Sustainable Energy Systems | Joseph Clarke | TEDxUniversityofStrathclyde

what a pleasure to be here it really is no my talk which is there there’s a lot happening in our life’s just now relating to energy systems and a very profound change in energy systems and you see all the things that are happening at the strategic level like wind turbines going out marine turbines it’s coming into our cities and there’s all sorts of concepts being discussed though these are profoundly changing the boundaries of the energy system so they’re really pushing the boundaries and the first message I’d like to bring to you is we’re pushing in the wrong direction we’re going to end up in a bit of a mess if we’re not careful and I’d like to explain why and then I’d like to explain what we might do about it to turn the corner in a different direction so we start just at the top there and in this audience there’ll be many different views about energy and there’s a little compendium of those views some people think it’s absolutely a moral obligation to create environments that bring health and well-being to people and that’s a good thing if we do that we will need to spend energy other people say it’s about saving the planet and it’s about carbon reduction if we do that that could be good but it also might create more fuel poverty raise the price of energy everything’s get a good in a bad other people will talk about biodiversity others are concerned abut making the fossil fuels last longer because our economies are predicated on them and if they begin to go to rapidly we’re in trouble even to the extent of wars in the world others are talking about replacement what new fuel types can we bring on and yet others are talking about security whatever we do can we grew it locally does that mean we’ll have energy crops does that mean we’ll have energy crops which are displacing arable land at the bottom there’s the technological things we can do we could try to control the world’s populations it’s not a subject I care to discuss today it’s not an option or we could try to say to people if you all save a little do a little will save a lot that’s an absurdity in extremis if we all do a little we’ll save a little so we would all have to do a lot and I think most of you in this room will not do what would be required to reduce the energy burden so we might start to develop new technologies and put them out a technological solution that’s possible but it has downside and we might go to the supply side clean the fossil fuels at some considerable expense we might introduce renewables look at that in a second or we might reactivate the whole nuclear question David McKay professor at Cambridge University he’s the just retired chief scientific adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change a very influential person very clever person and he did a wonderful thing a few years ago he took the statistics for the UK and he reduced them to a personal statistic kilowatt hours energy unit per day per person these are the consumptions you each make on average so if I asked you to change your lifestyle to reduce the energy burden you would need to stop buying stuff don’t have new mobile phones don’t have watches don’t have new fashion don’t buy stuff but our society would grind to a halt and the current political systems of that happen it’s not an option if we go for options like the built environment or transport if we can even replace that at one percent per year that’s 70 years to get to half the stock so we’re talking about 200 years to make any impact if we try to make things more efficient just by using you know making a car more efficient or using less transit journeys and doing it in some other way on the other side is the Department of climate change 2020 at 2050 energy Hathaways tool which you can play you can become the master of the universe and bring up different changes and there’s a scenario of a know-all renewable future and then read there you see what we would need to do to begin to match demand in the UK with renewable supply we’d need to turn over an area

the size of Wales to energy crops we would need to deploy a new wind farm every week for the next 50 years what a build that is this is tantamount to the industrialization of the landscape at a skill you cannot conceive of so when people go around seeing the future solutions renewable it may well be but that will be over a very long period of at least a hundred years until we resolve some of the really difficult issues about catching the world’s most distributed lauper density stochastic resource as opposed to fossil fuels which is solar energy and a high density per package that’s transportable that displacement is a huge challenge for humankind so the burden has been moving quite rapidly to the built environments to the concepts related to future cities where perhaps we can get individuals in the world to start to think more sustainably and do things and move their means of energy production into cities and energy centres and you hear concepts like smart grids the IQ of the smart grid at the moment is about room temperature by 2020 it’s not very smart and it won’t be for a while but as we make these displacements look at the little things at the bottom so we don’t build a power station and we put combined heat and power in our cities we reduce global emissions and we see hurry was saving the planet but you’ve moved those emissions into the briefer breathable zone who’s checking air quality locally if you’re simply filling in a form that says we’ve made our carbon saving targets for something not right in the way that we’re thinking about how we transit to a future that hasn’t got fossil fuels and there’s other things that can happen there do we see around the world this what the government’s doing to stimulate all of this they’re the government for example in the Department of Energy and Climate Change has very very credible economists and they know how to shift markets so they know the fiscal measures of tax and spend or tax and subsidy in this case that they can put in place to change the way people will behave and it works and I’m not against that that’s a good thing so there’s a summary of all the things they’ve been doing the non-fossil fuel obligation the Scottish renewables order failed so they substituted it with the renewables obligation although do utilities to make a lot of money and if it’s when farms land on us to make a lot of money it’s begun to fail because it doesn’t bring certainty of investment to the industry so the electricity market reform which knows a thing called straight price where you agree in advance how much you’ll get for your power lots of money being made lots of really fat cats in this business fiscal measures well that succeed doubt it then Green Deal where you try to tell the population that should take loans and do energy efficiency things because someone who doesn’t understand thermodynamics tells you that’s a good thing to do or Renewable Heat Incentive these are fiscal measures they’re not bad they’re not addressing any of the technical feasibility of systems or hotel team targets or simply fiscal and when we go that route this what happens that’s what we’re seeing just now there’s nothing wrong with fiscal measures if backed by the other side of the scale the balance but that balance frankly friends is not there so we see unreliable systems going almost all systems are headed as green and efficient and innovative when you measure them they don’t work now I’m being contentious to make the point but you’ll be shocked when you actually look at what’s happening with the way these systems are performing know when farm has ever displaced the conventional power plant we don’t put our wind farm up and turn off a conventional plant we just keep both and then you have to regulate the wind farm off and pay someone money to keep it off in order to balance the voltage in the network and that’s an issue you can address and perhaps rectify through control but that’s going to take a while as well and who would then have the backup capacity increase their demand supply gap Wasson’s the cost burden everyone’s feeling it costs are rocketing fuel poverty is going up everywhere that’s the price of sustainable energy really is that what

we want and so on you can read for yourself so what’s the problem exactly so as it says at the top will get fiscal measures which do not take a count of thermodynamics how things actually work we just see things photovoltaics is good is it what’s the thermodynamics tell us about photovoltaics so all the decisions were making are actually ill informed about the consequences of those decisions that’s a paradox we live in an information society where we never know the consequences of decisions we’re making at the time we make the decision that clearly can’t be right governments say we set targets we don’t decide how you get there we leave that to the industry and I think the industry has to be really pushed know by society a little bit the law is my lesson and expertly bit techie thing there’s the four principles of all energy systems that are absolutely disregarded all energy systems are dynamic they change all the time they change a different rate of change so they’re never in steady-state their dynamic so if we say a PV panel has an efficiency of 15% or a condensing boiler 90% that’s a lie that’s like saying a car will give you 40 miles per gallon yes if you put it through a standard test and you make sure it’s light as you can and low friction tires that’s not what you’ll get in practice these things are outcomes from a system they’re not inputs and yet we’re being told oh that’s an efficient way to do something no one can APR I know that it depends on how it interacts with the whole dynamic system everything’s nonlinear all the parameters change as a function of the state variables so you know material properties change as a function of temperature and so on system systemic is coup stick comfort visual comfort thermal comfort is get controllability it’s got a capital cost running costs maintenance cost environmental emissions material use embodied energy it’s a systemic bag system and yet industry loves to take out their little bit and tell you how that will save the planet and that’s the more efficient thing to do who are the trying to fool us because that’s the seals model and lastly everything’s there’s lots of stochastic processes where they’re people and if we don’t take these into account then were in trouble so there’s my strap line if you’re coping with complexity and you don’t take account of these things don’t bother building it so if you can’t simulate something if you can’t model in advance to see it will work in this way of that don’t bother doing it because it will not work so this is what I think the information age should be all about I regard computers not as something to sell which is all they do at the moment but as a way to help society and humanity understand how complex systems work and therefore make better decisions you can make money out of that you can monetize that but that’s the real reason d’etre of the computer result revolution joining the virtual world to the real world that’s how it works you take the real world you divide it into lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of finite volumes and you can serve energy mass and momentum and from that you can go in and do anything you like and you can see and will that be better will that be worse and what will that cost and what were the temperatures be what people be comfortable is that good air quality what’s the emissions because you’re simulating the real world here’s a little computational story for you I want to design a low-energy community in Glasgow what I would expect to do is go in and set the geometry up the cities know got fill 3d model of the city so you go and pick up your part invent a little part that you don’t have then you make glue and visualize it talk to your client about what you’re trying to do then you might you know start clothing it with constructions looking at these constructions how they make work if they get law embodied energy then you may choose a boundary condition look at glare distribution make sure people will be visually comfortable then you may look at free light put a photocell in capture that displace electrical use then you make put your biomass boiler boiler plant in your community then you might put your PV in because you’ve got renewable integration

then you might check that the indoor environments good then you might bring in your low voltage network and make sure you can balance your your power behavior follows description that’s just one little simple example so that we’re sitting there in a society where we expect participatory democracy and the way we move forward with making decision making even occupants of buildings citizens in the city can participate in this with professionals who know how to make different models commissioners simulations and the outcome of that is an integrated view of performance so we start to treat about if we do it this way this is what will happen you can see some good things and some bad things that’s an object of truth nothing is perfect so if we make an adaptation we can improve the thing we don’t like it’s as bad but we’ll trade off with something else there’s no such thing is an ideal solution but we make it all that we bring it up front these things are published we can compare things in order to do this we would need to change the way we practice the business of designing cities and so on and that means we have to get our new graduates and to offer C’s throughout the world and design practice who are able to do things like that make models calibrate them commissioned simulations get in together in a meeting discuss the results hypothesize postulate a change that fixes a problem implement that in the model I’ll tell you something it’s cheaper as better and it’s quicker than anything we’ve ever had before and we’re then in an experiential world you’d expect to be able to understand something even if you were to leave person so you can see I don’t like that whether it’s visualization well that’s looking at voltage stability and the network going above a limit whether that’s looking at glare whether that’s looking at the outdoor environment and a lighting revolution we’re going to have coming up soon whether it’s looking at people comfort and health and contaminants we’re now in a virtual world which connects directly to the real world because it has the embodiment of the future realities and to go back to some of the very inspirational talks earlier what are the keys to health is mindfulness being a present so being in a virtual reality it’s your present it may be a future present but you’re exploring how things will work that’s healthy and it works and we’ll take it in that direction away from this nonsense of using greenwash to make money things to do with air quality all of this will be placed in the future information society the so-called Internet of Things well smart meters state monitoring and using the simulation environments to simulate scenarios for the future all that information is being captured together now in databases and it will be used to make money by launching services information services to city planners and information services to citizens giving them advice back about how they can receive personally money for example or increase the environmental quality for their children Scotland has two hundred and forty thousand homes that are suffering from really serious mold infant infestation so I for one think that’s a much more important issue than deploying you know green technologies all over the place because somehow we’re going to reduce our carbon emission we’ve got to get things in the right balance carbon emissions are a part of the story but there’s lots of other things we have to do as well so in conclusion it seems to me that we really need to prioritize the system the energy system as a holistic problem we need to look at the top but they are about making sure cities what well are healthy places we need to make sure that the fossil fuels are absolutely guarded cherished for what they are they’ve given us where we’ve reached on every objective function I can think of the world is a better place now than it was in the past we’re healthier were better educated etc etc and to keep that going we’ve got to replace the fossil fuels with all this new technology at the bottom which is a really difficult thing to do and the only way we’re going to do that is if we get proper simulation technologies the ultimate destiny of the computational Sciences to represent the real world and let

humanity cope with complexity and we need to get and schools are design practices or municipalities everywhere that’s the biggest challenge that I think we face to get this sorted out before we go much further and if I tame I give you some really horror examples with just simply deploying things against a fiscal model of change for the future thank you very much