Sun and wind.

It was sunny when I set off for my ride on Wednesday but rather windy. Storm Gareth (they give storms a name these days) had been blowing strongly but had calmed down. Although solar power is of little use in Britain we are currently generating a sixth of our electricity from the wind and this figure is set to rise.

Obviously we still have to have coal, gas and nuclear generating capacity in place for when the wind doesn’t blow. Wind power infrastructure is vastly expensive and this cost is compounded by having to have the alternative capacity ready to generate at the behest of Mother Nature. So wind power adds significantly to the cost of electricity and kills birds by the thousand in its rotating blades.

Fortunately for me the wind has dried the trails a little and I had a decent ride on my 3 laps of Healey Nab. I didn’t see anyone else on my ride and the trees seem to have survived the winds. I  could easily use my bike to go shopping in town but the chance of theft of the whole bike or its saddle or wheels would deter me. It’s rather hilly in our area so if you do intend to cycle you need to be reasonably fit so cycling for transport isn’t popular.

So what alternative forms of transport are “green”? Most buses I see have a handful of passengers yet burn vast amounts of diesel, so that doesn’t work. What about electric vehicles? I’ve owned 2 and found them to be an expensive liability with a limited range. No electric car has a range long enough for my wife and I to visit our son. The batteries have no real chance of seeing 100,000 miles so when you look at the replacement cost you may find that petrol or diesel are the cheaper alternative. Enthusiasts are always anticipating improvements in battery technology and have been for almost 200 years! Lithium is the third element. Helium is inert and hydrogen batteries need a heavy case to contain the high pressures, so are not possible for transport. That means that any improvements in batteries will only be incremental, not the order of magnitude that we need for electric cars to be truly viable.

Hydrogen is viable as a fuel but is probably best used in an internal combustion engine. In the mean time I’ll continue to cycle for pleasure and exercise as I await the coming ice age.

EPICA_temperature_plot_svg

We are right at the top of the peak now. Maybe I’ll need a fat bike when the ice age begins!

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