back to article Minister blows away plans for more turbines

It looks as though the wind energy boom is over. UK energy minister Greg Barker has hinted at a significant change in government strategy - cutting subsidies for the deployment and operation of environmentalists’ favoured technologies. The climate change minister hinted that R&D handouts would continue, but for the wind lobby …

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  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Excellent.

    Can we have some proper nuclear fission plants now please, until we can get fusion properly organised?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Excellent.

      It will take twenty years to get them operating. Fusion is still 50 years away.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. John Hughes
        Mushroom

        20 years?

        Why? In 1974 France decided to go nuclear, the first plant was comissioned on December 1, 1980. 56 plants were built in all.

        Six years to build the first plant.

        Britain would take 20 years to do what France could do in six?

        Come to think of it you're probably right. Glad I got out of that defeatist shithole.

        1. Armando 123

          Re: 20 years?

          "Britain would take 20 years to do what France could do in six?"

          Dang ...

    2. Thought About IT
      Thumb Down

      Re: Excellent.

      Professor Stephen Thomas, Director of Research at the UK’s University of Greenwich’s Business School, believes the writing is on the wall for nuclear power in Europe. “Fukushima could be the final straw for light water reactors (LWRs)”, he told The Energy Industry Times. “After 60 years of development, real costs have only ever gone one way. Has any other technology had similar experience and still been pursued? Economic LWRs that can survive loss-of-coolant and loss-of-power accidents are an impossible dream."

      “The promise of simpler, safer and cheap nuclear power at $1000/kW was either self-delusion or deception. Most recent cost estimates are more than $6000/kW."

      http://millicentmedia.com/2012/03/29/a-two-speed-nuclear-world/

      Still think nuclear power is excellent?

      1. Shadowmanx2009
        Thumb Down

        Re: Excellent.

        In a word, yes!

        Unless of course you believe the next level of progress should be towards mud huts and unsanitory conditions?

        The technological products that people use today depend on power i.e. electric cars, as does the more mundane but necessary lights, power for research, industries etc.

      2. Daniel B.
        Boffin

        Reading failure

        Prof. Stephen Thomas is talking about LWRs. That's only one type of reactor. PWR? Thorium? Pebble-bed? CANDU? Those have safeguards against LOCA.

      3. HMB
        Alert

        Re: Excellent.

        You're right that Nuclear isn't as cost effective as coal. Trouble is that for some reason there's a problem burning coal. Nuclear Vs Wind power for price? Nuclear wins every time. Nuclear even edges out clean coal. Nuclear has fuel that could last for millenia, coal does not.

        Now, you tell me, what's sustainable?

  2. xyz
    Unhappy

    *ugger...it was a good wheeze....

    ...you got money for doing jack and they were really difficult to rustle (no pun).

    I was even just about to train up my first wind-dog to herd the turbines. Well I figured I had to do something that looked like farming whilst stuffing all that cash into my back hipper.

  3. PlacidCasual
    Happy

    Praise be common sense has prevailed.

    This uncommon example of Government coomon sense hasn't come a minute too soon. Wind farms have been great for harvesting subsidies but not much cop at producing electricity when we need it. Until a workable form of mas electricity storage is invented this technology should be shelved in favour of something we can actually afford.

    1. nemo20000
      Devil

      Workable form of mass electricity storage

      @PlacidCasual “Until a workable form of mass electricity storage is invented”

      It has been invented – the electric car and smart meter.

      It’s not inventing that’s hard, it’s getting people to buy the result.

      1. Sean O'Connor 1
        FAIL

        Re: Workable form of mass electricity storage

        > It’s not inventing that’s hard, it’s getting people to buy the result.

        Getting people to buy it is really easy. Just make a car that's not completely rubbish. And not ridiculously expensive.

        1. Aldous
          FAIL

          Re: Workable form of mass electricity storage

          i really hate the "use electric cars as power soaks" idea. i sometimes have an urgent need to travel on short notice so always have my bikes fuel tank full. even if they have a cap (10% of charge) you could be talking a serious issue given the recharge time (loosing 10 miles when power points aren't universal could leave you stranded) . The vice versa is also true if i plug it in at 6pm i want it to start charging then not at 11pm when all the soaps/celebrity come dance with me on ice has finished and power demand is reduced.

          1. Audrey S. Thackeray

            Re: Workable form of mass electricity storage

            Okay so there's a couple of scenarios in which electric vehicles as power stores doesn't work so well but I don't think it would take too much effort to think of examples where it would work better and no one is saying you in particular have to adopt electric vehicles, just that it is possible (they say) to use wind generated electricity to replace some current fossil fuel use.

            If they are right it seems reasonable to give it some thought rather than just throwing up "it doesn't fit my needs" objections which give the impression that the objection comes first and the thinking follows.

      2. oddie
        Happy

        Re: Workable form of mass electricity storage

        actually, the hard bit is making it cheap enough to be affordable enough for most (as in not having to chose between a car or a house to live in), and to manufacture it without needing to pollute more than you supposedly 'save'.

        Once it makes sense economically and enviromentally you will find it will be easier to get people to buy into it.

        1. nemo20000
          Facepalm

          Re: Workable form of mass electricity storage

          “and to manufacture it without needing to pollute more than you supposedly 'save'”

          That’s the usual oil industry rubbish repeated ad nauseam despite all scientific refutations. Please stop repeating that kind of nonsense. It is usually based on some study that showed that Chinese coal-fired power stations are more polluting than diesel VWs, or that an EV with batteries takes more emissions to manufacture than a petrol car with no fuel in. Yeah? No great surprises there, but no relevance either.

          The only important point is that as energy generation decarbonises, the EV you’ve already bought gets less and less polluting. That doesn’t happen with oil.

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/9183896

          http://www.greenwisebusiness.co.uk/news/ev-production-not-so-green-2401.aspx

          http://www.sierraclub.org/electric-vehicles/myths.aspx

          Can we stop all the anti-EV lies now? They cost more to buy and don’t have the same range as oil powered cars... but they cost less to run and can be “filled up” anywhere. That’s it. Get over it.

          1. Steve K Silver badge
            Stop

            Re: Workable form of mass electricity storage

            Surely it is cheaper NOT to buy new vehicles (whether EV or not) but rather use or repair/maintain used ones as far as possible as the emissions involved in their creation have already been incurred?

          2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Re: Workable form of mass electricity storage

            "....but they cost less to run and can be “filled up” anywhere...." Complete male bovine manure. You forgot to factor in battery replacement or leasing (not cheap). Batteries also become less efficient as they age, meaning the cost goes up the older the battery pack. You also forgot that a petrol-diesel-powered car can be filled up at stations all over the country in a matter of minutes, whilst an EV takes ages to charge even to half-full and then not everywhere has charging stations.

            I also don't get this claim that EVs will act as storage for power - should they be bought in numbers, they are a massive additional drain on the grid. They are also not a store - you drive it to work in the morning, draining the battery, and hook it up to charge, at just the time (9am to 5pm) that the grid needs lots of power to run businesses. Then you drive it home, draining it again, and plug it in just as the grid is girding up for the evening peak. How the flying fudge is that storing? Complete nonsense.

      3. Lazy Gun
        FAIL

        Re: Workable form of mass electricity storage

        "It has been invented – the electric car and smart meter."

        Electric cars are utter crap and smart meters are solely about allowing the power companies to remotely disconnect people to control demand - useful when your network has a lot of rubbish windmills.

      4. Richard 12 Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Workable form of mass electricity storage

        No nemo, it hasn't, you can tell because almost nobody is buying it. That's the "workable" part, you see?

        "Workable" means that it's feasible, economic to build and run, and consumers will accept it.

        Electric cars at the required scale are none of the above.

        Secondly, in this context, smart meters are only a method of remote disconnection at times of high demand. This is not a solution in the first place, and of course consumers will never accept it.

        "At the end of EastEnders you will suffer a blackout to prevent you from making a cup of tea."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Praise be common sense has prevailed.

      One of the better strategies would be a proper pan-european high-voltage DC network. Then the UK could supply wind-generated energy to (say) factories in Germany and Italy, even when the wind does not blow.

      The larger the net, the better. But I know, there is lots of inertia and anti-european sentiment, so I guess this will take a really, really long time to happen.

    3. PyLETS
      Boffin

      Workable form of mass electricity storage

      It's called pumped storage. Originally designed for the ad break when everyone wants to boil the kettle at once: http://www.fhc.co.uk/dinorwig.htm . OK, to cover UK requirements in a 1000 mile wide winter calm for 5 days you'd need to have equivalent of 7 lakes of about 1km cubed with average drop between reservoirs about 1km. We haven't got enough of that kind of terrain in the UK. They have more in west Ireland and in Norway, where they are considering using salt water and the ocean as the lower reservoir, and that's partly why they are planning better undersea grid interconnectors between UK, Iceland, Norway and Ireland.. Another reason is this enables UK wind electricity when plentiful to be exported.

      Some of the reservoirs we do have could also be dual purposed - that's called uprated hydro, where you have enough flow into the dam and can vary the electric output from it more.

  4. Ben 50
    Facepalm

    Laugh? I nearly cried.

    "But the mandatory aspect of the programme, and relaxation of supplier obligations and removal of an independent complaints service, made it appear suspiciously like a producers' racket."

    That'll be nuclear power then.

    In the meantime, Fukushima has shown PWR's to be faulty by design (containment vessel unable to withstand the pressure of hydrogen buildup), Tokyo was more heavily contaminated than is being reported, and the greatest dangers of Fukushima are still to come (the fuel rod stores, one of which went critical, are still in an impossibly dangerous state).

    http://fairewinds.com/updates

    We need less power, and less consumption, with more efficient devices, and more intelligent energy storage (such as the proposed Icelandic hook-up reported here on elReg just a couple of weeks ago, which is all just a pale shadow of what Buckminster Fuller was proposing in the 60's with his global solar grid).

    Bring on the tory downvotes.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

      "We need less power, and less consumption"

      Well, you're not going to get it I'm afraid. Unless you make a hobby of lost causes, you probably need to rethink your politics from the ground up. Praying for lower consumption is like hoping monochrome comes back to replace colour screens.

      1. Ben 50
        FAIL

        Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

        If you take the axioms of the current paradigm as immutable - continual economic expansion based on the exploitation of limited natural resources... then your point of view makes sense.

        On the otherhand, if you see humanity as having experienced a series of (often sudden) fundamental paradigm shifts, where all the old assumptions go out of the window - and accept that what we accept as given now is just part of the paradigm in which we were born... then you might have a slightly broader perspective on the options that are available to us as a species.

        Your analogy just shows that you can't see an alternative way to progress, which is why you see more ecologically sensible alternatives as a form of regression.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

        It's all in the negawatts: the cheapest power plants are ones you don't build.

        Note, less consumption usually means greater energy efficiency - better insulation, lower stand-by draw, higher yield lighting, ARM instead of x86, etc. - rather than the return to a Luddite dark age.

        Mine's the one with 9 W LED bulb in the pocket and the A+++ fridge.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

          "It's all in the negawatts: the cheapest power plants are ones you don't build."

          Er, no. It's all in the cooked books. Deprive an economy of cheap energy and watch that GDP nose-dive. Of course, if you are willing to ignore the GDP loss, not doing anything at all, let alone getting out of bed and building a reactor, starts to look like a smart plan.

      3. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

        Reduced consumption is more often than not an enforcement rather than a voluntary choice. Rationing, fuel crises, dry wells, being outbid, and so on.

    2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

      PWRs are also more than 30 years old and have been superceded by several generations of much safre passively cooled reactors that require action to maintain the reaction rather than actiion to prevent it.

      fukushima is an old reactor that should have been shut down years ago but wasn't because of people like you screaming about the idea of new replacement reactors being built.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

      Yes, because if we were going to build a nuclear plant today, we'd be using a 40 year old design that requires external cooling...

      1. Ben 50
        WTF?

        Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

        You'd love to believe that cosy propaganda wouldn't you.

        Care to read an alternative take on the wonders of the most modern passively cooled reactor design in the world (the Westinghouse AP1000)? http://fairewinds.com/content/fukushima-and-its-impact-upon-westinghouse-toshiba-designed-ap1000-atomic-power-plant

        What about the alternatives? Those wonderful thorium reactors? They sounded like a good idea to me, until my brother and his wife (both research chemists engaged in research for the nuclear establishment, specifically in the fields of corrosion and containment) scared the living bejesus out of me about the toxicity of the waste byproducts.

        1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

          Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

          Waste products? What about the toxic slurry in lakes in Mongolia because of treehuggers demanding wind power? Those rare earth minerals used in the magnets don't just spontaneously appear you know.

          Oh, and let's not forget the massive amounts of concrete needed to keep a single turbine from blowing over - all deeply planted in some of the most scenic places.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

        I want to see the reactor design of a real reactor which can passively dissipate heat immediately after SCRAM.

        The focus must be on protecting and making redundant the cooling system. A couple of man-mobile fire engines are enough if evaporation cooling is used. But that must be planned for in advance.

        1. Lazy Gun

          Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

          @Cantennas:

          "I want to see the reactor design of a real reactor which can passively dissipate heat immediately after SCRAM."

          Thorium-fuelled molten salt reactors can do this.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. That Steve Guy

      Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

      A 40 year old Nuclear power station gets hit by both an Earthquake and a Tsunami beyond the range at which it was designed and the contamination was minimal.

      I'd say that is a resounding endorsement of Nuclear power safety.

      Of course lets apply the same arguments to the UK as we are so likely to be hit by both an Earthquake and a Tsunami of that magnitude... oh damn if only we lived on a fault line!

      1. cocknee

        Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

        Resounding endorsement of Nuclear power safety?

        Or just fucking lucky it wasn't worse

      2. Ben 50
        FAIL

        Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

        Ever heard of the Black Swan?

        I was raised down the road from Hinkley Point (nuclear power plant). There have been tsunamis in recorded history, in S.W. England, that were well beyond the design spec of Hinkley Point.

        Think that's stupid? Watch this and see how well design assumptions for U.S. reactors hold up.

        http://fairewinds.com/content/why-fukushima-can-happen-here-what-nrc-and-nuclear-industry-dont-want-you-know

        As for minimal contamination... you're misinformed, both about the nature of the contamination, its quantity, and its range.

        http://fairewinds.com/node/186

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          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Ben 50
            Meh

            Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

            @Symon

            Have you read anywhere in my comments that I'm anti-nuclear? or anti-science?

            1) The reactors we have now are not safe - their risk assumptions are inadequate, so are their designs, so is their regulatory oversight, so is the responsibility of their operators.

            2) The reactors we are about to build are only marginally better.

            3) Providing more, and cheaper power for people to make more wasteful things, with any incentive to optimise on energy efficiency removed, is stupidly short-sighted.

            The true costs of Nuclear, and doing it right, are astronomical. If that's the only option we have in the short - mid term, then we should bear those costs and do it correctly.

            However, it isn't the only choice. Ze Germans will be at 35% energy from renewables by 2020 on current forecasts, while its labs and universities are cranking out fantastic improvements in fundamental and applied technologies at a cracking rate - because their government has the foresight to realise that this is another market in which their industry can become a world leader from day one!

            More than that, the really HUGE scientific and industrial movement which is beginning to gather pace is the hydrogen economy. With those little solar panels on your roof, you can split rain-water into hydrogen and oxygen to fuel your house, your car, your computer, whatever you like. This is the real shift that so many people aren't seeing, and the reason why solar is so much more than just pushing subsidised energy back into the grid. (It's also very IT by the way, I was talking to a researcher last week working on nano-fuel cells for powering mobile devices... interesting stuff).

            The British were the world leaders in the seventies. I doubt very much, if every last program hadn't been gutted both in the U.S. and the U.K. by the Regan/Thatcher axis, that we'd even need this discussion now.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

              1. Ben 50
                Meh

                Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

                @Symon

                Thanks for the headsup at any rate. I don't know enough about IFR to hold an opinion, so I've written to ask a few people who'll know better. It's been a long time since I trusted anything that comes out of Monbiot's mouth.

                As for risk assessment, I'm specifically talking about the risk assessments used to derive "worst case" scenarios, which if exceeded, lead to meltdown.

                As for the impacts of nuclear disasters, there's shockingly little information out there about the scale of long-term civilian deaths caused by particulate contamination. The biggest scandal of all is that there have been no (that I or anybody I have ever spoken to am aware of) systematic and major studies into the impacts of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Windscale (which was a dramatically larger event than made public at the time) and even now... Fukushima. Most of the hard data I've seen is coming from amateurs in Japan collecting and analysing the radioactive content of things like car air filters.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Please don't bring Chernobyl into this

                  It was a bad design, compared to some Western ones, even when it was built!

            2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

              "....With those little solar panels on your roof, you can split rain-water into hydrogen..." Great, so your solution is two very explosive gases stored in my roof? Oh, and what happens when we have those drought thingummies, which, IIRC, happen a darn sight more often than those tsunamis you lot are pretending are a daily occurence in the UK. Fail, fail, fail.

        2. Filippo

          Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

          Care to find more than a single, explicitly biased source for your claims?

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

          Ben, do you have any other links to post apart from those from the site owned and run by Maggie Gunderson which seems to be primarily an exercise in her own self promotion. She seems to be radically ant-nuclear and google searches for fairewinds.com just confirm this.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

        What caused the Fukushima disaster was a catastrophic power failure, that's all. They lost power for days and therefore couldn't cool the reactors once they had shut down. There are many possible screnarios that could cause such a thing here, if were were at war for example. Not to mention the fact that nuclear reactors would be a target in such an instance.

        We were all duped by the idea that nuclear reactors are supposed to be fail-safe. Fukushima has proven that assumption wrong, and that’s why some European countries have already canned their nuclear projects.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

          'What caused the Fukushima disaster was a catastrophic power failure, that's all. They lost power for days and therefore couldn't cool the reactors once they had shut down. There are many possible screnarios that could cause such a thing here, if were were at war for example. Not to mention the fact that nuclear reactors would be a target in such an instance.'

          You seem to be ignoring the fact that modernish plants don't need any power for cooling when scrammed.

    5. Lazy Gun
      FAIL

      Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

      "Fukushima has shown PWR's to be faulty by design "

      No it hasn't.

      "(containment vessel unable to withstand the pressure of hydrogen buildup)"

      Hmm, not sure that's right.

      "We need less power, and less consumption,"

      Why don't you and all the other communists bugger off and live your eco utopia in a mud hut by candle light, and leave the rest of us normal people to INCREASE our consumption and live in a progressive technological society where living standards, life expectancy and quality of life all increase as a direct benefit if access to cheap power?

      You don't need to be tory to downvote this garbage. Possession of common sense is more than enough.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

        I'm not convinced it's about more/less consumption. A couple of decades ago we had a few inefficient devices consuming shitloads of power. Now we're getting more and more all consuming less, but the overall consumption is rising, because everything, no matter how pointless seems to want electricity these days.

      2. Ben 50
        Meh

        Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

        Why don't you try following the link I provided, then post your insightful critique.

        As for the benefits of progressive technological society etc. being linked to cheap power... that's the most moronically simplistic statement I've read in a while.

    6. James Micallef Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

      "We need less power, and less consumption"

      If by "we" you mean the UK, Europe or the rest of the western world where consumption per capita is already extremely high, we can possibly improve efficiencies to at least stop consumption growth and to do more with the consumption we have.... but hardly any more than that seeing that there are physical limits to efficiency, and that the low-hanging fruit of improved efficiency at production and distribution level have already been reaped.

      If by "we" you mean humanity globally, the vast majority of whom consume far less energy per capita than the west, and who are aiming to improve their standard of living, (and therefore energy consumption) to match, well that's a pipe dream. You want to do a King Canute and stand in front of the waves of people in developing countries, bidding them futilely to stay poor, well, go ahead, see if it works. Certainly in developing countries there is more scope to vastly improve efficiency, but overall consumption will still shoot up. That extra energy needs to come from somewhere, and only a tiny fraction of that will be windmills.

      Looking at India and China, at least they have the right idea to go towards nuclear.... although with the tons of Himalayan meltwater they both have available I wonder if they're under-investing in hydro. After all, Andean meltwater flowing into the Amazon at Iguazu provides a ridiculous amount of power to S. America, something like 75% of all requirements for Paraguay and 25% for Brazil (+ chunk for Argentina?)

    7. IvyKing
      Mushroom

      PWR's??? Make that BWR's

      How can one take your posting seriously if you don't know the difference between a Pressurized Water Reactor and a Boiling Water Reactor? FWIW, Fukushima used BWR's.

      PWR's can be set up for natural convection cooling, with the main problem in supplying make-up water to the secondary side.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

      Tory down votes? Nah, just from people who think you are a twat for even suggesting it.

      More efficient devices by all means, which have been improving since electricity was first networked, or haven't you noticed.

      Less consumption? Only by more efficient devices and not as I suspect you are suggesting, by somehow using less in our daily lives.

      I'm sorry but modern life has got way beyond that. Lighting, cooking and everyday living sees to that, and the increasing use of air conditioning is a product of modern life as well, and will become more necessary if the doom-laden forecasts of global warming come to fruition.

      Of course, if it is the disaster that the doomists predict then humankind will just do what it has always done along with the rest of life on earth. Adapt or die, and if the latter, then problem solved as we won't need so much electricity to produce all the new shiny (more energy efficient) gadgets as there won't be as many sold.

      Result.

    9. John Hughes
      Mushroom

      Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

      "In the meantime, Fukushima has shown PWR's to be faulty by design (containment vessel unable to withstand the pressure of hydrogen buildup),"

      Uh, the Fukushima reactors were BWR's, not PWR's.

      And the hydrogen problem was that the idiot Japanese didn't fit hydrogen recombiners like sane (non Japanese, non American) people do.

      As for storing the fuel rods on top of the reactors...

    10. Daniel B.

      oooh

      PWRs are indeed old, but not as old as BWRs. Which is what Fukushima had. Um... you can read that on Wikipedia.

  5. Usually Right or Wrong

    Seems some sense at last

    Some of the costs and subsidies for wind and solar that have come to light recently show these technologies to be very inefficient in terms of return on investment. Not sure how this compares to nuclear, someone out there probably can answer that.

    Saw this on artificial photosynthesis http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-04/16/artificial-photosynthesis but could not find any information on how much was being invested by governments.

    The advances sound amazing, but I expect there will be a down side of massive photosynthesis panels being erected instead of wind turbines, needing large subsidies and being considered a blot on the landscape, the same as turbines, or maybe not. I hope it is the latter, the potential for sunny developing countries must look promising.

  6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Meanwhile in Brussels

    The same department is, together with France, Poland and the Czech Republic, lobbying for EU subsidies of nuclear power. Unlikely to go anywhere because those horribly inefficient Jormans have ditched nuclear for renewables, massive imports of lovely French nuclear power during the winter notwithstanding. All this to say that if for every gravy train that gets retired another is ready to enter service.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile in Brussels

        I believe Germany has in fact ditched nuclear in favour of coal

        Then you are ill-informed. Coal has been being phased out in favour of (Russian) natural gas for years. Renewables are ahead of target thanks to the very generous feed-in tariffs we have here and effectively a swap with France with nuclear from them in the winter; and renewable to them in the summer when they don't have enough water to cool the nuclear plants. Though even France is going renewable with EDF busy offering free installation and maintenance of photovoltaic systems on nice new barns and free power to the farmers. Though, if they can get EU subsidies for nuclear then you can imagine the free barn programme being phased out pretty quickly.

        Renewable energy might be of questionable value - I am in favour of it; the feed-in tariffs can be seen as a gravy train - but all those installations require people on the ground and I can think of worse government-sponsored employment programmes.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meanwhile in Brussels

        One of the biggest emitters of radio active material at AWRE Aldermaston was in fact their coal fired power plant

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Elmer Phud

    I smell elections coming

    as title

    1. andy mcandy
      Coat

      Re: I smell elections coming

      i read that as electrons. all this talk of nuclear power, must have jolted something

      sorry :)

  8. Steve Crook

    About time.

    I suspect that the subsidies are only part of it. I wonder if they've also been looking at the infrastructure cost of supporting those extra turbines. I do remember reading something about spending billions just to get the leccy from proposed turbines in Scotland. Let alone the gas generation required to back up wind farm generation.

    Finally, the maths of what's being added (and will be added) to consumers fuel bills has met the politicians desire to be re-elected.

    Full steam ahead with nuclear and shale gas then. Or rolling blackouts.

    1. Anonymous Coward 101

      Re: About time.

      Yes, and I wonder what the environmental cost of smelting all that copper and steel is?

    2. Audrey S. Thackeray

      Re: About time.

      "I do remember reading something about spending billions just to get the leccy from proposed turbines in Scotland."

      Do you have a link to the original info by any chance?

  9. Paul McClure

    Sounds reasonable.

    So there needs to be an energy storage mechanism that can bank power to be distributed later. Not so different from hydro which banks power, water, and generates on demand. I understand there are such things with large solar installations that can distribute power at night..

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Sounds reasonable.

      Which valleys are volunteering for flooding then?

      We've already built pretty much all the pumped-storage that people will accept - there are plenty of places where it could be built, but people either live there or it's an area of outstanding natural beauty.

      Or there are newts.

      This is the thing - hydro-electric is incredibly destructive. It's not green, it's only low-CO2.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        F*ck the newts

        How are they endangered? They're everywhere, whether you're building a town-sized shopping complex or a garden shed!

  10. 0laf Silver badge
    Mushroom

    What we actually need are some new big ass nuke plants. All this renewable crap is just nibbling at the edges and will be for a long time.

    1. Mystic Megabyte

      Yes I agree, right next to your house!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Why not??

        There is so much hype against nuclear reactors that has been instilled in people by the hippies of the 70s and 80s. Those people don't apply critical thinking, they just react as they were brainwashed to do!

      2. oddie
        Go

        reverse nimby...

        so we can only have nuclear powerplants if we agree to have them built in our own back yard?

        I dont know who you are who can dictate where and when nuclear power plants are built at will, but I wouldn't mind living next to one as it happens... small sacrifices to be made in order to keep my house warm and my lights on and so on... I wouldn't mind a little bit cheaper leccy since I would live close by but I guess that is hoping for too much ;)

        where do I send in the form?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: reverse nimby...

          A power plant in your own backyard? Probably not yet, but perhaps one in your neighborhood or hamlet? More likely. Part of the Gen IV movement is making the reactors smaller (which also reduces the danger factor). Some of the designs being proposed are intended for smaller settings like rural communities.

        2. Lazy Gun

          Re: reverse nimby...

          "so we can only have nuclear powerplants if we agree to have them built in our own back yard?"

          Having a nuke plant built in your backyard does not worry James Lovelock, environmentalist and inventor of the "Gaia" theory. Nor would it worry me: I've worked in them.

          I wouldn't want to live near a coal plant (far too much radiation) or near windmills, as they are very noisy and prone to exploding in fireballs.

          Suggest people check WHO stats on deaths in energy. Wind power has killed many more people in the last 30 years than nuclear :-)

      3. Filippo

        I'd *gladly* get a nuclear plant next to my house. Or do you think that us pro-nuclearists are hypocrites? Personally, I'd pin that label on greenies with air-conditioning.

        1. Audrey S. Thackeray

          @Filippo

          "do you think that us pro-nuclearists are hypocrites? Personally, I'd pin that label on greenies with air-conditioning"

          That would be hypocritical in all probability but that doesn't mean it's the only possible hypocrisy.

          I'm sure many pro wind power people would object to having the windmills built near them and the same would go for pro nuclear people with those plants - it's normal enough. In the end someone's objections have to be brushed aside (or bribed aside with jobs and subsidies).

          Incidentally, I don't know anyone who has air conditioning in their house, 'greenie' or not; is this freakish? I'm in the south of the UK and have family in the North of France.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Too right! I already live about a mile from a Gas fired powerstation that has pride of place in the view from my back garden, so contamination aside it won't make much difference to the already shite landscape views I enjoy!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    Ruddy EU deal commitments :|

    Renewable energy is fie but rushing to get there only uses up more resources/energy than it saves and the whole renewable aspect should be that these things are added organicly and small more managable and economical bites.

    Name one UK company that makes wind turbines and by this I mean the ones being attached to grids. I had a look at this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wind_turbine_manufacturers and it does mary up with what I thought about UK production of these lovely windmills.

    So we signed a agreement in the early hours after a long session which was the previous goverment and the current one still aint had the balls to renegotiate it.

    End result is mad buying from other countries who love the extra driven demand so we can meet a quota that by reaching would mean some crazy outlays to meet the timescale.

    Lets not exclude the aspect that the current generation are ugly, why not fasion them after old windmills, or do we have to relive the old GSM mast story again!

    Given pylons are also ugly though having been about longer more acceptable; Why not add a wind turbine ontop - sorts your plugging into the grid aspect and also saves lots on planning/extra land. Yes they might not be best located but there again they can be smaller and add up alot more overall.

    Also landscapes have natrual funnels and in that you can look at these and place windfarms there, akain to dam's. So end of a long valley that catch's the wind be nice. Also you can funnel the air into a tunnel and have the turbine vertical instead of horizontal. But weer in a mad rush to just put pins on a map so any nicer non-70% effecient placement gets poo'd upon sadly. Despite the aspect that you gain 100% asthetics.

    Also a long cable to Icelend and a deal to buy lots of renewable electriciy from them would not only be cheaper and more practicle but also greener.

    All I realy expect is the goverment to moan about the previous lot and as they dont expect to be in power come 2020 as they will hand it back to labour by then, well they will let this timebomb of a poorly thought out disaster carry on, un negotiated to the extent that nothing positive will be done. Hope I'm wrong, I realy do.

  12. TRT Silver badge

    Wrong deployment...

    Direct power generation from wind was never going to be a good solution. They should be using the wind turbines to pump water into storage dams for hydro-electric generation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wrong deployment...

      Sounds fine in theory, until you work out just how big those lakes will need to be, and try to figure out where to put them. I suppose no-one really needs Scotland, do they?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wrong deployment...

        Scotland already has shit loads of natural water they don't use, bung a few more hydro dams up there and pay them for the power. Probably at the back of Salmonds mind, cut Scotland off from the UK and while England/Wales has no new power plants planned, wait for the "Sassenachs" to come begging for power!

  13. Lars Silver badge
    Joke

    The electrical wind car

    We need electrical wind cars that are charged only when there is an excess of wind power.

    The car you lend to your kids, you know.

  14. JimmyPage
    Happy

    Thorium nuclear power anyone ?

    seems to rarely get mentioned ...

  15. big_D Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    And I thought...

    that they were going to rig enough of those turbines up and then fly Blighty down the Bay of Biscay a bit, until it got some warm weather... :-D

  16. K. Adams
    Holmes

    Translation...

    "Basically, what we're going to do is cut funding to the windmill brigade, then use the quid to hire a bunch of plods to do a 'feasibility study,' and then start building windmills again when the Greens arm-twist the plods. So, really, we're not going to save any money at all, but it will look like we did, and it will make the Greens happy, and they will like us. Then we can all gather in the Commons and sing Kumbaya."

    1. Ben 50
      FAIL

      Re: Translation...

      What could possibly make you believe this?

      The Greens have no power in the U.K.

      Where are their representatives in Parliament? Totally locked out by First Past the Post.

      Where is the strong arm of the 90's "grass roots" political movement? Infiltrated and broken up by undercover police spies who clearly don't mind a bonk on the job while they're at it.

      Do the "greens" have any leverage in the U.K. at all? Economic? No. Through the upper social strata? No.

      All power in the U.K. is held by those who already have power and the self-interest to use it for their own enrichment. The principles of the Labour movement are long dead. The LIberals are in their grave. The Tories are in the hands of the bankers.

      You seriously, for one moment, think that the Greens have got the power to twist anything in the U.K. ? With what? Public opinion? What a joke.

      1. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

        Re: Translation...

        Er, doesn't Brighton have a Green Party MP?

        1. Ben 50

          Re: Translation...

          @Kevin

          Well that's a shock, they do! So... that's 1 MP out of 650. I can see why the Greens are causing the regime to tremble at the knees.

          It's 4 out of 577 in France for that matter....

          In the EU parliament it's 46 out of 754....

          Still can't see where the Green's are getting their arm wringing power from.

      2. electricmonk

        Re: Translation...

        >> "The Greens have no power in the U.K. Where are their representatives in Parliament? Totally locked out by First Past the Post."

        Point of order, Mr Speaker... allow me to introduce Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion. Not *totally* locked out.

        But I agree, the idea that this government would worry about keeping the Greens happy is ludicrous. Not when there are huge, wealthy corporations behind the nuclear lobby.

        1. ChilliKwok
          Meh

          Re: Translation...

          You guys don't seem to realise: misanthropic environmentalist dogma has completely over-run all three main UK political parties. This is a result of polling and focus groups which told the politicians that a significant portion of the electorate were worried about green issues. This provided the ideal opportunity for politicians to posture and claim to be 'saving the planet' by spending huge sums of taxpayers money on green boondoggles. Fortunately the public are starting to wise up so the politicians are starting to change their tune. However, make no mistake, at the moment the greens *are* the establishment - and will remain so for many years.

  17. Alan Denman

    Oily stuff available now!

    " Basically, that means reducing costs quicker"

    Obviously it costs the government nothing to help push oil above $500 a barrel.

    Planning, well that's for socialist government!

    1. oddie
      Thumb Up

      Re: Oily stuff available now!

      The UK government has no say at all in the wholesale price of crude oil or distillates. Yes, they can tax it as high as they want and easily achieve the 500 USD per barrel equivalent of price at the pump, but oil is traded on an international market and guess what, if the UK (refineries/chemical plants/forecourts) stopped buying any oil at all tomorrow and kept it that way for a year we would hardly affect the international price of crude at all. We are not the navel of the world and the 60 mill or so living in the UK are a drop in the proverbial 7 billion of us that walk around on this planet today).

      likewise, cutting all the oil that ultimately gets spent needlessly building wind turbines will have limited impact on the price of crude, but it will nevertheless mean we pullute less (what, you thought all that infrastructure, metals, construction, maintenance, landscaping and facilities for storing off-peak energy was made out of pixie dust and rainbows?)

      Socialist governments are usually nothing of the sort, and don't have to pander to public opinion, so they can plan properly, and therefore don't have to build wind turbines. they tend to go all out nuclear if they can (or coal if they really really don't give a shit).

  18. W.O.Frobozz
    Meh

    Send them to Ontario!

    Yes, despite the fact that the world is turning against the wind turbines, Ontario Canada chugs straight ahead into economic disaster buying up these things and scattering them around the landscape against everyone's wishes! Even T. Boone Pickens is trying to get Ontario to buy up his giant white elephants, because no one wants them anywhere else.

  19. Mystic Megabyte

    hooray!

    Up here in dampland we got a 900KW community turbine, then the local landowners started turbine wars to get their own. In fact everybody and their dog is applying to have one. Sizes from small to fucking huge.

    All sorts of "get rich quick" schemes are being touted by various companies. If you have suitable land put up no money and you will be the owner of a clapped out turbine in five years etc. (and bear the cost of repair and/or decommissioning)

    Someone wants to build a dozen monsters right in front of my house. All so that numpties can have 50" plasma TVs and sit watching crap all day. I'll stop here before I explode.

    IMO the only answer is to use *less* energy but no government will ever implement it.

    1. Audrey S. Thackeray

      Re: hooray!

      Not really sure how a government could implement that - would need a change from a democratic system at least.

  20. lee harvey osmond

    230 million cups of tea per year!

    I was watching Countryfile on telly on Sunday night, and John Craven or some such was introducing a piece about wind turbines, and produced a factoid "a wind turbine like this can produce enough electricity to make 230 million cups of tea per year". I got my calculator out to calculate how much electricity that was, and the numbers were big.

    Unfortunately the corresponding numbers for the first tiny PWR I could think of were 80 times bigger, and when I started examining the assumptions in my back-of-an-envelope calculations, the numbers for the wind turbine got smaller, and the ones for the PWR got bigger.

    I love it when the greenies rate wind turbines in terms of kettles. Suppose I did not want to sit in a yurt drinking tea, but stand in an office looking out of a window at people operating my aluminium smelter?

    1. Andy 18

      Re: 230 million cups of tea per year!

      "Suppose I did not want to sit in a yurt drinking tea, but stand in an office looking out of a window at people operating my aluminium smelter?"

      Funnily enough, almost every aluminium smelter in the world is run from renewable power. It's the first rule in the "where do I put my aluminium smelter" rulebook. I believe Google also bought an old, out of use plant because it had it's own hydroelectric dam and could power their data centre.

      1. tw@tpanda

        Re: 230 million cups of tea per year!

        Really? Funnily enough I live just down the road from the soon to be decommissioned Rio Tinto Alcan Aluminium Smelter at Lynemouth. And what is that I see next door to it? Oh, that would be it's own 600MW coal fired power station, purpose built to serve the smelter. And in another coincidence, there is a wind farm on the land surrounding the smelter which feeds less power into the grid at full chat than the surplus from the coal fired plant while the smelter was operating.

      2. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: 230 million cups of tea per year!

        That is purely an economic decision though and nothing to do with tree-hugging.

        Otherwise explain the "greenness" in shipping megatonnages of Bauxite around the world in Diesel-fuelled ships to Iceland for refining using geothermal power, as opposed to providing renewable power sources and refineries locally to the sources and merely shipping the vastly smaller tonnages of aluminium resulting directly to where they're required.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: 230 million cups of tea per year!

          It's "green" because the local sources of bauxite are NOT local sources of gobs of electricity (aluminum's a tricky metal to smelt), so you have diverse but necessary resources, and it becomes necessary to bring them together somehow. You either haul the raw material to the fuel or you haul the fuel to the raw material, and since geothermal electricity is nonportable, that kinda answers that question. And since no one seems the slightest bit interested in Gen IV fission microreactors, that prevents putting up an electric smelter near the bauxite and trying to replace the diesel power plant in the cargo ship with a nuclear one like they use in some military ships.

          So...anyone got any viable alternatives?

    2. Justicesays
      Facepalm

      Re: 230 million cups of tea per year!

      It does do a good job of putting it in perspective though, but maybe not in the way they think.

      You would need *360* of those wind turbines just so everyone in the UK could have 4 cups of tea a day.

      Lets hope no-one wants to wash their clothes as well!

  21. John A Blackley

    Senior Conservatives

    Told the Minister for Wind to can any further expansion of the windmill business as the peasants in their constituencies were revolting. (Yes, I know.)

    That's all there is to it.

  22. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Wind power will still go up

    its only as expensive as the subsidies make it. As I have said before on these forums a neighbour has put up two turbines that were made in this country that he bought in from abroad cos it was so much cheaper to get them that way.

  23. jason 7
    Childcatcher

    Would the enviromentalist/Green folks.....

    ...please once and for all outline their full sensible and sustainable plan for safeguarding the United Kingdom's power needs for the next 50 years?

    If we cant use nuclear, oil, coal or gas and cant use tidal ( due to the fact it might affect a breed of shrimp or some reed warbler's nesting site).

    So what are the proper workable solutions? C'mon, you've said what we shouldn't be doing so enlighten us. You've had long enough to work out a plan surely? We want some specifics.

    1. jason 7
      FAIL

      Re: Would the enviromentalist/Green folks.....

      As expected...tumbleweed.

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Would the enviromentalist/Green folks.....

      I think some of them have set out their manifesto in other comments - reduce the amount used. Or, in other words, reduce standards of living, reduce economic competitiveness, and have people dying of cold and diseases not seen in civilised countries for decades.

      I have no patience for them.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Would the enviromentalist/Green folks.....

        I think the term for such people is "Luddites". Funny thing about standards of living. It's MACROeconomic. It's easy to go UP but nearly impossible to go DOWN. Short of a form of absolute rule, how do you make people agree to lower standards of living?

    3. NomNomNom

      Re: Would the enviromentalist/Green folks.....

      "If we cant use nuclear, oil, coal or gas and cant use tidal ( due to the fact it might affect a breed of shrimp or some reed warbler's nesting site)."

      Many environmentalists concerned at rising CO2 emissions have been advocating nuclear for years as part of decarbonization. The set includes renewables, nuclear, and the use of gas as a transitional replacement for coal. The sources that are universally derided are oil and coal, rather than all the sources you have listed.

  24. James 36
    Meh

    optional

    all politicians are cnuts

    they have one of two aims, to get into power or to stay in power

    they represent you up to the moment the party whip comes knocking, unfortunately the options are all worse

    as to power , we need it , renewables are there yet, nuclear has risks associated with it, shale gas also has risks associated with it ,the UK doesn't have the resources available to generate sufficient power to meet it needs without importing (I think, happy to be proven wrong) I don't feel I have the info available to make an informed decision and everything is biased to a greater or lesser degree

    1. kiwimuso
      Joke

      Re: optional

      Is that King Cnut?

      On the other hand, good thinking. Let's hear from the green tinged ones what their plans are for a sustainable future for the world.

  25. PyLETS
    Boffin

    Industrial scale development

    When you have sufficient economies of scale an industrial-scale wind industry doesn't need such large subsidies and that's clearly a measure of success. There's never been a time when nuclear hasn't been subsidised, which had all its research costs paid for by the cold war arms race. Ask Fukushima refugees who haven't been and will never be adequately compensated who subsidises nuclear power now: the nuke industry expects limited liability to be subsidised by the taxpayer. Fossil fuels are subsidised by costs of extreme weather - that's your and my house insurance going up. The question is which kind of energy is subsidised the most.

    1. Rab Sssss
      Flame

      Re: Industrial scale development

      yeah sure lots of them are going to help when the winds not blowing/blowing to hard...

    2. ChilliKwok
      Meh

      Re: Industrial scale development

      "question is which kind of energy is subsidised the most."

      Answer: Renewables receive by far the largest subsidy per useable KWHr generated.

      1. Audrey S. Thackeray

        Re: Industrial scale development

        "Renewables receive by far the largest subsidy per useable KWHr generated."

        It would be great to have a link to the analysis if you can provide it.

  26. Dr Dan Holdsworth
    Thumb Up

    And now the joker in the pack: fracking

    Fracking shales for methane is the joker in the pack here. Once you set aside the typical hairshirt and self-flagellation response of most Greens and start thinking properly, then extracting the huge volumes of methane we know we have in shale rocks starts looking like huge amounts of sense. It gives us a much cleaner fuel that isn't as carbon-intensive as coal, which is safe and easy to extract, and which can be used safely for many, many things. For one thing, it'll tide us over nicely whilst proper modern safe nuclear plants get built.

    1. NomNomNom

      Re: And now the joker in the pack: fracking

      "extracting the huge volumes of methane we know we have in shale rocks starts looking like huge amounts of sense. It gives us a much cleaner fuel that isn't as carbon-intensive as coal"

      Except methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. I don't know whether fracking produces less carbon emissions than coal, but I consider the idea that it's a replacement for coal to be optimistic.

      What I suspect is that fracking will simply open up a new fossil fuel source. The coal will still be burnt anyway. Net result: higher carbon emissions rather than lower. I also don't buy the idea that it's a transitional step. Once it begins I doubt it will ever stop. Once profit is made from new extractions it will go on until it's all expended. The only barrier is preventing it from starting the first place and keeping it in the ground.

      It's another form of fossil fuel so it may simply result in our energy infrastructure becoming even more dependent on fossil fuels.

  27. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Someone forgot to say...

    ... "Nar nar, ne nar nar!!!!"

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The only useful statistic when comparing the safety of different methods of generation is lives lost per gigawatt generated - when you look at that you find more people die falling off a roof installing solar panels than die from nuclear power generation / accidents.

    1. Audrey S. Thackeray

      The only useful statistic when comparing the safety of different methods of generation is lives lost per gigawatt generated

      Whether or not that is true does anyone really give a monkey's about the safety aspect?

      I mean no one wants a disaster but if we really cared about people dying we'd have a serious look at what is going on on our roads for example.

      All the indications are that economic motives outweigh safety concerns.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fracking - frack that - look at the crap that goes into the hydraulic fluid they pump into the ground and not all of it comes back up - it pollutes water, you have no chance of ever cleaning it up once it's pumped it and it's even caused earthquakes.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "When you have sufficient economies of scale an industrial-scale wind industry doesn't need such large subsidies and that's clearly a measure of success."

    ... and when the wind don't blow? Or blows to hard? Or too soft? It's total crap - just as bad as solar - we need reliable / cheap generation - not variable / unreliable generation that requires conventional generation to be provisioned anyway!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Exactly

      ..that happens in Germany. See my post.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Less consumption - nice idea - totally unrealistic. If we went for more efficient usage it would probably not even keep up with the increase in usage as the population / economy grows.

    We need cheaper, reliable electricity - not huge subsidies for 'green' projects that just pump up the cost of electricity and are not even green when conventional generation is required for when the sun does not shine or the wind does not blow (or both). Solar and wind actually cause grid instability - more of a problem than a solution.

    If you want your leccy bills to keep rising and more jobs move abroad - keep subsidising wind and solar.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nuclear is the only viable, reliable, low carbon method of generation - in comparison the idea (cost and safety) of mining coal, or gas is ridiculous.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    German Situation

    Politically: The Greenies are now a major political force with up to 20% of votes in state elections. They govern the state of Baden-Württemberg together with the SPD, fielding the PM of B.W. Being anti-nuclear has almost replaced "being an anti-fag christian". Nuclear energy is by default bad in the lefty press and even the conservatives have bought into that after Fukushima. I assume it has something to do with German Romanticism, which had lots of faces through the centuries. Being against nuclear is a matter of universal faith and questioning that Dogma is unwise for the successful politico. Angela Merkel wants to stay in power, so she did the opportunistic thing.

    Energy Generation: Still a lot of baseload is being produced by nuclear power. The other baseload provide is coal and new power stations must be built, or the network will become unstable. Solar and Wind are now sporting impressive maximum generation power figures. It's in the dozens of GW already.

    Energy Grid Stability: Due to the wildly fluctuating Solar and Wind generators, grid stability is deteriorating to the point where serious damage is imminent. At the Leipzig electricity exchange, there are times when the wholesale price is negative, as production spikes must be "destroyed". So if you own a pump reservoir you will sometimes even receive money for pumping water up the hill. Later, you can make money by sending water downhill and selling at something like 20cent/kWh wholesale !

    Currently we don't need any UPSs in Germany to run a computer, but these days will soon be over. Industry already complains loudly about the damage this could bring to expensive facilities like steel rolling mills, which can be destroyed by an outage.

    In General, the rise of solar and wind generation capacity has not at all been matched by corresponding storage capacity (e.g. pumped storage). Options for new pump storage facilities are very limited, but lots of ideas float around, including the use of decommissioned coal mines for that purpose.

    Prices: Consumers already pay more than 20cent/kWh, which is mainly due to very high feed-in tariffs for Solar power. Wind is much less worse in this respect. The solar industry is bitching loud about a reduction of feed-in tariffs for new installations, which is planned.

    In general, I would call it a win for romanticism, not for "cold-steel rationality".

  34. Silent but Deadly

    Here's a thought

    Wind farms are best placed away from built up areas.

    Much of that is close to water.

    Utilisation does not always match periods of demand.

    Why not 'make' hydrogen? It can be stored and burn or stuffed into fuel cells to make bateries. Use hydrogen powered boats or vehicles to move it to market. Sure, it can make a bit of a bang, but it leaves no residue.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Here's a thought

      It's the "bang" that's the problem. In terms of power density, hydrogen stinks, it reacts readily (most terrestrial hydrogen is bonded into compounds, meaning you gotta "crack" them through electrolysis and other processes), and it's a very diffuse gas (lighter than air) naturally, so you're going to have to store it in pressurized vessels which introduces its own headaches. That's why the idea of hydrogen-powered car was shot down a few years back--no one wanted to be trundling around a pressurized hydrogen tank.

      AFAWK, there's no viable generation-scale energy storage in use. There are several in development, but each has stumbling blocks (lithium-ion is espensive, lithium-metal-air has to content with reactivity to humidity, water pumping requires damming and land, air pumping requires tanks or sealable caves, etc.)

    2. Lazy Gun

      Re: Here's a thought

      @Silent but Deadly:

      "Wind farms are best placed..."

      ...back in the pages of history to which they were consigned by the steam engine ~200 years ago.

      Powering anything other than a yacht with the wind is utter stupidity. Trying to power a G7 economy from something that works maybe 20% of the time is total insanity, and proof - as if it were needed - that all politicians are utter f*ckwits.

  35. Andy 18
    Childcatcher

    Free contraception?

    The biggest factor in increasing consumption is that more people use more electricity. Maybe we should just stop encouraging breeding quite so much.

    Make contraceptive dispensers in pub/club/restaurant loos mandatory and free; rescind all maternity/paternity leave allowances; make it legal to promote/pay people who to turn up for work every day and work late when required in preference to those who only turn up for 8 months in two years and have to "pick up their kids" whenever there is a deadline. It might also be an idea to stop pregnancy being covered by the NHS. After all, it's an optional, lifestyle choice. It would save about £30 billion from the NHS budget. Do all those things and the country's carbon emissions would start to fall pretty darn quickly.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The biggest factor in increasing consumption is that more people use more electricity. Maybe we should just stop encouraging breeding quite so much."

    Don'y knock it - these kids will be paying YOUR pension.

    1. jason 7
      FAIL

      Except they wont. As there wont be the jobs to enable them to earn the money to pay it.

      Pensions are an illusion that we all keep kidding ourselves with. Give it another 15-20 years with the baby boomers living their 20th year on pension and it will be on the verge of collapse.

      There wont be enough people to pay into them to support the growing group that is using them for longer and longer.

      Then what about the growing group at the bottom (the underclass) that will never pay in but needs welfare to keep them fed and clothed? Where is the money for that coming from, the few lucky million or so left with a job having to pay 90% tax to pay either end?

      We need someone to stand up and say it's not going to work. So maybe controlling the population is the key but no one dares mention that either.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wind and solar are expensive 'anyway' - when you add a storage system it just makes it even more expensive - it's a nice idea but realistically nuclear can generate much more reliably, cleanly and cheaply. When people stop judging it based on 30-40+ year old reactors it would be seen in quite a different light.

    You are only going to get a small percentage of our electricity from renewables (perhaps 15% at most) and that typically has to be duplicated by conventional generation anyway. The choice comes down to do we keep importing gas and coal and producing CO2 or build more nuclear plans.

    Reducing consumption with energy efficiencies may 'help' but will be dwarfed by our increase in demand as our population rises and economy grows.

  38. This post has been deleted by its author

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It might also be an idea to stop pregnancy being covered by the NHS."

    However, of course these people pay their taxes and their kids also end up paying taxes and your pension in the future. To continue your tripe - let's say you ride a bike - well that's your choice - if you fall off and are injured let's not give you NHS treatment as it was your choice. Oh you like pasties and cakes and become diabetic - well guess what that was also your choice - so tough luck...

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Soylent Green and 'retirement' is the answer to all of the water, energy, food and pension crisises, plus without old codgers doddering about on the roads it might ease congestion too! :)

    1. jason 7

      I read the actual book......

      Make Room! Make Room! while on holiday in Canada last year. Very different to the film (Soylent Green isn't made from people and coffin dodgers aren't "processed") but a lot of the points in the book are quite valid in terms of changing weather, growing populations, welfare and food/water shortages. It's basically a simple crime story set in a not very nice future for the masses while the elite live in air conditioned luxury.

      Worth a read and could make a interesting and timely remake if closer to Harrison's book.

  41. Andre Carneiro
    Thumb Up

    I love The Register

    I swear to God, reading the discussions in these forums is as good (if not better) than the original article some times.

    It's heartwarming to see interesting discussions from people with different but objectively founded points of view.

    El Reg forum posters, I salute you!

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time for some hard facts - deaths per TWh - here are the stats of the number of people who die per TWh for various methods:

    36 for oil

    16 for coal

    4 for natural gas

    0.44 for solar

    0.15 for wind

    0.10 for hydro (or 1.4 if you include the 170k who died when the Banqiao dam failed)

    0.04 for nuclear

    Now to my reckoning that makes existing nuclear (much of which is 20-40 years old) around 10x safer than solar, 100x safer than gas and about 1000x safer than oil.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    With those deaths per TWh stats - most likely nuclear will get better / safer (as many of the existing nuclear plants were early designs 30+ years ago). The arguments against nuclear power plants (terrorism etc.) can be levelled at dams as well - probably easier to get close enough to blow up a dam than it is to get near a nuclear power plant and as Banqiao showed it can be devastating.

    Would be lovely to think we could all have solar panels installed - but the reality more people would die installing and maintaining them than die as a result of nuclear power. It's like air or rail travel - far safer per passenger mile than road but when a plane crashes and 200 people die it is mega news (as it should be) - but the far greater number of people who die each year on the roads mostly goes with little mention.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Some of the protest against air and rail travel goes to economics. It's easy to picture air travel is expensive; keeping people in the air when they weren't can't fly under their own power takes energy (one estimate of 747 fuel efficiency was in the range of 5gal/mile--yes, gallons per mile).

      As for rail travel, detractors pose a simple challenge: find a self-sufficient passenger rail network, capable of operating completely (including train acquisition and track maintenance) on its own revenues. AFAIK, no one has stepped forward with one yet.

    2. Lazy Gun

      @AC:

      "The arguments against nuclear power plants (terrorism etc.) can be levelled at dams as well.."

      Dam failures have killed *a lot* of people throughout history, so no wonder envirofreakazoids like them. No carbon (or even CO2) and they reduce overpopulation.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    5gal/mile - but carrying 400 passengers and their luggage plus staff plus food etc.

    5gal/mile is the equivalent of 100-150 cars at 20-30mpg - so to shift those 400 people from London to Manchester on a 747 or by car is probably fairly similar fuel wise.

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