back to article Business throws cold water on gov hot air proposals

Business lobby group the CBI is calling on the government to reduce its reliance on wind power to hit greenhouse gas targets. The group is worried that government policy does not offer enough juicy subsidies to nuclear power and so-called "clean coal" technology. John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said: "The Government …

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Flame

Clean coal!

...best laugh I've had all morning.

Note to Gordon: WE....DO....NOT...REPEAT *NOT*...WANT....THIS....

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FAIL

We loose any which way

Coal means digging big 'oles in the ground which will want to fill themselves a 'la gravity.

Nuclear means loads of crap to get rid of.

Gas goes via Russia.

Oil is running out.

Solar energy isn't efficient enough yet

Solar heating means no hot water on a cold day and puts a strain on the old roof over the head.

Our water pipes need shed loads of work

The electric delivery system needs replacing; when I first moved to my present location we had something like 5 cuts in three months.

Our food went up by 8.8% while France's food went up by 0.7% and Germany's came down by 0.3% ... and Teaco made record profits.

The bus companies continue to cut non-profitable routes leaving older retired people stranded because they can't drive any more, so that the transport companies can keep giving money to their shareholders.

As for the trains ... don't even go there.

Is it just me, or did privitasation screw this country up completely?

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Anonymous Coward

Heh

So the government response was "Shut up, we're not listening". What a surprise.

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Grenade

"deterring private sector investment"

Excuse me?

How long is it since electricity was privatised?

How long is it since the privatised BNFL had to be rescued from bankruptcy?

"Private sector investment" brought us the "dash for gas" in the electricity generating industry, which is why the UK now has no gas left of its own and is importing it from Libya, Russia, and other such former "axis of evil" trading partners.

Post-privatisation, private sector investment has done nothing for the long term health of the UK's (mostly now foreign owned) electricity generation and distribution industry. It has done nothing for its suppliers. It has done nothing for resilience and it has done nothing for capacity. Private sector investment has been so negligible that unless a miracle occurs, electricity demand in the UK will exceed supply capacity before the next generation nukes could be operational, even if they started building the first new nuke today.

"Is it just me, or did privitasation screw this country up completely?"

It's not just you.

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@Michelle Knight

"Nuclear means loads of crap to get rid of"

sorry but technical wrong there is very little volume of waste form a running nuclear plant true what little there is is quite dangerous but in terms of volume the ash form coal is far more and most of it is more radioactive that the low lvl wast form nuclear plants

I agree with the rest of your comments

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FAIL

GULF STREAMZORZ

IDLE COMPARISON #1

WIND:

windmills are unreliable, complicated, unpredictable, inefficient, an eyesore and it is difficult to store the energy they make for when you actually need it (flywheels, megacapacitors and reservoirs should not be considered as they actually make an already inefficient system even more so!)

GULF STREAM:

approx flow rate = 250 * 10^6 cubic metres/sec. gcse physics calculations tell me that to shift 250 million cubic metres (250 billion kilos) of water per second would require about 800 gigawatts. that's 10 times more power than the uk currently produces in total, with output of all power sources combined. plus, it won't look bad on a hillside.

INITIAL CONCULSION:

the gulf stream as a power source would be vast, reliable, and capable of actually making a difference to emissions targets, unlike wind. there are technologies already available that could take advantage of at least some of this massive latent energy source and we should do what we can to take advantage of this, as it's on our freaking doorstep. instead, the government want to invest hundreds of millions building thousands of inefficient windmills on top of the gulf stream, instead of putting turbines in it. even if we only managed to harness 1% of the gulf stream's available energy, it would still beat the shit out of wind power.

FINAL CONCLUSION:

government is full of jerks.

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Heart

@Michelle Knight

No it's not just you.

Now, the CBI, also known as The Lobby for Commerical Self-Interest thinks we should listen to more of their cod-science and cod-economics when deciding how our energy infrastructure should look for the next 50 years.

No thanks, CBI. You've done enough damage. Pack yourselves off to which ever tax haven your money's at and leave us alone, eh?

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Gold badge
Grenade

@Michelle Knight

"As for the trains....."

Ah, you'll be one of these strange people who seems to think that all was rosy in the days of British Rail. How terribly sad.

The only difference these days is that you can now find out exactly how crap a given train service is without going and standing on a piss-stained platform in the peeing rain, listening to the cancellation announcements as they're read out underwater through a crisp packet in serbo-croat (well that's what it bloody sounded like anyway). This level of information availability would assume the minor miracles of both the tannoy system being operational and the workshy git whose job it was to make the announcements actually being around that day.

The sandwiches were better than the service and they were a national joke.

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Dead Vulture

Building yurts by candle light

"The group is worried that government policy does not offer enough juicy subsidies to nuclear power and so-called "clean coal" technology."

You mean - energy sources that actually work?

Perhaps being in business, much of which is the production of material goods, the CBI's members know that keeping the lights on is quite important.

Not something that would ever worry a hippy. You can always weave a basket by the light of the Moon.

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Nationalise El Reg !

Oh yeah, I'd love to live in a country where you could only get food from the State... That sounds awesome. Though I wasn't aware that was the case in Germany and France. Must look up Lidl on Wikipedia..

The State is godawful at running anything. The private sector may not provide utopia, but if it's regulated properly, it's a much better bet than any other party in town. If nothing else, it's much easier for the government to step in with an axe if they're not in charge (see the East Coast mainline shennanigans recently).

I agree with comments about the CBI - they're not known for long term thinking.

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Flame

CBI = architects of today's pensions disaster

Once upon a time, British companies used to have decent pension schemes, so that after a lifetime of wage slavery, employees could look forward to a relatively secure retirement.

Then along came Fat Boy Nigel (or was it Black Tuesday Norman, I forget). At this stage, pensions looked to be "over funded" and the companies didn't like that, there was money there that could be better used e.g. paid to executives or shareholders. So two things happened: the CBI (led by one Digby Jones) member companies started taking "pension holidays" (in the same way as BA are asking their staff to take "wages holidays" now). And the legal rules for pension funds were changed so that the comapnies could say "we're **not allowed** to pay into the fund any more, it's got more than 5(?)% surplus". In other words, daylight robbery of deferred wages was legalised (long before Gordon B Ruin's rule changes re tax on pension funds).

Why should the British taxpayer pay any attention to the CBI now bearing in mind what they've done to the British working taxpayer's hopes of a secure comfortable retirement?

Anyway, all the hot air from the CBI and their mates, that must be worth a GW or two of power surely? Or just burn them and see how many calories that releases, though that's not exactly renewable or low carbon (but nor are coal or gas).

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Anonymous Coward

@Michelle Knight

>Is it just me, or did privitasation screw this country up completely?

Oh great a new era of people who think everything works better when the government does it.

Why don't you just give them all your money and they could even do your shopping for you?

Don't you remember the '70s? Ah.. umm.. well.... can't you at least read about the '70s?

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Flame

Re: @Michelle Knight

"Ah, you'll be one of these strange people who seems to think that all was rosy in the days of British Rail. How terribly sad."

Ah, you'll be one of these strange people who seemed to think that all was going to be rosy when British Rail was privatised. How terribly naive.

The fact is that British Rail, like everything else, was either underfunded, inefficiently managed, or both. The Tory way of dealing with this was to call in their chums at the CBI and say, "Rupert/Digby/Percy, old chum! Take this off our hands, will you?" As a result, the remotely profitable bits were parcelled out to the old boys' network, whereas the taxpayer was saddled with the rest.

Sure, the trains are a bit nicer now than they used to be, and everyone has nicer uniforms so that they can play out some aging Tory's Thomas the Tank Engine fantasy, but maybe the taxpayer would have had better value for money in having British Rail funded and managed properly to begin with, rather than the usual profiteering masquerading as "public/private partnerships" or whatever spin has been applied to the fleecing of the taxpayer.

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Stop

Clean coal.....greenwash!

Four clean coal demonstration plants is a paraphrase for 'we're just going to go ahead and continue with the status quo'.

The only reason 'clean coal' is in the mix is because energy companies are unable to evolve quick enough to adapt to the changes needed due to human induced climate change. My understanding is that carbon capture is not yet proven technology. Pretty big gamble when the ecosystem and planet is the stake.

The answer is tidal, wave, nuclear, hydro (esp pumped storage in conjunction with wind power). And, god help capitalism, maybe a reduction in consumption of energy full stop.*

*Types the man with the home server running 24/7.

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Anonymous Coward

@JonB

No, just an era of people that would like to see surplus being re-invested in to providing services for the people rather than being fed in to shareholders pockets.

It might work just as badly but ... hey ... at least it's OUR service that's running badly ;-)

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Silver badge

@Michelle Knight

No, you're not the only one. There are millions more twits like you out there who have voted the same way you did, and thus caused our current problems.

Enjoy.

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Flame

Pumped storage

Much though I love the pumped storage concept and implementations (eg www.fhc.co.uk), no practical pumped storage implementation is able to meaningfully cope with more than a few minutes (or at very best a few hours) worth of stored electricity on a national scale.

If we do adopt a non-flexible barely-controllable energy source in any significant quantity (and that covers both wind *and* nuclear) then we need something a lot bigger and better than pumped storage. You *have* to use all the electricity a power station produces, and a nuke takes days to warm up and cool down, unlike gas and coal which can run up and down in minutes.

Demand management and more use of off peak electricity might cover part of it. Conversion of electricity to hydrogen and then classic thermal power generation from the stored hydrogen is hardly the most efficient use of the temporarily-surplus energy, but if the excess energy is there (be it wind or nuclear), stored H2 at least allows *some* of the energy to be recovered rather than thrown away. There's also a theory that a huge national fleet of electric cars could store the energy when available and feed it back when needed; technically elegant, politically unlikely.

The answers are many and various, but ending pointless peak-hour commutes to city centre jobs which could easily be telecommuted (which means anything that could be outsourced) is one of them.

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Megaphone

public VS privit

since it seames to have come up I will throw my 2p in the hat

no I would not like to have to buy my food at a state food shop and have no choice but nether would I like to see a privitiezd army fight wars for the best profit of the share holders there needs to be a balance and I think the balance is wrong atm

the problem with a private railway or other utility like power lines or even last mile phone lines is there is no possibility of real competition and therefore those company s become legal monopolies and if we are going to have a monopoly I think it should be one where profits go back to the gov.

just my thoughts

(can we get a 2p button for opinions like these)

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Anonymous Coward

@Tom 13

What .. you meant I voted Conservative ?

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Anonymous Coward

@Michelle Knight

>No, just an era of people that would like to see surplus being re-invested in to

>providing services for the people rather than being fed in to shareholders pockets.

That's what happens when government runs businesses is it?

You really think all this stuff would work better if all services were run as not for profits?

As for investment, what do you think the shareholders have done? Would things be better if they put their money in national savings for a return or would that be deemed too bourgeois? Perhaps they should put their money in overseas accounts or businesses? Are you starting to see what happens? Can you say "Capital Flight"?

Perhaps you could point out the countries where this has happened successfully? Because we tried it in Britain, and we got the winter of discontent.

Always cringe when I hear/see "The People", reminds me of Citizen Smith.

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WTF?

@Tom 13

It's nice to think that now, innit. Just vote for the wrong set of nitwits in office and blame everyone else about it. Since they're all at fault and you apparently know it all, maybe you'll be running for office and fixing it all right up now.

Aye, we feel better already knowing you're on the job. What? Didn't make any difference which set of nitwits was in office at the time. How can that be? I know we voted out the last bunch and there's a new bunch in there!

You can't be telling me they're all lying, cheating, good-for-nothing scum; who, once they've got themselves in office think that it's a playground for their good only.

I'm sorely disappointed.

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Yeah

Anyone who believes in government control is welcome to listen to my stories about travelling in the two Germanies back in the 80s.

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Anonymous Coward

@JonB

Cringe away. No need to look at other countries for examples of public/private differences. You can see what privitisation has done to all our services in this country; NHS included. Fast injections of cash and a load of managers who can't manage, get the services in to trouble, hack off the customers and then get out with golden parachutes leaving an almighty mess behind them.

Railway maintenance not done, costing lives. Supermarkets pushing up our food prices and making record profits in a recession; prices of raw materials such as oil and wholesale fuel prices going down, yet customer bills go up. If this is capitalism, "working," then may the good Lord have mercy on our souls, 'cause the people at the bottom earning a modest average or below average wage, are effectively screwed.

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Anonymous Coward

@JonB

"You really think all this stuff would work better if all services were run as not for profits?"

Do you really think that the desire for profit inexorably leads to greater efficiency (as opposed to mere cuts), and do you really think that efficiency is what we should all be aiming for?

"Are you starting to see what happens?"

Yes. No good can come of shareholder-driven services. Sorry, what was your point? And how about some evidence for your theories? Show we some countries where rank capitalism has lead to better living and happier people.

"Perhaps you could point out the countries where this has happened successfully?"

Well, ceteris paribus and mutatis mutandis to one side: Sweden. The best country in the world.

"Anyone who believes in government control is welcome to listen to my stories about travelling in the two Germanies back in the 80s."

Way to extrapolate from the particular to the general.

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Silver badge

So private enterprise

wants government subsidies. Surely they should be wanting the market to govern things. Unless of course you can make sooo much more by getting the government to pay for things and sod capitalism.

I made the mistake of studying nuclear power at university - should have been a shareholder as they can apparently make it work economically...with subsidies? But don't mention the terrorism problems.

Renewables are several times more expensive than they should be - microchips now have billions of times more transistors on them than in the 60's but solar cells still take 10 years to pay for themselves? Inverters cost 5 times the cost of the(one off) components and no-one seems to have heard of mass-production in them.

Wind generators can be made for the price of the poles most of them are stuck on....

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Silver badge

CBI? who are they?

Are they the ones who demand manufacturing workers like myself have to have 10% pay cuts in order to be 'competative' while the directors have 10% payrises because thats the going market rate?

Anyway back to the power discussion

By 2020 (thats 10 yrs away) most of the UK's nuke plants will have shut down along with coal stations like Drax.

The UK needs a steady supply of electrickery and considering it can take10 yrs to get a power station from a plan to generating power, it looks like we're screwed

The current government does not care about this which is why it wants so many wind farms built because it knows it will be out of power in 12 months time, therefore any power blackouts caused by the wind not blowing can all be neatly blamed on the tories

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Anonymous Coward

Common Sense

If wind power was that great it would have been used for more than just pumping water decades ago on a large scale.

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Anonymous Coward

@Ray0x

technically, you are correct, like with tides, massive amounts of electricity could be extracted from it with what are essentially giant underwater turbines.

However, there is a minor snag. The gulf stream is rather important for maintaining the planet's climate, if you plonk a big generator in the middle of it and start extracting energy, you risk disrupting it, and causing a worldwide climate change.

personally i'd leave it well alone!

this also makes me wonder how 'clean' alternative power really is, energy isn't free! Any energy you extract from the wind slows it down, change it enough and you start to affect the weather! Same with solar, capture enough solar energy and convert it to electricity, and there's that much less of it heating the planet. Admittedly, the amount of heat that the uses of power generate will easily offset this, but as we get more efficient...

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Silver badge

@AC 19:12 (was: @Ray0x)

"However, there is a minor snag. The gulf stream is rather important for maintaining the planet's climate, if you plonk a big generator in the middle of it and start extracting energy, you risk disrupting it, and causing a worldwide climate change."

On top of that, the GulfStream tends to meander about, never following the same track for more than a few days at a time. Where, exactly, would you put the gen-set?

Worse, the GulfStream tends to spin off eddy currents ... "whirlpools", if you will ... causing the current to come from the opposite direction on a regular, if unpredictable, basis. This isn't an unsurmountable obstacle, but does kinda drive the engineering costs up a trifle.

I won't go into the longevity issues involved with electricity, saltwater, metal & oxygen ...

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Energy != Created, != Destroyed

If the amount of energy in a system stays constant and you start using it to drive wind turbines, where do the clouds go?

Using silly figures I know, but if you had a perfect wind turbine and a 10kW wind then you'd get 10kW elctricity at the end, wouldn't you? But what about friction and inertia in the blades, sound (you have actually listened to these [EXPLETIVE DELETED] things close up, haven't you? Puts 'Wailing' Gail Platt on Coronation street to shame!), mechanical losses in the reduction gearing, generator(s) etc, and all the other things the Green Lobby either don't know/have never been warned about or seem to ignore? Suddenly your 10kW of electricity looks more like 6 or 7kW going into the grid... on a very, *very* good day.

And, if you could take all 10kW out of the wind, how are the clouds going to move? People keep on about how Global Warming is going to see us all living under water unless we act NOW! but then thirty seconds later they start bleating about the droughts we've got coming our way...

And now we only have 19-and-a-bit years to Save The World! What, like the edge we'd all fall off if we sailed to the edge of the world, the way we'd suffocate if we tried travelling at more then 25mph, or the way the Earth would disintegrate if anyone actually managed to 'split' the atom?

Here's a little thought for all you "Green" readers out there - if you really are *that* sure we are destroying the Earth, why don't you all go and live in a nice little cave somewhere, without anything you cannot grow yourselves, or make from what you can grow? No more plastics, no metals, woods or fabrics without a lot of hard work and a few years wait, and no more whinging to annoy the rest of us.

I'm all for saving the planet, but how about a reailty check to go with it? Wind farms are not the answer... unless, of course, you live miles away from them - then they look pretty wonderful. Ever looked at a map to see how close the windfarms and their supporters live?

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FAIL

UK energy = 100% Hot air

The solution is to cram all these twits into one room and use the hot air produced to power Gordon's desk fan.

Of course the solution to our energy requirements is to waste more energy producing large scale very expensive white elephants.

In the know means that we don't need any more fat cat dead in the water business solutions, nuclear, unclear, wind-up, or other wise.

Just switch off a coupla car park lights for a start.

ALF

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re:Ray0x6

Not only the gulf stream, but look higher and u have the jet stream as well. Cant remember the total figures, but the avail energy from the gulf stream as it passes over the ukk is at least 10x that of the current total WORLD energy output. The depressing thing is that we arent a level 1 galatic civilisation, and at current levels it is going to be decades, if not centuries, until we can truly harness the power of our world.

With new reactor technologies there is less waste with shorter half lifes, and the germans even have reactors that would run off of the waste that we currently have in storage. Try telling this to the unwashed hippy treehuggers who cant even see past the end of their dirty noses. Daddy left you a nice fat trust fund so you can waste a lot of time constantly whining about the environment, not happy till we are all living in urts, abandon all technology, and suffer a 1 in 100 infant mortality rate, while the rest of us living in the real world have to muster on as best we can, all the while looking for sensible answers to what is almost universally seen as one of the most defining issues that the huma race has ever faced. Nuclear isnt the answer, but it would provide us a nice stop gap until we suss out the true sustainable sources of energy, but the tree hugging twatwits wont allow this.

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Flame

Energy. You can't create or destroy it (1)

"Any energy you extract from the wind slows it down, change it enough and you start to affect the weather! Same with solar, capture enough solar energy and convert it to electricity, and there's that much less of it heating the planet."

Conservation of energy. You may have heard of it.

If you capture solar energy in north africa, ship it to Europe via high voltage electricity (or use it in Africa to create liquid hydrogen which unlike electricity can be stored for meaningful times, and ship the H2 the same way we already ship liquefied natural gas from africa) the net amount of energy heating the planet doesn't change, all you've done is move the energy from North Africa where it isn't needed to Europe (where, in the UK at least, electricity demand will very soon exceed supply).

Flame, 'cos we're going to be heating and cooking on woodstoves again soon in this country. Courtesy of "the market" not having a legal obligation for "continuity of supply" since it was piratised (pre-privatisation, the industry was supposed to "predict and provide", and there was a legal obligation to consider "continuity of supply" ie no California-style rolling blackouts).

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Anonymous Coward

@John Dee

>Do you really think that the desire for profit inexorably leads to greater efficiency

Yes.

>and do you really think that efficiency is what we should all be aiming for?

Yes.

>No good can come of shareholder-driven services.

Eh? Where'd that come from?

>Sorry, what was your point? And how about some evidence for your theories?

I've said already compare Britain of the late 1970's (which I'm pretty sure those of you advocating a return to that utopia don't recall) with now.

I think some of you listened to your teachers whining about their pay levels too much, and thought it constituted a sound political reasoning.

Why do you want someone else to spend your money for you? Are you incapable of making your own choices?

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FAIL

@JonB

> >Do you really think that the desire for profit inexorably leads to greater efficiency

> Yes.

That's rather naive. It's also naive to assume that the market will be set up such that the best way to provide maximal profits is also the best way to provide what the public needs. This is demonstrably not the case with energy supply. For one thing, installed capacity sitting around unused is an inefficient use of capital from a profit perspective, but absolutely vital from the point of view of supply reliability. In fact, there's an impetus for private companies to create energy shortages because then they get to dictate prices, especially on forms of energy that are very quick to run up on demand which means - you guessed it - gas.

> >Sorry, what was your point? And how about some evidence for your theories?

> I've said already compare Britain of the late 1970's (which I'm pretty sure those of you advocating a return to that utopia don't recall) with now.

Sorry, no. Failure of an alternative theory doesn't mean your theory is correct. The fact we're looking at an energy gap now is evidence that your version (as far as I can read it into your comments) is flawed.

I'm not saying that the government should run the industry, but they do have a responsibility to do things that the free market will not do on its own - that is, in fact, their entire raison d'etre.

FAIL, 'cos that's what Labour have done.

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Megaphone

@ Public V Private debate

This looks like a wonderful debate, so I'm sticking my oar in.

I rather think that the reason why the trains have always been rather under par is definately because of a lack of investment in key areas and a lack of motivation in others.

Take our tracks for instance - how old are they all? How old are all the tracks and signals and switch points etc? How much money and time would it take to replace it all?

How do we get uber modern new trains to run on those? I would imagine that part of the reason why other countries have newer trains that us is because their tracks and track infrastructure are newer than ours and their newer trains do not have to be designed specifically to run on old Victorian tracks.

Mind you, saying that, I am not a rail expert or anything so that is just a guess.

So there are the tracks, and then there are the trains. Some of them are quite old, the Virgin ones appear to be nice and new though. The older trains appear to be largely functional having been used since the 70's and refurbished occasionally (just the seat covers mind). They are probably not the problem, as much as the tracks will be.

The tracks are constantly having to be repaired, engineering works divert trains to narrow tracks where the trains have to run slowly every Christmas and Easter, which many people will be familiar with.

So, which bunch of people to blame for not spending lots of money on the tracks etc to replace them all.

You can blame every government since those golden days when you could leave your front door open and when men were men and women were women, and childen got a cuff behind the ear when they so much as cussed or put their elbows on the dinner table.

You can also blame every private company which has failed to meet with all the others and decide to all take responsibility for their bits of track and infrastructure and replace it, and for our governments failing to make them do it and stick to a deadline (well, there again, our governments don't seem to be able to stick to deadlines).

With regard to wind power though - there are many different types of wind turbines including various vertical and spiral ones which are not eyesores and generate power in even weak winds.

Solar power will work, so long as you can make inexpensive panels and you can channel the energy to where you want it; say from Arizona or the Sahara to London (we only get sunshine 3 months out of the year ;) ). Have to wait for a bit for recent solar power discoveries to be commercialised.

Nuclear is fine, but there is a lot of capital needed. Who will pay? Who will pay for the waste management (and or distribution to arms dealers and mad scientists)? Most practical option short term though.

Hydro power is pointless, even exploiting temperature variations out at sea doesn't yield that much energy.

Biofuels - using food as fuel or using habitat and raw material sources as fuel was never going to be human or environment friendly really, and some of it is water intensive (we need water for drinking and growing food etc).

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@MyHeadIsSpinning

Just to pick on one of your points, it is far from clear that alternative turbine designs will solve the fundamental problem with wind power that the current designs suffer from, which is that they have a very low power density - of the order of a few watts per square meter - because when you put turbines closer together, the turbulence they create makes them interfere with each other, dropping efficiency. Wind farms need to be stupidly big to offer the sort of proportion of the energy mix that government (and the BWEA) want us to believe in. Not being an eyesore, and generating power in weak winds, don't help with this.

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Silver badge

@masterpikey

The jet streams have the same undulation & eddy current issues as the Gulf Stream.

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Anonymous Coward

et al.

I'm clearly in the minority here, we can look forward to another glorious socialist utopia.

Again..

It'll be just as good as the '70s one.

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@JonB

Sorry - do you actually have a point, or are you just being contrarian for the sake of it? Nobody (other than you, as a counterpoint) has suggested a return to 70's-style direct state energy control. I'm certainly not suggesting anything remotely like a "socialist utopia."

With that in mind, perhaps you'd like to clarify your position. Specifically, I'm intrigued to know how you think that the free market will a) maximise the stability of energy supply to the consumer, and b) provide the most carbon-free energy supply possible?

Maybe I'm reading you wrong, but it seems to me like you believe that these will happen naturally, without government interference. I don't see it - care to enlighten me?

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