Colm O'Gairbhith's Comments

May 17, 2013

Ireland Keen to Hit 2030 Renewable Targets, Says EU Ambassador

The provisional 2012 energy figures (Primary Energy Requirement (excl. non-energy)) for Ireland are available from the government agency SEAI, see
That shows the following (all in ktoe)
Coal 1482(12,0%),Oil 5984(48.6%),Gas 4018(32.6%),Renewables 824(6,7%)

But aside from the figures, the Irish wind for UK grid is a long way from becoming reality.

February 15, 2013

Obama and the Reinvention of Energy Efficiency

In reply to the Anonymous who states : 'While there are obviously potential annual improvements in energy efficiency that will occur over the next 20 years, they will be mostly incremental gains. And there is no possible way they would result in a 50% reduction in energy use'. If you do the simple math then a 50% reduction over 20 years is only a 3.4% year-on-year reduction. Is this what you are calling 'sheer fantasy' ? The US prides itself as being a place where you can make things happen. If you believe that your country can't do this incremental improvement, then you obviously don't subscribe to this can-do ethic. Also note that Obama never said anything about reducing overall energy usage, the goal is increased energy productivity, i.e. decoupling GDP growth from energy usage growth. Best regards, Colm

December 19, 2012

European Commission Hopes to Show Value of Pumped-Storage Investments

"Variable-speed units, however, can also generate power while in pumping mode, effectively making them operable 24 hours per day"

Looks like a major mistake here.

The advantage of the variable-speed unit in this project is that it has an operating range of 0-70 MW and can adjust itself to match the variability on the grid introduced by windpower (or solar).

I guess that Le Cheylas has 7 * 70 MW units. Making one of those variable speed means it can operate right across the 0-485 MW range rather than in discrete steps of 70MW.

Forget any idea of generating electricity from water while it is being pumped upwards using electricity !

Best regards / Colm

October 14, 2011

Quick Win: Aviation Biofuels Offers Breakout for Clean Energy

Some figures always help.

Global aviation fuel use in 2010 (according to IEA World Energy Outlook) was the equivalent of 71 billion US gallons of oil (249 Mtoe).

The assertion that, as yet unproven, technologies can meet this demand (i.e. without a single acre of new land diverted to biofuel production) is not backed up.

Lets not forget that while these new technologies may indeed provide new sources of bio-fuels there is no objective reason to allot these bio-fuels to aviation usage.

There are many other crucial sectors which could use the bio-fuel.

On that matter, does anyone have figures for economic output associated with fuel use for different sectors ? i.e. how much econmonic activity is generated by using a litre of fuel in aviation/road-transport/electricity generation.
The rationale for saying aviation provides a quick win is self-serving for the aviation industry and, while not rejecting it outright, deserves to be questioned.

Best regards / Colm

November 12, 2010

Energy Storage Breakthrough is Put to the Test in Bella Coola

I guess there are two things to point out here.

1. This is an application only for isolated grids, i.e. the cost comparison (which isn't done in the article) is against relatively small diesel generators, a far more expensive form of electricity than any grid electricity.

2. The many efficiency losses, as mentioned previously, are only relevant when calculating the final cost per kWh, including the storage technology. Again, if it beats diesel generators, then the proposed solution is a winner. The final criteria is the cost per kWh of dispatchable electricity.

August 06, 2008

Miscanthus Shows Great Potential as Ethanol Feedstock

I'm enthralled by commens such as "there's something going on behond the curtain". Could the poster maybe give a link to some serious backup to let the rest of us know what is going on ?

July 12, 2008

Swiss Adopt Aggressive Feed Law for Renewable Energy

From the different types of subsidies available to PV systems worldwide, i.e. capital grants and/or feed-in tariffs, it has been proven that the way to get the most efficient installation is to pay solely on the kWh produced. It does result in the highest efficiencies, there is no argument in the industry. Again, in this case PV is capped at 5% of the $310 million dollars, a paltry $15 million/year. These funds are not being taken from hydro/nuclear developement so no conflict to be discussed there. This plan is good news for the renewable energy industry. A different model is being tried, and each time a different model is created the entire world benefits from the knowledge gained concerning its strong/weak points.
Is this model perfect ? Probably not. Is it helping the developement of RE ? Most definitely yes.

June 27, 2008

Storing the Sun: Molten Salt Provides Highly Efficient Thermal Storage

Has anyone heard of an application using the molten salt technology as an energy store for wnd-turbines ? One of the major ocst factors in wind-turbines is handling the varying nature of the wind and ensuring that the electricity produced is permanently voltage-tied and frequency-tied to the grid. With a turbine producing electricity which is used directly for heat, far lower tech, and then the heat converted to electricity at high-demand/high-value times then this could be a beautiful solution.

Has anyone seen smaller-scale examples of this molten-sale technology ?

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