back to article Wind power key to UK's desperate renewable energy bid

Good news and bad news. This week's government strategy document-cum-consultation on renewable energy, and on how the UK proposes to meet its EU obligation to derive 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, shows clear signs of practicality and joined-up thinking. But making it to the magic 15 requires several …

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  1. breakfast
    Black Helicopters

    Radar nimbys

    I always thought the MOD concerns about wind farms were ridiculous. If your radar doesn't work in the presence of windmills, that's not a problem with the windmills.

    Any country worried about us going to war with them could just set up loads of wind farms and be safe.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all too hard - let's give up

    SPain in 2007 produced 10% of its electricity through windpower.

    It's taken them about 10 years to do this.

    Funny how a bunch of dodgy foreigners can actually get this done, while Britain dithers......pathetic really.

    The nay-sayers can be safely ignored - they are demonstratedly wrong - Britain can easily have 15% of its power produced by wind within 12 years.

    On top of that, a bit of tidal power, and some other renewables should in fact make 20% a perfectly feasible target.

    In any case - by 2020 only Richard Branson will still be able to afford petrol for his cars, for the rest of us, filling-up at the petrol station will be but a memory by 2020, nothing the nay-sayers say can change that.

  3. dervheid
    Alert

    Going to Hell...

    on a hand cart, 'powered' by the wind!

    I'm now (eagerly) waiting for the slap you promised me Sarah!

    8P

  4. Edward Rose

    Community Service.

    Shove convicts and chavs on a bike (dynamo fitted, I don't mean let the buggers steal it and hide somewhere). You could also pay the unemployed to do it. Not for the grid, but could supply power for prisons or something not even vaguely critical (free battery recharging?).

    Remove personal TVs / PS2s from convicts quarters, and give them a couple communal TVs.

    I bet they get a cooked breakfast too (although I'm happy to stand corrected). Cereal or toast is good enough. One cooked meal a day is more than what some people get.

    And, force companies/universities to turn lights and unused IT equipment off over night (and in pre-response to all those who are about to shout 'We have to leave XYZ running' I did say unused).

    And they say that cutting back on UK consumption can't be done. They're just not thinking.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    You guys are screwed

    Where does the UK get most of it's energy from at the moment -the scottish sector of the north sea.

    Where does the UK plan on getting the majority of it's renewable and future energy from - Scotland

    Who wants to bugger off and leave you guys in a lurch paying £200 a barrel for oil rolling around pissing themselves laughing in their own oil rich country. -we do.

    Not the best though plan by team labour.

    Now bugger off all you scrounging sods (you can keep Paw Broon) who've been saying Scotland's been living off England for the last 300 years. Time you dug out your candles.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    the sea

    Doesnt UK still have that "sea" thing surrounding it, with tides that happen every single day no matter what?

    and most of the equipment would be invisible to the nimbys.

  7. Eddie Edwards
    Stop

    Er ...

    "SPain in 2007 produced 10% of its electricity through windpower."

    That's 10% of its electricity. Spain has a low reliance on fossil fuels at only 56.8% (http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Europe/Spain-ENERGY-AND-POWER.html) so 10% of electricity is about 4.3% of total energy.

    "It's taken them about 10 years to do this."

    So another 25 years to get to 15% of total energy then ...

    That's hardly within the 2020 timescale and they've got a 10-year head start.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @It's all too hard - let's give up

    Spain if memory serves me correctly has a far lower usage of power then England and as most was new build it was rather easy to obtain such figures.

    Relying on wind power in Scotland isn't wise.

    Plus you can't rely on the weather to behave (a bit like the Scots, who I'm sure would be most amused by turning off the power to England once they succeed.)

    However soon(50 to 100 odd years) we'll be getting 70% from renewable sources as our nuclear stations will be too old to run, gas and oil shall all be bought up by the States and China, all we'll be left with is a few windmills, coal powered stations and very little electricity.

    If we'd invested in power diversity 30 years ago we'd be fine (nuclear/wind/hydro/wave) but we've dillydalleyed so long that we're shafted no matter what we do.

  9. gizmo23

    More amps Igor!

    Why don't windfarms have solar panels embedded in the blades?

    That way they could generate electricity when there's not enough wind to turn the turbine.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Spain

    Spains hardly a good example.

    So they have reached 15% of energy usage,

    They have 2/3 of the UK population in a country that is much warmer than the uk (so use MUCH less energy) they also have twice the land area of the UK so have far more places to build turbines.

    It's a bit far off being as easy for us.

    Although Scotland already gets around 20% of it's energy from renewable sources so might be a little easier for us up here to meet that target.

  11. alistair millington
    Thumb Down

    Bristol, second highest tidal range in the world.

    Where is the hydro tidal barrier plans?

    MOD can't detect anything with rader because they can't afford it. Never mind wind power, and it anything is going to fly low enough to not be detected amongst a wind farm, good luck to 'em.

    I think the document is just scaremongering. If the will was there it would be done, but this govt like commitees and spending money on itself so we think it has done something. Which we don't

    Case in point. The earth quake that hit san francisco and flattened the two story highway. 3 weeks of building and it was back up.

    In the UK we can't build a new road surface with new barriers in the middle in less than 60 weeks.

    I like to think the 2020 target will not be reached and we will fail and look stupid to Europe who already think that. But the govt then can blame the govt now and it will be all okay then....

  12. m-s-m

    Feed-In Tariff

    The microgen-specific section leaves open the prospect of a FIT for this sector of the market, i.e. where it is most effective (making people buy solar panels etc.). There is no reason why this can't work alongside ROCs for larger projects. Of course, as to whether it will actually go ahead is another matter!

  13. FlatSpot
    Thumb Up

    the first petrol engine couldnt do 100mph.

    Interesting report on power in the Economist last week, showing the big advances in efficiency for both wind and solar power over the last few years.

    Add some DC infrastructure (rather than AC) and intelligent appliance metering and its not so crazy to think we couldnt hit 20% and upwards for renewables.

    I look forward to the end of the noisy combustion engine and our over dependence on oil.

  14. Steven Jones

    Spain and wind power

    How did Spain achieve 10% of their electric power through wind?

    Well possibly because it has only two-thirds the population of the UK and twice the land area leading to a population density just one third of that of the UK. The population density of Spain is closer to that of Scotland than England.Quite simply there isn't as much land, especially thinly populated land in England as there is in Spain. In consequence, many more places to put wind farms cheaply with fewer local objections.

    The population density of England in 2002 was 371 people per sq km, in Spain 81 per sq km, so manage to lose 78% of England's population and you might find a few more places to install wind turbines. Just whether the Scots will be happy to have their mountains covered in turbines to meet England's power needs is going to be interesting. Well perhaps if England built a lot more nuclear power stations they might take notice.

    nb. does nuclear count as "renewable" in this commitment? I know it's not renewable in the technical sense, but as a low CO2 emission power system does it count? Also why don't power savings count - for many countries (especialy heavily populated ones), investing in power saving could reduce CO2 emissions far more cheaply than renewables. Saving 100GWh is surely better than generating 100GWh from renewables.

  15. Perpetual Cyclist
    Flame

    I think desperate is the word...

    Here is analysis of the impact on the UK balance of payments, if we do not invest in renewables, based on a recent BERR report and current energy price trends.

    http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/4188

    The Uk would b spending $200,000,000,000 a year on importing energy by 2013 - 5 years from now. This would treble our balance of payments deficit and represent 10% of UK GDP.

    I think that these are numbers that get noticed even by economists. This country is going into energetic and economic meltdown.

  16. EvilGav

    Electric Cars

    Always comments about electric cars and recharging at home. What about those of us who don't have a drive-way to park the car on and therefore no easy access to plug a car into the house ??

    We need more nuclear power-stations. Why don't we build them off-shore, in under-sea chambers - no NIMBY problem and plenty of cooling. :-p

  17. Frederick Karno

    Windmills are not the answer:

    For every Mw of windpower you have you also require a back up.....now i might be being pedantic but if i was an energy firm i wouldn't build a power station to sit on standby and not get paid for doing that.

    The power of the sea and hydro offer far more in he way of a stable supply but they cost vast amounts to build but IMO we have to do it.

    As for all the politicians i would like to see a windmill put up in the Thames outside parliament just to show their determination to push through these policies.This would save huge amounts of tax payers money if their figures are to be believed.

    After all what possible excuse could they give for not doing it ???

  18. Paul Kinsler

    @breakfast

    xx If your radar doesn't work in the presence of windmills,

    xx that's not a problem with the windmills.

    I'm not sure there are many ways that a regular array of metal poles (windmills) can be made to not interfere with radar -- tis simple physics.

    Perhaps they should instead mandate that each windmill has radar mounted on it -- that way you wouldn't be trying to look at radar reflections through a bloody great metal grid; you'd be on the grid looking out.

  19. Pete Silver badge

    Govt. energy policy in 8 words ...

    "we're going to take more of your money"

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Re: Radar nimbys

    To "breakfast"

    Clearly you have little clue about defence theory, or radar theory for that matter. Within defence there are a variety of radars in use. You have radars on aircraft, for detecting other aircraft. By virtue of altitude these would see little affect from wind turbines. This is the case for both air-search radars on aircraft like AWACS, and also targetting radars on fast jets. You also have airborne radars involved in ground search or terrain following. These can be affected, but shouldn't be much of a concern. Terrain following radar has been largely replaced and is only relevant for very low level flying anyway, which is out of favour in a lot of war scenarios. Ground search aircraft like JSTARS should be able to filter out returns from wind turbines. This is because, whilst they have fast returns, the blips don't appear to move (and yes, radar is good for detecting both speed and position).

    There are radars for airfield surveillance, but these are all about helping aircraft out that are close to your airfields (ie air traffic control) - again the problems here are minimal. Also Surface to Air missile radars shouldn't be affected since they are actually quite short range.

    Now the problem is air-defence radars. These are mobile ground based radars that are used to constantly monitor the airspace around the UK (and elsewhere like the Falklands). These use lots of clever technologies to track moving objects, even at very low altitude, for up to 100s of miles (and yes, that does involve beating the curvature of the earth). You can argue that these radars are outdated, simply because the threat axis has moved, but we do have people who don't like us within reasonable air-range of the UK - so getting rid of this technology completely would be downright stupid. What large wind-farms allow you to do is run in to the range of the wind-farm at low altitude, using the messed up returns from the blades like a jammer. Other people building windfarms is an irrelevance, since they won't build them within the 200-300 miles of UK land that would be needed to actually interfere with our radar sites.

    It's a concern - but there are plenty of other much bigger concerns to deal with when considering wind power which could well mean that any massive offshore facilities remain a pipe dream.

  21. Nic Brough
    Pirate

    @gizmo23

    >Why don't windfarms have solar panels embedded in the blades?

    Nice thought, but solar panels would add weight to the blades, and the heavier the blade, the more wind energy you lose trying to make them move.

    Also, it's very unlikely that the solar cells would be exposed to the sun in the most efficient way when the wind isn't blowing, you'd get a lot more benefit from sticking the same area of solar cells on someone's south-facing roof.

    I do like the Scottish idea though - it's nice to think that even after the oil runs out, we'll still have a stranglehold on energy provision for the sassenachs ;-)

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spain putting us to Shame

    INteresting argument - Spain has less people, less power, and less money (and less wind) - but somehow they can get off their arses long enough to build enough windmills to produce 10% of their electricity.

    Now, what could Britain achieve, with its huge wealth and enormous distance of wonderfully wind-prone coastline?

    Maybe a bit more whining and moaning in lieu of action, I suppose?

    As for "weather is unreliable" - please provide evidence for when the wind has ever failed to blow on the british isles......these muppets seem to not grasp the whole idea of distributed power generation....

  23. John Sager

    @FlatSpot

    DC infrastructure? I would have thought that only pays in for long distance high voltage transmission (interties), or interconnecting unsynchronised grids. Local distribution or local low-capacity sources such as wind farms need AC to make voltage conversion easy.

  24. Mark

    Warmer climes

    "They have 2/3 of the UK population in a country that is much warmer than the uk (so use MUCH less energy) they also have twice the land area of the UK so have far more places to build turbines."

    And we are much warmer than Sweden, who (despite being at least as well of as us in the UK, as well as colder and darker), have half the CO2 output per capita we in the UK do.

    So, if your point has merit, you've just proven that we're wasteful.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wave & Tidal

    Since the east coast is gradually collapsing into the sea that would seem a prime spot killing two birds with one large lump of concrete and rather than NIMBY's we'd have WITBY's there.

    They're right about Scotland, it would be stupid to leave England energy dependent on a country that may become independent and who's population has often been hostile. But then we are on our second dumb jock PM in a row, so that's distinctly possible...

  26. Dave Row
    Boffin

    Breeding

    Surely a nuclear fast breeder (you remember, the ones we had developed and working before the green eco-fanatics said they were evil because they, well, involved atoms and things) counts as a renewable source?

  27. Chris G Silver badge

    United? Kingdom

    Every time this kind of subject comes up some stupid jock starts blathering about us English stealing their oil/ wind/hydro power, I wonder whose money it was that developed the oil fields in `their´territory? Somehow I don't think it was a Scottish purse that was opened for the funds anymore than it was existing Scottish knowhow that was used to open up the North Sea. Any time the jocks have something we want it's unequivocally theirs but when they need investment over the border or other resources from us it's their `right´.Get a grip why don't you we are all on the same planet and have to live together, the human race got where it is by evolving to cooperate!

    As far as renewables are concerned (for the UK not the jocks) govuk should stop sodding around and immediately put money into nuclear research AND development and maybe even offer prizes to innovative researchers if they come up with anything novel and new. Forget biofuels, the country is not big enough to grow sufficient biofuel crops to sustain any appreciable levels of use. Tidal is of limited use and extremely expensive to develop and maintain. Offshore wnid is a good bet and the idiots moaning about radar need to buy up a few soon to be redundant oil platforms and stick some radar on those outside the curtain of windmills. The other thing that never seems to get mentioned is LARGEscale energy storage, there is a fair amount of private and DTI backed research going on in Britain and one of the best developers is dare I say it in Scotland. Stop leaving the lights on in the streets all night start saving the wasted energy and tell the Europeans that until they come up with schemes that make sense in allowing for geographical variation we wont play their stupid games.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm quite please with that

    I crunched the numbers, as I recall tidal was ok, but stuck with environmental problems, hydro didn't work (3 gorges damn in China shows it could never work), wind could contribute, but a bit, not a major chunk, solar, not really workable, algae I did yesterday and I'm quite upbeat on that, it can contribute a bit too.

    I still basically believe we have to do nuclear, but doing wind turbines is at least a good step. The arguments against it, are basically nonsense, 'it looks ugly' (subjective & transient), 'bird chopper' (false).... etc.

    I think this is the first time I've ever agreed with a choice of Brown & Co, but then to undo the good work, they made it legal to discriminate against men (erm I mean descriminate FOR women) on the same day, followed by undoing the Lord decision that people can't be prosecuted SOLELY on evidence from secret witnesses (they didn't say you couldn't use them just that there has to be some other evidence too, not just secret witnesses).

    It's like one step forward, two steps back with this lot. Still makes Robin Cook a better leader, no steps forward, no steps back....

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some thoughts

    I tried to start a company to make wind turbines in the '980s and was told it would never work. Now the Government wants to use millions of them all over the country.

    As for microgeneration, unless you have a wind turbine with a 6 meter diameter rotor you are waisting your time. Likewise with solar cells you would need at least 40 sq m area to generate any useful power, i.e. something that has a pay back period in years not decades.

    I also think the estimated rise in power bills is off by at least an order of magnitude.

    Unless nuclear power stations are built fast there will be power shortages in the UK by 2020 if not before, all the green energy supplies not withstanding.

    I know the green lobby would love the country to revert to the dark ages but to do that would require the population to be reduced to that level as well, maybe the greens should be the ones to volunteer to drop dead first then those remaining can get on with their lives in peace.

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    The answer is bleedin obvious

    Everywhere has to be like Spain, but more so. So (A) make the world warmer - you got it - more CO2. And (B) reduce the population density - you got it - reduce the population.

    Why can't I have both the Flame icon and the Skull'n'bones icon? I don't see why I should I have to post twice.

  32. Gary

    Easy answer

    First off,two fingers to ALL EEC requirements. Remeber how bothered the French were by our threat to take them to the European Court for continuing to ban our Beef! (Sorry, OT) Build more Nuclear stations, its aboput all we can do with the present finnancial climate (NO pun intended!) . And as far as radar goes, there is some pretty good OTHR (Over The Horizon Radar which works in the HF band.)about these days (Northrop have one with a scanning range in excess of 1000 miles.) Looks like we have to go it alone again, Gary

  33. RW
    IT Angle

    Bleedin' Obviouser

    Funny thing I've noticed amidst all the yap yap yap moan groan grumble bitch complain about climate change, environmental degradation, and other modern eco-ills: no one ever points the finger at the real cause: over population.

    Indeed, when I read of the rise in yob-crime, loss of civility, and the institution of a police state in England, the thought that invariably comes to mind is rats in an overcrowded cage fighting ferociously with one another for survival.

    Sooner or later, some new disease will arise that in the course of a few weeks or months will kill off 99+ percent of the earth's human population, thereby spelling the end of civilization. If you don't believe me, find a good graph of the (estimated) global population going back, say, 1000 years and look at the ever-accelerating population spike that started around 1850. Any animal species that proliferates so much so quickly ends up getting whacked by Ma Nature with a devastating plague of some sort.

    Need a specific prediction? How about a hybrid of Ebola, Marburg virus, and hanta virus that is contagious via contact with unbroken skin as well as coughing and sneezing, and survives dry conditions on handrails and doorknobs for weeks on end?

    What is the IT connection of this comment? There is no IT connection to this comment unless someone smarter than me can figure one out.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pro-nukes can't count and fake concern for the birds

    >>>We could build 2 additional nuclear power stations for a small fraction of the cost and neatly cover the entire energy gap.<<<

    Absolute rubbish. Current nuclear technology is highly cost-ineffective, even before you factor in the costs of waste storage, disposal, decommissioning and risk which together make it completely prohibitive.

    >>>We'd also not disrupt the estinated 40-50% of bird migration paths which currently pass over the UK which heavier investment of wind farms would cause, with major knockon effects to biodiversity in the UK, the costs of which will also be substantial.<<<

    Funny how all these pro-nuke anti-renewable loonies are SUDDENLY SO CONCERNED ABOUT THE POOR, POOR birds!?!?!?

    Who gives a flying fuck if a few birds fly into a spinning windmill blade?

    >>>Spain's deployed wind farms in a few highly suitable areas. This dosn't mean that they can deploy a lot more for low costs, and they're also having problems with having suddenly chopped off bird populations..<<<

    The British Wind Power survey found Britain has a vast choice of higly-suitable areas.

    Your concern about the bird populations is based on a wild fantasy - this objection to wind farms has no valid basis in fact, except in Denmark where they nailed a bunch of rare sea eagles. Bad luck.

  35. Johnnyboy
    Thumb Up

    You know guys I think Edward rose is onto something....

    I mean, its one thing to expect hard workin`, disabled and old folk to do the eco-right thing....but why the hell can we not get da lags to go totally green.

    They want leccy for their t.v.? Give em a bike and a dynamo!

    I think a spell growing their own food would be a hugely beneficial thing for them all.

    Hmmm come to think of it why not involve the Unemployed in `food collectives`. As a part of their benefit they work the land and get a food hamper in return.

    Not by force you understand......only if they want to!

    It`d at least help out with some of the costs we`r all gonna pay in future!

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Choices in self sufficiency

    Nuclear - How much uranium do we in Britain have access to ?

    Oil - I thought we decided against using this stuff for power.

    Wind power - Between the cost and the NIMBYs, not going very far.

    Solar - In Britain ? Yeah right !

    Hydro - Not enough land to drown to guarantee supplies.

    Coal - See Oil.

    It seems to me that our only recourse is to revert to a low energy consumption economy. The millions of private cars clogging the roads and burning oil while transporting 1 person each can go for a start. Central heating is a bad idea too. We live in one of the earths temperate zones, why do we need 70 degrees in the house ? Needless transportation of goods is out too. Why does food have to travel from one end of the country to another and back just to get sold. Why have masses of useless packaging for retail goods. Why buy a new tv every few years, because of the next big thing, when you could separate the screen from the decoding hardware, and just upgrade the set top box.

    Consumers have as much a part to play in this as governments and businesses. Get your consumption down, and the rest will follow. Example - I bought a new fridge freezer from an online (and high street) retailer. A + rating and it has saved me several pounds a week from day 1. Not only that, but when they delivered it, they took the packaging away with them, I never even saw it. So why use cardboard packaging at all ? Why not use proper reusable crates that go straight back to the manufacturer. When a store or warehouse gets a delivery of products, the lorry doesn't go away empty, it is full of packaging for reuse.

    Convenience is the enemy of economy. Laziness is the result of convenience.

    On a slightly related tangent, did anybody hear that stupid cow representing the public sector workers pay demands. "Inflation is not caused by the public sector, it is caused by the private sector putting prices up". Does she know where the funds to pay the public sector come from ? And what the private sector has to do when taxes are raised ? Idiot.

  37. Chris G Silver badge

    Missing piece

    Something I missed in my earlier comment was about solar power. Most people seem automatically to think of photovoltaic for solar, if instead you start thinking about solar concentrators and the available technology connected with them you will get a lot further. One of the main and expensive reasons for power use in a modern home is heating water, why make the electricity to heat the water when you can do it direct? One of the countries with some of the best technology in this area is Canada, not the sunniest or warmest place on the planet but they offer tax breaks on solar water heating installations. Also it is possible to use thermal differential engines such as Sterlings to generate electricity as a by product. I don't think the people that look at the alternatives for our energy requirements know how to use Google.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    JonB

    Are you SERIOUSLY suggesting that if Scotland actually controlled England's power supply they would cut it off?

    It'sinteresting that you have a strange paranoia about Scotland but have no problem with the rest of the European countries and dodgy places worldwide that "England"/Britain relies on in one way or another..From fuel to food.

    WHEN were Scotland ever "hostile" to England in such a way that would lead you to conclude the above? Because some of them like to see England's team lose at football..? As far as I can see, it is increasingly the English hating the Scottish and they have become very vocal with their anti-Scottishness since Gordon Brown became Prime Minister.

    I'm sure that in the whole of the UK they can come up with some decent (boring, out of the way) places to put windfarms/turbines.

    I don't think it's fair at all that they should all be put in Scotland to fuel the entire UK. I don't care how much more efficient it is. For one thing, wind turbines do to a certain extent spoil the landscape. Yes, they are needed so we will have to put up with it but it is not fair to lump it all on one country while everyone else just reaps the benefits, especially since Scotland is specifically known for it's scenery.

    Personally, even though we need to figure the above out, wind power and other renewables are still the way to go. I don't understand how anyone could possibly argue in favor of something like nuclear, that is for one thing, extremely dangerous. People are saying that there's not enough time and we will need to use nuclear until there are enough renewable sources built. Great! But are you forgetting that you can't just use nuclear short term? Even when you're done with it it's still a big, dangerous problem.

    I am big on animal rights etc but not to the extent where I think that a couple of birds who have the entire sky to fly in, but decide to fly straight towards turbine blades (which make a noise) are more important than the survival of mankind.

    I think Darwin would agree.

    Anyone complaining about the birds should be ignored imo. If they want a cause they should go and complain about the destruction of the rainforests. A true travesty.

  39. David Pollard

    @Pete - Govt. energy policy in 8 words ...

    "we're going to take more of your money"

    Having glanced through this 'strategy document-cum-consultation' it seems to need another eight words:

    "... and seize regulatory opportunities to extend our bureaucracy."

  40. chris
    Happy

    @RW

    "Indeed, when I read of the rise in yob-crime, loss of civility, and the institution of a police state in England, the thought that invariably comes to mind is rats in an overcrowded cage fighting ferociously with one another for survival."

    And when I read of someone blaming environmental degradation on over-population rather than over-consumption and exploitation, the thought that invariably comes to mind is nihilistic loners viewing the world through a screen and scared of a freindly chat and co-operation with their neighbours.

    Funny that.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Population

    Improving efficiency and using more renewables is all very well, but a 15% improvement per lifetime is woefully less effective than a 100% saving by not being born in the first place.

    China dodged the starvation and economic meltdown bullet by implementing the "one baby" tax.

    Population is the elephant in the room nobody wants to talk about.

    The hypocrisy of the human race is sickening sometimes. We cull other species without a second thought when their populations outgrow the available resources; we "put to sleep" pets *we* think are suffering. Yet the one species we can actually communicate with, and who can make conscious decisions as to when they want to die, and can (through choice) control birth rates - is the one we turn a blind eye too.

  42. Remy Redert

    re: JonB

    Nuclear is dangerous? Could you kindly list all the accidents with nuclear reactors and their fuel (not counting nuclear bombs being dropped on Japan, that was no accident) and the amount of casualties as a result of that?

    Then do the same for, say, every other type of fuel.

    Yup, nuclear sure is dangerous in comparison.

  43. Ishkandar

    Wind ??

    gizmo23 - because you'll not get a lot of electricity from any blade that does not face South and the amount generated is so minuscule compared to the cost that this is an exercise in futility !!

    As for the Scots, just cut their sticky fingers from London's well-provisioned purse and tell them to go spin on their windmills !!

  44. SpitefulGOD
    Gates Halo

    Redemption

    I am current working on a wind generator that produces 100W per square metre for £30, so don't worry everyone, I will save you all.

  45. Glen Turner

    Assuming continuity of supply

    "For every Mw of windpower you have you also require a back up"

    Why? Maybe some industries close down on non-windy days. It's not unusual, building sites, schools, etc shut down under some weather conditions.

    Once the cost of carbon is added onto energy pricing you're going to see some basic assumptions change (which is the point).

  46. John Angelico
    Joke

    What kind of report...?

    "The RAB document"

    Could it be an Interim Draft Report, which should go down in history as the RABID Report ?

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Population

    You're absolutely correct about population, however over-population isn't a problem we europeans have to worry about - our birth-rate has declined sufficiently that we *would* have NO net population growth, if only we didn't have hordes of 3rd-world immigrants flooding into europe.

    If you are seriously concerned about over-population (which is a huge part of the problem), then target your criticism at the countries that are the cause of this problem: In the middle-east, India, Africa and South America.

    Depopulating countries like Yemen, Brazil and India should be the UN's number 1 concern.

    But I guess nobody *really* wants to go there, do they....so we'll ignore that and worry about other things instead...

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Efficiency?

    The only thing that is efficient about wind power is the rate at which money disappears into the pockets of politicians and shareholders of wind generating companies.

    The statistics regarding the efficiency of the generators themselves and the subsequent need for backup, leads to no other possible conclusion.

    With a little bit of research, it must be possible to build enough tidal power generators around our coast, where we have some of the highest tides in the world, to give us ample power for ever. I can think of at least four different types of system that would exploit the power of the tide, a couple of which are running now, that could be used without polluting the visual environment, and which are 100% reliable.

  49. Sam

    some facts for the nuke haters

    France derives over 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy. This is due to a long-standing policy based on energy security.

    France is the world's largest net exporter of electricity due to its very low cost of generation, and gains over EUR 3 billion per year from this.

    China are building lots of pebble reactors, which are efficient and safe.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @RW

    >kill off 99+ percent of the earth's human population, thereby

    >spelling the end of civilization.

    'Beginning' surely?

    @The Scottish AC

    >"WHEN were Scotland ever "hostile" to England in such a way

    >that would lead you to conclude the above?"

    Try living there only put on an English accent and swap all your Scottish flags for English ones, and see how chummy it is.

    Besides, I didn't say "cut off", if England were dependent on one supplier for energy that one supplier would be pretty dumb not to put the price up.

    English money invested in national infrastructure in Scotland is just stupid, having spent the money building all this stuff we'll be paying someone else for the use of it come devolution. No, it's time to sort out Englands energy infrastructure for the impending reality of Scottish independence.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Overpopulation...?

    When you consider that 80% of the world's resources are used by 20% of the population, the problem looks significantly less like overpopulation....

  52. peter
    Go

    Its most about peak loading

    There seems to be a lot of concentration about how much energy everyones needs and how much renewables can contribute to that. However the big big issue is peak load. If your system cannot cope with that you are busted.

    It is all very well having micro turbines, photovoltaic panels, etc etc, but if they cannot deliver the peak loading when everyone gets up from Eastenders to make a cup of tea, your problem is not solved.

    All the renewables suffer from the same major problem, you just cannot just wind them up instantly to produce more power. You could have massive over production capacity to cope with the peak loads, but it would mean covering a fair proportion of the whole of the UK with wind farms for example. Then there is the tricky problem of when there is no wind - and the same goes for most renewables.

    A mix of renewable sources plus huge power 'instant on' power storage to cope with lack of renewable energy avilable when the demand peaks is the only way to make it work.

    The only sensible renewable technology I have ever seen proposed that could beat both the huge demand and the 'instant on' power problem, was to build a whole series of tidal power generators around the UK, with a large mix of wind turbines / Solar panels / renewables to feed power into them. Building tidal generators around the UK would alleviate the 'only twice a day' problem with tides, and the additional power feeds would assist by pumping water higher (or lower), when excess power is available. Basically use tidal as both power generation and power store.

    Of course you have got to build enough of them spread around the coastline (£Billions?) and build the huge number of renewables needed (£Billions?). You will probably still need nuclear/fossil fuel generators because no renewable mix will supply enough for everyone all the time everywhere.

    Then there is getting over the objections of the 'save the lesser spotted warbling ground worm for future generations to enjoy' brigade. I visited one guy who proudly show me his brand new solar heating panel and then listened to how he was applying to the council for a reduction in his council tax because the nearby wind generator has ruined the value of his house. There is a motorway between him and the generator and is built on an industrial estate. I told him that I could not hear it over the sound of the cars and thought it looked quite nice compared to the industrial buildings and could not see how it had affected the value of his house - let alone ruined it.. I must have upset him or something because he has not spoken to me since. Ho hum.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't worry

    We'll be ok in the end once we force through tidal power generation and get a new generation of nuclear plants running.

    In the mean time people will just have to get used to "turning things OFF", stop boiling full kettles for one cup of tea or boiling repeatedly. Turn the heating down and put some clothes on sick of people wandering around with t-shirts on complaining that it's cold. Don't have every light in the house on when it's just you in. Wash at 30 degrees when you can. That's just scratching the surface.

    These all require very little effort but x several million it's a big saving. If everyone sticks to a few basic rules we'll be laughing and you might have a few more £££ in the pocket each month.

  54. Robert Harrison

    @Alan

    "Consumers have as much a part to play in this as governments and businesses. Get your consumption down, and the rest will follow. Example - I bought a new fridge freezer from an online (and high street) retailer. A + rating and it has saved me several pounds a week from day 1. Not only that, but when they delivered it, they took the packaging away with them, I never even saw it. So why use cardboard packaging at all ? Why not use proper reusable crates that go straight back to the manufacturer. When a store or warehouse gets a delivery of products, the lorry doesn't go away empty, it is full of packaging for reuse."

    Irony levels off the scale. What happened to your old fridge freezer? Was it servicable (How many fixable items get landfilled simply because its not economically viable to fit a spare part)? What was the emissions cost of the manufacture of the new one?

  55. Colin

    Heating

    Heating is a big one ... what a waste. People in England seem to want to make the inside of their houses virtually tropical in winter. Why not just wear warmer clothes .. you know, like you do when (if!) you go "outside" ?

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    80% of the world's resources are used by 20%

    >the problem looks significantly less like overpopulation....

    It depends which bit of the population gets reduced....

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Remy Redert

    I didn't mention anything about nuclear?

  58. Johnnyboy

    What we need is personal carbon allowances...

    The air should be seen as a natural resource, and emitting CO2 as exploiting that resource. It is patently unfair if a low paid chav in a flat in Birmingham is expected to pay an premium on his tiny carbon emissions, in order to forcibly invest in reducing those same emissions, if say the Queen (as a major landowner and massive carbon emitter) makes an overall profit from wind-farms built on her land.

    What we are seeing is the poor changing their life-style so that the rich can continue their life-style, and then paying for the privilege!

  59. Rob Martin

    Solar Panels

    Maybe solar panels on the blades won't work,

    How about plastered up the south facing sides of all the towers the turbines a sat apon?

    The tower will be there anyway, as will the infrastructure for feeding the electricity into the grid..

  60. Pat

    Before Privatisation costs absorbed

    The electricity generation and distribution industry had rationalised and was efficient with manpower productivity maximised by the time Thatcher came to power. So she sold it. The top management gave themselves 20 fold pay rises and the profits which used to be reinvested in the industry by government statute were paid out to 'investors.'

    That is why now we consumers who once bought and paid for the electricity boards over the 40 years since World War II and thus owned the 'Boards' as taxpayers now have to pay for that new investment in wind power giving the 'profiteers' higher bills.

    That's Conservative Politics for you! Cameron and Osbournes

    'Thatcherite' background promise more of the same wonderful economics.

    We punters pay the price. They get 'Gongs' and golden parachute jobs in the city... as recently Blair to name but one.

  61. Pat

    Land / Population

    Hunting, Shooting, Fishing and a bit of Eco Friendly to keep the lobbyists off their backs... I'm talking about the Spanish population reference on the actual use land in UK not being a mathematical value of 370 odd people per square kilometre as mentioned earlier! Its a nonsense value

    Landowners - split between the MOD, the Anglican Church and the 5% of the population who own 95% of everything Duke of Westminster and other Estate owners - ensure that the 58.5 million rest of the population occupy a tiny part of the remaining land.

    There is plenty of land if you have the political will to use compulsory orders to build wind and solar farms.

    There is also plenty of actual land space to accommodate immigration funnily enough...

    You have to want to do it more than the vested interests brigade that want to tell you to 'ger oorfff my land.'

  62. Mark

    Re: Before Privatisation costs absorbed

    And the Labour Government have had how many years to change that?

  63. Mark

    Re: some facts for the nuke haters

    Thank you for that heartfelt, but meaningless, rant.

    What's wrong with hating fusion power production? Is recognition of the dangers of nuclear power hate? Is querying whether nuclear is the right way hate? Is actually trying to converse and find out about nuclear power hate?

    There's a lot of hate in your world.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    JonB

    First of all, I'm not Scottish, and please don't waste your breath replying to tell me why you think I am.

    AC is fine.

    No, it's not always easy being an English person in Scotland. It's not easy the other way around either, in case you didn't notice. There are problems with "outsiders" in many countries in fact, but what do a few drunken Glaswegians have to do with a discussion about windfarms

  65. Sam

    Re Mark

    Re: some facts for the nuke haters

    No rant, just facts.

  66. Mark

    @Sam

    Facts are not opinions.

    You have stated opinion.

    Your opinion may be formed FROM facts, but these facts, here are not. Where they are, we do not know, but the facts are not where they need to be.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Read some proper facts on the subject...

    I think some of you guys need to read some actual facts on the subject before commenting.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/20/mackay_on_carbon_free_uk/

  68. Pat

    Re: Before Privatisation costs absorbed

    Errrr... what Labour Government? They promised to continue with Tory policies for a couple of years and then suddenly 1997 became 2008 - or as the Thatcher said when asked what was her best legacy to the UK she replied "Tony Blair."

    We have endured 28 years of Conservative policy but fortunately the world economy took off fuelled by the Fed's Alan Greenspan bubble that has just imploded.

    UK ltd hopped on for the ride refusing to invest in manufacturing 'yuck... making things gosh not printing money?' The antics of 'City Boy' in his recent novel following on from his column in the Evening Standard say it all.

    British Government has become essentially sidelined and struggles to catch up with economic and financial reality. An abrogation of responsibility summed up by 'more CCTV vicar?'

    WE could have had 10 years of every new building with solar panels on the roof by Govt edict. We could have had installations of Wind Farms by compulsory order in the national interest. We could have had huge gas storage tanks built like the French and/or other euro-nations, giving a couple of months gas supply backup not three days odd.

    Oh yes, forgot, we privatised the gas boards too! Storage Tanks or dividends and huge pay rises for the management... you choose? Er no you don't! Its now a privatised utility company. Chickens come home to roost. As always. Those who made these decisions being long gone from the scene. Noting also so too it is with 'NIMBY' Tory lobbyists and wind farms.

    We could have these sensible investments, but we went to a shambles in the Middle East with Dubbya - the ill planned occupation of Iraq. An action - viz. the so called enemy army - all knew would be over in a couple of weeks.

    But all could see the lack of planning regarding for what then? The devil was again in the detail. £1 billion set aside by UK plc to pay for it and 5 years later 7 billion down and more set to load the pot. Where is the 'river,' show us the turn!

    So it is with catering for our future power needs.

    Nuclear subs or clean power stations. A large layout for renewable energy for a future poss. return financially (actually guaranteed that definitely less costs payable than that to be incurred in managing power and food supply under the worsening climate conditions) or stumble until the North Pole melts?

    The Germans can do it! Lets pull our fingers out of our collective rears and set aside politics and go for the construction of all clean projects and actually se reductions happen in CO2 levels now not in 5 years and 10 years not while I can make another buck now mentality... anyone?

    Makes you sad and ought to be a non political all for one as this ball we reside on is all we got and all bounty made through industry will count for nought if we're dead! Look at Mars for a lesson people and think no price too high for life to continue.

    Now that's a rant possibly :)

    Anon

  69. Brandon

    Oh just... get over it

    Why not just build a nuke plant? You could store all the world's nuclear spent fuel in a single storage facility 1000 ft below the surface of a mountain in the Colorado (my home state) or Montana Rockies, 100 miles from anyone.... for the next 200 years. The environmental impact would be nearly zero. No CO2, no 9 legged frogs, no tainted water supplies, nothing... except the petroleum guzzling, CO emitting trucks, trains and planes that would need to transport the spent fuel. I don't understand the resistance to this, aside from the hysterical and irrational fear around the impact of radioactive energy sources.

    Also, could someone point me in the direction of some research that says CO2 is bad for the environment? I mean real data... a link would be nice. Last I heard, our O2 producing plants need CO2...

  70. Mark

    @Blandon

    "Also, could someone point me in the direction of some research that says CO2 is bad for the environment? I mean real data... a link would be nice. Last I heard, our O2 producing plants need CO2..."

    1) Watch "Appollo 13".

    2) Put a plant in a bowl (empty). Put it in a sealed container. Fill the container with CO2. Plant dies.

    3) Try to grow alfalfa in the sahara. More CO2->Higher temperatures.

    If you know so very little about agronomics, please look for yourself, we aren't under any obligation to educate you. This isn't a free adult education seminar.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Geothermal energy

    I've just read the first half of these comments, as well as the whole article, and have only seen the first reference to geothermal energy. A little expensive up front but very inexpensive thereafter. At least this is my understanding.

  72. RaelianWingnut
    Pirate

    Re: some facts for the nuke haters - By Mark

    I've always hated idiots. It's 'fission'. If you're going to crticise it, at least try to understand it. And, regarding the dangers of nuclear energy...

    What are the dangers involved in not having enough energy to maintain our present level of technology?

    Here's a couple...

    Mass starvation. No clean water supply. No easy access to transportation. The logistics of running an overpopulated country: broken. Politic breakdown on a massive scale (Weimar Republic...).

    If you've figured out how to make children (and sadly, Nature's made it really easy), some or all of them will probably die.

    The worst aspect of being stupid is that denial is so much easier.

  73. Mark

    @Raelian

    "What are the dangers involved in not having enough energy to maintain our present level of technology?"

    I don't know if you were talking to me, so I'll ignore that. However, I can answer this one:

    We won't be able to maintain our present level of technology.

    That's the risk.

    Not much. I mean, Brazil have a lower level of technology and they seem to all be alive. Zaire has even less. Still humans survive.

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