1154 posts • joined Friday 1st June 2012 10:28 GMT
Re: Ok here we go again@ TipsyTigger and Alfazed
"Don't confuse our political system with democracy, it isn't. It is a republic"
Cobblers to both of you, 'cos you're both wrong. We live in a numptocracy, where we are governed by numpties.
Some are elected numpties, some are graced and favoured numpties (that's the Lords, for the hard of thinking), and the bulk of them are career numpties, in the shape of our ghastly, useless and ineffectual civil service. Add a side order of Euronumpties, and you've got how this country is in the mess it is.
Re: BBC for the headlines @El Presidente
"So what? Simple solution"
You seem to think I'm taking a view on on-line expression. In fact I was merely responding to the OP who commented that newspaper paywalls and associated comment forums would make the commentards more traceable, and for a very high percentage it won't make a blind bit of difference.
Joke alert? The laugh is that manglement consultants will now be peddling China's cheap outsourcing wares to clueless Western company directors, ignoring the dismal record of China on all forms of IT security, intellectual property, and general e-crime.
Who do we think will be first to rush their back office into China? My money's on Aviva, because they've always been really keen to sack UK workers and ship the activity to the cheapest, sweatiest crack of the planet. I guess they'll now be really keen to give Indian workers the heave ho, and then wonder why their already abominable customer service gets even worse.
"Comparative advantage etc. It's the basis of the whole economy, innit?"
Only where you have other economic activity which the outsourcing economy can undertake and that forms the basis of a balance of trade (even if that's a multilateral balance rather than a bilateral .
Otherwise (as is the most common scenario) we export jobs to India, and they buy nothing from us. There's no comparative advantage for us in that. Likewise buying manufactured goods from China doesn't help the British or Yank economies one bit, although those of us still in value adding employment do get our TV sets cheaper.
"Currently hosting 14 trackers. I doubt that paying will make them go away"
But Ghostery probably will, and its free.
Re: BBC for the headlines
"Given how the UK police and security services (as well as our lovely friends in the USA) have over-reacted numerous times to innocent comments posted on the Intertubes, I'm not convinced that this is a step in the right direction."
And exactly how anonymous do you think the likes of you and I are on El Reg? We've given them a valid email address, and unless it is hosted in some East European sh1thole then the mail server operators would happily grass up the IP we're accessing the email from, which in fairly short order could have you named.
You could be accessing through multiple proxies, or from work servers (eg when I post from work it gets routed through a continental server), you could use all manner of fancy obfuscation, but I'll wager that you don't, and the incidental obfuscation of work postings and the like wouldn't save you.
Re: Too late...
"Bonuses were paid in December and they went bust in January. That just soesn't sound right does it?"
Does to me. Ignoring the rare situations where external and unforseeable events conspire to put a company out of business overnight, normally when a company goes bust the problems are clearly evident for many months, even years. However, the directors plough on, either in denial, or hoping to keep afloat long enough to sell the business to some mug. In either case the directors will take their share of the trough right up to the last minute (and beyond, if they can claim some knowledge of value to the administrators), and the sales force bonuses are actually part of routine compensation and so get paid until the money runs out.
Rarely is any business with a decent turnover beyond saving, if the directors will address the problems. But all too often they won't take uncomfortable decisions, and they often don't even know the true profitability and free cash flow of the different parts of the business. You wouldn't board an aircraft flown by an untrained pilot wearing a blindfold, but that's how quite a lot of companies operate. They find that serial, debt fuelled acquisitions are good fun and cause rising turnover and profits, without ever paying attention to the underlying business performance of either existing or acquired business. The auditors and the audit committee often aren't demanding enough on the quality of booked sales and the quality of receivables...and then you find that you've run out of cash, breached your covenants, and the bank have control of your business. The banks have until recently quite liked this, as it happens, because they could quite often sell the business on at a fat margin to a friendly PE house, renewing the senior debt, maybe pocketing some nice warrants against a future sale, and taking a fat transaction fee (along with the lawyers, the administrators, the accountants).
In the case of 2e2 it didn't work out this way, that suggests that the underlying business was too rancid to be worthy of buying, and we can only speculate why that might be so.
"I may be being a bit thick here but what is the benefit of wireless charging? Instead of plugging in a usb charger cable you have to sit the phone on a mat? So you still have a wire (from the socket to the mat) and you have a mat that you didn't have before, to save on having to plug it in and unplug it?"
Yes. That's the sum of it. But to be fair, a simple docking station is easier than a flimsy micro USB connector, and I'd expect a charging mat to be even easier still. The main problem is that most people won't pay much for this most marginal of inconveniences, so that's not just zip return on the R&D, but extra components that have to be added to the bill of materials, but that won't add anything to the sale price.
The importance is perhaps that the makers need to keep adding newness to the latest top of the line models, as features creep down the price range - for example, if you're not hung up on cloud storage, why would you pay twice the price of a Nexus 4 for a Galaxy S4? Proprietary overlays on Android won't be much differentiation (if anything the reverse), screen res has probably maxed out, as has pocketable screen size. Wireless charging is one of those extras that the top flight sets will get to try and keep them differentiated from hungry wannabees, and from Samsung's own mid-market handsets. Who knows what other marginal benefits will be added as well, but I'm guessing few of them will be drop-dead essentials either.
Re: Slightly OT
"No. If you use Maxwell's equations to describe an electric wave, then you will find it travels through the vacuum with the speed 1/√(μ0ϵ0). It's first year degree stuff."
Not in media studies, I'll wager.
Re: Lee D
And to explain why we are at risk of running out, there is no gas storage in the UK. Most of Europe that uses a lot of gas (Germany in particular) has a lot of gas storage because they always have been dependant upon imports. Because historically the North Sea met all our needs, we didn't have or need storage, and we built none as North Sea output declined (because there's no energy policy).
We could potentially import LNG, but the problem is that vessels and gas needs to be contracted in advance - there's not some magical surplus capacity in hot standby, and over recent years Asia has offered better prices than the UK. So that won't get us out of this hole.
I'm not close enough to know how it panned out, but a couple of years ago OFGEM and National Grid came up with changes to interruptible gas suppy rules that looked likely to reduce the number of companies on interruptible gas supplies, meaning less ability to reduce demand in cold spells. I wonder if this supply concern is the outcome?
More worryingly, the next step that NG might have to take would be to take gas powered electricity generation off supply. At the moment we've probably got the spare coal capacity to make good, but don't worry, people! OFGEM and successive governments are working tirelessly to eliminate that. With 12 GW of coal plant to close as part of the government's kow-towing to the EU's Large Combustion Plant Directive, we might just scrape through this year, but by 2016 we won't survive an extended cold spell. This will be made worse by the commissioning of around 6GW of new gas CCGT which will increase base gas demand. Nuclear won't be built in time to make any difference (ignoring its vast cost), we'll see Wylfa take 1GW of nuclear into retirement soon, renewables will continue to be ineffectual toys, and more gas make us yet more vulnerable to our lack of storage. Even new pipelines to Russia or Norway will take a decade to build, and UK gas storage would take almost as long. Given the number of exhausted gas fields in the North Sea the solution is obvious for storage, but DECC have spent far more energy and money looking at old gas fields as a way to store magically captured CO2 than the obvious purpose of gas storage.
Now, you can't say Parliament didn't know the issues a decade ago:
What you can say, though, is that they reassured themeselves that all would be well, and instead of tracking the gas situation, they increased gas demand for power generation and paid lots of attention to despoiling the land with windmills. Things are going to get worse and more expensive unless (a) we hang all the civil servants at DECC, and (b) have a government prepared to respond to the EU with "You and whose army?"
Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved
"Wind power is never going to be baseload on its own obviously, but combined with tidal, pumped storage, solar etc it can provide a significant percentage of our energy needs without major upheaval to the grid."
You really know nothing about the electricity sector, do you? The mandated use of renewables is saving stuff all in emissions, but destroys the system marginal pricing model. That makes the thermal plant that renewables require for back up uneconomic, meaning they go off grid and you suffer the consequences, or you pay even more subsidies to keep them on grid. That's already happening in Germany and Italy, where laws are being passed to try and stop the decomissioning of uneconomic plant, in a Canute like attempt to avoid the economic inevitable. The UK isn't far behind, and with the idiotic decommissionings of LCPD you can be sure no good will come of it.
Despite your protestations, wind output is not reliably enough forecast for thermal plant to be switched off, but hey, what do I know, I only work for a company that operates over 4GW of wind turbines.
Re: In other news... @Wilco 1
"Capacity factor for off-shore wind power is around 40%,"
Rubbish. It's 32% like for like on a five year average, according to the wind farm enthusiasts at DECC. Work it out for yourself:
I work for a company that has interests in all forms of generation, and the costs of renewables are on a par with nuclear. But there's a subtle difference that nuclear usually works when you want it.
"The UK spends £1Billion a year on overseas aid"
Oh not it doesn't. David Cameron has committed to spending thirteen billion quid on foreign aid this year. Most of that will go through DFID, but there's a few billion of it frittered through contributions to charities, EU aid funds, and directly to international quangos ("multilateral agencies" as the government calls them).
Re: Why one country ?
"Why are we expecting third parties to lead the way in this regard?"
Because Europe has set its priorities as welfare and health spending. That's where the biggest chunk of pan-European public spending by all members goes (around a third of GDP, or over half of all public spending), into over-generous and unfunded pensions, into benefits to those who cannot or will not find work, into free at point of use healthcare. As noted earlier Europe could easily find the money, but you have to accept that this "state provision of services" model is a mindset, and one that doesn't have parallels in the other major economic blocs. Until asteroid defence is seen as a public service then Europe won't be doing it, and even then the ghost of Christmas future can be seen in the failure of the EU as a body to fashion common defence or foreign policies, preferring instead to spend billions of € on "social cohesion", competitiveness (what a laugh), and agricultural subsidies to please the frogs.
Re: Nothing new under the sun
"The chance of a city being wiped out by a medium sized rock are probably quite remote....and not be distracted by recoverable catastrophes "
Agreed that the risks are modest. But still feasible, given that we've had Tungunuska and Chelyabinsk roughly a century apart, and we've now got several billion people living in cities. In presuming that past known events risk equals future risk, we're also overlooking any asteroid events that did land in the sea or the poles in that time, and went undetected.
Given the expensive pantomime of "security" for air transport to avoid casualties of the order of a few thousand a year (eg $8bn a year for the US TSA) I'd argue that the risk from "minor" asteroid strikes is not dissimilar to the risks of aviation terror attacks, maybe greater, and justifies similar spending.
And the other thing is that the detection and defence probably relies on the same science and technology, so the cost of trying to counter an extinction event is probably the same as dealing with the more modest risks.
Re: If this is a "watch" @Dave 126
"This was a thread about Samsung, not Apple. I only reiterate that because they have a much larger product portfolio than Apple. Haven't Samsung made a smart watch before? Sony certainly have."
Mmmmm. I read a mild degree of indignation into your post, so I hope I haven't caused offence. I'm very selective about causing offence, and try only to do so intentionally.
Annyywayyyy... I was mentioning Apple simply because the trail of events for this whole smartwatch business follows something of a well worn route, whereby industry rumour mill says that Fruitco is busy working on device X, so all the uninvolved OEM's suddenly start racing off after idea X. The iPad is the most recent example, with some ghastly junk being rushed out ahead of and just behind the IPad, before properly designed hardware and software arrived.
If Apple weren't sniffing around this lampost, would Samsung be cocking their leg on it? I suspect not.
"the ONE thing I hate about my Samsung phone is that the SD slot is inside"
Depending on what you're doing, you might want to consider a microUSB to USB to SD adaptor, plus the app to read storage attached via the microUSB port? The same would work for phones with no expandable storage, although in both cases you've then got the storage on a short lead.
Re: Why one country ?
"Now it seems as if NASA is has a leading role in all this,"
At current levels of spending the leading role is up for grabs. If the Yanks only want to spend $20m, the Russians could easily own the game within a couple of years by choosing to put in (say) $100m a year to a programme under their control. They've got space experience, launchers, and excellent technology skills. And if the Russians don't there's China, or India. At a push the ESA could step in, but that seems a long shot to me.
Even NASA don't care about asteroids. Next year they are launching the $500m MAVEN orbiter to study Mars' upper atmosphere. And in 2016 another half a billion mission of the InSight lander, again to Mars. Not sure what the annual spend on Mars is, but I guess including already landed programmes that it must be consuming around $300m a year.
We can certainly rely on NASA to be leader on Mars research. No so sure we can rely on them for asteroid detection and defences.
Re: Nothing new under the sun
an affordable investment in countermeasures would make sense.
But no action will be taken until somewhere takes a real, destructive direct hit, or a major global city (ideally a US one) is menaced in the same way as Chelyabinsk. However, when a few windows are blown out in a Siberian donkey town, you can be sure that the current paltry enthusiasm will quickly die away. Which is a pity. At $20m a year we are spending nothing to combat a fairly significant threat – we know the scale of previous impacts, and you’d think that there’d be some enthusiasm to spend some serious money.
Even in these (supposedly) austere times it would be easy for any number of countries to rustle up a billion dollars. On its own that’s a fifty fold increase in detection funding, but if more countries put in you can start looking at asteroid defence. Who could find $1bn easily?
Well, for starters, even post sequestration the US defence budget is larger than the rest of the world’s put together. A mere 0.2% cut in that post sequestration spending would yield over $1bn. Or a 5% cut in the US department of energy’s “defence related” spending would pony up $1bn. In the UK, a 5% cut in Cameron’s bloated and ineffectual foreign aid programme would yield $1bn. China and Russia could both find $1bn each by a circa 3% cut in heating fuel subsidies. France could find $1bn by a 0.2% cut in its welfare budget that pays people to sit at home and do nothing. Germany could find $1bn simply by reducing the continuing “reunification” subsidies by a mere 1%. India spends something like 7% of its total budget on subsidies for fuel, food, transport. Even countries like Iraq, Eqypt, Venezuela and Indonesia could each find $1bn down the back of the sofa just by a 5% reduction in transport fuel subsidies. There are an absolute handful of countries that couldn't find $1bn, and if the larger economies actually contributed a more proportionate amount then the available cash is vast.
If properly co-ordinated all we’re talking about is transferring public spending through modest changes on often unproductive programmes, and the creation of new high value tech jobs of the sort that politicians always say they want. You could expect from a serious research programme that we'd get some good science and technology spinoffs as well. Using good management techniques work could be farmed out to the funding countries (to avoid poor countries paying rich ones), and the outputs openly monitored (to ensure that underperforming elements are addressed).
Sadly this won't happen until we get that direct hit. Fingers crossed it is a small one, and nowhere near me.
Re: If this is a "watch" I'd be very surprised
">On the other hand, I have no idea what a smartwatch is meant to do.
What might you want it do? "
No good asking most people what innovation they want, because we more commonly know what we want when we see it, rather than (always) being able to describe that. The art of technology innovation is being able to invent (or further refine) something that is workable, that people will want, but generally aren't crying out for. That's largely what Apple do so well (not withstanding that I don't like the company).
Personally, I'd prefer a limited range of well-implemented features to a full Dick Tracey effort.
Well, we'll see, but I wouldn't have thought there was much in that idea to justify a company as large as Apple getting involved - they would need to sell around 50 million of such devices at around $150 a piece to influence their own financial results, and having three flashing LED's and a remote control for a mobile phone in return for $150 doesn't seem a money spinner to me. Mind you if I were Apple, I'd consider letting it be know unofficially that I was developing loony products (iWatches, iSlippers, i Underpants) so that the rest of the "me too" brigade rush products to market at vast cost, only to find that my iSlippers were mere vapourware.
"You don't like it immergrate or next time don't vote for an idiot labour government that cocks up their responsiblties to supervide the economy and then leaves us a trillion pounds in debt!!"
Well, successive governments have given us an education system that has left you bereft of grammar and incapable of spelling correctly, so it is no surprise that your opinions are illogical.
The "coalition" didn't get a majority.at all. They got about 17.5 million votes, out of what, about 53 million peasants on the electoral roll. The main parties continue to exist only because a notable proportion of half-wits vote for the same party as their grandad. And in part, because of that we're guaranteed a Labour bunglement after the next election, so that the same cretins that made the mess will be able to worsen it (even more than the tw@ts currently messing things up).
None of the three parties have a clue. They won't solve the problem they made, and until they're ALL in opposition nobody else will.
Re: Big People
" If the accused has already spotted where they screwed up (or can act convincingly, let's be realistic), the sentence needs not to be that harsh to ensure lawful behaviour."
So from your parentheses, you accept that the contrition bit is just theatre? Certainly appears to be standard in the local rag "before the magistrates", where week after week repeat offenders get lighter sentences by bleating on about how sorry they are, how they suffered exceptional misfortune themselves, and promise upon their mother's soul to go straight as soon as they are free.
If the judges are sufficiently daft to go along with this nonsense, then perhaps the pols need to set tarrifs themselves, and abolish judges discretion in sentencing.
Re: I can think of few people@Joseph Lord
I think you miss the point, which is that the current lot are adding more new, ill thought through regulation to make up for failure to enforce a range of existing privacy, security and defamation laws, and that they can be relied upon so serve themselves, not you or me.
In my view, carefully considered changes to those extant defamation, communication interception, privacy laws accompanied by proper, resolute and effective enforcement would be a better solution, rather than faffing around trying to come up with some (undoubtedly well paid) regulatory body that conjurs up rules that it applies to some people and organisations and not others. The only notable change that I can see needed would be to make directors and editors jointly liable for the crimes of their staff, even if they plead ignorance. Some bleater will be along soon to say that's not fair, but it is - it is the responsibility of directors and editors to know what their staff are doing, and to set the moral tone of the organisation.
And going forward, this new press regulator will be handing out penalties it sees fit. The record of effectivness of extra-judicial penalties is not a good one. Take the ICO, a major doler-out of "civil monetary penalties", you call that a success? Or on a lower level, the penalties handed out by private companies enforcing decriminalised parking restrictions? But never mind, we'll let the clowns dream up a 2:30am compromise that suits the main political parties. That'll work out well, won't it?
Looking at the number of downvotes, it is clear that most readers actually think that Cameron, Clegg, and Milliband are suitable people to decide on this matter (or that the matter is of such urgency and importance that it must be addressed now by somebody, even somebodies of meagre talent and notable vested interest). And that saddens me a lot. We have no energy policy, our public finances are ruined, our politcians have been repeatedly caught with their hand in the till, treating the law with contempt, the health and education sectors are unproductive messes, red tape makes real business exceptionally difficult in this country, we have no credible defence strategy, we make nothing of our skills and heritage in the technology and industrial sectors .........and yet those responsible for the mess are apparently ideally placed to take on the regulation of the one estate that might hold them to account.
Re: Why the state involvement?
"Why does the state think it needs to get involved with handing out a few million?"
Because the pols and civil servants can be seen to be "doing something", and because they aren't spending their own money. Wherever you look there's a few million leaking here and there, but when they already spend £120 billion pound a year more than they raise in taxes, what's another few million?
Another example is the government's idiotically conceived "Green deal", whose central premise was that the peasants could pay for property improvements through a loan whose costs would be lower than the savings on energy bills (so no cost to government or other energy users). This became a ghastly, bureaucratic nightmare, so to try and drum up some demand the clowns at DECC rustled up £125m to pay as cashback to early adopters. Look at all the money being channeled to BT to roll out rural broadband - on the presumption that farmers, vets, rural artists and retirees will somehow generate a return on this "investment" that they won't pay for themselves.
That's now the mindset of both government and civil service - that anything that doesn't have "billion" after it is such small change that it can be routinely frittered on whatever daft and ineffectual idea spring into their vacant little brains.
"But surely the fittings on that small plastic door latch are proprietary IPR owned and licensed by Whirlpool "
Well, if I might (uncharacteristically) offer a glass half full thought for you both:
The chances of a home 3D printer being able to turn out a component of the accuracy and strength to replace the carefully designed and made door catch on a machine is in my view slim, and will remain so, because you won't be inclined to maintain separate supplies of powdered metal, polystyrene, polycarbonate, ABS etc etc. That means we won't see the emergence of options like buying the digital pattern to print at home. But where 3D printing might help is that if the makers can print parts using a proper professional tool that uses the original design and the right type of plastic (or whatever) then this might revolutionise the world of spare parts, since other than for high volume parts you'd not make and warehouse components, significantly reducing your overall spares cost base (much of which is inventory management, warehousing, and working capital).
Of course, lower production costs won't necessarily stop the makers pricing the parts at extortionate costs, as anybody who buys spares for Panasonic breadmakers will know, but there's some companies who are very good for spares (Bosch, Makita, come to mind in my experience).
I can think of few people
...less suited to deciding on press regulation than the thieves, bunglers, incompetents and liars that comprise the Houses of Westminster.
Re: on the flipside
"Next time, use a hair dryer. A lot of those crappy compounds need to be warmed to approx 40C in order to be soft enough to work with"
I've always used meths on a cloth to remove heat sink compounds - works fine for me, although thicker deposits will require a few minutes work to get off.
Re: Imagine what a full size drone could do
Life mirrors art - drone engineers watched the eagles throwing orcs off of cliffs in LOTRs, and thought "why can't we do that, and sell them to the US army?"
As with eagles & orcs, maximum operational efficiency is where you don't have to lift the enemy very far before dropping them, so best used in battles close to cliffs.
Re: Re Pasties
"Though in Devon, this bakery in Barnstaple was voted as producing the best pasties in the South West."
Well, that often doesn't take much, given the enthusiasm commercial pasty makers have for a vast excess of thick dry shortcrust pastry enclosing a few bits of gristle, some nice big lumps of fat, some vegetables (mainly near-raw onion) in a weak salty gravy.
The idea of the pasty is sound, with a very blokey appeal: "well, its like a pie, but you don't have no pie dish, and you don't use cutlery, and there's nothing very healthy about it". Sadly the execution is dismal far too often.
"As much as I enjoyed building PCs in my youth, I'm glad I don't do it anymore (I tend to buy the bundles from places like Novatech)."
Sounds familiar round these parts. Needed (yeah, really, really) to upgrade the old 2007 machine at home, and found it more expensive to buy the components than to pay Scan to assemble them for me - only by a couple of quid, but as a system it has a three year warranty as opposed to typically one year as parts. Not much of a patch on this bonkers rig, sadly.
I wonder if one option for the bonkers PC that's missing is an SSD cache drive for the storage drive? Possibly of limited use on a random reads of stored data if there's no pattern to you accessing the stored data, but a good way of speeding up writes for perhaps fifty quid?
Re: Well that might work. But it probably won't.
So what happened to the facial recognition scanners at (for example) Birmingham airport? Why are the bunglers of government spending more money to develop a tech solution, when (evidently) both facial recognition and iris scanners installed already aren't good enough? If you keep buying new ones, does it eventually work by pure chance?
Groundhog day at the Borders Agency, it would seem.
Re: Don't be evil unless there's money to be made by being evil
"Google made a neat program available for free. Everybody knows Google has to make money; .... everybody knows that Google regularly cleans house and ditches projects that aren't working out. So why is there such utter shock and horror about this?"
There's some quality research that looks at what makes corporations survive over the longer term. And that shows that the key survival trait is trying a reasonable number of innovations, and ditching those that don't work for the corporation. That's why GE are into the rather diverse range of businesses they operate. And its why single focus companies die when the world moves on ("Earth to Blackberry, Earth to Blackberry.............."
So if we want the good bits of Google, and new stuff in future, then the price of that is accepting that they NEED to do the housecleaning.
In this particular scenario, I can't see why they didn't/don't just open source Reader. If the users want it, let them maintain it. Seems to work for Google Sky Map, and would be an easy option. If it then dies slowly, not Google's problem, but there's time to find alternatives, or to get involved and shake it up. But that doesn't seem to be on the agenda,so perhaps the bereaved Reader users could hold a formal funeral?
"@Ledswinger - hehe you're joking right? <rummages around in pockets> what can I get for 20 quid? :Seriously, I got the $3bn from doubling the estimate of the project designers."
OK, you really reckon that you can get a 500 MW nuclear plant for $3bn or $1.5bn? Using totally unproven technology? I'd love to believe this was credible, but there's no evidence that it would be. At $1.5bn per 500 MW, the cost estimates are in CCGT territory. Maybe they are right, but we've had thirty years getting CCGT right, and there's no complex certifications, no complex fuel needs, no huge security needs, and we understand the underlying physics and chemistry very well indeed. If it goes catastrophically wrong you kill about fifteen engineers and technicians, with no harm to anybody else.
A CCGT takes gas, burns it in a turbine that spins a generator, and recovers power from superheated waste gas. Easy peasy. Do you really contend that these unproven nuclear technologies are comparable in their risk, complexity and cost?
Re: And how do we get at@JLH
"Well then - why not build the new molten salt reactors on these same sites?"
Please accept my "Great Ideas That Have Already Been Implemented" Award.
Virtually all recent nuclear projects (Oykluoto, Fallamanville, Vogtle) and all the proposed UK sites are indeed adjacent to existing or former power generation reactors. Doesn't help much with the costs. The experienced staff are already busy (and usually old), and the transmission connectors are the least of your cost worries.
The major gain in doing this is that common security can be implemented (a convenience rather than a cost saver), and the local population are usually very receptive to new nuclear reactors, reducing the planning difficulties by a few years.
Re: What about the oil barons??@Tom Welsh
In practice peak oil really refers to "peak cheap high quality oil". There's no shortage of hydrocarbons on the planet, and not even any shortage of oil - just that what's left is finite, and is progressively more expensive to produce and usually lower quality.
For product purposes you could distil what you want (rather inefficiently) from coal, you could use tar, or the more problematic oil reserves (deep sea sub-salt, shale oil etc). Or you can use natural gas, and even after all of those you've got things that we haven't a scooby how to exploit yet, such as gas hydrates.
The threat of peak oil is particularly to transport, since you want cheap, easily refined oil with high yields of the fractions suitable for internal combustion engines.
"Actually, that's not far out of line with current costs....Votgle (the first gen III+ project in the US) is about $6bn/GW."
Well, there's a very obvious reason that the costs are close, because I used the Votgle estimates as a fair benchmark!
Worth noting that first reactor commissioning has already Votgle is already a year late for first reactor online, so the chances of completing on budget are negligible unless they've built in the fattest of fat contingencies.
"You're missing O&M (fairly minor), fuel (very small), and "cost of capital" (big) in that. would it were that simple...."
And I challenge James Micallef on building a 500 MW plant for even $3bn......
Realistically it's going to be no cheaper than a current generation reactor, and then suffer the same cost over-runs as all new technologies. In the nuclear sector the cost over-run for novel technologies is 300%.
So that makes the starting price when fully designed would be around $5bn minimum, and then the obligatory over-runs would take that first plant to $15bn. That might still develop new, workable technology that can be built subsequently at lower cost, but the electricity isn't going to be cheap from that first one.
And could I just say Andydaws, thank you for your excellent, excellent contributions!
Re: Not going to happen@tony72
"The real obstacle to nuclear is the typically large up-front cost, as compared to the stealth taxes which can be used to subsidize renewables."
Less of a problem than you might think for the nuke developers (we'll get to the customers further down). EdF and Hitachi want to invest in new UK nuclear plant, and if need be both would borrow money to do it. Energy companies and money markets have already found around £20bn to throw at renewables, in return for the subsidies, which come in three main forms: "must run" status - a huge hidden subsidy that requires National Grid to take anything that renewables generate; ROCs, or renewable obligation certificates granted to renewables operators which can then be sold profitably to fossil fuel generators; and then the further preferential rates that renewables can be sold for in the form of LECs (levy exemption certificates). And that's over and above the wholesale price. WInd farms under construction now expect to get wholesale prices of around £45/MWh, ROCs worth around £43/MWh and LECs worth around £5/MWh. There's no price put upon the "must run" status, but given that the merit curve would normally put such costly plant at the wrong end of the curve, I'd guess that we're actually talking about something with a value in the region of £30-£60/MWh.
So money to build isn't the problem. What is at issue is the risk over the project life, given the capricious and inept actions of governments and regulators, and that leads to higher financing and margin needs, which feed into higher rates. Whilst government are happy to give these guarantees of around £100+ per MWh to ineffectual wind farms, they seem to be rather more concerned about offering this to nuclear.
But what about customers? The result of going nuclear is more expensive electricity (like double what you now pay). If you don't want your power prices to go up by that much, then renewables need to be stopped, and nukes kicked into the long grass, and the solution then is a dash for gas (accompanied by a dash for fracking, to reduce the security of supply concerns).
Even if you stop the madcap renewable subsidies, you create a problem because of the huge installed wind capacity, in that these subsidies were contractual promises by government. If that "regulatory risk" crystallises in the form of a policy change that unilaterally cuts the over-generous subsidies, then why would energy companies and financiers invest further billions on the back of a promise to offer subsidies for nuclear from the same people? And that's the big hairy deal - renewables were never a solution, and they've made the underlying problems of cost worse. Any intelligent person could see how this would/will end, but still DECC and successive governments, egged on by the Wankers of Brussels chose policies that cost more but fixed nothing. So do we continue to pour money down that drain, or do we stop it and find that nobody will lend us the money to build a proper solution?
It wouldn't solve the problem, but we could all feel better if all of DECC, all of the consultants they employ, and all politicians involved over the past thirty years were taken to Beachy Head and thrown off.
Re: Even if it works
"we'll probably be having scheduled power cuts and a government telling us that it's good for us and that we're helping save the planet"
LONG POST, GET A COFFEE NOW
Very probably. From a UK perspective, this is what the near future holds for those responsible for UK energy policy:
1. Having given away sovereignty to the EU, and allowed the Eurocrats to invent the Large Combustion Plant Directive, allow one eighth of UK power generating plant to be forcibly retired by the end of 2015. That's 11.8 GW shutting down out of a total of 84 GW of reliable capacity, plus the separate closure of the Magnox plant at Wylfa, taking out another 1 GW. These retirements are already happening, and once retired there's not much chance of reinstatement - there's no commercial reason to mothball the plant, it is also very difficult to mothball coal fired plant, and there's a commercial imperative to dismantle the site and sell for redevelopment.
2. Commission a handful of new CCGT's in the next couple of years of around 6 GW (but with no central oversight of the commissioning dates, so real wing & prayer stuff). Hope that 6 GW minus 12.8 GW equals zero.
3. Introduce carbon floor tax. Look on in wonder as the marginal third of plant currently opted in for LCPD (ie coal plant that DECC think will keep running) exits the market because it isn't profitable to run. Subtract another 3 to 6 GW of capacity, and act surprised. Pray that peak demand of 60 GW continues to shrink. With a rising population, increased use of things like heat pumps, and sod all industry left to offshore, further falls in peak demand seem an act of faith, with any credible forecast indicating it ought to rise towards 62 GW.
4. Make warm, welcoming sounds about how all the many GW of renewables will fill the gap - ignoring that they will contribute nothing to peak demand because that's typically after dark on very cold, very still days. Continue to pour bill-payers money into renewables, despoiling the countryside for no benefit. Likewise, point to international interconnectors - again ignoring the fact that peak demand tends to be regional, and these can't be depended on at critical times. With Germany progressively closing down its nuclear fleet, Belgium and Switzerland likewise, the availability of surplus French nuclear power cannot be presumed, because those countries will become net importers. Historically Germany has been the swing producer of Europe, and exported power, so this is a big an unhelpful change.
5. Continue lacksadaisical UK approach to nuclear funding and approval. This is already on a knife edge, with nobody willing to commit to build unless the government agree that they will be paid double current wholesale prices. The two potential builders could both yet walk away from the table within weeks. Even so, the soonest new nuclear plants will be operational is a decade or more away. The actual construction is relatively quick - could be done in three years, but the design, procurement, legislative permissions and approvals and infrastructure enablement will treble that.
6. Realise that by January 2016 UK reserve margin will have fallen from around 20% to 8%, the lowest level in several decades - industry rules of thumb put minimum safe reserve capacity at 15%. This means that you're in trouble if more than three or four major power plants go offline at once. Convince yourself that this is fine. It isn't because you can expect two of the fifteen UK reactors to be offline even in the winter peak for statutory inspection, maintenance or repairs (you can't do the whole fleet all in the summer). So now if one or two conventional plants go down (or their transmission links fail), we're in big trouble.
7. Sometime between now and winter 2016/7 panic, and incentivise the building of new CCGT. These incentives will (as usual) be added to the peasants electricity bills. This creates a further problem, that UK generation will become yet more gas dependent, compounded by the circa 2019-2023 retirements of the older AGR nukes. Accelerated build of CCGT sounds good, because they're quick to build, but the bureacratic approvals still take years, the enabling infrastructure (eg high capacity gas lines) still takes years unless you've very lucky in location, and with procurement lead times it is still an absolute minimum of six years, often more like nine.
8. Lose next election, retire on fat, undeserved parliamentary pension, with equally undeserved "resettlement grant". Or in the case of DECC, retire early on gold plated and undeserved PCPS pension. Laugh at how you've made a comfortable and secure living from f***ing the country over.
If you've got this far, well done. There's a few minor simplifications in all of this, but as a broad brush this is all based on fact. Which is most unfortunate. If El Reg want to do some more digging to establish whether this is correct or not then I'd be willing to give some pointers to how to go about it.
I assume that if they organise entries alphabetically, then early on in the list of national vulnerabilities will be an entry that simply reads: All Adobe software
Re: Lies, damn lies, ...
Of course it is lies, but from OFCOM, not BT. That's the only way that the UK will get "best broadband in Europe" by 2016, and since the government lie about everything else (expenses, inflation, debt, immigration, growth, unemployment, health etc etc) why should broadband be the odd one out and rely on mere facts?
Ed Richards may well know nothing about broadband, on the other hand he probably knows that he gets paid about £32k a month. Will he continue to get that hard-earned loot if OFCOM show ministerial promises as wilfully dishonest, and their arbitrary targets as flagrantly unmet?
Re: So the net effect of this is...
"Ofcom truly are useless bastards."
This is what happens when the prime minister of the day (Blair) regards leadership of OFCOM as simply a six figure sinecure to be gifted to one of his favourites. And what we got was Ed Richards, Blair's policy advisor, who has a degree in economics, and stuff all real world managerial or technical experience that I can see.
Re: How do I get my connection?
"Ok... so what is 'basic' broadband and what is 'superfast'??"
"Basic broadband" is the 2Mb/s that the government currently deem as fitting the description of broadband.
If you're one of the basic broadband pariahs (BBP), and you don't get that 2 Mb/s until 2016, then I'll wager you won't be a happy pariah, since that speed will seem as laughable then as 14.4 modems on dial up seem now. At a guess, if there's no cabinets, then you're going to be a BBP.
Superfast is officially 24 Mb/s and above. Given Ofcom, BT & Openreach's track records, I'll be surprised if that doesn't turn into "upto" 24 Mb/s over the next four years.
Re: My most dificult RPi project at the moment...
"..is to get the SD card to stay in the frikking socket! Returned under warranty, replacement exactly as bad!"
You returned it because the card fell out? I have to say that doesn't seem to be in the Spirit of Pi (tm). What's wrong with a bit of electrical tape, blu tac, or for a more-permanent-than-time-itself solution, a dab of silicone mastic?
Re: Danger of Spoilt Child Syndrome
"Could subsidies in Place A mean that Place B has to wait that much longer because it didn't get taxpayer money?"
Wait much longer than what alternative scenario? If we make a rather ungovernmental assumption that taxpayers are a finite resource, and the FTTC budget is limited, then if you choose area A to get a sub'd roll out, then all other areas do have to wait. But as (mostly speaking) the rural dwellers won't pay the full commercial cost of high speed broadband, they won't get it at all unless it is subsidised, and there is no alternative scenario.
All infrastructure services in rural areas are subsidised by townies, simply because you've got fewer users per metre of road/power line/water pipe/sewer/telephone line, and these services have essentially universal tariffs. I don't think BT are becoming any more subsidy addicted than they already are, but there's a related danger that they will do the contractual minimum of delivering fibre to the cabinet, but then leaving properties connected to the cabinets by wet string, considerably reducing the potential benefits.
Note as well the bits the Reg didn't get round to reporting - that this isn't universal FTTC, just coverage of 88% of the local populace, and that the plan covers 150,000 premises, so that's an implied subsidy of £320 per premise. That's an interesting figure, because you'd have thought that the yokels could afford to pay that themselves if they really wanted it - over ten years that would be about five quid a month, allowing for bad debt. Of course, that doesn't include any cabinet to premises upgrade costs, but you get the flavour.
Re: Yeah, Fake Calls
"There is also a chance that the emergency message never gets read having disappeared in a morass of inane boring, insignificant and self important posts from people who have inane, boring and insignificant self important lives."
What, people like us commentards, you mean?
Re: CYOD over BYOD
CYOD. Pronounced "chod" presumably?
Mine's the one with a steamer in the pocket.
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