Earth Notes: Eco Puzzler: 0-GHG Energy

Updated 2024-02-20.
For those on their way to mastering engineering... How to create a 100% Greenhouse Gas Free Energy System for the UK? #ecoEngineering #renewables
From a series of eco puzzles set for real MEng students by "The Prof". This one is to to eliminate, as far as is possible, the emission of greenhouse gases arising from the burning of fossil fuels.

Text lightly edited from real project work description for MEng students.

Many thanks to "The Prof" for so generously making this material available!

100% Greenhouse Gas Free Energy for the UK

By: ""

The project

The Project is the production of a Master Plan for the implementation of a 100% Greenhouse Gas Free Energy System for the UK, starting now. This is to cover all energy uses, including inland transport.

The principle behind this system is to eliminate, as far as is possible, the emission of greenhouse gases arising from the burning of fossil fuels.

The Master Plan is to take to form of a system concept design, with the emphasis on engineering feasibility, rather than just economics. Hence, it requires the identification of technologies and the sizing and location of plant and infrastructure. Now it is probable that such a system could be achieved with the conventional technologies of today. However, there could well be aspects where development and innovation could bring especially large benefits, or are even necessary. The Master Plan should identify these and contain the extra feasibility design to demonstrate that these avenues are worth pursuing, bearing in mind the inherent riskiness of innovation.

The main topics of the study are:

This includes nuclear, solar, wave, tidal, geothermal, marine and bio energy sources; it can also include fossil-fuel sources where greenhouse gases are not emitted.
This covers of transmission of energy in a form most useful to the end-user.
Renewable energy sources are mostly intermittent and do not match demand cycles; hence storage becomes important.
Demand management
This includes Smart Grids, active control of energy usage and, most importantly, shades into human behavioural change.
This covers making the best use of the energy available; it includes such things as insulation of buildings, vehicle design and speed limits and energy "multipliers" such as heat pumps.

These five main topics are not independent and can be lumped into a Supply Side and a Demand Side. Up until recently, our energy system has been configured as a simple Supply Side system which is sized to supply whatever energy is called for at any time. This is not likely to be the best system for the future and so almost certainly our total system must have some active Demand Side management. Both these systems cost money and somewhere in the range of possible total solutions, there is a minimum cost solution. Hence, a fundamental part of this Master Plan is to identify the particular combined solution which has the lowest total cost.

(Level: Masters; group work, learning activity.)