Sunday, April 24, 2016

David MacKay, 1967-2016


Mark Lynas has just published the last interview with David, eleven days before his death. In this frank account of energy policy, MacKay has something to say about the prospect of solar, wind, CCS, nuclear.... and the Ecomodernist Manifesto.

See the context on Mark Lynas' blog here
including David MacKay's famous Global Calculator.

Last week David MacKay died who was an incredibly creative scientist, and advisor to the UK government. While I did not have the opportunity to meet him in person I was impressed by his book 'Sustainable Energy -- Without the Hot Air'. The book is freely available online ( MacKay takes a pragmatic approach to climate policy and asks what types of our activities use what amount of energy and how we could make a difference. He develops a number based approach, equating every energy type to a the equivalent of a 40W light bulb which is always on. On average a person in Britain uses the equivalent of 125 light bulbs.

MacKay reveals some interesting facts about the contribution we could make to energy consumption (mobile phone chargers are not a good place to start). He also shows the challenge posed by the decarbonization goals. Even if we covered all of the British coastline with tidal energy systems we would only reduce the number of light bulbs per person by 4. If we were serious about eliminating the equivalent of all 125 light bulbs half of Britain would be covered with windfarms (we need 600,000 of them). Alternatively we could build 300 nuclear power plants.

The Telegraph has an obituary here:

The energy debate in the UK, and across the globe, has lost an important voice of reason.