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back to article Gov: How can renewable power peddlers take on UK's Big 6?

The government is seeking views on how it can reduce the barriers to entry in the electricity market for smaller renewable energy generators. The call for evidence follows reports that these companies are finding it harder to obtain guarantees that companies will purchase their power. The government has published a call for …

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Anonymous Coward

Deregulate nuclear?

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Anonymous Coward

Erm. Hang on an minute,

"these companies are finding it harder to obtain guarantees that companies will purchase their power"

How about "being competitive".

I don't particularly want to be forced to prop up someone's crap business model.

I wish I could arbitrarily force people to buy my stuff... that'd make business a doddle.

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Silver badge

Re: Erm. Hang on an minute,

"I don't particularly want to be forced to prop up someone's crap business model"

Sorry to burst your bubble, but what you as a taxpayer want counts for nothing, and what the Retards of Westminster want is what will prevail. And they in turn listen to the comically titled Department for Energy and Climate Change, which is stuffed full of beards and sandals, looking to price British industry offshore, and to chase away the carbon bogeyman.

It's worth noting the nonsense that is peddled in support of this green energy cobblers, and is very influential at places like DECC. Take, for example the Renewable Energy Association who claim that green power will support 400,000 new jobs in the UK by 2020.

http://www.r-e-a.net/news/report-on-employment-and-skills-in-the-uk-renewable-energy-sector-to-be-launched-with-greg-barker

That'll certainly help the economy, I'm sure. You don't mind paying to save the planet, do you?

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Anonymous Coward

Simple

If the "green" energy producers produce energy that is at least as cheap and as reliable (ie available) as other energy sources then distributors will buy it.

On the other hand, if it is more expensive and unreliable then they won't.

Of course the government could always force the distributors to buy it at a higher price than other suppliers. Oh, hold on, that is what they already do and as a result your electricity costs are currently 14% higher than they need to be. But that doesn't matter as it simply transfers money from the pockets of the poor to the landed gentry.

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"low carbon power"

Which is shorthand for reduced CO2, although no-one has substantiated a link between man-made CO2 output and whatever you care to believe about climate change. So much is predicated on this that no-one dares discuss it, in case it turns out to be false hypothesis. If it wasn't such a cliché, I'd say it was the elephant in the room...

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Climate Change

Care to clarify what you mean, or not mean, by substantiated?

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Is there an echo in here?

Yup, cos it's me. If it's not economically viable, you don't do it. You sure as hell don't subsidise it. When are we going to find politicians who have a basic grasp of economics? Green policies are all fine and dandy, but when we're talking about whether or not people can actually afford electricity I find it repugnant that we're still discussing them at all.

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Joke

power pedallers

like this?

http://hyperscalecomputing.org/2012/06/30/bicycle-powered-arm-servers/

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Headmaster

You can already buy 'green' tariffs from the big firms that subsidise green energy more than conventional tariffs. Also, you can slice off your testicles and offer them as a sacrifice to Mother Nature. That makes marginally more sense than buying a green tariff.

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Bronze badge

Pairing with storage providers

Perhaps what's really needed is a means to link up providers of renewable energy with suppliers of storage so that renewable energy - wind and solar - can be provided reliably when it's needed. Its variability is the main reason why it is difficult and often inefficient to integrate it into the grid. The shortfall, when consumers want power and renewables aren't available, is met mostly from short-term gas turbines or by modulating the output from large-scale generators. Neither of these approaches is particularly efficient or 'carbon friendly'.

Unfortunately, pumped-hydro is the only real storage option presently available. The round trip, generator to hydro, hydro to consumer is only about 70% efficient and reservoirs are by no means cheap to build. Off-peak energy is already available for overnight top-ups from spare baseload capacity and it is with this that renewables need to compete.

Pyrolysis of waste into biochar, which can be saved for winter, biofuel and syngas might provide an alternative way to store energy from intermittent sources. But this isn't fully developed yet and much of the waste stream is already sent through heavily funded incinerators on long-term contracts.

In the meantime, unless the system is to be hugely biased, renewables have to compete against off-peak power. In this respect wind-, sun-, wave- and tide-power in the UK seem to me to be largely uncompetitive in both cost and environmental terms in comparison with nuclear.

I'm all for having a diverse mix of supply and for research into alternatives but let's provide the base-load capacity cheaply and effficiently first.

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Happy

Low Carbon Power

That'll be Nuclear then!

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Coat

Heads in sand - all of you!

So we're waiting for the oil to run out before we think about renewable alternatives?

(or at least get too expensive, which is about now given all the 'horizontal drilling' n stuff)

When youre sitting in your front room , in the dark, freezing your tits off , licking out the last can of dogfood and hoping the furniture barricading the doors holds off those less fortunate you'll be saying:

"D'oh , if only we'd built some solar panels"

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Re: Heads in sand - all of you!

You mean "If only we'd built the nuclear power plants", as solar cannot even get close to your domestic demand. Industrial and transport? Pah!

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Re: Heads in sand - all of you!

correct Richard , I was just using "solar panels" as a euphamism for some happy, dreamworld , la la land , fits all solution.

Many Nuclear plants right now is our best bet .

Unfortunately last time this came up mr blair thought otherwise and knocked 3 of them back

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Re: Heads in sand - all of you!

"When youre sitting in your front room , in the dark, freezing your tits off , licking out the last can of dogfood and hoping the furniture barricading the doors holds off those less fortunate you'll be saying: "D'oh , if only we'd built some solar panels"

I think you'll find that if you're sitting in the dark, your solar panels are probably not going to be helping you even if you've built them. Arguably the problem is we're currently building half a solution, in that renewables are almost universally intermittent, and instead of spending billions on subisides for big companies building wind farms at the moment, we should be spending on research into industrial scale energy storage.

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Level Playing Field

I'd say a level playing field would be nice. My information is a bit old, but wasn't it the case that the grid *had* to buy all nuclear power before it could buy other types?

Until recently, if you generated some power at home, you could sell it back to the grid for a pittance, yet get charged the full retail value for it if you used it off the grid. It wasn't worth generating small amounts because it would never pay any money at all. Even now, unless you're on the government solar programme, it's nigh on impossible to "do a good thing" and sell your excess energy.

I don't have all the answers, but in my world, I'd like to see domestic generators basically get to wind their meters backwards. If they're paying £10 a unit, then they earn £10 a unit for putting power back into the grid.

Once you stop being domestic and start being a real generator, then it's got to be worth your while. The likes of nuclear and even coal and gas power stations were built with government money and their debts are government backed and so they have low operating costs. There's no way an independent can compete with that unless it's subsidised in some way. Either there has to be a "we'll guarantee to buy X from you" sort of arrangement (like there is/was for nuclear), or else there's got to be "we'll pay the difference" sort of monetary subsidy for smaller producers.

It's no wonder there's only one electricity company in the UK that only buys non-green power if it's run out of green stuff. It's also the only company that only invests in green power with it's profits. Sure, you can buy "green" from Eon, Npower, etc, but what you're actually getting maybe 1% green and 99% coal, with no provision for more in the future. Perhaps forcing the big 6 to actually have green tariffs rather than scams would be a way to level the field?

What I do know with certainty is that all the regulation and deregulation in the industry has had, and will continue to have unseen effects that will be negative for the most part. Change is good because it will at least give a different set of people a crack at the whip.

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Boffin

Re: Level Playing Field

A level playing field sounds like a great idea, as well as being very unlikely any time soon. There's just too much politics involved. All forms of generation are subsidised one way or another by various parties. Some subsidies, e.g. feed in tariffs, are paid by increasing electricity bills for everyone. Others get onto your property insurance, e.g. the costs of increasingly weird weather and flood damage. Other major subsidies concern public investment in nuclear research and the uninsured losses suffered by Fukushima and Chernobyl evacuees or limited taxpayer funded compensations offered them. If you expect the nuclear operators to cover such risks, you'd have to do without nuclear power, which would increase coal burn and weirder weather with insufficient justification.

That said, the kind of spot market appropriate for massive generators probably isn't suitable for domestic generators. E.G. I'm likely to change my gas boiler for a CHP one, so I can get more out of the gas supply, but only if I get a sensible price for the electricity generated when the primary motivation for running the boiler is to heat my house. Having to compete within an unstable spot market appropriate to very large generators wouldn't help me to do the calculations as to whether a more expensive gas installation is worth doing. If there is to be a social policy to minimise wastage of energy used to to heat homes and maximise use of this energy, then political intervention would be appropriate at least to kickstart this market opportunity if not in the longer term.

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Re: Level Playing Field

Good idea, except that's not how the FITs work.

Domestic FITs are quite simple:

You get paid a fixed price that's several times the "end customer" rate for every kWh you generate, regardless of whether you consume it yourself or not. Then you get an added kickback for 50% of whatever you generated at another fixed price that's just under the generation market rate, because they don't think it's worth metering what you actually export to the Grid.

The upshot is that Granny and people in rented accommodation are subsidizing the landed gentry.

Industrial FITs scale down the rate a bit, but it's still way above.

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