Tag Archives: david mackay


Last week I gave a talk at The Scottish Oil Club in Edinburgh that was well received. The slide deck can be down loaded here. Since then we have been on high blackout alert since the UK weather has turned cold, wet and snowy with little wind at times. And there are 20 nuclear power stations closed in France creating an import shortage. This post summarises my talk using 14 out of 36 slides. Continue reading

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The Holy Grail of Battery Storage

A recent Telegraph article claims that storage battery technology is now advancing so fast that “we may never again need to build 20th Century power plants in this country, let alone a nuclear white elephant such as Hinkley Point” and that the “Holy Grail of energy policy” – a storage battery cost of $100/kWh – will be reached in “relatively short order”. This brief post shines the cold light of reality on these claims by calculating battery storage costs based on the storage requirements for specific cases estimated in previous Energy Matters posts. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 123

A few careless campers who forgot to extinguish their campfire, or maybe a few kids playing with matches, or a cigarette, or an arsonist, a piece of glass, whatever, have in the last few days done more to bring the global oil market back into balance than OPEC and the rest of the world’s producers put together. Continue reading

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David MacKay: the final cut

Sir David MacKay, author of Sustainable Energy – without the hot air died of cancer on 14th April 2016. Mark Lynas interviewed Sir David on April 3rd and has provided a very fitting tribute. The video, is twenty-three minutes long and there is a lot to like. Continue reading

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The Wind in Spain Blows …..

Pan European lulls in the wind are common place. Sweden, Denmark, UK, France, Germany and Spain have combined 97.9 GW of installed wind. But on occasions in September and October 2015 produced less than 3 GW. The only way to mitigate for this variability is back up from other sources. Building inter connectors cannot solve this problem at the pan-European scale. Continue reading

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The Loch Ness Monster of Energy Storage

The UK had splendid weather in April. With high pressure over the North Sea we had 8 days of splendid weather at the beginning of the month (2nd to 9th of April) and 10 days of splendid sunshine during the second half (15th to 24th April) (Figure 1). This of course left our massive fleet of wind power stations idling. 12 GW of installed capacity produced less than 1 GW for much of that time and less than 0.2GW for some of the time. This affords the opportunity to put some numbers on the energy storage requirements to survive lulls such as these. Continue reading

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Blowout week 33

The UK had some weather this week as the remnants of hurricane Bertha passed over. This caused flooding, and perhaps coincidentally, another major power cut took place during strong gusting winds. Continue reading

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The efficiency of solar photovoltaics

If it costs €2,000 to install 1 kW of PV capacity [4] it costs €20,000 to deliver 1kW of solar PV electricity 24/7 in northern Europe. That is a lot of money to pay up front to keep an electric fire burning! Continue reading

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Energy Matters’ 2050 pathway for the UK

The DECC 2050 calculator is simultaneously brilliant and frustrating. It forces the user into Green thinking and in some cases surreal choices. For these reasons I have avoided using the calculator for years – a form of protest. But following a friendly email exchange with David MacKay a few weeks ago where he explained how to get around some of the Green options, I decided to give it a go. Continue reading

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