2022 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012
"The CEGB had a legal obligation on security and continuity of electricity supply."
Did it, now? Last time I remember three day weeks and reading by candlelight was when the combined incompetence of state owned infrastructure failed to deliver power because the ingrates were on strike. Every aspect was owned and operated by the state, and still the bunglers couldn't do it right.
Given your daft opinions I understand why you're posting AC.
Re: Pass those savings one British Gas
"Because if they had transparent charging you would be able to tell who was the cheapest and everyone would switch to whoever had the cheapest Tariff. "
Obviously you've never heard of the concept of price comparison web sites? A novel innovation that means you don't have to do much work, and they'll give you every tariff in the land, in order of price. Not too hard for you, was that?
"Basically, the entire concept of privatised electricity/gas and "competition" is based around using confusing Tariffs to trick customers into not leave after you edge the prices up."
As it's piss easy to change suppliers, just shop round once a year, and if you're notified of an impending price rise. Are you twerp enough to just take your insurer's annual price hike? I doubt it, so why any big deal of energy prices? And the prices in Tesco change all the time, do you bleat pathetically about that too?
Privatisation reduced prices significantly for a decade or so - there's a few reasons they've being going up over the past few years, partly world markets, but also Gordon Brown's economic incompetence that has caused sterling to slide, making any globally traded commodity more expensive, and DECC's idiot "green" and social policies that are currently adding about £150 a year to your bill. So the whole "privatisation is wrong" hand wringing ignores the expense, inefficiency and incompetence of state suppliers (maybe you're too young to remember how crap they were under state ownership, but I'm not).
Re: Pass those savings one British Gas
"Wow, with all that money they are saving, how about the reduce the unit cost of electricity and pass the savings on to the consumer. Radical I know."
The cost savings are negative, but rest assured they will be passed on to you, as part of the ever increasing proportion of your bill that pays for government mandated nonsense.
Re: Did we overlook this?
"If you don't pay your bill they can cut off the power by SMS without entering your premises"
Maybe, after about five letters and a visit to the property. That's because the regulator will fine energy companies if they cut off vulnerable customers, and the only way to establish that is to visit. In practical terms they probably wouldn't cut you off, they''d set a smart meter to pre-pay mode, and add any debt to the applicable tariff - and they have to notify you in advance.
Re: Meter Readers
"The power companies are delighted that they are going to save money (and energy) on meter readers because of smart meters"
Oh no we aren't. You call installing a £260 device to save about £7 a year "saving money"? In forty years you'd recover the costs, but only if the capital is free. As it isn't, smart meters increase the costs by about £11 a year per meter.
And what's more, the clowns of DECC have required the supply company (not the network operator) to install the things, so your average big power company with say 5m customers has to find around £2.5 billion quid to install new gas and electricity meters, then when you change supplier the new company will probably be leasing the old supplier's meter, cue much faffing around, complexity, cost and confusion behind the scenes.
Re: Costs hidden...
"The trouble is that the utility companies do all they can to hide these clues by averaging bills over long time periods, etc"
There's no desire to "hide" what you're using, and in fact the information from at best two manual meter readings a year wouldn't tell you much even if it formed the basis of a non-averaged bill. The reason that we offer fixed monthly direct debits is because most people don't want the alternative: If you want to pay your bill quarterly (or even monthly) in full then there are options to do so, although you may have to search hard for them. Due to the variations in seasonal demand your winter energy bills will typically be three or four times higher than summer (or rather, you monthly 'leccy bill would be twice as high in winter as summer, and your gas bill about five times). And there's extra - in aggregate people who pay quarterly and monthly in full suffer more bad debt when the big bills roll in, so the tariffs are about 10% higher than the normal monthly direct debit.
Residential monthly billing is particularly rare because of the need to send round a meter reader (or the onus is on the customer to accurately and regularly provide a customer read). Smart meters could solve that, but that's hardly justification for spending £14bn, mind you.
Re: No Radiation?
"it's just that the potential harm of nuclear power is beyond compare. "
Compared to what? Maximum number of deaths due to nuclear accidents, weapons testing and weapons use is about 5m tops, using the most extreme figures I can find. That's nothing compared to the harm from pandemics, famine, poor sanitation, poor air quality, warfare, state oppression, cigarettes, road accidents, drugs & alcohol, and suicide. As a broad brush, you can attribute an indicative figure of about one million deaths a year to each of those causes, year in year out.
Nuclear seems quite safe to me, even on the figures from the scaremongers. A pity it is so expensive that it isn't economic.
"And that alone kind of suggests that this is all b***ocks."
It is. Unfortunately energy policy is driven largely by the EU, who are (in all things) clueless, and obsessively focused on renewables at any cost. German energy policy is in chaos due to the over-build of renewables (and the daft idea of abandoning nuclear). Spanish enegy policy has all but collapsed due to the overbuild of renewables, and Italy has had to have huge policy about turns in the energy sector. And by following the same nonsensical ideas, the UK has a failed energy policy, albeit we're still in the political denial stage - we've already seen the farce over solar PV feed in tariffs, the government's Green Deal programme is a barely believable quagmire of unappealing bureacracy, they propose to spend £14bn in a panickly rolling out of smart meters to save trivial amounts of money on manual meter reading (because the EU told them they had to, and nobody at Westminster had the gumption to tell Brussels to take a hike), and they've got all these wildly complicated ideas about demand side response, capacity mechanisms, and idiotic ideas that splitting vertically integrated companies apart will somehow make a difference. UK energy policy is a bit like your grandad's medication - hundreds of different pills, the majority of which are trying to counter the undesired side effects of the preceding pill, rather than contributing to solving the original problem.
You'll have seen various press coverage of SSE and nPower suggesting that the lights will go out and costs will go through the roof. OFGEM warned Parliament of the post 2015 capacity gap at least seven years ago. Meanwhile Rome burns and Ed Davey fiddles, as have all his useless predecessors.
We could and should stop the mass roll out of smart meters; the money spent to date on renewables is more of a problem - if you stop the subsidies for the existing plant then the people who built them in response to government policy and incentives have to write down the value and take a loss, and it then becomes apparent that government promises are totally worthless when taking investment decisions - so why buiild CCGT, nuclear, or anything else? But if you don't stop the subsidies, then intermittent and unpredicatable renewables continue to disrupt the power market, cost money for stuff all output, and make fossil plant uneconomic so requiring more intervention, more complex rules and yet more subsidies, whilst reducing the net thermal efficiency.
Re: Forget fusion?
"Why don't Bill Gates, Warren Buffett et al. each chuck a couple of billion of their personal wealth into the pot and just get the job done?"
Because it's not just cash sitting in a piggy bank. Most likely it is already invested in other businesses, or loaned to them. Even if the owners hold it as "cash at bank", the bank is using that as part of its deposits to lend to other businesses or to invest.
It is a common fallacy that the world if full of idle money; In reality you always have to make a choice between how it is being used, and if you don't make that choice then the institution that holds the money for you will make the choice on your behalf.
Given that there's plenty of things you can get a return on now, would you invest in fusion when it still looks to be thirty years minimum away from producing energy?
Re: Why isn't this being done in the UK?
"The government's latest plan (which they aren't mentioning in public yet for obvious reasons)"
Oh, they are, but it is under euphemisms like "demand side response", and "capacity mechanisms". This involves using back up plant to hopefully peak lop, but also "load shifting" where they hope that big eneregy users like refridgerated or air conditioning warehouses can be persuaded to turn the chillers off when it suits DECC. And they've also got a beady eye on the future opportunity to turn your fridge off at home using smart meters, home hubs and networked appliances. All available in various publications on the DECC web site, which is full of complex and expensive solutions to otherwise easily fixed problems.
"and they aren't building enough gas plants fast enough to replace the coal plants when they go offline"
No. I think there's only one CCGT under substantive construction in the UK, although there's about five consented and ready to move towards formal planning. In part we don't need to replace all of the LCPD closures, because our reserve margin was too high (due to previously centralised planning that built power stations to keep miners employed, or extra oil stations for when theminers were on strike). But when we factor in the full extent of LCPD closures, the retirement of Wylfa, then we do need a bit more decent fossil plant. DECC could and should have resolved that, but the last government were so keen on the War on Climate Change that they weren't willing to wake up and sniff the coffee. Note that all of this DSR and capacity mechanisms will not be properly operational until about 2018, so (with a firm kick up the @rse) we could have built the necessary CCGT by then, and not bother with convoluted, expensive and unreliable attempts to ameliorate peak demand. In many ways DECC's policy will reduce peak demand, but only because their expensive solutions will force our modest remaining industry out of business.
"the power companies, civil servants and government have known this was coming for 15 years at least, and resolutely refused to do anything"
Don't blame the power companies. We'll invest if there's some certainty that we'll be allowed to build and operate our plants, but DECC and government will only provide certainty for their bl00dy windmills. And we've warned politicians for the past decade or more of the capacity gap that was emerging as a result of the LCPD closures.
The ultimate root cause is this obsession of politicians with carbon. The low carbon technologies simply aren't developed enough to work properly in meeting our demand, but regardless they have been incentivised rather than putting money into research. As a result we have £30bn of ineffectual eco-bling despoiling the landscape. You have two choices: If you subscribe to the AGW religion, then you have to accept that government policy is sensible, if expensive and probably unreliable. Or you could accept that climate changes anyway, we might be making a tiny change at the margin, but we'll live with the good and bad consequences, and build some decent proper reliable plant, maybe perhaps funding renewables research (but not production).
With that £30bn spent on renewables, you might hope we'd be making energy efficiently now. Unfortunately, on DECC data released yesterday, power station conversion losses remains the second largest point use of energy, almost twice the scale of all industrial energy use, more than all forms of domestic energy use, and almost as large total transport energy use. A sensible strategy would capture and use the 46 million tonnes of oil equivalent that disappear up power station cooling towers, but instead all of DECC's daft incentive schemes are for nonsense that can be classed as "renewable" heat. Neither government nor civil servants have a clue, nor a grip on what needs to be done, nor on how to improve things.
Re: Nice but...
"They are supposed to be gateway drugs into selling you adverts and services. "
Which means people have a choice. Buy a Nexus 7 and accept that it is Google's spec, or buy better specified tablet which will be higher priced by virtue of the need to earn the margin at point of sale, and because the better spec costs more.
An unfortunate side effect of selling the Nexus 7 at such low margin is that the economics of paid for repairs are questionable, making it essentially a disposable device. I'm not sure I like that aspect.
"I can't see any justification for the police recording *any* ANPR data long-term"
Most serious crime isn't solved immediately, and in many cases it goes on for months before being detected, never mind cracked. A recent court case round our way involved drugs deals done fifty miles away over a period of a year, and the ANPR data was used both as supporting evidence in court to the crims movements, and operationally to track the dealers to their supplier. In many serious cases, it becomes important to know where the subject of interest went before he was known to be "of interest", and you can't do that without recorded data. Even with duplicate or stolen plates, if you've recorded the data you know the movements of the cars involved, and if I report my plates as stolen one morning, then the police will automatically deduce that somebody has been up to no good in a car with my registration, and they can start looking for both perps and the crime. Piece that together with CCTV and other evidence, and swapping plates isn't quite so anonymous as some people seem to think.
Personally, I'd rather ANPR was used against serious crime rather than road tax dodgers (who could be caught by non-ANPR means). Unfortunately, if you want ANPR to be used against serious and organised crime then that means recording and retaining the data.
"Who's to say they aren't storing the photographs as well?"
They are, although perhaps not in the way you think. Dedicated ANPR cameras usually only record an image of the plate, but many CCTV cameras can be dual use with software monitoring the video feed to provide slightly less accurate ANPR capabilities, and these will indeed automatically record both images and plates. Even the dedicated cameras are often co-located with CCTV so that cross referencing is very easy. There's plenty of stuff about this if you search with the terms ACPO ANPR.
Re: And in Brum
"Rumour has it the local wags drive past those, and the ones on the A34 (about 15 miles away) simultaneously with identical number plates"
Which won't confuse the systems, which will simply flag the plate as copied. And that means that any drivers of cars with those plates have a very high probability of being stopped as soon as they drive past an ANPR equipped traffic car. I can think of better ways of spending my time than baiting the traffic police.
How is this different to the ACPO national network of ANPR cameras?
"My girlfriend didn't see anything wrong with it when I showed her after work. I recommend reading Caitlin Moran's "How to be a woman". Essential reading for feminists,"
Thank you for the patronising advice. Re-reading my post, do you think I was claiming any moral high ground?
But regardless of what your girlfriend might think, I know my wife and female colleagues would be offended. You certainly can't please all the people all of the time, and a perusal of my output will show that I'm not above some gutter language but this came across as gratuitous and sexist.
An interesting challenge for you: The lady in question is quite pleasant looking. Would the headlines have been the same if she'd looked like Mo Mowlem?
Re: Headline excellence...
"OK - what part was sexist? The madam?"
You pathetic knob. If you really can't see why women might take offence, then I'm not going to explain it to you. Care to repost under your normal pseud, so we can bear it in mind in future?
Re: Headline excellence...
Or maybe not. I can't see the few female readers of the Reg being amused. Even I don't find it funny, and I'm a sexist old dinosaur in so many ways, and an appreciative reader of Viz.
And then they wonder why so few women go into tech. Wouldn't be the whiff of misogyny and flatulence that lingers over IT, would it?
Re: Outdated specs
"Yeah, I thought that. Then I looked at the photo - all female, all <35yo. On a second look, it appears they're all circa 35 but "dressing young". It's obvious who Motorola are targetting with the X - and it's not your tech-savvy male. MILFs who want to look young again. That's my take on the advert.
So - hypothetically, of course - if I carry a Moto X, then these women will be impressed with my taste? Order placed!
"Blue coats K9 protection is free so not even a cost to it. But like all filtering it has it's issues (horoscopes are classed as occult)...So say I want my kids to go to say... debunkingsexualmyths.org but it's blocked. How do you allow it?"
Come off it! There can be no univerally agreed whitelist, but K9 is easy to use and robust, and very easily customised. The defaults are to filter for starch-collared US Christian values, but that's OK. I've permitted some categories and sites I want them to have access to, but as a starting point better to have excessive filtering rather than let some of the unpleasant rubbish through. Children will struggle to get round it (and if they can then there's probably nothing to stop them getting round other barriers), but adding exceptions by category, or by specific website is very easy for the K9 administrator (ie you). And if it's on a machine also used for "adult purposes" then it's easy to bypass all filtering in administrator mode for preset periods, at the end of which it reverts to normal filtering.
So if you want your kids to look at "Occult", you just allow that category and leave all else blocked. Or you sit with them, agree which horoscope sites they want to look at and you're happy with, and add the individual sites in the permitted exceptions. No big deal at all. My kids know that their machine welws are filtered, and they don't have admin rights for Windows; they know they can ask for specific sites to be permitted if the default settings don't allow it, and they've got a good case.
I shall be turning Cameron's filter off as a matter of both principle and of practice (well, because....), but I'm now fairly relaxed about what is being proposed. I'm more angry that it comes from that twerp Cameron, than about what it actually is.
Re: Related information
"Also: what makes you think something hasn't been sneaked into the avionics on such sales to ensure it CAN'T be used against you?"
You have a point there sir. Although the conspiracy theory is a bit much. Given the pigs ear made over Chinook software and more than a few other avionic software problemettes, it seems surprising that our kit can be used against anybody, even when its in our hands.
Saturday. Nice to see the A380 and the Arrows, and a fabulously quiet climb out for such a beast (Respect to Rolls Royce). And as somebody usually being rude about BAE, I'll tip my hat and say that they sponsor an excellent show, and their display stand was excellent and the staff great at explaining the tech they were using.
Of course, there was a reason the A380 was going back for more training - they didn't put the wheels on the runway at Fairford simply because they had not yet covered "Landings" in the manual. Hope they'd read it by the time they got back, but we'd have heard if not...
But I have to say that amongst all the hot shot afterburner jockeys, and new shiney kit, the stand out moments were those fabulous loons of the Italian AIr Force doing a full 360 roll in a reasonably large transport aircraft, and the Meteor doing its stuff - so ungainly and primitive looking when you see it on the ground, and truly graceful when flying.
Here's to next year!
Re: Related information
"This is relevant when you consider future F-35's will have the exact same problem ..."
Only for the Yanks. The British government will have sold or scrapped its QE class carriers before it is able to afford the aircraft, as part of the continuing glidepath to a single ship Navy. And the RAF & Army needn't feel too smug, because they're on a similar trip to the one aircraft air force and the one tank army. In Britain we call this slow trudge to disarmament a "strategic defence review".
Experience of previous long-lead defence procurement decisions involves mothballing things you ordered and then forget what you wanted to do with them, and after a few years of expensive storage selling them to somebody you hope won't use them against you, for a fraction of the money actually paid.
"Several hundred thousand people watching and not an environmentalist in sight"
Wasn't it fab? And I loved the non-PC prize draw for a 30mm sheel casing "fired on operations".
If we'd been better cordinated we could even have shared a pint.
"The USA is notable for having one of the worst trained armies in the first world. Just for reference British troops and special forces are far better trained...."
...and then handed their P45.
I thought it was just me
Cue much thumping, powering off and on, hard resets, pulling the lid off and tweaking all the connectors. Eventually started working again after 24 hours unpowered, a couple of hard resets, and powering back on with no aerial connection, and then putting back into service. At the time I put it down to my skill in tweaking the connectors, but obviously not.
" There simply isn't any reasonable doubt about climate change anymore. It is happening. "
You should read what I have written more carefully before leaping in with your own opinions. When did I deny that climate change has and continues to happen? It always has changed, always will change. Just because (as per the Climategate emails) the high priests of this new religion seek to disparage, discourage and discredit those hold different views doesn't make them right. The targeted funding of research will inevitably find evidence in a complex system that matches what the funding issuers want to hear, particularly since fools seem to have already decided that the case is proven. If you think this is proven, then you're not much of a scientist, since your mind is not open to alternative theories. Maybe you've forgotten the mad, inaccurate plagiarism of the IPCC? If they can't be relied upon, who should we trust?
Let's park AGW for a moment, and look towards the longer term: Fossil fuels are not likely to be sufficient to power our societies. We therefore need alternatives, and renewables or fission/fusion technologies may have a part to play, along with making more efficient use of energy. But the short term, panicky Canute like response to Thermogeddon is not a sensible policy. Globally, emissions are higher because Europe has pushed industry offshore to less efficient and "dirtier" parts of the world. Society is poorer because of the unproductive investment in renewables - so we've spent £30bn in the UK on windmills, but because of the panic, that's been on immature technologies and rubbish assets - small generators, low hub heights, crummy onshore locations, primitive materials, unreliable and short lived hardware. If instead of that (which I'm taking from your tone you think is a grand thing) we'd replaced all UK coal with CCGT at a cost of £6bn then we'd have done far more to reduce emissions than our fleet of subsidy-harvesting windmills, we could have still spent £4bn on reasearch into energy storage, or advancing wind turbine performance and reliability, or fission & fusion, and still be £20bn richer as a nation. And from such a policy we'd have had lower emissions than we will do in the near future, and we'd have been able to make much more effective future investments in non-fossil technologies. Even if that was common or garden nuclear, the 3x cost over-runs on EPR show that either the underlying technology, or the basics of construction needed a lot more work before trying to build the things. Meanwhile, the UK government are desperate to bribe EdF to build an EPR at Hinckley Point, in order to meet their own spurious "climate" goals.
So my proposal is not based on burning coal forever. It isn't based on denying climate change. It simply involves looking at what you need to achieve, doing so efficiently, and not having panic-driven policies inspired by suspect theories and the European Calvinist guilt ethic.
"I was starting to think you were talking sense, and then you went and did the energy supplier thing of calling climate change "claptrap", thus proving you're full of shit."
Well, my teutonic friend, I've studied the subjects at hand to graduate level, so I think I've got a valid degree of education to doubt the claptrap. But taking your moniker at face value, who's government is phasing out CO2 light nuclear in favour of gas and coal?
From my point of view that's common sense, from the point of view of AGW conformists, well.........
Re: "a £265 piece of kit"
"How exactly does a smart meter cost £265? "
Total programme costs divided by number of installations.
I would guess that at least half the total costs arise because of the inefficient install programme that is inevitable.
Re: "fewer disconnections" and "manage payment problems earlier" don't mix
"Managing Payment Problems earlier will be a whole strategy, including sending messages to the IHD up to and including Load Limiting - literally limiting the amount of electricity that can be consumed at any particular
Which shows the idiocy of the specification, as kettles and water heaters consume more than flat screen tellies. Are you going to let people who are deemed to be able but unwilling to pay* sit and watch Jeremy Kyle all day, but stop them having a shower or a cup of tea? The whole DECC specification reeks of vile civil servant control freakery, and shit-headed stalinist logic. But its not quite as bad as the business case.
* that's what disconnection is supposed to be for, as there's a welfare state and special rules for the "vulnerable"
Re: Has this been tried on real people? @AC 13:46
"And the government policy is and was largely written by the lobbyists acting on behalf of the asset owners and operators,no?"
You really think we said to government "Go on then, sign that Large Combustion Plant Directive into law and make 12GW of our generating capacity obsolete, and at the same time twiddle with the market structures so that we've got no certainty to invest in new plant, that's what we want. And while you;re at it, could we have a hugely complex set of social obligations thrust upon us, with draconian fines when we struggle to complete them because the rules are difficult to meet, and your guidelines, make sure you don't finalise them until halfway through the timescale we've got to deliver. Ooh, almost forgot, could we be mandated to roll out a vastly expensive, risky and complex new metering programme, also with draconian fines for non compliance, even though the main cause of delay is your stupid, rules and regulations, and lack of common sense".
Re: New supplier = New meter?
"Suppliers already effectively to pay to rent meters "
I know. And if you're going to mandate smart meters, that would have been the model to follow, because you know who you're paying to rent the meter and its the same as the DNO who you have to pay DUOS charges to. The way DECC have bungled smartmeters, the suppliers still need to pay DUOS to the distribution network, but they also have to track and pay any one of thirty or so retail suppliers who may own the smart meters, plus during the transition they'll have a lot of old meters still owned by the distribution company. What could possibly go wrong?
Re: SOP @ Tom Welsh
"A typical government project. It simultaneously: 1. Ignores the real problems (how are we going to generate enough power in the future?...."
Well, you have to think like a DECC bureaucrat. And as with all Whitehall pension-harvesters, they're fighting the last war. In this case, the last war was that peaking plant was very expensive, and therefore if you could, reducing peak demand saved you bucketloads of cash that would otherwise have been squandered on expensive but rarely used thermal plant.
Unfortunately, with the advent of gas plant, power stations are now surprisingly cheap, say half a billion quid for a stonking great 2 GW CCGT. Rather than spending billions in a risky scheme to shave marginal points off the peak demand, they should just tell industry to build and operate what is required. Keep an eye open for new technologies that might help (eg storage), but certainly not spend £14bn on useless smart meters that will be obsolete before the roll out is complete. And it was a bad idea to spend £30bn on crappy wind power that just gets in the way of efficient running of gas plant, but that's another £30bn of value destroyed by incompetent government policies.
When can we march on Whitehall with our pitchforks, and stick some MP's and civil servants' heads on pikes?
Re: @Ragarath Smart meter discussion good, then sudden turn into...
"Your post was very good up until midway through the last paragraph"
That could apply to several of us...but let me leap in and take a bow anyway!
Re: Seems unlikely they would be used for cut-off...
" think it very unlikely that the costs of including a 60A remote controlled switch in EVERY meter would be part of the design."
Au contraire, a load switch (of undefined rating) is part of the specification to cut off supply from the grid.
There's other unwelcome bits like "load limiting" capabilities, capability for half hourly tariffs, remote disconnection, remote management of anciliary loads (though you'd have to install kit of matching capability before that does anything).
"There's got to be VAT on the cost of buying and installing these things, "
Only 5% on the bit recovered through the electricity bill (all the rest is B2B and deductable). That's only worth about £65m a year. More useful is the raised income tax and NI from slightly raised employment during the installation programme, which at a guess would be about £150m a year, plus a tiny bit from the incremental profits of the meter makers.
Re: Has this been tried on real people? @Tony W
"Lots of informed and trustworthy people (inside and outside the industry) did point out prior to UK energy piratisation that "the markets" were unlikely to be ideally placed to manage energy policy"
You twit! The asset owners and operators don't "manage energy policy", they execute commercial strategies that are defined by the policy that government sets. It wouldn't matter if the CEGB and all the electricity boards still existed, because government still wouldn't have made the necessary or right decisions, and energy policy is largely dictated by Brussels now anyway. But you'd have CEGB brand windmills, you'd have the continued slow expensive fuckup that was the state nuclear programme (remember Sizewell B?), so no new nuclear either.
Here's a thought for you. On latest data, the much more commercial Yank set up has lower emissions per kWh than Europe does, because the less regulated market has allowed shale gas development, that's reduced the price, and commercial operators have responded by replacing coal generation with modern efficient gas plants. In Europe we have the lunacy of German energy policy, plus emissions trading systems that don't work, plus forced plant closure dates that have encouraged the burning of coal (not that I care, but at odds with what bunglement say they want to achieve).
Face it, energy policy is a mess, because government is composed of arseholes, all worshipping at the altar of climate change. They aren't reducing emissions as the Yanks are, or reducing costs (again, as the Yanks are), but they are putting costs and complexity up, with plans to make it exponentially worse. Foolishly, Obama and others are pushing for America to follow Europe's lead on renewables, so things aren't all plain sailing, but once again, the problems are caused not by private ownership of assets, but by bureaucrats making stupid rules to improve the world.
Re: Has this been tried on real people? @Tony W
"I hear they are just talking about possibly getting someone to look at designing new nuclear power plants."
Well, we could have done it ourselves, but the same arseholes who signed up for all this eco bollocks sold Westinghouse to Toshiba. So now we've got to ask Johnny Foreigner to come and build us some new nukes. In the grand scheme nukes are still too expensive to be justified, but at least they're better than "renewables".
So, DECC are talking about giving a big bribe ("strike price") to Electricte de France and Areva to build a new nuke plant at Hinckley Point. Of the same EPR design that's already six years late and 3 times the original cost at Olkiluoto in Finland, and a similar design at Flamanville in France that's likewise 3x over budget and at least four years late.
Unfortunately, this approach of building advanced one off plants (in each country) is a guarantee of excessive cost, delays and price rises. The only reason France got their original nuclear fleet out at an acceptable cost was building loads to a proven US reactor design.
So not only does the UK stand no chance of having any new nuclear plant by the government's promised 2020 start date, but it'll cost an arm and a leg, and be years late. DECC and cunts like Ed Davey know the facts. They know they and the last government have engaged in a wilfully misguided energy policy, that we risk blackouts, that costs are going through the roof, that it isn't going to reduce emissions, and that nuclear is the wrong solution, too costly and too late. But they won't admit it, because they are all congenital liars. It is unsurprising that a recent energy minister ended up being convicted of perjury and perverting the course of justice.
"(my fridge is going on 20 and only the icemaker's broken)."
I offer you a very sincere recommendation: Buy a good plug in energy monitor (that'll cope with power factor correction) and use it work out how much that fridge is using over a week or so. Maybe wait for weather to cool down a touch before doing this (otherwise you'll be reading very high use numbers that are not representative), and compare to the expected annual usage of a new fridge.
Older fridges and freezers are utter bastards for wasting energy, probably worse than any other appliance because they're always on. They were designed for an era of cheaper electricity, and there have been big improvements in the compressor efficiency and insulation over the past fifteen years. Moreover, as fridges age the hinges droop and the door seals harden, leading to continual heat loss. Maybe at low rates - still seems like the door seals - but its those continuous losses that have a big influence on the energy use. In some cases you can save the cost of the new fridge in reduced electricity costs over less than two years.
Re: Has this been tried on real people? @Tony W
"As far as I can see, people who are worried about saving energy already do it. "
Indeed, and as per Roger Greenwood's post above, there's evidence that the early adopters of smart meters do reduce electric power consumption by a few percent, but that's not been compared to the results for those using a simple £30 electricity monitor, or for the fact that smart meter trial participants have for the vast majority self selecting, and therefore engaged with the idea of saving energy. Take out the beard and sandals types and the savings in reality won't occur in this way.
However, there's more sinister plans afoot to force people to "save energy". In the DECC smart meter business case, there's almost a billion quid of benefits "through the take up of time of use tariffs". Which is to say that all this current government claptrap about simplifying electricity bills is merely noise and propaganda, as their intention is to encourage or force energy companies to charge multiple different tariffs on the same day. Sounds easy when you put it like that, no different to economy 7. Except that to work you'd need at least three tariff rates per day, ideally more, and they should vary seasonally. How will you ever know what you're paying?
Government don't understand the mechanism of supply and demand. The Oxbridge educated fools think that if price increases, demand goes down, because (hopefully) the undeserving middle classes all use a bit less. In reality, its like petrol: There's no good substitutes, and rises in price reduce demand only a little, and usually by the poorest having to do without because they simply can't afford it.
Come on poor people, turn the lights off and put on a jumper, you're killing the planet!
Re: I'm gonna need a bigger house
"Wouldn't suprise me to learn they've signed binding contracts (with eye-gouging penalty clauses) for the supply of 53 million meters"
Your cynicism is well founded, but inaccurate. DECC have veerrryyyy slooowly developed a specification for all smart meters. But the actual contracts are signed energy supplier by energy supplier. For a large company with several million customers the loss of economy of scale (cf national purchasing) is more than offset by the commercial skills of the buyers. For smaller energy companies its more of a problem, but that's not my problem.
However, its not all sweetness and light. DECC's specification is so convoluted and market specific that these meters aren't the same as most European countries are using, so there's a cost to developing a new toy with a UK only specification. And we all know how good government and civil servants are at that sort of thing. Expect something bad to be discovered after they've all been installed.
Re: @Ragarath part 2
"Yes it is helping you make money and you even said in your post it is. You do not have to read metres and the cost of the metres will not be borne by the energy companies, it will be borne by the bill payers."
The cost savings are presumed by DECC to be passed through to customers. And the evidence is that they always have been - at the supply business level, your energy suppliers barely cover their cost of capital (and in many years haven't). If you look across the whole energy supply chain, then things only improve marginally - take SSE, who are present across almost all of the electricity value chain of generation, trading, distribution & supply: Return on assets, 2.06 miserable percent. I can do better than that with a high street savings account (with some shopping around).
Ultimately the cost of ANYTHING has to be paid for by customers (or taxpayers) and that's why it matters that there isn't a genuine business case. If it made the energy companies more profitable, but was neutral for customers that wouldn't matter because the higher margins would attracts more investment into the industry, the profits would bolster your pension, makes your insurance cheaper (up front premiums are invested), help life savings rates.
Profit isn't a bad thing. What's a bad thing is that there's too little of it in this country.
Re: I'm gonna need a bigger house@Magister
"Going to be a very large pile of unsused meters methinks."
No, the balance of those numbers is because gas meters are going to have to be replaced with smart meters as well. Which is unfortunate, because the fairly advanced trials of gas smart meters have established there's no reduction in demand even from the self-selected early adopters.
So we're replacing 23 odd million gas meters at a cost of about £6bn to save £138m a year in manual meter reading and call centre and billing costs for incorrect bills. That''s a 44 year cash payback. Unfortunately, bad as that is, when you include the cost of capital at 5%, then the £138m savings per year become a net cost of £163m a year.
Re: New supplier = New meter?
" What if i decide to replace my Energy Supplier? Will they have to replace my meter"
Supposedly not. All mass roll out smart meters are supposed to be compliant with DECC's standard. Your new supplier can choose to replace the meter, or to rent the existing one. As they are supposed to be like for like the assumption is they'll rent it, but as you can see it makes the industry finances even more complicated. It is a bad idea overall, but if you were going to do it then the distribution network operator should have been the people to do it.
But no sensible ideas were allowed during the development of this awful idea.
Re: Hack away
"I read there is a booming black market in the US for hacking these "secure" smart meters. Its apparently quite easy to rig them and significantly lower your bills.."
I'm not surprised. But the berks at DECC have balanced the smart metering business case by assuming that smart meters result in quarter of a billion quid savings from reduced electricity theft, and an additional half billion quid of avoided supplier losses (apparently smart meter users will always pay their bills, unlike today).
"Instead it is all wasted on helping the energy companies make more money and will make little difference to most peoples usage."
No it isn't helping us make more money. My employers are not making any money at all on the back of this. It is mandated by your good friends in the EU, and the clowns of Westminster and Whitehall have (as with all other matters) not had the spine nor sense to say "get stuffed" to Brussels. The power companies will be fined draconian amounts if we don't do as we're told.
The real cost savings are marginal, about £6 per meter per year, with an annual cash cost of about £25 per meter given that it is a £265 piece of kit, guessing it'll last an average of ten years before refurb or replacement. Even those cost savings have an offset (nationally) because if we don't have full employment, then there's welfare costs from anything that puts people out of work, and they assume that the capital is free. If you assign a value to the capital of say 5%, then your amortisation and interest take the meter cost to £40 a year, to save that £6 a year operating cost. Spending £40 to save £6 is only sensible if you're a bureaucrat spending other people's money. And better still, the £14bn cost of this government mandated scheme don't appear on the government's books - a tax that is hidden, wahey!
All the other "savings" are wishful thinking by DECC, in a "business case" that includes all manner of spurious and unlikely savings - for example, smart meters will make electricity theft less likely, reduced network losses (yeah!), over half a billion quid of savings from "reduced network investment through introduction of time of use tarrifs", reduced consumption because you have the option of a meter display on the wall, a billion quid of savings from "global CO2 reduction" and so it goes on. The business case probably comes from the same Booker fiction prize winning authors of the HS2 business case. It's worth searching for the highly critical NAO report on DECC's smart metering programme, and looking at the made up numbers (page 27 of the full report).
This is a colossal waste of money, deamt up by the eco loons of the EU. The money spent could useful be spent resolving the looming capacity gap, or even replacing all the coal stations that will run post 2015. And in fact, we could throw out this Chicken Little "climate change" claptrap, and stick with what we've got, rather than spend tens of billions that as a national we don't have, in a manner that will cause the remainder of British manufacturing to relocate elsewhere.
Re: Assembled in USA
" Is this a business decision? Or an attempt to avoid all the flak ...."
The economics of Far East assembly have been heavily eroded by labour inflation in China and the falling (relative) cost of labour int he US. You may recall the labour assembly content of (IIRC) an iPhone was only around $3 anyway. So the premium for on shore assembly isn't that high, perhaps $2-3 net of transport costs. Because most of the semiconductors and screens will still be sourced from Asian specialists they've been careful to use the term "assembled" rather than "made". Time to market and supply chain length don't favour Asian assembly - you still need the bits from Taiwan, mind you, but if you assemble in China then you're shipping the bits a further thousand miles the wrong way and then back again, with all the further costs and risks of longer supply chains and repeated modal changes.
Then there's the ethical and social issues. Offshoring is now a very dirty word, given the largely jobless recovery in the US, and the increased polarisation between the 1%'ers and an army of blue collar "have nots". What better way to promote a US brand like Motorola, and to contrast with Apple?
Re: As a motorcyclist @Nige Brown
In the Department Against Transport's preferred future, there won't be any motorcycles, so although your antagonists may be automated away, so will your petrol powered stallion.
Will you still wear leather and have a ZZ Top beard when you're in the Mk 7 Toyota Prius, sans steering wheel, and offered only in DfT Universal Beige?
Re: Notifications are it, I reckon
"But if you can just make a little circle that I put between my watch and my wrist that just vibrates when my phone tells it to, that would be awesome."
Yes! In fact, with that fantastic new vibration technology maybe one day they could make the phone vibrate whilst silent, and have an indicator light to show there's a call text or email, then .....oh.
Re: Has anyone tried...
"Has anyone tried doing waste heat recovery on all the hot air that comes out of a data centre? "
Search on "low grade heat recovery". Many have tried, few have found much success, simply because the energy in low temperature waste heat is not that great.
If you can think of a use for large volumes of lukewarm water, or warm air then you should let the electricity industry know, because they have a similar problem of huge volumes of low grade waste heat at power stations.
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