Who didn't know this was coming!?!
The UK risks energy shortages by 2015 or 2016, energy regulator Ofgem has predicted. The shortages will primarily be caused by EU environmental legislation forcing the early closure of coal and oil-fired power stations, it said. Its first annual Capacity Assessment [93-page / 1.9MB PDF] projects that electricity margins, or …
Everybody knew, except OFGEM. The forward projection of reserve margin in the UK (that's your % of gross secure generating capacity over your peak demand) has shown this coming down to nil by 2015, and that's been the case for the past five years, openly illustrated in energy company investor reports. From the point of view of the energy companies, reducing reserve margins is great, because it pushes prices up, although it is also the signal to start building new plant. Well done to OFGEM for waking up, yawning and panicking.
Ultimately the reason for this situation is that the bunglers of DECC, BIS and OFGEM have farted around for the past decade obsessed with "climate change", throwing vast sums at unreliable renewables, worrying about any scheme with words like climate, community, partnership in the title and ignored the basics. They should all be sacked.
However, it's not as bad as it looks because there's quite a lot of CCGT that is in the pipeline and will come on stream, many of the stations being shut down never run (eg Grain was completed in 1982ish, is now being closed but has rarely run because it is expensive and surplus to demand needs).
And if the government want to ensure security they simply pay the owners to hold plant in reserve capacity (and if need be they should tell the EU where to stuff their Large Combustion Plant Directive). And as the article notes, that's in the scheme to rejig the electricity market (expect the cretins of the civil service to screw it up, mind you).
The German government are having to address at the moment because they've got a similar situation, that renewables have hoovered up all the money, and the operators of thermal plant want to close the unprofitable plant down, so the German pols (having made the problem) now want to force the energy companies to keep open loss making plants.
"Ultimately the reason for this situation is that the bunglers of DECC, BIS and OFGEM have farted around for the past decade obsessed with "climate change", throwing vast sums at unreliable renewables, worrying about any scheme with words like climate, community, partnership in the title and ignored the basics. They should all be sacked."
Agreed, but woth noting that worrying about Climate Change does not have to mean wasting money at wind power. If someone is worried about CO2 emissions, nuclear is a perfectly viable answer to that.
Unfortunately I literally have on my desk right now, a leaflet handed to me in the street asking me to write to Edward Davey (the Secretary of State in Dept. of Energy and Climate Change" to tell him how we the British public oppose nuclear power. I'm actually going to write to tell him large numbers of us really support it.
I'm actually a mild septic on AGW, but there are plenty of other reasons to want to reduce our fossil fuel dependency. But whichever side you fall on, nuclear is a far better progression from fossil fuels than wind power, etc. We're going to have to keep gas-power going for a while yet - you can't rush building a nuclear power station. Which is why we need to get them in place now, not later.
Mushroom cloud, because FoE can't tell the difference between nuclear power and a nuclear bomb.
"Agreed, but woth noting that worrying about Climate Change does not have to mean wasting money at wind power. If someone is worried about CO2 emissions, nuclear is a perfectly viable answer to that."
You'd be right if the "Cult of Climate Change" were logical. But they're often not as your FOE comment recognises, so they're frequently the same people opposed to nuclear power. For the rest of us, there's the minor problem that nuclear power plants cost five times as much as gas, of which there's no immediate shortage (likewise coal). Even the argument that nuclear fuel costs are low is spurious, because with rising Chinese and developing world demand, and with a diminshed surplus-military stockpile, the suppliers will in due course start pricing it for the embedded energy versus the alternatives that the buyer has (so coal, oil, gas).
The latest generation of nukes are overly complicated and overly expensive, as events in Finland and France have demonstrated, and personally I think the engineers need to be sent back to the drawing board to design a cheaper, simpler, genuinely failsafe system. PBMR was a system developed by the Germans to meet exactly this, but then (first time round) they decided to withdraw from nuclear power and didn't continue it. PBMR in particular might not be the answer, but there's other possible developments in low cost reactors that might be the answer.
@Ledswinger: I've modded you up because you make many good points. (And your reference to Finland shows you are informed on the subject). I would happily debate you on nuclear power in more detail but I don't have time unfortunately. But I'll point out that the cost of building nuclear power plants is not likely to come down in real terms any time soon, but we will *have* to move to nuclear from fossil fuels at some point. Is it better to do this now, whilst we still have some nuclear expertise, or at the last minute when we are crippled by sky-high oil and gas prices, nuclear fuel is more expensive and nuclear fuel sources have become strategic areas of control in the same way oil producing countries are today? (You yourself comment that nuclear prices will start to rise in the medium term). It takes a considerable amount of time to build nuclear power plants safely and it's not something best done at the last minute when we're already suffering from massive energy prices on dwindling fossil fuel. I'd also challenge that statement about five times the cost of a gas power plant when we look at rising gas prices and consider re-processing. But no time...
The main thing I wanted to say was that most people believe in AGW and as a sceptic, I don't know whether or not it's true myself. But I do think it's counter-productive to ignore that nuclear power is a low CO2 powersource as a factor regardless of your own feelings on this issue. The reason being, you are currently arguing for fossil fuel usage in favour of renewables or nuclear. That's fine, but there's an other argument that will not go away whether you want it to or not, and that is renewables vs. nuclear. I suspect that if you were *forced* to choose between those two, you would choose nuclear (whilst complaining fossil fuels should have been an option, loudly). Well, you (and me) are being forced to make that choice. We're not going to get away with just saying "fossil fuels is fine" whether you're someone who genuinely thinks that like you, or whether you're someone who prefers nuclear like me. So I think it most effective not to lump nuclear in with renewables as a single category of "inferior choice" even if you think fossil fuels are The Way. Many people do believe in AGW (and they may be right for all I know). If you turn your back on nuclear power and don't show that it's as CO2 low as renewables, then you're going to get stabbed in the back with a wind-turbine. Like it or not, nuclear power is the most effective-counter argument to Wind Power in the current scientific and political mindset.
"The latest generation of nukes are overly complicated and overly expensive, as events in Finland and France have demonstrated, and personally I think the engineers need to be sent back to the drawing board to design a cheaper, simpler, genuinely failsafe system."
Only the French EPR is overly complex. Having reviewed both designs (EPR and AP1000), I came away very impressed by the AP1000's simplicity. The AP1000 uses passively safe systems. Basically, if the smelly stuff hits the fan, it is designed to automagically shut down and be safe, without any human or active control system intervention for 48 hours. The EPR requires multiple active safety systems to do the same thing.
Yes, the PBMR is a good design, but it is a Gen IV design, rather than a Gen III+, like the AP1000 or EPR. This basically means that the pilot studies have been done, the concept is proven in a laboratory setting, but they haven't sorted out how to make the commercially viable solution yet. The South Africans were trying, but decided to shut down their project through lack of cash.
@ Andy C: Agree with your views (my employers had come to the same conclusion re AP1000), although that's an area well away from what I do.
@H4rmony & Andy C: Having said that, the blackout business is an entirely artificial construct, caused by EU directives and the British bunglement's policies. Simply rip up the stupid rules, and we've got plenty of time, and then we can investigate what a Gen4 reactor could do, hopefully at lower cost rather than panic buying the least bad solution on the shelves today. As things stand we don't even have companies who want to invest in a Gen3 reactor (even EdF, cheer leaders for nuclear are looking for a co-investor to pump cash into the proposed Hinckley Point build).
The same is true of renewables - if we're going to have them, far better to have a proper slow long term plan, rather than the shambles we've got at the moment, where money is thrown at any crummy scheme that can claim to be "renewable". Given that DECC are only supposed to do "policy", it's incredible that they can't even do that properly. Or, in the light of the incomptence of MoD, DfT, et al, maybe it's not incredible at all.
Better not to have renewables at all - a complete blind alley.
Living in a country where power frequently goes out, there are definite benefits that accrue from them.
Conservation: Everyone thinks about whether they they need the heater / air-con or whether a plain old fan is sufficient. Never filling a kettle beyond the amount you NEED. Using economy lighting (most of mine are LED now) and always switching the lights off; Using refrigerators in moderation, none of that cold as possible stuff.
Consideration: for others knowing that your wastage might cause them to lose power;
Awareness: That power resources are finite and conservation is not just a word;
Choosing the right appliances: Instant on water heaters, mounted adjacent to the point of use save money big time. Cut out the 'Hollywood' showers (Did you see that Angie Dickinson shower scene!!).
Standby Power: Get yourself a small generator and a can or two of petrol / gas. Make wiring arrangements for easy emergency power switch-overs for essential outlets. Install battery powered emergency lights near stairways and other risky areas.
And don't forget the condoms in North America where power stays on, uninterrupted, for years, birth rates always increase nine-months after the power failure as adults reap the benefits of alternative entertainment during outages.
I'm not sure if you are serious?
"Get yourself a small generator and a can or two of petrol / gas. Make wiring arrangements for easy emergency power switch-overs for essential outlets."
Are you ready for Baghdad? Expect the air quality to plummet though.
No, he's right.
I sold a lot of generators and changeover wiring in the 1970s, and will do so again.
Bring it on!
small generators are nothing compared to 4,000,000+ motorcycles.
When I visit countries in the West I practice what I preach and those locals think it is 'excessive'. The first power outage makes people believers.
I believe he is. I won't be the only person sitting here thinking "Well, if it does happen, I'll just invest in a generator." Inbuilt in that decision is the capability for my own power, for conservation of that power, for choosing the right appliances for that power, and everything else mentioned.
Hell, I know people who have generators that they turn on in the smallest of brownouts to keep the freezer or fish-tank going, so it's hardly a huge step to contemplate once blackouts become common enough to affect daily life. And, when it comes to it, I have a petrol strimmer that gives 700W of rotational power for hours on end from £5 of petrol to a rod to which I could attach to any electric motor and get sufficient power out (even mains-level if I use the cheapy inverter from Maplin's that I have in my car and a suitable battery) to do something with if blackouts are going to start becoming commonplace. It might only be a bulb and the laptops, but it's going to make me think more about providing that power than anything else if I get home and have no power for the whole evening.
I certainly won't be splashing out on solar panels or home wind turbines, though, because the subsidies for those are likely to dry up very quickly in such circumstances because of their inefficiency and I'd be left with the bill and a device that will die before it will reap back my outlay on it.
You have no idea how reliant on electrical power you are until you take away modern 24/7 supply of it. My first thoughts would be "freezer, fridge, lighting, heating (depending on the time of year), fish-tanks, everything else", but over any extended period of blackouts, you'd find my basics taken care of and I'd be there watching TV (even if it's pre-recorded DVD's because the transmitters are down) - and I wouldn't be alone.
When I lived with my parents, during any sort of extended blackout (sometimes scheduled because of local works etc.), our neighbours and my dad would already have been out to the trade shops and have ready in place enough generator power to keep enough going in the house that no food would go off and people could do their household chores. Hell, I can remember him throwing single-sockets over to the neighbours and telling them to plug their lights into it.
Electricity is the one thing you can make on your own, even if you have to improvise. More worryingly, powercuts will lead to a HUGE increase in the price of petrol and things like generators and two-stroke oil (not to mention the related greenhouse gases that "conservationists" want us to not put out, but which they have basically increased in such situations by not providing nuclear) - and some houses rely on electricity to do everything from lighting to heating to storing food to keeping livestock to having a bath.
Your iPhone/laptop/Blu-Ray kinda becomes useless as entertainment in a blackout if you can't charge it and though most people will tolerate one night, after a week or a month of blackouts, they'll do something about it. Which generally involves spending lots of money to become independent of the grid.
Well, you're daft.
That list of so called 'benefits' are really just adjustments people make to a bad situation. People become 'believers' because they have no choice.
Having lived in a country with nightly power outs - Sri Lanka 2001/2002 I think you must be crazy - the only good thing was an added incentive to go to the pub.
It's not so daft.
Some years ago I switched to just spending 3 minutes in the shower each morning rather than the usual "however long I felt like it".
Saved me just over £100 in water and gas over the year. Thats just for ONE person. Now apply that to a family of four and surely its worth a try?
Also as both myself and my wife work from home now, we decided to apply the old "only flush the loo during the day if we really have to" routine.
After a year of doing that we are now down to a Solo tariff for our water which is a further saving.
No it involves voting in a government who will scrap renewable energy
A little like saying rationing has health benefits for the obese. Yes, it might cut out some overconsumption. Sucks if you're already one of the thin, though.
Secure, clean and affordable -- chose two out of three!
why not go 3 out of 3 - nuclear.
"Energy Secretary Ed Davey said that the Government would "consider carefully the implications" of the report, and publish a formal response before the end of the year."
Last week, Ed Davey was reported as saying that it was nothing to worry about and that there was still a 4% 'cushion', apparently ignoring the possibility of a large power station having to stop for maintenance and/or believing that wind power will always fill the gap.
Of course, we could ignore the EU and keep those slated for closure open while DECC gets its act together, but as Alan Bennett might say, they won't, will they?
"Energy Secretary Ed Davey said that the Government would "consider carefully the implications" of the report, and publish a formal response before the end of the year."
Last week, Ed Davey was reported as saying that it was nothing to worry about and that there was still a 4% 'cushion' ...".
A very, very, stupid man. I livid through a 5-day North American power outage and it was hell, especially considering Canada's system was and the fault lay in the States!
There is no plan here, is there? The government knows that a real plan - involving gas, nuclear and even coal - would cause wailing from greenies and NIMBIES. So they put off making a decision until it all goes to hell.
The basic problem here is a severe lack of cojones on the part of Government, and the regrettable tendency of much of the public to yap noisily and incessantly about things which they know nothing about. AGW is a case in point; every time the current research is thoroughly examined, the "threat" of AGW diminishes and the effects from the projected warming reduce in scope and recede into the far-distant future.
Yet, the topic attracts comment from huge numbers of pseudo-greenies who seem to wish to impose a very real sack-cloth & ashes on the country whilst retaining the "right" to cheap air travel and pervasive cheap energy. Added to this are a horde more neo-Luddites who see rolling brown-outs as a good thing; such supply incompetence hits heavy industry extremely hard, forcing existing factories to expensively install their own gensets and strongly discouraging other prospective industrials from investing in new industrial plant. In simple terms, if you make running a factory here expensive, people won't build them here.
A final problem is that a huge swathe of the population is not only stupid, ill-informed and vocal but actually sees remaining ill-informed and stupid as a virtue. An example here is the current sweeping epizootic of bovine tuberculosis; all the epidemiological science on this matter focusses around clobbering disease reservoirs as effectively as possible (as was done most successfully in New Zealand). Not doing this condemns the animals of this wildlife reservoir to infection and slow, unpleasant death from this infection, yet the general public steadfastly refuses to think and consider this.
As I said at the top, modern governments lack the balls to simply turn round to the general public and say "You think this, you are wrong. We will do what is right, not what you want. No go away and watch Eastenders or whatever othe brain-rotting tripe you normally indulge in". We need nuclear power stations, we need then very soon, and most of all we need to tell the morons to shut up.
As soon as the first brown-outs happen and folks can't toast a panini, watch X-Factor or charge their iPads, the whole green argument and planning red-tape will be trampled underfoot and we'll have four+ new reactors built and online within 5 years.
Shame we cant do it a little more progressively but that's how it works nowadays. No one gives a damn until they are directly affected.
> four+ new reactors built and online within 5 years
AFAIK that is impossible as there are only a handful industrial sites able to handle the billet of metal to be made into a seamless reactor vessel and they are booked out for the next few years. May be wrong though.
If the customer is desperate enough and the money is there its amazing what can be achieved.
These projects only take so long due to lawyers and people stringing the jobs out longer means...more money.
Its how BAe came to be so big. It doesn't really take 20 years to build an aircraft carrier or a fighter jet.
OK, bear with me.... remember they are closing their nuke stations? But fret ye not! :-
"Yes," grinned Hardin. "A military target to stay away from. Isn't it obvious why I brought the subject up? It happened to confirm a very strong suspicion I had had."
"And that was what?"
"That Anacreon no longer has a nuclear-power economy. If they had, our friend would undoubtedly have realized that plutonium, except in ancient tradition is not used in power plants. And therefore it follows that the rest of the Periphery no longer has nuclear power either. Certainly Smyrno hasn't, or Anacreon wouldn't have won most of the battles in their recent war. Interesting, wouldn't you say?"
"Bah!" Pirenne left in fiendish humor, and Hardin smiled gently.
He threw his cigar away and looked up at the outstretched Galaxy. "Back to oil and coal, are they?" he murmured – and what the rest of his thoughts were he kept to himself.
for the newly independent Scotland, 2015 will bring vast amounts of prosperity, as we sell our abundant hydro electricity to england.
The amount of hot air Salmond produces on a daily basis we could power Europe.
Lets face it we are pretty much screwed if that idiot is allowed to run things.
I face nothing. Scotland can be independent. We have the resources, the skill and courage to do so. Once we have independence if the people choose to have someone else rather than Salmond then fair enough. But to dismiss the whole notion of self governence based your dislike for Salmond is niave and short sighted.
Hello, reality calling. Let's just look at three factors first of all:-
1. EU. Scotland does not have an automatic right to join. It would have to apply before it could get all that lovely EU money.
2. Debts. The UK should ask Scotland to repay all the money we leant Scotlands companies. Ones like HBOS, RBS etc.etc. Call it £50billion in round numbers. Where you getting that from?
3. Pound. You ain't having it. Allowing Scotland to continue using the pound is silly as the BofE cannot be responsible to two governments. Scotland would have to create it's own currency and then back it with it's own central bank. That would make the currency worth very little and raising any national debt would be at silly interest rates.
In short, the only people who really think Scotland can stand alone are those that put nationalistic ideals ahead of any form of practicality or indeed common sense. Personally, I don't think the Scottish will vote to leave as I credit them with more sense. If this happens, I would like a vote amongst NI, Wales and England as to whether we want Scotland in the Union. I pretty much suspect the vote would be to eject the continually complaining Scottish and good riddance.
"1. EU. Scotland does not have an automatic right to join. It would have to apply before it could get all that lovely EU money."
The EU right now would not want to be weakened by the departure of Scotland and other EU nations would certainly welcome Scotland to EU membership. Whilst it's true that Scotland would have to apply, expect a fast track to acceptance.
"2. Debts. The UK should ask Scotland to repay all the money we leant Scotlands companies. Ones like HBOS, RBS etc.etc. Call it £50billion in round numbers. Where you getting that from?"
This issue would not actually have to change. You would simply have these companies part owned from "abroad". Of course, many Scots might not like that, but it's not exactly a new thing to have your local companies owned by foreigners. The London Stock Exchange is part owned by Dubai and Qatar (they own about 35% between them). Happens all the time.
"3. Pound. You ain't having it. Allowing Scotland to continue using the pound is silly as the BofE cannot be responsible to two governments. Scotland would have to create it's own currency and then back it with it's own central bank. That would make the currency worth very little and raising any national debt would be at silly interest rates."
Absolutely the case that a shared currency would not work. Look at what happened when Greece and Spain attempted to share a currency with Germany and France. (Not the whole story, but a sigificant factor). However, Scotland would not have to create their own currency - they could join the Euro and would be eagerly welcomed. Of course, Scotland may not wish to do that.
I'm picking out the flaws as I see them in your post, but that doesn't mean I disagree. Right now, London is bringing in more money to the UK than the rest of the country put together, THere's a significant flow of cash from South to North and if anyone can make a case for being financially better off after a separation, it's the English. But it's not going to happen - most Scots don't want to leave, it's just Salmond promising things that aren't possible - like leaving but keeping all the benefits and the shared currency. I'd be sorry to see Scotland leave the UK personally. There are more important things than money.
1. whats your issue here? so we need to apply. great. fill in a few forms, get a doctor to sign our photo, jobs done!
2. What debt? That money was paid to the UK government, who then paid it to UK companies. Certainly not from the BofE to Scottish companies. Scotland dosent actually owe anything, the UK does. Im sure we can throw a few scraps to the UK tho. Times are tough after all.
3. Its not up to the BofE. If a small village in Africa decided to start using sterling as there main currancy, there is nothing the BofE could do.
Scotland has more than enough clout to stand on our own. You can keep your broken Britain.
Whilst I think that Scottish independence would have many problems, it's not clear why Scottish companies would have to "pay back" anything - that money was from the UK Government which *includes* Scotland up until independence (and Scottish taxpayers also contributed to it). Plus many English/Welsh/NI companies received money too. It seems rather silly to try to work out perhaps decades or centuries' worth of payments, to work out if what should be paid back to whom. Do all the Scottish citizens get all the taxes paid back to the UK too, by that logic.
No, it ought to be clear that the change would be from independence onwards. Scottish companies received money - just as scottish taxpayers paid tax - because they were part of the UK. Independence is not something that is retroactive.
The whole question of currency is a complex one, but I would hope that debate is more mature than "You can't have it". For starters, there's nothing stopping the new independent Scotland to declare UKP to be legal currency, and there's nothing the remainder of the UK can do about it. Of course, a new currency would best be created, and yes it is a complex issue how this is done. (A similar thing applies to a country leaving the Euro.)
"I pretty much suspect the vote would be to eject the continually complaining Scottish and good riddance."
You'd punish the Scottish people, based on disagreement with political leaders? Now who's putting "nationalistic ideals ahead of any form of practicality or indeed common sense"?
"For starters, there's nothing stopping the new independent Scotland to declare UKP to be legal currency, and there's nothing the remainder of the UK can do about it"
Again, I like having Scotland as part of the UK, but the above notion is pretty funny. No, England could not tell Scotland they couldn't use the pound as their currency, but I can't imagine the average Scot being very happy when they go to their bank and say "I'd like £500" and the teller replying: "we've sent our manager down to Newcastle to flog a car. He should be back tomorrow with a few thousand in notes. You'll have to wait." Basically, there is no reason the the Royal Mint will be sending notes and coinage to Scotland if they leave. So what are we talking about here? Printing and minting Scottish pound sterlings? Okay - these already exist, but how is that functionally different to Scotland having its own currency? Are you suggesting that Scotland peg its currency to the pound sterling? Why would they do that? China used to peg their currency to the dollar just to annoy the US (note, not really just to annoy the US), but China has methods economic control that, shall we say, are not available to Scotland. Why would Scotland gain independence and then try to wiggle out of one of the few benefits which would be the freedom to set interest rates more suited to their own local economy?
Remind us all again what the 'H' in HBOS stands for. And by the way, its Lloyds HBOS.
If a someone within the Union left, it only makes sense for them to take their fair share of the debts (as in national debt). Why should those left carry them all and the one leaving not take any? So, Scotland would immediately get a huge national debt.
As to currency. Fine, keep the pound. However, all decisions would be taken for the rest of the union and not Scotland. No country ever wants to be beholden to another for their currency, as this can cause all manner of issues and is a loss of control. Also, try and raise national debt when your currency is anothers.
you are joking. Theres' barely a GW of hydro capacity in Scotland, which would keel over and die without coal and nuclear.
And independent scotland would not of course be able to sell wind power at anything above market rates. Nor would england finance the cables.
England cant wait for Scottish independence, when they will have to actually pat their way. They cant
"I can't imagine the average Scot being very happy when they go to their bank and say "I'd like £500" and the teller replying: "we've sent our manager down to Newcastle to flog a car. He should be back tomorrow with a few thousand in notes. You'll have to wait."
Uh, you do know that scottish banks print their own notes?
"Printing and minting Scottish pound sterlings? Okay - these already exist"
Oh, you do. So what exactly is the point of your wierd story?
I hope this report will spur the government into action and push through some new nuke power stations ASAP,
we have 3 years or so to get one built, plenty of time!
Until Fusion power is viable, we need Fission power plants, sure tidal/wave power would be a nice clean addition to the mix, but except for offshore wind, we should ban large wind turbines (I am fine with small domestic/commercial wind)
Well, there should be some nice low-mileage nuke stations in Germany unwanted soon, get them to dismantle them and relocate them, if they don't know how, I am sure the Russians have some experience in having to do this kind of thing for some reason :P
Sadly it takes a lot more than 3 years to build a simple gas fired plant, let alone a nuclear one.
Plus we still have all the hippies moaning about nuclear power. And we sold all our nuclear industry to the French.
> the Russians have some experience in having to do this kind of thing for some reason
In Soviet Russia, nuclear reactors dismantle YOU, so I'm not sure this translates to real-world skills.
No renewable is a cost effective way of generating electricity unless your are 50 miles from a pylon.
I meant not so much the Pripyat Organic Farm Experiment, but when they had "unwelcome guests" several decades earlier and had to dismantle and relocate strategic factories and heavy equipment much further east :P
Incidentally, you know pretty much all ex-Soviet sites look like Pripyat, regardless if they were nuclear or not.... Britain would look like that too if you removed 95% of the state funds and "liberated it" around 1992 or so, in fact I have seen some ex-industrial towns in Fife region that look supiciously similar ;)
Please can you build me a battery the size of a shipping container.
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