Sunday 26 December 2021

Off Grid Electricity keeps Lights On

Significant amounts of Diesel generation keeping the lights on at times 

 "With regard to demand side units, even at the start of September we saw a significantly tight period. At that point, wind was giving us very low electricity. Demand side units were asked to become active and they did. They can respond and they can make a material difference there " - Energy Regulator, October 2021

Demand side units are off Grid forms of generation that allow large users of electricity to switch off from the grid and generate their own.

According to eirgrid, most of this form of generation is diesel generators :

Industrial generation refers to generation, usually powered by diesel engines, located on industrial or commercial premises, which acts as on-site supply during peak demand and emergency periods [Eirgrid Report]

The energy regulator, in an Oireachtas Committee debate in October stated that these generators made a material difference in September when wind speeds were low.

What this means is that at times a significant proportion of electricity produced in this country is not counted in the official figures. So when you read that gas has produced 57 % and wind 35 %, these figures refer only to the on grid proportion only. We do not have figures for off Grid which is mainly diesel. 

Saturday 25 December 2021

A Solution to the Collatz Conjecture

I recently came across The Collatz Conjecture and was intrigued by how simple the puzzle was. It works like this - take an even number, divide it by two, if you end up with an odd number, multiply it by three and add one. It appears that for every number you begin with, you always ends up back at 1 through the sequence 4 - 2 - 1. Many mathematicians regard the conjecture as impossible to prove. However,  I came up with a very simple proof in half a day. 

This is a useful calculator to check various numbers and sequences :

The first step must be to begin with the simplest odd and even numbers - 1 and 2. 1 always goes to 4 and 2 always goes to 1. Every single number to infinity is comprised of these two numbers so it shouldn't really be surprising that we end up back at 4 - 2 - 1 for every number. The puzzle is set up from the start to return to this loop. 

Next, you have to understand that it is irrelevant how high the number is we start with or how high a number we reach. All that matters is the very last digit in each number. 20,036 is the same as 2,036 or 136. This is because we count to the root of 10. If you break down numbers into blocks of ten,  then 15 is simply the number 5 repeated again except it is on the second row of numbers (think of bricks in a wall). In music, there are only 12 notes, however, you can play an A note an octave higher, the musical equivalent of the second row of numbers.  Therefore, the exact same pattern or sequence will repeat itself over and over again regardless of the magnitude of the numbers. 





You will of course notice that there are variations in the sequence in those last digits. This is because different patterns repeat themselves in every second row of numbers. This flow chart gives a handy summary of the sequences :

So these variations repeat themselves and therefore the conjecture is based on very simple predictable sequences. A number ending in 6 can go to either a number ending in 8 or 3. 8 brings you to either a 9 or a 4. 9 always brings you back to an 8. Take 19 or 25,379 - you will always end up with a number ending in 8 after multiplying by 3 and adding 1. 

4 brings you to either a 7 or a 2 depending on whether the number is on every first or second row of numbers. The numbers 14, 34, 54, 74, 94, 114 etc will give you numbers ending in 7 while 24, 44, 64, 84 etc will give you numbers ending in 2. 

The next step is to check if there is a magic sequence that reduces a very high number to a very low number. This is an important step because it explains how we can go from a very high number to a low number approaching 4, 8 or 16 i.e. the final sequence in a few steps. 

 The answer is that there are two magic sequences. By continually multiplying by three and adding one, no matter what number you begin with, you will always arrive at a magic sequence eventually. Or another way of putting it, no matter how high you go, you will always return to a very low number. The first magic sequence is 8,4,2,1. This sequence arises from a simple fact that every school kid with basic knowledge of mathematics knows -  that if you divide any square of 2 in half you will always arrive at a sequence of numbers divisible by 2.  Magic sequence number 1 results in a cascade of numbers all the way down to 1. There may be other numbers in front of that 1 but this proves the tendency of the conjecture to approach 1.

The second magic sequence is 6,3,0,0,0,5 with some variation in the number of zeros. This arises out of the fact that sometimes numbers ending in 6 give a number ending in 3 which then always gives a number ending in zero. Zero numbers always half very neatly and give another cascade effect - e.g. 160, 80, 40, 20, 10 which then gives a 5. Normally, magic sequence #2 follows #1 resulting in a super cascade effect as you can see in this example. Also, if magic sequence #1 is interrupted by a 7 say, magic seq #2 will usually follow.  


We can see that 976 results in 61 after four steps which is 16 times less or  24   times. So magic seq#1 gives  976/24   = 61. Three steps later, we are at 46 and now locked into magic seq#2 which gives us 35 and then 160. 160 cascades to 5 after five steps, a drop of 32 times or 25  times.  Once we get to single digit 5, we will always end up back at 1. 

Here is another example. In this one, we don't reach a magic sequence for a while but once we do we are very nearly there. 


Some numbers like 27 just take longer to reach one of the magic sequences, 65 steps in fact. Then once the second magic sequence is reached after that, we are very close to the end. 

So there is no mystery at all here. We have endless time and limitless amounts of steps which means we will inevitably reach those magic sequences which are the simple result of counting to the base of 10 and the inherent characteristic of the number 2 and its squares. Remember that built into the rules is the number 2 - 1, 2, 4..

The only mystery is how this conjecture has puzzled mathematicians for so long. 

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Eirgrid to Underground New Grid Infrastructure

 Over the past decade, as many readers will know, there has been a huge furor in many communities north and south of the border about the North South Interconnector. With the main bone of contention being the decision by Eirgrid not to underground it. However, it looks like Eirgrid have finally learned a lesson from that and are now listening to communities. But surely this new approach by Eirgrid raises questions about their existing plans for the North South Interconnector ?

On the grid side, we have made three decisions in the past 12 months that we arguably might not have made five years ago. We declared that two major pieces of grid infrastructure are going underground. The first is in the Dublin-Kildare region where we have made the call and said a critical piece of west Dublin infrastructure is going to be underground.

We have said the line to Mayo will be underground and the converter station for the Celtic Interconnector, one of Ireland's most critical projects which will link us to France, will be located not beside the substation in Knockraha, but in an industrial site in Ballyadam. This is because that is what communities asked us to do - Mark Foley, CEO Eirgrid

Link :

Friday 10 December 2021

The Green Europe and Unsustainable Finances Paradox


The graph below shows the total balance sheet assets of three of the world's major banks - the Fed in America, European Central Bank and Bank of Japan. It is noteworthy for many reasons. Firstly, the ECB has overtaken the other two with total assets of $9.6 trillion. Most of this is due to quantitative easing (QE) or money printing. 

The ECB has been engaging in large scale QE since 2015, long before the covid pandemic. Which is odd since most of Europe's economies were strong then. Certainly, here in Ireland, house prices were rising again, as were rents by 2015 and 2016. At the end of 2016, the government brought in rent controls to cap rent increases. Also in early 2016, the European Commission expected Ireland to be the fastest growing economy in Europe. Yet, Ireland was been flooded with this cheap ECB money which the government was only too happy to take and spend in an economy beginning to heat up (on a side note - it didnt fix the health service did it ?). 

As the pandemic hit in March 2020, the ECB went even further than US and Japan and printed enormous amounts of euros to the extent that they practically doubled their balance sheet. Although there are other factors impacting inflation right now, I believe this to be one of the main reasons, if not the most significant. Over half of this new money has gone to government bonds, a record amount of central bank financing of government debt. Normally, the government would have to go to the market to trade their bonds. But we are far away from normal in this age of negative interest rates. Now the central bank prints the new money to buy government bonds that presumably most of the market would not touch.

What is remarkable about all this is that, in a Europe completely captured by the green movement,  government finances have been allowed to reach such epic unsustainable proportions. Surely, government spending should be reduced so as to reduce consumption. Enabling countries to spend beyond their means and deferring the cost of excessive consumption should be the last thing that green politicians should want. It's true, that some of this spending has gone on renewable infrastructure such as wind turbines and pylons (about € 1 trillion) . But these technologies require large amounts of rare earths and metals to produce and so contribute to more consumption and more mining of the planet. Instead, the preferred method to reduce consumption is through taxation. The problem with taxing fuel and electricity is that it results in yet more government spending as the poor and working class become even poorer and are unable to pay for necessities like fuel and electricity. The government then gets locked into a spending cycle where pressure comes on it to increase social welfare supports and just recently the Irish government has planned to give every household €100 off their electricity bill. The cycle of taxation - borrow / spend - inflation - tax - borrow - inflation continues.

If we were really serious about sustainability then we would get our finances in order first. By encouraging people to save instead of spend, we slow that economic growth that eco warriors claim is destroying our planet. We put the future on a firm sustainable footing. But instead we have created the exact opposite environment of low / negative interest rates where people are unable to save and governments spend beyond their wildest dreams. 

It is incredible to me that green politicians are not aware of this simple paradox. Or perhaps that old saying "money talks" is more relevant than ever and still overrides all of the green buzzwords that politicians love to use. 

Thursday 2 December 2021

More Gas Power Stations to be Built

The government have issued a policy statement on security of electricity supply which states :

  • the development of new conventional generation (including gas-fired and gasoil/distillate-fired generation) is a national priority and should be permitted and supported in order to ensure security of electricity supply and support the growth of renewable electricity generation
This amounts to an admission that the renewable programme has failed. Imagine if a smoker said I will need to smoke more just to support my attempt at quitting smoking. They would rightly be ridiculed.
  • it is appropriate that existing conventional electricity generation capacity should be retained until the new conventional electricity generation capacity is developed in order to ensure security of electricity supply
Many years ago on this blog I warned that wind energy would never be capable of replacing a power station. Here we have an admission that Moneypoint coal power station and Tarbert oil power station cannot be replaced by renewables. So what is the point? Henry Ford's model T replaced the horse and cart. The telephone replaced the telegram.

The same government banned gas and oil exploration and of course a coal mine would never be allowed to open again in Ireland. So what will all these fossil fuel power stations run on in the new energy scarce future ? Hot air? Wishful thinking? Empty platitudes? Virtue signalling? Of those, we have plenty.