back to article Lights out, Britons told - we're running out of power

Carbon quango The Energy Saving Trust has come up with a new reason for Britons to save energy in the home. Our power stations will soon close, and you'll need to do your bit. That's what one Reg reader discovered, after enquiring about the Trust's calculations on the effectiveness of new low-energy bulbs. "A reduction in …

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Paris Hilton

Easy solution

Just start building new nuclear power now. Unlike coal, oil or gas, they produce no pollution and do not run on fossil fuels. Unlike windmills, they actually produce a decent amount of energy, use up significantly less space, and work on calm days.

We could also have environ-mentalist power - round them all up and throw them into a furnace, so they do a bit of good for the world.

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Read This !!

There is trouble down at DECC, the new Department for Energy and Climate Change, which is presided over by young Ed Miliband, brother of foreign secretary David.

As ever when Whitehall departments are split up and spliced together again in different formations so as to score political brownie points, there is a degree of chaos with officials still in different buildings and no doubt endless jockeying for position as to who should have the best jobs.

This time there is an added and much more serious dimension: nobody is sure whether DECC’s first aim should be to promote greenery or to keep the lights on. Apparently there is a battle between the environmental officials and the hard-headed energy people. The latter are led by the inestimable Willy Rickett, the man who privatised the electricity industry and who is described as having “a brain the size of the planet”.

“Willy will have explained to them that power is essential for the economy and windmills won’t provide enough of it – you need nuclear and fossil-fuelled power stations,” says one insider. “The trouble is these decisions should be taken by a heavyweight cabinet committee and not decided through internal arguments in one department.” Where of course, young Mr Miliband is caught in the middle.

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Gates Horns

Gas from Qatar

One, perhaps the only, bright news, is that Qatar is due to start shipping Gas over to I think Wales or wherever it is they have built underground storage. Now why is no one planning gas run power stations to use that, or are they ???

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Joke

@Math Campbell

hahahaha.... i do hope you're being sarcastic.

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RE:Scotland or UK?

1) When will Scots realise we are one nation.

2) When will you realise that you will not get the Gas. Under international law it will be split. Oh, and Shetland (and most of the gas feilds are in there water) don't want independence, and if it were to happen they would want to remain part of the UK as they consider Scotland to be staling there gas because of the way the Scots and gas companys have treated the locals.

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Flame

Re: @Ash

"Unfortunately a bunch of easily duped fucktards, who seem to make up the majority of the population, did -- and now we have to suffer along with them."

Call them by their proper name: they are The Britards!

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Alert

Re: Nuclear and UK national interest

"Hey, um, how many uranium mines do you guys in the UK have? If it's zero, and you rely on nuclear, then another country has still got you by the short and curlies?"

Back in 2004, guess which country provided most of the UK's uranium. Hint: it wasn't Australia or Kazakhstan, but you're getting warmer...

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Thatcher and Labour

The Labour supporters always seem to forget that Thatcher spent the Eighties righting the disaster left by the previous Labour government. Ironically, that also finished with power cuts - but also included rubbish in the streets, fireman on strike, inflation as high as a giraffe's arse and an enormous loan from the IMF. It was the IMF who dictated wage restraint and other elements of fiscal policy which got Labour voted out and made Thatcher so unpopular. Maybe this time the Tories should withdraw and let Labour sort out their own mess - or maybe the Liberals fancy a go.

Maybe a French takeover in Britain would be a good thing - at least they had the foresight to pepper their country with nuclear power stations and have plenty of electricity.

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It's the economy, stupid

This was much more obvious than the credit crunch, but the cause is exactly the same - the unjustified faith Blair and Brown placed in the unregulated marketplace. Labour Plc believed that the simple fact that there was a demand for renewable energy, would, through the wonders of the market, spontaneously generate brand new renewable energy plants.

Unsurprisingly, this didn't happen - power companies realised more money was to be made through milking the remaining fossil fuels than through investing in unpredictable new technologies. After all, people may like the idea of renewable power, but when it comes down to it few of us will boycot carbon energy to get it. However, Blair blithely put the sword to our long-term carbon power use by nixing new carbon-based power plants. So that he could play the environmental card, he turned a blind eye to the impending shortfall. By the time government openly recognised that renewables wouldn't be ready in time, the only alternative possible was Nuclear.

The result is that we're going to be dependent upon Russia for our fuel until we can get enough nuclear power stations on line. Renewables will just have to wait until some other country gets the hang of the technologies. We could invest massively in energy saving and renewable power as an economic stimulus, but we're not that kind of country.

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Happy

Re: Scotland or UK?

It's "we" when Scotland needs Scottish banks bailed out, and "you English" at all other times ... :D

(it's ok, I'm not from the UK, I'm allowed to say things like that)

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Bronze badge

Fine by me

as long as the hypocrites turn off the gadzillion useless energy wasting streetlamps we've got in this country first.

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Happy

Loads of raw energy here!

Sunny climate

Fresh air

Eons of raw energy

LOL @ you grime boys in the UK

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@Alan Fisher

"The clean energy technology is at least 40 years but it was never developed or taken seriously because of the oil company monopoly and the fact people never bothered to challenge this"

can I have some examples of this I can only assume you mean nuclear (no I can not spell it it is one of many words I can not spell) and there has been investment and development in this tech just not in British but France and others the current designs for reactors are a massive advancement on the old types and are in a death/KWh ratio much better than any coal/oil or renewable system that is out there

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J
IT Angle

RE: Just a couple of points if they haven't been made already.

"Coke fired power stations. Possible, if market can be found for Coking hydrocarbons - I think so!"

Unfortunately LCPD focuses on SO2 and NOx emissions so the coke terminology loophole doesn't exist. Scrubber is cheaper than a full coke run, nice try though, funny.

People have fundamentally got the wrong end of the stick on economics. Its a sad situation.

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Flame

LET'S FIGHT!

"The Labour supporters always seem to forget that Thatcher spent the Eighties righting the disaster left by the previous Labour government."

Labour were only in office for 5 years, from 1974 to 1979. Do you think in 5 years Labour single-handedly "destroyed" Britain?

As for sorting out the mess. The Conservatives said there was no new money for the railways - they must be privatized! After privatization, subsidies to the railways more than TRIPLED! That's how that "mess" was sorted out - by fooling the public that privatization worked when it was actually huge taxpayer subsidies.

Labour are being attacked again, but the real criticism levelled against Labour since 1997 is that it's been another Tory party.

As for the energy crisis - it hasn't happened yet! It's a bit soon to start digging our graves.

New power plants ARE being built, including coal ones. Two links here:

http://www.fairhome.co.uk/2008/04/28/two-new-power-plants-for-the-uk/

http://www.wdm.org.uk/kingsnorth/ukcoal.htm

I don't support any political party, by the way. And if others did the same, we might all be better off - we might stop swallowing political propaganda and attacking each other. For the last 30 years, the unemployed have been blamed for this country's problems. Personally, I blame them for the financial crisis. Politicians keep us fighting each other to keep us distracted.

The only entities that don't care who wins the next election are the big corporations - or, rather, the CEOs of big corporations. Because that's who the politicians really work for.

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Anonymous Coward

Savings?

"More efficient lighting (which accounts for nearly 20 per cent of domestic electricity consumption) will go some way to alleviating these demand pressures."

Some way, but how far? A compact fluorescent lamp uses around 20% of the energy used by a filament bulb with equivalent output. So the saving amounts to some 16% of the gross consumption. Vastly greater savings could be made, just for example, by improving the energy efficiency of electric cookers (approx 3 kW, with a 10-15 minute warm up time) and computers (typically around 400W and on all day). Roughly a third of my electricity consumption is accounted for by my office IT. But "energy efficient lighting" is an easy sap to conscience (a way to "feel green"), provided you disregard the energy budgets for manufacture and disposal.

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Anonymous Coward

What's the official name for electricity shortage?

Brown Out

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Anonymous Coward

Emissions and the definition of a power station.

IF you build a giant wind farm and a giant coal fired plant (or whatever) as back up then say the whole lot is one power station the emissions of the coal plant per kilowatt will be averaged with the emissions of the wind farm per kilowatt, thus the whole "station" (A combined coal/wind plant) would be lower per kilowatt than for a solely coal plant.

Thus I have solved the problem with the magical power of accountancy.

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Can these people be trusted ?

A few weeks ago I spotted something on the EST website - here is the correspondance:

My original query was:

Your website states that "Leaving gadgets and appliances on standby across the UK wastes over £900 billion worth of energy"

This seems like a very large figure - can you tell me how you have arrived at this figure ?

In response, the EST replied:

Many thanks indeed for pointing that out. It’s a particularly unfortunate error which makes the statement 3 orders of magnitude out. Total UK energy spend is in the region of £30 billion and wasted electricity due to standby consumption is in the region of

£900 million. This figure is derived from work done by the Market Transformation Programme. More information on UK standby consumption can usually be found here:

http://www.mtprog.com/cms/product-strategies/sector/cross-sector

However it looks like they’ve removed the documents temporarily for updating.

Kind regards

The Energy Saving Trust Knowledge Services Team

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Black Helicopters

Old News

Christopher Booker has been writing about this in the Sunday Telegraph, Private Eye, and in his books for at least ten years now.

Please do not expect wind power to come to our aid either... every kilo-watt of wind power has to be backed by some form of "conventionally generated" reserve power to cover the 73% of the time when the wind does not blow.

If the lights are to stay on, we need new nuclear and coal fired power stations and a hefty supply of "bought-in" energy from the continent.

Just like all of the previous labour governments here, this one is ending in complete disaster.

Instead of hoodwinking the public into thinking that wind power, plus conservation in the form of low energy devices would be sufficient, they should have been continuing Margaret Thatcher's policy of building nuclear plants, which was what her famous "green speech" was all about. We should also have been applying major research into tidal power, the one force of nature that we can guarantee.

It is not completely mad to actually accuse government in this country of criminal behaviour either, because they are fully aware that wind power is/was never going to solve our energy needs, and yet it has willfully rigged the market to encourage the construction of these abortions in our landscape. It has provided the wind generators with all sorts of financial incentives (all paid for by us) in order to enrich themselves and their cronies.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Flame

One other (short term) option

Rape and pillage the remaining UK gas fields. Drill extra wells and use the extra gas to run some more generators on current sites.

Of course, this will massively accelerate the production decline in UK gas fields, but it might buy us a few years extra to act. Alas, I would imagine giving big tax breaks and subsidies to oil companies to achieve this (as would be necessary) would be politically unnacceptable.

But it is a technical possibility.

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Thumb Down

Oh dear oh dear oh dear

Anyone who thinks the government couldn't possibly get away with doing nothing until the lights go out...

...just think of what happened to the Banks.

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Silver badge

@ various

@ AC 08:40: You *can't* improve the efficiency of an electric cooker -- 100% of the electricity fed into it ends up as heat.

And a computer with a 400W power supply isn't pulling 400 watts all the time unless it's (a) a very cheap Taiwanese power supply and (b) transcoding video and burning DVDs, or doing some similarly processor- , disk- and optical-drive-intensive task.

@ goggyturk: I'm not sure there's anything left in the UK's gas fields.

Digesting biodegradable rubbish to produce methane which could then be pumped into the existing gas pipelines *might* be viable, depending how far the stuff has to be purified to make it compatible with existing appliances. (The old artificial gas made from coal and used until the 1960s contained combustible but toxic CO; methane made by digestion contains non-combustible CO2.) If it can be got to work, it might even end up being more palatable to the NIMBY brigade (who are somewhat to blame for the present energy crisis) than CHP plants burning rubbish. But if they're still running permanent-pilot boilers and gravity-fed hot water systems, it won't be as efficient.

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Dead Vulture

Possible solution

Get windmills in parliament, all the hot air in there must generate something...

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Pirate

Brillant Strategy

Many people think this is a disaster caused by clueless politicians not looking a few years into the future.

How wrong they are!

Rather this is a brilliant political strategy to meet our targets for CO2 reduction. We now have many targets set in the near future to reduce CO2 usage. Obviously the government have done the talking but bugger all else, it would cost money you know.

So now we will be forced to use less electricity while the government can do the more important expensive things like PFI hospitals, ID cards and protecting children from their parents and the Internet.

Bravo!

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Gas?

It does not seem to be widely known that way back when natural gas was discovered it was realised that it would run out so research was put in hand to produce a gas from coal that could be sufficiently similar to natural gas that it would not be necessary to conduct another 'changeover'. I believe that it was successful and, if it has not been lost in the change of ownership it could be viable quite quickly (as these things go).

Dave.

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Anonymous Coward

It's time to stop talking and start doing.

Unless we start building coal or nuclear power stations now we are doomed to a very dark future. Bugger the environment, the public enquiry, the wind turbines, the solar panels, the Severn Barrage, we need to start building them NOW, not in 6 months time, not in a years time, not after a general election, not in five years time, NOW means NOW!

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