back to article Tory minister: Let's exploit our rich resource of mud, er, wind

Britain would be "mad" not to make strategic use of its rich natural resource of mud, a government minister has said. "We can't afford not to exploit this," said Charles Hendry (Con, High Peak) who proposed that public infrastructure should exploit the naturally abundant material, and rediscover techniques that use it, such as …

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wind farms...

...are such a load of hot air.

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Mushroom

Wind would have worked wonderfully this morning

Everyone turning on lights this morning as the fog and low cloud made it quite gloomy. But all the wind power could suppliment this requirment, except of course the fog was due to no wind. Nuclear is the only reasonable and reliable solution in a non-fossil fuel world.

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Mud? What about poo?

Cow poo could be used to heat houses too, it burns quite well when dried out. There's an abundance near my house.

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Happy

Re: Mud? What about poo?

As in BS? Imagine how much potential energy we could harness after each management meeting!

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Unhappy

Sigh.

Orlowski - alternative energy is a waste of time.

Page - Global warming is a myth.

Look, could you please put the names of the authors on the front page, so I don't have to waste my time clickiing on articles which are going to say nothing except repeating the author's prejudices?

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"Other than a wealth redistribution scheme from the poor to the rich - what exactly is the point?"

Of what ?

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Down votes..

..interesting concept - down voting a question. An answer being down-voted I can understand, but I thought I was actually asking a fairly easy question about a sentence I didn't understand...

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@ Tim

Of Windfarms Tim.

They increase the cost of Leccy to the users, and take up our taxes just to distribute the gains to their investors.

Global warming is no myth, but windfarms being commercialy viable is.

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Re: @ Tim

"Of Windfarms Tim."

Well I rather hoped it was, but it sounded like the scope of the vitriol had widened significantly by the end of the article... I wondered whether Andrew might clarify.

"Global warming is no myth, but windfarms being commercialy viable is."

I completely agree - wind power has it uses in certain situations, e.g. isolated areas, farms etc, but a huge mistake for national power supply.

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I hope you're not implying that the green energy market is saturated with people making a quick buck at the expense and fear of climate change, while the people trying to make a proper difference are squeezed out and marginalised.

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Unhappy

why not? One of the local doomsayers has just bought an island which will be drowned if his prognostications of sea level rise are true.

What was the saying ? "90% of everything is crap ?"

More so if internet , pollies or SIFs involved

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Give it a rest

Suggest you start your articles with 'foldee-roll' in future.

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Using the same argument....

....there appears to be rich supply of bullshit in Westminster. We should be using that for something.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Using the same argument....

And the politicos are often quite fat too, would burn nicely in a bio-fuled power station.

(worthwhile article Andrew, or so I thought)

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Pence per watt, nothing else matters. Environmental effects have a mitigation cost that you include in those pence. As do fuel shortages. As does everything else.

I once priced up a small top-of-the-range "home" wind-turbine that I saw in B&Q. The thing was as big as my car. It required planning permission to install. It required electrical expertise that involves calling in your electricity company. It cost more than I've ever paid for anything, ever, except my house.

I worked out that, at theoretical maximum output, you could probably pay its costs back by "savings" on your electricity within about 30-35 years, if you INCLUDED subsidies and took into account how much it would cost to install (even based on doing as much as possible yourself). It had a design life and warranty for 5 years (and considering it would have to weather outside storms for more than 5 years and not degrade it's production capacity in that time one iota, it was unlikely to last). So if I ran the thing for the majority of my adult life, in a force-9 gale that didn't damage it, I would just about break even, even if I included the subsidies in my utopian wind-generating environment. Me blowing on a pound-shop cooling fan, or winding up a "clockwork" torch, was actually more profitable per watt.

Sadly, those figures pretty much match up to everything else I've seen deployed from small ones on boats to huge ones in fields in Belgium. You can make money off them - if you ignore most of the actual costs (i.e. where the hell did you get that plastic from and how would you do that if we'd run out of oil?), run them for decades and have the government pay you lots of money for doing so. Otherwise, it's a complete waste.

Pence per watt. The reason our electricity keeps going up is partly oil-price rises and partly these nutty schemes that actually make things worse. I've always wondered what the pence-per-watt would be in a country entirely powered by nuclear.

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Anonymous Coward

The company...

...producing those home turbines collapsed in a heap amid rumours of staff not getting paid and (allegedly) dodgy dealings by the boss. (Personal knowledge, hence AC)

Whenever there's government money to be had, there will be a crowd of hangers-on, "entrepreneurs", consultants and associated meeters, greeters and tweeters. These people make a lot of noise, promise much and deliver... well.

Only the scale is different. Let's revisit the wind farm question in another 20 years or so, hey?

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Coat

@Lee Dowling

Firstly, to be technically correct (the best kind of correct) you mean 'pence per joule'.

Secondly, as you've "always wondered what the pence-per-watt would be in a country entirely powered by nuclear" you might like to know that, before taxes, a kWh of 'leccy is €0.0475 in Paris, and €0.1037 in London.

http://www.e-control.at/portal/page/portal/medienbibliothek/presse/dokumente/pdfs/HEPI_Juni_englisch_Final.pdf

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FAIL

Please, please try and remember!

"What politicians say doesn't have to make sense, it simply has to win votes"

The government at the moment needs to win "Green" votes, so just ignore the cost and stupidity, as they are irrelevant.

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Is this the Daily Mail?

What else are you supposed to do with resources? A better jibe might have been a reference to Dilbert's Elbonia but seeks to make use of resources such as dampness.

Yes, there is cross-subsidy of renewables just as there is cross-subsidy for nuclear. The decision to go with renewables is a political one based on the expected shortage of affordable conventional fuel; the costs and risks associated with nuclear; and the debatable risks of climate change. Independence from fossil fuels has been a political aim since the oil crisis of the 1970s. Peak North Sea oil has passed and the availability from other sources such as tar sands, the Arctic or extremely deep sea is dependent upon a high price and political stability. Shale gas is indeed a welcome introduction to the gas market, not least because it breaks the bond between the price of oil and the price of gas.

If you want some really large figures you might take Germany as example: around € 100 billion has been made available to renewables via the feed-in tariff with solar being the disproportionate beneficiary. However, future price rises are no longer likely to be due to feed-in tariffs but to exceptions given to industry including coal mining! Due to drastic cutbacks in tariffs last year the projected cost of more solar in 2012 is 0.06 %, exceptions 0.6 % Germany is ahead of its renewables target, primarily through wind generation which is already below the spot price from gas powered stations with the difference likely to grow as the price of gas goes up.

When comparing such figures it is important to factor in the subsidies available to the other generators: coal is subsidised as is nuclear and no one really knows what decommissioning and storage nuclear waster will cost.

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Re: Is this the Daily Mail?

Spot price?

The more wind power is deployed the more the spot price will fall when the wind is blowing and rise when it isn't. It will bugger up its own economics.

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WTF?

Re: Is this the Daily Mail?

"If you want some really large figures you might take Germany as example: around € 100 billion has been made available to renewables via the feed-in tariff with solar being the disproportionate beneficiary. However, future price rises are no longer likely to be due to feed-in tariffs but to exceptions given to industry including coal mining! Due to drastic cutbacks in tariffs last year the projected cost of more solar in 2012 is 0.06 %, exceptions 0.6 % Germany is ahead of its renewables target, primarily through wind generation which is already below the spot price from gas powered stations with the difference likely to grow as the price of gas goes up."

What was the point of this paragraph? What the hell are you even talking about?

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WTF?

spot price falling

"The more wind power is deployed the more the spot price will fall "

It's called economies of scale. Wasn't the complaint that wind was too expensive and small scale ? You can't please some people.

"when the wind is blowing and rise when it isn't."

Which puts a premium on storage, making it economic to upgrade hydro and dual purpose paired water supply dams, and ship electricity from the west of Ireland, where they plan to combine the 2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_of_Ireland

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Re: spot price falling

Not economies of scale at all. It's called demand and supply. It's quite obvious if you don't chop my sentence in two at that point.

As to your second point, what you really mean is that you can't work out the true costs for wind power unless you factor in storage costs too.

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Re: Re: Is this the Daily Mail?

The point of the paragraph, and I agree it's a bit convoluted, is that in Germany, which pioneered feed-in tariffs and has already shovelled billions in subsidies to renewables, future increases in the price of electricity will not be due to the growing capacity of renewables, even the money pit that is solar. That is good news.

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Re: Re: spot price falling

The spot price is determined by the most expensive form of electricity - wind is already cheaper than gas (on the spot market where the price of gas is coupled to the price of oil)- this is indeed going to favour storage systems over gas for servicing the spot market. The feed-in tariff for wind guarantees the minimum price paid which has been a subsidy thus far. Now that this is below the spot price increased demand will reward investors in wind without increasing the subsidy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is this the Daily Mail?

Errr, the German's massively (even by our standards) subsidise "green" energy.

While I tend to avoid Andrew and Lewis' opinion pieces, I think Andrew's "green energy sucks" articles are pretty good. He normally quotes sources and his figures make sense to me in a way that the green advocates don't.

I'm really looking forward to the first "green company x sues green company y for building a wind station upwind of an existing wind station" article.

Don't get me wrong, I want green energy: nuclear. Nuclear power stations can be safe, clean and provide us with the power we need. They lack about 40 years worth of research due to politics and fuck ups but that can be made up.

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Re: Re: Re: spot price falling

http://www.ilexenergy.com/pages/documents/reports/renewables/Intermittency%20Public%20Report%202_0.pdf

When the wind blows hard the spot price will fall. It could even go negative according to the above report as wind farms compete to slurp up the juicy ROC payments. Now if companies being willing to pay to put their electricity on the grid isn't a sign of a twisted market then I don't know what is.

Without the ROCs the situation would be exactly as I described. Leccy would sell for next to nothing when the wind is blowing and the price would rocket when it isn't.

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Buh - very funny.

Even though I agree that Hendry is talking arse-mud it's a daft title for the article.

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Boffin

Dear Andrew

Please look up the logical fallacies of "Appeal to Ridicule" and "Straw Man".

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-ridicule.html

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/straw-man.html

Thank you.

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Alert

Re: Dear Andrew

Following up to myself simply to say: "Blimey, I'm amazed that comment didn't get blocked!"

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Pint

Re: Dear Andrew

No amount of posting links to common fallacies will stop it being true that wind generation is nothing more than a very expensive extra add on to a fossil and nuclear generating capacity which can (and often does have to) generate all of our power.

The main impact of wind turbines has been to distract politicians for a decade or more from cracking on with replacing more fossil fuel plants with new nuclear installations - the only technology capable of dramatically cutting greenhouse emissions whilst providing power when we need it for a price most of us can afford.

So, rather than helping, wind turbines have been responsible for preserving our reliance on fossil fuels.

A handful of green thinkers keep pointing this out, but they are branded heretics because they don't stay on message with the usual greenwash.

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Bollocks

"coal - which the UK can exploit for several hundred years using current technology." NOT.

UK coal production peaked in 1913. Its decline since then is due as much to seams being worked out as to changes in technology and the fuel du jour. At current usage rates in 2008 there were said to be 250-300 years global reserves of coal.

- New Scientist, vol 197, no 2639, 19 Jan 2008 page 38

Those global reserves are known to be overestimates, but lets use them. The kicker is 'at current usage rates' : kick in a 2% year-on year increase and suddenly all that coal will be gone in 80 years. Now consider that the reserves are over-estimates and that annual usage growth probably exceeds 2% and where's your "several hundred years of coal for the UK" gone, Andrew?

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We could of course extract the heat from the mud with GSHP's.

(were it not, unfortunately, massively expensive)

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Linux

Clean Energy??? Mud??'

There is really only one suitable refrain to all this....

See: http://youtu.be/Vt6xGqk0F0U

.... Mud, mud, glorious mud

Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood

So follow me follow, down to the hollow

And there let me wallow in glorious mud

(With apologies to Messr's Flanders & Swann!)

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this subject really winds me up

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Coat

Myself, ...

... I think it gets spun up all out of proportion.

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FAIL

Nonsense article for backward people

Another BS article from a clueless author who just wants to push his silly agenda.

Of course wind energy (like most forms of renewable energy) are heavily subsidized, like all newish technologies which only over time improve in efficiency and reliability so that the costs come down. This is only true if there are investments in these technologies, though. And not to forget that one aim of renewables is to reduce the negative effects on the environment, which should be worth some cost to the general public.

What Orlowski ignores is that it's not just renewable energy which is subsidized. Nuclear is heavily subsidized as well (the stupid example that is regularly brought up which compares kWh prices in the UK and France completely ignores the fact that the French nuclear industry receives lavish subsidies through general taxation; without subsidies the real cost of nuclear power would be more in the region of EUR1.30 to EUR1.80 per kWh), as are coal and gas. £1bn is nothing compared to the amounts of 'support' the nuclear industry benefits from.

This aside, while nuclear power plants probably can be built with a decent level of safety, the related industry branches have repeatedly demonstrated that they are always prepared to sacrifice public safety over cost saving, and that they are inherently ruthless and untrustworthy. Which, considering the potential harm that nuclear technology can do, is a real real bad thing.

Here's a chance to become a leader in an industry with probably the highest potential for enormous growth within the next decades. However, backward and ignorant thinking as demonstrated by Orlowski and some of the consumer cattle here will make sure that it will be other countries which benefit from a growing renewable energy industry, and again the UK will be left behind as it is already in so many other areas.

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WTF?

Re: Nonsense article for backward people

"f course wind energy (like most forms of renewable energy) are heavily subsidized, like all newish technologies which only over time improve in efficiency and reliability so that the costs come down. "

No developments in efficiency will make the wind blow at the times when we need electricity the most.

[BS about nuclear safety not even worthy of a reply]

"Here's a chance to become a leader in an industry with probably the highest potential for enormous growth within the next decades."

We don't even make the wind turbines in the UK, we just subsidise them. So let me rearrange your words to make some sense: here's a chance to be leading the table of lowest economic growth for the next few decades.

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