back to article Government plots escape from renewable energy targets

Government ministers are trying to find a way to wriggle out of the Britain's commitment to derive a significant portion of its energy from renewable sources, according to The Guardian. The newspaper cites a "leaked report", which The Register has not seen, in which trade minister John Hutton advises the Prime Minister on how …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    So what's worse.....

    ......not signing on to the Kyoto Protocol because its unworkable, and taking alot of crap for it, or signing on and then cheating because the CO2 caps are too hard....? I'm guessing Germany and France are next to join the cheaters club.

    a Yank

  2. Anonymous Coward

    It's Practical Reality

    Even the most ardent apologists for 'renewable energy' are baulking at a 20% of total energy target.

    The practical reality as shown by many studies is that renewable energy (read solar and wind) are too unreliable to contribute any more than a few, at most 10, percent of total energy demand.

    The ability to switch from renewable energy to other sources when the wind drops or the sun sets is the major problem.

    First, the existing systems must have 100% of the capacity available so that when the wind or solar stops the other systems kick in. Most are base-load and a few are rapid kick-in systems such as hydro and gas turbine. The other sources such as Nuclear and Coal require hours to days to ramp up to meet the need.

    It can quite fairly be said that to build a wind or solar power system you have to build a dam and/or a very inefficient gas turbine fossil fuel system as a backup.

    Even with the overcapacity, the true capital cost of renewable energy is not quite twice the nominal price - as hydro and fossil systems are generally cheaper.

    The actual benefit of renewable energy has to be measured against how much inefficient fossil fuel is burned on the off days as compared to a highly efficient base-load generators. In actual terms going renewable is not that beneficial and, by some analyses, not worth the bother.

    It is no wonder that the UK Government has figured out that a 'jolly good idea to save the environment' has warts on it in all the wrong places.

    Mahatma Koat

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When .......

    our polititians and the USA stop sending armed forces halfway round the world spewing forth carbon as they go perhaps the rest of us might take the whole issue more seriously. Especially as the science does not fit all they are saying about the whole climate change issue.

    Anything coming out of a 'intergovernmental' body must be viewed as subject to political manipulation and thus not centred on fact.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    lead by example

    Becasue I'm too lazy to meet the governments desired recycling targets, instead I'm giving up on the idea all together becasue it requires more effort. Instead I'll associate myself with sceptics who claim, global warming is a load.

    That'll get me out of it!... Won't it?

  5. Alex

    well its not like its...

    the end of the works is it?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "Government makes empty promise" ... this sadly is no longer news in this country... and they wonder why no-one cares about politics anymore.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Oops a post that mentions climate change and renewable energy...

    Give it a moment and the paid Denial Industry shills will be in to pollute any discussion of the issues with the screeching and moanings of dumb animals.

    It's academic anyway. None of the maths here is linear. We have perhaps a decade to get our carbon emissions under control, if we're lucky. And it means some small compromises on quality of life for everyone, which most people are too selfish to vote for.

    If they are having problems with supply why don't they tackle demand instead? If every house in the country was properly insulated the national energy demand would be reduced massively but the government won't even go so far as to raise the required standards of insulation on new build.

    The people of the future will hate our generation so very much.

  8. Richard Neill

    Why not just a "green" energy target?

    It would be much more sensible to aim for 50% generation that is "green", rather than explicitly "renewable". This would include other eco-friendly solutions, such as Nuclear (and perhaps carbon-capture.)

    While it's true that there is an issue with nuclear wrt "base-load", this is an engineering problem, and should be quite easy to fix. Nuclear waste is now a non-issue (see Generation IV reactors on wikipedia for a good explanation).

  9. Andy

    HM Government

    Labour really are a useless bunch of wasters (pardon the pun).

    A few simple actions to solve the problem:

    1. Build a few of those nice safe nuclear power plants in central London. I believe there is a nice chunk of ready cleared land at Olympic park and it's local to MI5 HQ so it should be nice and secure.

    2. Get the solar PV grants scheme into a state where people can actually apply for them.

    3. Enforce building regulations.

    ...and since when was hydroelectric power not renewable?

  10. Steven Jones

    Energy Sources

    If anybody fancies going through the numbers and looking at the realities of alternative energy sources, then try looking at David MacKay's book "Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air". He's a Cambridge Professor of Natural Philosophy -

    or physics as it's less quaintly known these days). The rough draft (basically work in progress) is available online for free here :-

    Unlike much of the Government inspired studies, this is an attempt to be objective about the practicality of energy generation and consumption in the UK economy. It presents some pretty stark numbers and doesn't stray into the area of wishful thinking that characterises this area.

    Given that we are now in the position where almost half our (mostly decrepit and obsolete) nuclear electric generation capacity is offline for scheduled or un-scheduled reasons, then I predict the whole security of energy supply issue is going to very quickly replace CO2 concerns. There's nothing like the lights going out or hugely increased energy bills to refocus attention.

  11. Luther Blissett

    UK Govt plots against itself?

    I don't think so. It is only prudent to have an exit strategy when committed to a risky course of action. Compare this with the USA's 2nd invasion of Iraq. Or if you prefer, the respective plans for their troop reductions.

  12. RK

    of course, we could...

    look at the demand side of things and start encouraging or (gasp!) *mandating* that individuals and businesses start adjusting their lifestyles to use less energy, but that would bring all the ostriches' heads up out of the sand to start howling about "socialism" and "communism" and "liberalism" and "manifest destiny" and "god-given rights to live however we please and fuck the planet and non-human species," etc., etc.

    better to let gov'ts continue to hem and haw and sign treaties and talk about the "need for more conclusive research" and all that, then we can all blame them for not bothering to do anything about it soon enough and letting us run amok when clearly we are hell-bent on shitting in our own beds and then crying about having to lie in them.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Tidal Power

    They could easily hit this target, but it means taking tidal power seriously. Rather than announce tomorrow that that will fail, they should announce that the Severn Tidal Barrage is going ahead, would be funded by a tax on supermarkets, and that any greenies that wanted to complain would find themselves as constituent parts of the barrage concrete mix.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    @ Anonymous coward.

    "....the government won't even go so far as to raise the required standards of insulation on new build."


    When was the last time you looked at Approved Document Part L1A then?

    So, from a compliance point of view taking a notional dwelling (with 0.35 W/m2K for walls, 0.25 W/m2K for floors and 0.16 W/m2K for roofs) then deducting 20% from the expected CO2 emissions of said notional dwelling to give the 'Target Emission Rate' new dwellings have to meet or beat isn't a raising of required standards is it?

    And further improving this by ANOTHER 25% in 2010 (in line with the Code for Sustainable Homes level 3) wouldn't be yet another raising of standards would it?

    Of course not....

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of all the dirty tricks...

    I do not understand these people. Yesterday we see a report that the city of Winchester is the worst in the UK for the use of resources and that we would need more than three earths if we all behaved as the inhabitants do. So you think you are better than that? Wait a minute. Salisbury is said to be the best in the UK and they use just less than 3 earths worth of resources.

    So the government is going to abandon a 20% REDUCTION target. So what? We are still going to run out of earths very quickly. If they said we have a new target of using ONLY 20% of the current resource use that might be realistic.

    Don’t you get it? We are in the shit, up to our chins, and if we keep farting CO2 like we are it will soon be up to our nose and we will be standing on tip-toe.

    I also read that the bio-recycling through carbon trading is a big sham. The carbon taken in by plants is about what is released by their destruction by fire or decomposition. Very little is locked away permanently. Most of the CO2 released since the start of the industrial revolution has been dissolved into the oceans. However the oceans are reaching saturation point so the dissolved CO2 could become unstable. It is estimated that 500Gtonne of CO2 is stored and that a change in water conditions could trigger a release. A temperature change, a change of wind, chemical changes, variation in ocean density; who is to say what the trigger might be. We could find the greenhouse effect suddenly ramping up several orders of magnitude beyond what we are currently experiencing.

  16. David Sidebotham


    Some 20 years ago the green party in Germany had a poster campaign. It went like this:


    The word “umwelt” was green and covered in flowers and surrounded by trees.

    (Umwelt translates as environment).

    The word “welt” was umwelt but the first two letters had collapsed in a blackened heap the trees and flowers had gone and there were dark clouds in the sky.

    In the last image the sky was black as was the earth with ruin all around. The only letter remaining from umwelt was the ”t”, forming a cross on a grave.

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