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back to article Osborne accused of derailing UK.gov's green dream

The UK Treasury is accused of dropping an oil slick in the way of the government's Energy Bill, a draft law to lower carbon use and make Blighty more energy efficient. MPs on the influential Energy and Climate Change Committee said the proposed legislation was "unworkable" because the country's penny counters have refused to …

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SOMEONE had to derail it...

"..The UK Treasury is accused of dropping an oil slick in the way of the government's Energy Bill, a draft law to lower carbon use and make Blighty more energy efficient...."

As the law stands, it will bankrupt the UK. For no reason....

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Re: SOMEONE had to derail it...

Correct!

There is a cheaper way to meet our 2030 CO2 targets and grow the economy but this would effect many so called green companies like "TMO Renewables" is Mr Tim Yeo the chairman still ?

Please note we will be going gas for electricity generation (currently there is no other affordable source), and large quantities of this will come from places like Canada where it will come from fracked sources. So the real question is, Do we want as a country to profit from our own Gas, where we control the regulation or do we want to leave this to others.

According to reports on what is contained in the NEW "British Geologic Survey" we have more gas than has been reported in this country so far. If Germany can frack gas safely for many years then we can, it's time for the government to find out and perform the work (and science) necessary to identify what the facts are.

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Mushroom

Re: SOMEONE had to derail it...

Anthony Watts has just announced that he has completed a paper studying the weather station data of the US. He uses a new, WMO-approved adjustment process (the Leroy technique) and shows, using this more detailed analysis, that the ground temperature increase data are likely to be greatly overestimated.

If this paper stands, the fundamental assertion of the AGW hypothesis, that the Earth is warming up dangerously, will be undermined and could be completely disproven. This will have a major impact across the board in the political world, where the need to respond to 'global warming' as a 'world challenge' is used to justify all kinds of central control and overriding of democratic decisions, as well as the application of a greatly increased tax burden.

People interested in understanding the detail of this paper should go to http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/29/press-release-2/

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Anonymous Coward

Dodgy Timmy

Tim Yeo. A man who receives a wage totaling £100k a year by being on the boards of two green energy companies. Suddenly the following sounds decidedly dodgy:

>"The government is in danger of botching its plans to boost clean energy, because the Treasury is refusing to back new contracts to deliver investment in nuclear, wind, wave and carbon capture and storage," said committee chairman Tim Yeo in a canned statement on Monday.

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Conflicted

It's already been reported elsewhere that Yeo has a rather big conflict of interests here, being employed by several of the "green" companies he's advocating funding so generously!

Of course he'd love his businesses to get massive guaranteed subsidies - who wouldn't? The question that should be considered is whether we're happy to pay for them - which I for one am NOT. If his companies can't deliver the product for a viable price, why should we pay to make up for their failings?

Like the handover note said in 2010, we're out of money. In a sane world, that would mean we stop giving it to failed businesses for products we don't want that they can't sell. Sadly, that's not the world politicians live in!

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A politician writes:

But, but ... public money is free, isn't it?

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Unhappy

Re: A politician writes:

Re: But, but ... public money is free, isn't it?

While their argument of "if you're going to waste taxpayers money on something, waste it on something that will benefit at least one taxpayer (me)", I'd prefer tax payers money to be used on something that cleaned up UK politics.

Like enough rope to hang self serving MP's from the lamp posts around Westminster.

And extra lamp posts if they were needed.

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Facepalm

How long will we

keep pumping good money into pointless, inefficient, "green" power producing solutions which, by any measure, are a waste of the aforemetioned good money.

The only way to provide enough power is nuclear....

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Re: How long will we

"The only way to provide enough power is nuclear.."

Imagines the look on the anti wind turbine nimbys' faces change from glee when told the latest plan for a wind farm has been rejected to abject horror when told they would be building a nuke plant instead.

Oh, what's that, Mr Nimby? Suddenly decided that nuclear isn't efficient, now? OK, lets build a nice carbon sequestration based coal fired plant at the bottom your road, then. Oh? Don't like the look of that either? Eh?

Lets face it. Anti wind farm nimbys are, actually, just nimbys, full stop. It wouldn't matter if the thing being built in their neighbourhood was a wind farm, nuke plant or home for the criminally insane, they'd still find an excuse to protest.

Quite happy to use power coming from a nuke, coal, gas, etc fired power station blighting someone else's view, just as long as it isn't theirs.

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Re: How long will we

@Cowherd: I get a distinct feeling of deja-vu reading this comment - seems to be recycled from a previous discussion on a related topic here.

For myself, Sizewell B is just up the coast from me, and I can't wait for them to get busy building Sizewell C. Also, as I understand it, future nucear power stations are going to be built on the site of existing closed Magnox & AGR stations, so it's not as if the locals aren't aware of nuclear power on their doorsteps. As far as I'm aware, the locals haven't turned up at nuclear stations in the past with pitchforks, burning brands and lynching ropes - It's deluded greenies who engage in that sort of behaviour.

I'm all for fracking too. Nuclear can potentially provide a large fraction of our demand, as it does in France, but the output of nuclear (at least current designs) can't easily be modulated, so gas stations (and Dinorwig) will provide that match to varying demand. Also, it'll take at least 10 years to get new nuclear online, even if someone can cut the Gordian knot of the planning process, so gas is the obvious interim fuel.

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Re: How long will we

I am also well within Sizewell B and OR C fallout area if the unimaginable that most anti nuclear types like to imagine, happens.

I cant wait for Sizewell C. You can bury waste in may back garden for all I care, provided its properly contained.

Heck gimme a couple of spent fuel rod and I'll build a tank and run my central heating off them.

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Mushroom

Re: waste? WASTE!

What we need is to address the problem of the nuclear waste....oh wait.... we HAVE!

New nuke designs should be along the Gen IV and Fast Breeders for a start! Id love liquid thorium however if I could get one.

As far as Gas power stations, go for them. The Greenies must know that they are a dam sight better for the environment as long as they are TEMPORARY and help us get to the good fun glowing stuff.

Disclosure - I'm a bit bias on both nukes and gas. I work for Halliburton (i hear the Booing already) and i have shares in uranium and thorium.

ICON? cos that sort of thing dose not happen these days unless your watching movies

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Holmes

Re: How long will we

"The only way to provide enough power is nuclear...."

In the longer term perhaps. But in the short term the prices being talked about for nuclear are £100/MWh compared to current UK energy wholeseale of £50/MWh. Provide 30% of your power with nuclear, and that's a 30% net increase in your electricity bill. You still in?

I'd also point out that the industry will want the consumer to shoulder all risk (albeit with taxpayer funded CFDs as a mechanism), and the history of nuclear power is of cost overruns and delays, even on projects with political support and involving experienced players (eg Flamanville 3 in France is currently 81% over starting budget, Oikluoto in Finalnd is 115% over starting budget). So chances are that even if we learn from those experiences, you can still factor in an absolute minimum 25% capex cost overrun, which takes your impact on the average 'leccy bill to 40% above current levels.

I think that Flamanville et al show that the curent "state of the art" nuclear plants are simply too big, too complex and too costly. There's been some research done into smaller, lower complexity reactors by various people, but that's not yet factored into proven lower cost production plant. Unless something turns up then in my view nuclear doesn't make financial sense (although you can rely on the UK government to make some sort of epensive energy mistake).

But, it is worth putting the costs of nuclear in perspective against the renewables boondoggle: current and committed UK wind energy "investments" are around £14bn for offshore and of the order of £8bn for onshore. If, instead of wasting that £22bn on wind, we'd built nukes (even with Oikuoloto style overruns) we'd have four new reactors with total output of 6.4GWe, come rain, shine or dead calm. Alternatively we could have built ten large CCGT producing around 18GWe, almost enough modern gas capacity to shut down all the UK's old coal and oil fired plant. Obviously if energy security were your main concern you'd go nuclear, if emissions and costs were priority you go gas. And if you simply haven't got a clue, then you push for wind turbines everywhere (and you probably work at DECC).

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Re: How long will we

Only reason (and it is the ONLY reason) why nuclear is so expensive is because of the huge amount of regulations and red tape and safety that have to be included.

Also, because nuclear stations are usually government built then all suppliers just look on them as a cash cow. As an example, I know of one device that nuclear stations use which hardly does anything but which cost $9k. Build costs are more like $500. Nice markup if you can get it. Yes, they've invested a lot into getting the product recognised as a requirement for the nuclear industry, but since they've been building the same device for nigh on 30 years they've more than recouped their costs. Now it's just a snake oil device.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How long will we

Actually, I don't think they're NIMBYies, I think they're BANANAs - Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How long will we

"...Only reason (and it is the ONLY reason) why nuclear is so expensive is because of the huge amount of regulations and red tape and safety that have to be included...."

Oh, well in that case, let's just get rid of all that pesky regulation, what could possibly go wrong?

I'm a pro-nuclear as they come, but that comment is just pig ignorant.

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Re: How long will we

The problem isn't having to pay money for energy generation technology that works. The problem is forking over money to subsidise energy generating technologies, like wind, that need 100% back up because they are intermittent and unreliable.

That said we should be building new coal fired power stations along with gas and nuclear. Energy mix is important - providing the mix comprises energy that can be relied upon to be on hand when it's needed. Germany is often cited as 'green' but it is building plenty of new coal fired plants. Only political dogma, driven by a green lobby that wants to deindustrialise the planet, is holding us back from providing energy in a reliable and cost effective way.

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It's not as bad as reported (sort of)

With Osborne's unique way of tackling the budgetary requirements of the UK soon the majority won't be able to afford to drive or heat water - problem solved!

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deeply shocked

whatever happened to market economics? <okay, accepted that the electricity market is utterly bogus anyways>

it seems to me that its only of political use when wanting to throw 100,000 labour voting miners, or 90,000 labout voting steelworkers on the dole i guess.

bastards the lot of em

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WTF?

Tell me again....

"..The committee said the government should incentivise power companies to reduce the public's demand for energy..."

why we have to use LESS energy?

Taking an arbitrary example of personal travel, a single man might expect to use the following figures over the last 100 years:

1900 - 750W

1950 - 15Kw

2000 - 600Kw

I think you can see where I'm coming from here. The advance of civilisation involves greater and greater personal use of energy. And it's not something we're going to run out of.

I happen not to believe in CO2-driven AGW, but even if I did, that's no reason for arbitrarily cutting energy usage - it's an argument for generating it without attendant CO2 emissions. But here we are being told that we can have less energy, full stop. If anyone's interested, exactly the same argument is being applied to our water supply - there is a policy to cut that by 20%. For no justification that I can see...

The only argument I can see for setting a limit to energy usage is that you want to stop the progress of civilisation. If that's the case, it would be more honest to admit it instead of demanding increased efficiencies over and above those that are deemed essential by the market and pretending that that is somehow 'green'.....

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Alert

Re: Tell me again....

"...the Progress of Civilization!" Please! This is not progress and we are becoming less civilized.

By the way, when, in a nuclear plant's life cycle does the energy output equal the energy input; into the physical plant (steel, concrete, plastic, etc.) and the mining and refining of the fuel and/or the spent fuel recovery system? At what future date does a new nuke become a carbon reducer?

We cannot demand others do more with less while we ourselves continue to waste both old and new energy streams. This will be difficult but to not do anything will be harder. What do we have to do that is more important that insuring our kids have something to grow up in, besides "Road Warrior" scenaria of outlaw refineries and armed tanker convoys?

If you don't think AGW is real fine. The world is still cooking and we still need to try to reduce that. If we can't we can't, but we tried. We also need to start mitigating the damage that will be caused by rising seas and failing farm regions. The next 10 years will be crucial.

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Re: Tell me again....

You are living in cloud cuckoo land if you think our contribution to carbon reduction will make even a tiny difference. No other country in Europe has a carbon reduction target as high as ours. No other country in the world comes close. China is still building and opening new coal fired plants every couple of days.

Rather than splashing money out on inefficient power generation we could simply build nuclear plants (as France did over the past 20 years) and have surplus energy. Over time it's much more cost efficient. If we took 20 years to do it the carbon footprint we would create would be insignificant to a) what the world pumps out at the moment and b) what we'd genuinely save in the long run.

It would also give us time to plan how to deal with issues of climate change etc which will happen - we aren't going to reverse what's happening now and instead of wasting time and money pretending we can we ought to accept it and move on. But while the brain-washed loonies support crap like wind farms it isn't going to happen.

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Mushroom

Re: Tell me again....

"...the Progress of Civilization!" Please! This is not progress and we are becoming less civilized.

Google 'Julian Simon'. EVERY generation has had a better life than the last, for ALL recorded history. And, for as long as there are records, people have complained that things were getting worse. And they have ALWAYS been wrong.

By the way, when, in a nuclear plant's life cycle does the energy output equal the energy input; into the physical plant (steel, concrete, plastic, etc.) and the mining and refining of the fuel and/or the spent fuel recovery system?

What on earth are you talking about? Energy transfer can NEVER be 100% efficient. You don't seem to understand basic laws of thermodynamics. And there is no particular need for any generating plant to be more efficient than market pressures dictate - it just has to provide the right amount of energy when and where we need it...

At what future date does a new nuke become a carbon reducer?

I do not understand what you mean. If you can define this I can answer you

We cannot demand others do more with less while we ourselves continue to waste both old and new energy streams.

We can't DEMAND anything of anybody. That is the language of dictatorship. And we can't 'waste' energy. Energy will always be available to us, and we can use it how we like. The idea that living a civilised life somehow 'wastes' things was comprehensively disproven by Simon back in the 1970s.

This will be difficult but to not do anything will be harder. What do we have to do that is more important that insuring our kids have something to grow up in, besides "Road Warrior" scenaria of outlaw refineries and armed tanker convoys?

Someone should introduce you to the real world, as opposed to Hollywood. Those images are STORIES, right? They won't happen. If you want to think in those terms, why shouldn't Superman will come and save us? Get a life. Go out for a walk. Bring a dog, then you won't get lost. By the way, 'insuring' isn't the right word...

If you don't think AGW is real fine. The world is still cooking and we still need to try to reduce that.

A slight temperature increase throughout the 1980/90s has now halted, and we have been on a slight cooling trend for the last dozen years. Looking across geological time, the planet is currently its coldest for almost 300 million years, and an ice age is overdue...

If we can't we can't, but we tried. We also need to start mitigating the damage that will be caused by rising seas and failing farm regions.

If it's going to get warmer and wetter (as I noticed the last climate change claims during the rains) then that will really improve agriculture. What's the problem?

The next 10 years will be crucial.

Funny, that. In 1970 it was the next 20 years that were going to be crucial, by 1980 Greenies were talking about 10 years - in 1988 it was Ted Danson who said we had ten years to save the oceans. We’ve heard that story before. In fact, we’ve only had ten years to save the planet, well, for years. Gore said we had 10 years left before frying-pan time, in 2006. Hansen said that we had 4 years left, in 2009. Add your prediction to the list. It won't make it any more true....

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The treasury did something right!!!

Given that we have to have other power plants for the event that the wind turbines aren't working why are we even bothering with them? All that the 'greens' want is ideologically based and isn't related to this real world. Taxes for 'greening' our power (which will eventually only make energy companies rich) are throttling what little manufacturing we have left.

Let's stop this nonsense now. If a company wants to build wind farms then, subject to all the usual planning stuff, let them. At their expense. Drop our 'carbon' targets - which are higher than anywhere else - and face up to the fact that our little drop in the ocean of carbon production world wide really isn't a priority. Stopping the country's descent in more austerity is.

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Re: The treasury did something right!!!

I agree. there is no hope whatsoever of running intermittent renewables - wind wave tidal and solar - without also operating fossil fuels alongside. Barring some quantum level breakthrough in energy storage.

The only justification for renewables is that they may slightly reduce fuel consumption. But nuclear does that far more effectively at less cost. So really whether or not you buy into AGW or not, there is little point in deploying renewables except for their own sake. And no point whatsoever in deploying them WITH nuclear power, since saving nuclear fuel is not a pressing concern.

The renewables lobby knows this, and that's why the most pernicious of their lies are reserved for perpetrating an anti-nuclear mythology.

George is to be lauded: By simply saying 'let's make carbon expensive and anything non carbon gets a guaranteed price for what it produces if it chooses to take CfDs on board' he has called the bluff of the renewables lobby and opened the door for any cost effective low carbon technology.

And the shrieks of concern are because solar PV ,wind, wave and tidal Are NOT cost effective.

The fact waste burning, Biogas and some hydro are, of course is never mentioned. This is being painted as giving an unfair advantage to nuclear: the reality is that it removes an unfair advantage of intermittent renewables.

They must now compete on a level playing field with other low carbon technologies. The implicit conclusion behind the ravings of Yeo et al is that they know that the technologies they promote are totally unable to compete with other renewable energy forms and nuclear power.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The treasury did something right!!!

>> Given that we have to have other power plants for the event that the wind turbines aren't working

I'll phrase that as "... other power plants to cover the 75% of their output that windmills don't provide"

This makes it more clear that these windmills are p**s-poor by design, and the people putting them up and supporting them really don't give a damn how much externalised cost is put on the grid and other generators.

From http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/bsp_home.htm today, I see the daily variation in demand is about 15GW - overnight minimum about 23GW, day maximum about 38GW. The forecast peak demand over the next winter is about 55GW - I believe it was significantly higher a year and a half ago when it was exceptionally cold.

The current metered wind generation capacity is a little under 4.7GW, and there'll be a bit more that isn't metered.

Thus peak wind capacity represents about 8% of peak forecast demand for next winter, and almost a third of daily demand variation. That patter bit is important - it means that instead of having to deal with a 15GW variation of demand (which is quite predictable), the other generators have to deal with a total variation of about 20GW in windy conditions when wind output can vary from "very high" to "f**k-all" over a wide area if the wind speed increases a bit and the windmills are turned off to avoid self destruction.

This extra variation is covered (mostly) by gas turbine generators who have to tolerate more starts and more (and larger) power variations. This puts their maintenance costs up significantly, while reducing their load factor - the two effects both putting up their per-unit costs. I read in my union mag that one gas station has recently shut down due to rising costs and others are expected to follow suit.

None of these costs are factored into the cost of wind, where the operators conveniently stop counting once the juice leaves their site.

At least Nuclear is reasonably reliable, but most of all it's dispatch-able. Barring faults (which can affect any plant) and scheduled maintenance, they can produce power when asked - for very little CO2 output (zero CO2 if you use the same "stop counting outside your site" economics used by greens).

If you suffer from too much nuclear generation, the per-unit cost is so small that you could probably create extra load just by building a few hydrogen plants and then make some methanol for road fuel.

I've been banned from at least one "renewables forum" for pointing out the economic sleight of hand used to justify using wind. And for pointing out that rationing electricity (the main function of "smart meters") to force demand to match variable supply is never going to work well or be acceptable to the general population.

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Re: The treasury did something right!!!

A red arrow. There must be an eco-loony around!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The treasury did something right!!!

Wind power is not new technology. Wind turbines have been around for quite a long time already. So their reliability and output should be well known.

The issue is that we're looking on putting more demand on them, and as AC mentions above, the design being used isn't efficient.

Look to the US. They have wind farms that work. Sure, they've a lot of open land they can use, but the turbines favored are not vertical blades rotating on a horizontal axis, but horizontal blades rotating around the vertical.

The advantages are clear: They don't need to face the wind for optimal efficiency: They can catch the wind which ever direction is blows in. They need less maintenance. They suffer fewer bird hits (they appear solid to birds and bats while vertical blades appear as open air). They are easier to repair and replace. They can be placed on the tops of buildings discretely. They also remain usable in higher and lower wind speeds, and should there be a critical failure, the blades can be contained (This type can operate from within a cage).

So, why are we using vertical blades? After all, horizontal blades can be raised up on plinths and pylons, just like vertical blades...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The treasury did something right!!!

"Wind power is not new technology. Wind turbines have been around for quite a long time already. So their reliability and output should be well known."

Nope on neither count. The gearbags on earlier turbines were dradfully unreliable in an uinforeseen manner, and the move to build mega scale wind turbines offshore involves plenty of unknowns. Factor in that we can't forecast the weather very well, and reliability and output aren't very well controlled.

"Look to the US. They have wind farms that work. Sure, they've a lot of open land they can use, but the turbines favored are not vertical blades rotating on a horizontal axis, but horizontal blades rotating around the vertical."

Maybe you need to tell my employers, one of the largest operators and developers of wind farms in the US. We use exactly the same technology as we use in Europe, as do most of our peers. Or maybe you're just talking rubbish?

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Re: The treasury did something right!!!

"The current metered wind generation capacity is a little under 4.7GW, and there'll be a bit more that isn't metered"

According to DECC's data, there's actually 6.9GW of wind capacity commissioned now, although that correction only makes the conclusions from your well argued post even more damning. And it gets worse when you realise that there's another 4GW under construction.

Supply variation is just as big a problem outside of winter. Germany are already suffering this, with their combined wind and solar generation acting as a destabilising input to the grid - data released by one of their power companies showed that renewable input to the grid shed 12GW of supply in twelve hours from about 11am, on one occasion in July, as solar output went down with the sun, and wind power came down as calmer conditions moved across the region. So that required at least six major power stations on hot standby, all burning fuel continuously so that renewables could "dump their load" when it suited them.

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Investors?

"Nobody wants to see a blank cheque written out for green energy," Yeo said, "but the government must provide investors with more certainty about exactly how much money will be available."

Erm, I seem to recall reading somewhere a basic tenet about risk and reward and that, as such, you shouldn't expect one without the other. If they want certainty perhaps they should invest in 30-day cash or something. All this crap about "certainty around returns" is basically just asking the taxpayer to guarantee their profits/dividends. How is that any better than the banks? Is "big business" Latin for "thieving bastards"?

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Here's an answer

"the government must provide investors with more certainty about exactly how much money will be available"

It's my money and the answer is "none".

Investors take risks. Go take a risk.

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Facepalm

Energy policy is in dire need of some sanity

Poor old Maggie lives in a modest flat in a tower block in a central urban area with a carbon footprint of practically nothing, she's struggling to pay her heating bills and have a reasonable standard of living because the tarriffs have gone up again. Of course Maggie does have some savigns but the 0.1% the banks paying her means their eroding quicker than ever these days. Maybe some of the tarriff increase is due to wholesale gas prices, however a serious chunk of it is because of the insane feed in tarriff the nation has been guilted into accepting.

Meanwhile 2 jags with his electrically heated hot tub and fifteen thousand 50W downlighters, is having a jolly good laugh about what a great return on his £20k investment these PV cells, I'm getting almost 7% he exlaims with his other PV toting neighbours. Of course he's doing his bit for the environment too, definitely praiseworthy.

Of course Kev who installed them is also having a good laugh, loving that FIT income which has allowed him to seriously rake in a fortune of government subsidised dollar. He's off now to buy a nice new X5. Problem is just how well did Kev install them, I mean he's been rushing around like a nutter putting these solar arrays up. How well did he seal all those mounting joints, did he employ a structural engineer to make sure the 19th century roof timbers were up to it. What's happened to the life expectancy of that roof - his problem?

I'm all for green technologies, but I'm sick to death of insanely subsidised ridiculous schemes which are just making a few richer at the cost of the most of us.

Sensible practical solutions - energy efficiency. Sensible policy - build some new nuke's.

Could we possibly employ some engineers to set engergy policy, you know people who actually understand energy, who wouldn't go "oh really" if I told them I'd invented a PV powered kettle...

You could save this nation dozens of times what PV panels are going to do for us. My solution, ban landlords from installing shitty electric shower and shittier electric heating. Cost to tax payer £0.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Energy policy is in dire need of some sanity

Some good points in there, Ed. But mostly lost in the fifty odd issues you raised....

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Oh Dear

Although subsidies on renewable energy are obvious, fossil fuels are to all intents and purposes invisibly subsidised. They are going to run out eventually. It's a bit like living off an inheritance, and drawing out more money each year than the interest it's earning.

How we've traditionally dealt with dwindling fuel supplies is by (1) siding with the USA, whose energy policy basically comes down to "find who's still got some oil left, invade them and nick it" (and then wonder why people want to bring down our aircraft); and (2) importing more electricity from overseas; but that isn't going to last either. The cross-channel HVDC cables are running close to capacity, and the cancellation of Germany's nuclear programme is going to mean there will be even less spare juice to go around the Continent.

When fossil fuels do run out (and it's probably within the lifetime someone who's alive today), the UK won't be ready. People are going to die. We've known about this for a long time; but it's always been further in future than the next election, hence nobody ever bothered about it.

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