What on Earth is Fracking and Why Should We Care?

‘Fracking’ is another term for Hydraulic Fracturing, which is the process of drilling down into the earth and directing a high-pressure water mixture at the rock to allow the gas inside to be released.

The rock is actually fractured apart by the high pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals, hence the term ‘fracking’, and these fractures can create new pathways (or extend existing ones) to allow escape of the gas contained.

Drilling companies have identified that certain areas of the UK have potential reserves of trillions of cubic square feet of shale gas, particularly in Northern England, leading to more than 100 licences being awarded by the UK government to allow companies to explore this potential.

So what’s the problem?

Despite fracking being accredited for the revolution of the energy industry in the US, the move in the UK has prompted many environmental concerns.

Some politicians have branded the gas recovered from shale rock as a ‘dirty fossil fuel’, and environmentalists are quite rightly troubled by the potential for carcinogenic chemicals to escape during the drilling process, contaminating groundwater and wildlife around the fracking site.

There is also the mindset that concentrating on investments in the fracking industry is distracting the government from exploring renewable and greener energy supplies, and becoming reliant again on environmentally-unfriendly fossil fuels in the future.

Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Tony Bosworth has wrapped up these concerns in a nutshell:

“We need a 21st Century energy revolution based on efficiency and renewables, not more fossil fuels that will add to climate change.”

Read more about UK fracking here:
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-14432401

Wind & Solar Chaos Leaves Europe’s Power Grid On Brink of Total Collapse

STOP THESE THINGS

Germany led the way, and others soon followed: erratically delivered wind and solar now dominates Europe’s power grid. Naturally enough, power prices have rocketed and grid managers are left to deal with the chaos delivered by sunset and/or calm weather.

Rapid surges and/or collapses in voltage and frequency – consequent upon surges and collapses in wind and solar output – require instant and very costly ‘interventions’.

These interventions involve ramping up the output from conventional generators (gas or coal-fired plant) whenever the sun sets, the skies cloud up or the wind drops. Conversely, conventional plants are knocked off-line and forced to ramp down when solar and/or wind output picks up.

The additional cost to power consumers is staggering, and continues to mount.

Pierre Gosselin takes a look at the unfolding disaster, starting with Switzerland.

The Green Energies Of Instability…Swiss Power Grid Requires 200 Fold More Intervention Than 8 Years Ago!

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Could fully autonomous cars hit UK roads this year?

The UK government has announced plans to allow fully driver-less vehicles on Britain’s roads as soon as the end of this year.  Originally planned for 2021, new processes including rigorous safety testing and risk assessments mean that the introduction of said vehicles could be much sooner than anticipated if the new processes are confirmed.

Currently the law states that all ’driverless’ vehicles undergoing tests on public roads MUST be insured and overseen by an actual driver, either inside the vehicle or with a remote safety operator, who must be ready to take over control of the vehicle at any time.

New rules could potentially mean the removal of steering wheels and indeed, the driver, allowing for a fully autonomous vehicle.

Jesse Norman, Future of Mobility Minister said: “The government is supporting the safe, transparent trialling of this pioneering technology, which could transform the way we travel.”

Read a more in-depth article on this subject here: https://www.energylivenews.com/2019/02/06/could-fully-driverless-cars-hit-uk-roads-by-end-of-2019/

New paper connects upper stratospheric ozone changes to the solar cycle

Iowa Climate Science Education

The authors write in this plain language summary:

Changes in the output of the Sun are thought to influence surface weather and climate through a set of processes initiated by the enhancement of upper stratosphere (32?48 km) ozone. In order to understand and assess the solar impact on the climate system, it is important that models reproduce the observed solar signal. However, the recommended dataset for comparison with climate models remains disputed.

We use newly improved observed ozone composites to determine both why there is disagreement between composites, and which is most likely to be correct. We find that artefact?corrected composites represent the response better than those based on SBUV data alone. Further, we identify a U?shaped spatial structure with lobes emanating from the tropics to high altitudes at mid?latitudes.

An idealised chemistry climate model experiment, and simulations considering historical meteorological conditions, both support this conclusion. The results are of…

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NPower Confirm 900 Job Cuts

Yesterday, the big six energy supplier confirmed that approximately 900 job cuts are imminent due to “extremely tough UK retail energy market conditions”.


Yesterday, the big six energy supplier confirmed that approximately 900 job cuts are imminent due to “extremely tough UK retail energy market conditions”.

NPower, which has a 6,300 strong workforce, have announced their plans to introduce a new operating cost reduction programme, blaming the price cap and fixed price tariff competition.

The big six supplier has stated that annually, around 900 people leave the company of their own free will, so the true number of redundancies is likely to be “considerably lower”, but have guaranteed that affected employees and the unions will be fully consulted over the new proposals.

NPower have promised that forced redundancies will be “minimised as much as possible”, and will be consulting with affected parties beginning in early February of this year.

Energy Saving Hack #2

Stop charging your phone so much! No, really, stop it.

Okay, the majority of us are guilty of this. We leave our phones plugged into the charger overnight so that we can wake up to a full battery in the morning and we’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll. But depending on your battery condition, that phone was charged waaaaaaay before you woke up. Hours before in fact.

Unplugging your phone when fully charged can save energy – and your battery

It turns out that charging your phone to 100% over and over again (before it’s even run out of charge) actually sucks the life out of your battery over time. So stop over-charging it! Save energy and your battery life by unplugging your phone once it’s charged, and let the battery run right down before charging again. Simple!