The UK's headlong rush into renewable energy – one ignored by the rest of the world – will hit British jobs and then general incomes, an economic study finds. The report, The Myth of Green Jobs by economist Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University, examines the long-term impacts of subsidising expensive "green" renewable …
Because insulting your ideological opponents is so much better than addressing their arguments.
there's not really much comparison between the theory of evolution, which is virtually scientific fact based on 150+ years of research, and the theory of anthropomorphic-driven climate change, which has lots of correlation but no smoking guns from less than 30 years of research. Even as a skeptic, I'm willing to admit there's a definite possibility that real evidence could show human involvement. I do openly question the degree of human involvement as opposed to solar wind/cosmic rays, volcanos, etc.
"Evolution" is the best explanatory theory we have of speciation. It's rational science.
The global warming hypothesis, on the other hand, depends on the existence of huge unproven positive feedbacks from additional CO2 and methane. These positive feedbacks based on hand-waving but with no empirical support. Climate sensitivity (a doubling of CO2) should increase global temperatures by 0.7C-1C. Observation evidence suggests these may be negative.
Positing anything else is superstition - not rational science.
The difference was probably not explained to you in your Sustainability Classes.
Compared to what
As opposed to the funding of the military industrial sector, where we create lots of useless tat at huge prices per job, like building aircraft carriers with no planes on them.
Green's not cost effective. It's a scam for the "feelgood" set.
See Solyndra ...
It will be cost effective when the oil starts to run out. Investing in alternatives now is not cost-effective in the same way as spending 5 years training to be a doctor is not cost-effective. What you really mean is that it is cash flow negative in the short term.
No, cost-effective means it's retarded
If alternatives only had a 5-year pay back, there would be a lot of people signing up out of genuine interest. Instead, the research highlights the fundamental flaws of the focus on green energy:
1. Ignores renewable sources available today (like hydroelectric)
2. Ignores clean sources which are affordable (like nuclear)
3. Pushes options that aren't reliable (wind) or effective (solar).
Outside of the two options mentioned as ignored options, precisely what other options are cash-flow positive in the long-term, as all the green options pushed today are only approaching feasibility thanks to huge government subsidies.
the oil wouldn't run out.
We have sufficient nuclear fuel to provide energy to the human race for a very, very long time- long enough to get properly into space and so get access to far more sources of energy and materials than we have at the moment.
We have the capability to create artificial petrol using electricity/water/CO2- meaning we can keep cars, trucks and portable generators running without having to start having wars over Lithium.
We have sufficient time to get all this sorted before the oil runs out. We have the technical know-how and personnel in the UK to achieve that.
Renewable power supplies can't provide all of the power needed for this- or if they did, they'd need a lot of further development.
So which course of action would be prudent? Work with the established tech that can sort our current energy woes, or work with the unproven, massively expensive renewables?
Oil running out or not,
This winter's (non-renewable) energy prices went up 18%, while those for renewables stayed the same (wind) or fell (solar), with the geopolitical situation of average stability. And the last winter they did the same. So another year or 5 and renewable energy is actually cheaper.
And manufacturing leaving the UK is usual trend independent of green. You want to keep high-value ones (typically high on design, so relatively low on energy cost vs sales price).
And the targets are EU-wide, so far from a "UK-only obsession".
The only problem with your answer is that the whole "green" industry belongs in research labs and/or unis, not in full-blown corporations. It may or may not become profitable, whereas becoming a doctor has a known tried & true outcome (assuming ability of the individual).
As an example, the shysters who started Solyndra stole megabucks from the American taxpayers, with the intention of making a quick profit. The folks who (ignorantly) went to work for them were further trodden upon (I know 7 or 8 of them, personally) ... Trust me, none of the primary investors at Solyndra lost any money; quite the opposite in fact. Except the U.S. taxpayer, of course.
(I know, I shouldn't be posting when ElReg has DNS problems, but ...)
I think you might be mistaking...
...Green energy with alternative energy.
How many oil fired power stations do we have?
and what do we do for transport if we don't have enough base load capacity? Sorry folks, the train is cancelled because it's not windy enough.
We'd be much better off investing in to nuclear (preferably thorium salt) reactors than the vast majority of these renewable schemes.
"It will be cost effective when the oil starts to run out"
Nuclear power will be cost effective then. To be honest, it could be cost effective now but for the amount of hysteria associated with it.
'Green' power sources have been, are, and likely will always be a terrible, terrible idea in much of the world. The most effective 'renewable' source is Hydro, and that causes colossal ecological damage. Does that count as green? If you're outside of a low-latitude desert or area of active vulcanism, you're stuck with using wind or wave, one of which simply cannot cope with the power demands of a first world country and the other of which probably couldn't either even if anybody could get it to work. Which they can't.
Outside of some sort of solar-powered-hunter-gatherer society (which would require depopulation on an impressively genocidal scale) this sort of system isn't ever going to work. When the oil runs out, people will be screaming for nuclear to heat their houses, power their transport networks, make their TV go. The nuclear NIMBYs will be the first up against the wall when that day comes, and I for one will not be sad if a load of ignorant 'wind will save the world' types are lined up with them.
Your post does seem reasonable. Only that what you think and reality are two different things.. at least in energy related topics..
We do have enough nuclear fuel. Or, better said , we would have if we used breeder reactors, and these are, let's say "not permitted".
Nuclear fuel can't power our cars and trucks/lorries. Obvious reasons. Nor can Lithium, mainly because we don't have enough. Not with current technology.
Some renewables CAN provide all the energy we need, but at a high direct cost. Maybe enough to crash our economies.
As you say, oil won't run out.. it just will be so expensive that noone will be interested in drilling it.
Unproven renewables are more than 40 years old. And they DO work.
The only problem with your answer is that the whole "oil" industry belongs in the Pentagon. How much did the war "on terror" in oil-rich Iraq cost? What about the cost to put that pipeline through Afghanistan in 2001? How much did it cost to "free" the people of oil-rich Libya? How much did the taxpayers front up to support Bahrain's freedom movement - seeking freedom in a country which acquiesces to the US demands for oil to be supplied, and supplied in dollars. The cost of oil is far more than the price at the pump, the spills at sea and the CO2 in the atmosphere.
Ok, that's not the only problem! You're on the internet. It began as a non-profit making taxpayer-funded government exercise and it made the world a heck of a lot better and more efficient. Green tech will do the same.
Cash flow again
Medical school has a longer than 5 year payback period, you know! You don't earn 5 years of fees, rent and books on your first day!
As for alternative energies, they'll all be cash flow positive in the long run, except for nuclear where there is only 80 years of fuel left at current rates. To boot, nuclear is not clean and it produces no more energy during the life of a nuclear power station than it takes to build and decommission the thing, mine the uranium and store it safely for 10,000 years.
If the only options available to us are not reliable then we'll not be able to rely on a 24-hour energy supply. What could be simpler? We used water, wind and solar before we had oil, and we'll use them again after. Are you thinking of telling me that I want a world where we have no oil and can't rely on a never ending supply of cheap energy? "I suppose you'll be happy then" is a common "argument" amongst those who have not considered humanity's near future, because there is no real argument that we can expect anything else.
@Craignes - where did you get that utter tosh
The whole point of Thorium reactors is that there's lots of it (> 1000 year supply of fuel), the byproducts can't be used to make bombs, they have a much shorter half life than a uranium plant (so high level waste needs nothing like the amount of storage) and can be designed to fail safe (a cooling failure will automatically dump the liquid core - via gravity - to safe storage where activity will fall to normal in about 6 hours).
Even uranium reactors produce FAR more power than they take to build and decommission. Most of the time and effort is spent in red tape and approvals.
"You're on the internet. It began as a non-profit making taxpayer-funded government exercise"
Uh ... No. It began as an exercise in developing a research network to research networking. DARPA funding happened probably 18 months after we had the basics figured out and working.
"and it made the world a heck of a lot better and more efficient."
Assumes facts not in evidence.
"Green tech will do the same."
Assumes facts not in evidence.
Step 3 missing
Unfortunately, developing new tech is not like studying to be a doctor. Specifically, you *don't* get to charge exorbitant rents for the rest of your life to anyone else in the world who wants/needs to use what you've developed.
How many times have we seen it? Country A develops technology, Country B continues on its merry way until the mistakes have been discovered and the wrinkles smoothed out, then Country B grabs whatever bits of the technology look best, makes its own improvements, and gains all the benefits for a fraction of the cost. America did it with telephones, Japan did it with cars, Korea with electronics.
It's not necessarily a bad thing. All those examples have made us all better off. But it means that the assumption that there is some kind of positive benefit in the long term needs to be much more closely examined.
@My post, 08:36
Greenies, are you watching? What is left of Solyndra has been raided by the FBI ... About 17 hours ago as I type (close to 11PM Pacific time, Thursday the 8th). Not certain why ElReg hasn't reported on it yet.
So-called "green" is a scam, at best ... and the authorities are starting to figure it out.
2 or 3% of GDP is a small price to pay to if it means we leave a cleaner/habitable enviroment for our descendents. No......
You are right, but most people don't notice the big IF in what you said.
How much money gets wasted on gambling whether the latest economic voodoo has any basis in reality?
Name one economic theory that has consensus among the experts, or an empirical test to confirm or deny its validity.
I see a lot of incomplete data sets (if you can even call them sets) and a lot of hand-waving.
Green energy ignored by the rest of the world...
Do you mean like China with the worlds largest PV manufacturing capacity or like Germany with the largest installed PV base, or Demark who generate up to 20% of peak electricity use with wind, or California or Texas with huge wind investments or Italian geothermal or Brazilian biomass...
I think they mean climate change deniers and the people who think oil is abiogenic.
How's that 'green energy' working out for you?
> China with the worlds largest PV manufacturing capacity
They have the world's largest manufacturing capacity of everything - not just PV. It's because they have millions of degree-qualified young people willing to work for a pittance. And they're happy to supply us with whatever useless junk we want - including solar panels.
> Germany with the largest installed PV base
Despite this, their PV only meets 2% of their demand and has increased their cost / KWHr to 60% above UK prices. They're currently slashing solar subsidies and building 26 coal fired plants to meet demand.
> Demark who generate up to 20% of peak electricity use with wind
They have the most expensive electricity in Europe - over 2x UK prices. Due to the erratic uncontrollable nature of wind farms they have to export 80% of their output to Norway for hydro storage then buy it back at a premium. And despite this - they haven't closed a single conventional power station - on the contrary they need more to backup the intermittent wind output.
Brazilian Biomass? Currently contributing to massive forest clearance and surging food prices as subsidized fuel crops replace essential food crops.
This is what you get when you put know-nothing eco-alarmists and climate profiteers in charge of energy policy.
You mean the same China that's exporting those PV panels (which are made at a huge energy cost) to Western feelgood types whilst at the same time burning huge amounts of coal for power? That China? Or how about the Brazilian biomass, green energy coming from a country that's destroying the rainforest at an alarming rate. Would those be the same Danes that pay the highest residual electricity prices in the EU?
Not doubting anyone's figures
But the argument seemed to switch in an instant from 'wind power does not work' to 'the Danes make wind power work for them but their electricity is expensive' which is not quite the same thing.
Is wind power buffered by hydro a workable option? Is it a workable option here given UK geography?
How much would energy prices have to rise to make it economically viable?
@Jolyon - you seem to have an odd definition of "make it work"
A system that costs twice as much while not reducing the amount of conventional plant is "making it work"?
The biggest pumped storage system in the world is in the USA, and with a capacity of 2772 MW it can replace the output of one nuclear plant for about 2-3 hours. Nowhere near enough capacity to fill in for lulls in the wind.
For the reply, Steve.
I assumed that the Danes have also increased demand so if they have managed to supply that with wind power rather than any other sort then wind for them is working (maybe not well or efficiently but to some extent).
I'm just trying to get a handle on this issue which is nigh on impossible with opinions polarised as they are.
Now, let me ask the Reg readers if I should buy an Apple laptop . . .
Until, the US, India and China do something meaningful to reduce their CO2 emissions, then anything the UK does is utterly meaningless. If the UK ceased to exist today, then the change in emissions would hardly be noticeable. In my view the only green energy worth pursuing is a River Seven tidal power station and thorium nuclear reactors. The trouble with a lot of these green hippies is that they will not be content until we are living in some mythical golden times akin to middle ages peasants, which actually never existed. However the real problem is never addressed, which is over population. How well do hippies burn?
Your mischaracterisation of the environmentalists' pint of view shows that you don't read much from them. Incidentally, China is the leading country in thorium energy. Until the "Green energy...pfft" people do something meaningful to get a clue we'll have to read views like yours. How well do you decompose into methane and compost?
Re: Green energy...pfft
"In my view the only green energy worth pursuing is a River Seven tidal power station..."
Severn Estuary. At least learn what it is called and how to spell it. The jury is out on whether such megaprojects really produce the claimed benefits, but it's certainly one way to blow a ton of money in the direction of some very big companies.
"...and thorium nuclear reactors."
Is that only worth it because that's what everyone else is saying?
"The trouble with a lot of these green hippies is that they will not be content until we are living in some mythical golden times akin to middle ages peasants"
Yeah, yeah: the author of the article already had to bring North Korea into it because there's nothing like comparing even moderate "greens" with totalitarian regimes, and likening green policy to the consequences of half a century's worth of mass persecution, government-induced famine and the complete subservience of a nation to its military elite. Either that, or a strawman was needed to make the economic argument work. Either way, we're looking at juvenile point-scoring - hardly surprising given the title of the piece, really.
(Of course, North Korea also happens to be investing in nuclear power, when they can get their hands on the right gear, some of the technology concerned actually originating from Britain.)
"If the UK ceased to exist today, then the change in emissions would hardly be noticeable."
Not at all my friend, a lot of the emissions from people 'concerned' about Global warming would go.
Oh, you meant gas emissions rather than holier than thou waffle? Gotcha, I withdraw my correction!
If everyone sits around saying "No, after you" and "No, really, after you" then we will all choke to death in a politeness contest. I don't agree with the UK's policy (wind is a waste of money, nuclear would be better) but it is at least something. I'd also like to see parliament lead by example (pfft, like that'll happen).
Just because the USA is an arse when it comes to the environment (and social welfare, and foreign policy) doesn't mean that we have to be.
Sustainable unemployment and hyper-inflation
Subsidies never create SUSTAINABLE jobs - whether these be green or otherwise.
Likewise taxes usually destroy jobs. So, why have green taxes?
The oil and gas industry is not sustainable, nor is the current system of agriculture. Green taxes can force industries to move toward a sustainable model which the free market does not impose, and by definition this will lead to greater prosperity in the long term. Improvements in production methods destroy jobs, but that doesn't mean they're a bad thing. If green taxes destroy jobs in industries which destroy the environment, and therefore future people's ability to feed themselves, then it's not a bad thing. Unless you feel happy about using the legacy bequeathed you by past generations in order to steal from future generations, that is.
taxes not always bad
Taxes create jobs in teaching which are sustainable within a population willing to continue voting for taxes needed to pay for state-funded education and the high-value, high-skill jobs which result from schooling compared to illiteracy. So not all taxes destroy jobs QED. A few societies prefer illiteracy to taxes for this purpose - I suggest you go visit such a place to see what it's like living there, but I don't think you'll want to stay long.
As you say, subsidies are not sustainable, to the extent an electorate is very likely to vote their discontinuation. Therefore it follows that green taxes which correct subsidies paid by the rest of society to polluters of the entire environment correct this imbalance within the economy caused by the free ride given to polluters at everyone else's expense. There isn't a better mechanism than green taxes to correct this subsidy in connection with C02 pollution, because we all generate this in different amounts and every act of pollution affects everyone else. As another commenter has pointed out, better to turn the tap off at source than plug a billion leaks elsewhere, so taxing large scale production and supply of fossil fuels does the job more efficiently than any other approach to ending this subsidy.
Re: taxes not always bad
"There isn't a better mechanism than green taxes to correct this subsidy... taxing large scale production and supply of fossil fuels does the job more efficiently than any other approach to ending this subsidy."
Will the last person to leave turn out the lights?
Oh wait we won't need to turn out the lights.....
Ah, the entirely impartial Global Warming Policy Foundation
I think the warning bells start ringing immediately you see their front page which refers to CERN with such respect for its scientific credibility: "its white-coated priesthood commands immense deference from the faithful". It's a bit like reading Lewis Page on nuclear power.
We're stuck with perpetually increasing prices for conventional energy too - as well as the political and security problems that come from precarious and/or potentially hostile sources of supply. A significant part of our defence expenditure is tied up in the Middle East and BP hasn't exactly been getting the commercial benefit it expected from its Russian operations, costs which really ought to be factored into the true economics of fossil fuels.
That's not to say that wind power and solar pv aren't distractions: without massive instantaneous overprovision or some sort of storage capability they just don't cut it as engineering solutions even before the cost is considered. Continued dependence on imported oil and gas don't cut it as eonomic or political solutions either, though.
Perhaps unfortunately, given the rate at which existing generating capacity is reaching the end of its life, there is no UK "headlong rush" into anything. Although policy is currently pro-renewable, wind farms are being fought over one by one in planning enquiries and the subsidies on solar farms have already been cut back: the development of "renewable energy" is hardly racing ahead despite the misplaced enthusiasm of its supporters and the exaggerated howls of its detractors.
There are a number of potentially more effective renewable schemes (tidal barrages or hydro - there's plenty of rain in the Lake District) but they're essentially barred on environmental grounds. And that's in the end why we are doomed to expensive power - we can't compete with countries that are prepared to relocate over a million residents to make way for a dam.
Missing the point
Did the report consider consumer driven micro-generation? I don't see the government allowing me to have a mini-nuclear reactor buried under my house any time soon but I can buy a ground source heat pump.
Ground source heat pump
A heat pump doesn't generate electricity, it consumes electricity.
...tends to be inefficient. And what is the impact of hordes of people sucking the heat out of the ground? Use less and have less people on the planet - simple answers.
A heat pump moves heat from one place to another. Ideally, it moves rather more joules of heat than the amount of electricity fed to it and discharges the inevitable waste heat at the hot end. By heating your home with heat from the ground or air outside, as opposed to heat produced by gas or electricity, there is a net reduction in energy consumption.
This does mean, of course, that "outside" gets colder.
fallacious argument proved wrong long time ago
Can't see any fundamental difference between this argument and that of the Victorian mill owner who argued that manufacturing his chemicals would be cheaper leading to more jobs if he didn't have to pay the cleanup cost of his effluent which poisoned a fishery downstream. When the inheritor of his business was forced to do this in the last century, it didn't prevent chemicals being produced, but it did enable them to be produced with more realistic costs picked up by the purchasers and not the environment (and loss if fishery jobs). Economists call the costs shifted off the balance sheets of the party responsible for them and onto other parties externalities.
There are limits to how many jobs you want or need in automated manufacturing, the energy production sector or mechanised agriculture anyway due to limits to the amount of food, manufactured stuff and energy people will ever really want or need - with the rest of jobs (most jobs since the late 1950ies in the UK) having to be in services. Having higher quality production in these areas rather than just more production based upon shorter product life and higher wastage makes us all better off, so the analysis in this article is directed at encouraging optimisations we don't need at the expense of optimisations we do need.
CO2 = Poisonous Effluent ? Srsly?
CO2 is a natural trace gas essential for all life on Earth. Plants stop growing and die if CO2 drops below 200ppm. Growth rate increases up to 1500ppm. Current atmospheric levels are only 390ppm. Natural sources are responsible for 96% of annual CO2 emissions. If man-made CO2 has been responsible for some of the mild warming seen last century then it's undoubtedly a good thing: Milder weather, longer growing seasons, less deaths from the cold. We haven't had it this good since the Medieval Warm Period.
Rather than compare the current situation to toxic waste pollution, how about you demonstrate why the argument is fallacious (also a date for how long ago it was disproved and by whom would help). No need to oversensationalize just to bitch and moan (though typical).
The real point is that green energy is so unaffordable now (and for the foreseeable future) that the subsidies required will eventually cause a net job loss effect on the whole economy. It's all the externalities you refer to regarding how to make green energy affordable now that's the cause of that.
But then you hit a wall...
The fewer people you need for work, the fewer people you can employ. It's like having a 100,000 eligible workers (which is growing due to lack of population controls) and only 80,000 practical jobs available (which is shrinking due to increased efficiencies). With all other markets already balanced, and barring a market disruptor, where do you reach the point where you realize you have a grossly imbalanced labor system?