1153 posts • joined Friday 1st June 2012 10:28 GMT
"So are they lying?"
Most people would accept that they have sold "millions" if they've sold 2 million or more. But in marketingspeak, 1,000,001 still counts for the plural.
But even if they'd sold 2 million, how does that compare to Apple and Samsung in the same period?
Re: In the early 60's Labour cancelled the TSR2 in favour of the "customized" F111 variant.
"Only the USN are buying the C, the major issue with it is even its redesigned tailhook only managed 5/8 successes on land, which is basically a unacceptable failure rate. The USN have several other options for a carrier aircraft, including the Super Hornets."
The B is essentially then for small export orders and the modest USMC requirement. I might also ask where (as with the UK) the Spanish and the Italians plan to get the money to buy these hugely expensive toys? A few export orders vulnerable to cancellation won't protect the B. The C however is the core of the proposed capability of the Ford class CVN's, and possibly replacement of the older USN jets on existing carriers. I really can't see cancellation of the C being politically acceptable, particularly as they've just spent almost $40bn on three new catapult equipped carriers for this. The tail hook issue is not something that cannot be overcome, but the continued complexity issues and weight of the B aren't going away either.
The US hasn't faced up to its defence budgetary problems yet. In its perceived need to project force globally and demonstrate technical superiority it isn't going to adopt the Super Hornet as its first line assets, so the F35 will make it into carrier service in one form.
For me, the existence of a third/fourth* US air force in the USMC is another expensive anomally that looks vulnerable. If the military need to reduce the costs of F35, that means cutting one of the three programmes - who do you think has more clout in Washington, the USN, or the USMC plus Spain, Italy, and the UK? Look at what the UK did to the FAA to "reduce costs". In the same hard place, the USMC may be willing to surrender their air corp in return for the USMC's continued existence, and then there's no American customers for the B at all.
I don't know what the outcome will be, but common sense says that the B is the most troublesome, most expensive, and least significant to the US armed forces.
* USAF, USN, USMC, Air National Guard.
Re: Hmm@A J Stiles
That's what I thought you meant. My point was that even if you cancelled the entire defence budget of £40bn, the government would still be spending £80bn a year more than it gets in income (plus £10bn for welfare and foregone employment taxes currently recycled from the defence budget), and even that isn't sustainable.
I agree that we'd save a lot of money if we adopted a Swiss style approach to defence, of simply being able to defend our domestic territory in the British Isles by a very large armed reserve force. Whether that makes sense I'm not sure - we'd have to renounce territorial claims to the Falklands, Antarctica, and any territory that is remote from the UK. We'd have no part in well-intentioned international missions such as Kosovo, Sierra Leone or Libya. We'd have no transport or military skills to contribute to international disaster relief. We'd have no ability to contribute to international missions such as combating piracy off East Africa.
The "little britain" mob would probably like this a lot. On the other hand, is it right to go all pacifist for a country that is easily in the ten largest economies in the world, is hugely influential politically, and deeply involved in global trade? If France and the UK hadn't stuck their necks out over Libya, it would have been another Syria, there would be continued fighting even now, and probably 100,000 civilians dead (as Russia and China have allowed to happen in Syria). I don't anticipate any gratitude from the Libyan people, but surely as one of the world's largest and most advanced economies, there's a time when you have to do the right thing, and part of that is building the capability in advance of the need?
Re: Chocolate Teapot
"Apparently the 4 ? "not very good" Typhoons based in the Falklands, could take out the whole air force of the Spanish colony trying to claim islands as theirs."
The antipathy towards the Typhoon is not that it isn't a good fighter. It is simply that it is incredibly expensive, arrived donkeys years after the mission it was designed for disappeared, and notwithstanding British attempts to fit it for strike roles, was designed from the very beginninng purely as an air superiority fighter. In this role on the Falklands I'd expect it to work a treat, but equally expect that the Argentines would never chance any of their small and antique air force against them.
Re: In the early 60's Labour cancelled the TSR2 in favour of the "customized" F111 variant.
"Could the F35b be the F111 6 decades on?"
Very probably yes. BAES have no monopoly on over-running defence projects, and there's real concern in the US about the whole F35 cost trajectory. As with the Eurofighter in Europe, the US are having to order less than they want to stay within budget, and if the costs continue to spiral then they'll have to ask why they are working on three variants when they only need two. Only the British and the US Marines really want the notably problematic B, so that's most at risk of being canned, or having its capabilities drastically curtailed to reduce costs - perhaps that's a more likely outcome, and we'll end up with something that is both expensive and crap. A bit like our carriers.
Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?
"NationaI Geographic made a program about the Eurofighter in the Ultimate Factories. You find it on You Tube. Nothing much negative about its performance and quality as a fighter."
You watch and believe NG? Bloody hell.
And then, because NG do a feature on "Ultimate Factories", you think that makes the Eurofighter good as a fighter? And by extension, you reason that military aircraft are much of a muchness, so it must be a good bomber?
You must work for the MoD. Nobody real could be that clueless.
Re: Would be interesting to have a cost estimate@Joe Gurman
The required flight deck would be quite long if you want to take off with any fuel and weapons. This leads to the idea of "why don't we build something like a large destroyer sized aircraft carrier, that wouldn't cost much?", and before you've finished you find that you've specced an Invincible class pocket carrier (which is broadly speaking exactly how they were developed).
A near like for like replacement of the Invincible class would probably have been far more appropriate to the UK's means and needs..
Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?
"You find that "The Typhoon is a multi-role fighter with maturing air-to-ground capabilities" "
Don't make me laugh. Sellotaping a few bombs on to a fighter certainly fits the words, but it doesn't make it a good idea.
"In 2004, United States Air Force Chief of Staff General John P. Jumper said after flying the Eurofighter, "I have flown all the air force jets. None was as good as the Eurofighter."
In 2004 Jumper was 56 or 57. I doubt he was in much position to take a Eurofighter to the edge of its envelope. Maybe there was somewhere for him to rest his stick?
Re: Lewis misses the point
"Nicely and accurately put - especially as it's exactly the same scenario we faced in 1938-9"
But that's not where we are now. Current and likely future uses for our carriers are simply as mobile bases for participating in "hobby wars" beyond convenient flying distance from the UK. There's not going to be a conventional war with anybody armed with serious amounts of modern kit. And that's why buying the latest, most expensive fighter on the planet makes no sense - as others have already remarked, Ark Royal circa 1970 would be entirely suitable for most of the things that we might want a carrier for.
Re: Awful!@ Frank Bough
"Let's not forget the horror stories of Harriers returning from sorties and having to dump their entire weapons load in the sea before attempting to land."
All carrier aircraft have a maximum landing weight, above which they need to dump fuel and/or ordinance to meet that weight. Nothing special about the Harrier, unless you're comparing it to something with very big wings that can land with a full weapons load, and even then you've got limits to the load on the arrester wire that would be an issue. During all wars featuring carriers returning pilots have often dumped unused weapons, rather than risk crashing on landing for the sake of a few bombs.
In the grand scheme of war, the cost of dumping a few bombs like ths is nothing. Your point about the military benefit of SVTOL aircraft is much more valid.
Re: Why the love for all the US aircraft?
"So for 50% the total outlay, we can have 5 times as many aircraft, which gives us full complements onboard, and oodles of airframes at home for training, so pilots are not squabbling over airframes for flying hours."
And there's more: The casualty rate of SVTOL aircraft appears to be far higher than normal aircraft, which means that a fleet of 40 F35B will very soon be a fleet of 30, pushing the cost/capability further the wrong way.
The F111 was ordered because the estimates were cheaper than TSR-2, but none were delivered, because of cost over-runs on the F111 programme. So we cancelled our own advanced project, ordered somebody else's advanced project "off plan", and were then surprised when we couldn't afford that. IIRC there was also a slight problem of foreign exchange as well, in that we simply didn't have the foreign currency to pay the bill at the time.
"why not consider the French nuclear drive of the Charles-de-Gaulle as an option"
What, and let the incompetents of MOD + BAES design a ship round that? You don't think that would have exactly the same problems that we now have?
On the basis of defence procurement history, it was evident at the time these were ordered that there would be substantial problems of both capability and cost. Moreover, with at most three being built (even assuming the French do exercise the option to build a third) you'd only ever spread the design and tooling costs over three ships. This was always a disaster in the making.
The logical approach would have been to have bought a US nuclear powered carrier, this guaranteeing interoperability and buying a far better defence asset. Since the proposed aircraft are US built they already have the ability to restrict what we can do with the new carriers (not to mention the keys to Trident), why not the hull as well? The Yanks are currently having ther own cost over-run problems with the new Ford class CVN, currently being cranked out at a cost around £8bn a pop, but that's likewise for a three ship set. Our ships, even at this stage of construction are projected to cost £5.3bn, so 30% to account for mess-ups-in-progress and yet to be mess ups, and you're talking £7bn.
So which would you rather have: A couple of oddball, low capability carriers we've made in the shed at the end of BAES' garden for £7bn a pop, or a couple of fully compatible Ford class CVN's for £8bn a pop? A third option might be "none of the above", but until our politicians stop conducting air-based campaigns in far off bits of the world that doesn't seem a good idea.
"TSR2 - according to a former colleague who worked on the avionics, they were utter crap"
Well, they were only prototypes, so plenty of opportunity to fix them.
And given that we now can't build an aircraft without help from other nations, perhaps cancelling TSR2 might now be seen as a milestone in losing our advanced aviation capabilities. Interesting to note that the same procurement incompetence, repeated design and spec changes, industrial meddling, and lack of foresight that we see today were all part of the TSR-2 story.
Re: "pillow biting"
"And so the "I’m really offended by x" circle continues, sigh."
Hopefully the Reg Icon Review can offer us an appropriate icon, with a description "I've taken mortal offence, and intend to flounce off as soon as I have mouthed off"
Mmm...is the word "flounce" permitted? Or will some thin skinned berk presume that they are being got at?
Re: I didn't realise there was a difference
"Presumably UKIP supporters see an opportunity to get Thales out of the game"
Why? Can Thales be any worse than BAES?
Re: Lewis misses the point
"I thought the problem at Jutland was shells that DID go bang, all of them, at once, along with the battlecruisers containing them...?"
Well two linked problems of defence procurement - inferior armour on Britsh ships of the line, meaning that German shells could set off the magazines with a well placed hit, plus the refusal of the Admiralty to give Beatty proper armour piercing shells, so that when the Royal Navy hit German ships the shells just bounced off (well, in gross approximation at any rate).
Re: Hmm@A J Stiles
"What if all that money had been spent on actually useful civilian stuff like.... "
You want government more spending than they already do? Maybe you haven't spotted that the budget deficit is running at £120bn a year, and that we are already pi55ing away billions on the bottomless pit of our shambolic health service and welfare programme, and (in the near future) on unrequired high speed rail programmes. The gigantic fail that is energy policy is already (likewise) pi55ing billions up the wall on crummy renewables, for which your energy bills are going up and will continue to do so, and the water companies are investing around £5bn a year in asset renewals - if you want more roads dug up then you'll have to see water bills start increasing significantly above inflation When this was done after privatisation (to fund investment) it wasn't at all popular.
Going back to government, take that £120bn that Gormless George is borrowing annually , and it equates to the government borrowing half a billion quid each and every working day to fritter on stuff that mostly doesn't benefit me, or gives me a very low benefit - you mileage may vary, of course. In that context the criminal incompetence on display in all defence procurement is small beer, I'm afraid.
Re: Easy solution to the noon power 6pm demand@ Natalie Gritpants
"Just put the solar plant 6 hours west and run a cable."
As there's only four hours between the eastern seaboard and California, I think you'll find this idea a little challenging. Consulting a globe may assist you in your future planning projects.
And even with some contribution to New York et al by California and Nevada, you've still got 70% of the US population to address. Like most "renewables", solar works in some places some of the time, but renewables have yet to be offered as a genuine package that can meet normal energy demand. When they can do that at any reasonable scale, without fossil fuel support, I'll agree that they count as renewable. As they stand they're two things at once: Eco-bling for the hard of thinking, and subsidy farms for big corporations. Either way they put up customers bills, but don't make much difference to emissions.
"If the carbon footprint of products played a larger role in it's price then things would shift towards low carbon products. People who could find a way to deliver goods, eg bananas, to the UK using far less carbon would undercut the competition"
You're missing the point, which is that because transport costs are already proportional to energy consumption, anybody who can do things more efficiently would undercut the competition, by your logic. You seem to believe that businesses pay no attention to their energy usage, when in fact it's a huge consideration in what assets they buy, when they replace them, and how they run them. In the short run, carbon taxes just make things more expensive. That's because companies already operate assets as efficiently as they can, and the assets in question are generally expensive, long lived equipment, for which there simply isn't a magically better alternative. Taking the proverbial banana boat, would the presumed increased fuel efficiency of a new boat offset the write down of a mid-life boat already in service, plus the scrapping costs and emissions, plus the resources and emissions used in making a new boat? I doubt it.
So carbon taxes on shipping will simply reduce banana demand, through the price mechanism pushing the poor (or marginal consumers) out of the market. Maybe the poor will instead buy apples, maybe they'll just eat less fruit. As for the West Indies and Africa, they'll have to accept lower sales and lower employment.
And at the end of it, when the charade that is "climate change" is visible to all, where will be the benefit?
Re: Key assumption:@John Smith 19
"With a big enough pool of each battery type charging goes on 24/7. In extreme cases you can have bulk deliveries of charged batteries."
Maybe. Can't see it myself, because you'd only want to build the infrastructure if there were sufficient cars to justify it, and in that case you start stretching the electricity generation capacity of the nation, the electricity distribution system, and the gas transmission system if that's your generation fuel. It is worth recognising that the total energy used by road transport is forty per cent above the total existing output of the UK's electricity industry. As an indication, I reckon that you're talking of the order of £5k to £10k per vehicle just to pay for the power generation and infrastructure improvements. Given that a Nissan Leaf costs around £30k already, how would £35k to £40k for a small hatchback grab you?
Swapping the batteries out might work (although that's not the way car makers are going at the moment anywhere in Europe), but you then have problems of cost (a single battery pack can already equal half the total cost of smaller EV's), and it doesn't address the electricity and gas infrastructure issues mentioned above. You'd also introduce new and significant inefficiencies, in that the heavy weight and low energy density of EV batteries would require about five times as many trucks to move them around than the like for like requirement of liquid fuel tankers, and the cars themselves become heavier because a robust module swapping capability is likely to be notable heavier than a built in unit.
EV's might have a niche future, but the most sensible solution as others have suggested is chemical fuels, ideally that are reasonably compatible with the existing fleet and its infrastructure.
Re: Been saying for how long?@Dapprman
"Mercedes, BMW and VAG have all been long term investors in hydrogen powered tech as well - the only thing stopping them moving forwards is the infrastructure."
No, the thing that is stopping them is that H2 is stupidly expensive to produce in volume by any known means, and the low energy density that it has gives the vehicles range problems to rival electric cars unless you wish to fill the boot with a tank. The German car makers put money into this partly for commercial reasons, but largely as a sop to the powerful green movement in Germany, which is a big threat because the German motor industry is dominated by companies producing big fuel guzzling barges (in relative terms). The same companies have put a lot into electric cars, which likewise haven't taken off.
An interesting development that hasn't been reported much in the UK is that the German car makers are currently lobbying their politicians to push Brussels into changing the forthcoming corporate average fuel economy rules to allow electric cars to be included with a 3x weighting, rather than like for like. This EU legislation will be intended to operate like the US CAFE rules, but the amendments the Germans seem likely to implement are simply to ensure the German car makers can continue to produce and sell thousands of fuel-guzzling luxo-barges by selling a pitiful handful of (heavily subsidised) electric cars.
Re: A golden opportunity
"Now would be the perfect time to whack the Chinese military hard."
Maybe that's the view that you're supposed to have. Interesting to note that in addition to the NYT coverage, I've seen a couple of editorials on US based tech sites demanding that the US government take a more agressive stance and attack the cyberfoes (electronically, of course). All at a time when the Pentagon is trying to increase severalfold the number of tech warfare specialists.
We're being led to believe by the press coverage that the US is being hacked, and that it is not doing any hacking in either defensive or agressive capacties. After Stuxnet that seems most unlikely. But this rather ill informed public debate can't be doing any harm as the Pentagon, DHS and other agencies negotiate future budgets.
"Wonder what the oil companies will do in response to this...?"
Laugh. Hydrogen doesn't have the characteristics of a good transport fuel, even if cost is no object.
Ignoring the primary energy source which may be the toughest nut to crack, it would be far more practical to plan to synthesise propane which could be used in existing spark ignition vehicles with modest conversion (only LPG, of course). There's a modestly developed infrastructure, the technologies are all known, there's experience, and instead of having to reinvent everything, you just build out from what you know, and use existing assets.
But if you're a (probably tax payer funded) think tank, then why waste time on old-hat stuff like LPG, when DECC will be queuing up to hand you money for a report on a hydrogen revolution, that positions the UK as a world leader in a new technology, with millions of green jobs, and low carbon, and , and, and (yawwwnnn).
Re: Labour's surveillance state
I'd agree that there's nothing to choose between them. But it's interesting to note the posessive in McNally's words "the government knows about its people"...
What an arrogant ***t. I don't belong to him and his stinking government of inept, dishonest clowns (or to the opposition comprised of even more inept, dishonest clowns who want to be in government). In fact, if there's any posessives to be used, he's supposed to by my representative, doing what I want, rather than indulging himself at the Westminster Hosppice for the Terminally Narcisstic.
Re: The problem with cherry-picking
" It's a moot point as to whether the gradual improvements in efficiency in the airline industry are related to this or just down to very high competitive pressures and the high price of fuel. As a recent entrant to the ETS the air industry has plenty of allowances of its own at the moment so we don't expect to see significant changes as a result of the scheme for a few years yet."
I doubt it has anything to do with ETS. Not only is fuel one of the largest costs of running aircraft, but you have to lift every kg of the stuff with you on take off, so it cuts your capacity. That has and always will be the case, and is why if the airlines and planemakers can use less they do. But the problem with aviation is that progress takes decades of development to get into service. Take the 787 - design work started formally back around 2003, so that's at least a decade from design to any number in service, but the work probably used prior thinking going back at least five years. And once in service, a widebody jet costs of the order of $100m, so even if some groundbreaking technology emerges, then the existing fleet will not suddenly be retired.
ETS for airlines will only be another layer of pointless bureaucracy, which appears to be the whole point of the EU.
"this is why they should have just taxed carbon at source ....Prices downstream would then reflect how much oil and coal they used"
Funnily enough, prices downstream already do reflect how much you use of anything without any intervention by politicians. The problem is that the treehuggers think that selective price aren't high enough and they want everybody to pay more, on the pretext that this will reduce consumption. For the past few years evil energy companies have been in the firing line for high domestic energy prices, and still there's people saying that energy isn't expensive enough (that's how I understand your comments). Perhaps people need to make their minds up. How much would you like adding to the VAT on coal, oil, and gas (and thus to electricity)?
Even then taxes don't operate in a seamless manner to reduce everybody's energy consumption - you can choose whether the considerable UK duties on petroleum make a difference to fuel consumption - as far as I can see they don't, until you actually price the poor out of the market. So putting up fuel duty (or fuel VAT, or congestion charging) is more likely to push a few battered decade-old Ford Fiestas off the roads than to persuade Range Rover drivers to downsize. If depriving the poor is your solution, that's fine by me, but let's be clear that's how the demand curve operates. And it's the same for home heating - if you put the prices up enough, then it is the marginal poor just outside of the state welfare system who will have to freeze. Everybody else just complains and pays up.
PS, EL Reg: Where's my bl**dy edit button?
Re: Nuclear always @Dave 15
Mmmm... not sure whether my tone wasn't a tad over the top in that last response to Dave 15.
Sorry, no serious offence intended, although the points being made still stand.
Re: Advice please
"I get electricity from a 'responsible' supplier, they buy it from windmills."
And you get common sense from nowhere.
How do you think they keep your laptop running when there's an anticyclone over most of Europe, and pitiful windpower output? Do they pay for some magical low-emissions backup? Or are you swallowing their ridiculous marketing?
Answers on a postcard, please.
Re: Nuclear always @Dave 15
Private 'share holders' in these companies are just tough luck stories.
I referred to the hard-of-thinking, and luckily one turns up! Welcome, Dave 15.
Let's think about your idea that we renationalise the utilities without compensation. Easy money, and a success story as proven in places like Venezuela, Argentina, Zimbabwe and the like. But who are these mysterious "shareholders"? Obviously you think that this is the idle rich, so you'll be disappointed to learn that the vast bulk of shares are owned by institutional investors. Never mind, Dave 15, that must mean the banks, and we own them already, don't we? Well, a bit of them is the banks, investing the cash of anybody whose money is saved or simply on deposit. But you don't have a bank account, so let's steal from everybody who has, eh? Who else might be an institutional investor? Well, there's all the insurance companies, who need to earn a return on premiums invested. But you don't buy insurance, do you Dave 15, no car insurance, no life insurance, no house insurance, no phone insurance? So let's steal from everybody who does. And the other big group of institutional investors, they're the pension funds. But presumably Dave 15 works for the public sector, who don't save the money, and just promise it from future taxes.
So there you have it Dave 15, nice idea. Let's steal from small time savers, insurance customers, and anybody in a properly funded pension scheme. And then any lefty minded government will go and try and borrow to fund its chronic budget deficits, and who do you think they'll be asking to lend them money. Institutions, maybe? Go look up what the currency of Zimbabwe is at the moment, and see where your ideas lead.
"solar and wave/tidal precede wind in importance"
No they don't. They have exactly the same problems of intermittency and poor load factors. Solar doesn't work at all for fifty per cent of the time, and has very low output during winter, giving an annual load factor of around 10% in the UK, and tidal would be about the same, maybe up to 15%. Tidal can be predicted, which makes management easier, but it doesn't alter the costs by that much - tidal power at 02:00 is of little use, and you still have to have conventional plant to cover slack tide coinciding with demand peaks.
Re: Wind intermittency problem grossly exaggerated
I've read that report before, but sadly it isn't borne out in practice here in the real world. The company I work for is one of the world's largest operators of wind turbines (nice subsidies, y'see), and we expect on-land load factors in the mid twenties (%) year round, and sometimes down as low as 15% across an entire quarter. On the coldest hundred days of the year we reckon we get 6-8% of rated output.
There's no way you can fix such variability with pumped storage (ignoring the multiple conversion losses on such a scheme, or the lack of sites), and import and export doesn't really change the equation that much. It is possible to have virtually no wind output over most of Europe for days at a time. That report rather ignores the unfortunate costs associated with the fact that there are often long periods when there is little or no wind, and you therefore need a reliable back up capable of supporting all demand.
Wind power is a toy - a profitable one for operators, but one that it isn't going to keep your lights unless somebody can efficiently store the power, and you carpet both land and sea with the things. If you've been paying attention you'll have seen our idiot politicians have decided we don't have enough land nor sea, and have decided to sign an agreement to build yet more of their bloody toys in Ireland. But that won't alter the figures, and it's just a means of pouring yet more money into low carbon posturing.
Re: Nuclear always costs @James Micallef
"I'm not doubting that nuclear always costs more than it's supposed to.... however I would suggest that every single friggin' capital project in the world, ever, has come in over budget."
In aggregate they do come in over budget, because you can't forecast what you don't know, and sooner or later there's something that you didn't expect. But the over-spend shouldn't be more than 10% on a well run capex programme. Most of the big CCGT's recently commissioned were built on budget and on time (which is to say that the modest budgeted contingency covered the unexpected costs).
The problems with nuclear are largely down to less expertise, because we don't build them often enough to have relevant experience and skills in design, planning or construction. That leads to delays and rework, and the problem with construction is that if you build it wrong, you have to knock it down and do it again, or if it is just a delay, you're still paying a large workforce to sit around reading The Sun.
The most famous nuclear overspend of recent times is Olkiluoto in Finland, running at around €9bn against an original "fixed price" quote of €3bn. But if you built a similar plant now you'd know what to expect, what to look for and what contractual arrangements haven''t worked out, and you'd probably be able to do it at the orginal budgeted costs. Problem is that most of the world doesn't build fleets of nuclear reactors, and so we don't have the chance to apply any learning. France did build reactors in fleets, and it worked rather well for them, of course.
Re: Sod the birdies
What, spend £30 billion on an asset that generates for eight hours a day, at cyclical times not always associated with peak demand? That'd just make the problems of wind turbines even worse, because until (if ever) you can store the energy cheaply, you still need to have thermal plant available to cover 100% of peak demand.
Re: Nuclear always costs more than it's supposed to
"Luddite beard-mutterers like Orlowski witter on about intermittency (without actually understanding what it really means - but never mind) but say nothing about the unreliability and unplanned outages at the UK's nuke plants."
Power generation depends on a handful of key concepts - of particular relevance here are load factor (how much power you get from an asset compared to its maximum rated output), the merit curve (the idea of using the most marginally efficient/cheap plant most of the time), and reserve margin (where you have more capacity than you need to allow for breakdowns or grid problems.
Nuclear reliability is addressed by reserve margin, but for all types of thermal plant you only need about 15% reserve capacity. With wind you need 100% reserve (for the wind element) because it doesn't work at all in periods of very high or very low winds, nor on the coldest days of the year, giving the very low load factors observed in practice, of around 25%.
The merit curve means you run nuclear whenever you can because its marginal cost is the lowest, so it provides continuous baseload, supplemented by the most efficient gas plants. The intermittent nature of wind doesn't work well here, because given that politicians have mandated that it must be used when it is available, it acts like a form of negative and unpredictable demand. That increases emissions because the marginal plant at the wrong end of the merit curve is used to backfill when wind stops, but that is by defintion the least efficient. With the "must run" status of wind, it has an incredible hidden subsidy offered to no other form of generation, but this also hinders the system marginal pricing model, and makes the marginal thermal generation plants unprofitable. So on the one hand wind power sets a high marginal price for consumers, but without additional subsidies newly required by the thermal plant, then your beloved renewables won't be able to offer any reliable power to this country.
From a purely technical point of view, wind power without cheap energy storage is madness. It destabilises the grid, it sucks up subsidies, both direct cash and hidden ones like "must run", it then requires new subsidies to the least efficient thermal plant to keep them available. And the capital cost of wind is ruinous.
There has been a never ending tale of woe in this country about rising energy prices. Unfortunately that rise will continue because your electricity charges need to pay for DECC's new "energy company obligations", which are DECC mandated spending to benefit the fuel poor (an ever increasing number because of DECC's policies), because the renewables operators and their financiers are snorting up the subsidies that DECC have spread on the table, and because having bust the wholesale market, DECC are going to have to implement new energy trading arrangements to subsidies the least efficient thermal plant throuigh capacity payments. That's before rises in world primary energy prices, and before unfavourable movements in exchange rates due to the government spending more than it raises in taxes.
At this point, somebody from the greeny/lefty/hard-of-thinking camp says that it should all be renationalised, because it was cheap, green, and reliable in the good old days (Yeah! Remember the three day week? winter of discontent?). Unfortunately, no matter who owns it, there's no change to the underlying concepts that I've discussed above, and the "profit" that you think you'll take off of energy bills will be lost through incremental government borrowing costs. Anybody who thinks that a government already living £120bn a year beyond its means would be able to easily borrow a further £150bn to renationalise the electricity industry clearly doesn't understand anything.
Re: AC I [don't] spy...
"the Iranian launcher is a basically a souped-up Scud on a mobile trailer,"
If the Iranians can put something into orbit purely off the back of a truck, and the US aren't able to track or spot that, then hats off to Iran.
If find it strange that Google + world and dog can see me in my garden, viewed from space for the sheer hell of it, but the world leading technology power hasn't got the capability to keep track of a handful of rocket launchers in one of the world's most volatile regions? A seventy to ninety foot rocket on a huge trailer plus support vehicles isn't the sort of thing that looks like a forty foot container full of Chinese made furniture, so all the pifffle about "disguising" them doesn't sound very impressive. More so when you remember that at the end of the Cold War twenty years ago the US were busy working out how to track Russian mobile rocket launchers. You are old enough to remember the Cold War, aren't you?
Re: Ledswinger resolution 1929 WTF??
"<Yawn> Change the record, we've debunked all those pet assertions in previous threads."
Ahh look, it's Matt The Twatt. No "we" haven't debunked anything, and in fact neither have you. You have in your usual noisy, pompous manner disagreed, and evidently in recent threads persuaded yourself that you're correct, even when (as often) you're not, or the issue is more nuanced than your primitive black and white thinking can accept. Perhaps that's because you often go off on some illogical tangent.
In this case you're on topic for a rare change, just wrong. Israel has in recent history fired into Syria, Gaza, Lebanon as they see fit, without provoking any meaningful wars, so a bit of smoking debris isn't going to start any war.
So again, you're talking out of your arse.
Re: Ledswinger A bigger problem...
A bit late to worry about that sort of thing now, having had NuLab's "no borders" programme in place for a decade.
"anyone who can take advantage of the Home User Program can get their own copy of Office 2013 for £8.95 "
I think MS have noticed. My 80,000 employee organisation has withdrawn from the home user programme because they don't want to pay the costs (not disclosed) that are made for that. At a guess MS are ramping the HUP costs for business up in the hope of forcing home users onto a subscription.
Re: UK users?
"I doubt there's enough interest in the extra bits from home users to sell many subscriptions at that rate."
Which is a missed opportunity. Had they bundled something like 100GB of cloud storage then I'd be in there. Probably other things would appeal to other users, but looks like they're spoiling the ship for a ha'porth of tar.
Re: resolution 1929 WTF??
"but it takes a big hit on payload because they have to launch over the Med as dropping spent stages on the neighbours is likely to annoy them"
What, annoy them more than bombing their cities because you feel like it, seizing their land, or asassinating their scientists?
Personally I can't see the neighbours giving a hoot about a manky bit of used rocket dropping in the desert - and if it's because they are delivering a warhead on some other neighbour, you're not exactly going to register a complaint, are you?
Re: The government versus the people
"The demographic from which the military is hiring is going to have to change. Will they rise to the occasion and pay professional salaries, or will they just make up a second-rate market of their own?"
So the rat-bag of hackers complain that the military "isn't willing to share its knowledge", what do they expect? I'd imagine being any sort of spook is a lonely, one-sided existence, in which you contribute, but rarely receive. That follows the time honoured tradition of "need to know", but understandably doesn't go down well with the children of the internet (tm).
Unfortunately, that probably means that the people that have the necessary skills, and who are also used to working in rooms without windows, and not going to conferences, or talking down the pub about your day at work, well, they're currently employed by crooks or are serving time. Subject to the authorities having caught enough cyber crims, I can see the Pentagon staffing up through serious plea bargaining or parole offers, and in that case they're not going to be terribly worried about the wages.
And that way the Pentagon won't have to pander to prima donna hackers, sniffing that they aren't paid enough, or that they have a right to know what's going on.
"But if you compare the three main party leaders, only Cameron is not a complete joke, and that is struggling!"
The only concievable explanation for the performance, actions and choices of the current crop of leaders is that each is a plant, working for another party. So just as Tory strategists celebrated the success of Operation Sad Panda, their own party was being ruled by a vacuuous human shell, the brain surgically removed, and the golem-like body remotely controlled from the basement of Labour party. Clegg of course is an agent from one extremist faction of the LibDems against the other various extremists factions that collectively pretend to be a single party.
Re: The LibDem part of our coalition government recently
Well, Greenpeace reckon it would cost about £3bn a year for thirty years for the Trident replacement. Given that the government sees fit to fritter £12bn a year on foreign aid, a Trident replacement would appear to be exceptionally good value.
On the other hand, if you're a simple minded liberal democrat, brought up into a very long tradition of comfortably powerless opposition, forever railing against the government of the day, accountable for nothing, what are the chances that you'd be able to make the right decision on anything strategic?
Re: A bigger problem...
"I suspect the president has already penciled in a few dissidents glorious martyrs for that role. It may be a while before they have any seats free."
Alright, offer them a trade. We'll have their dissidents, they take our MPs. Unless the sanctions prohibit such trade, of course.
"One could make it about sufficient accuracy and lift of ballistic missiles in general (both still far far away)"
I don't think accuracy of nuclear weapons is at all important to the likes of Iran. Yes, nice to have pinpoint accuracy if you can, but the (presumed) deterrent effect of having a nuke is there regardless, because "hoping that it misses" is not a very good defensive strategy for your opponents.
In terms of lift of missiles, the existing (publicly reported) Iranian weapons would do the job (if the job is menacing Israel) because the Shahab 3 has a range of 1,300 km, easily enough to reach Israel from anywhere in Western Iran. The only piece of the jigsaw remaining is enriching the uranium - the regional delivery vehicle exists, I would expect the mechanical weaponisation aspects have already been considered and resolved. I suspect the orbital monkey business is just intended to say "look what we could do", as a time killer whilst they work on enrichment.
For those with the time there's some interesting stuff here (in a large pdf):
Re: I like it. HP? Security?
"Remember when HP accused certain people of theft? Nothing."
If you mean Autonomy, then that's still under investigation. Having reported a criminal act there's not much they can do but wait on the wheels of justice, which grind slow and inconsistently. As a guide to the timescale, it wouldn't be a record if the SFO decide there is a case to pursue, for it to come to court in six years. For example, the principal accused from Torex Retail, that went "pop" at the beginning of 2007 won't be seeing the inside of a court room until March of this year.
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