back to article Greenpeace: UK gov trying to strangle wind power

The British government has been accused by Greenpeace of trying to strangle development of renewable power in Europe, and in particular in the UK. Greenpeace say they have obtained draft documents from negotiations in Brussels, which amount to a 'smoking gun' exposing the UK's anti-renewables agenda. The pressure group's …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Err... Wrong interpretation

    The reason why the energy lobby (and its pocket puppets) do not want this phrasing is this will automatically make our best beloved utilities obliged to hook-up spare microgeneration capacity - aka the German scenario.

    It is not the big off-shore windfarms they are concerned about, it is Joe-average luser selling back energy to the grid. The utilities in the UK do not have the infrastructure and backoffice processing to handle this and they are desperately doing anything they can to make sure they look "Green" without allowing this.

    Just try to call the British Gas solar helplines and see what I mean.

  2. TeeCee Gold badge

    Let's get this straight.

    The fact that the feckin' things are already subsidised to the hilt and backed with a cast-iron EU mandate to install 'em isn't enough? They need priority grid access as well to make 'em worth having?

    Taking a car analogy, ISTR that the Austin Allegro sold quite well without requiring every five Escort drivers to own at least one Allegro between them and without the Government giving 500 quid to anyone who bought one, let alone being given dedicated petrol pumps at filling stations AND IT WAS A LEGENDARILY AWFUL PIECE OF TOTAL SHIT! (Yes, I did have one and, yes it was.)

    Christ, renewable power generation must be a right load of pointless cobblers if GreenPeace are talking anything other than complete bollocks here........

  3. David Kirkwood
    Thumb Down


    It's a bit difficult to believe that the UK government isn't keen on wind power, since here in South Lanarkshire we're surrounded by turbines.

    We have Europe's (once) biggest on-shore wind farm at Black Law (OK, also in North Lanarkshire and West Lothian).

    Then we have Europe's biggest on-shore wind farm at Whitelee.

    Now we're going to have Europe's biggest on-shore wind farm (Clyde) at Abington.

    Then once Whitelee is extended it will be even bigger than Clyde, and it will be the biggest on-shore wind farm in Europe.

    And that's ignoring all of the other local ones that would have been Europe's biggest on-shore wind farms just a few years ago.

    Last night's election result could have given me some hope, if it wasn't for the fact that the SNP are even more keen on wind than GB is.

    (Did I mention that we have lots of turbines here?)

  4. chris
    Thumb Down

    Booooooooooooored of this spinning

    So the lovely neutral and not-having-an-agenda-at-all BERR are being all sensible and rational in saying that they won't anger the great god of the market.

    While those oh-so-unreasonable-"hardline"-pressure-group-oh-they-have-an-agenda folk at Greenpeace are being all stubborn and hardline and inflexible.

    Way to convey a balanced story Lewis. I spend more time mining the meaning from your layers of perjorative language than getting information from it.

    It's at the point where if certain authors' names appear at the top of a story I don't bother to read on, because I know I won't get anything of value from it.

  5. Xander Dent

    Nuclear Future TBPFH...

    Surely if we used a load of nukes for the power backbone and used non-consistent renewables for demand where possible, we'd reduce our energy carbon footprint to as close to zero as is actually possible with current tech...

    So, I contest that Greenpeace have their own agenda, and are not actually as into the carbon emission ting as they claim.

    Food for thought.


  6. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Greenpeckers still around?

    Surely I can't be the only one who sees the words "Greenpeace expert" and immediately assumes anything further is just a waste of oxygen? To sum it up, it looks like the Greenpeckers are just trying to use prioritisation to stop nucluer plants and foist unreliable wind-power on us instead, probably at the same time doing more eco damage than good, and costing us all a lot more. I have had many conversations with Greenpeckers and I have yet to find one that can go five minutes without falling back on unscientific, blinkered, Luddite rantings against "nasty Capitalist oil/nuke/gas companies". How on Earth do they still find enough imbeciles to keep funding themselves?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Okay setting aside the Greenpeace hyperbole

    They do seem to have a point - in part. Since none of the new nuclear plants have ever been announced, let alone designed, tendered and built; there would seem to be available tap in points waiting to be used as older plants are decommissioned.

    It's obvious that wind turbines and presumably wave can be constructed and deployed faster than a new nuclear plant; so why not give offshore renewables priority access to the existing terminals and build additional grid capacity at the same time as the new nuclear stations go up?

    Or is that dangerously joined-up thinking?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Someone sit on greenpeace

    I'm sick and tired of the naysayers of greenpeace. The facts of the matter are that wind turbines will never be able to make up a large percentage of UK power supply because they are never going to be reliable enough. Yet when people look to address this with tidal power (which you know what you're going to get) and nuclear power (which we only don't have BECAUSE of greenpeace) we get the moaning ninnies carping on again.

    When the lights start going out I hope the populous remembers just who is responsible for the mess we're in. Never has "first against the wall when the revolution comes" been more apt.

  9. Pete Silver badge

    hydrogen, anybody?

    OK, I haven't thought about this for very long (about as long as it took to click "add comment"). What we have, or will (might?), have is a bunch of wind-powered generators whizzing round as fast as they can go, capable of producing gigaWatts of power when no-one wants it. Being offshore, they're also surrounded by water.

    Is there any possibility of using this otherwise wasted generation capacity to electrolyse some of the water (not the whole North Sea, you understand) into something just as green but slightly less useless?

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Scrap the wind power

    Time to start using Stirling Engines, hook one up to every politician, green activist in the land and we will be cooking on... ermm not gas anyway.


  11. Chris


    Screw GreenPeace™!

    If they had their way we'd be starving in unheated, unlit caves.

    Of COURSE the current nuclear generation sites need to have their grid connections reserved for future development - the locations are where they are because they are ideal for siting nuclear power plants.

    All GreenPeace™ want is to reduce the hidden costs of 'eco-friendly' (try telling that to a flock of birds that just flew into the blades) wind power generators that only generate expensive power when the wind blows.

    They nearly killed nuclear power with their scaremongering, now they are hyping wind-power, which is too expensive and unreliable - so, to reduce the cost they want to grab the nuclear power industry's grid connections - which will have the, to them, bonus of increasing nuclear power infrastructure costs and possibly, in their dreams, torpedo the plans for nuclear power plants.

    'Eco'-terrorists the lot of them! Now if only we had laws against terrorists...

    Hang on a second... :-)

  12. Steve

    low demand times

    Since coal fired stations can't be shut down, it makes no sense to automatically give priority to wind farms to sell into the grid at low demand times.

    Ideally we could do with a way to store the excess energy generated, because it's guaranteed that on the day demand is highest the weather will be calm.

    Without this storing capacity it's impossible to rely on wind as the buffer to provide energy when demand peaks. So you end up with dual capacity, gas turbines for when the wind can't provide which then stand idle (and so loose money) when the wind is blowing.

    Maybe every wind turbine built should have a linked gas turbine by law, that way the cost of both is amortised and the supply to the grid is guaranteed no matter what the conditions.

  13. Andrew Cannon

    You need a mix, idiot!

    Okay, so Greenpeace have seen the word "nuclear" and are getting in a tizz about it? What all the greenies seem to forget is that wind power, even if it is offshore, only operates _at best_ at a load factor of 30-40%. In other words, if you shut down Drax (which I think produces 4000MW) with 4000MW of wind power generation (or over 1000 wind turbines spaced about 200m apart for good power generation, how big will that be???) you will, on average, produce only a maximum of 1600MW.

    Where is the remaining 2400MW going to come from? More wind turbines? Hydro? Geothermal?

    Nah, it'll be gas. Easy to build these gas fired stations. Just don't mention the C word and you'll be fine.

    Nuclear stations, on the other hand, will be designed for a 60 year life (4 times the life of a wind turbine), will operate at better than 90% load and won't produce CO2.

    Renewables have their place, but so does nuclear and fossil fuel. You can't exclude any from the mix if you want to save the planet.

  14. The BigYin

    A pox on renewables and Greenpeace

    Renewables simply cannot meet the power demands of the UK, not unless everyone cuts their power demands by about 90%. Renewables have their uses in certain situations (e.g. highlands, emergency relief etc) but in general they are hugely expensive, unreliable, inconsistent, sited away from demand, and destroy landscapes.

    The only real answer is fission, until such times as fusion can be harnessed (if ever). Although our government has done a good job of destroying whatever nuclear expertise we used to have.

    The hysterical bleating of Greenpeace increasingly amuse me as the push their global-warming myth.

  15. goggyturk
    Thumb Down


    Does anyone (except for the irredeemably gullible) believe anything Greenpeace says these days?

  16. Adam Foxton

    Greenpeace in retarded anti-nuke shocker!

    So they're suggesting what... ramping up natural gas plant creation to cover for quiet, wind-less days? Surely that makes wind power far less green than they claimed?

    Couldn't we use fast-breeder Nuclear plants to generate a "base" power level and use wind + excess nuclear to pump water up into reservoirs during low-usage periods, then have the hydropower nicely stored for peak period use?

    That way there's no problems reacting to peak power (hydro should be nice and quick to start up!), there's stored energy to cover low-wind periods, power plants can be kept running at a pretty constant level AND it's zero-carbon, zero-gas-emmission, zero oil dependancy and tiny amounts of waste created by volume. You could even design the power plant so it would actively hug a tree.

    Plus there's a guaranteed amount of power coming from the nuclear plants which can be scaled back as more and more reliable renewables come online.

    Use the nuclear power to electrolyse or thermolyse water to produce Hydrogen, pump that up to about 1000bar to give you a volumetric energy density almost half of that of Petrol, stick it into cars and stand back as the hydrogen economy literally explodes when confronted by the reality of having large tanks of incredibly compressed gas mass-produced to a budget and raced about at 90mph in their millions.

  17. nommo

    When the wind blows

    I sometimes wonder whether the Register is part of the pro-nuke/anti wind cabal along with the dubiously named Renewable Energy Foundation -

    What do you think happens when a nuclear plant or 2 (or 6) shuts down on the same day for 'essential maintenance' ? AFAIK - the gas powered plants kick in to keep the lights on, along with hydro from existing pumped storage.

    That's not a speculation about what will happen 'in the future' - it already happens.

    Let's start thinking about how the grid *needs* to change now that the oil/gas party is over. I thought neo-cons, and geeks would be pro-change...

    Stop reducing the discussion to a polemic debate, I know it makes it easier for the journalist, but c'mon!

    How about reporting on the recent news of huge under-estimation of nuclear decommissioning and clean-up, or the fact that 'British' Energy is now the property of the French (Government owned) EDF? ;-)

  18. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Grid Issues...

    When I worked on an energy trading floor inputting to the Grid, one of the traders characterised the Grid quite well. Keeping a steady electricity supply was like blowing into a balloon which had myriads of small leaks, and trying to keep it half full.

    For this to be successful what you need is RELIABLE power. Some is base power - large amounts of cheap power which keeps coming, for which nuclear or coal is ideal, and some is top-up rapidly switchable power to call on for peaks and troughs. Hydro or gas turbine is ideal for this. Raw wind power is effectively useless.

    A small amount of wind power may be accepted into the Grid. Its variability will then present the Grid operators with the same problem as variable demand. So long as this is small; say, 5% or less of total load, it can be acceptable to degrade your Grid in this way. But as you accept more the whole system starts to fail, and rolling power cuts are the order of the day...

    From an engineering viewpoint, what you can do is use wind to pump water up a hill and then use the water as Hydro - that is 'pumped storage'. This sorts the problem, but is costly, and only possible where the geography permits.

  19. David Leigh
    Thumb Down

    Windpower bias

    So, even though it is accepted that wind generation of electricity is fatally flawed as the wind she don't blow all the time, (hence 100% cover by conventional power stations is required), the 'green' activists now want precedence over the only sensible and reliable source of power !! You just couldn't make it up!

    If gas-fired power stations are constantly fired up and shut down to accommodate the vagaries of the wind, they require far more maintenance than if they are allowed to run continuously.

    The only sensible course of action is to build more nuclear power stations.

  20. Anonymous Coward


    I have a windfarm of 9 towers fairly close to my home. I pass this farm twice weekly at close to the same time every week so I feel that I have a reasonable snapshot of the usage / availability of these towers. About one time in three these wind generators are idle, thus no power being generated.

    If Greenpeace think that this is a sufficiently robust system for powering our national grid then I would invite them to depend for their lives on electrical power. and that power should be 100% provided by a wind turbine.

    Do this for a month and then we will discuss your views on renewable energy, or funerals, which ever.

  21. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Back in the USSR ..... Mama Mia Mea Culpa Live

    The Common Theme running through every Energy Source is that it is not something which can be Stored and Sold, as it is AI Fluid Dynamic. And likely subject to Simple ReRouting for Beta Power Control.

    Energy Demands Indicate Kernels/Packets of Advanced Knowledge which in turns means Knowledge is Provided by Energy and it is Sold causing Crippling Debt Economies. Wiping Out and Writing Off the Debt to Begin again would Posit that Paying for Fuel rather than it Being always Provided, is an always Fatal Flaw IntelAIgently Designed to Server the Status Quo rather than Build the Future.

    New CyberIntelAIgent Design Simply Removes the Flaw. .... for Beta Attraction/Alien ProgramMIng Quantum Entanglement.

  22. Stuart
    Thumb Down

    Follow France - Oh Dear!

    France is way ahead as the least CO2 emitting electricity generator. Yep 75% of it comes from nuclear - but they have come from nowhere to overtake us in wind generation.

    Maybe beacuse they stand up to the Nimby's and build on land rather than offshore. That means wind actually gets built, fast and at half the cost.

    Frankly renewable is not the issue - it is CO2 reduction. Indeed a sensible energy policy is looking at displacing other hydrocarbon energy uses with electricity - so ramping up to near 100% CO2-less generation and increasing it should be a national priority.

    The only two proven technologies that can do most of that are nuclear & wind. Nuclear is nasty, but the worst is having to sit around with some spent fuel. The CO2 alternative may mean many of our kids won't sitting around to worry. Or is that someone's secret agenda?

    So while we should be doing all we can to increase the manufacture and installation of wind (worldwide it is currently supply limited) - we need nuclear too. The two should be bedfellows not enemies.

    Which is why I support wind and oppose Greenpeace

  23. Onionman

    You can always trust Greenpeace

    To want the impossible.

    They want to reduce CO2 emissions. They want to do this with a combination of Wind Turbines (massively expensive, massively subsidised, to be built at a rate that simply CANNOT be done). Then, because this is inherently variable, they want gas (CO2 emitter) as a backup. Or a massive project to create pumped storage on a level never carried out anywhere in the world. Or something else, probably yet to be invented. And they want us to subsidise having the grid extended to the middle of the North Sea or the Scottish Highlands.

    However, the option of nuclear (based on engineering that is proven and reliable, already on the grid) is against their religion, so has to be rejected out of hand.

    I'll get my coat before I'm told about all the clearly obvious holes in this argument by the greenies.


  24. Richard

    hydropower massively expensive?

    okay, i'll bite. just how expensive is hydropower compared to nuclear then? and please factor in the real cost of ownership .. build cost, cost of foreign nuclear fuel, safety running costs, disposal costs, cost of compensating blighted local areas, cost of all the monopolistic foreign companies taking their profits away to countries with lower company taxation etc

    i'd quite happily live next to a hydropower plant ... great views, waterfowl and lots of water ... can't say the same for notclear or gaz or cole ... don't mind a wind turbine though the whoosing side is quite soporific.

  25. shaun
    Paris Hilton


    Remember the co-founder of greenpeace left them because they became a money making, private agenda pushing political party. says it all really.

    Paris - because at least she's straightforward

  26. The Badger


    "The only real answer is fission, until such times as fusion can be harnessed (if ever)."

    Yes, that shiny thing in the sky will never be harnessed, nor anything like it! Sheesh! It's a good job that the people working on such stuff don't have the 1950s outlook that pervades the typical collection of comments on these kinds of articles.

  27. Dave Bell

    Simple-minded Greenpeace.

    You can't go far wrong if, whenever Greenpeace say anything, you shout, "It's not that simple."

    Not that I'd put a nuclear plant where some of the existing ones are. What happens if there is a storm surge in the North Sea?

    I don't, myself, see any practical alternative to a major expansion of nuclear power in the UK. For renewables, we pretty well have to rebuild the whole country to cope with the variations in supply.

  28. Bill OBrien

    Easy CO2 solution

    Why worry about Greenpeace? Just stop he problem at its source. The first thing we do is yank all the catalytic converters off our cars. These insidious, government mandated devices turn exhaust into CO2. If that doesn't prove effective, we start killing people hither and yon. After all, we are huge polluters in our own right, expelling tonnes of CO2 each year from our fowl mouthes. (If that seems too harsh, then we can start by shutting down the governments where, it seems, disproportionately massive amounts of CO2 are created hourly.)

  29. Mark

    Re: Let's get this straight.

    Well, I thought you were talking about nuclear to begin with. Your comment about huge subsidies and threats to take the ball home if they aren't kept fits the nuclear industry far better.

  30. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Copying the Sun

    The argument doesn't get better if you oversimplify it:

    "With vanished nukes replaced by dirtier, non-combined-cycle gas plants"

    Gas plants produce CO2 which while a greenhouse gas is certainly cleaner than nuclear waste. As for the connection issue: it works fine in Germany where wind now competes with gas on the energy market. As for subsidies: guaranteed minimum price is not actually a subsidy. Anyway anything the renewables get pales in comparison to the subsidies handed out for nuclear over the years and that doesn't even take the decommissioning into consideration. Power produced by nuclear fission is so expensive that it only survives when backed by state guarantees.

  31. Bill Smith


    Wind power doesnt work - we cant produce enough electricity from wind, added to which fact that if the wind dies down, wind turbines need a backup supply - enter coal power.

    Alternatives: put a wind turbine in front of every green's gob, that should keep the country powered for years.

  32. james marley


    I think you'll find the scottish highlands already have large amounts of hydro power generation (mostly from the 1950's) and a nuclear power plant, so I don't think you really need to extend the national grid up to us. We also have cars, colour tv and inside toilets.

  33. Anton Ivanov

    Re: hydropower massively expensive?

    You are biting the wrong bait.

    The comments on this thread are full of FUD of monumental proportions. While Britain does not have the natural resources to have high proportion of hydro proper 90% of the grid stability problems which many people consider to be the ultimate bane of renewables can be solved by using hydro-accumulation.

    I own a house overlooking the lower portion of one of the biggest hydro-accumulation cascades in Europe (not in UK). It is a weird sight to see how a reservoir the size of Granham water is empty at lunchtime and fills up nearly to the rim by the end of the evening just to be empty again next morning. It is a solution which works and which can be built in many places which lack the natural hydro resource.

    In fact, Britain has all the infrastructure necessary to have this in place already. It is called "The Lake District". The Victorians built it to supply the industrial north of England with water and it is an idiocy not to use it.

    Ok, heritage dolts will scream because the sacred Coniston water level will vary by a meter or so a day. So what? The investment is a minute fraction of the investment into nuclear and it will allow to eliminate most of the expensive gas-burning capacity outright. Unfortunately it is a very "politically incorrect" proposition which we are not likely to see it any time soon.

  34. Paul Kinsler


    > Even if the wind is blowing hard, the spot energy price is low at times

    > of low demand. This means that fossil and nuclear plants are able to

    > undercut wind operators, and so sell all the power.

    Hang on -- it doesn't actually cost less for fossil/nuke plants to generate power at low demand; they just decide to sell for less because no-sale means no income.

    (a) Why can't wind do the same? (though obviously this may make it harder to turn a profit)

    (b) Surely fossil/nuke (or wind) plants selling energy below cost is dumping, which is often regarded as bad thing in many markets.

    Thus, ban dumping of energy at below its cost of production (but that's easier said than done, I suspect). Then any source of power (greeen or black) can work out for themselves whether it's economic to operate.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Does anyone (except for the irredeemably gullible) believe anything Greenpeace says these days?"

    Unfortunately you can say pretty much the same about the author of this piece. The tone and standard of this article is worthy of a blog.

    Reminds me why I rely on New Scientist for Science and The Reg for IT.

  36. Paul Stephenson


    EDF is no longer owned by the french government iirc, it was privatised.

    Hydro power stations are usually attractive places, Dinorwig for example, which is one of ours. Problem is they are actually net consumers of electrickery due to the requirement to pump all that water back up hill. Couple this with wind though as said and you might be on a winner.

    Given the power demands of the UK, and our strive to have electric car's to replace our highly polluting petrol/diesel engines then power demand in the uk is only going to skyrocket, and to which imo the only solution is a sizeable portfolio of nuke's. It will be interesting to see how this new battery tech going into the electric lighening fares on an industrial scale and if it can be used on a large scale for energy storage.

    From the other side of the power station I am in I can see a wind turbine, which today is actually turning for I believe the first time this week, and this is in Hull, just off the bank of the humber river where's it is *always* windy.

    I see this move by greenpeace as an attempt to block nuclear power whilst pretending to be 'stopping the gov from blocking windfarms'.

    Note: My company has no nuke's, if you think I have a vested interest. :P

  37. This post has been deleted by its author

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't Assume ...

    ... that it's only the supply side of the grid that will change. Many people seem to be under the impression that 9-5 office hours and daytime factory work are immovable obstacles. They are not. Demand is a *variable* that can, in part, be modified significantly such as distributing major loads around the 24-hour clock ... and I expect this will happen to some degree.

    I know it's a cliche, but the size of the problem requires us all to "think outside the square".

    As for implementing wind power as a major grid supply source, I expect a number of other measures to eventually be implemented, including diversified national and pan-European grid connections, pumped storage, some direct electrical storage, intelligent demand control and peak wind supply corresponding to usage in time-flexible industries. No silver bullets, but many measures combined to offset wind's variability.

    It's an ill wind that blows no good.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    this, climate change, ozone, BSE, food,

    It seems all this is more about emotion and identity than anything else.

    we are so close to the chimps.

  40. A J Stiles

    Can someone explain

    Can someone please explain to me just how they get a wind turbine to do a constant 3000rpm (in order to get exactly 50 cycles a second, pretty important if you're pushing into the grid) irrespective of how hard the wind is actually blowing?

  41. Mister Cheese

    Wind power storage

    How about this for an idea... why not have something on all windfarm sites to store the energy they generate if they can't sell it to the grid at that time - they can then release it back when they can sell it?

    Something simple, like a big weight on a bit of rope that gets electrically wound up the inside of the hollow turbine mast, and let down again to generate? Like pumped-storage, only with something a little more dense so you don't need as much of it?

  42. Stuart
    Thumb Down


    Paul Stephenson said "EDF is no longer owned by the french government iirc, it was privatised"

    Yes with the French government retaining an 85% shareholding. British Energy will be an oxymoron. Believing the government should not own a strategic national resource is a fair point of view. Believing another (competitive) government will run it for our benefit and not theirs is kinda brave thinking.

  43. call me scruffy

    For f***s sake.

    Can't some government department just approve a bit of petty cash to pay for a bunch of Tarts to get Greensheesh LAID once in a while?

    That way they wouldn't have to cream themselves with the "look at us we're saving the world" act every so often.

    Thanks to greenpeace, research into longer fuel cycles and new reactor designs has looked distinctly unsexy at times, stiffelig innovation in the area, and quite possibly Ecologically important findings.

    There was some work done in Germany about using reactors to "reburn" waste, accelerating it's conversion into acceptably safe material, while also gleening a few last joules out of the fuel... However turning that into a real design, or "Evil New Generation Of Capitalist Pressurised Wet Dream Reactors" becomes (politically) far more complex than it needed to be.

    Brent Spar: Turns out BP's idea was perfectly sound, Greenpeace's arguments towards the end becoming more and more ludicrous.

    Ghost Fleet: Rather than dismantled with all the facilities of the Tyne, they're dumped in the far east with _no_ care for the environment.

    Rohs: The run off from solder is far less serious than GP made out, the sheer waste of reworked, and junked infant-mortality parts, and production in less compliant nations easily masks any improvement GreenPeace might be imagining in their fluffy bunny la-la-land... But they still strut around boatsing about how this will make everyone super brainy and live forever.

    Those are three of GPs more memorable "success stories" and none of them did any real good.

    The big guns have blown serious holes in Wind Power, but greenpeace seem to be far more interested in teaching everyone their "The Earth is Cool and So Are We" song than actually countering the arguments.

    The quality of Greenpeace's "findings", announcements and accusations would never survive the academic rigour that real experts have to satisfy... As such GP gets "Science" in general, and (Genuine) Environmental research in particular a name for simplicity and wooly thinking.

  44. call me scruffy
    Black Helicopters

    My Earlier Rant.

    I wouldn't normally cut loose like that, but I'm suffering from BOFH withdrawl.

  45. nommo
    IT Angle

    Keeping the lights on

    Will people stop going on about 'Keeping the lights on' lol - it would take a handful of hamsters on hamster wheel generators to keep your average household's low energy lights on.

    Let's be honest here - we are talking about keeping our 750w power supplies for our high-powered PCs, large plasma screens and surround sound running... :)

    Isn't that why most people seem to be in favour of nukes when it comes to this kind of polemic discussion (apart from the beardy weirdy greenpeacers like me of course) - cheap energy so that we don't have to worry about turning things off? (such an inconvenience having to think about energy use! tsk!)

    @Paul Stephenson - RE: EDF. I believe it is still majority owned by the french governement.(85% stake).

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    nuclear v coal

    Here are some facts regarding nuclear and coal fired power generation, specifically the differences in amount of material "burnt".



    "A PWR (Pressurised Water Reactor) has fuel assemblies of 200-300 rods each, arranged vertically in the core, and a large reactor would have about 150-250 fuel assemblies with 80-100 tonnes of uranium."

    "Most reactors need to be shut down for refuelling, so that the pressure vessel can be opened up. In this case refuelling is at intervals of 1-2 years, when a quarter to a third of the fuel assemblies are replaced with fresh ones."


    So we can see that in the highest usage scenario, a nuclear plant will consume around 33 tonnes of fuel a year. (33 tonnes of fuel, not distinguishing between the original uranium and reprocessed fuel)



    Drax Power Station, Selby, United Kingdom

    "Claiming to be the largest, cleanest and most efficient coal-fired power station in the UK, the 4,000MW Drax plant supplies around 7% of the UK's electricity needs.

    .... The company has recently contracted with Sempra Energy Europe for the supply of 150MW of power and one million tonnes of coal over two years, starting April 2006

    .... Coal is transported to the station by 1,000t coal trains"


    So we can deduce that a coal fired plant of this size needs a minimum of 500,000 tonnes per year to run, with all the transportation and emission problems this incurs. (I have no way of knowing if the stated 1 million tonnes is their total consumption for a 2 year period, it could be much more, or they may be stockpiling too.)

    Even if we allow for the fact that the average nuclear plant only produces 1000 MW, then that would bring the equivalent capacity coal plant down to only needing 125,000 tonnes of fuel per year.

    Which looks like the sensible option ? 33 tonnes of fuel a year with no CO2, or 125,000 tonnes of fuel a year with significant amounts of CO2 ?

    Waste is another issue, but suffice to say that all nuclear waste generated since the 1950s (in the UK) is still on site, and the earliest waste produced is now only regarded as low level radioactive. (Long half life = low radioactivity)



    "In the OECD some 300 million tonnes of toxic wastes are produced each year, but conditioned radioactive wastes amount to only 81,000 cubic metres per year. In countries with nuclear power, radioactive wastes comprise less than 1% of total industrial toxic wastes (the balance of which remains hazardous indefinitely)"


    It would be nice to know how much a cubic metre of radioactive waste actually weighs, but even so, less than 1% of total industrial toxic waste would put that at around 3 million tonnes spread between 30 countries.

    Sounds a lot (100,000 tonnes per country), but this waste is not all waste from nuclear fuel. Some of it is waste from the infrastructure (decommissioning etc), and bear in mind the fuel rods are not pure uranium.

    Renewables are good for local consumption, but not for the main grid, as they cannot be depended on without a great deal of investment in energy storage technologies.

    On another point, all our coal is imported. So is our Uranium. But consider the size of the stock piles. A 10 year stock pile of coal would mean 1,250,000 tonnes per plant whereas 10 years of uranium would only need 330 tonnes per plant.

    Do we want to be held to ransom for 1.25 million tonnes of coal per plant ?

    We could store the same weight of uranium that we use in coal (for 1 plant for 1 year) and it would last 3787.9 years in 1 nuclear plant. (not counting the added time gained by reprocessing spent fuel rods)

    Disclaimer : I have just taken the figures as I found them, I can't guarantee their accuracy, however even if the figures for uranium are 3 times worse than I quoted, it would still last a lot longer with less ill effects than coal. If you have hard evidence that these figures are wrong, please reply with links. I am in this to learn, not prove a point.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >Nuclear stations, on the other hand, will be designed for a 60 year life

    Why? We've only got 100 years of fuel left, so even if we only double the nuclear capacity, the lights still go out in my lifetime (and I'm old).

    Also bear in mind that nuclear is the second most expensive form of generation, and is as efficient as it's going to get, so the price can only go up. Whereas renewables are getting cheaper

    Before someone starts bleating about breeder reactors - get real - it'll be 20-30 years before we've ramped up the building cycle. Uranium from the sea? You need to pump and filter so much seawater, the energy return is close to zero. Thorium reactors? Show me a working prototype. Fusion - looks promising, but 20-30 years away, so you might as well wait for that.

    I'm not saying forget nuclear, but it's not the black and white solution the pro-nuke lobby are making out. It's part of the mix, but the priority has to be on the renewables.

  48. Anonymous Coward

    Wind power: what doesn't work, and what does.

    Firstly, micro wind turbines, or 'micro generation' as PR calls it. Research suggests this will be useless for the vast majority of urbanities; sticking a 1.5m diameter turbine rated at 1.5kW peak output on your roof will, if you're lucky, generate enough power to run your PC (300-400W). Don't bother switching on TV or washing machine, though.

    This is a lot less than popular literature suggests. Why is this? Because every man/woman + dog pulls their data from the NOABL database, which assumes that your house is surrounded by no trees, houses, or indeed any other kind of obstruction. Which is the complete opposite of a real-life urban environment, where turbulence generated by neighbouring houses, etc. gives you a much-reduced and irregular air flow.

    Furthermore, those micro turbines that claim to have 'much reduced vibration' can't actually stop the forcing that damages your roof, because this is generated by the highly turbulent flow typical of surburban environments.

    Secondly, what does work, works largely by two principles: economy of scale, and suitability of location.

    The basic rule-of-thumb power law for wind turbines scales as the square of the blade radius, so a linear increase in size gives you, very roughly, a quadratic increase in power. It's a little more complicated than that in real life, since a larger turbine effectively changes the Reynolds number of the problem. Regardless, this means that larger turbines can be more efficient that smaller ones, by design.

    In the more traditional sense of scale, add material transport and construction costs for a more convincing argument.

    Then there is the location. If you want wind power in the UK, you should be building it offshore. The Danes, as ever, got here first -- just look at . Whilst offshore farms are more expensive to build, they produce more energy. The sea is smoother than land - a low 'roughness factor' ensures higher wind speeds - and it is isolated, meaning that there are no hills or buildings to disrupt the air flow, no matter what the wind direction. That gives you a more reliable supply than land-based farms.

    Even when power attenuation over long transmission distances is taken into account, the best strategy will almost always be: pick the windiest spot, build big turbines, and lots of them.

  49. John Savard

    I Agree Halfway

    I agree halfway with Greenpeace. Since fossil-fuel generation can shut down relatively quickly, renewables should get priority over fossil fuel so as to burn as little fossil fuel as possible. But if nuclear is cheaper, of course that's what will be preferred among no-carbon alternatives.

  50. The Prevaricator

    Re: hydrogen, anybody?

    Why, of course you can generate hydrogen on offshore windfarms, pipe it on shore and deal with it in any number of worthwhile ways.

    This is extremely beneficial as you use direct current 'leccy to electrolyse, whereas currently the 'leccy produced offshore has to be converted to fit in with the grid A.C., 50 Hz, timed just right. This incurrs all sorts of losses.

    Piping hydrogen ashore from such windfarms may not be the most efficient system in the world, but at least it would be emissions free (after construction et al). Given enough storage facility, it would also be able to iron out those calm days/weeks, and meet demand peaks.

    Why is everyone so negative about hydrogen energy? Scared of a little investment are we?

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Keeping the lights on

    Actually most energy is used on the following

    heating water for cleaning and washing.

    washing clothes.

    heating the house.

    cooking food.

    refirgerating food.

    freezing food.

    Computers, TVs, lights etc, use very little power in comparision.

  52. Tom


    Well, if you live in the primitive 'windmills are round' world you might be right. However if you use other forms of wind power capture - eg conveyor belt turbines then your smallest roof will be nearer the 5KW peak ~1KW 'continuous'.

    This however will not generate the important thing - profit for big business and government doesnt want to know.

    Inverters are about 10 times the possible mass production costs - you should be able to make a 2.5KW mains connected inverter for £250 but patents on the bleeding obvious get in the way.

    For about £1K you should be able to stick a 5KW mains connected wind generator on every domestic roof in the country bunging out about 1KW on average. Now you'd have to leave most of your eqpt on permanently to stop that being worthwhile.

    You wouldnt even need grants to get those up there!

  53. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    The government says education standards are not falling...

    ... so why do we have an abundance of innumerate Greenies and politicians?

    Pumped water energy storage is currently sufficient for a 24-hour cycle of power usage. Wind can die down for 5 days at a time - all over Europe at the same time. That would require an impressive amount of flooding that gets used about once per year, but is idle the rest of the time. Better to look elsewhere to justify building huge amounts of off-shore wind.

    Like wind, hydro-electric is best built in Scotland or Wales. If the Scots and Welsh want to build some, go for it! I live in England, and unlike the Government here, I do not want to tell you what to do because it would be nice to stay friends with the nearest practical sources of renewable energy if we are not sure we will stay friends with Russian gas.

    Hydrogen is an expensive way to store power. One day the price of aviation fuel might make it cost effective (Ships also find it difficult to connect to the grid). Until then, there is no need to rush to build a huge number of windmills.

    Research into wave power has been pitiful. I would like to see more research so there are some quality numbers to compare.

    Combined heat and power microgeneration does not currently work well for individual households. Equipment available today produces too much heat and not enough power. Even if this does get fixed, I would prefer to go for an air sourced heat pump an my current home (ground sourced on a newly built home). Heat pumps are currently a similar price to gas, and I do not see the price of gas falling. If the UK lacks the infrastructure to handle power from homes, then I would like this fixed for a different reason.

    At present, electric cars effectively run on gas. If we do get a pile of nuclear or wind generators, electric cars become wind or nuclear powered. An electric car per household would store lots of power - if the grid can account for it. (BTW - I cycle or catch the train).

    Greenpeace: If you want windmills, include the cost of storing energy in electric cars spread out over the entire country. Even covering the country in windmills will not power transport - and if you ban that, you loose your energy store.

    While we are at it, we still need to power agriculture or let the vast majority of people starve. I vote for the anti-nuclear crowd starving first.

    A good place to start learning how to evaluate an energy policy is at:

  54. Pete Silver badge

    @Flocke Kroes

    > o why do we have an abundance of innumerate Greenies and politicians

    Well, I have no idea about the greenies, but so far as the politicians go, blame the education system.

    It used to be that a politician had a "proper" job and went into politics later in life, either after being a successful businessman^H^H^Hperson or some sort of trades-union type. The business people would have already amassed their stash and therefore did not need to go round screwing their expense accounts and taking ca$h for questions, etc. The trade union types were idealists and would sneer at the though of filthy lucre: they would never betray the workers.

    Nowadays, MPs and their advisors are career politicians, on both/all sides. They graduate with a P/Science degree and go straight into politics - without a clue about the real world. This is why they're (a) younger, (b)stupid, (c)easily bribed.

  55. Anonymous Coward


    Unfortunately, the conditions of air flow in built-up environments dictate how much power you can extract. You /might/ get 5kW on average if you live in an exposed area, have a large enough turbine, but you can forget that in suburbia. Try sticking a 5m turbine up on a pole 10m above your house, and you'd be getting close.

    Also, there are limits on how the efficiency of a turbine even in ideal circumstances, regardless of the turbine shape. Even in highly efficient designs, there is a blockage effect which is a by product of energy extraction. As the blades provide the force to turn the turbine shaft, which turns the generator, this creates a balanced force, a reaction: the blades push back against the air. This backthrust is an inevitable consequence of Newton's 3rd law - you can't escape it - and when this backthrust becomes large enough, air will choose to flow /around/ the turbine rather than through it.

    This gives an upper limit on peak efficiency, approximately about 50% in very large turbines -- this is below the theoretical Betz limit of 59%. Some firms claim higher efficiencies of 80%, but these are the results of wind tunnel tests, ie. closed environments where air flow is restricted.

    Worse than that, the efficiency of turbines drops of fairly rapidly at lower wind speeds. Couple this with the cubic windspeed/power law, and you might get only the merest whiff of a mouse's fart of battery juice, on such a lovely day such as today.

  56. Duncan Hare

    Nuclear Power

    "But if nuclear is cheaper, of course that's what will be preferred among no-carbon alternatives."

    Nuclear is probably much more expensive than any other form of power, because the Nuclear operato4rs do not need to set aside money for decommissioning.

    There are 3 stages to a nuclear power station decommissioning:

    1, Removal and disposal of fuel

    2. Removal and disposal of radioactive components (reactor & steam plant)

    3. Guard the site (all that concrete) for up to 1,000 years, to protect against low level radioactivity.

    1. That's expensive. Especially the 1,000 years part.

    2. One runs out of sites (no site reuse).

    Any system should include complete cost of its entire life. Nuclear is betting on a subsidy for decommissioning.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pumped Hydro Comments

    As for levelling out the peaks and valleys of wind availability with pumped storage, its not that easy. Living in California we have a big 1500 MW pumped storage (named Helms Creek I think) facility up in the north of the state. Its been up there since the 60s and it uses nighttime excess electricity from nuclear and natural gas base load (plants that operate around the clock to provide the "base" of the states electricity supply) to pump water uphill into the reservoir. This is then released during the day when demand is at a peak.

    It works just fine, but environmentally its not a big favorite of the local greens. It has a footprint of maybe 10 square miles for the whole complex, with a lot of piping and canals to divert and transport water. It also draws water from local creeks and rivers so it impacts those. And then the reservoir takes up the top of a plateau in the Norther Sierra Nevada/Southern Cascades.

    Britain is not a big island, and there are not many mountaintops that can be leveled to provide the reservoir. And I know that hikers/trekkers would have to be excluded from much of any area set aside for one of these facilities (since in the era of Al Qaeda you could do a lot of damage by releasing water from one of these in a sudden and irresponsible manner)

  58. Pat

    Nuclear? Yes, please!!!

    I just love asking nuclear advocates "So, you would be quite happy for one to be built next to you?" or "Do you think that city centre sites would be a good idea as the electrical transmission costs would be reduced?"

    Makes it a bit less academic because if you are not happy with these suggestions you must surely be a Greenpeace supporter (As no-one else objects to nuclear power)

  59. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    its the friday rant

    I work in an industrial production enviroment, the machines we use like a continous supply of electrickery, a 1 second brownout in the power supply is enough to give half the machines fits, a 3 second brown out leads to everything shutting down and it taking us 30-45 minutes to restart and check everything.

    Relying on wind power to keep the factory running would be like saying

    "hey guys fancy restarting all the machines all day as the wind speed goes up and down?"

    Wind has its uses, sadly its not as the base load supply to a modern electrical distribution network....

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ Pat

    "So, you would be quite happy for one to be built next to you?"

    I, for one, have no qualms with them. Hell, given that I work for a nuclear generator, it might make the commute into work easier.

    "Do you think that city centre sites would be a good idea as the electrical transmission costs would be reduced?"

    No, it'd be a monumentally retarded thing to do. You need gobs of cooling for any power plant that generates power with a steam turbine. This requires copious amounts of water. This is something that cities don't have. Given that the average transmission loss is about 1%, putting it on the coast near a conurbation is a much better idea. A bit like where Sizewell B and Dungeness are. The biggest losses are in moving power at low voltages into peoples' houses - that's of the order of 4%.

    Plus the fact that in the extremely unlikely event that anything does go wrong, you'll have to evacuate fewer people. Yes, it's unlikely, but we should still think in terms of worst case scenarios.

    Oh, and the change that BERR want? Greenpeace are making a storm in a water-glass over it. Given the current climate, and all of the modifications that Ofgem are forcing to the industry's rules (look up the Connection and Use of System Code proposed modifications CAP161-166), it's not like they're hostile to new renewables. They just realise that if you've got to make a decision between system stability ("the lights staying on") and getting renewables on-stream ahead of conventional plant, you've got to tell the tree-huggers to wait.

    Changing the planning laws, so it didn't require a 4 year fiasco to get permission to build a 400kV power line from Beauly to Denny might help, too.

    Paris, because that's where the owners of all of our new power stations live.

  61. Tom

    @Gerhardt again

    Your thinking round turbine again!!!

    Don't think round turbine with all those bits going at different speeds. Think lots of little sailing boats wired together going round.

    Then go and sit on the apex of a pitched roof on a calm day and tell me theres no breeze. The winds already avoided your house - its not worried by low demands from an open fence of sails. Or try and stick your head out of a window on the edge of a tower block. No wind in urban areas - try walking between 300m tower blocks in a Chicago street in late autumn!

    Dont think maximum efficiency - think bangs per buck. Think impedance matching. The wind will only get out of the way if you ask too much of it.

    Take a piece of plain plastic or cloth 15m long by 2m wide and hold one end of it in a gentle breeze. Pick yourself up and tell me theres no power to be had there.

    To say wind power will never work because a 3000 year old modification of a brick has not been improved on is, frankly, shortsighted. Though I do have to admint that if global warming kicks in we wont have to worry about the cost decomissioning NP stations - the sea will be doing it for us.

  62. Marco

    What's your goal with this rant, Mr. Page?

    Those who own the grid have no interest in connecting anyone who produces energy they won't profit from. That is all Greenpeace objects to here - they want a level playfield. Do you have any problem with that?

    All the rest of your diatribe is just window dressing and frankly, these pieces on the Reg have now become quite obnoxious. It is NOT that Greenpeace shouldn't be criticized for some of their positions, but the criticism around here is so onesided, it becomes hard to take it serious much longer.

  63. Alastair McKinstry

    No silver bullets, but look at conservation

    Time to pay attention to both sides of the equation.

    All work mentioned so far looks at current consumption and assumes that this is the goal we must aim for, ignoring the fact energy usage per capita is still rising, and that we've built an economy around cheap energy. As energy costs rise,

    it becomes more economic to be efficient; and its easier (long-term) to drop usage than create more energy.

    In building my own house, I've moved from a 4-bed with ~15 kw oil heating, to 4-bed with ~2 kw electric, only the new house is heated 2-4 hrs/night, 4 months a year, rather than 8-12 hours, 8 months a year.

    Including other efficiencies, i've a better standard of living (20 degrees, round the clock, round the year) at 20% the energy usage.

    Ditto with transport costs, and many (most?) other industry costs.

    I repeat, an 80% drop in energy usage, no standard of living drop.

    Not easy, it takes time to rebuild every house to passive house standards, to move out of suburbs and into cities where you can walk/cycle rather than 2-hour commutes, but its not only possible, it will happen.

    short-term is going to be painful: the oil price crisis is manufactured. The point of OPEC was to make sure we had an oil-dependent world, and now they're reaping the profits.

    But once you look at both sides, renewables work.

    Back to the problems with wind: they're not the only renewables. There is also solar, biomass, wave, ... but also, other technologies kick in to help. Smart metering and electricity consumption: eg setting freezer hysteresis temps to turn on the freezer when electricity is cheap (ie wind available), charge batteries, run washing machines, store underfloor heat, etc: thats how to store energy.

    Stop looking for one single silver bullet and the problem can be solved.

    Nuclear looks fine until you start asking: what about the rest of the world, not just Britain? Uranium is in easy supply because nobody is currently using it.

    Fill the world with reactors and U is quickly consumed; at least the top 0.5% or

    so good-quality ores. After that, it takes a lot of processing: 30% as much

    CO2 per kWh as a gas power station.

    The countries who look most positively on nuclear are those who are willing to do what it takes to get it when it runs short; within 20 years. France will get its Uranium from Africa, Canada and will be willing to send the aircraft carriers to get it. Ditto the US and, maybe, the UK? But what about Ireland ? what about Portugal? or Poland?

  64. Anonymous Coward


    Sailboats or windmills going round, it doesn't matter. I'm afraid you've been reading too much blurb drawn from engineering firms, who focus too little on larger scale flow characteristics.

    Were it more appropriate, I'd be quite content to go into this in more detail, and explain to you the funnelling effects of urban canyons which cause the wind between your ankles in the Windy City (If El Reg suddenly turns into Renewable Energy Weekly, I'll happily do an article), but there are certain aerodynamic constraints -- trust me on this! -- that mean you can only extract so much energy from the wind. You can still disagree with me if you like, but you may as well challenge Messrs Newton, Navier and Stokes on the matter.

    I certainly don't think wind energy is useless. What I am saying is, we need to go about it in the right way, and be prepared to accept that the right way may be orthogonal to popular belief, and quite possibly government policy.

  65. Mark

    Brent Spar

    Well when the oil company built it, they were given a huge wodge of cash in return for agreeing to decommission out of their own pocket the system.

    Then when time came to decommission, they said "we'd rather not". Now they could have said "so here's your money back, adjusted for inflation" (which since investment produces a better return than inflation means they'd still be up on the deal) but they'd rather keep the money.

    So it (for me) wasn't about green issues, it was about a company living up to its promises.

    After all, when we don't live up to our promise to obey the law, we get arrested. Even if the result was for society a good thing.

  66. Mark
    Dead Vulture

    Carbon Man!

    "After all, we are huge polluters in our own right, expelling tonnes of CO2 each year from our fowl mouthes."

    Unless you're made from pure carbon you will be shrinking every breath you take unless you take carbon up in some form. Maybe by eating something with carbon and hydrogen for energy. Carbon-Hyrdogen. Nah, doesn't roll of the tongue. Carbo-Hydro? Nah, sounds like some sort of poncy drink. Carbo hydrates. Yeah, that'll do. Carbohydrates. Eat them and you can use the hydrogen for energy if you can get it away from the carbon. You'll need to expel that carbon, though. It's not really needed. Maybe expel it through the same orifice that you ingested this carbohydrate. Use Oygen because you can get that from the atmosphere too and combine it with the carbon and extract more energy.

    This will mean that on the whole your carbon intake is about equal to your carbon output though.

    Which kind of means you're talking bullshit.

    (PS: Icon: fowl mouthes. You make the connection.)

  67. Anonymous Coward

    Pro-nuclear people, compute this

  68. Anonymous Coward

    "Energy cannot be created or destroyed, just changed"

    So if you take all the energy out the wind by using it to turn your windmill turbines, or you take all the energy from the waves to drive your Salter's Ducks or seabed-mounted ducted fan turbines, what is going to move the clouds inland and give the surfer doods something to play in?

    And isn't it funny how the "projected" global warming figures fail to match up to the actual recorded figures (temperature/sea level changes etc) but it's not because global warming is an exageration, the green lobby says it's because Reality got it wrong and their figures are still correct...

    Computer Model != Real Life - funny how the local weatherman on TV rarely gets it exactly right (even when forecasting for the upcoming six-hour period) but suddenly the green lobby tells us that global warming *must* be real because their (carefully selected) computer models of the whole world for the next hundred years say so - even though Reality has just got it wrong over less than two years...

    School science = "Equipment list, Method followed, Results observed, Conclusions drawn, Repeat to ensure accuracy of results, Write theory out neatly so anyone can understand how you came to your conclusions".

    Green Lobby Science - "Make it up as you go along, Ignore anything that fails to support your "evidence", Publish reports that 'prove' you were right (even if you have to, ahem, 'accurize' the data), Refuse to listen to anyone who disagrees, Rubbish any scientific report that shows you are talking bullsh-1-tango (even if its claims can be demonstrated repeatedly), Get failed 'politicians' to espouse your FACTS! (because *everybody* knows they are all such honest, trustworthy, scientifically-trained and experienced meteorologists, geologists, physicists and biochemists with earned qualifications from major Universities, and everyone knows that real scientists only deal in theories and hypotheses, bullsh-1-Tangoing lobbyists deal only in FACTS!).

    Mine's the lab coat with "Even Newton only did THEORIES" on the back and the rolled-up copy of "The Flat-Earther's Atlas" in the pocket...

  69. Richard Neill

    switch to nuclear?

    There are plenty of schemes that let people switch their electricity supplier to back Wind power. Why can't I back Nuclear? I actually tried this last week, and there is no provider in the UK that will let me vote with my money to back nuclear power! This is daft. The best option so far is apparently "ecotricity", which strongly back wind power, and seem to tolerate nuclear as being "a bit better than coal".

  70. Karl

    Or this ...

  71. Anonymous Coward

    It cannot be beyond the ken of government

    and NGO (green types) to organise the British Isles, so that the mob who want useless wind turbines and bio-fuels could live in one part and the rest of us (who like to have a nice warm globe), can live elsewhere, and not be “interfered” with.

    The government target is 32% of our electricity by 2015, from 7000 generators, built at the rate of one per day (a logistic impossibility).

    However, I hear Scotland is pretty empty, perhaps they could move there, and then they can build an impenetrable fence out of wind turbines, (since they are so efficient) they can connect them together and use any spare leccy that they generate (ha-ha), to electrify this fence and keep us profligate "climate change deniers" out.

    I will just add one more thing, when the wind stops blowing and they have burnt all their food to drive their electric “noddy” cars, I hope they won’t expect us to bail them out, by selling them some of our nasty atomic electricity.

  72. Mark

    RE: "Energy cannot be created or destroyed, just changed"

    Talk about being too dumb to know you're dumb...

    "So if you take all the energy out the wind by using it to turn your windmill turbines, or you take all the energy from the waves to drive your Salter's Ducks or seabed-mounted ducted fan turbines, what is going to move the clouds inland and give the surfer doods something to play in?"

    How much wind energy is there across the UK? Compare that with how much energy we need.

    a few parts in a million of the energy.

    "Computer Model != Real Life "

    Well, how did you find out if nobody says this? Basically, we know model != life. But that doesn't stop the *models* of wing design designing a wing that works, does it?

    And have you done a statistical analysis of how often the weathermen DO get it right? No, you didn't. You just remember when they got it wrong because that's your fluffer, isn't it.

  73. James Anderson
    Thumb Up

    "Since fossil-fuel generation can shut down relatively quickly"

    Not so.

    Large conventional power plants operation consists of:

    Feeding coal into furnaces.

    Boiling water using the heat produced.

    Using the high pressure steam to power turbines.

    (at a constant speed).

    Using the turbines to turn generators.

    Condensing the exhaust steam back to water.

    By design they should adjust to demand almost instantly.

    This means they must burn enough coal to keep the generators

    spinning at the required speeds at all times. Additionally there must be enough high pressure steam available to ramp up the output quickly

    when there is a sudden demand.

    While you can "switch them off" it will take about twenty minutes to turn them on again.

    This is the reason for the "underbidding" at times of low demand. The power stations have to generate a minimum amount of energy, and,

    they have to get rid of it somewhere, or shut down the generators and be unprepared for a peak in demand.

    Wind power is a useful and efficient source of "spare" energy but it will never be the complete answer.

    Given that Greenpeace originated in the "no nukes" campaigns of the 70s it is difficult to see how the Old Hippies could ever bring themselves to support nuclear power no matter how sensible an option it might be.

    The nuclear track record is looking quite good -- one over hyped scare story in the US and one monumental screw up at chernobyl - over a period of 60 years doesnt look too bad, certainly when compared with the loss of life and health problems resulting from coal fueled power stations.

  74. Francis Irving

    Look up the bloody numbers

    Stop pontificating your left or right wing nonsense, and actually read up on the numbers. The book at (free download, published on paper soon) gives detailed options for energy generation in Britain that actually add up.

    You lot need your heads banging together before we ruin our economy, with no long term, militarily secure, thought through energy plan.

  75. Dave


    Actually, Scotland already exports so much power to England that the transmission lines can't take any more, so you are half correct - new lines would need to be built, or at the very least, existing pylons doubled in size!

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Understatement of the week...

    "...Believing another (competitive) government will run it for our benefit and not theirs is kinda brave thinking..."


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