Loss adjustment

With reference to P Field’s letter ‘Costly renewables’ the issue of carbon emissions still seems to be a problem.

With reference to P Field’s letter ‘Costly renewables’ (Talking Point, 26 February) the issue of carbon emissions still seems to be a problem, not so much in the operation of the systems mentioned — nuclear, biofuels and windfarms — but the emissions produced during the manufacturing and installation of such energy conversion methods.

The same can also be attributed to photovoltaic cells, where earlier designs produced less energy during their working life than was used during their manufacture, transportation, and installation. In other words, rather than solving the problem of carbon emissions, the problem is simply being shifted.

This contrasts with the article ‘Power hungry’ (News, same issue) where an attempt is made to localise the original energy source — in this case crops grown to produce biofuel — and distribute the electricity and heat generated using solid oxide fuel cell systems.

This means that transmission and transportation losses and energy demands are significantly reduced, and the CO2 generated is simply returning to the atmosphere from where is was originally extracted.

Moving on to energy consumption, another element comes into play — reducing the amount required by making the energy transfer process more efficient and minimising energy loss, the latter being significant. For example, much can be done to cut heat loss in domestic and industrial buildings using double glazing and thermal insulation.

The measure of the true environmental impact from energy sources is not just what happens at the user end, but from the original source onwards. Much can be done to reduce energy loss, helped by improving the energy transfer efficiency.

Eliminating CO2 production is not easy, but it can be done. A multiple approach is needed to combine clean, pollution-free energy conversion, with near loss-free transmission combined with near loss-free delivery and pollution-free energy transfer.

It requires a commitment from all involved, and it may take time, but it can be done.

Andrew Porter

Hitchin, Herts