Why do power stations throw away heat?

I was asked online recently why is it that large (coal or gas) power stations have those big plumes of water vapour coming from their cooling towers. It seems like a big waste - why burn fuel if you’re just going to throw away all that heat?

In this video I explain why it’s necessary for thermal power stations to get rid of waste heat. This has implications for any any system that uses fuels to make mechanical energy or electricity.

Correcting activity data

Another #WithASharpie video, where I discuss how to make your carbon reporting activity data more accurate, using the calibration reports you’re already paying for.

Carbon Management vs Carbon Reporting

This is the first of my #WithASharpie videos, where I explain various concepts around energy, sustainability, carbon, Big Data / Machine learning, and other technical topics.

This one covers a common misconception - that carbon management is not the same as carbon reporting. There is so much more to the topic.

Sustainable business requires committed leadership

Sustainable business requires committed leadership

Sustainable businesses require committed leadership, because sustainable businesses requires significant and ongoing change.

Change is much broader than engineering or technical improvements. It often requires mindset and cultural change. It requires change to the way financial decisions are made. It requires a broader view of business risk. It requires a new and deeper connection with your suppliers and customers.

This change will be hard. You will meet resistance. You will find some people want to stick with the tried and true, because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This is why we need leadership - because you won’t overcome this resistance without significant effort and commitment.

The old ways will not be enough to survive in the new marketplace, where sustainability is a competitive advantage and customers demand far more from their suppliers than low costs.

Leadership from the top is necessary but not sufficient. Leaders, whether formally titled as such or not, will be required at every level of the business.

There are many examples of successful sustainable business transformations out there. Learn from those experiences and commit to bringing your business into the 21st century.

The renewables revolution is just getting started

Renewable energy is very much the topic for the Twenty-teens.

But it’s so much more than #electricity generation from #solarPV and #wind (as great as those technologies are).

It’s also:

  • hydropower - traditionally harnessed from dams, now expanding into power from water currents, waves and tides.
  • biomass energy can provide heat, mechanical power or electrical power. Sources include landfill gas, crop residues, fuel crops (e.g. corn, sugar), and waste-to-energy. 2nd generation biofuels (from non-food crops), biomass gasification, and microalgae-derived fuels are all in heavy development.
  • geothermal heat can be converted to electricity in locations with good (high temperature) hot water or rocks underground. The costs can be high but it’s a reliable and steady source.
  • solarthermal gets less attention than solar PV, but at scale provides options for industrial heating as well as electricity.

The renewables revolution is only just getting started.