be making the switch right now.

If only there were some clean, efficient, proven method of producing electricity that we could use.

2 thoughts on “QsOTD

  1. The surface area required to power local things like our school’s computer system is becoming more manageable. The roof of the building is just standing there unused most of the day just soaking up the sun’s energy and heating the classroom under it. For about 20 square metres of PV cells we get enough energy to run the servers, networking equipment including wireless access point, 24 desktop PCs and a charging bank for 24 tablets. The panels shade the roof itself so reduce the need for aircon units and the low energy consumption PCs – running Intel NUCs with no moving parts – produce less heat and noise. So we have a cooler quieter classroom. And no nuclear waste that will have to be stored for the next 3000 years. If you think at the local scale and produce the electricity where you need it, you don’t need these inefficient utility companies.

  2. David Rogers > And that’s great. Individuals choosing to make their own small scale installations will obviously take some strain off the grid. Some companies are also doing that here too (http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/solar-roof-construction-at-vodacom-building-progressing-2012-07-09). But – and I’m no way saying that it’s not a good thing to be doing – your roof charges a few computers and tablets. Not lights, heating, air-con (your point above withstanding), “other stuff”. And – importantly – it’s “your” money being used.
    I try to make it clear above that I’m not above solar power, just that I’m against installing massive scale solar plants now, while the technology is simply not up to the job. Especially doing that with “our” (public) money. And while we are a LONG way through build two massive coal-fired power stations (R250-500bn’s worth) and we are DESPERATELY short of electricity.

    Right now, given the inefficiency of the technology, the economic situation and the massive shortfall of power in SA, solar is NOT the answer.

    Leave a Reply