Having banned fracking in 2019 after one site in particular caused 140 earth tremors the UK government has done a U-turn as a “solution” to the current energy crisis. A rather smug Jacob Rees-Mogg challenged those MPs who opposed the idea as to how they would explain to their constituents why there won’t be any hot water in their homes due to Russia turning the gas off (BTW Unlike much of Europe only 5% of UK gas comes from Russia).
So what is fracking?
Fracking is a process of extracting gas from the ground by first pumping it full of high pressure water and chemicals that break down the rock strata. The gases released are then pumped away to be used.
Wait a minute…
… So the solution to fossil fuels is an alternative fossil fuel?
Forgive the slightly told you so tone of the rest of this article, but it really is a case of if you didn’t do it yesterday then please do it NOW!
We need to move to alternative (read renewable) energy sources, which basically means clean electricity.
We need a radical rethink and an updated approach to some of the current strategy, but in one simple word the key is decentralisation.
The 20th Century solution to power supply was a centralised system often referred to as a National Grid and we still need it but it needs to become the back up and not the primary supplier.
The solution is simple – what is lacking is the will to change and the probably resistance of the greedy power companies.
Each home should be turned into a power cell with equator facing solar panels (different for north and south hemispheres) that is largely self-sufficient. And what is wrong with adding a little turbine too?
Some may argue that it won’t generate enough electricity and sure there will be supply surpluses and deficits which is why the Grid is still essential, but what if the Grid connected all of these homes together, they could draw on each other and have larger scale wind turbines on land or ideally off shore supplying the extra. Again you might say but it won’t generate enough. Again in certain conditions I can’t argue with that, but every little helps and if each home is providing a bit then it all adds up.
It should be made compulsory that such systems be built on new homes (and in a phased approach all other homes upgraded with governmental grants) with all of the necessary infrastructure including batteries. as well as water collection facilities that catch the rainwater to be used for “grey water” activities such as watering the garden or even toilet flushing.
An additional benefit if you live in a warm climate or at least where the summer is hot is that roof based solar panels will reduce the thermal block effect.
The thermal block effect can be illustrated by imagining a brick laying in the hot sun all day. It gets hotter and hotter as the day goes on and then as the air cools it returns the heat back to the atmosphere. This is, by the way, why cities stay so hot at night – it’s all that concrete. This is also why a particularly hot spell gets further compounded in the cities because they never really cool down properly before the sun comes back up.
The basic rule of energy is that it can only be converted and not destroyed. So all of those solar panels with absorb heat energy and convert it to electricity or even in more rudimentary systems provide a home with hot water. This means the same heat is no longer contributing to the thermal block effect because it has been converted before it even hits the building’s infrastructure. Of course this isn’t a complete fix but as I have already stated – every little helps.
If you think about it too, if you reduce the thermal block properties of a city you are also retarding global warming even if it is just a bit. And how many cities is human civilisation spread over? A few million.
I am pretty sure that this approach is both less intrusive and less risky than fracking. It is also a long term solution that can remain in place. As with all fossil fuels fracked gas will expire at some point.
However, some of these green ideas need a bit of a rethink when it comes to planning and we also need to get rid of NIMBY mentalities (eg “I want to be green, but don’t you dare put a turbine in that field near my home”).
One last example to illustrate how we need to think things though can be illustrated from near where I come from. There has been a proposal to build a seven square mile solar area on good farmland and it is anticipated that it will supply 250,000 people.
Great – but don’t we need the farmland?
And here is the cruncher. Relatively nearby is the city of Hull, that by coincidence has a footprint of 21 square miles and a population of around about 250,000. So a quick number crunch shows that we only need to cover a third of the city with solar panels to have the same net effect (climate will be essentially the same as the distance is quite small). Obviously a lot of places, parks being the most obvious example, can’t be covered, but what about all of those roofs, both industrial and domestic? I am just pulling this figure out of the air but I am fairly sure they could find at least 4 squares miles of space to cover with solar panels.
That means the solar area could be smaller at the very least and the rest can be used as farmland and yet again every little helps… and that’s before mentioning how it will have a slight net cooling effect on the city with regards to it being a thermal block.
Surely it’s common sense – isn’t it?
As always stay safe and well my friends