Friday, 7 August 2009

Time to invest in Tilley lamps

Capitalists@work have done sterling service over the past years in warning of our impending energy crisis. Whilst Labour have spent twelve years throwing a trillion at lunatic social engineering experiments and Harmanesque economic inefficieny measures, they have utterly neglected our energy security. An indictably irresponsible away-with-the-fairies belief that wind power or solar panels will magically replace multi-megawatt coal fired power stations pervades Labour thinking; when the lights start to go out all over Britain, I want to see Labour ministers facing criminal prosecution for malfeasance in public office.

And the Economist today suggests the lights may start going out soomer rather than later. Just study the three simple graphs they print, and ask yourself if we can afford this corrupt cabal of lunatics and zealots in power for a single day longer.





13 comments:

Nick Drew said...

Thanks. Shall shortly be taking a look at Malcom Wicks' recently-released efforts on 'energy security analysis'

Scrobs... said...

Malcom Wicks - you can't hold a candle to him...

Some bright spark will say he's a guiding light no doubt!

TOC H lamp, comes to mind...

Anonymous said...

Just wondrin - is a competitive comparison available with France?

Since they can sell their domestic electrons for around a quarter of the price of Union Jack electrons...

Can't help thinking politics in the UK might be a bit different if they tried to make us pay £4 a liter for petrol.

So how come the price differential? (100% nuclear is a wrong answer) - the Germans are only paying ~ 50% of what we're being screwed for.

Subsidised said...

Anon, France's energy is cheaper than ours because they're charging us extra so as to subsidise their compatriots.

France is not some mystical magic maker - it's just good at jiggery pokery, always having its own interests at heart.

Anonymous said...

Err - but Nuclear IS the answer. France began the program after the Suez crisis with the mantra "never again will we be beholden to a foreign country for energy".

And so began the build of 57 reactors and one gigantic Hydro-Electic station in the SoF. And yes, their energy prices are cheaper by far than ours.

Coney Island

Anonymous said...

I think your usage graph is somewhat optimistic.

I saw demand to 59 GWatts earlier this year.

We were taking all we could from the French (over the link originally put in so we could sell TO the French) The pumped water generators were running as was everything available. Only the recession and a major steelworks being shut down saved cuts in supply.

If we have a cold winter in 2009/10 there will be cuts. The only thing that will prevent it is a deepening in the recession.

Absolutely criminal incompetance

Budgie said...

Well, of course, when we leave the EU we will not have to kow tow to their Large Combustion Plant Directive. This will give us the breathing space to build nuclear and new coal plants. Whilst we want to produce as little pollution as possible, we have no need to take any notice of the AGW hoax.

bgprior said...

There is certainly a potential problem due to inhibited markets, but that first graph (courtesy of E.ON) is a bit misleading. Notice the asterisk and the phrase "assuming no new building". If we stop building cars tomorrow, in 10 years we will be low on serviceable cars. Quite a lot (but not enough) new capacity is under development. The Vertically-Integrated Large Energy (VILE) companies have been skewing the debate on what is undoubtedly a problem, to promote government intervention that favours their interests.

Coney Island, you have swallowed Barbara Judge and the nuclear lobby's hogwash. To see why the claim that France's nuclear programme has protected them from import-dependence is nonsense, see here.

And to those who point to our import of French nuclear, have a look at what times of day and year it is supplied. It is as much about them dumping their excess power as it is about us drawing from their cheap supplies. They send us more power between 10pm and 5am, when demand is at its lowest, than they do between 5am and 3pm, when it would be more helpful. Flows do then increase between 3pm and 10pm for our evening peak, which is helpful. But on a seasonal comparison, they send us less in winter, when we need it (but at which time they are actually importing from us during the morning peak), than in summer.

Tom said...

Why though is French electricity 1/4 of the price of British electricity .....

It is a subject that the political classes and the MSM are /very/ quiet about.

French taste for subsidies (e.g. farmers) and so on don't superficially seem to cut it - surely they aren't subsiding 75% of the cost of domestic 'leccy no, surely not?

But then the Germans are only paying less than half what we;'re paying.

So all these foreign johnnies are subsidising their electricity and we the real, true market are paying the correct price? That's an argument worthy of GB the great leader....

bgprior said...

Tom, Where do you get your figure of "1/4 of the price of British electricity" from? Are you talking about wholesale or retail prices, and if the latter, to industrial or domestic customers? Your figure isn't remotely close to the truth for any of them, but in order to provide the correct figure, I need to know what you are talking about. You are probably referring to that report in The Times last year, which was a reaction to a brief spike in the month-ahead forward price to £130/MWh. Any intensive energy user dumb enough to get caught on that price shouldn't be in an energy-intensive business. The wholesale price is now around £50/MWh, still more expensive than the nominal French wholesale price, but the gaps between the traded prices in the various countries are nowhere near as significant as that report suggested.

Of course, it's difficult to know what French wholesale prices are, because the market is so dominated by EDF as generator and supplier that there's no liquid market in which wholesale prices can be viewed. Their retail prices are price-capped by the government, so that won't give you much of an indication of their real costs either. EDF is one of those typical French entities protected by a close relationship with the state. The level of subsidy to nuclear in France is significant, but partially obscured.

Remember, when it came to privatising our electricity industry, we discovered that nuclear wasn't "too cheap to meter", it was too expensive to sell. And it's not so long ago that our wholesale prices were so low that British Energy had to be bailed out because even with low marginal operating costs, they couldn't break even.

The reality is that the UK has a more liberalized energy market (although unfortunately one in which the VILE companies have been allowed to accrue significant market power) than the French (or most of the rest of Europe), so when prices are down, we tend to be cheaper than them, and when prices are up, we tend to be more expensive.

There are certainly things we could do to improve, and a renewal of nuclear may well be part of our future systems (as it provides diversity, which is the key to security). But you shouldn't fall for the illusion that nuclear is a magic bullet. Given the system challenges of combining wind and nuclear, and the pressure on finance for these exceptionally expensive units, we are unlikely to have much more than 10-12 GW of nuclear capacity in the future, which might provide 20-25% of our electricity, that is around 4% of our final energy consumption or 8% of our primary energy supplies. And unless treated as generously as the French, it won't be that cheap.

Budgie said...

bgprior said: "Remember, when it came to privatising our electricity industry, we discovered that nuclear wasn't "too cheap to meter", it was too expensive to sell."

Whilst I go along with many of your comments, the Nuclear being "too cheap to meter" view was a claim in the 1950s (Walter Marshall/Lewis Strauss) and long discredited by the time of privatisation in the 1980s. And it was only "too expensive to sell" when the oil price was very low.

Blue Eyes said...

How long does it take to build a new [bog standard] gas or coal power station? They must almost be off-the-shelf items these days. If the political will existed we could close the gap almost immediately, I reckon.

Nick Drew said...

2 years gas (medium-sized), coal longer (no-one's done a really super-dooper modern one in the UK, so lacking in data)