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D A. Ryan

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About D A. Ryan

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  1. George Monbiot was celebrating "victory" the other week in a bet he alleges to have made with Jeremy Leggett of SolarCentury. Jeremy Leggett had claimed, that solar power would achieve grid parity by 2013. George Monbiot managed to get him to turn that into a bet though inevitably when George started getting all legal and turning it into some sort of personal vendetta Jeremy seems to have backed away. Anyway, Monbiot claims he won the bet by virtue of the fact that Solar PV hasn't achieved "grid parity". Of course that depends how you define "grid parity". Monbiot uses a straw man argument
  2. I came across an article in the NY times a few days ago that makes for an interesting read. It relates to the slow gradual decline of the US nuclear power sector. I've never been in a US nuclear plant, but people whom I know who have (pro-nuclear mind) paint a bleak picture. We're talking scenes that would resemble the Soviet Union under Brezhnev. Old antiquated machinery in dusty old buildings. Control rooms with clunky, ridiculously ancient control systems. Here and there they will see company name plates on machinery from a manufacturing company that they know had ceased to exist decades
  3. I've recently discussed a report by David Hughes of the Post Carbon institute on my energy blog (see here). The report is called "Drill Baby Drill" and it serves to debunk many of the myths regarding shale gas and tight oil (often referred to as "shale oil"). If you believe the propaganda shale gas / oil "solves" all of the west's energy problems for "a hundred years" (or a thousand years or some other large made up number!)"¦.not so! As this report illustrates shale gas is currently plateauing at an output level of 26 billion cfg/day (about 189 mtoe). Sounds like a lot"¦until
  4. I’m getting a bit worried about George Monbiot. At one time he was one of the sharpest orators within the left/green environmental movement. But I’ve noticed a distinct change in tone and I fear he might be doing a bit of “a Bellamy” (ironically enough for those who don’t understand that last one, check out Monbiot’s own post on the downward spiral of Bellamy). Last month he produced a post labelled “We were wrong on peak oil. There's enough to fry us all&aci
  5. If there’s one thing that makes any environmentalists blood boil, its got to be the practice of “greenwashing” where companies try to sell themselves as “green” when they are anything but. Then there's "astroturfing" where a PR firm in the pay of a conglomerate creates a fake grass roots movement to further their own agenda (Countryside guardian an anti-wind farm group with links to the UK Nuclear industry is a classic example). But the promoters of the Canadian Tar Sands project have seriously pushed the boat out by attempting to label Tar sands oil as “ethical oil”. I realise t
  6. One initiative that was recently taken up in Paris is something I will be following with great interest. Building on the success of bike sharing schemes near public transport hubs, they are copying the same idea, but this time with electric car rental being offered instead. The system will allow the hiring of electric cars by simply using a special subscription card in a booth (rather than the normal laborious pre-booking and paper work needed in standard car hire situations) which releases and unlocks an electric car for use for 30 minutes or so at a cost in the order of a few euros (video on
  7. I read an article last week, which suggested that Warren Buffett, America’s richest man WANTS the IRS to charge him more tax. I initially decided that either the summer heat must be getting to me and I'm seeing things or that Mr Buffett had just visited Amsterdam or something! Billionaires arguing about paying more tax! aren’t you guys supposed to complain about the “insidious tax burden” they face having to pay 2-5% of annual earnings in tax, against the 30-50% the rest of us pay (once you factor in VAT, rates, income
  8. Once upon a time I used to be a fan of nuclear energy. As far as I saw it, nuclear energy was the silver bullet solution to all of our energy problems and more. However, the more I’ve learned about the industry the more critical I’ve become. Notably the fact that most of the economic figures in support of nuclear power (a couple of typical delusions you’ll find here and here) come straight out of Hogwarts school of magic, wizardry….and economics (more realistic appraisals of nuclear economics can be found here a
  9. An interesting wee film to watch online (a Norwegian TV documentary) “The lightbulb conspiracy” details a process that few people outside of manufacturing industry's are even aware exists. So-called “planned obsolescence” or to put it in less PC terms, manufacturers designing stuff deliberately to fail after a certain period of time. In the case of the electronics industry this can involve literally putting a counter in, say a printer, and telling the printer to stop working after a certain period of time. Ever had a digital camera suddenly stop working after several thous
  10. In the wake of Fukushima a “stress test” of European nuclear reactors was proposed, in line with the “stress tests” applied to banks during the financial crisis. That “stress test” of banks being important in that it firstly reassured the markets and the public that most were still solvent. It also had a secondary role though – to scare the Beja$us out of the bankers and get them to be more careful in future. One would be forgiven for thinking that this would be the
  11. Over the last few years there has been an explosion in documentary film making, quite a number of them on environmental issues. Of course for a fan of such things the difficulty is getting to see them. Fortunately, The UK Green Film festival is on right now in Glasgow's GFT, and other cities UK wide. I’ve tried to catch a few of these films and thought I’d give a run down on some of the ones I’ve seen, and my thoughts on the many issues they've raised. Firstly, I’ve noted that the GFT is unusually busy this week. This is good as it shows there is clearly an appetite for these sort
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