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Author Topic: Sustainable Energy Without The Hot Air  (Read 5672 times)
Ossbozier
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« on: January 21, 2014, 05:46:37 PM »

Just scanning through the recommendations and was surprised not to immediately see this one.  Perhaps it is discussed but not obvious from the topic titles.

Anyway, I found it a vey interesting read and the best bit is its free in PDF form.  You can by the actual book too.

http://www.withouthotair.com/

David Mackay
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desperate
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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2014, 06:03:40 PM »

It has been here before some time ago and extensively discussed. The thread title is "without hot Air"

Desp

Here it is, an interesting read!!

http://www.navitron.org.uk/forum/index.php/topic,5709.0.html
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www.jandhbuilders.co.uk

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renewablejohn
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« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2014, 06:41:05 PM »

I would not waste my money on this book of fiction. Now if he did an updated version with all the errors corrected it might become a good beginners guide to energy although the politics will remain.
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Philip R
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« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2014, 08:02:58 PM »

Book of fiction, not really.

I would not criticise it unless I had something better to publish, which I do not.

The Prof  has upset some people with the facts that might be deemed to suppress delusional ideas. i.e. the current population of the planet can be fed and powerred without resorting to, in the medium term at least, to using polluting energy sources be it biomass, fossil fuels or nuclear energy.

I have started to read it, it is quite a novel.

Philip R

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renewablejohn
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« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2014, 10:42:35 PM »

Book of fiction, not really.

I would not criticise it unless I had something better to publish, which I do not.

The Prof  has upset some people with the facts that might be deemed to suppress delusional ideas. i.e. the current population of the planet can be fed and powerred without resorting to, in the medium term at least, to using polluting energy sources be it biomass, fossil fuels or nuclear energy.

I have started to read it, it is quite a novel.

Philip R





Philip

I suggest you read Mackay own list of addenda and review his website were he admits to major errors. Then do your own Peer review and you will soon find the figures are a work of fiction.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 10:47:33 PM by renewablejohn » Logged
desperate
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« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2014, 11:05:32 PM »

Sure there are some typos and some mistakes, none of them materially alter the overall ideas presented though do they?

He does also qualify many times in the book that he specifically doesn't want to get hung up in the minutia and strive for absolute accuracy, but rather to paint the big picture.

Desp
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billt
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« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2014, 08:17:38 AM »


I suggest you read Mackay own list of addenda and review his website were he admits to major errors. Then do your own Peer review and you will soon find the figures are a work of fiction.

Could you point to some specific errors that he addresses? I've looked at his website (http://www.withouthotair.com/) and I can't find any mention of major errors. The only thing that I can find are the errata (http://www.withouthotair.com/Errata.html), which are all trivial.
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renewablejohn
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« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2014, 08:36:49 AM »

Desperate

I would say this is quite material

http://energynumbers.info/british-energy-demand-and-professor-mackays-estimate-of-it-an-explanation-of-the-differences
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oliver90owner
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« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2014, 08:57:49 AM »

[bI would say this is quite material  [/b]

I would be very careful before taking figures as gospel.  I see reference to 'grid', and also max requirements versus average.

Regarding the grid, one has to take max demand into account as the grid don't work if suddeny overloaded!  Remember this book was written several years ago and hydro storage is likely better managed in periods of high demand.

I see differences in energy use per affluent adult.  A difficult one to unravel without knowing the basis of the calculation - energy as used, without energy transfer efficiency taken into account? Ignoring commercial uses?  But I would not be surprised if that particular criticism is unfounded by being taken out of context, so not comparing apples with apples.  I am not going to check it out from from the empirical data sources, however.





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renewablejohn
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« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2014, 09:07:36 AM »


I suggest you read Mackay own list of addenda and review his website were he admits to major errors. Then do your own Peer review and you will soon find the figures are a work of fiction.

Could you point to some specific errors that he addresses? I've looked at his website (http://www.withouthotair.com/) and I can't find any mention of major errors. The only thing that I can find are the errata (http://www.withouthotair.com/Errata.html), which are all trivial.

billt

Well if you think an error of approx 50% is trivial then I will not bother.  ie transport in the book as 24 Kwh/d should have been 13 Kwh/d.  I realise doing a book reprint costs a lot of money but there is no excuse for not bothering to update the online version which is why I suggest it is a work of fiction.  If you look at his blog on the website he admits that he has screwed up the section on hydrogen.
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« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2014, 07:27:46 PM »

Thanks to renewablejohn for the link to my page on one of the things wrong with this book. It's only one of many.

David MacKay is very clever in what he does. But it seems to me that it's not science. It's playing with numbers to get the answer he wanted.

It's not too hard to find the real nuimbers. Total UK mean energy demand (commercial + residential + industrial; elec + gas + oil) is of the order of 180GW, give or take 20GW depending on the weather, economy, etc. That's about 75 kWh per person per day.

The offshore wind renewable resource is, by my calculation, of the order of ten times that. We'd need offshore wind in about 8% of our seas to provide the equivalent mean power to current demand.

And that's before any energy efficiency measures.

So it's preposterous to claim, as MacKay does, that all of Britain's renewable resources, ignoring economic, environmental, and social constraints, are insufficient to meet demand.

And, to anticipate the usual whine, yes yes, I'm quite aware that meeting mean demand is not the same as meeting demand on a quarter-cycle basis. But grid balancing wasn't the question, here: sufficiency of resource was.

Balancing is another thing that MacKay gets very wrong. But then, most people do. It's complicated, it's hard. And balancing a 90+%  renewables grid is already a solved technical problem.

When it comes down to it, there's quite a lot of hot air from David MacKay, I'm afraid. It's a shame, cos he's a really talented writer, and an exceptionally bright Information-Theory specialist. He just has some big gaps in his energy knowledge, and (IMO) lets his prejudices stand in the way of the science.

(an aside for the statisticians: This is what happens when a Bayesian such as David starts with a prior that has zeros where reality is: no amount of evidence can convince them)
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