Hi, James. How’s your alternative energy research project going?
To be honest, I ‘m a bit confused about how to do the research for all the different energy types.
Well, the first thing to do is to make sure you focus your question, otherwise you’ll have too much to
read and you won’t be able to select the key arguments.
So how do I do that?
Start with the general topic of alternative energy and then keep asking questions until you’ve
narrowed the topic down to one particular area. Then, when you have your question, make a list of
the reading you wilt need. This list should be general to give you some background, but remember
you’ll need to focus on the issues related to the question, so the reading list should also be specific
to the actual energy source you’ve chosen, whether it’s wind or solar or wave power.
And then start reading?
Absolutely. You need to start straight away, but don’t forget to make notes as you read, otherwise
you won’t be able to keep track of ideas for future reference purposes.
Yes, that makes sense. I think that’s my main problem – I don’t recall where I’ve read different ideas
so I can’t find them again later. And my friends have warned me that not recording ideas in a system
can really hinder your progress.
Your friends are right – it’s a common problem amongst students. You need a system. Anyway, once
you’ve done the reading and made all your notes, you need to organise them so that you can analyse
and think about what you’ve read.
But I prefer to just start writing and then go back and look at my notes later.
Hmm … I wouldn’t recommend it. I think you need to give yourself more time to digest the material and
arrange it into some kind of system ready for analysis in terms of relevance to your research question.
Well, that’s a great help. Thank you, Professor Jenkins.
You’re welcome. Come and see me again if you have any more problems.
Hi, Mary. How are you?
I’m fine, thanks, John. How’s your essay going?
Not so good, actually. Would you be able to help me with it?
Of course. What do you want to know?
Well, just the type of information you’re going to write about. I won’t copy you – I just want some
ideas to get me started.
Well, Mr Jones advised us to focus on just two or three forms of non-traditional energy for our
evaluation so I think I’m going to choose solar – it’s fairly easy to evaluate.
Are you going to explain both the positive and negative aspects?
Well, Mr Jones warned us not to get too involved in the ethical aspects of the topic. So I’m going to
structure my essay by using the advantages and disadvantages of each energy form. That ’s why I also
want to talk about biofuels – I think there are more disadvantages.
Oh, I see what you’re doing – using the negative points of one to highlight the positive points of the
other! That ’s a smart idea. And what about the third energy source?
Mm, I was having difficulty choosing between nuclear and wind because they’re both problematic but
I’ve decided to do nuclear for my presentation instead.
Thanks, Mary. Chatting to you has helped me think a bit more clearly about my essay.
That ’s fine. Good luck with it.
Hi there, guys. Nice to see you.
And you. So, are we going to finalise what we’re doing for the Environmental Science presentation today?
I hope so. The presentation is next week.
Actually, I wanted to talk to you about this because I think we need to take out some of the information
Oh, really? Like what, Shirley?
Well, I’d like to suggest taking out the background details – I think it’s just too much information to fit
into ten minutes.
But isn’t it important to make sure the audience understands the context?
I don’t think so, and anyway, we could include the background details on the handout.
OK, I’m with you on that. Chris, what do you think?
Yes, OK. that’s fine. I’ll add the details to the handout. Anything else?
Yes. I’m not sure whether the solar energy statistics will be too much for the audience to take in –
there ’s a lot of numbers and graphs. Can we put the statistics on a handout too?
Mm, I see your point. We don’t want people looking at lots of numbers while we’re speaking.
But without the statistics, I don’t see how we can support our main ideas.
Actually, you’re right, Tom. I hadn’t thought about that. In that case, can we delete the diagrams? It’s
going to take too much time to explain them.
Hm. Let’s think about that a bit more. If we have to choose between taking out the statistics or the
diagrams, I think we should opt for the diagrams – they’re less crucial to the presentation. What do you
I think it ’s going to work much better than the original plan we had.
Absolutely. We won’t have to worry about talking for longer than fifteen minutes if we remove the
diagrams and focus on the main ideas and statistics. Shall we all meet again tomorrow to finalise the
Hannah: Hi, everyone! Sorry I ‘m late.
Louise: Don’t worry, Hannah, we’ve only just started. We thought we should go over the theories we’ve studied
so far so we’re ready for the seminar discussion on Thursday afternoon.
Hannah: Of course, you’re right. I don’t think I can remember all the theories related to consumer energy
Mike: No, Hannah. That ’s the reading for Fridays lecture. Thursdays’ seminar discussion is about the current
thinking on alternative energy.
Hannah: Oh, yes. Sorry. I’m a bit disorganised at the moment.
Louise: Never mind. So, Mike, what do think about the academics’ point of view on nuclear energy?
Mike: Well, I think I have to agree with them on price being a factor for choosing nuclear in the long term.
Louise: Me too. It’s definitely the most cost effective measure. Don’t you agree, Hannah?
Hannah: To start with I didn’t, but the text Professor Edwards gave us persuaded me. The only thing that
concerns me is that there have been some disasters in various parts of the world.
Louise: Yes, some texts warn of the dangers of nuclear power using previous disasters as examples.
Mike: I know what you mean, but I suppose the risk is minimal these days. What do you think about wind and
solar energy in terms of the price in relation to the advantages? For me, they’re just not worth it – both
are expensive and it’s difficult to predict the amount of energy each one will produce.
Hannah: You know, Mike, I ‘m afraid 1 don’t share your opinion. This text here talks about the likelihood of
improved technology increasing the amount of energy and reducing the costs in the future.
Louise: Yes, but that’s not enough proof to be sure of the relationship between the costs and the benefits.
Exactly, the evidence seems incomplete to me.
Well, that’s something we can follow up on with the rest of the group in the seminar on Thursday
Good morning, Phil, Jackie. 1 hope your project is going well.
Morning, Mr Jackson.
Hi Mr Jackson. Well, we’ve made a start on analysing the different forms of renewable energy, but
unfortunately we don’t really agree on some points.
OK, why don’t we talk about it?
Well, Jackie believes that all forms of renewable energy are beneficial economically, whereas 1 doubt
that that’s true for all of them.
Such as wind, wave and solar enerqv because they’re less reliable.
That’s a valid point but 1 don’t think that ’s a large enough factor to disregard it completely.
Exactly, that ’s what 1 said.
However, another drawback is that they’re qenerallv verv expensive to produce.
Yes, you’re right. And that is a concern when evaluating their usefulness in future.
1 agree with you to a point, but it ’s likely that the cost will come down. 1 read a report in the Journal of
Environmental Science that estimates the cost would fall by twenty per cent over the next ten years,
which is significant, isn’t it?
Tutor: Absolutely, Jackie. But you need to think about how difficult it is to predict the future cost of nontraditional enerqv sources before vou believe the report. Remember: in vour proiect 1 want to see
evidence of critical analysis. Make sure vou ’ve analysed all the information rather than just accepting
the information that vou aqree with. Also it’s verv important that vou demonstrate wide reading
around the subiect.
1 know, it’s just that I ‘m not convinced that it’s going to continue to be that expensive, especially if
there’s a demand from consumers.
Well, what about if we analyse the costing process as part of our project?
That’s an excellent idea, Phil. OK, so let’s imagine that we want to forecast the cost of producing solar
energy. How could we do that, Jackie?
Jackie: Um. well, 1 think we’d have to start bv working out how manv hours of davlight there are in the UK per
The Meteorological Office would have data on that.
Then estimate the number of hours of sun to get a rough total.
And then 1 suppose we’d need to work out how much it would cost to supply the average home with
solar power, and then extrapolate that to get a number for the whole country.
Good, and don’t forget the price of power conversion stations – this will have a significant impact on
overall expenditure. And there’s one more factor you haven’t taken into account yet, regarding the
Um … whether they would change from traditional to renewable energy?
No, but think about what might make them change?
Oh, ves. How much thev would be willing to pav.
Exactly. Well done.
Phil: So, our project is going to cover three main areas. Firstly, comparing the main forms of alternative
enerqy: solar, wind, wave, and bio fuels in terms of production costs. Secondly, we’ll take solar
energy as an example and do a cost prediction, and lastly we’ll analyse whether they’re likely to
replace traditional fossil fuels in the future.
That sounds like a comprehensive project with a good focus. Now, what data are you going to use and
what approach wilt you use for the analysis?
Jackie: Ah! Now that ‘s something we do agree on! We want to use the reports you gave us in our last lecture
and some statistics from the government Environment and Energy Department. In terms of analysis,
we’re going to use a cross-referencing method where we compare each of the government reports
with the Robertson report and highlight any differences. Then we’ll analyse these to see why the
differences exist and where more research needs to be done.