back to article Don't panic, but UK faces BLACKOUTS BY 2015

The UK risks energy shortages by 2015 or 2016, energy regulator Ofgem has predicted. The shortages will primarily be caused by EU environmental legislation forcing the early closure of coal and oil-fired power stations, it said. Its first annual Capacity Assessment [93-page / 1.9MB PDF] projects that electricity margins, or …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Nev Silver badge
    FAIL

    Who didn't know this was coming!?!

    Seriously.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Meh

      Re: Who didn't know this was coming!?!

      Everybody knew, except OFGEM. The forward projection of reserve margin in the UK (that's your % of gross secure generating capacity over your peak demand) has shown this coming down to nil by 2015, and that's been the case for the past five years, openly illustrated in energy company investor reports. From the point of view of the energy companies, reducing reserve margins is great, because it pushes prices up, although it is also the signal to start building new plant. Well done to OFGEM for waking up, yawning and panicking.

      Ultimately the reason for this situation is that the bunglers of DECC, BIS and OFGEM have farted around for the past decade obsessed with "climate change", throwing vast sums at unreliable renewables, worrying about any scheme with words like climate, community, partnership in the title and ignored the basics. They should all be sacked.

      However, it's not as bad as it looks because there's quite a lot of CCGT that is in the pipeline and will come on stream, many of the stations being shut down never run (eg Grain was completed in 1982ish, is now being closed but has rarely run because it is expensive and surplus to demand needs).

      And if the government want to ensure security they simply pay the owners to hold plant in reserve capacity (and if need be they should tell the EU where to stuff their Large Combustion Plant Directive). And as the article notes, that's in the scheme to rejig the electricity market (expect the cretins of the civil service to screw it up, mind you).

      The German government are having to address at the moment because they've got a similar situation, that renewables have hoovered up all the money, and the operators of thermal plant want to close the unprofitable plant down, so the German pols (having made the problem) now want to force the energy companies to keep open loss making plants.

      1. h4rm0ny
        Mushroom

        Re: Who didn't know this was coming!?!

        "Ultimately the reason for this situation is that the bunglers of DECC, BIS and OFGEM have farted around for the past decade obsessed with "climate change", throwing vast sums at unreliable renewables, worrying about any scheme with words like climate, community, partnership in the title and ignored the basics. They should all be sacked."

        Agreed, but woth noting that worrying about Climate Change does not have to mean wasting money at wind power. If someone is worried about CO2 emissions, nuclear is a perfectly viable answer to that.

        Unfortunately I literally have on my desk right now, a leaflet handed to me in the street asking me to write to Edward Davey (the Secretary of State in Dept. of Energy and Climate Change" to tell him how we the British public oppose nuclear power. I'm actually going to write to tell him large numbers of us really support it.

        I'm actually a mild septic on AGW, but there are plenty of other reasons to want to reduce our fossil fuel dependency. But whichever side you fall on, nuclear is a far better progression from fossil fuels than wind power, etc. We're going to have to keep gas-power going for a while yet - you can't rush building a nuclear power station. Which is why we need to get them in place now, not later.

        Mushroom cloud, because FoE can't tell the difference between nuclear power and a nuclear bomb.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          Re: Who didn't know this was coming!?!

          "Agreed, but woth noting that worrying about Climate Change does not have to mean wasting money at wind power. If someone is worried about CO2 emissions, nuclear is a perfectly viable answer to that."

          You'd be right if the "Cult of Climate Change" were logical. But they're often not as your FOE comment recognises, so they're frequently the same people opposed to nuclear power. For the rest of us, there's the minor problem that nuclear power plants cost five times as much as gas, of which there's no immediate shortage (likewise coal). Even the argument that nuclear fuel costs are low is spurious, because with rising Chinese and developing world demand, and with a diminshed surplus-military stockpile, the suppliers will in due course start pricing it for the embedded energy versus the alternatives that the buyer has (so coal, oil, gas).

          The latest generation of nukes are overly complicated and overly expensive, as events in Finland and France have demonstrated, and personally I think the engineers need to be sent back to the drawing board to design a cheaper, simpler, genuinely failsafe system. PBMR was a system developed by the Germans to meet exactly this, but then (first time round) they decided to withdraw from nuclear power and didn't continue it. PBMR in particular might not be the answer, but there's other possible developments in low cost reactors that might be the answer.

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: Who didn't know this was coming!?!

            @Ledswinger: I've modded you up because you make many good points. (And your reference to Finland shows you are informed on the subject). I would happily debate you on nuclear power in more detail but I don't have time unfortunately. But I'll point out that the cost of building nuclear power plants is not likely to come down in real terms any time soon, but we will *have* to move to nuclear from fossil fuels at some point. Is it better to do this now, whilst we still have some nuclear expertise, or at the last minute when we are crippled by sky-high oil and gas prices, nuclear fuel is more expensive and nuclear fuel sources have become strategic areas of control in the same way oil producing countries are today? (You yourself comment that nuclear prices will start to rise in the medium term). It takes a considerable amount of time to build nuclear power plants safely and it's not something best done at the last minute when we're already suffering from massive energy prices on dwindling fossil fuel. I'd also challenge that statement about five times the cost of a gas power plant when we look at rising gas prices and consider re-processing. But no time...

            The main thing I wanted to say was that most people believe in AGW and as a sceptic, I don't know whether or not it's true myself. But I do think it's counter-productive to ignore that nuclear power is a low CO2 powersource as a factor regardless of your own feelings on this issue. The reason being, you are currently arguing for fossil fuel usage in favour of renewables or nuclear. That's fine, but there's an other argument that will not go away whether you want it to or not, and that is renewables vs. nuclear. I suspect that if you were *forced* to choose between those two, you would choose nuclear (whilst complaining fossil fuels should have been an option, loudly). Well, you (and me) are being forced to make that choice. We're not going to get away with just saying "fossil fuels is fine" whether you're someone who genuinely thinks that like you, or whether you're someone who prefers nuclear like me. So I think it most effective not to lump nuclear in with renewables as a single category of "inferior choice" even if you think fossil fuels are The Way. Many people do believe in AGW (and they may be right for all I know). If you turn your back on nuclear power and don't show that it's as CO2 low as renewables, then you're going to get stabbed in the back with a wind-turbine. Like it or not, nuclear power is the most effective-counter argument to Wind Power in the current scientific and political mindset.

          2. AndyC

            Re: Who didn't know this was coming!?!

            "The latest generation of nukes are overly complicated and overly expensive, as events in Finland and France have demonstrated, and personally I think the engineers need to be sent back to the drawing board to design a cheaper, simpler, genuinely failsafe system."

            Only the French EPR is overly complex. Having reviewed both designs (EPR and AP1000), I came away very impressed by the AP1000's simplicity. The AP1000 uses passively safe systems. Basically, if the smelly stuff hits the fan, it is designed to automagically shut down and be safe, without any human or active control system intervention for 48 hours. The EPR requires multiple active safety systems to do the same thing.

            Yes, the PBMR is a good design, but it is a Gen IV design, rather than a Gen III+, like the AP1000 or EPR. This basically means that the pilot studies have been done, the concept is proven in a laboratory setting, but they haven't sorted out how to make the commercially viable solution yet. The South Africans were trying, but decided to shut down their project through lack of cash.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Who didn't know

              @ Andy C: Agree with your views (my employers had come to the same conclusion re AP1000), although that's an area well away from what I do.

              @H4rmony & Andy C: Having said that, the blackout business is an entirely artificial construct, caused by EU directives and the British bunglement's policies. Simply rip up the stupid rules, and we've got plenty of time, and then we can investigate what a Gen4 reactor could do, hopefully at lower cost rather than panic buying the least bad solution on the shelves today. As things stand we don't even have companies who want to invest in a Gen3 reactor (even EdF, cheer leaders for nuclear are looking for a co-investor to pump cash into the proposed Hinckley Point build).

              The same is true of renewables - if we're going to have them, far better to have a proper slow long term plan, rather than the shambles we've got at the moment, where money is thrown at any crummy scheme that can claim to be "renewable". Given that DECC are only supposed to do "policy", it's incredible that they can't even do that properly. Or, in the light of the incomptence of MoD, DfT, et al, maybe it's not incredible at all.

              1. itzman
                FAIL

                Re: Who didn't know

                Better not to have renewables at all - a complete blind alley.

                http://www.templar.co.uk/downloads/Renewable%20Energy%20Limitations.pdf

  2. JaitcH
    Thumb Up

    Power outages have benefits, too

    Living in a country where power frequently goes out, there are definite benefits that accrue from them.

    Conservation: Everyone thinks about whether they they need the heater / air-con or whether a plain old fan is sufficient. Never filling a kettle beyond the amount you NEED. Using economy lighting (most of mine are LED now) and always switching the lights off; Using refrigerators in moderation, none of that cold as possible stuff.

    Consideration: for others knowing that your wastage might cause them to lose power;

    Awareness: That power resources are finite and conservation is not just a word;

    Choosing the right appliances: Instant on water heaters, mounted adjacent to the point of use save money big time. Cut out the 'Hollywood' showers (Did you see that Angie Dickinson shower scene!!).

    Standby Power: Get yourself a small generator and a can or two of petrol / gas. Make wiring arrangements for easy emergency power switch-overs for essential outlets. Install battery powered emergency lights near stairways and other risky areas.

    And don't forget the condoms in North America where power stays on, uninterrupted, for years, birth rates always increase nine-months after the power failure as adults reap the benefits of alternative entertainment during outages.

    1. Anonymous Coward 101

      Re: Power outages have benefits, too

      I'm not sure if you are serious?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Power outages have benefits, too

        "Get yourself a small generator and a can or two of petrol / gas. Make wiring arrangements for easy emergency power switch-overs for essential outlets."

        Are you ready for Baghdad? Expect the air quality to plummet though.

        1. JaitcH
          Unhappy

          In Ho Chi Minh a few thousand ...

          small generators are nothing compared to 4,000,000+ motorcycles.

      2. Robert E A Harvey

        Re: Power outages have benefits, too

        No, he's right.

        I sold a lot of generators and changeover wiring in the 1970s, and will do so again.

        Bring it on!

      3. JaitcH
        Meh

        Am I serious?

        Dead serious.

        When I visit countries in the West I practice what I preach and those locals think it is 'excessive'. The first power outage makes people believers.

        1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

          Re: Am I serious?

          I believe he is. I won't be the only person sitting here thinking "Well, if it does happen, I'll just invest in a generator." Inbuilt in that decision is the capability for my own power, for conservation of that power, for choosing the right appliances for that power, and everything else mentioned.

          Hell, I know people who have generators that they turn on in the smallest of brownouts to keep the freezer or fish-tank going, so it's hardly a huge step to contemplate once blackouts become common enough to affect daily life. And, when it comes to it, I have a petrol strimmer that gives 700W of rotational power for hours on end from £5 of petrol to a rod to which I could attach to any electric motor and get sufficient power out (even mains-level if I use the cheapy inverter from Maplin's that I have in my car and a suitable battery) to do something with if blackouts are going to start becoming commonplace. It might only be a bulb and the laptops, but it's going to make me think more about providing that power than anything else if I get home and have no power for the whole evening.

          I certainly won't be splashing out on solar panels or home wind turbines, though, because the subsidies for those are likely to dry up very quickly in such circumstances because of their inefficiency and I'd be left with the bill and a device that will die before it will reap back my outlay on it.

          You have no idea how reliant on electrical power you are until you take away modern 24/7 supply of it. My first thoughts would be "freezer, fridge, lighting, heating (depending on the time of year), fish-tanks, everything else", but over any extended period of blackouts, you'd find my basics taken care of and I'd be there watching TV (even if it's pre-recorded DVD's because the transmitters are down) - and I wouldn't be alone.

          When I lived with my parents, during any sort of extended blackout (sometimes scheduled because of local works etc.), our neighbours and my dad would already have been out to the trade shops and have ready in place enough generator power to keep enough going in the house that no food would go off and people could do their household chores. Hell, I can remember him throwing single-sockets over to the neighbours and telling them to plug their lights into it.

          Electricity is the one thing you can make on your own, even if you have to improvise. More worryingly, powercuts will lead to a HUGE increase in the price of petrol and things like generators and two-stroke oil (not to mention the related greenhouse gases that "conservationists" want us to not put out, but which they have basically increased in such situations by not providing nuclear) - and some houses rely on electricity to do everything from lighting to heating to storing food to keeping livestock to having a bath.

          Your iPhone/laptop/Blu-Ray kinda becomes useless as entertainment in a blackout if you can't charge it and though most people will tolerate one night, after a week or a month of blackouts, they'll do something about it. Which generally involves spending lots of money to become independent of the grid.

          1. itzman

            Re: Am I serious?

            No it involves voting in a government who will scrap renewable energy

        2. Anonymous Coward 101

          Re: Am I serious?

          Well, you're daft.

          That list of so called 'benefits' are really just adjustments people make to a bad situation. People become 'believers' because they have no choice.

    2. myarse
      Pint

      Re: Power outages have benefits, too

      Having lived in a country with nightly power outs - Sri Lanka 2001/2002 I think you must be crazy - the only good thing was an added incentive to go to the pub.

    3. jason 7 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Power outages have benefits, too

      It's not so daft.

      Some years ago I switched to just spending 3 minutes in the shower each morning rather than the usual "however long I felt like it".

      Saved me just over £100 in water and gas over the year. Thats just for ONE person. Now apply that to a family of four and surely its worth a try?

      Also as both myself and my wife work from home now, we decided to apply the old "only flush the loo during the day if we really have to" routine.

      After a year of doing that we are now down to a Solo tariff for our water which is a further saving.

    4. h4rm0ny

      Re: Power outages have benefits, too

      A little like saying rationing has health benefits for the obese. Yes, it might cut out some overconsumption. Sucks if you're already one of the thin, though.

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Trollface

    Is this like NASA's "faster, better cheaper"?

    Secure, clean and affordable -- chose two out of three!

    1. itzman
      Mushroom

      Re: Is this like NASA's "faster, better cheaper"?

      why not go 3 out of 3 - nuclear.

  4. James Pickett

    "Energy Secretary Ed Davey said that the Government would "consider carefully the implications" of the report, and publish a formal response before the end of the year."

    Last week, Ed Davey was reported as saying that it was nothing to worry about and that there was still a 4% 'cushion', apparently ignoring the possibility of a large power station having to stop for maintenance and/or believing that wind power will always fill the gap.

    Of course, we could ignore the EU and keep those slated for closure open while DECC gets its act together, but as Alan Bennett might say, they won't, will they?

    1. JaitcH
      FAIL

      Words of ignorance

      @James Pickett

      "Energy Secretary Ed Davey said that the Government would "consider carefully the implications" of the report, and publish a formal response before the end of the year."

      Last week, Ed Davey was reported as saying that it was nothing to worry about and that there was still a 4% 'cushion' ...".

      A very, very, stupid man. I livid through a 5-day North American power outage and it was hell, especially considering Canada's system was and the fault lay in the States!

      1. Anonymous Coward 101

        Re: Words of ignorance

        There is no plan here, is there? The government knows that a real plan - involving gas, nuclear and even coal - would cause wailing from greenies and NIMBIES. So they put off making a decision until it all goes to hell.

        1. Dr Dan Holdsworth
          Mushroom

          Re: Words of ignorance

          The basic problem here is a severe lack of cojones on the part of Government, and the regrettable tendency of much of the public to yap noisily and incessantly about things which they know nothing about. AGW is a case in point; every time the current research is thoroughly examined, the "threat" of AGW diminishes and the effects from the projected warming reduce in scope and recede into the far-distant future.

          Yet, the topic attracts comment from huge numbers of pseudo-greenies who seem to wish to impose a very real sack-cloth & ashes on the country whilst retaining the "right" to cheap air travel and pervasive cheap energy. Added to this are a horde more neo-Luddites who see rolling brown-outs as a good thing; such supply incompetence hits heavy industry extremely hard, forcing existing factories to expensively install their own gensets and strongly discouraging other prospective industrials from investing in new industrial plant. In simple terms, if you make running a factory here expensive, people won't build them here.

          A final problem is that a huge swathe of the population is not only stupid, ill-informed and vocal but actually sees remaining ill-informed and stupid as a virtue. An example here is the current sweeping epizootic of bovine tuberculosis; all the epidemiological science on this matter focusses around clobbering disease reservoirs as effectively as possible (as was done most successfully in New Zealand). Not doing this condemns the animals of this wildlife reservoir to infection and slow, unpleasant death from this infection, yet the general public steadfastly refuses to think and consider this.

          As I said at the top, modern governments lack the balls to simply turn round to the general public and say "You think this, you are wrong. We will do what is right, not what you want. No go away and watch Eastenders or whatever othe brain-rotting tripe you normally indulge in". We need nuclear power stations, we need then very soon, and most of all we need to tell the morons to shut up.

          1. jason 7 Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Dont worry!

            As soon as the first brown-outs happen and folks can't toast a panini, watch X-Factor or charge their iPads, the whole green argument and planning red-tape will be trampled underfoot and we'll have four+ new reactors built and online within 5 years.

            Shame we cant do it a little more progressively but that's how it works nowadays. No one gives a damn until they are directly affected.

            1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

              Re: Dont worry!

              > four+ new reactors built and online within 5 years

              AFAIK that is impossible as there are only a handful industrial sites able to handle the billet of metal to be made into a seamless reactor vessel and they are booked out for the next few years. May be wrong though.

              1. jason 7 Silver badge
                Mushroom

                Re: Dont worry!

                If the customer is desperate enough and the money is there its amazing what can be achieved.

                These projects only take so long due to lawyers and people stringing the jobs out longer means...more money.

                Its how BAe came to be so big. It doesn't really take 20 years to build an aircraft carrier or a fighter jet.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile, in Germany.....

    OK, bear with me.... remember they are closing their nuke stations? But fret ye not! :-

    http://www.cv.lv/ja/starjobs-sia/coal-power-plant-commissioning-engineer-d252253.html?index=2a20e4235f54fce212db927ea2d53348aa3546bb

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Meanwhile, in Germany.....

      "Yes," grinned Hardin. "A military target to stay away from. Isn't it obvious why I brought the subject up? It happened to confirm a very strong suspicion I had had."

      "And that was what?"

      "That Anacreon no longer has a nuclear-power economy. If they had, our friend would undoubtedly have realized that plutonium, except in ancient tradition is not used in power plants. And therefore it follows that the rest of the Periphery no longer has nuclear power either. Certainly Smyrno hasn't, or Anacreon wouldn't have won most of the battles in their recent war. Interesting, wouldn't you say?"

      "Bah!" Pirenne left in fiendish humor, and Hardin smiled gently.

      He threw his cigar away and looked up at the outstretched Galaxy. "Back to oil and coal, are they?" he murmured – and what the rest of his thoughts were he kept to himself.

  6. Mike Brown

    maybe for england....

    for the newly independent Scotland, 2015 will bring vast amounts of prosperity, as we sell our abundant hydro electricity to england.

    1. P.Nutt
      Alert

      Re: maybe for england....

      The amount of hot air Salmond produces on a daily basis we could power Europe.

      Lets face it we are pretty much screwed if that idiot is allowed to run things.

      1. Mike Brown

        Re: maybe for england....

        I face nothing. Scotland can be independent. We have the resources, the skill and courage to do so. Once we have independence if the people choose to have someone else rather than Salmond then fair enough. But to dismiss the whole notion of self governence based your dislike for Salmond is niave and short sighted.

        1. Mad Mike
          FAIL

          Re: maybe for england....

          Hello, reality calling. Let's just look at three factors first of all:-

          1. EU. Scotland does not have an automatic right to join. It would have to apply before it could get all that lovely EU money.

          2. Debts. The UK should ask Scotland to repay all the money we leant Scotlands companies. Ones like HBOS, RBS etc.etc. Call it £50billion in round numbers. Where you getting that from?

          3. Pound. You ain't having it. Allowing Scotland to continue using the pound is silly as the BofE cannot be responsible to two governments. Scotland would have to create it's own currency and then back it with it's own central bank. That would make the currency worth very little and raising any national debt would be at silly interest rates.

          In short, the only people who really think Scotland can stand alone are those that put nationalistic ideals ahead of any form of practicality or indeed common sense. Personally, I don't think the Scottish will vote to leave as I credit them with more sense. If this happens, I would like a vote amongst NI, Wales and England as to whether we want Scotland in the Union. I pretty much suspect the vote would be to eject the continually complaining Scottish and good riddance.

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: maybe for england....

            "1. EU. Scotland does not have an automatic right to join. It would have to apply before it could get all that lovely EU money."

            The EU right now would not want to be weakened by the departure of Scotland and other EU nations would certainly welcome Scotland to EU membership. Whilst it's true that Scotland would have to apply, expect a fast track to acceptance.

            "2. Debts. The UK should ask Scotland to repay all the money we leant Scotlands companies. Ones like HBOS, RBS etc.etc. Call it £50billion in round numbers. Where you getting that from?"

            This issue would not actually have to change. You would simply have these companies part owned from "abroad". Of course, many Scots might not like that, but it's not exactly a new thing to have your local companies owned by foreigners. The London Stock Exchange is part owned by Dubai and Qatar (they own about 35% between them). Happens all the time.

            "3. Pound. You ain't having it. Allowing Scotland to continue using the pound is silly as the BofE cannot be responsible to two governments. Scotland would have to create it's own currency and then back it with it's own central bank. That would make the currency worth very little and raising any national debt would be at silly interest rates."

            Absolutely the case that a shared currency would not work. Look at what happened when Greece and Spain attempted to share a currency with Germany and France. (Not the whole story, but a sigificant factor). However, Scotland would not have to create their own currency - they could join the Euro and would be eagerly welcomed. Of course, Scotland may not wish to do that.

            I'm picking out the flaws as I see them in your post, but that doesn't mean I disagree. Right now, London is bringing in more money to the UK than the rest of the country put together, THere's a significant flow of cash from South to North and if anyone can make a case for being financially better off after a separation, it's the English. But it's not going to happen - most Scots don't want to leave, it's just Salmond promising things that aren't possible - like leaving but keeping all the benefits and the shared currency. I'd be sorry to see Scotland leave the UK personally. There are more important things than money.

          2. Mike Brown

            Re: maybe for england....

            1. whats your issue here? so we need to apply. great. fill in a few forms, get a doctor to sign our photo, jobs done!

            2. What debt? That money was paid to the UK government, who then paid it to UK companies. Certainly not from the BofE to Scottish companies. Scotland dosent actually owe anything, the UK does. Im sure we can throw a few scraps to the UK tho. Times are tough after all.

            3. Its not up to the BofE. If a small village in Africa decided to start using sterling as there main currancy, there is nothing the BofE could do.

            Scotland has more than enough clout to stand on our own. You can keep your broken Britain.

          3. Mark .

            Re: maybe for england....

            Whilst I think that Scottish independence would have many problems, it's not clear why Scottish companies would have to "pay back" anything - that money was from the UK Government which *includes* Scotland up until independence (and Scottish taxpayers also contributed to it). Plus many English/Welsh/NI companies received money too. It seems rather silly to try to work out perhaps decades or centuries' worth of payments, to work out if what should be paid back to whom. Do all the Scottish citizens get all the taxes paid back to the UK too, by that logic.

            No, it ought to be clear that the change would be from independence onwards. Scottish companies received money - just as scottish taxpayers paid tax - because they were part of the UK. Independence is not something that is retroactive.

            The whole question of currency is a complex one, but I would hope that debate is more mature than "You can't have it". For starters, there's nothing stopping the new independent Scotland to declare UKP to be legal currency, and there's nothing the remainder of the UK can do about it. Of course, a new currency would best be created, and yes it is a complex issue how this is done. (A similar thing applies to a country leaving the Euro.)

            "I pretty much suspect the vote would be to eject the continually complaining Scottish and good riddance."

            You'd punish the Scottish people, based on disagreement with political leaders? Now who's putting "nationalistic ideals ahead of any form of practicality or indeed common sense"?

            1. h4rm0ny

              Re: maybe for england....

              "For starters, there's nothing stopping the new independent Scotland to declare UKP to be legal currency, and there's nothing the remainder of the UK can do about it"

              Again, I like having Scotland as part of the UK, but the above notion is pretty funny. No, England could not tell Scotland they couldn't use the pound as their currency, but I can't imagine the average Scot being very happy when they go to their bank and say "I'd like £500" and the teller replying: "we've sent our manager down to Newcastle to flog a car. He should be back tomorrow with a few thousand in notes. You'll have to wait." Basically, there is no reason the the Royal Mint will be sending notes and coinage to Scotland if they leave. So what are we talking about here? Printing and minting Scottish pound sterlings? Okay - these already exist, but how is that functionally different to Scotland having its own currency? Are you suggesting that Scotland peg its currency to the pound sterling? Why would they do that? China used to peg their currency to the dollar just to annoy the US (note, not really just to annoy the US), but China has methods economic control that, shall we say, are not available to Scotland. Why would Scotland gain independence and then try to wiggle out of one of the few benefits which would be the freedom to set interest rates more suited to their own local economy?

              1. John Hughes
                FAIL

                Re: maybe for england....

                "I can't imagine the average Scot being very happy when they go to their bank and say "I'd like £500" and the teller replying: "we've sent our manager down to Newcastle to flog a car. He should be back tomorrow with a few thousand in notes. You'll have to wait."

                Uh, you do know that scottish banks print their own notes?

                "Printing and minting Scottish pound sterlings? Okay - these already exist"

                Oh, you do. So what exactly is the point of your wierd story?

            2. Mad Mike

              Re: maybe for england....

              @Mark.

              If a someone within the Union left, it only makes sense for them to take their fair share of the debts (as in national debt). Why should those left carry them all and the one leaving not take any? So, Scotland would immediately get a huge national debt.

              As to currency. Fine, keep the pound. However, all decisions would be taken for the rest of the union and not Scotland. No country ever wants to be beholden to another for their currency, as this can cause all manner of issues and is a loss of control. Also, try and raise national debt when your currency is anothers.

          4. Red Bren

            Re: maybe for england....

            Remind us all again what the 'H' in HBOS stands for. And by the way, its Lloyds HBOS.

    2. itzman

      Re: maybe for england....

      you are joking. Theres' barely a GW of hydro capacity in Scotland, which would keel over and die without coal and nuclear.

      And independent scotland would not of course be able to sell wind power at anything above market rates. Nor would england finance the cables.

      England cant wait for Scottish independence, when they will have to actually pat their way. They cant

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nuke power please!

    I hope this report will spur the government into action and push through some new nuke power stations ASAP,

    we have 3 years or so to get one built, plenty of time!

    Until Fusion power is viable, we need Fission power plants, sure tidal/wave power would be a nice clean addition to the mix, but except for offshore wind, we should ban large wind turbines (I am fine with small domestic/commercial wind)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nuke power please!

      Well, there should be some nice low-mileage nuke stations in Germany unwanted soon, get them to dismantle them and relocate them, if they don't know how, I am sure the Russians have some experience in having to do this kind of thing for some reason :P

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Nuke power please!

        > the Russians have some experience in having to do this kind of thing for some reason

        In Soviet Russia, nuclear reactors dismantle YOU, so I'm not sure this translates to real-world skills.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nuke power please!

          I meant not so much the Pripyat Organic Farm Experiment, but when they had "unwelcome guests" several decades earlier and had to dismantle and relocate strategic factories and heavy equipment much further east :P

          Incidentally, you know pretty much all ex-Soviet sites look like Pripyat, regardless if they were nuclear or not.... Britain would look like that too if you removed 95% of the state funds and "liberated it" around 1992 or so, in fact I have seen some ex-industrial towns in Fife region that look supiciously similar ;)

    2. cyberdemon
      Mushroom

      Re: Nuke power please!

      Sadly it takes a lot more than 3 years to build a simple gas fired plant, let alone a nuclear one.

      Plus we still have all the hippies moaning about nuclear power. And we sold all our nuclear industry to the French.

    3. itzman

      Re: Nuke power please!

      No renewable is a cost effective way of generating electricity unless your are 50 miles from a pylon.

      http://www.templar.co.uk/downloads/Renewable%20Energy%20Limitations.pdf

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've got an idea, time to write a letter...

    "Dear Duracell,

    Please can you build me a battery the size of a shipping container.

    Yours sincerely,

    Ignorant Consumer"

  9. Ben Norris
    FAIL

    don't worry

    Electric cars are the answer!...no wait

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: don't worry

      You could buy them pre-charged, just like those wacky hybrid rechargeable batteries you can see in shops.

      Just keep buying new cars, problem solved! :P

    2. Steve Todd
      FAIL

      Re: don't worry

      Given that they charge on off peak power and can feed power back into the grid at peak then yes, they may be part of the solution.

      1. HMB

        Re: don't worry

        I'm not sure how much people are going to want to use their 10,000 cycle super expensive batteries for propping up the national grid. Plus, if people are going to want to drive the cars they aren't going to want to discharge them at peak time in the day.

    3. itzman

      Re: don't worry

      I calculated that if all the cars in the UK were electric, they might keep the grid going for 2 days. And use over 30% of the worlds reserves of Lithium.

      To take 10GW of solar power through a 3 month winter would consist in flooding Wales to a depth of 500 feet.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: don't worry

        Yeah, but there has to be a downside somewhere? ;)

  10. g.marconi

    Who mentioned solar?

    It might help ease the load a bit if every household was encouraged to install solar PV panels. Perhaps a financial incentive would be well worth it. Oh wait, we used to have that didn't we and then suddenly it was slashed in half so that for most people it is not worth their investment! Darn, if only we had known about that EU directive last year!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Re: Who mentioned solar? A knob, that's who.

      The whole point here is that solar is unavailable at most Triad periods (peak demand), because these occur (surprise surprise) in winter, and in the evening. Even the thousands of crappy windmills despoiling the countryside are generally useless here, because onshore wind drops off at night, and the coldest periods of weather are associated with high pressure zones and low wind speeds both on and offshore.

      So your choices are: Coal, Gas, Oil, Nuclear, or the Greenpeace preferred option, of sitting in the dark shivering. Also, the circa £20 billion so far frittered on renewables in this country can now be seen as part of the problem, not part of the solution. For that sort of money we could have built ten large 1.8 MW CCGTs, ensuring that we did have secure power supplies, but instead the gormless shitheads of DECC bravely fought the battle against climate change with my money. As a result fat cat banks and energy companies have earned big margins putting up subsidised wind farms, and stupid middle class plonkers have been rewarded for putting ineffectual eco-bling on their houses (all funded, at large, by the general populations, such that the poor pay for the toys of the rich).

      Slashing the solar FIT was almost sensible, bit not as sensible as scrapping it altogether, and cancelling all the feed in tariffs already in place.

      1. Dunstan Vavasour
        Boffin

        Re: Who mentioned solar? A knob, that's who.

        Wind turbines are pretty good at reducing chronic CO2 emissions, they're just rubbish at providing reliable power exactly when needed: they should be built and operated, but kept outside the "generating capacity" figures, as they can't be relied on.

        Still, if the problem is with peak demands then surely there is scope for demand management? For decades the very biggest energy users (such as the steel and aluminium industries) have had load-shedding arrangements. Surely this could be run back into medium sized users, even if it won't work for domestic users? But even in a domestic setting, if you could incentivise people to put their washing and tumble driers on overnight instead of at 6pm, you'd be a lot of the way there.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Unhappy

          Re: Who mentioned solar? A knob, that's who.

          "For decades the very biggest energy users (such as the steel and aluminium industries) have had load-shedding arrangements"

          Except that we don't have any worthwhile metals industry now. And to extend it would be pointless, because the mid sized users don't get the sort of cheap (interruptible) power prices that the big users were offered. So they'd have their businesses screwed up, yet see no cost savings. The output losses would dwarf the energy sector cost savings.

          You are in principle right that you could try and incentivise people with price signals, but how many different periods and seasons would you like to be charged at? The industry works on daily half hour charging for a reason, but even if you simplified this from 48 to to 5 daily charging periods, and split summer and winter, then you've got ten different tariffs you're being charged, before anybody changes a price. Your bill would be incredibly complex (unless you'd trust them to bill you but not show you), and at anypoint in time most people wouldn't have a clue what they were being charged. If you actually charged the system marginal price, then consumers wouldn't have a clue what they were paying, and there would be a revolution when they saw how much they were being charged during a winter peak period.

          To summarise: It's the bloody regulators and the 'leccy industry's job to meet demand at a competitive cost, not the job of customers to fit in around what it suits the 'leccy industry and bureaucrats to generate.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Who mentioned solar? A knob, that's who.

            "Relying too heavily on imports can leave countries vulnerable to fluctuating international market prices and disruptions to fuel supplies caused by geopolitical disturbances."

            This may be transmitted to the EU parliament as they have come around to following Israeli "SECOND HOLOCAUST SOON" hype and will now ban Iranian gas imports too.

            Expensive or cold winter coming up. Or both.

            At least Gazprom's coffers will fill.

      2. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: Who mentioned solar? A knob, that's who.

        Coal? WTF are you talking about?

        Do you have any idea how insecure coal supplies are and how difficult it is to estimate or hedge prices in the medium term?

        Even EDF's own site says "Relying too heavily on imports can leave countries vulnerable to fluctuating international market prices and disruptions to fuel supplies caused by geopolitical disturbances."

        So good luck with that, genius.

        "As a result fat cat banks and energy companies have earned big margins putting up subsidised wind farms"

        Citation needed.

        Give some non-mouthy objective and independently verifiable proof that renewables get *more* subsidy than other modalities, or STFU.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Megaphone

          Re: Who mentioned solar? @TheOtherHobbes

          "Do you have any idea how insecure coal supplies are and how difficult it is to estimate or hedge prices in the medium term?"

          If push came to shove we're sitting on 200 years supplies of coal in the UK, and that's ignoring the probably much larger reserves under the North Sea. However, in the medium term we'd stick to buying cheap coal from Poland, the US, Russia, Columbia, Indonesia, South Africa and even start buying from Australia if need be. Coal supplies aren't insecure, and only ever were when this country was beholden to Scargill and his idiot mates.

          "Citation needed" I'll let you go an read the many published report and accounts of a range of energy companies, although if you've been too lazy to do this already, I see no reason that you'll change your ways. The banks are in there as co-funders and even developers, but they're a lot more reticent about what they're doing. If you haven't kept your eyes open then you'll have to take my word for it, or go and do some research of your own.

          If you honestly believe that renewables aren't getting shit loads of subsidies, then you're talking out of your arse. I could post links illustrating how this all works, but I have done before in related debates, an I see no reason to indulge the stupid and lazy. As noted before, my employers are active in all of the fields that we're currently discussing, and we make money most effectively when we react to the feed in tarrifs, rigged markets, carbon certificate boondoggles, and other government interventions. There's currently no money in securing the electricity supply, and that's why it is being left to chance. You may also care to get your arse on over to the DECC website, where they proudly trumpet how much they are tilting the playing fields to renewables - but again, since you don't know, you'll need to do your own selection and reading, because I'm not spoon feeding you.

          Now fuck off until you've got something useful to contribute.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Who mentioned solar? A knob, that's who.

          FITs are massive subsidies.

          Read the terms of the FITs, then compare those guaranteed levels of payment per kWh with what you pay for your electricity.

          You'll notice that the FITs are between 75% and 500% of the rate on your electricity bill. So where does that money come from?

          1. HMB

            @Ledswinger

            @Ledswinger

            I just want to say thank you for the posts you have done in this thread. I upvoted them of course but that is not enough.

            I despair that some people have both the ignorance, arrogance and tenacity to wade into a debate on a topic that is critical to the wellbeing of this country and spout off such BS as coal being expensive. It's not just spectacularly wrong, but epically ignorant. It's made 10x worse by an abusive, childish delivery.

            I can only imagine that rather than coming to the logical conclusion that coal is used because it provides max profit and cheapest prices, that *the* poster has this deranged idea that evil people in quasi futurisitc clothing sit laughing, stroking cats, running power stations on coal, purely to put out lots of CO2 emissions.

            Coal: It's an International conspiracy by a highly organised criminal underworld to make people pay more for electricity and ruin the environment.

            Let's just spend a minute's silence just to reflect on just how stupid that is, because if you think about it just for a moment, it becomes increasingly obvious that it's a very, very special sort of stupid.

            Thank you.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Happy

              Re: @HMB

              Thank you (fx: bows low and graciously).

  11. MJI Silver badge

    Don't close the working ones

    We need to stop closures of existing plant, we NEED nuclear power NOW. We need to stop waste.

    If we start getting cuts I will.

    smash every light in Tescos carpark and walkways, cut the power supply to the motorised adverts, disable every lamp post I can.

    The above are examples of waste, we do not need lit adverts, street lights, we do not need supermarkets lit up like Christmas trees overnight.

    We need power for our fridges, home lights, freezers, cooking ect ect.

    1. jason 7 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Don't close the working ones

      I have to say I hate driving past my local govt/council offices at 10pm to see most of the lights still on.

      Why cant buildings have a central timer?

      If staff are still in a place of work at 10pm that doesn't run shifts then something is wrong.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't close the working ones

        They can, and I install them.

        - It's more than juts a 'timer' though, you need the central controller plus all the active bits that actually switch the lighting.

        While the actual control and switching side of it is pretty cheap, retrofitting architectural lighting control into an existing building is often considered "too expensive". Most of these systems go into new build or complete refit.

    2. HMB

      Re: Don't close the working ones

      @MJI

      For the most part I like your attitude, but streetlights make the road safer from crime and traffic collisions.

      Pragmatically, waste will always happen.

      In my ideal world, City Centers are safer and more welcoming because of lighting and we don't have to worry too much about energy consumption within reason because we have affordable, sustainable nuclear and shale gas generation.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Don't close the working ones

        But we don't need as much as we have, it is getting a bit silly.

  12. Pete 2

    Diligently obeying the law

    > legislation forcing the early closure of coal and oil-fired power stations

    Somehow I can envisage the rest of the EU, while being subjected to the same laws and restrictions will somehow just give a good old gallic shrug and carry on as before. It does appear that, unique amongst the EU signatories, the UK politicians and civil servants have a view that these "laws" are absolute and immediate - and must be obeyed to the letter, irrespective of the consequences to the proles who ultimately get stiffed with the consequences.

    While it's probably a good idea to reduce emissions where we can, it makes no sense to do so when we're plainly not in a position to fill the gap with alternate energy sources.

    It may give some UK politicians an extra bit of swagger, when dealing with their european counterparts (who would still have their lights on), but rather than praising them for obeying the rules, we should be holding them to account for not seeing this coming and getting their arses into gear and do the jobs they are paid to do.

    1. Julian Bond
      Unhappy

      Re: Diligently obeying the law

      I think you'll find that among civil servants, nobody ever got fired for "Diligently obeying the law".

  13. auburnman
    WTF?

    Mountain out of a molehill

    Take the data for our energy usage over the last ten years or so and check how often we would have had an outage if we'd only had that 4% spare generation capacity. If that number is >0 build some Thorium plants over the next three years. If that is also impossible do not decommission the old plants until we have sufficient alternative capacity, and accept the slap on the wrist from the EU.

    1. HMB

      Re: Mountain out of a molehill

      Thorium LFTRs are not developed tech. Sadly in the UK we gave up doing any innovative nuclear research a while ago.

      Terrapower (13:20) is the most deliverable tech at the current moment in time and looks to be quite exciting.

      China are already in a 20 year program to develop Thorium LFTRs, but these things aren't all figured out yet, though if they turn out they could be truly revolutionary.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better build a few gas power stations. But knowing the morons in charge, we'll end up with a load more wind farms.

    Businesses and industry aren't going to invest in the UK if there is no stable power supply, so the numbskulls down in Whitehall better put their thinking caps on.

    1. Matt_payne666

      Someones built a small wind farm here in clacton... 5 HUGE turbines... you can see them for about 10 miles away, finished in August, but ive not seen them turning once... Ive come to conclusion that they are the solution for such emergencies - big fans that will be switched on to provide wind for the monster offshore farms that now block my sea view...

  15. Number6

    Two fingers

    I think we should stick up two fingers to the EU and keep the power stations operational. Wind power is not going to ever replace older, more traditional methods of generating power, not least because of the annoying tendency for wind to stop blowing at times of peak demand (there is recent historical data to back up this assertion). All it will take is a significant power outage in the depths of winter for people to demand that Something Must Be Done.

    Perhaps we should put in new nuclear AGR plants adjacent to all the existing and former nuclear sites, then we could turn off some coal stations.

    1. HMB

      Re: Two fingers

      We don't do AGR's anymore. We're letting our nuclear expertise fizzle out. Sadly we never managed to build them in a modular, cost effective way. Every time we made one we had to make it a bit different and build another prototype. It's very sad as it means we never got to find out how cheap nuclear could be because of this blundering.

      It's either EPRs or AP1000's that are being suggested at the moment (both pressurised water reactors).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Two fingers

        The Finns are building.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olkiluoto_Nuclear_Power_Plant

        http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf76.html

  16. Elmer Phud

    Sod the blackouts . . .

    I wonder how many people are aware of brownouts?

    If I had the money I'd be ready with adverts for flogging UPS systems - especially to the home market 'cos it panics quite nicely.

    "Can you be sure of your power supply, even though it's not a blackout?

    How will you be able to do your banking, collect benefits, book on-line, contact your relatives?

    Be prepared for the voltage drop with (enter product name here)".

    Minted.

    I'm off to start nicking solar panels and batteries from traffic signs . . .

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Sod the blackouts . . .

      Brownouts aren't effective anymore, as most of the electric devices in your home will automatically compensate.

      All your low-voltage equipment (except some low-voltage tungsten lighting) is pretty much constant-power - reduce the supply voltage and they'll draw more current.

      Check the nameplate of your PC and TV power supplies - almost all are 100V to 240V, thus a brownout just makes it draw more current (and get hotter) while still running ok.

      Your electric heating and cooling (except showers) is on a thermostat - so the peak power drawn might* reduce but the total energy consumed remains the same.

      In my home, on an average evening I run a small amount of mains voltage tungsten electric lighting, thermostatically controlled oven, fridge & freezer and the rest is genuinely constant power.

      Browning me out would actually increase my energy consumption due to the increased resistive losses.

      Browning out a large area might actually cause a substation to fail due to the increased current.

      * Induction hobs and microwave ovens are constant power.

  17. Pat 11

    Your city is a trap

    If anyone wants to enjoy worrying about what happens to a big city when the power goes off, James Burke nailed it in Connections. Scared the pants off me as a teenager, still does.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcSxL8GUn-g

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      If I could upvote you x1000000

      I would.

      James Burke is simply a god. Even if you argue with his idiosyncratic presentation of history, you have to admit that he basically forsaw "the internet" long before anyone could articulate such a beast. Watch the last part of Connections, if you need convincing.

      If I had my way, both "Connections" and "The Day The Universe Changed" would be required viewing for schools, about age 12. They are incredibly powerful insights into how knowledge - and it's sharing and specialisation - really works.

      There's a great rhetorical question in TDTUC episode "In The Light of Above"* where JB points out that as learning deepened, so did our distance from knowledge, to the state we are today, where NO ONE can know EVERYTHING. A point he proves with a disarming simple question:

      "When was the last time you made anything - including the tools to do it with ?"

      *Low bandwidth connection, so can't YouTube it, sorry

    2. We're all in it together

      Re: Your city is a trap

      Interesting video. Bizarre that he films from the roof of the Twin towers and mentions a flight numbered 9 11. What are the odds? And no I'm not saying it's a conspiracy.

  18. The BigYin

    And yet...

    ...we waste millions on pointless wind farms when we should be going nuclear.

    We'll be like Germany. Claiming how green we are and pointing to our collections of wind farms, whilst importing dirty power from the likes of Poland.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What I don't get is how the environmental protesters manage to organise protests without using electricity or using transport that generates CO2 (to get to the protests).

    What? you mean they use electricity, the internet and public transport (electric trains use electricity after all).

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      organising meetings without power

      semaphore you idiot - otherwise the powers that be would know about them and organise a counter riot of unemployed nuclear engineers.

  20. ScottishYorkshireMan
    Alert

    Yet, still the UK refuses to look at Thorium

    how convenient the blackouts start very shortly after everyone gets a smart meter installed.

    Yet, as a country with still reasonable supplies of coal, we refuse to look into using Thorium as a fuel, one that cleans up its own waste.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/williampentland/2011/09/11/is-thorium-the-biggest-energy-breakthrough-since-fire-possibly/

    Or is it just that the politico's haven't managed to work out how to get the kickbacks from the energy markets into their personal and party fund accounts?

    1. Magister

      Re: Yet, still the UK refuses to look at Thorium

      Call me crazy, but I believe that the reason we don't have more politicians interested in Thorium powered stations is because they have one drawback; they don't produce weapons grade fissionable material.

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Yet, still the UK refuses to look at Thorium

        Actually you need specialist fuel to make weapons grade material

        Usually uranium subjected to a high neutron flux for a short'ish period of time.. say 6 months to 1 yr, most fuel rods spend 5 yrs inside a power station and end up with far too much of non-weapons grade material.

        Fire... because thats what we'll be using for cooking and lighting in 2017

        1. Magister

          Re: Yet, still the UK refuses to look at Thorium

          "Actually you need specialist fuel to make weapons grade material"

          Perhaps I was being too subtle?

          they DON'T produce weapons grade fissionable material.

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: Yet, still the UK refuses to look at Thorium

      >> how convenient the blackouts start very shortly after everyone gets a smart meter installed

      Convenient indeed, but completely unsurprising since the primary function of the meters is to allow for rationing - they just don't call it that.

      It'll start with price rationing - so those with the least spare cash will "voluntarily" reduce their consumption when the price rockets. If that's not enough, then the smart meters have a remote turn off facility so they can organise rolling blackouts like we had in the 70s but with finer granularity.

      The upcoming situation is no surprise - it's been known for several decades that our nuclear plants would be shutting down around now (something about a "design life", though it seems some people can't understand that concept). The previous Labour government in particular, but also the preceding Conservative one, basically acted like a load of wimps and weren't prepared to make the unpopular (but necessary) decisions a decade or two ago.

      Last I heard, there were several of the AP1000 nuclear plants under construction in China - on time, on budget, and planned to be about 5 years from cutting sod to turning out power ! By the time we finally realise we need them, we'll be able to get the Chinese to come over and build some for us.

  21. ukgnome
    Joke

    Can you get a UPS for a fridge?

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Not really - the inductive load of the motor in a fridge is the worst possible load to put onto a battery power inverter (which is what a UPS is). If you have a large UPS, it might suffer it, but small ones will just blow or fail to start the motor at all. There are warnings about it with every UPS manual, if you look.

      Motors generally need something more meaty, like an engine-powered generator, to be able to cope and even then you're supposed to stagger their startups to reduce the initial load. They have a very unusual energy use curve and if you don't stagger them they will blow fuses or just not start up properly at all (can you damage the appliance? I'm not sure), whereas once actually running they'd happily all cooperate without stressing the power source.

      UPS would be okay for things like lighting, small household chargers, computers (obviously) but they won't run your fridge, freezer, washing machine, tumble dryer etc. EVEN IF within the stated wattage, because of the motor in it. Basically any copper-coiled electric motor of any significant power is a no-no. Pumps etc, would generally come under the same remit but something small like a fish tank won't worry your average UPS.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      (I did see the icon)

      Fridges/freezers can take a bit of outage - as long as you don't open them.

      Also, you can get dual-fuel fridges, if you like. Gas *and* electric. On a visit to some relatives in Sicily many years ago, as a lad, I was curious as to why their fridge worked off gas. With power cuts every day, I soon learned. The water supply was also temperamental. It was *supposed* to be 2 hours a day. But then if they forgot to turn the pumps on, or there was a power cut - no water for that day. Which is why every house had storage tanks.

      1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

        Re: (I did see the icon)

        Yep, but almost every English home has only an electric fridge / freezer and almost no-one has a gas freezer in their house (maybe in something like a caravan or boat or similar). I've seen them, and know of their existence, but to say they are rare is an understatement. Which kinds proves the point above about people rushing out to buy such specialist equipment should blackouts become a regular feature.

        And though freezers can last a day or two when kept closed, there's no point having a freezer you can't open if the blackout lasts more than a single day. On day 2 everyone will be going out to find a) a generator for their existing freezer or b) a freezer that doesn't need a generator.

        Which is the whole point. Most of the UK housing is pre-designed to rely absolutely on electricity. Hell, a lot of boilers won't ignite without electrical power too, even if the gas stays on. You can have an all-electric house (quite common, in fact) but I've never seen an all-gas one. And nobody has water storage tanks because their water supply also is pretty reliable. All these things have come about from a reliance on electrical power, in one way or another.

        So when the blackouts occur, people won't be using dual-fuel fridges in replacement for their huge SMEG. They'll buy a generator, and run the whole house with a £200 transfer switch and a visit from an electrician (I just went and priced it up and found an electrical guy who'd do the whole shebang, labour included, to power a house from a generator with proper legal transfer switch for £400 + generator cost). So the whole "let's save the environment by cutting back on electrical supply" is likely to do the exact opposite if it leads to prolonged blackouts.

        Or they could have just built a few decent power stations and forgotten the whole "green energy" initiative nearly thirty years ago and we wouldn't have the problem for several thousand years.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I don't know, but if you want humour, try looking into the reasons why they recommend you don''t power a laser printer from a UPS :P

      1. MJI Silver badge
        Unhappy

        UPS

        They won't power a kettle!

        I tried

  22. conel
    Unhappy

    The Guardians Solution

    Below is a link to an article from a supposedly serious newspaper about how to deal with climate change.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2012/oct/01/50-months-climate-interactive

    They've basically asked 50 people how they would solve the global warming problem, which of course is bound closely with energy policy. I'd genuinely recommend looking at all 50 comments, you'll either find it hilarious or depressing.

    You'd hope that there's a higher level of discussion going on in DECC...

    1. Mike Brown

      Re: The Guardians Solution

      I would do, but that seems to be unreadable. CLick on each face? Then click agin agin to bring up another window? WTF? Are they paid per click or somthing?

    2. AndyC
      FAIL

      Re: The Guardians Solution

      Loads of hot air on that 'debate' anyway. No wonder the planet is heating up!!

      One comment caught my eye: 'Copy Germany' I almost had tea coming out of my nose at that one.

      Plant windmills and rely on leccy from abroad? I'd think that our policy makers are more intelligent than that! Oh, wait....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Guardians Solution

      I'm glad to see they asked for the expertise of great intellectuals like Vivienne Westwood.

      But I'm really interested in this 50 months business. I remember at Copenhagen they kept blathering about it being the last chance, then the same at the next jamboree. Then at Rio.

      Now we have 50 months left before we all have to consign ourselves to a future of scorching hot days and balmy, sticky nights, will the Guardian agree, that when 50 months is up and - as is inveitable - nothing changes, they will kindly SFTU? I doubt it. In 50 months time they'll make a new imaginary time limit, "67.5 months before we all melt", and they'll ask such luminaries as Jedward and Lady Gaga how to solve the climate problem.

    4. Flatpackhamster

      Re: The Guardians Solution

      Hilarious! Someone is saying they want legislation to restrict 'bad' behaviour and then goes on to cite 'intensive farming' and 'driving' as two bad behaviours.

    5. MJI Silver badge

      Re: The Guardians Solution

      What a bunch of idiots!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Small group of pro-CO2/anti-renewable brigade

    I'm quite encouraged that the renewable haters on here seems to be such a small number. Of course you believe anybody supporting any green agenda wants to live in a cave, and by extension is anti-technology. Very mature.

    Actually, I think you are afraid of change and, shiver, having to cooperate with other people (even Germans and French) on how to construct a future with less risk of envirogeddon. This explains the tiresome bashing of the continent we belong to when it comes to the environment. Tree/branch/sawing/same anyone?

    No, I'm not trolling. AC since I could never live down the vitriol.

    1. P_0

      Re: Small group of pro-CO2/anti-renewable brigade

      I am 100% anti-renewable, if that means anti solar and anti wind power (in their current, and likely future, forms).

      I'm not afraid of change at all. I'd love if ITER could get fusion power working. That would be complete civilizational change. I'd genuinely love that.

      But being a realist, the options are: nuclear, gas, oil, coal. These are the only ways for us to power homes, businesses and most importantly industry. Wind and solar have far too many flaws, they don't work when we need them too, they require constant back up supply by gas generators, and they drive up electricity costs. And after that we still get power shortages. Industry will not stay in the UK if we can't even keep the lights on.

      There is no vitriol here, just annoyance at how incompetent our leaders are and how blindly and idiotically you follow them, even when faced with reality that we've put all our energy eggs in the wrong basket.

    2. Flatpackhamster

      Re: Small group of pro-CO2/anti-renewable brigade

      I'm shivering because I'm afraid of having no heating. The change I'm scared of is freezing to death and not being able to work, thanks to the EU and its Climate Change Evangelists.

  24. Nick 6
    Mushroom

    Waste of energy

    Burning gas to make electricity is an appalling waste, squandering a clean primary source which can be used much more effectively for direct heating of house and factories.

    But then the private energy companies couldn't ream, sorry, reap the rewards of offering emergency power at extortionate spot prices. Much more lucrative and lower risk than building plant which takes 10 years to start turning a profit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Meh

      Re: Waste of words

      "squandering a clean primary source which can be used much more effectively for direct heating of house and factories"

      You don't need to choose. We currently have 20-30% of gross generating capacity is gas, and (you may have noticed) you've not had your domestic gas turned off even in winter. Even if we went to a 80% gas mix, there'd still be no shortage, because when a new CCGT is built the planners recognise that they can't disrupt the gas transmission system or hog the supplies (hence, for example, the LNG import terminals at Milford Haven and Grain, both with adjacent CCGT's).

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yawn.....

    ...I'm still reeling from the fact we only had 3 power cuts so far this year...better than last years dozen or so.

  26. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "Security of electricity supply"

    I seem to recall that that *obligation* was removed from both major generators when they were sold off.

    I hope I'm wrong.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure by renewable they mean nice stable predictable geothermal power!

  28. b166er

    I still fail to understand why ground source heat pumps can't be mandatory for all new build housing.

    Geothermal is more reliable and efficient than solar and just as 'free'.

    If it was mandatory for new build to have it, the price of installing it to existing stock would fall as more firms/equipment capable of doing it would be available.

    The demand for gas central heating would also fall substantially and we could use the gas for other purposes, such as cleaner vehicle fuels and gas-fired power stations.

    If I'm wrong, someone tell me how. Surely it's a no-brainer.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      I would really like one

      Trouble is they cost far too much.

      1. jason 7 Silver badge

        Re: I would really like one

        Yes strictly only barn conversions and large holiday homes need apply.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Meh

      @ b166er

      "Geothermal is more reliable and efficient than solar and just as 'free' .... If I'm wrong, someone tell me how. Surely it's a no-brainer"

      Well, for starters it isn't free, because you need quite a lot of energy to operate the heat exchangers and pump the fluids. GSHPs use relatively expensive grid electricity, and then eke perhaps 2.5 to 3x the benefit out of it compared to using it directly for heating. In rough terms that's still twice as expensive to run as a gas heating system, and there's additional compromises that make it a very expensive retrofit (eg lower water temperatures requires bigger radiators, and extra mains power used by an immersion heater to boost the how water storage tank to 60C needed to stop legionella etc). You can boost the hot water temperatures from the GSHP, but that means investing even more up front in the heat exchanger, and most systems don't bother. The GSHP enthusiasts will tell you that you can get better efficiencies, and higher temperatures, but such systems are not commonplace, in the same way that you could buy an Aston Martin, but most of us have to live with something more modest.

      If you've not got the alternative of gas, then GSHP's can be a solution, but as per other comments they are expensive for what you get, and work best when you've got plenty of land for a long heat collector trench, cheaply dug in farmland by your mate in a second hand JCB. In urban areas the main problem is that you simply don't have the land area. Vertical boreholes can be used, but we're talking about holes around 100m deep, so you've then got drilling costs, spoil removal, different grades of heat collector hose.

      Hence the other comments about expensive, and suitable for holiday homes and new builds in the country. Given that modern gas boilers can achieve 92% efficiencies (allegedly) the use of gas for heating isn't a problem - there's virtually no distribution losses, and few processing or extraction costs (ignoring LNG, which is very inefficient to liquify and regassify). End to end efficiency of the electricity system measured as end-use-to-fuel is about 36%, so in terms of emissions there's little to choose between a GSHP and gas boiler (usually marginally in favour of gas) and the costs are much higher for GSHP.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Security of electricity supply?

    The dip is due to the EU ETS - as the carbon credits are removed in 2013, older power sources are no longer profitable to run due to the removal of carbon credits and are being mothballed before the end of their useful life.

    There is more capacity coming on-line from 2016 onwards (I believe - it maybe later now) which will replace the lost capacity and I believe more capacity is still required to return to the current capacity levels so prices are expected to increase due to the reduction in capacity from 2014.

    Delaying the removal of the carbon credits would avoid the capacity reduction prior to the availability of new capacity, but whether the EU would permit this is a separate issue.

  30. Anonymous C0ward
    Flame

    Three meals away from revolution.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020