söndag 9 februari 2020

War on carbon – gas boiler ban threat

Here comes more folly in the War on Carbon. There is a plan to force everyone to replace their gas heating boilers with electric heating systems. This is strange, because the thermal efficiency of modern gas boilers is over 90%, which is about as good as it can get. Over its complete cycle, electric heating is only about 30% efficient due to thermodynamic and transmission losses. Such a proposal can only have come from people who do not understand the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In 1959, in a lecture with the title ‘The Two Cultures’, later published as a book, C P Snow had a thing or two to say about just such people.

“A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is about the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare’s?” 

The efficiency of electric heating can be improved by using heat pumps but relying on the electricity supply creates a security problem which is less of an issue with gas supplies which contain substantial reserves in the distribution system. Moreover, the gas supply system could be used to store and distribute hydrogen, which could be an effective way of utilising the energy created by the surplus from wind generation, which has the grave drawback that supplies cannot be matched to demand.

A better option, based on sound thermodynamic principles, is to promote more local generation in the form of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) in which hot water for heating is created as a by-product of the electricity generation. CHP generation can be on-site for large buildings such as public and industrial premises and blocks of flats, or through the use of district heating systems. In the case of on-site generation, surplus electricity is fed into the grid and paid for.

A bad and unscientific decision is about to be made, yet again.

1 kommentar:

Robin Smith sa...

Its worse than that. Wind power can only proceed through the use of high carbon emitting natural gas to balance the grid loads.

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