Creating a carbon free energy world

August 8, 2014

A call for leadership on carbon abatement at COP21 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We used to think that “Flaming June” was rose-tinted nostalgia for long-lost summer holidays, but this year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed that in June 2014 the average global temperature was 16.2C (61.2F), 0.7C higher than the 20th-century average. May 2014 also broke the record. The planet is warming, and we are responsible. Thankfully, the likelihood of action to ...

Why gas is not the solution to Europe’s energy security challenges

April 1, 2014

The events in Crimea and the Ukraine in recent weeks have thrown Europe’s dependency on Russian oil and gas into sharp relief. Although regrettable, the turmoil has come at as good a time as any. Europe is in the midst of hashing out a comprehensive climate and energy policy framework out to 2030. This framework seeks to address the triple challenges of keeping energy prices at a minimum, decarbonising the energy to fight climate change, and ensuring the security of ...

Go Green and re-float the World

January 10, 2014

Here below is a synopsis of a speech I gave in Farmleigh on Wed, 11 December to the ‘Sustainability Gathering’.  ‘Sometimes it takes only a few minutes to change the way we think about things. A month ago, Larry Summers spent about ten minutes at an IMF research seminar questioning why US economic growth was stagnant.   He said that since the end of the financial crisis there has been no evidence of growth that would restore economic ...

Leadership in Agriculture: Personal Journey

November 18, 2013

Speech below presented to the Nuffield Scholars at the Nuffield Ireland Autumn Conference in Mount Wolseley, Co. Carlow on Friday 08 November 2013. “Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen There is nothing more important than leadership. Within society, change comes from a small number of creative individuals who have the capacity ...

How competitive is wind energy compared to the others?

September 30, 2013

You all have heard it said that wind energy needs subsidies to compete with other forms of electricity generation.  We have often written on this subject before, and it seems appropriate to restate the arguments. The context of wind and solar comparisons usually revolves around grid parity with existing fossil fuel fired plant.  Most generation plant is relatively old now and the boilers and turbines are fully depreciated.  The only costs that are incurred ...

The CO2 content of our atmosphere is at its highest point for 4 million years. Is this a coincidence?

July 19, 2013

It is surprising how many politicians seem to place gas, in particular shale gas,  in the same category as wind and solar for the purpose of  renewable electricity  generation. Although natural gas converts to electricity more effectively than coal, with efficiencies of 56% versus 45%,  gas is a fossil fuel.  With shale gas its leakage into the atmosphere during production may render it’s overall effect on global pollution more deleterious than coal. ...

The truth about wind power

June 20, 2013

Some recent press coverage on wind turbines calls for correction of the mis-statements made in these articles. The first one to appear was by the RTE Rugby correspondent Tom Mc Gurk.  He is under the impression that the developers of wind turbines are in receipt of grants. There are no grants for wind turbines in Ireland.  Wind is now a very accepted way of making CO2 free electricity. In Ireland the wind powers 18% of the country’s total electricity ...

Irish Presidency of the EU and Climate Change

May 24, 2013

As is pointed out by Frank mc Donald in an article in today’s Irish Times, carbon dioxide concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere is at its highest for 3 million years.  They stand at 400 parts per million by volume (PPMv) I have seen no research on what atmospheric conditions are needed for the human species to emerge and prosper.  We do know that homo sapiens emerged in the last 100,000 years, when carbon ...

Reducing cost of offshore wind in the UK

April 22, 2013

There are two strategies for reducing the cost of offshore wind in the UK.  Easy to state and, in fact, easy to implement.  They are: 1.    Short term:  introduce a transparent simply calculated support price for offshore wind 2.    Build lots of offshore wind;  watch the supply chain build up and see how scale and experience work as they have worked in every industry up to now to bring ...

Energy Bridge and employment: Renewable energy for GDP growth:

April 15, 2013

Much talk has been engaged in concerning the employment impact of the transition to renewables.  We here in these two large islands have not been particularly successful in translating wind initiatives into manufacturing employment.  We persisted with competitive systems until 2004 while Germany, Denmark and Spain went with the fixed price feed in tarrif (refit) model for renewable development.  Potential investors saw a steady stream of projects, with simple payment methods, in the refit countries.  We in these ...