back to article Lights out, Britons told - we're running out of power

Carbon quango The Energy Saving Trust has come up with a new reason for Britons to save energy in the home. Our power stations will soon close, and you'll need to do your bit. That's what one Reg reader discovered, after enquiring about the Trust's calculations on the effectiveness of new low-energy bulbs. "A reduction in …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Simon Ball


    More efficient bulbs may require an increase in the need for space heating, but last time I checked, that was largely provided by gas, which is both cheaper than electricity (per unit of heat), and not facing the same kind of supply gap.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    There are alternatives

    You don't *need* the nasty coal and gas power stations. There are new nuclear power stations planned - but people don't like them either.

    OK, we can burn our waste: create energy and remove landfill, except poeple don't want that either.

    Right, lets use wind power. It's a bit variable because it depends on the weather, but people don't like it. The turbines spoil the view.

    Fuck it. Let's all live in the dark, then.

    There's some tough decisions to be made, and people are going to be pissed off with the decisions. But we need some way of generating electricity. Unless we're going to buy it (more) off the Frenchies.

    Come on Gordo & The Broon-ites, make a decision for once.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time We Put National Interest First

    Simple, don't turn the old power stations off until new sources of power come on stream. No energy gap. Do you think people will really care that much about the pan European dream or climate change if OAPs start freezing to death & people come home from work to dark cold houses?

  4. General A. Annoying




  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time to...

    Dig out the ol' candles the missus loves so much and start using them!

  6. Dave

    What sprang to mind...

    ...was "Bollocks"

    as in, that's my opinion of government policy so far this century.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    gonna be fun

    Gonna be fun, we're going to get to enjoy rolling blackouts! I can't wait.

    The decisions are all to hard for governments in this era of media driven democracy any decision made may make them unpopular so nobody will make a decision.

    Of course the solution should have been, build nuclear power stations, and invest real money in domestic fusion research. Say the billions of pounds we spunked bombing brown people over the past few years.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    We should look into energy from everything...

    ... Wind, landfill (like one community already has - burning the methane from their landfill provides electricity and heat to 4,000 homes), coal, nuclear, anything that is safe, clean, and logical.

    Burning waste is not necessarily bad, but when health concerns come into play, then yes, I wouldn't want a waste incinerator in my backyard either. Active biodigestion and burning the gas, now there's something interesting. However, the smells are what turn people off.

    Stop dithering and get on it.

  9. Paul Rhodes
    Thumb Up

    @AC - There Are Alternatives

    NIMBYism rules KO.

    Anyone think the US would shut down power stations and leave themselves at a disadvantage, or the French put a Euro rule above national interests?

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Nuclear - yes please (reluctantly)

    It's the only way to maintain current energy requirement levels.

    We need to consume less and, critically, breed less.

    People can bury their heads in the sand all they like, but renewables simply can't and won't ever provide enough energy for our requirements while we continue to consume the planet like there's no tomorrow.

  11. Richard

    It's going to be like living the 70s

    Except we don't have as good music

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The culminaton of 11 years of screwing up....

    turns out it's our fault!

    They've done the same with roads. I think they went along these lines "We can't manage the transport system, so let's tell people it's there fault for using it too much/in the wrong way".

    Now the fact that they've had plenty of time to replace power stations on an EU directive they signed up to (it wasn't forced on us) turns ot to be our fault too.

    PS. I think Gas is facing a supply gap in that each winter there's some political problem over supply and threats of shortages.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Enough of this eco-bollocks!

    Stop building these damn windmills and start building some proper power stations for goodness sake, its not so f**cking hard!

  14. Anonymous Coward

    So that's why...

    Low-energy lightbulbs are being flogged in the supermarkets for a couple of pence each. It's not that they want us to lower our energy bills, it's to reduce the load on the grid.

  15. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    This is news?

    We've known about this for at least the past 5 years, the government has known , the tories have known as well yet nothing is done

    And more than likely, nothing will be done until the power trips out somewhere and the resulting surges take down the national grid.

    Then everyone can have a nice inquiry as to what went wrong and why so many ppl froze to death or died in the tube system panics.

    Note if the will and courage was there in our so called 'leaders' there would be no power gap as we could easily build new nuclear power stations within the next 5 years( thats 4 months to build, 4 months to evict the direct action protestors and 4 yrs 4 months for the planning inquiry/appeals )

    Flames... because thats what we'll be cooking and lighting with....

  16. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Britain's like Iceland...

    Two countries, with appalling weather in the North Atlantic. English is spoken in both - although arguably better in Iceland. The economy in each country has been frankly buggered. But Iceland's more appealing because at least they can keep the lights on.

    And you can buy delicious free-range organic whale.

  17. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Down

    Power cuts starting already

    I live about 3 miles just north of Enfield, North London and I have had several power cuts within the last 6 months some lasting a few minutes, one that went on for over 7 hours. My road lost power then about 2 days later a road about 800 yards away lost power for an hour. Something is not quite right out their in the grid.

    I did a quick straw poll around my office and found that at least 75% of the people I asked never turn their machines off. I found that bizarre! I always shut my machines down, except my webserver, more than anything to make sure the curtains don't go up in smoke. You can save a few quid, a couple of 500w power supplies running half the time they normally would, soon makes a little dent in your bills and might save a few penguins.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Keeping us in the dark...


  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @There are alternatives

    Tough decisions are needed but this government does not seem to be able to make them unless it is in order to decrease out freedoms....

    ...besides without power paedo's can't use the internet anymore, thankfully the children will all be saved by Super Jaqui.

  20. Cameron Colley

    Wow! A wrecked economy and no power!

    Is Gordon to play the bagpipes while this country [metaphorically] burns?

    RE:Time We Put National Interest First

    I couldn't agree more -- the ability of the population of this country to keep warm and stay productive should outweigh any European leanings. Still, with our economy the way it is we'll probably be kicked out of the EU for becoming a second-world country.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Re:There are alternatives

    Absolutely. I wish someone would tell these wankers:

    Tossers who are quite happy to cook, wash, watch TV, etc using electricity generated by a coal / gas / nuclear power station that's blighting someone's life, as long as its not theirs.

    Fecking NIMBY arsewipes!

  22. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another reason to turn out the lights

    "But should the public turn out the lights because of the failure of political leadership?"

    Yes, because they need the money to pay the taxes to cover the financial commitments entered into by the political leadership.

    You lot should stop worrying about heating and invade someplace tropical that has more than just sand and ungrateful natives. Look at how the Aussies turned out - it can't be all bad.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another disaster from Mr Blair

    what a useless man.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC - There are alternatives

    The point about nuclear power is that the planned stations will not be online by the time the existing "dirty" stations are shut down. Given that had a 14 year window in which to get the nukes on line this is inexcusable.

    Burning waste. Sorry no good under the EU rules, it's not "carbon neutral".

    Wind? Whether people like the view or not it is not a practical source of power. When it's windy it's great, but when it's not you need an alternative. Of the clean alternatives nuclear is too slow to come online to cover the shortage; we simply don't have the geography for sufficient pumped storage and even if we did we don't have the time to build sufficient capacity; we don't have the gography for hydro; tidal generation is interesting, predictable and clean, but again we don't have time to build sufficient capacity and nobody has researched the environmental impact; wave is too variable and tends to vary in synch with the wind to some extent; the variation in solar power is somewhat variable and you would need storage for the times when it's offline (long cold nights without electricity anybody).

    Of course there are countries with much more reliable sources of solar, wind, wave and hydro power. So a world market in electricity would seem like a good idea. Building solar plants in hot dry countries near the equator and laying cables to client countries would seem like a good idea. Except the world doesn't like the idea much. A lot of countries don't like the power the once poor arab nations gained when they struck oil, if those countries or any others were to gain power and control through their abundance of solar power certain countries wouldn't like it.

  26. Colin Millar

    Woodhuysen as bad as Blair

    Just another political angle grinder

    Whinging that the public shouldn't have to pay the price for a politicians cock-up makes him just another waste of space - if the power stations aren't outputting enough it will be our lights that won't work while he and some Nulab are trading insults.

    One of the major problems with the whole energy/climate/environment debate is its stuffed full of people who know nothing but are convinced they are right anyway.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    I'm not. Anyone with half a brain realised this about 5 years ago. The problem is you don't get re-elected if you do unpopular things (like nuclear power).

  28. Anonymous Coward

    I'll switch...

    ... to energy efficient light bulbs when they make them dimmable, and fit in a small screw cap fitting, and make them the same colour temperature as tungsten lamps, and remove the 'warm up' time, and until then, they can get stuffed.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Look at the "bright" side

    The last one out need not turn off the lights!

    Mine's the flickering one - now you see it, now you don't...

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Supply goes down.

    Price goes up.

    Demand goes down. *

    Problem solved.

    * Yes, yes, largely because old die in the freezing wastelands of the North, but the tories will be in by then and they'll cop the flack.

  31. Adam Salisbury

    Politics at it's worst

    Cheers Gordo you muppet, he's made hugely unrealistic carbon emission targets to meet and of course not given a moments thought as to how they're going to acheive them and, despite the fact he must know his party's days are numbered, still won't risking upsetting anyone with new builds...well it's simple, landfill incinerators whether the locals bitch or not, gas powered leccy generators on all sewage treatment plants (the one at Slough generates enough to power for the site and sell a bit back to the Grid) and nuclear power stations as they're now, by virtue of CO2 emissions levels the cleanest of the fossil fuels left. As for the stupid quangos, sack whole lot of em and dissapate a majorsourcce of useless, destructive hot air.

    Mine's the one with "Generating Renewable Energy From Incinerating Politicians" in the pocket

  32. John Lawton

    What about during the summer

    When the weather is warmer, we certainly don't need the heat gain offered by incandescent lighting, so the energy saving from using efficient lighting is real.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Re: There are alternatives

    "But we need some way of generating electricity. Unless we're going to buy it (more) off the Frenchies."

    According to Wikipedia's "Energy use and conservation in the United Kingdom" article, gas is the top fuel for native electricity generation, edging out coal. So Britain is effectively buying the means to generate electricity from Norway - a country whose own electrical power needs are largely met by renewables.

    There are alternatives if the average Britard can be bothered to vote, and not to vote for Labour again because every eligible pig-ignorant male in their family tree (and their mates at the pub) did so.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    "gas ... not facing the same kind of supply gap"

    "gas ... not facing the same kind of supply gap"

    What planet are you on? Not the same one as most of us.

    We're so desperate for gas in the UK that we're importing huge quantities of it from "axis of evil" countries, not just Russia but Libya (and neighbours) too, because we've basically exhausted our own reserves.

    Part of an answer could be to produce hydrogen in places where solar hydrogen production is practical and ship it (liquefied, like we already do with natural gas) to run power stations (and other heavy gas users) in the UK. Hey look, power stations and other huge energy users with near-zero carbon emissions.

    Having done that, we can still use what little oil and natural gas we still have, as essential feedstocks for the petrochemical-based industries (everything from agricultural fertilisers to plastics and pharmaceuticals).

    Imported H2 probably won't replace natural gas directly for small scale (domestic/SME use), but if you combined some of the carbon emissions we're trying to cut down (or some coal that people seem reluctant to burn) on with some imported H2, you could end up with CH4, which fortunately is natural gas by another name, which you could then pump down the gas mains.

    Where's the problem with that (other than getting market forces to invest now in something that won't be profitable for more than three years).

    Flame, obviously. Tell Sid he used to own it.

  35. Graham Marsden

    Will the last energy company to leave the UK...

    ... please turn out the lights!

  36. andy gibson

    PC World

    Maybe they should consider turning off the huge billboard lights, the internal store lights and even the fucking computers that they leave on when they close.

  37. The BigYin
    Thumb Down

    How about...

    ...all the council offices, DVLA etc turn THEIR lights out first? How about Westminster turns its lights out? How about MPs put their money where their mouth is?

    How about leading by example for once?

  38. Tom Paine Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Uncanny correlation

    I've noticed that people who use the term "New Labour" (or more frequently 'nu-labour', for some reason) have a high correlation with mindless tossers. The phrase seems to be associated with Daily Mail-reading little-englanders, droning on about "political correctness gone mad", "healthansafety" (as if unhealthy & unsafe stuff were somehow more patriotic) and bewailing the latest blow against the precious, precious bourgeoise. ("Oh noes! House prices are falling!!! Riff-raff will be able to buy houses, and we won't be able to fund Araminta and Tarquin's school fees and fit in that two week break in the Seychelles this year, or even buy a new SUV!!!")

    "New Labour" as a marketing tag was a legacy of the early Blair years; even he stopped using it towards the end of his regime, and somehow I can't imagine Brown using it without pausing to hawk up a big glob of mucus in tribute to "Tony's leadership". Those with an interest in politics and current affairs may recall this speech Brown gave at the party conference in 2003:

    ...the main point of which was that he pointedly, and repeatedly, referred to "Labour" rather than "New Labour". That was more than five years ago, chaps, pull yourselves together!

    (Disclaimer - I am in no sense at all a supporter of the Labour party or the current government, although - let's face it - Cameron's shower of chinless toffs are going to screw things up even more comprehensively when they get their turn next year.)

    Mine's the one with the No2ID lapel badge.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    Where is the incentive?

    New Labia now have no incentive to fix problems like this. Since they will be out of power by mid 2010, the more problems they can leave stored up for the incoming government the better for them. They've already spent everything that can be spent for the next 100 years. Made sure the country has insufficient power. Increased the bureaucracy of government by massively increasing its size (and cost) without actually doing anything useful.

    A lot of people who lived in the 80s hated Thatcher. What she did was absolutely essential for the country to survive after the last Labour shower screwed up everything. The next leader of the country has the same problem. Fixing the problem Labour have created will be unpopular and painful, but absolutely essential if Britain isn't to become a third world country.

    Remember of course that "no boom and bust" Brown actually saw this coming. Why do you think that he pressured Blair so much to go earlier than he intended? It was simply that he didn't want to be in the Treasury when the disaster hit since that would mean he would never win a leadership election after the departure of Blair. Brown wanted to secure his place in the history books. Of course the place he has secured is the most disastrous leader the country has had since Chamberlain. He will be remembered as a weak and incompetent leader who pushed Britain nearer the abyss than any leader before.

  40. Nic Brough


    They're bleating about low-energy bulbs making up 20% of our domestic usage. I'm not too worried about the exact effects of that here (cos the writer and other comments have already made my points)

    But what about the rest?

    The office I work in burns more electricity lighting the building overnight when it's empty than my house lights would burn if I left them on for a year.

    There are shops throughout my town centre lit 24/7.

    One set of (ignored and boring) Christmas lights in my town burns the same as my entire house including the Wii, the telly and the cat warming mat.

    Advertising hoardings are back lit 24/7.

    There are street lights outside my house firing huge amounts of photons straight up instead of at the road and pavements (reflectors anyone?)

    There are escalators in my shopping centre running for 10-12 hours a day, ferrying people with perfectly good legs down stairs (up, I can see, for the infirm, but the handful who can't do down can take a lift), and that helps with our obesity problems... not.

    Basically, I'm sick of the "go green at home" message - I've done my bit, now please go hassle people who can really make a difference.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    Crash McIdiot wants us all in Electric cars by 2012

    Powered by what exactly?

    What a complete Hoon he is.

  42. Michael Habel Silver badge

    Re: There are alternatives

    Right, lets use wind power. It's a bit variable because it depends on the weather, but people don't like it. The turbines spoil the view.

    You forgot to mention that they also kill Birds too...

    So that's a whole other group of People upset w/those Turbines

    Sitting in the dark (w/luck w/some Candle Light), is what these Tards are dreaming of.

    Save that they'd [i.e. Health & Safety Nuts] would deem the "Candle Light" to be to great a fire risk to be use by the great unwashed masses.

    Flame on for Candle Power

  43. Simon Painter

    Poor old Gordo

    He shouldn't have bottled the election. If he'd called a snap election he might have actually won it, either that or been remembered as a good chancellor and an OK PM. Unfortunately while Tony is out there messing around in the Middle East he is left with the aftermath of a decade of making Tony look good.

    Credit crunch - direct result of policies to defer a recession in 2001.

    Energy crisis - direct result of not building any more power stations because they might be a little unpopular

    Massive government debt - direct result of increased public spending and lowered taxes. Blowing a wad on the credit card without thinking of the repayments.

    Can we get some grown ups in charge please?

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The government ...

    ... acts on pressure from people. PEOPLE didn't want the nuclear stations, so the gov said "ok .. ok.., we will do what you want", to stop people complaining. Now people are complaining because they did what was asked of them!

  45. Anonymous Coward

    Come on Reg

    This is ancient news, the looming energy gap has been forecast for ages and fart knocker wind turbines isn't going to cut the mustard or any other eco-power as it's too unpredictable for supply.

    Strapping dynamos to all those idiots on bikes in gyms isn't going to work either !

    Fast breeder nuclear power ?

    Yes please or we freeze !

    Getting my coat as I will need it soon.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ The BigYin Re: Lead by example

    I think the term the McBroonies use is "Do as I say, Dont do as I do".

    If we ever got a politician in that lead by example, the rest would have him up on a cross.

  47. This post has been deleted by its author

  48. General A. Annoying

    MP's 'Leading by example'

    They've been doing that since the dawn of politics!

    The Energy Saving Trust.

    Now THERE'S an oxymoron.

  49. MJI Silver badge

    Keep them running

    Easy answer - keep the power stations running, if we need the power what can the EU do?

    Shutting down a power station when we are already at a crisis point is a completely daft idea.

    Mind you so are a lot of ideas!

    Flame for the boilers.

  50. SmokeyMcPotHead

    The Plague...

    Me thinks we're back to our global over-population problem again. Perhaps, just perhaps, the human race has reached plague proportions...too many people and not enough resources to go round.

  51. Steve Mason

    no shit sherlock

    I expect this sort of thing to start happening the world over. Fact is, there is a GLOBAL energy shortage as oil reserves dry up.

    Global Warming is a huge fucking cover up getting us to lower our energy usage before we all run out. Now I'm not saying we shouldn't be more efficient and wasting leccy is actually a bad thing (tm) but at least be honest about it and the sheeple might take more notice than producing bad science to back your claims - only to be disproved / countered 2 weeks later when some other boffin notices the glaring holes in your THEORY!

    It's nuke or nothing I'm afraid, I just hope against hope that we can get a fusion reactor (or 20) online and the quangos don't stick their big feet in because it's not "profitable" enough.

  52. Jolyon Ralph

    9th most useless quango?

    "The Trust was named as the 9th most useless quango in 2005 - along with the Potato Council."

    Joint 9th place?

  53. Tom

    @Paul Rhodes

    Under Reagan or either Bush, you'd be right. But last go round we put a wanker in charge who is intent on not merely catching up to you guys on stifling our energy output, but getting there ahead of you guys. Assuming of course he doesn't sufficiently encourage the Iranians to nuke us before he wins the race to energy failure. Damned fools at the top of our government now make your Gordy look positively competent.

  54. Ash

    @"The culminaton of 11 years of screwing up...."

    We voted them in. THREE TIMES.

    It is our fault.

  55. Anonymous Coward


    Maybe they hold the answer and we should look to them to fund some giant heat-pipe/straw we can poke into the sun?!?

    Actually, now I think about it I may have a solution...all be it inspired from the Matrix. What problems do we face in the UK:

    - overcrowded prisons

    - overburdened benefits system

    - elongated lifespan

    So my theory is this, for all prisoners doomed to die in jail we place them in a small capsule just like in the matrix and use them as batteries...see where I am going with this?? yes...

    Next of course are the layabouts, instead of them gettign benefits for doing odd-jobs like filling all the fucking potholes in on my estate they get to sit and watch Jeremy Kyle...plug them in too!

    Then finally the aging population, well once retired it isn't like they offer any more ROI (at least not for the government), most of them are just sat in a home all day shitting themselves anyway...plug them in!

    Problem solved...anyone with me? No?! oh...

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    this is the first time

    that I've seen *any* figure published on what proportion of ones energy bill goes on lighting. I'm all for cleaner and less wasteful energy use, but of late I've become very sceptical about "green solutions", specifically the change to CFL bulbs (and, indeed, the moves to make carbon filament bulbs illegal). I'm happy to have finally come across some estimate of how much the normal bulbs consume, but it really begs the question of what the other 80% of leccy bills goes on, and why aren't we focusing on the 80% rather than the 20%?

    Of course, I'm also sceptical about how energy consumption breaks down between domestic and commercial use. Who are the real energy hogs, in other words? Maybe my scepticism is misplaced, and maybe domestic users are really to blame, and maybe lightbulbs are the best way to reduce that burden. But I must say that any "green" spokesman I've heard has done a piss-poor job of backing up their claims with actual, solid statistics. As a Parthian shot, I'll just suggest that this is because these quangos and politicos are, themselves, powered by hot air.

  57. michael

    good read on this topic

    I agree some hard decisaions need to me made but form personnel experience on power plants (I have lived near nuclear and wind and gas and coal) the one that produced the least effect on me was the nuclar and the one that almost ruined pepols life was the wind (have you ever tryed to work wiht the sun shining thought wind turbines the flickering is a nightmare)

  58. Anthony Mark

    John Lawton

    But in the Summer the nights are much shorter and brighter so you use less artificial light anyway.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bingeing Beer-drinking surrender monkeys.

    We already let the French run the power stations, and sell us power. We'll just end up letting them have more & more control, then one day...

    1558 the English surrendered Calais to the French

    2058 the English surrended England to the French.

    Plus ça change...

  60. Richard
    Thumb Down

    Stupid inefficient businesses

    You can't tell me that the best way to make savings is to make people switch to energy saving lightbulbs when you see shops and office lights left on overnight (which aren't energy efficient) and all day, they've got their air conditioning on. My office has its air conditioning on all year round.. Why? Because it gets too hot because all the computers are left on 24/7/365. Yet it's the general public, not the businesses causing the shortages. Hmmm

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's get Nuclear

    and no one vote in these incompetent self serving jack asses again.

    Labour the party that does anything but.

  62. Andus McCoatover

    Effing Big Capacitor.

    That's what we need. A big, gimormous fuc*koff capacitor to store the energy.

    Like a mountain lake. Scotland's got a few. So has Wales. (England's lake district's maybe a bit low, particularly in the lawn hosing season)

    Then, pump the intermittent wind/wave/bovine fart/solar power into it using water, and use turbines on the downflow §.

    There. That wasn't hard, was it?

    I'm glad I left school at 15. Idiots wouldn't try to tell me how to think if I went to University.

    § I think it's already in operation...

  63. Andy Livingstone

    Go for the correct targets, please.


    You are running out of money and running out of votes. Turn yourselves off to save the country.

  64. This post has been deleted by its author

  65. Stef

    What's the problem?

    Sorry, what's the problem? These are the same guys who are telling us that we are going to be roasting hot with runaway global warming in a couple of years. We won't need to heat our homes any more. All the power we save on heating our homes can be used to light them.

    The increased CO2, heat, and precipitation will boost the plant-life, so we can feed the hungry and burn the rest of the crop as fuel (bio-diesel).

    So you see, we are heading for a virtual utopia.

  66. Stevie Silver badge


    But...where will the people of Britain charge their brand new Morris EMFs or Riley Zaps?

    Damn! This "green" thing is harder than it looks.

  67. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Dead Vulture

    re: EU bashing

    The EU is not responsible for the quango or the government's inability to plan for reduced energy consumption. What qualifications does Peter Lilley, MP have to comment on the subject?

    Like many things (air, water) it is difficult to make energy a purely national issue and as the UK is running out of everything but coal and is, therefore, dependent upon energy imports of one form or another. What the EU has recognised, at least The Economist seems prepared to acknowledge it, is that the free market is one of the best ways to tackle climate change. This is why liberalisation of energy distribution is being pursued, er, so energetically as it will encourage greater efficiency in both supply and demand. As Amory Lovins has argued for over twenty years: reducing consumption is cheapest way to increase supply.

    As for "energy saving" lightbulbs I wish there were reclassified as "light-saving" ones as they rely largely on an optical illusion. Plus the current generation of mercuy-soaked fluroescent tubes is likely to be superseded by LED based ones.

    @El Reg - where's the European icon for this wine,beer&slivovice-swilling, garlic-chewing Euro-lover?

  68. A

    Energy Saving Trust

    I asked a similar question to the person replied to in the article, and I had my reply in less than 24hrs.

    Apparently the reason we should use energy saving bulbs is that using electricity is a less efficient method of space heating than gas, they claimed that it's 2.7x more carbon intensive and 3.5x more expensive to heat your home using electricity. Those seem like reasonably good reasons to me!

    My personal take on the idea of new nuclear stations is a big no thanks; if you let private companies build and operate it, you can pretty much bet that they'll choose the cheapest quote and the cheapest staff to operate it. Even if you can design a 100% safe nuclear plant, having corners cut whilst it's built and when it's being operated greatly increases the accident risk IMO. Also I know exactly what'll happen when those new plants come up for de-comissioning; the company that made the obscene profits from the operation phase will suddenly go bankrupt, leaving us, the taxpayer, to foot the bill as usual.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will someone please think of the children.

    It's all for them you know.

  70. ian

    @Paul Rhodes 12:33 GMT

    " Anyone think the US would shut down power stations and leave themselves at a disadvantage.."

    Why yes, yes I do think they would. In fact they did. It was done by Enron, and lead to rolling blackouts and hugely expensive 'leccy. And (surprise!) it was done during a conservative, pro-business, anti-regulation government.

    Piratical free enterprise forever! Arrr!

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New Labour

    > "New Labour" as a marketing tag was a legacy of the early Blair years

    But he didn't go back to the sort of traditional Labour policies we might have expected from John Smith when he stopped using it, and he remained a smarmy git.

  72. Alan Fisher

    ah well

    We HAVE brought this upon ourselves despite what anyone might say. Ok not directly but very much indirectly. The clean energy technology is at least 40 years but it was never developed or taken seriously because of the oil company monopoly and the fact people never bothered to challenge we have everyone panicking and trying to develop the technology in a hurry when we could have had fully functioning cheap technology years ago, without all of these foreseen problems.

    I dispair at the stubborness and shortsightedness of the human race!

  73. Toastan Buttar

    Energy Saving Lightbulbs

    I like 'em because you only have to replace them every couple of years rather than every couple of months like we used to get out of your typical Asda filament jobs.

    But in terms of saving energy ? Pissing in the wind, mate ! If we did one less washing load and one less tumble drier load and one less use of the electric fan oven each week, I'm sure that'd dwarf any savings we got from using efficient bulbs.

  74. Doug Glass

    @Anonymous Coward: Not Simple

    As a recent retiree of 32 years in the commercial power industry (USofA), I can assure you it's not that simple. Power plants age rapidly, require enormous amounts of money for maintenance and repair, and environmental legislation is making running them less and less profitable. Yes, the companies are there to generate a profit. If you want only government run plants, not-for-ptofit plants well, then you still have the funding problem and other problems brought about by them being run by the govern-ment.

    A power plant is not like a car. They run 24/7 and the idea of just keep running them is foolish, ill conceived, and points to a position of nothing short of gross ignorance.

    The problem you blokes have is the same the rest of the world has: everybody wants the power but nobody wants to pay the price and God forbid they be built near me!

    The solution is to have had more plants in the pipeline starting 20 years ago. That didn't happen so here we are. But if you believe you have the solution I encourage you to call the power company of your choice and offer your services. I'm sure they'll be very open to you solving all their supply problems.

    <end of thread>

  75. Luther Blissett

    Another technological solution

    Lamppost and rope.

  76. Anonymous Coward

    Greentards won't be happy

    Until we're all living back in caves and the carbon credits have transferred what little we had into someone else's hands.

    Mike Richards - And you can buy delicious free-range organic whale.

    Glad I had finished lunch when i read that or it would have been all over the sceen.

    Now, the only one we haven't heard from on this is the OMFG WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF URANIUM for Uranus (ok, i did that on purpose) person. No, we're not out; yes, we can make more fissionable material. Yes, if they are safely designed and run they're quite reliable technology no matter who doesn't want them in their backyard. Eventually it will come down to the whingers wanting their 'leccy so you KNOW something will be done. the real question is: will it be done right, in a timely manner, and at a proper cost. (and yes, that's just one question).

  77. Hayden Clark

    Usual target-stuffing

    The reason why the electricity suppliers have been sending us CFL lightbulbs is it's the cheapest way ot meet the Govt "energy saving" targets. They are *supposed* to be paying for loft and cavity wall insulation, but the bulbs are cheaper.

    So far, every man, woman and child in the UK has two free CFL bulbs.

  78. N Silver badge

    Typical Labour

    Do stuff all until its too late

    foot with gaping hole

  79. Cameron Colley


    _WE_ didn't do anything -- I have never voted for this bunch of criminals and nor, as far as I know, have any of my friends and family.

    Unfortunately a bunch of easily duped fucktards, who seem to make up the majority of the population, did -- and now we have to suffer along with them.

  80. Kia Foster

    Time to get out of.....

    Europe. I can see NOTHING at all that Europe has done for us and I think that we should now seriously consider getting out and staying as we were before, free from Europe.

    It surely could not be worse ,and in fact may be much better.

    For a start ,we should not be shutting down ANY power stations until Europe explains how

    it is going to help the UK avoid such power shortages. Who is up for a demonstration

    near Parliament ?

  81. A J Stiles

    Energy Saving Bulbs

    I started replacing filament bulbs with compact fluorescents in 1996, when they were expensive to buy and took awhile to reach full brightness. I even remember listening to the 1998 World Cup by candlelight, because the early CFLs also used to interfere with MW radio.

    The last time I visited my mother's house, she had a light fixture in her kitchen with four 35W Halogen bulbs. That's as much electricity for one room as the whole of my freaking house!

    Filament bulbs *need* to be banned. They truly are an idea whose time has been and gone.

    Oh, and AC: Burning rubbish to generate electricity *is* (almost) carbon-neutral since it's (mostly) not fossil fuel derived; the exception being mixed plastics such as those nasty "fake foil" (aluminised polyester) crisp packets. The majority of burnable waste is either plant matter (whose carbon originally came from CO2 in the atmosphere, which was broken down as the plant grew) or animal matter (whose carbon originally came from plants, and quite recently so). The opposition to it comes *not* from Europe (where it's actually a fairly widespread practice; the EU would be well in favour of us burning more rubbish, as long as we did something useful with the heat liberated like use it for generating electricity or heating nearby homes and factories as opposed to sticking it straight up a chimney) but from idiots who basically don't understand science.

  82. ratfox Silver badge

    CFL bulbs and heating

    There is an actual argument for using CFL bulbs and cranking up the heating.

    Electricity is a "high-quality" energy, which is produced by burning coal far away,

    producing steam, using turbines to produce electricity, which is brought all the way

    to your house. You lose an appreciable portion of the power in the process. Using

    that electricity to heat up the house via lamps is rather inefficient, with comparison

    to using a gas heater.

    But of course, the amount of energy saved is tiny.

  83. MarkJ

    Turn them off

    Just which politician wouldn't like to ride the wave of proposing that companies using energy for non essentials out of hours should be heavily taxed? Especially banks.

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @I'll switch

    You can already get dimmable*, small screw, white-light balanced CFL's and the start up times for newer bulbs are minimal. Check out Megaman bulbs

    *except for remote or electronic dimmers

  85. Kia Foster
    Jobs Halo

    BERR's answer

    This is the page that BERR referred to to answer the question how they are going to

    fill the gap. Can anyone see the answer, I cannot;

  86. PT


    @AC 13:25: "A lot of people who lived in the 80s hated Thatcher."

    I not only hated Thatcher, I still do. It's because of her that I left the UK, never to return. In fact, I plan a 3 day drunken celebration when she eventually dies. You didn't live through the 80s? Or maybe you were a child. You obviously don't remember how she deliberately put Britain into an economic crisis similar to the one we're in today by jacking interest rates to 18%, driving the Pound about twice as high as its natural level and holding it there for two years. You don't remember that mortgage payments tripled over six months, that prices crashed, that people were walking away and abandoning their houses. You don't remember how manufacturing crashed because no business would borrow for new equipment in the UK, and nobody would buy our exports because of the exchange rate. You clearly don't remember the relief in the country when her own party sacked her and replaced her with a Tory version of Gordon Brown, only more useless, so useless that even the Sun turned against the Tories.

    If you knew any of that, you'd know who to blame for having a radical Labour government these past years.

  87. Stewart Haywood

    The Best Way

    to cut back on carbon output is sign up to get natural gas from Russia. That's what the rest of the EU has done.

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    And this is news?

    I have on about this for years. I remember the last time the Government failed to keep the lights on. They didn't have power for long either.

  89. Youngdog

    This country is a joke

    Our lives are ruled by thieves and liars. The punchline? We just roll over and take it. Our Continental Cousins would have started burning sheep by now and yet all we do is grumble weakly in between general elections that we probably won't vote in. I've always enjoyed visiting The Reg and reading Private Eye but lately I haven't been laughing as much. The Government works for the public. The Police work for the public. Terrorism and Financial Meltdowns are just a smokescreen for the biggest act of non-consensual group sodomy ever witnessed in history. Our lives and our country have been sold out by yes-men to a gang of greedy sociopaths. DNA databases, Green taxes, anti-terror laws - soon it will be mass unemployment and power cuts. I just hope it is very long, hot summer.

    Mines the one with the New Model Army album in the pocket

  90. SinisterDexter

    Business-class lighting...

    I appreciate the need for the great unwashed to be aware and responsible for their power consumption, but it pisses me off that the message doesn't seem to be filtering through to the real power guzzlers - businesses.

    A recent trip to my local VW dealer demonstrated disregard for any green agenda VW profess to have, with a showroom that was floodlit during broad daylight even though the vast expanse of exterior glass allowed plenty of good ol' natural in.

    The truth is businesses like this continue like everything's fine, la la la, while the public are being told to tighten belts and turn lights off. The only way for a nations power needs to be slimmed down is for businesses to get on board, otherwise it won't matter how many punters turn the bog light off at night...

  91. Anonymous Coward

    Thanks Gov!

    I've been reading about this for a while - i believe we are almost in the situation now as the grid only just supplies enough for peak hours.

    The problem I have is Gordon and Tony fucked up and nether came up with any real alternatives. Reneables are great but we need nuclear. Eon just made a new "green" gas station (a few months back) so we could in theory convert stations but we would have a cross-over gap (we cannot just turn the stations off now to convert them to "green" gas).

    We rely on gas from Norway (I believe Brtain doesn't use Russian gas). I believe we could buy energy from France (nuclear energy should be cheap though not as cheap as coal/gas). We import coal from other countries (Thatcher made sure to that in the 1980's).

    I can't wait until the next election as this will possibly be when the crisis is looming (knocking on the door).

    BTW local councils are being forced to look into energy efficiency - can I go into detail if you wish?

    Anon as I work in a council and I like my job (well - like is too strong a word but in these times and all).

  92. Anonymous Coward

    power degeneration strategy

    I dont think private companies like E.On will have any choice about closing down power stations under EU direction, so the government-of-the-day-when-it-hits-the-fan will have to either get a late opt-out or else acquire (buy or nationalise) the relevant stations before they're closed. So, probably end up swapping this new opt-out for one of the existing ones.

  93. Anonymous Coward


    Someone wrote that Thatcher did what was necessary to save this country. Actually, Thatcher set this country up for the economic crisis it is now facing. Thatcher started the massive de-industrialisation of Britain, sending manufacturing abroad and forcing this country to rely heavily on the financial industry (it was Thatcher and Reagan who began transforming the global financial system so that massive speculation - rather than investment! - could take place) - we are now reaping what she sowed back then.

    Thatcher was happy to create unemployment and homelessness, while enacting costly tax cuts. The result of that was hundreds of billions of pounds that this country could have had as a sovereign wealth fund. North Sea oil revenues are what saved this country in the 1980s, and are what kept the Conservatives in power.

    Under Thatcher we also experienced high interest rates.

    "New Labour" was the answer to Thatcher because too many voters were enamoured with Thatcher's selfish individualism, not realizing it was oil revenues that permitted this selfishness to gain traction in the first place. "New Labour" embraced Thatcher's policies, continued them, and we are now seeing the result.

    If the Tories win power again, don't kid yourself this country will be "rescued" - things will get very nasty and ugly, indeed. Things will be very different this time around.

  94. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Bring back the three day week

    Sorry.... what was that .... most of our elected and none elected representatives are already on it???

    Paris because she likes a long one most mornings ............... lie in stupid!

  95. Anonymous Coward

    Screwed !

    Let's face it we're all screwed anyway. The sensible thing would be to build new more efficient power stations with the part of the design specification that they have to be easy to dismantle AS WELL. Pay people to return glass & plastic bottles by there being a deposit on them like in the old days. Enforce laws on packaging whereby manufacturers & retailers have make their packaging minimal AND easy to recycle. Replace plastic bags with paper bags. Allow people to drop their rubbish off with the council instead of sending them away because they use a trailer & not a saloon car. Use all those Government & business computers that are left on overnight or long enough to start the screen saver to run simulations & nationally / socially relevant equations which can advance British energy saving, renewable s, farming, emit ions, electronics & power supply sciences. Remove the passport Tag em' & make them live in a council house on benefit in Consett, any M.D. of a power company who puts their own interest above that of the National Good. Foreign M.D's, issue an Iranian type fatwah against them for the murder of all the old people that die of exposure in the winters they were in charge.

    Lower the price of Beer so everyone can huddle up in the Local Pub instead of heating their house & having to distil their own potato Vodka on their back yard. Make it a condition of employment for all politicians & senior Civil Servants to have to travel by Public Bus.

    Non of this will happen though, it's easier to blame joe public for not switching his landing light off because he's afraid of being burgled while he's out.

  96. Maurice Shakeshaft

    Just a couple of points if they haven't been made already.

    E-ON and the rest have European interests and, if they know what's good for them, they wont mess with a Brussels directive..... So, We will have power cuts unless we:

    Nationalise them? Tell the NewLecGen to ignore the directive. Hmmm... high risk...... Nahhh

    Declare the stations to be "less than 50MW" and get round the directive.... Silly... Nahhh...

    Build loads of 49.5 MW coal units, restart the mines, get round the directive...... Nahhh....

    Nuclear - NFW! Bad for so many reasons - no good points.

    Large scale Wind farms. Hmmm... Only if coupled with peak demand compressed gas storage.

    Do loads of Eco stuff with waste & landfill and generate methane. Hmm.. EU Subsidy + cash&time...

    Barrages & Tidal lagoons. Yes please! Couple with peak demand compressed gas storage.

    Wave Power. Yes please. Couple with peak demand compressed gas storage.

    Coke fired power stations. Possible, if market can be found for Coking hydrocarbons - I think so!

    None of this is difficult to do and it can be done quickly if needs be. We have the Scientists, Engineers and the workforce to do it. Sadly, we've put so much into banks recently Power prices will have to rise significantly for the private sector to get the necessary ROI on to get them to make the investment. Did I hear someone say inflation....

    The political questions are - Can we afford the price rise/inflation and can we afford the wait!?

  97. Unlimited

    Nuclear and UK national interest

    Hey, um, how many uranium mines do you guys in the UK have? If it's zero, and you rely on nuclear, then another country has still got you by the short and curlies?

  98. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ David England 17/3/2009 17:10

    What do you mean dimmable.. except for electronic dimmers?

    Just how do you dim a fillament light bulb without changing the firing angle with a triac or thrysistor, i.e with some electronics?

    Okay, you could synthesise a lower voltage using PWM, but that level of sophistication is usually reserved for inverter drives for industrial induction motors. It will not be cost effective for domestic lighting. An it still uses electronics.

    Assuming it is domestic UK 50 Hz 230V mains, and having a big transformer (by comparison to a light switch) is not an option?

  99. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    make flats efficient!

    I, like a vast number of people these days, live in rented accommodation* I have electric water heating, masses and masses of halogen lights, electric heaters, and an electric cooker. Most modern flats and houses are the same. I have no choice in the matter as i'm not allowed to change anything.

    I barely ever use the lights, as the halogens make it look like a showroom, instead i tend to use nice renewable** candles. i don't live on the ground floor so i don't really need the heaters, i have convenient neighbours below providing heating for me. The majority of my electricity bill comes from keeping masses of water hot, that i use a fraction of daily, and cooking meals. A heat on demand gas boiler and a gas cooker would reduce my energy bills stupidly.

    Make sure all the newly built 'showroom' flats are energy efficient, and have appropriate energy sources, as the way we're going these are going to be built in droves and a few minor changes could make them need next to no power at all.

    *yup, Gordon again, not doing anything to keep housing affordable when the prices started getting stupid.

    **very renewable, only the cheap and nasty candles are made with paraffin wax, decent ones are made with tallow or stearin, burn cleanly, last ages, and give great light :)

  100. This post has been deleted by its author

  101. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Easy solution

    Just start building new nuclear power now. Unlike coal, oil or gas, they produce no pollution and do not run on fossil fuels. Unlike windmills, they actually produce a decent amount of energy, use up significantly less space, and work on calm days.

    We could also have environ-mentalist power - round them all up and throw them into a furnace, so they do a bit of good for the world.

  102. Kia Foster

    Read This !!

    There is trouble down at DECC, the new Department for Energy and Climate Change, which is presided over by young Ed Miliband, brother of foreign secretary David.

    As ever when Whitehall departments are split up and spliced together again in different formations so as to score political brownie points, there is a degree of chaos with officials still in different buildings and no doubt endless jockeying for position as to who should have the best jobs.

    This time there is an added and much more serious dimension: nobody is sure whether DECC’s first aim should be to promote greenery or to keep the lights on. Apparently there is a battle between the environmental officials and the hard-headed energy people. The latter are led by the inestimable Willy Rickett, the man who privatised the electricity industry and who is described as having “a brain the size of the planet”.

    “Willy will have explained to them that power is essential for the economy and windmills won’t provide enough of it – you need nuclear and fossil-fuelled power stations,” says one insider. “The trouble is these decisions should be taken by a heavyweight cabinet committee and not decided through internal arguments in one department.” Where of course, young Mr Miliband is caught in the middle.

  103. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Gas from Qatar

    One, perhaps the only, bright news, is that Qatar is due to start shipping Gas over to I think Wales or wherever it is they have built underground storage. Now why is no one planning gas run power stations to use that, or are they ???

  104. greg

    @Math Campbell

    hahahaha.... i do hope you're being sarcastic.

  105. Paul

    RE:Scotland or UK?

    1) When will Scots realise we are one nation.

    2) When will you realise that you will not get the Gas. Under international law it will be split. Oh, and Shetland (and most of the gas feilds are in there water) don't want independence, and if it were to happen they would want to remain part of the UK as they consider Scotland to be staling there gas because of the way the Scots and gas companys have treated the locals.

  106. Anonymous Coward

    Re: @Ash

    "Unfortunately a bunch of easily duped fucktards, who seem to make up the majority of the population, did -- and now we have to suffer along with them."

    Call them by their proper name: they are The Britards!

  107. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Nuclear and UK national interest

    "Hey, um, how many uranium mines do you guys in the UK have? If it's zero, and you rely on nuclear, then another country has still got you by the short and curlies?"

    Back in 2004, guess which country provided most of the UK's uranium. Hint: it wasn't Australia or Kazakhstan, but you're getting warmer...

  108. JohnG Silver badge

    Thatcher and Labour

    The Labour supporters always seem to forget that Thatcher spent the Eighties righting the disaster left by the previous Labour government. Ironically, that also finished with power cuts - but also included rubbish in the streets, fireman on strike, inflation as high as a giraffe's arse and an enormous loan from the IMF. It was the IMF who dictated wage restraint and other elements of fiscal policy which got Labour voted out and made Thatcher so unpopular. Maybe this time the Tories should withdraw and let Labour sort out their own mess - or maybe the Liberals fancy a go.

    Maybe a French takeover in Britain would be a good thing - at least they had the foresight to pepper their country with nuclear power stations and have plenty of electricity.

  109. Watashi

    It's the economy, stupid

    This was much more obvious than the credit crunch, but the cause is exactly the same - the unjustified faith Blair and Brown placed in the unregulated marketplace. Labour Plc believed that the simple fact that there was a demand for renewable energy, would, through the wonders of the market, spontaneously generate brand new renewable energy plants.

    Unsurprisingly, this didn't happen - power companies realised more money was to be made through milking the remaining fossil fuels than through investing in unpredictable new technologies. After all, people may like the idea of renewable power, but when it comes down to it few of us will boycot carbon energy to get it. However, Blair blithely put the sword to our long-term carbon power use by nixing new carbon-based power plants. So that he could play the environmental card, he turned a blind eye to the impending shortfall. By the time government openly recognised that renewables wouldn't be ready in time, the only alternative possible was Nuclear.

    The result is that we're going to be dependent upon Russia for our fuel until we can get enough nuclear power stations on line. Renewables will just have to wait until some other country gets the hang of the technologies. We could invest massively in energy saving and renewable power as an economic stimulus, but we're not that kind of country.

  110. Austin Chamberlain

    Re: Scotland or UK?

    It's "we" when Scotland needs Scottish banks bailed out, and "you English" at all other times ... :D

    (it's ok, I'm not from the UK, I'm allowed to say things like that)

  111. b166er

    Fine by me

    as long as the hypocrites turn off the gadzillion useless energy wasting streetlamps we've got in this country first.

  112. Anonymous Coward

    Loads of raw energy here!

    Sunny climate

    Fresh air

    Eons of raw energy

    LOL @ you grime boys in the UK

  113. michael

    @Alan Fisher

    "The clean energy technology is at least 40 years but it was never developed or taken seriously because of the oil company monopoly and the fact people never bothered to challenge this"

    can I have some examples of this I can only assume you mean nuclear (no I can not spell it it is one of many words I can not spell) and there has been investment and development in this tech just not in British but France and others the current designs for reactors are a massive advancement on the old types and are in a death/KWh ratio much better than any coal/oil or renewable system that is out there

  114. J
    IT Angle

    RE: Just a couple of points if they haven't been made already.

    "Coke fired power stations. Possible, if market can be found for Coking hydrocarbons - I think so!"

    Unfortunately LCPD focuses on SO2 and NOx emissions so the coke terminology loophole doesn't exist. Scrubber is cheaper than a full coke run, nice try though, funny.

    People have fundamentally got the wrong end of the stick on economics. Its a sad situation.

  115. Anonymous Coward


    "The Labour supporters always seem to forget that Thatcher spent the Eighties righting the disaster left by the previous Labour government."

    Labour were only in office for 5 years, from 1974 to 1979. Do you think in 5 years Labour single-handedly "destroyed" Britain?

    As for sorting out the mess. The Conservatives said there was no new money for the railways - they must be privatized! After privatization, subsidies to the railways more than TRIPLED! That's how that "mess" was sorted out - by fooling the public that privatization worked when it was actually huge taxpayer subsidies.

    Labour are being attacked again, but the real criticism levelled against Labour since 1997 is that it's been another Tory party.

    As for the energy crisis - it hasn't happened yet! It's a bit soon to start digging our graves.

    New power plants ARE being built, including coal ones. Two links here:

    I don't support any political party, by the way. And if others did the same, we might all be better off - we might stop swallowing political propaganda and attacking each other. For the last 30 years, the unemployed have been blamed for this country's problems. Personally, I blame them for the financial crisis. Politicians keep us fighting each other to keep us distracted.

    The only entities that don't care who wins the next election are the big corporations - or, rather, the CEOs of big corporations. Because that's who the politicians really work for.

  116. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "More efficient lighting (which accounts for nearly 20 per cent of domestic electricity consumption) will go some way to alleviating these demand pressures."

    Some way, but how far? A compact fluorescent lamp uses around 20% of the energy used by a filament bulb with equivalent output. So the saving amounts to some 16% of the gross consumption. Vastly greater savings could be made, just for example, by improving the energy efficiency of electric cookers (approx 3 kW, with a 10-15 minute warm up time) and computers (typically around 400W and on all day). Roughly a third of my electricity consumption is accounted for by my office IT. But "energy efficient lighting" is an easy sap to conscience (a way to "feel green"), provided you disregard the energy budgets for manufacture and disposal.

  117. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the official name for electricity shortage?

    Brown Out

  118. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Emissions and the definition of a power station.

    IF you build a giant wind farm and a giant coal fired plant (or whatever) as back up then say the whole lot is one power station the emissions of the coal plant per kilowatt will be averaged with the emissions of the wind farm per kilowatt, thus the whole "station" (A combined coal/wind plant) would be lower per kilowatt than for a solely coal plant.

    Thus I have solved the problem with the magical power of accountancy.

  119. Jon G

    Can these people be trusted ?

    A few weeks ago I spotted something on the EST website - here is the correspondance:

    My original query was:

    Your website states that "Leaving gadgets and appliances on standby across the UK wastes over £900 billion worth of energy"

    This seems like a very large figure - can you tell me how you have arrived at this figure ?

    In response, the EST replied:

    Many thanks indeed for pointing that out. It’s a particularly unfortunate error which makes the statement 3 orders of magnitude out. Total UK energy spend is in the region of £30 billion and wasted electricity due to standby consumption is in the region of

    £900 million. This figure is derived from work done by the Market Transformation Programme. More information on UK standby consumption can usually be found here:

    However it looks like they’ve removed the documents temporarily for updating.

    Kind regards

    The Energy Saving Trust Knowledge Services Team

  120. Stephen Jenner
    Black Helicopters

    Old News

    Christopher Booker has been writing about this in the Sunday Telegraph, Private Eye, and in his books for at least ten years now.

    Please do not expect wind power to come to our aid either... every kilo-watt of wind power has to be backed by some form of "conventionally generated" reserve power to cover the 73% of the time when the wind does not blow.

    If the lights are to stay on, we need new nuclear and coal fired power stations and a hefty supply of "bought-in" energy from the continent.

    Just like all of the previous labour governments here, this one is ending in complete disaster.

    Instead of hoodwinking the public into thinking that wind power, plus conservation in the form of low energy devices would be sufficient, they should have been continuing Margaret Thatcher's policy of building nuclear plants, which was what her famous "green speech" was all about. We should also have been applying major research into tidal power, the one force of nature that we can guarantee.

    It is not completely mad to actually accuse government in this country of criminal behaviour either, because they are fully aware that wind power is/was never going to solve our energy needs, and yet it has willfully rigged the market to encourage the construction of these abortions in our landscape. It has provided the wind generators with all sorts of financial incentives (all paid for by us) in order to enrich themselves and their cronies.

  121. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  122. goggyturk

    One other (short term) option

    Rape and pillage the remaining UK gas fields. Drill extra wells and use the extra gas to run some more generators on current sites.

    Of course, this will massively accelerate the production decline in UK gas fields, but it might buy us a few years extra to act. Alas, I would imagine giving big tax breaks and subsidies to oil companies to achieve this (as would be necessary) would be politically unnacceptable.

    But it is a technical possibility.

  123. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Oh dear oh dear oh dear

    Anyone who thinks the government couldn't possibly get away with doing nothing until the lights go out...

    ...just think of what happened to the Banks.

  124. A J Stiles

    @ various

    @ AC 08:40: You *can't* improve the efficiency of an electric cooker -- 100% of the electricity fed into it ends up as heat.

    And a computer with a 400W power supply isn't pulling 400 watts all the time unless it's (a) a very cheap Taiwanese power supply and (b) transcoding video and burning DVDs, or doing some similarly processor- , disk- and optical-drive-intensive task.

    @ goggyturk: I'm not sure there's anything left in the UK's gas fields.

    Digesting biodegradable rubbish to produce methane which could then be pumped into the existing gas pipelines *might* be viable, depending how far the stuff has to be purified to make it compatible with existing appliances. (The old artificial gas made from coal and used until the 1960s contained combustible but toxic CO; methane made by digestion contains non-combustible CO2.) If it can be got to work, it might even end up being more palatable to the NIMBY brigade (who are somewhat to blame for the present energy crisis) than CHP plants burning rubbish. But if they're still running permanent-pilot boilers and gravity-fed hot water systems, it won't be as efficient.

  125. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Possible solution

    Get windmills in parliament, all the hot air in there must generate something...

  126. Drunken

    Brillant Strategy

    Many people think this is a disaster caused by clueless politicians not looking a few years into the future.

    How wrong they are!

    Rather this is a brilliant political strategy to meet our targets for CO2 reduction. We now have many targets set in the near future to reduce CO2 usage. Obviously the government have done the talking but bugger all else, it would cost money you know.

    So now we will be forced to use less electricity while the government can do the more important expensive things like PFI hospitals, ID cards and protecting children from their parents and the Internet.


  127. David Robinson


    It does not seem to be widely known that way back when natural gas was discovered it was realised that it would run out so research was put in hand to produce a gas from coal that could be sufficiently similar to natural gas that it would not be necessary to conduct another 'changeover'. I believe that it was successful and, if it has not been lost in the change of ownership it could be viable quite quickly (as these things go).


  128. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's time to stop talking and start doing.

    Unless we start building coal or nuclear power stations now we are doomed to a very dark future. Bugger the environment, the public enquiry, the wind turbines, the solar panels, the Severn Barrage, we need to start building them NOW, not in 6 months time, not in a years time, not after a general election, not in five years time, NOW means NOW!

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020