The National Grid has released a report into the way things are headed for the UK's electricity supplies in the coming decade, and it's not good news for anyone who finds their 'leccy bill to be a noticeable expense. No matter what happens to fossil fuel prices, British electricity is going to cost a lot, lot more in the near …
> Solar does work
Averaged over a year the total KWHr output of every solar panel in the UK amounts to less than 1/300th the output of one conventional power station like Drax.
> Wind turbines 40+ yr lifespan
UK round 1 offshore turbines had a 20% annual fault rate over the first 5 years. This is expected to worsen with age.
>The potential of EV's to act as balancers is tremendous.
Great - not only do I have to wait 8 hours to refuel my car after every 80miles - but now the grid may need to steal my charge if the winds not blowing. What if I need to drive mum to the hospital?
>As for oil-fired plants,
We only have 3 out of some 70 odd UK powerstations - and they're rarely used due to the oil price.
> I'm not a tree-hugger by any stretch of the imagination
Yes you are.
I can see how I may have come across as a complete tree hugger even though I'm a petrolhead through and through.
OK, I came across so stupid 'cause what I have in mind (and what the legislation has too) is not what we have today. I was talking about a good few years/decades in the future.
> Wind Turbines
Whatever their failure rates were (think early automobiles) I'm talking about turbines many generations later that have been perfected in terms or reliability
OK, if you think of EV's as the wheezy, plastic, impotent boxes on offer today then yes. But I'm on about EV's with a good range (350+ miles) with proper amenities and levels of trim. By which time they will be the clear majority of vehicles on the streets and ic engined cars will be niche players. At that time (consider that a majority of cars are parked at any one time) the balancing will be unnoticeable to any individual car but it will be substantial on a grid level
>Coal will always be cheap and abundant. The question is do we want to use it? And that question has been answered negatively for quite a few years now.
Back to my cave to seek refuge from the downvotes....
"Whatever their failure rates were (think early automobiles) I'm talking about turbines many generations later that have been perfected in terms or reliability"
We may all be skint well before then. You may be able to pay twice for your power but I doubt the nation can.
"At that time (consider that a majority of cars are parked at any one time) the balancing will be unnoticeable to any individual car but it will be substantial on a grid level."
Have you SEEN a typical British residential street? You know: the ones full of endless rows of terraced Victorian housing, with no off-street parking at all, and no way to get a power connection from the house to the car—it's a rare day when I could park outside my old place. (And, thanks to the introduction of "Red Routes" in London over ten years ago, I couldn't park AT ALL on the street I lived on before that!
Are you seriously expecting to see a convenient 13A power socket every 5 metres or so along every residential street? In every office car park? At every airport? At every railway station? Along every High Street? In every town and village in every part of the British Isles? Good luck with that.
Electric cars with gigantic batteries are idiotically inefficient: *Transmitting* the electricity to the car makes far more sense, and you won't need anything other than a small "emergency" battery. Yes, that'll require installing lots of expensive new infrastructure (such as the inductive power transmission I mentioned earlier), but then, you'll have to do that *anyway* to support your EV-as-windfarm-storage proposals too. I know what I'd rather spend my money on: the electricity generation system with the lowest deaths and injuries per Terawatt Hour:
That'd be nuclear, in case you can't be bothered to click the link. (And no, I'm not suggesting building brand new power stations to 40-year-old ex-Soviet Russian, or Japanese, designs. The state of the art has moved on a bit since then.)
And, before anyone thinks to ask: yes, I'll gladly live near such a plant. I've already lived near Bradwell (back when it was still operational), and am quite certain I'm not dead, dying of cancer, or suffering from radiation poisoning. I'll take my chances.
You need to look into this, and do the maths
> Solar does work
Averaged over a year the total KWHr output of every solar panel in the UK amounts to less than 1/300th the output of one conventional power station like Drax.
I *HAVE* done some maths on this, and you're looking at 14 YEARS of Solar just to get back to neutral on the embedded energy used to make the panels in the first place - and THAT assumes that you're using the decent panels with a (relatively) high conversion efficiency.
(Polycrystalline PV = 4.07GJ/m² to create - ref. ICE v2.0 DB, University of Bath)
As a normal UK tax payer it is me who is getting it in the wallet from these eco hippy types who obviously do not even live on the same planet as the rest of us.
And the award for Most Daily Mail Clichés Squeezed into a Post goes to ...
I would have thought a good parallel for this problem is the EU farming subsidy...paid to produce and paid to destroy. I love paying taxes....
Time to hollow out a mountain...
Dig hole two caves, one above the other. Stick a turbine/pump into a shaft between them. Extra power = pump up, too little power = let it flow down. Already used for some nuclear plants so they can run at a steadier rate. Apparently water starts to fall back through turbines quite quickly when you open the gate. Sure you loose 30~40% of what you put in but you can store it for quite a while. No need for fuel cells or escaping gases either.
Ok so digging out a mountain costs a bit... but we can surly sell the granite or aggregate to someone? Perhaps a few roads can be resurfaced.
No hollowing required.
Don't even need to hollow a mountain, lakes top and bottom work as well - look up 'Electric mountain' on wikipedia - a pumped storage hydroelectric station in North Wales (although they apparently did still dig out 12 million tonnes of rock to make all of the tunnels).
Visitors welcome in the real world too, last time I checked. Well worth a look, but pre-booking necessary in high season.
Chris Huhne Says...
"I've got some good news and some bad news:
The bad news is you're all going to be paying 3x as much for your energy due to all our green stealth taxes.
The good news is there's a slim chance this will make the weather 0.0001oC colder long after you're all dead.
Wait... you're still thinking about the bad news right?"
I'm interested in renewables, so thought I'd look up Freiberg as you say it tells you 'all you need to know about renewables being viable'. I was hoping for some great examples that would help spread the fact that renewables work, but according to their web page 30% of their electricity comes from nuclear, 3.7% from local renewables and the rest from natural gas and woodchip being burnt, hardly the great example I was expecting. They have done some good stuff on energy saving though.
Seems my figures were wrong.
That's what I get for trusting the Discovery Channel. A documentary I saw on the place had said that all the solar panels provided more power than the city could use. Still, I believe that renewables can, and should, provide most of our electricity.
Hold on a mo...
"the grid said it could not cope with the surge of power from wind farms and will have to switch off turbines to avoid overloading the power transmission networks"
Surely the grid is just a big complicated bit of wire? If you have a supply of a certain voltage and a particular load the amount of current in the wire is dictated by the load, not the supply. To put it crudely if you had a number of 12v car batteries wired in parallel feeding a 60w the bulb would be drawing 5A. You could double the number of batteries connected to your "grid" if you wanted, but the current drawn through your grid would still be the same 5A.
I suspect this is more to do with actual power requirements. At any given time the grid only requires a certain amount of power. What's nice about more conventional stations is that they are predictable. OK so they can take a while to get on line and off line again, but the operators are in total control of the output. Over the years the grid have got very good at predicting what the power requirements will be at any given time. As such they can queue up stations to come on line in time for times of predicted peak demand. Hydro dams are apparently very good at this as they can be switched on and off more or less at will when compared to something like a coal fired station. Virstually any of the more conventional stations can be worked into thes plans. The grid tells a particular operator they will need a particular amount of generating capacity online for the end of the Britain's Got No Hope final when everybody switches the kettle on and the capacity will be there and online. Wind power isn't nearly so predictable and as such may often be spinning but not in use because the operator could not confirm they would have the power available at the predicted time.
I don't think it's that the grid can't cope with the power from these wind farms, more that it can't rely on it.
"Surely the grid is just a big complicated bit of wire?"
I gather it's more like an enormous complex of railroads, all of which carry freight trains with heavy loads at full speed, and the whole thing equipped with some unimaginably complex switch gear that tries, and mostly succeeds, to keep from routing two locomotives into a collision -- under normal conditions everything works fine, but if things get too badly out of kilter then the whole thing falls to pieces and it takes relatively forever to get all the debris cleaned up and restore normal operation.
Such, at least, was more or less the sense of the explanations given a few years ago for why power on most of the US east coast was out, for anywhere for three days to a week, during one of the hottest summers I've ever endured.
re: Surely the grid is just a big complicated bit of wire?
Think of it more like a car. You want to drive along at a constant 50mph (50Hz). If you are driving up a hill, you need a certain throttle position to keep your speed. If the hill is steeper, you need more throttle. If you suddenly start going down hill, then you will need to throttle right back to avoid going too fast, you may even need to apply the brakes (dump the energy). Either way, you can't just expect to keep adding power and everything to remain in balance.
It's more like a truck.
no it is more like
this sort of wibbley wimmly timey wimie ball
We should get the Eurofighter, to fly past the wind turbines and thus make them spin faster thus achieving better efficiency... Or give up on UK electricity as UK made electrons suck anyway, and just buy USA made leccy that give you much better charge per electron, and can do both AC and DC at the same time.
So what you're saying is...
The main problem is that these power plants are in private hands?
In order to satisfy the profit motives of corporations little people are getting shafted? <sarcasm>Shocking, isn't it.</sarcasm>
Wind turbines are not the magic bullet, but they do help to generate needed electricity, but in order to prop up the corporations who build them they are crippled with extortionate fees to *guarantee* a return on investment for the "risk" that investors are taking.
So nationalize them. Problem solved. You're welcome.
RE: So what you're saying is...
".....but in order to prop up the corporations who build them they are crippled with extortionate fees...." Nope, the extra fees are there to prop up the stupid idea of renewables in the first place as they can't compete in the open market with conventional coal stations.
".....So nationalize them. Problem solved...." It's political meddling that got us in this mess in the first place. First by crippling nuke research in the UK to please the greens and the miners' unions, then by getting us reliant on foreign fuels (Mid East oil, foreign coal and Russian gas), and now by trying to buy votes by caving to rediculous "global warming" hysteria rather than following the simple and scientific choice of nuke power. Scrap moronic ideas like carbon credits and windfarm subsidies, invest in electric vehicle research, and build more nuke powerstations If windfarms can truly stand on their own two feet then they will without subsidies, otherwise the windfram proponents can dry up and blow away.
except that coal, oil, gas aren't priced correctly
"can't compete in the open market with conventional coal stations"
The reason coal (and oil and gas) are relatively cheap is that a lot of hidden costs are externalised. For example increased health problems from soot are paid for by the taxpayer through NHS, so these costs are hidden even though they're there and still being paid for ultimately by the taxpayer. the price of fossil only reflects the cost to dig it out of the ground, it does not take into account environmental costs. Just because it's next to impossible to put a monetary value on these costs doesn't mean they don't exist.
Secondly, and more importantly, the cost of fossil on the market is based on the fiction that a 100-200 year supply is approximately infinite. If we keep going for the cheaper option and not account for finite supply in the price, fossil will continue to be cheaper than anything else right up until when they run out, when the world's economy will tear itself apart.
So what's the way forward? (1) Tax fossil fuels and use the income to finance renewable research. Consumer cost will still go up a bit, this is inevitable since current prices do not reflect real cost (2) Phase out mechanisms like ROCs. As new generation renewables get cheaper and with the tax on fossil fuels in place, the most efficient renewables will eventually become the better choice (3) Nuclear, nuclear, nuclear! It will act as a stopgap while fossils are phased out and renewables phased in as per step 2, and it will anyway be needed for a big chunk of baseload power even if there is a high takeup of highly efficient renewables.
I can't see it happening though, since the whole thing would be a 50 year plan and most decision-makers nowadays can't see beyond the next election.
re: Matt Bryant
There's an open market for energy???
Conventional coal stations are competing entirely on their own two feet??
Everything boils down to cost, so that if something doesn't generate acceptable income then there is no possible other reason for that something to exist?
RE: except that coal, oil, gas aren't priced correctly
Was that lifted from "Totally Fatuous Arguments for Dummies"? As a reasoned argument for renewables it was truly an Olympic gold of fail.
"The reason coal (and oil and gas) are relatively cheap is that a lot of hidden costs are externalised....." Like what?
".....For example increased health problems from soot are paid for by the taxpayer through NHS..." Complete male bovine manure! The predominant cause of lung cancer is cigarettes, not powerstation soot, and has been for decades. Modern coal-fired stations have very good filters which mean your argument should have been dropped back in the Victorian era.
"....Just because it's next to impossible to put a monetary value on these costs doesn't mean they don't exist....." But it doesn't stop you making a completely invalid and far-fetched argument out of it. It is very easy to put a price on lung cancer treatment, the NHS do it all the time.
"......If we keep going for the cheaper option and not account for finite supply in the price, fossil will continue to be cheaper than anything else right up until when they run out, when the world's economy will tear itself apart....." Firstly, the idea is we burn fossil fuels only whilst building new nuke stations, then fossil fuels become irrellevant (at least in the nations that can build nuke stations). This also covers cars as nuke is about the only way we're ever going to have enough excess energy to cover the corrent amount of driving we do in the First World when we switch to EVs. Secondly, it's all a supply and demand issue - as coal supply becomes restricted its price will rise, to the point where coal becomes uneconomic to mine (just ask miners in Wales how that works). At that point, Third World countries are likely to be still stuck with coal- or oil-fired stations, we should have (hopefully) dumped morons like Huhne and got some nuke stations online by then. The markets reliant on burning a fossil fuel will have to find a replacement for coal or oil (methanol from crops or dried seaweed or whatever). Capitalism is a very resilient system that will look to replace failing sources of income (fossil fuels) with new ones (as shown by the people getting rich off the current windfarms subsidies), and is unlikey to "tear itself apart" (did I get the right tone of hysterical melodrama there?).
".....As new generation renewables get cheaper...." Here's the problem for that fallacy - wind turbines and the like are actually very developed and have a very experienced aeronautical and elcetrical industries behind them helping them with tech and materials. There is very little scope for immediate or even longterm improvement over what we have now. Even superduper fantasy renewables like tidal have very limited options both for deployment (you can't just do it anywhere) and their potential to supply anything more than a fraction of out needs (which means you still need more nuke stations). This "subsidise renewables " schpiel is coming from the companies looking to get rich off the subsidies, end of. It would be a much simpler and surer idea to take one penny out of the already rediculous 70% UK tax on each litre of petrol for building modern nuke stations. Time for politicians to stop pandering to a few hippy swing-votes and get some serious scientific work going.
RE: re: Matt Bryant
OK, economics 101 for those who were obviously asleep at the back of the class. We live in these things called "economies" because we, as individuals, find it easier to do one job and sell our services/products to others. Everything has a price because we like to get paid for doing or making stuff so that we can in turn buy other stuff, otherwise we would have to limit ourselves to subsitance farming. Therefore, everything has a price and every political decision will have to look at that price as there is a limit to how much stuff the governments can buy without the people being taxed back to the subsitance trip. Spend too much on one area (renewables) and another will fail (UK public pensions, it seems). Just go ask the Greeks how unrestrained "feel-good" politics worked out for them.
Coal is cheap now (foreign coal, in the UK's case). So is oil (relatively). Stations for either are cheap to build, storage and distribution are relatively easy and there appears to be enough of the stuff for a good few years yet. BUT, when either starts to run out, it will become uneconomic to mine/drill them, and either we will see staions becoming much more expensive as they strive to be ultra-efficient, or we will see other fuels being substituted which are still economic. This is also the problem for the internal-combustion engines which dominate our transport systems. At that point, it becomes a lesser of two evils, but be sure the capitalist mind will seek one or the other to make a profit.
Firstly, we can go hydrogen - but that needs lots of leccy to split it out of water, so we'd probably end up with nukes anyway. Or the second option is likely to be ethanol/methanol, which really gives the greens heartburn as they think it will mean World hunger (well, Third World anyway). Don't you think it would be smarter now to start building the one power source that is already proven: does not need years of expensive research to get to the point where it is even remotely viable (nuke power is proven to be effective in generating electricity); doesn't mean Third World people have to choose between feeding themselves or making fuel crops; and even offers us a route out of fossil-fueled cars? There is as you say a finite limit to both fossil fuels and nuke fuels, so doesn't it make sense to get started on replacing fossil fuels with nukes now so we can spare the time later to look at what comes after nukes?
"the grid ... can't rely on it"
It's no worse than (insert here).
The grid is already perfectly capable of dealing with the loss of 1-2GW at zero notice and many times more at relatively short notice, due to the existing hierarchy of generation capacity and standby capacity, in conjunction with "interruptible contracts" for big users.
There have been plenty of times when a UK nuke has been taken offline at zero notice due to unexpected observations in the plant, followed within hours or days by the shutting down of all UK nukes of the same design, while investigations proceed into whether a problem needs addressing or not. Sometimes they're shut down for months for that kind of thing.
Handling the intermittency of wind isn't that much more difficult, especially if (as noted above) a sensible quantity of storage is available locally or via an interconnector (e.g. to the lovely fjords in Norway).
Try some real numbers with pumped storage
The UK uses about 35GW. If we aim for 20% from wind, that is 7GW. Most years, Europe has about 5 consecutive days of calm when the windfarms use more energy than they generate. So that is 600TJ of energy not supplied by windfarms. Now lets start adding up storage facilities:
Over 500TJ more to find. If you use anything outside the UK, you have to increase the storage requirement to include the host country's demand. The four I have mentioned are used every day to deal with peaks and troughs in demand. Storage for windfarms has to pay for itself with only a couple of weeks work each year.
Why is it every time I see proposals for wind farms I find the numbers are nowhere near reality?
Wind Shill Factor
This point is addressed in the report. Wind makes the operating reserve requirement go thru the roof - due to wind instability and the potential for large scale cut-outs at high wind. As a result the reserve costs sky-rocket.
My question is this: Why would anyone argue FOR this unnecessary cost burden to be placed on consumers? Surely no intelligent Reg readers still think wind subsidy farms will have any effect on the weather?
I smell a big-wind shill in our midst.
Nice numbers. I like pumped storage, but as you rightly point out, it is largely for peak lopping (or for instant response to unplanned outages).
"Storage for windfarms has to pay for itself with only a couple of weeks work each year"
Storage is storage; whether it's to cope with wind farms or peak lopping or rapid response to big-station outages, there's not enough in the UK. There's not enough storage for gas either. That's what happens when energy planning is left to the markets and an alleged regulator.
Meanwhile, back to how we manage: if 6GW of wind is offline for a few days, then we manage the same way we currently manage when >>6GW of nuclear capacity is offline for weeks (months) on end because of safety issues. Where's the problem?
The problem is that backups for wind make wind pointless
Wind is too changeable to make up a large proportion of the power supply.
The first counter argument from the wind lobby is that if it is calm somewhere then it is windy somewhere else. Unfortunately that is not very true. Most years have a calm spell lasting days that cover the whole of Europe.
The next counter argument is pumped storage. Storage facilities buy when the price is low and sell when the price is high. If you increase the quantity of storage, the price fluctuations fall and the incentive to build more disappears. The current facilities pay for themselves because most of their capacity is used every day. If you have enough storage for wind then all storage will spend almost all the time using hardly any of its capacity. As a result increasing capacity to match government wind targets would require even bigger stealth subsidies than the next generation of wind farms.
The next bogus figures from the wind lobby are "enough to power 34 homes". This means the installed capacity (power output on a windy day) would run some lightbulbs and fridges. Central heating and cooking from gas and transport from petrol.
Next you have to include the load factor. Wind turbines were built on the best sites first. Load factors used to be 30% (variations in wind speed result in the average output being 30% of the installed capacity). As the best sites filled up, 27% became a good load factor. Now we are down to 25% and still nowhere near the target installed capacity.
Installed capacity in mega watts and load factors used to be a good indicator of the value of windturbines. On windy days, wind farms on the scale of government targets would produce more power than demand, and more power than can reasonably be stored. That power cannot be used for anything useful so the turbines must be shut down. This shut down is not included in the load factor. Wind power is proportional to wind velocity cubed. This means that windy days contribute a large amount to the load factor even though they are not that common. If you included this, load factors would take a severe thrashing.
When the wind does not blow, the difference has to be generated elsewhere. The cheapest source is currently gas. If you want wind power, you need to add equal amount of gas standing idle most of the time and paying for itself only in the calm periods. The entire purpose of building expensive wind farms was to burn less gas.
When you go through the numbers properly nuclear is far cheaper than large windfarms. Waves do not contain much energy. Hydro is excellent if you have a suitable site. Geothermal is difficult in the UK because the earth's crust is thick here (can work if a natural fissure reduces the amount of drilling required). Tide and currents are interesting - it would be nice if some pilot schemes got some funding to see if they really are a good choice. Solar voltaic is only cost effective in sunny deserts. Solar thermal can reduce heating bills significantly (make sure they have the right amount if thermal insulation to match the local climate). Ground sourced and air sourced heat pumps massively reduce heating (and cooling) bills. Biofuel is even more daft than wind turbines.
If you want a sensible energy plan: Cut wind down to the best sites. Blow up the excess wind turbines so they cannot claim subsidies. Replace some of them with gas because that is a quick cheap way to meet demand (and you had to build them anyway to handle calm days). Use the money saved to install heat pumps and solar thermal to cut the demand. Start building some nukes so they will be ready when gas becomes expensive again. Look under the cushions on the sofa for loose change and use the money to double the funding for research into tidal generators. Stop arguing about climate change. It does not matter whether it is real or fiction. A diverse energy supply means we are not locked into price hikes from any one type supply.
"backups for wind make wind pointless "
Maybe that's true, if you believe in leaving these things to the market.
The bigger point is that leaving everything to the market makes all your bright ideas (which are entirely reasonable) largely pointless.
The market wants profits this quarter.
The people, at least those with a clue, want to know their children will have reasonable quantities of energy available twenty years from now (ideally, more than that).
The two are totally incompatible.
Strange how no one questions whether the concept of the national grid itself may be part of this problem. In a new regime like the one we're facing, the classic hammer-nail syndrome may not be ideal. It would be good to see some thinking about alternatives to current assumptions like the grid, massive centralisation of power generation etc. There are figures bandied around of the grid losing up to 25% of the power it carries but there seem to be few remedies. An efficient DC transmission option from the Western Isles, for example, was dropped because it was more expensive than a conventional option.
Just a thought.
DC transmission? Efficient?
You're gonna have to run that one by me again.
Icon is my brain right now.
No need to run it past you again
But yes, DC /transmission/ can be more efficient than AC. Try http://www.jcmiras.net/jcm/item/86/ or if you want the wikipedia take, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-voltage_direct_current
Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air
Read David MacKay's free book (title as above) on sustainable energy, that might put things into perspective for you all.
It gives facts and figures so you can make your own mind up.
Me, I'd go for the Nuclear option, it looks safer than all the other forms of energy to boot.
And yes you can build it near me. The controls of radiation levels emitted from a nuclear plant are far more stringent than the radiation levels released from a coal burning plant!
Let the flame wars begin!!!
I'm not a fan of Mackay's book. For a start he refers to CO2, the life-giving, plant-fertilizing, colourless, odourless trace gas we all exhale as "carbon pollution" - at least 20 times in the course of the book. I assume he also refers to clouds and rain as hydrogen pollution.
Secondly - while calculating how much power could theoretically be generated by carpeting the countryside with industrial wind turbines and stopping all the rivers with hydro dams he proudly states: "I'm not interested in economics". I bet he isn't. But we energy bill payers are.
The book is not about the weather
It is about the scale of energy demand and resources. If CO2 was not demonised, devout global warmists will scream "blasphemy" and stop reading. That would be a pity because somehow, they need to understand that windmills will not keep people warm in winter. Even with an enormous subsidy, windmills can only provide a limited proportion of the UK's power. The idea of the book is that people can calculate for themselves if an energy strategy is even physically possible. It would take a bigger book to calculate the costs.
Not interested in economics
The whole point of Mackay's book is that even if renewables were cheap as chips, to supply all of UK demand with renewables would require wind turbines and / or solar panels on about a quarter of britain's surface, most of the scottish highlands converted into pumped storage, a much more efficient use of energy, a UK-wide fleet of electric cars, a mind-bogglingly huge Severn barrage, heat pumps in every home.
In other words, even though Mackay himself in the book is careful not to champion one technology over another, he shows clearly that the only way to keep a 21st century lifestyle without burning stuff for energy is nuclear. If he were to add economics into it, the picture would clearly be even worse for wind.
If as an energy bill payer you want lower bills, call your MP up and ask for more nukes
"the grid losing up to 25% of the power it carries"
Oh no it doesn't.
See e.g. Mackay and his documented sources.
From memory the UK grid transmission losses are under 10%. Most of the losses are in the low voltage bits close to the end customers, and would therefore not be greatly different if the electricity was generated on the other side of town rather than on the other side of the country.
Domestic-scale generation has neither the resilience or overall efficiency to be a serious alternative to grid electricity for most people. If Lewis wants to have a rant about that based on facts and logic, he'd have a much better target than the current (sic) one.
why is it that the UK government seeem to think about *one* non fossil sourrce at a time?
The assorted civil servants cannot seem to get the idea of a *split* energy policy and run lemming like for wind in the way their predecessors "Dashed for gas."
Micro hydro, geothermal, anaerobic digestion, tidal, *any* would be more reliable and *predictable* (people whine about tidal being cyclic but it will turn up each day *every* day till the Moon breaks up, 10s of 1000s of years from now. If anyone reading this is still on Earth by then you're either stupid or have a death wish).
And of course the N word (that's not a game).
Instead this deeply stupid energy mono-culture.
The UK energy "market" (and I use the term *very* loosely) is highly regulated.
The UK has the situation it has *because* of those rules. They are made by politicians. They are not laws of nature.
Not directly related to this article, which is an admission of how the deregulated utilities have repeatedly been able to shag the customer, but about Lewis' favourite bugbear - renewables. The pharmaceutical company Pfizer, of Viagra fame and not renowned for its hippy tendencies, is currently operating its Freiburg plant with 93 % of power being supplied by renewables, because this is the cheapest and most reliable thing to do*. The move to 100 % is planned.
ROI within 2 years - http://www.dradio.de/dlf/sendungen/hintergrundpolitik/1481701/ (in Jorman)
I don't care that much about climate change. I do care about reliable power and that pretty much means you have to produce it yourself. Even with considerable capital investment that *does* pay off.
Facts <> Real World
The idea of every serious facility generating its own power on site is a nightmare. Imagine if you couldn't go into business without a plan to supply all your energy from renewable sources! Pharma firms are even more shameless liars than the nuke industry, so Pfizer need all the cosy PR they can get, but don't imagine that Freiburg is a model for business in general.
The point about business is a serious one. In fact, many businesses do generate the vast bulk of their energy on site -- by burning coal or gas. The issue with windmills is not whether they can deliver the ten GW or so that might make a difference to the national grid at current loads, but whether they'll have any relevance at all when we demand that brick kilns or cement works or blast furnaces chose carbon sequestration or low carbon electricty. (And if we have any integrity at all, we'll be making the same demand whether the bricks are made here or abroad.)
I'm with the other commentators on this story who say that if you actually do the numbers, and if you believe that the economy needs reliable energy at 10p/kWH instead of 50 then nuclear is necessary. And, I would add that a lot of that nuclear needs to be generating process heat (for the brickworks, say, or fischer tropf), which means that we need to do something now about molten salt or liquid metal cooled designs. (For my unsophisticated pick, google molten salt thorium and see what you think.)
I worry a little about nuclear waste but I worry more about the vastly greater quantities of CO2 from carbon sequestration: radioactive poisons decay and are really only a worry to people, but CO2 -- bubbling and leaking wherever we try and put it -- retains the capacity to wreck the climate for ever.
Damned if I am paying ...
When I retire, which may well be in the near future, I have NO intention of paying for Gas, Electricity, Water or Council Tax - come get me.
In New Zealand we do some demand management .....
nice article, but I haven't checked all the figures.
Just one point about demand management:
Here in New Zealand we have had a system for decades where the power company (or, before privatisation, the Power Board) can switch off the hot water cylinder at will, using a ripple control. This effectively means that the company can switch on the hot water during mid afternoon, and (mostly) between midnight and dawn. Most people have a big enough hot water cylinder to provide a full day's supply of hot water, so there is absolutely no effect on consumers, but it does allow some smoothing in demand, at practically no cost (hot water is close to half domestic demand).
(here in NZ, most electricity is hydro, and the rivers have to keep running at night, when the spot price of electricity drops to almost nothing).
" hot water cylinder ... full day's supply of hot water"
Very sensible too, both at home, and on a larger scale where something similar is called a calorifier.
Back here in accountant-ruled UK, because the people in charge are utterly utterly brainless and only understand costs and definitely don't understand the potential value of stored energy such as stored hot water, people are actively being encouraged to remove their hot water cylinders and replace them with the modern "high efficiency" equivalent of the 1950s "multi point geyser", now renamed as the combi boiler, and force-fitted into heating the radiator circuit as well as the hot water (but often not both at the same time). Same goes for new build homes too.
Which means that the time you need the hot water (for taps or for radiators) is the time you need the energy. No storage. No load shedding. No off peak tariffs. So whilst the combi boiler may be "high efficiency" on paper while the burner is lit, in the bigger picture it's really quite unhelpful because of its inflexibility.
The energy economics of the madhouse.
Why don't the EU get together and set aside some land in the middle of europe and build 50 nuclear reactors or something, then shell the power out to all the countries that want it?
Like in France, they seem to like nuclear
And of course...
We don't ever get big price increases in non-renewable energy now do we?
MPs warn on hidden nuclear subsidies