Note: originally posted as a comment on WattsUpWithThat.com on 2/18/2009. Additional comments are in [brackets].
[The discussion was on the rather cold winter thus far in the U.K. (England, Scotland, Wales, and part of Ireland as I understand the current situation). Part of the comments were about how does one know if this winter is colder than previous ones?]
I follow the heating-degree days for the U.S., primarily because it is readily available and posted weekly from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
From those data, thus far the winter 08-09 has been 4.6 percent colder than last year, and 1.9 percent warmer than the long-term normal, which is 1971-2000 I believe. [I built a spreadsheet to analyze the data and reach these results]
But the cold / warm is not evenly distributed, as the southwest states are warmer (California is about 10 percent warmer than normal), and the midwest states are colder. Even Alaska is colder than normal by 3.6 percent, and 9.8 percent colder than last winter.
Regarding windmills: [others on the WUWT thread had commented that the windmills in U.K. did not generate much power this winter, as the air was cold and very still, not windy. Some lamented it was a waste of money to even build them, because they provide no power and thus no heat when needed in the cold.]
U.K. has a relatively small land mass, and has the inherent problem with windmills - a large area is needed so that the wind is blowing somewhere all the time. Wave power systems do work, as can be found from the eere website. They are still expensive, though. It might be better in the U.K. to investigate power from ocean currents; these are slow but very powerful. Ocean currents appear to have very little care about air temperature or wind speeds. [from my cursory look at ocean currents around the world, it appears the Gulf Stream splits right about England, with one branch flowing northeast past Ireland, and the other branch southward along France. There could be massive energy produced from such a current.]
California windmills do indeed generate power, on average about 5 to 6 hours per day. Data is available from the California Energy Commission website.
[Some had advocated for more nuclear power plants in the U.K, presumably to provide reliable power when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow, or when the natural gas supply is cut off.] For those who advocate nuclear power, one might first want to consider the price per kwh for such power. Recent cost studies and published cost estimates show construction costs of $7 to $8 billion U.S. per 1,000 MW. Plus, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission yesterday announced that it has increased the design strength required for new nuclear plants, such that the plant can withstand an impact from a large commercial aircraft. And not just the containment dome, but also the reactor cooling system, and the spent fuel storage area. This change likely will increase construction costs by 10 to 20 percent, perhaps much more if the cooling tower is required to withstand such an impact. The required price for nuclear-generated power from a new plant is now approximately $0.28 to $0.35 per kwh. That level of price can be absorbed over a large population if nuclear power is a small fraction of the total power. It gets expensive in a hurry over small populations and large fractions of the total power.
Finally, I attended our monthly meeting of chemical engineers last night, and the subject of global warming came up. No surprise! To a man, and there were roughly 20 there, every one declared the AGW due to CO2 and the other Kyoto Protocol gases to be a complete fabrication. These are not idiots, but highly educated and intelligent men with decades of experience. The level of data acquisition, manipulation, modeling, conclusions drawn, and other such maneuvering in the AGW world are well-known to them and are dismissed as rubbish. They used rather more colorful language.
As Dr. Pierre Latour showed in his recent letters to Hydrocarbon Processing, there is no way CO2 can be the cause of either warming or cooling. None. These are the men who design, run, and operate the refineries and chemical plants that make modern life possible. If there were betting odds on the IPCC or the chemical engineers being right, my money would be on the chemical engineers.
Roger E. Sowell, Esq. legal website is here.
aka energyguy on townhall.com