Some of our politicians have recently shown much excitement about the prospects for power from tides around Scotland. 'Saudi Arabia of renewables' has even resurfaced in the media. While it is true that tidal power could have advantages over onshore wind in particular – turbines under the sea would not have the divisive and destructive effects on communities that putting wind turbines outside peoples' homes has had – it is really too soon to get excited about what is an essentially unproven resource.
As consumers, we take a properly functioning electricity supply for granted, barring strong winds or snow bringing down power lines. But in practice there will always be some risk to the security of this supply. The question is: what is a realistic target to set for this risk?
Britain’s probable departure from the EU provides an opportunity to re-examine national policies on energy and climate change. The Climate Change Act was passed with the best of intentions but with competent analysis neither of its likely impact on global emissions, the practicality of its implementation nor the possible consequences to the UK's economy and energy security. While the Act actually proposed emission reductions beyond those required by the EU, our impending exemption from those makes it sensible to revisit the whole issue.
In 2007, Alex Salmond rejected any new nuclear Scottish power stations. Policies based on fear, rather than facts, may feel good, but they increase the overall risk by not educating the public. Successful democracy requires people understand the decisions they make; otherwise it becomes a loose cannon, with decisions based on slogans.
Last month's major scientific breakthrough was rightly lauded; Einstein's century old gravitational wave theories proved correct. How will we view current theoretical climate science in 2100? Will there be global headlines confirming validity or a consigning to history's dustbin?
On a mild still day last November a serious problem crept up on the UK electricity network. Darkness approached, lights came on and industrial demand stayed high. National Grid declared a “Notification of Inadequate System Margin” in order to bring in more generating capacity. The situation led to the price for extra power rising to 60 times the more usual buy-in price. With our present electricity market this is an inevitable response to urgent demand when we have hardly any reserve generating capacity now available on the grid to accommodate breakdowns, cold weather and absence of
The sweet potato (commonly called a yam) is a familiar root vegetable on our supermarket shelves. The swollen root is highly nutritious, low in fat but high in vitamins A, C and fibre. It is easily grown and is eaten by one billion people world-wide. Hardy varieties are necessary for cultivation in the UK and are available from seed merchants. It is unrelated to the potato but it too can be roasted, fried, boiled, chipped and baked and acts as one of the recommended five-a-day. If you too have eaten sweet potato you have eaten your first GM meal.