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Solar power article
did not give the whole story

George W. Bush said that the British had information that Saddam Hussein had tried to obtain uranium from Niger. It was true. But what he deceptively didn’t say was that the USA’s own intelligence agencies had looked at that information and dismissed it as wrong.

And your article in August 2010 about solar thermal power did the same. Everything you said was true but the issue is what it didn’t say. It’s not a secret what the power generated by that plant in Spain costs.

But that was left out. The only reference to the price of this type of power was that a plant that will open at some time in the future in the US might be able to generate power at 20c/kWh. Which considering that’s about what Australians pay for electricity would sound reasonable to an uninformed person. In fact, the price at the gate for the Spanish plant is 27.5 eurocents/kWh or 40c/kWh. Which is over 10 times what the CSIRO’s Heat Is On report says coal-generated power in Australia costs to produce.

Even 20c/kWh is three times the price of wind-generated power. It’s twice what ANY other form of power costs. And no mention of that plant only being able to operate about one day in two. Ten times the price and not able to operate half the time isn’t an honest definition of “baseload”. According to the CSIRO report, this technology came a very distant last in the race to find what would best replace dirty coal.

It’s just delusion to choose the loser as the one to back.

Gordon Drennan,
Burton, SA.

Comment: you make a good point. It is true that the high cost of renewables is seldom discussed by those people who advocate that we must move away from coal-fired power stations.

Praise for PIC
Programmable Ignition

I am an electronics, car and computer enthusiast of many years. I recently retired from the defence force after 26 years as an electronics engineer and I now have time to get back into my old hobbies. I started out reading Practical Wireless as a teenager in England and later Practical Electronics and Electronics Today International. I now read SILICON CHIP regularly and I find it to be very enjoyable.

Now that I can afford a decent CRO and other equipment I am delighted to get back into constructing and repair work. I was particularly pleased to see the Programmable Ignition System Mk.2 (SILICON CHIP, March, April & May 2007), as it combined all three of my interests into one project. I immediately went to Jaycar to get the kit.

Today I finished the project. I simulated the input with a signal generator and the MAP with a pot and watched both the input and output on a dual-trace CRO. The dwell was spot-on as programmed and it was a real joy to see the advance (in ms) on the CRO correspond exactly with the advance (in degrees) as entered on the hand-held unit.

That PIC microcontroller is truly an impressive technological advance over the 8086 and Z80 chips I used in university! All went well on the bench and I will be putting the unit in my car as my next project but I expect all will go well.

So, thank you very much to John Clarke and your magazine for this and many other interesting and outstanding articles. Keep up the good work.

Dave Comfort,
via email.

Modern electronics leaves
much to be desired

It’s 2010, so why can’t they make the following? If we could put a man on the Moon 30 years ago why can’t we have:

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