back to article UK govt preps World War 2 energy rationing to keep the lights on

The UK government will today set out Second World War-style measures to keep the lights on and avert power cuts as a "last resort". The price to Britons will be high. Factories will be asked to "voluntarily" shut down to save energy at peak times for homes, while others will be paid to provide their own backup power should …

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  1. Moosh
    Facepalm

    This is just embarassing.

    1. wolfetone

      The problem here is that the people in charge have a lot of friends who are very important. So back when these renewables were being built, Joe Public wasn't saying it was a marvellous idea, it was the politicians. Why were the politicians so keen on these? Well it's the exact same story as the "Help To Buy" scheme right now: their friends run companies who would benefit hugely from these projects, and would look after the politician who agreed to make it happen.

      The politicians who you see on the TV, the "popular" ones, don't need or want to do Jack Shit for the benefit of the people in this country. The local politicians, the ones you see demanding answers as to why their local NHS hospital is being shutdown on a late night BBC Parliament, are the honest ones. But these chaps and lasses never make it to the front bench, and it's there that this country has a problem.

      Labour, Lib Dems, Tories. 3 cheeks of the same arse. And no, this is NOT an endorsement for UKIP.

      1. Suburban Inmate
        Thumb Up

        @wolfetone: Feed in tariff

        Which is roughly half (per MWh) what the government recently promised to EDF (IIRC) for a new nuke plant. Add to that up to 20% grid losses (overall about 7%) and the advantages of a fault tolerant distributed local generation begin to stack up. The only hurdle is the fact that it empowers ordinary people rather than the hydrocarbon dealing swine, which runs counter to the deliberate policy of poverty infliction and enforcement, also known as "austerity", "big society", "benefits reform", etc.

        The problem with Auntie is the frankly embarrassing political news blackouts it engages in all too often at the behest of those who hold the purse strings. A recent example being the Green Party all but ignored in favour of the establishment's fringe nutters UKIP and trampagne crusaders britain first. Thanks to an episode of Derek I heard the C word more than the G word from the beeb that week.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @wolfetone: Feed in tariff

          Thorium

          http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100026863/china-going-for-broke-on-thorium-nuclear-power-and-good-luck-to-them/

      2. jdseanjd

        I prefer to say " two cheeks of the same arse, take your pick for the hole".

        This is all pure Agenda 21.

        Youtube Lord Monckton, & look for his UN Death Plan video.

        Too far fetched?

        I assure you not.

        JD.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Rocket_Rabbit
    Mushroom

    Maybe they should bring in all those nuclear submarines and connect them to the grid....

    1. Phil W

      Yes, because all 4 of those would make a huge difference.

      I can't find the exact figures for the MW output on the reactors used on the Vanguard class subs, but I believe it is around 20-25MW (perhaps another commentard can find an accurate figure for this?).

      Even being optimistic and saying it's 30MW, you're looking 120MW for the whole fleet.

      Barely with bothering with, even before you account for the security concerns of keeping all of them docked in known locations at the same time.

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        RN SUBMARINE FLEET

        All RN submarine are nuclear powered, add some 14 to your 4. Still spitting in the wind.

        1. Charles Manning

          Better Idea: Plug in all the E cars and hybrids

          Run them backwards. That's what all the "smart grid" people tell us.

          Let these things earn their tax breaks!

          Pity though that this magic fairy dust that promises so much when scooping up the tax payer gravy doesn't really work that way in real life.

          This is the unfortunate result of democracy.

          Dimwits who think that Liking something on Facebook is enough to make it happen outnumber those with an appreciation for engineering & physics. However the dimwits get the same vote that a knowledgeable person does. Therefore dimwits drive policy selection.

          Result: Tax the power stations which generate real power and use the tax to prop up beautiful green toys that do nothing. Blame global warming when the power runs out.

      2. ducatis'r us

        11 actually

        Add in the seven nuclear powered attack submarines for accuracy although not disagreeing with impracticality of the idea

    2. Gannettt

      Calm down fellas, I have a hunch the poster was being a bit tongue-in-cheek there!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not renewables...

    Just down the road from here is an example of the problem - Hinkley Point is overdue for new reactor capacity and after years of dithering it still isn't happening. The government has gone for renewables rather than invest in nuclear because the [redacted] [redacteds] who pontificate think that ooh, scary radiation.

    Germany having announced "Kerntechnik nein danke!" is now in a stew over Russian gas - they are using the EU to try to block the South Stream so Russia will have to continue to supply Ukraine and thus Germany, instead of finding new markets in the Balkans and Italy.

    The cause of the problem is not money spent on renewables; it's pure and simple ignorance among the public and politicians - and journalists.

    1. Anonymous Coward 101

      Re: Not renewables...

      "The cause of the problem is not money spent on renewables; it's pure and simple ignorance among the public and politicians - and journalists."

      The politicians are acting according to their interests, which is not to say they are evil or stupid, just putting off the unpopular thing to the future. Make no mistake, any strategic move to more gas, coal or nuclear would be unpopular with the greenies.

      1. tony72

        Re: Not renewables...

        "Make no mistake, any strategic move to more gas, coal or nuclear would be unpopular with the greenies."

        I guess the question is what percentage of the population count themselves amongst the "greenies". I know the environmentalist types are good at chaining themselves to trees and generally kicking up a lot of fuss, but if, as I suspect is the case, the large majority of the population would rather make sure the lights stay on first and foremost, then maybe the politicians could maybe grow a pair and do what needs to be done?

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: Not renewables...

          "but if, as I suspect is the case, the large majority of the population would rather make sure the lights stay on first and foremost, then maybe the politicians could maybe grow a pair and do what needs to be done...?"

          This youtube video (nine seconds, straight to the point, safe for work providing you can get away with audio) describes my feelings on politicians actually doing the right thing perfectly.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FopyRHHlt3M&feature=kp

          For the devoid of Youtube:

          Bender: Aaaaahahahahahahaaha

          *Sees leela looking on disapprovingly*

          Bender: Oh, wait - you were serious. Let me laugh even harder. BWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Not renewables...

          "I guess the question is what percentage of the population count themselves amongst the "greenies"."

          I count myself as green-biased and I'm wildly in favour of MSRs. The problem is that noo-clear has a bad rep which is undeserved for the most part, coupled with a number of poor designs being used for commercial use (basically: all of them.)

          If radiation was as bad as many campaigners make out, aircrews would be dying like flies. It's not cumulative and below threshold levels has little effect. That's not to say I want caesium or iodine compounds floating around but approaching it sensibly, the world's coal plants release enough radioactive material each year to make chernobyl look like a firecracker by comparson - and that's on top of the heavy metals and slag heaps (which are responsible for the largest environmental disasters in the USA in the last 25 years - the last one was bigger than deepwater horizon, killed more people and got almost no coverage)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not renewables...

        I think a lot of the more knowledgeable "greenies" (among whom I arrogantly class myself) would be very happy to have more nuclear capacity. Unfortunately there are two sort of "greenies"; STEM educated people who are worried about climate change, food water and energy security and sustainability; and the ones who believe that we just need a reversion to Native American living standards and enough Hopi ear candles to replace the NHS, and all will be well for the world.

        Politicians who act according to their short term interests and don't think about their grandchildren are, in my view, stupid. If in addition they have links to the oil and coal industries, they are evil as well as stupid. It's about being intelligent enough to understand where your real interests lie; hanging out with your SPADs plotting a briefing against another Minister, or trying to ensure that your grandchildren have a decent future.

        1. Chris Miller

          @Arnaut

          The system (democracy) demands that politicians think and act in the short term. I've no reason to believe that, as individuals, politicians are any less concerned about future generations than the average member of the voting populace. Which is to say, not very concerned as against the need for access to water, food, power, health care, etc. today. Politicians who say "you need to put up with some extra pain today in order to benefit generations yet unborn" don't tend to get elected.

          Autocracies are actually much better at thinking long term (in the same way that family businesses are better at it than public companies, which inevitably focus on next quarter's results). But, while there are examples of benevolent autocracies, no-one has yet cracked the problem of how to ensure that they remain benevolent.

          1. Gordon 11

            Re: @Arnaut

            The system (democracy) demands that politicians think and act in the short term.

            Democracy itself doesn't demand this. Parliamentary Democracy as practised in the UK (and much of The West) does, though.

            1. Chris Miller

              @Gordon 11

              I'm not clear what distinction you're aiming to draw. Parliamentary democracy as specifically practised in the UK is restricted to the UK and some Commonwealth countries plus some European constitutional monarchies. The US model, though still based on elected representatives, insists on a much stricter segregation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government.

              If you mean to distinguish between representative democracies and direct democracies (as practised, for example, in classical Athens - albeit with a highly restrictive definition of eligibility) I'm not sure there are many working examples - the big problem being how to stop everyone voting in higher benefits and lower taxes, look at California if you want to see what happens next.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not renewables...

        "Make no mistake, any strategic move to more gas, coal or nuclear would be unpopular with the greenies."

        And is it worth investing in fossil fuels anyway, given that we have a finite supply and burning it rather than using it for keeping prices down in the rest of the petrochemical industry is nonsensical. Nuclear, there's no argument about it being the best of the stop-gap solutions. It's an established and proven technology, the dangers are understood, just a bit expensive and unpopular.

      4. M Gale

        Re: Not renewables...

        any strategic move to more gas, coal or nuclear would be unpopular with the greenies.

        And rolling power cuts will be unpopular with the sane.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Not renewables...

          @ M Gale

          "And rolling power cuts will be unpopular with the sane."

          I dont think he is referring to people you can call (honestly) sane

          1. ElectricRook
            WTF?

            Re: Not renewables...

            Well they might not be sane in your opinion, but they are the people who feed and care for others and generally get stuff done.

            1. M Gale

              Re: Not renewables...

              Well they might not be sane in your opinion, but they are the people who feed and care for others and generally get stuff done.

              Because that's the exclusive preserve of hardcore nutters who'd rather we all be living by candle light and see that dangerous elastic trickery stuff as an affront against Mother Nature.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      Re: Not renewables...

      "Germany having announced "Kerntechnik nein danke!" is now in a stew over Russian gas - they are using the EU to try to block the South Stream so Russia will have to continue to supply Ukraine and thus Germany"

      The germans (read politicians and industrials), dont give a shait about Ukraine, they have the Nord Stream already http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nord_Stream .

      And its interesting to know who is onboard...http://www.nord-stream.com/about-us/our-shareholders/

      http://www.nord-stream.com/about-us/our-management/

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    The future's bright then...

    Even now I'm looking out my kipper tie and flares, and growing my sideburns in, since everything seems to have turned so very f***ing 1970s.

    1. Captain Hogwash

      Re: The future's bright then...1970s

      Lights out, lights out in London...

      1. Chris Parsons

        Re: The future's bright then...1970s

        I've still got my kipper ties, I knew they'd come back one day...

    2. Irongut Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: The future's bright then...

      I was thinking it sounded more like the 3 day week than WW2.

      Mine's the one with the Slade 8 track in the pocket.

      1. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: 3 day week

        Where do I sign up?

    3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: The future's bright then...

      everything seems to have turned so very f***ing 1970

      U2 will be back?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The future's bright then...

        well Mel Collins is back playing with King Crimson...

    4. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: The future's bright then...

      "Even now I'm looking out my kipper tie and flares, and growing my sideburns in, since everything seems to have turned so very f***ing 1970s."

      What you really need is a smock, some nice wool trews and a horse and cart. Our 21st Century government is taking us right back to the 1770s. You're a farmer who rocks up to the miller with a cart load of grain. The miller points at the non-moving sails and tells you to come back next wednesday. Or the miller may have a 1-2hp backup generator if you're lucky. Fast forward 250yrs and businesses will be studying weather forecasts to try to match production with the weather, customer demand and cash flow. And %deity help them if they're from the Met Office, but at least they may soon rhyme.

      Workers can listen to the work forecasts to see if it's worth heading into work, or just going to buy more candles. Assuming you can buy them given they're often paraffin wax. Although that may be why environmentalists want wetlands re-introduced so the peasents can buy rush or reed candles.

      21st Century Energy policy is like the industrial revolution never happened.

    5. Tom 13

      Re: The future's bright then...

      I survived the 1970s. They weren't this bad. Even at the end of Jimmy's catastrophic term.

      1. Spanker

        Re: The future's bright then...

        Saville ?

      2. ElectricRook
        FAIL

        Re: The future's bright then...

        The seventies were catastrophic for the old folks who froze to death in their homes because they could not afford the power bill.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yup..

    and is the result of allowing Politicians to do what they think is the right thing (ie pander to the green vote), rather than actually listen to those who know and doing the right thing.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Yup..

      It's not necessarily pandering to the green vote, it's pandering to the oil vote. Shutting down nuclear reactors benefits non-sustainable power sources.

      What we really need is good energy storage. Renewables can become useful then.

      1. flearider

        Re: Yup..

        did you know it takes 3-5 times the fossil fuel to make deploy then dismantle a wind turbine than it would actually make ... that's given the real power output and life span not the official figures ..

        green is a waste of time atm ..

        1. jhudsy

          Re: Yup..

          citation needed?

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Yup..

          The CO2 emissions from the conrete in the base of a windmill alone is unlikely to be outweighed by any reductions from its electrical output over the economic life of the device.

          Solar cells are similarly uneconomic. the payback period has gone down to around a decade but that's also the lifespan of the units and whilst it covers install costs thetre's no provision for maintenance in that equation.

          1. jhudsy

            Re: Yup..

            A quick google search shows you're emitting dangerous amounts of hot air if not CO2...

            http://barnardonwind.com/2013/03/05/wind-energy-reduces-green-house-gas-emissions/

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yup..

        "What we really need is good energy storage. Renewables can become useful then."

        Pity that the most crumpled places in the UK, i.e. those best suited to hydro-storage, are those bits most likely to devolve and claim independence.

        1. PyLETS

          Re: Yup..

          "Pity that the most crumpled places in the UK, i.e. those best suited to hydro-storage, are those bits most likely to devolve and claim independence."

          Matters from one point of view, but not this one given suitable market incentives. Eire has been considering using their western mountain ranges for pumped storage. Not so much for their own needs, but to sell more reliable renewable electricity to the UK. Same applies to increasing interconnector capacity across the North Sea (as well as the Irish Sea), enabling access to Norweigan hydro and pumped storage on a commercial basis.

  6. WraithCadmus
    Mushroom

    I need to get some t-shirts made up...

    Nuclear Power? Yes please!

    1. armster

      Re: I need to get some t-shirts made up...

      It is always shocking how far away from the problem this discussion runs. The problem is that there is excessive peak load, that can't be met. Nuclear can't meet peak load. Ever try cranking up and down a nuclear plant on a moments notice? Great for base loads, but wait, that is not the problem here.

      Gas is great for peak loads, since you can spin up a turbine in a few minutes, and get an idling one to full power in seconds. But you would have to pay for the turbine sitting around, or idling. Seems fair to me, peak power is hard, making it available should be rewarded. My problem with gas is that it comes from Russia. Prices have been a bit in free fall lately so it is easy to argue that gas is cheaper than renewables, but I would not claim that it really is more reliable, considering that if Russia shuts down all deliveries prices will be so sky high that burning candles will be a great alternative to light bulbs.

      In my mind the real questions are: Why does the Grid need to quadruple STOR power? more finicky renewable plants or more and spikier usage? Why are gas plants not more attractive to run, prices for gas have fallen, peak energy prices are up, yet we hear that gas plants are mothballed. Why is it the politicians that shut down plants? The energy companies made those decisions, based on (good or bad) economic stimulus by the EU and UK politics. If they shut down too many plants without building new ones the energy companies screwed up, not the politicians. If the grid operators did not enter into enough long term contracts and allowed the energy companies to shut down plants and drive prices up (ever learned from California? Enron wrote the book on this.) then this is the grid operators fault. In the end the consumer pays, or puts PV solar on his roof...

      1. Robert Sneddon

        Swinging reactors

        Modern designs of nuclear reactors like the ones licenced to be built in the UK can all reduce output ("swing") quite readily if they, for some weird reason, produce "too much" power. Would that we were facing the problem of "too much" power...

        As it is the existing British reactors are pumping out maximum base load power as much of the time as possible since the fuel cost is mind-bogglingly low and the grid is topped up with gas and coal with wind adding a small amount on top when the conditions are favourable.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Swinging reactors

          "Would that we were facing the problem of "too much" power..."

          The UK is, just not at the right time(s).

          http://www.imeche.org/news/institution/wind-farm-operators-set-to-receive-millions-more-to-turn-off-their-turbines-with-consumers-footing-the-bill (April 24 2014)

          "Energy customers will keep paying millions of pounds a year to wind farm operators to turn their machines off unless the UK urgently invests in developing energy storage, according to a new report released today."

          ...

          "the Institution highlights energy storage technologies such as those based on Cryogenics – also known as ‘liquid air’ – flywheels, pumped heat and graphene super-capacitors as potential ways the UK can start making the best use of its renewable energy."

          (continues)

          Worth a look.

          1. Robert Sneddon

            Storage costs money

            Liquid air, flywheels, capacitors, hamsters in wheels, they all cost money to build and run, they waste electricity in conversion and reconversion losses and they don't add any new generating capacity, just make the fluctuations and sudden peaks in demand a little smoother. Consumers are already up in arms about the bottom-line cost of energy, making it more expensive per kWh isn't going to be looked on favourably.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I need to get some t-shirts made up...

        You were doing so well till you said

        "the consumer puts PV solar on his roof..."

        I struggle to see how consumer-scale solar PV makes any engineering sense, without at least enough local storage for a day or so's worth of usage, and even then the cost of that storage (unless it's a repurposed electric vehicle, a storage concept which Mackay [1] seems to like) probably makes the whole thing economically pointless. And it's all got to be about economics in the end, right?

        Anyone?

        [1] Mackay: www.withouhotair.com

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I need to get some t-shirts made up...

          "(unless it's a repurposed electric vehicle, a storage concept which Mackay [1] seems to like)"

          Mackay may like it. But if you think about it is a daft idea. Demand has a morning peak, and a higher evening peak. During the morning peak chances are the EV is actually in use, and during the evening peak the battery is low on charge. Obviously if you don't use the EV much then things are better, but then why bother having one? Factor in that batteries are expensive and have a finite life, and you'd have to be mad to allow National Grid to empty the "tank" just because DECC have messed up the electricity system.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I need to get some t-shirts made up...

            "you'd have to be mad to allow National Grid to empty the "tank" just because DECC have messed up the electricity system."

            The financial side of things rather depends on what the financial incentives are, wouldn't you say?

            After all, surely we'd have to be made to pay electricity generating companies to NOT supply electricity, because there's more supply than demand and "the markets" haven't provided a mechanism to store the surplus ? And that's already happening.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I need to get some t-shirts made up...

              "The financial side of things rather depends on what the financial incentives are, wouldn't you say?"

              For using EV batteries for peak lopping, no. The problem is that the grid demand profile is largely fixed (unless you're going to have an alarm that only wakes you when the wind is blowing, or on a rota basis through the off peak hours). But EV use is broadly correlated with peak demand (travel from commuting and business use), so regardless of the incentives you won't be able to offer up your fully charged EV to support the morning peak because you'll be using it. In the evening the same applies, and later into the evening peak your EV batteries are low on charge, so there's not the spare capacity.

              Obviously if EV's have larger batteries (impact on cost, weight, efficiency) but there's still the degradation from battery cycling, on an asset that will be very expensive to replace.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: [1] Mackay: www.withouhotair.com

          Should, for the record, be www.withouthoutair.com

          Or something like that. You'll work it out.

          www.withouthotair.com/

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: I need to get some t-shirts made up...

        "Nuclear can't meet peak load."

        Nuke plants are highly throttleable. It's sconomics which dictates the way they're run.

        Nuke plants are normally run flat out because the fuel is essentially free.

        MSR reactors can change output even more quickly than steam plants. It's entirely possible to make 'em as peak catchers - if economic.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I need to get some t-shirts made up...

          "[some] reactors can change output even more quickly than steam plants. It's entirely possible to make 'em as peak catchers - if economic."

          Citations needed.

      4. Brenda McViking

        Re: I need to get some t-shirts made up...

        "Why does the Grid need to quadruple STOR power?"

        Because we're running far too close to the margins. STOR is a last ditch attempt to make up for the fact that we don't have enough capacity. It's the payday loan of the energy sector which prevents it from defaulting (blackout). Renewables like wind do indeed provide unpredictable and spiky power which increases the margin requirement.

        "Why are gas plants not more attractive to run,"

        Because they've been winding them down for ages, because historically gas prices have not been competitive with coal, and because you can't just un-mothball a plant economically unless you've got some guarantees that it's going to stay economical. And because the EU say you can't add more fossil to the grid once you've taken it off. For smaller plants, it's far better to keep a gas plant on STOR - it'll earn it's money that way, rather than trying to compete with nuclear, coal or subsidised wind.

        "Why is it the politicians that shut down plants?"

        Because they're in charge. They provide the laws and regulations relating to the countries infrastructure. Unless you want the French and the Germans to be in charge of our energy (which they pretty much are, as our politicians don't give a shit and it's come to crunch time.) Energy companies HAVE been screaming for new capacity, for an energy policy, for plants to be given the okay to go ahead. But no, the politicans block it to get short term green lobby votes. And it takes years to build stations. And the politicians sign us up to EU directives that state that fossil is bad m'kay, and we're LEGALLY obliged to shut it all off.

        "the energy companies screwed up, not the politicians."

        See above. Politics blocks the energy companies from doing what they want, and spend so long fumbling around not giving commitment or guarantees to financing or permission, or debating whether "profit" should be guaranteed for someone making a national investment. National infrastructure is not something the private sector want to pay for - the public sector holds all the cards here, and it comes with high risks with little reward. You can spend £20bn on a new plant for the next politician to come along and give it to your competitor. Why would any sane person take that risk?

        "If they shut down too many plants without building new ones the energy companies screwed up"

        Politicians agreed to laws stating fossil plant must be shut down. Politicians didn't agree legislation to allow new plants to be built, unless they were wind turbines, which are not fit for purpose when it comes to a stable and affordable energy supply.

        "If the grid operators did not enter into enough long term contracts ... then it's operators fault."

        You can't enter into a long term contract with a plant that a) is due to be shut by law or b) hasn't been built yet. What exactly are national grid supposed to do? other than explain to the politicians what a fundamental mess they're in and whose fault it is (and they've been doing that)

        "In the end the consumer pays, or puts PV solar on his roof"

        You can pay as much as you want - but you can't buy what doesn't exist. As for Solar PV, at this latitude - you can choose to run your microwave, or your fridge, but not both at the same time, and not at night. You'd be better off with a domestic diesel generator - but once the power cuts start, they might be commanding a nice premium.

        It's a farce, a mess and a frankly stupid, entirely predictable state of affairs, and in my mind, amounts to high treason by the current and historical crop of politicians we've had. But still, even with blackouts coming as early as this year, we're STILL not building new capacity - which will in all likelyhood take until 2020 to be operational.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I need to get some t-shirts made up...

          "National infrastructure is not something the private sector want to pay for - the public sector holds all the cards here,"

          Except the public sector doesn't hold enough of the currently relevant cards because, somewhat foolishly, it relinquished control of the energy supply sector when gas and electricity and Grid/Transco were privatised. The inevitable consequences were predicted at the time but the alleged short term gain won out over the longer term pain.

          "It's a farce, a mess and a frankly stupid, entirely predictable state of affairs, and in my mind, amounts to high treason by the current and historical crop of politicians we've had. "

          Ain't that the truth. Sad isn't it.

  7. TheProf Silver badge
    Flame

    twas ever thus

    I know it used to be that industrial-size gas users were offered a discount on their bill if they signed up to a 'lights out' agreement. This was the case when I joined the industry in 1979. These new measures seem to be a continuation of that agreement.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: twas ever thus

      Not really. Interruptible contracts (gas or electricity) were primarily an emergency fast-response measure to be used in response to an unplanned loss of generation or transmission of up to maybe a few GW.

      Afaict, what the electricity industry is talking about now is the routine daily use of interruptible contracts to peak lop during the winter evening peak.

      Which is all very well unless there is an unplanned loss of generation or transmission of up to maybe a few GW, and there is no longer any operating reserve left to respond to it because it's all being used to peak lop.

      Brownouts won't work too well because the general nature of the grid load is no longer resistive (and many of those bits which are resistive are feedback controlled so their energy use won't decrease with voltage, e.g. stuff with thermostats).

      So it's wide area rolling disconnections.

      Marvellous.

  8. RealBigAl

    It's not been seven years, try more like fifteen. It's also not just down to renewables which were never going to provide the baseline power required. It is down to successive governments refusing to take "the nuclear option" to invest in either modern Nuclear, Oil (of the west coast of Scotland, cough, where the submarine bases are, cough....) or some other form of fossil fuel. The option they actually took was to increase gas imports from Russia. Which has turned out well so far.

    It's been a strategic failure using a strategy of "something will turn up."

    1. Tom Womack

      The UK does not import gas from Russia.

      We import gas from Norway, Qatar and the Netherlands.

      We do import a fair amount of coal from Russia.

      1. Captain DaFt

        "We do import a fair amount of coal from Russia."

        Yep, despite the common saying, shipping coal to Newcastle has been a rather profitable occupation.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coals_to_Newcastle

  9. batfastad

    Sums up

    Totally sums up politics in this country. No long term plan, no constructive discussion, just relentless bickering between opposition and government. A new bunch come in and immediately start undoing everything done before, just because they were Red and we are Blue.

    And who loses? Everyone! Well apart from the blazer brigade of UK.gov middle management and upwards. Don't forget, we're all in this together private supper club what what!

    1. A A

      Re: Sums up

      batfastad "Totally sums up politics in this country. No long term plan, no constructive discussion, just relentless bickering between opposition and government. A new bunch come in and immediately start undoing everything done before, just because they were Red and we are Blue."

      If it makes you feel any better we here in the USA are in the same boat (and sinking fast).

    2. ChilliKwok

      Re: Sums up

      > a new bunch comes in and immediately start undoing everything done before

      > just because they were red and we're blue.

      Not so. You couldn't get a cigarette paper between Lib, Lab or Con on energy policy (or many other policies for that matter). All three parties voted nearly unnaminously for Red Ed' suicidal 2008 Climate Change Act. All three are obsessed with pointless environmental gesture politics. All three falsely claim their top priority is to 'tackle' the non-problem of non-existent global warming.

  10. Wattsy

    Bring back the night!

    Why not insist that every shop on every high street turn off all their lights at closing time. That would save a lot of energy and lessen light pollution. I can't buy anything from these illuminated windows so why does it need to be lit up?

    1. Dave Robinson

      Re: Bring back the night!

      And close the doors in winter.

    2. Elmer Phud

      Re: Bring back the night!

      Far too sensible -- turn off the huge ad screens and hoardings as well.

      Restrict the amount of light an office block needs to illuminate the outside at night.

      But, it seems, as far as leccy is concerned, most people have a Clarkson attitude that only 'more power' is the answer.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Bring back the night!

        Mo Farah?

      2. Havin_it

        Clarkson?

        Pretty sure he stole that schtick from Tim Allen.

        /Urr-urr-urrr

      3. ChilliKwok

        Re: Bring back the night!

        Yeah - why don't we go back to living in caves and dying before 30. That's what the Greens want isn't it? So the Earth can be returned to a pre-human utopia. FFS. Why do we let a party that polls less than 8% of the vote dictate national policy?

    3. Vic

      Re: Bring back the night!

      Why not insist that every shop on every high street turn off all their lights at closing time. That would save a lot of energy and lessen light pollution

      There was an article about that very idea on the telly a while back, including interviews with shop-owners that had tried it.

      The problem was that they saved a little on their electricity bills (not as much as you might think, actually), but that saving was dwarfed by the increase in their insurance premium - it turns out that shop lights are indeed a deterrent against burglary.

      I wish I had a citation now...

      Vic.

      1. Wattsy

        Re: Bring back the night!

        While the increase in insurance might hurt one individual company the power saved in total outweighs this surely? That sort of money first thinking is one of the major problems that got us into this mess in the first place.

        1. Vic

          Re: Bring back the night!

          While the increase in insurance might hurt one individual company the power saved in total outweighs this surely?

          No - that's the point. You save some power, but your business gets ransacked. That's not a net gain...

          That sort of money first thinking is one of the major problems that got us into this mess in the first place.

          And pretending that money is infinite gets us into even more of a mess. It's no point saving a bit on your lecky bill if you go bankrupt through having all your stock stolen; you'd have been better off not having the shop, thereby saving *all* of the electricity, rather than just the nighttime-lighting portion of it.

          Vic.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "If Blighty's governments had opted for gas rather than wind..."

    We'd be looking at exactly the same problem 20 or 30 years down the road when the gas fields run dry or the cost is so prohibitively expensive they'll be wondering why renewable energy tech isn't as good as it should be. OK, the government in the UK went too far, too fast perhaps, and maybe they should have gotten a finger out with nuclear reactor replacement sooner, but then again, perhaps encouraging renewable generation technology and off-the-wall thinking might just yield results down the road from here. Look at Elon Musk - releasing all that research and tech used in Tesla. Tech that will be used, I bet, not just in cars but all over the place.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      So, you're saying that if no-one invests in renewables then that branch of technology will never improve and provide, say, better efficiency in marginal solar climates like the UK has? And that the subsequent improvements in generation, regulation, transmission, storage etc will benefit not only the energy industry, but others as well?

      Well, I'd rather the UK be working on this than not.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Market manipulation

    So who benefits from an energy market that is running on capacity?

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

    Those solar panels on the roof are looking better every day.

  13. plrndl

    Meanwhile we have c200 tons of plutonium which will be a hugely expensive storage nightmare until we "burn" it to produce nuclear energy.

  14. frank ly

    Seven years is a long time in politics

    "Everyone seems to have seen this coming – except the people in charge."

    Would I be right in thinking that the people in charge when these decisions were made (or not made) have moved on to pastures new? (Possibly with non-executive directorships or regular consultancies with those companies whos activities were promoted and chosen.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seven years is a long time in politics

      One of those people formerly the minister for energy is the leader if the opposition and there has demonstrated a deep lack of understanding of the energy market - and of the financial markets - which is where any funding for investment will be coming from.

      Millibean's successor in the role is currently spending time courtesy of her majesty.

      1. 100113.1537

        Re: Seven years is a long time in politics

        "Millibean's successor in the role is currently spending time courtesy of her majesty."

        Actually, he has been let out now and is making even more money screaming 'woe is me' (and, by the way, my shares in the windmill companies are doing great!).

  15. chris 17 Silver badge

    At least when the power is off we won't have to listen to the greens evangelising about how great renewables are.

    Maybe that's the plan to make shale gas more attractive to those who live above the deposits?

  16. ForthIsNotDead

    Failure? No. Complete success.

    One would imagine that both the previous and current government(s) have completely failed to grasp the scale and enormity of the problem at hand. However, that is not the case. If one familarises oneself with the objective and requirements under UN Agenda 21 then it is quite easy to see that the Government have followed the script to the letter. This is nothing more than the managed 'run-down' of the economy, as planned under Agenda 21.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Failure? No. Complete success.

      Nice paranoia commentard. I presume that for consistencies sake you are NOT one of those who think the banks and ftse100 run the country?

      This is what I love about conspiracy freaks - you only have to put 2 differing sets of them in a room and what the fur fly. Much more humane than badger baiting. Although there is always a danger that they will come up with a theory SOOOOO twisted it explains both opposing views.

      Write 100 times

      "Never ascribe to conspiracy what can be adequately explained by cockup"

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Failure? No. Complete success.

      managed 'run-down' of the economy, as planned under Agenda 21

      As opposed to the unmanaged run-down of the economy, completely ad-libbed by our central banking keynesians?

  17. YetAnotherAnonymousCoward!

    Power storage?

    Not sure why the government doesn't invest into strategic power storage. Create more energy storage for extra renewable power when it is not needed - either local to generation source or somewhere else via the grid. Is it that hard to store wind/wave/other excess using compressed air/creating hydrogen (then burn)/pumping water up to a high reservoir and use this at peak demand/when renewable power are not available? Is the efficiency loss that much in each scenario to not make this cost effective?

    1. Mad Chaz

      Re: Power storage?

      In one word, yes.

      Energy storage right now is crap. You end up loosing almost half the energy as heat in the storage and re-release.

      So you'd need to produce about double the energy you'll be using. Hard to make that make economic sence.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Power storage?

        Depends how cheap the generation was to begin with. And it's better than not doing it at all.

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Power storage?

      Because it's economic insanity. Check DECC's report here-

      https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/223940/DECC_Electricity_Generation_Costs_for_publication_-_24_07_13.pdf

      which models generation costs. It leaves a few things out but has CCGT @£80/MWh, FOAK nuclear @£90/MWh and then renewables ranging from £101-158/MWh. So even with a very generous set of assumptions, renewables are the most expensive form of generation. Then because renewables aren't (wind/solar) despatchable, ie able to be spun up/down in response to demand changes we have to spend on either CCGT (or even diesel gensets) to provide power when the wind isn't blowing or it's dark.

      Storage could be a solution, but it would simply add the storage costs onto the cost of an already expensive product. Converting to hydrogen isn't storage, it's conversion of electricity into a gas that would then have to be moved somewhere it could be used. Hydros already used in UK, but we'd need a lot more of it to cope with long duration lulls in wind/wave generation. So basically it's a solution looking for a problem. Cheapest solution would be CCGT and nuclear/coal, especially if the £18/MWh carbon tax was removed from CCGT, and if gas prices fall as a result of EU fraccing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Power storage?

        Why do you say "more storage is economic insanity" when we are currently paying generators to NOT supply electricity e.g. times when demand is low and wind output is high?

        If we had some means to store the surplus energy [1] at those times it would effectively be free electricity, which means that the round trip efficiency doesn't matter that much (in "market" terms anyway).

        "Economic insanity" is the post-privatisation electricity industry, and paying generators to stay offline, and subsidising solar PV in the UK, and...

        [1] You don't have to store it as electricity. If you took a "big picture" engineering rather than economics view of this, it's entirely possible to store the surplus energy *before* it's turned into electricity, e.g. offshore wind being used offshore to compress gas, lift weights, etc. Then when appropriate you use that stored energy to generate electricity, thus providing a distributed (rather than centralised, Dinorwig-style) stored energy reserve. Nothing wrong with the marvellous Dinorwig and friends, or even a Norwegian interconnect as proposed by Gridco over a decade ago, but sensible diversity is good too.

        1. Vic

          Re: Power storage?

          it's entirely possible to store the surplus energy *before* it's turned into electricity, e.g. offshore wind being used offshore to compress gas, lift weights, etc.

          Do the numbers.

          Think about lifting a *huge* piece of steel (I used 10m x 10m x 10m lifted to 100m high in my calcs - that's a *very* bug bit of metal lifted *very* high). Now work out how long that energy store would last if it were full to start, and you had to extract several MW of power from it. Feel free to assume 100% efficiency throughout (which, naturally, you won't achieve in practice).

          Now look at how much wind energy you'd have to use to lift that weight in the first place, and suss out where you're going to get that power from if the turbines are supplying your base load...

          Vic.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Power storage?

            "I used 10m x 10m x 10m lifted to 100m high in my calcs - that's a *very* bug bit of metal lifted *very* high"

            The suggestion I recall was in the IET rag so may have been rubbish (they' ve turned into a style glossy rather than a serious engineering magazine) but they were talking about large masses in basically mineshafts hundreds of metres deep (clearly nothing new there). I wasn't quickly able to find a reference and don't have time to work the numbers from first principles just now (eg 500m mineshaft).

            If anyone else does, you're most welcome.

            1. Vic

              Re: Power storage?

              they were talking about large masses in basically mineshafts hundreds of metres deep (clearly nothing new there). I wasn't quickly able to find a reference and don't have time to work the numbers from first principles just now (eg 500m mineshaft).

              OK, so use your 500m mineshaft.

              Pick a mass that suits your fancy - 10m cube I talked about early is probably about as big as you could even think about manipulating (I very much doubt minshafts are drilled 100m^2).

              Work out how much energy is stored in that putative system. Now extract just 10MW from it and see how long it lasts. Go on - do the maths. It's very informative.

              To achieve the current STOR of 2GW, you'd need 200 of those generators. And they want to quadruple that...

              Vic.

          2. phil dude
            Thumb Up

            Re: Power storage?

            here in my part of the USA there is the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) that was setup by Roosevelt (after 1929 , the New Deal)

            If you have ever seen "Brother where for art thou?" the end of the movie is based on a common occurrence in the 1930's where valleys were flooded for hydroelectric (and a local restaurant has a before and after view!!!).

            From their executive summary they provide 28GW (5/7/17/20/51 ; pumped/combustion/hydro/nuclear/coal) and are the largest in the US.

            Anyone know what the UK's mix is, my quick look showed them all paywalled?

            I just know there are *a lot* of lakes around here!! @Vic, spot on!

            Oh and power costs me $0.09/kWH, where as in Oxford it was GBP 0.15

            P.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Power storage?

              "Anyone know what the UK's mix is, my quick look showed them all paywalled?"

              www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk is free, quite pretty in its own way, and easy to understand, and gets its input from the BM Reports figures freely published by the UK's National Grid so is as definitive as you'll get.

              Assuming that's what you want, you'll get figures (and charts) for actual live contribution to the UK grid from the various classes of generation, now and over the last 12 months, rather than their installed capacity, but it'd be a good starter for 10.

              Enjoy (no it's not my site).

              You could also try Mackay at www.withouthotair.com. He's not perfect but does offer a lot of facts (including sources) and logic and insight.

              1. TRT Silver badge

                Re: Power storage?

                Who keeps setting up the straw man that the UK will put all its energy supply eggs into one windy basket? We currently have a mixed generation model and that situation will continue until we no longer need electricity.

                What I can't figure is all these negative attitudes towards renewables with only two alternatives - we continue with fossil fuels or we go nuclear. Fossil fuels WILL run out someday and the consequences of an inevitable nuclear disaster are totally horrific. We should be phasing them out of the generation mix, albeit over a timescale measured in decades. What to replace them with? Biomass incinerators, wind, wave, solar, tidal, geothermal, waste-to-energy convertors, artificial photosynthesis, hydrolysis, ethanol conversion... there's no need to stymie research into alternative energy production just because there was a pro-lobby in the 60s that wore sandals, unbleached cotton smocks and ate hemp bars, you know.

                1. codejunky Silver badge

                  Re: Power storage?

                  @ TRT

                  "there's no need to stymie research into alternative energy production just because there was a pro-lobby in the 60s that wore sandals, unbleached cotton smocks and ate hemp bars, you know."

                  I dont think anyone has a problem with continued research. The problem is with the barely working but highly expensive research experiment being relied on in critical infrastructure. We have a mixed generation model, so adding lame ducks while buggering the rest of the model with dodgy 'green' tax's makes no sense.

                  Fossil fuels will eventually run out... yes. This planet will eventually become uninhabitable for one of a massive number of possibilities... so I assume the renewable crowd will bugger off this planet? Naa didnt think so. Instead we all stay on this planet because we dont have much of a choice, same as using fossil fuels! Foolish attempts at utopia wet dreams just look foolish and in this case cost a lot of people a lot of money for a much worse service.

                  The natural progression to improved technology does not allow for shortcuts. The energy issue exists due to foolish attempts at a shortcut. A replacement is not a replacement if it cant replace.

                  1. TRT Silver badge

                    Re: Power storage?

                    Unfortunately, I think the judgment of if we are trying to shortcut progression or not is one that can only be made with hindsight. If we acknowledge that we need to research alternative supply technology, then we need to fund that somehow, hence the 'green levy'. As a country, we tend to do pretty well in a crisis - I think it's when we are our most inventive. It's hard to know which route to take.

        2. Robert Sneddon

          Storage costs money

          Assuming you have the right kind of geography with high and low reservoirs close to each other and lots and lots of water available, pumped storage costs about £200 million per GWh to build, a few million a year to run and it doesn't generate any electricity in itself so it's on top of the cost of renewables, not a replacement or an offset. It makes intermittent renewables more useful, their energy can be stored and released on demand rather than use it or lose it but storage also wastes a lot of that energy in the store and release cycle.

          Dinorwig can store about 8GWh, the other big pumped storage station at Cruachan in Scotland is about the same. Together they can supply about 2GW maximum for a few hours or about 10% of our lowest consumption (midsummer night time). During the winter our demand peaks at about 50GW so we'd really need at least a dozen more Dinorwigs to make a dent in the supply situation for those times, or freeze to death in the dark.

        3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Power storage?

          "Why do you say "more storage is economic insanity" when we are currently paying generators to NOT supply electricity e.g. times when demand is low and wind output is high?"

          That's a different form of economic insanity. The renewables lobby is ok with it because they get paid either way.

          "If we had some means to store the surplus energy [1] at those times it would effectively be free electricity, which means that the round trip efficiency doesn't matter that much (in "market" terms anyway)."

          Some people do, for example anyone with Economy 7. That was intended to solve a different problem of too much base load capacity. That could be used with minor tweaks to store surplus energy but doesn't really solve the grid problems when there's an energy shortage. It also wouldn't be free given the way the market's rigged. The surplus energy would be the most expensive given it's original generation cost plus the storage and transmission costs.

          "You don't have to store it as electricity. If you took a "big picture" engineering rather than economics view of this, it's entirely possible to store the surplus energy *before* it's turned into electricity, e.g. offshore wind being used offshore to compress gas, lift weights, etc."

          But if we're talking about the current wind fleet, they're blades attached to generators in the nacelles. They're designed to generate electricity, nothing else. Converting them to use mechanical energy to do work would mean drastic redesigns to the whole system, so more costs and inefficiencies. Wind pumps have been around for centuries though so could be used for pumped hydro. But once you've dumped the water because there's a blocking high, where do you get the energy from to refill the store?

    3. WraithCadmus
      Boffin

      Re: Power storage?

      For reference Dinorwig (aka Electric Mountain) is about 75% efficient. My understanding is that there's a shortage of sites suitable for pumped storage, not to mention the environmental impact of hollowing out mountains, it does seem that such sites would be a great compliment to renewables. Add some nuclear for baseload and job's a goodun, right?

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Dinorwig

        Dinorwig does an excellent job of running kettles when the adverts come on. According to the wind lobby, if the wind isn't blowing in the UK, it is blowing somewhere else in Europe. According to weather records there are 3 to 5 days each winter when the whole of Europe has no wind. Pumped storage on that scale is insane (even more insane when it is unused 97% of the time). Take a look at the maps in sustainable energy without hot air. The book gives you the equations to calculate how much energy is used for different tasks, so you can pick places where economies can be made. It also gives you ways to calculate costs of energy production - including land (or sea) use. You can make your own energy policy and see how much of Scotland and Wales has to become pumped storage for wind powered UK. I like the big blotches in Libya for solar powered UK (have fun paying for a power cord - or putting even bigger blotches here).

    4. Vic

      Re: Power storage?

      Is it that hard to store wind/wave/other excess using compressed air/creating hydrogen (then burn)/pumping water up to a high reservoir and use this at peak demand/when renewable power are not available?

      Yes.

      Do come numbers - even if you assume 100% efficiency in all stages of conversion (which is about as wrong as it's possible to be), we just don't have the geography for much in the way of hydro storage, and the use of compressed air or hydrogen is simply pitiful.

      The article mentioned 8GW of STOR. Just try doing that with compressed air...

      Vic.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Power storage?

        Dinorwig is the best part of 2GW of STOR... And it's a great visitor attraction.

    5. Havin_it

      Re: Power storage?

      I can't fathom why this is still an issue. Whenever I go to the Pound shop there's always thousands of AAs there that nobody's even using, and they're full already!

      Don't the government know about this?

  18. A Twig

    So it's off to MachineMart for a genny then before the price of them goes up!

  19. Roger Stenning
    Flame

    Ye Gods.

    This has been on the horizon for HOW LONG?

    I want to see NONE OF THE ABOVE on the next ballot papers, because they're all just fucking incompetent, and shouldn't be left in charge of anything more complex than a wooden spoon.

    1. Oor Nonny-Muss

      Re: Ye Gods.

      You have always been able to spoil your paper... Drawing a huge cock & balls is my usual spoiling tactic.

      1. Chris Miller

        Careful, Oor Nonny-Muss

        Ballots are not anonymous, they're all individually numbered and the Poll Clerks [PDF] write the number of your ballot against your name on the electoral register, and these documents are held securely for a period and then destroyed (we are assured). So if there's any complaint about the conduct of the election, it's very easy for the returning officer to find out who voted what.

        I'm sure it's very unlikely that someone would take offence at what you may have drawn or written on your ballot paper, but in theory they could.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Careful, Oor Nonny-Muss

          "these documents are held securely for a period and then destroyed "

          You missed "by MI5".

          Vote for the Communists, when they existed, or the BNP (and possibly now the Greens) and someone will have a little record.

          Someone who spoils a ballot paper - undirected anger is a matter for the police, not the security services.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ye Gods.

      "I want to see NONE OF THE ABOVE on the next ballot papers"

      www.notavote.co.uk

      Other alternatives are available.

  20. fridaynightsmoke
    Holmes

    Neither new nor concerning

    As far as I'm aware this has been going on almost forever, if you're the sort of great-scott industrial operation that draws 1.21GW from the grid, you can have an 'interruptible' supply contract for a price reduction, and compensation at such a time as the supply is interrupted.

    No, this doesn't detract from the piss-poor governance of the UK's electricity supply for the past 20-odd years, the lack of new power stations, the spinning reserve requirements of wind power or anything else. They're all still problems, but interruptible supplies are nothing new or scary.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Neither new nor concerning

      interruptible supplies are nothing new or scary

      Did the good people of the Socialist Republic of California get their rolling brownouts under control? There was a big fuss in the start of the noughties after ENRON, then the economy imploded and GULF WAR FOREVER happened, then the housing bubble RESCUED EVERYTHING, so all of that got pushed off the very staid and rational newspaper front pages...

      1. Tom Maddox Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Neither new nor concerning

        Yes, we're fine here, you tit, thanks for asking. Not only is our power supply secure after divesting ourselves of the glorious guiding hand of the free market, we have reversed our budget deficit and are running a surplus. On the down side, conservatives like yourself have managed to stave off the inevitability of marijuana legalization and gay marriage because of their deep commitment to a smaller, less intrusive government.

  21. Alan Johnson

    Politicians pandering to the Greens are the problem not the EU

    The problem is politicians pandering to teh green fantasy in an attempt to buy votes by spending money on a power technology which is not just more epensive than any other but is fundamentally broken is teh problem.

    Britain has spent more than enough money over a long enough time period to renew our generation capacity and reduce carbon emissions but it was spent on renewables which are useless as more than a marginal power source rather than a tehcnology that actually works. Gas would have been the cheap option, nuclear the environmentally friendly, safe, strategic power security option. Our politicians went for the politically convenient fantasy option that doesn't actually work and makes the technologies that do work more expensive by requiring constant hot backup.

    In an ideal world this might rebound on the politicians and environmentalists responsible but I doubt it. The politicians who inherit the problem rather than those who created it will be blamed and the greens will probably take to responsibility at all and propose more broken technically illiterate solutions.

    1. jason 7 Silver badge

      Re: Politicians pandering to the Greens are the problem not the EU

      Actually I was chatting to a Green Councillor a few days ago regarding the power shortages we may well be getting.

      I said that we need to stop messing about and build at least 5 new reactors ASAP ans renewables are not the full answer.

      He nodded and agreed. He said that many in the Green party are waking up to the fact that wind and solar won't cut it in the long run and nuclear is the smartest option going forward. Voters will soon drop their eco warrior stance when they can't charge their iPads and Prius.

      His and my fear was that it won't happen till it's too late and the whole build process will be a 'rush job'. Not what you want in this case.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        @jason 7

        Any 'competent' politician can tell you what you want to hear. Try to going to some tree-hugger event where this councillor is due to speak, and see if he sings a different tune.

        1. jason 7 Silver badge

          Re: @jason 7

          True but what you say to one and what you say to many can differ.

          The fact is he said that the figures for renewables don't add up. He didn't have to agree with me, it was just a casual off the cuff type of chat. He wasn't after my vote.

          I have heard other Greens say that nuclear is the only real choice.

          They know as well as I mentioned earlier, that as soon as people can't heat or light their homes the green argument against nuclear etc. is finished. The public will demand nuclear yesterday.

          I guess it's just hard to abandon your public mantra after so many years when hard reality hits you in the face.

  22. LoneStranger

    Let's get Fracking

    Finally some home truths about how expensive UK energy is. This goes back much further than 2012 - successive governments have been warned that our spare capacity was running out.

    So, we have a number of options. Nuclear, Old Fossil Fuels, or Fracking.

    Nuclear will take too long to build the power stations

    Old Fossil fuels will still be quite expensive

    Fracking - true it may not be 100% clean, but it is still better than the other options

    Admittedly, restarting the coal stations would have Maggie spinning in her grave.

    However, we need to get on with Fracking, or do we listen to the same uniformed public/politicians.

    1. flearider

      Re: Let's get Fracking

      yeah lets do it under your house .....

      tremors have already happened in blackpool this is not the states people live over these deposits ..

      it's far from safe or clean .. morcombe bay would be ravaged by all the brine they want to pump into it

      1. ToddR

        Re: Let's get Fracking

        Pumping brine into the sea is a problem?

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. LoneStranger

        Re: Let's get Fracking

        So, regulate the industry to set high standards for drillers.

        In America the 2 sides (Frackers/Government) got together too late after the Frackers had started drilling - with the obvious big-business consequences.

        Let's get people around a table to talk about this rather than have lots of scare stories about a little bit of earth movement under Blackpool.

        Now that fracking in the US is "properly" regulated, they have slashed the US energy costs.

        Is fracking any worse than the alternatives?

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Let's get Fracking

          "Now that fracking in the US is "properly" regulated, they have slashed the US energy costs."

          Mainly because once you have a well in the USA, you can't turn off the tap and withhold gas until the price recovers. Many have ended up supplying at a net loss.

          The price has dropped because there is currently a glut of gas and exporting oil/gas is currently forbidden.

          Plus there's the inconvenient factor that fracked shale wells don't last very long (they start with a gush and drop to a trickle fairly quickly), so you constantly have to drill new ones to maintain production.

          Wells cost about the same each time. The economics of drilling and supply side mean that many drillers have gone under or are not prepared to drill any new wells. The glut will swing to a drought - and within a relatively short period of time.

          ALSO: unlike most of the USA, UK buildings are largely made of unreinforced brick or stone. This makes them highly susceptable to even minor quakes. (The South of England is about due for a magnitude 6 quake and it's going to be messy when it does. The last one happened before brick buildings were common.)

    2. Suricou Raven

      Re: Let's get Fracking

      Old is also strategically problematic. Oil comes from the middle east (they hate us) and Russia (They hate us). Gas comes from Russia (they hate us). Not a good thing to depend for energy upon countries which are slightly hostile now, and may be at open war in ten or fifty years.

  23. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Worse to come is the water / food crisis:

    1) Sell off the resevoirs so houses can be built on them.

    2) Sell off prime agricultural land so houses can be built on them.

    3) Look confused as to why concreting over enormous amounts of land causes drainage problems.

    4) Look confused as to why with increasing oil prices food becomes even more expensive when most of it has to be imported.

    1. dogged

      1) Sell off the resevoirs so houses can be built on them.

      2) Sell off prime agricultural land so houses can be built on them.

      Will never happen. Housing supply is kept artificially low to keep house prices high (and thus, the buy-to-let 25% of Members of Parliament and the rental sector chums, not to mention the Daily Heil happy) and buy votes come election time as well as contributions from the "credit" industry.

      Agricultural land is sold off for golf courses instead.

      Trebles all round!

    2. Alfred

      Why build on resevoirs?

      Is there something particularly helpful to building companies to have to build on a resevoir? Presumably, you'd have to drain it and fill it in, and only then could you start building on it. The drainage would be an ongoing problem during the construction and afterwards. Why not just build on land?

      1. david bates

        Re: Why build on resevoirs?

        As I understand it these are brick built reservoir tanks, not lakes. To keep them drained you just plug up the fill pipe...

  24. spiny norman

    Clearly they never played Sim City.

  25. Graham Cunningham

    Whatever became of ...

    Liquid Fluoride Thoruim Salt tech? (The "safe" nuclear option...)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whatever became of ...

      Apart from the recent discovery that there is a pathway from thorium reactors to nuclear weapons, so they aren't "safe", there is the problem that current technology has been refined over nearly 60 years (since someone at Windscale thought it would be clever to make a nuclear reactor that was basically a chimney with carbon blocks and plutonium at the bottom...) to today, when it takes bad design to make a nuclear reactor that is seriously damaged by a tsunami. Thorium technology simply isn't at the level of development of uranium technology, and given the existence of very well proven uranium reactor designs, it isn't actually needed. By the time it is, I expect that metallurgy, physics and materials handling will have advanced very significantly.

      When I was at school, it was widely believed that sodium cooled reactors were the way forward. Fortunately, conservatism prevented them from being widely deployed in large land based installations. I am as pro-nuclear as you like, but I believe in treating the things with respect.

      1. ToddR

        Re: Whatever became of ...

        You are so wrong about Thorium, its cheaper, safer, more efficient and Thorium is one of the most plentiful of elements on earth.

        Oh and the design was from the 1950s a contemporary of Fermi

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Whatever became of ...

        "When I was at school, it was widely believed that sodium cooled reactors were the way forward. "

        Lead cooled perhaps (they do exist). Sodium has some nasty habits when exposed to air/water, especially when the sodium is at 400C

        The problem with metal cooled reactors is that if they ever SCRAM you now have a large block of metal encasing your fuel rods.

        The problem with ALL boiling-water reactors is that high temperature water is corrosive _and_ you have to keep it under considrable pressure _and_ if the water ever goes away you'll end up with damaged fuel rods _and_ they aren't hot (thermally) enough, so they're inefficient and have to be throttled in hot weather.

        Plus there's the whole "if anything goes wrong, you end up venting nasties to atmosphere/water" issue.

        Pebblebeds work fine for the most part (hot air output) and there's very little to go wrong in a molten salt reactor. Yes you can get to weapons from MSR but it's a lot harder than from CANDU or magnavox systems and because you can extract most of the energy from the fuel, your supply requirements go down from tonnes per year to kilogram

        For "traditional" reactors, extracting uranium is a chemically nasty, carbon intensive business and there's a lot of "byproduct" you need to keep safe for 3-400 years until the shortlived products decay enough that the fuel rods can be reprocessed safely - and the parardox is that fuel rods can be burned down substantially more than they are now, but it's not done because they end up producing substantial amounts of extractable plutonium in the process

    2. ToddR

      Re: Whatever became of ...

      Correct Graham

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really not suprised.

    In School over 40 years ago we were taught about the upcoming energy crises, reduction of the amazon rain forests,Global Warming and the pension problems due to an aging population. These problems and others have been known about for a long long time. My guess is that the problems were ignored because those with money and influence were not affected. Now that they might be affected, we hear a lot of talk about applying short term remedies. Perhaps we should "suck it up" as they say and start afresh, from the ground up and work out whose priorities are really important before we apply a tissue paper solution that will need to be replaced sooner rather than later.

    1. ToddR

      Re: Really not suprised.

      No 40 years ago we were told there was another ice age approaching

    2. EddieD
      Coat

      Ob off-topic weak joke...

      It's called the Brazilian rain forest as there's only a thin strip of it left...

      It's the one with the footprints on...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm posting this as an AC because I know it will be massively voted down, but the fact is (and this is not green wash), in some Reg Reader's lifetimes sea level will be 3 or 4 metres higher than it is now. It's going to cost us billions to defend London and our other coastal communities from the waves and the predicted increasingly frequently and violent weather. Fracking solves nothing in the medium term, and will just help to **** up the environment even more.

    Nuclear has to be considered, but we haven't worked out what to do with the nuclear waste from the last 50 years yet. Nuclear is not safe (Fukushima and Chernobyl being fine examples), and whilst it might be necessary, it probably isn't in the UK. A Severn barrage could generate most of our base load requirement, and we have pretty much guaranteed wind and wave power in abundance. That's where the government should be investing.

    1. dogged

      I'm posting this as an AC because I know it will be massively voted down, but the fact is (and this is not green wash), in some Reg Reader's lifetimes sea level will be 3 or 4 metres higher than it is now

      [reliable citation needed]

      As for Fukushima, it proved that a reactor built in the 70's that was never intended to withstand more than a third of the force of the damage which hit it can actually withstand three times that with no more than background-level radiation as an effect.

      You can shout names of nuclear plants at the ignorant but this is the Reg. We know a little better.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        NASA recently said that melting of the bits of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is irreversible. Reported by the BBC and widely elsewhere: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27381010. It could take a couple of hundred years, but I would suggest that since emissions are still going up, it could be much sooner than.

        As for Fukushima, dismissing the worst nuclear disaster in a generation (and it's still ongoing) as just "background radiation" is IMO slightly deranged.

        1. dogged

          As for Fukushima, dismissing the worst nuclear disaster in a generation (and it's still ongoing) as just "background radiation" is IMO slightly deranged.

          Oh fucking really.

          Fukushima scaremongers becoming increasingly desperate

          Quake + tsunami = 1 minor radiation dose so far

          Oh noes! New 'CRISIS DISASTER' at Fukushima! Oh wait, it's nothing. Again.

          Of course, if you prefer the BBC or Sky ambulance chasing viewing figures by running around screaming and waving their hands and interviewing Jonathan "Big Fat Vested Interest" Porritt, that's up to you. But don't try to pretend that telling us the sky is falling means that it actually is.

          If that's the worst disaster in a generation, nuclear power is astonishingly safe compared to absolutely everything, including getting out of bed in the morning.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "we haven't worked out what to do with the nuclear waste"

      Dry cask storage till the nasty short lived nucleides decay into something safer, may be 100 years, then suitable landfill (where the stuff came from in the first place).

      If you think that's bad, there are places in this country where food crops still can't be grown (and won't be for a long time) due to coal mining.

      Chernobyl was an example of unparalleled stupidity, people doing everything possible wrong that they could. It still rates very small in the disasters mankind has inflicted on itself. Fukushima was an example of what can happen in a culture where you don't argue with older people; it wasn't about nuclear power per se but about complacency and loss of face. New Orleans had a comparable human cost for the same reasons but with no nuclear plants involved.

      I believe that the Severn Barrage was estimated at being able to produce around 7% of UK baseload capacity. I think Hinkley Point is a tiny price to pay for avoiding the major environmental disruption (and probable unintended side effects) of a Severn Barrage.

      1. ToddR

        Re: "we haven't worked out what to do with the nuclear waste"

        Dry cask storage till the nasty short lived nucleides decay into something safer, may be 100 years, then suitable landfill (where the stuff came from in the first place).

        And with Thorium you don't have those storage issues, so another zero for you

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: "we haven't worked out what to do with the nuclear waste"

        "I believe that the Severn Barrage was estimated at being able to produce around 7% of UK baseload capacity. "

        It's a pity that barrages can't actually produce baseload. That pesky tidal flow is a bit of a problem.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "we haven't worked out what to do with the nuclear waste"

          "barrages can't actually produce baseload. That pesky tidal flow is a bit of a problem."

          Which is why the lagoon-based Severn schemes could have been quite interesting in the bigger picture. Like low-height pumped storage, with tides to take advantage of too.

          Here's that Mackay chap again, back in 2007: "Enhancing Electrical Supply by Pumped Storage in Tidal Lagoons"

          http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/sustainable/book/tex/Lagoons.pdf

          "it’s a storage system that is more than 100% efficient.

          It’s a storage system that can also produce its own power when it’s not needed for storage.

          Or, it’s a tidal facility that still provides a valuable function even when the tides are small."

          1. Vic

            Re: "we haven't worked out what to do with the nuclear waste"

            it’s a storage system that is more than 100% efficient.

            That line, on its own, should ring every alarm bell in existence...

            Vic.

            1. An ominous cow heard

              Re: "we haven't worked out what to do with the nuclear waste"

              "it’s a storage system that is more than 100% efficient.

              That line, on its own, should ring every alarm bell in existence..."

              Indeed it should, in general. Which is why I put it in, for the amusement of the smarter reader.

              It's justified in the rest of the text, feel free to go read it.

              It's Mackay (who iirc is a Cambridge physics professor of some repute) playing with words. Basically he's saying that courtesy of the tides, you can put (say) 2GWh of electricity in and get more than 2GWh of electricity out, by adding some tidal energy too. The detail is in the linked doc.

              He's not proposing zero point energy extraction or perpetual motion or similar.

              Have a read; here's the link again:

              http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/sustainable/book/tex/Lagoons.pdf

              phy.cam.uk: that'll be the Physics dept at Cambridge Uni.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: phy.cam.uk: that'll be the Physics dept at Cambridge Uni.

                Well it would be if it was phy.cam.ac.uk

                Whoops.

              2. Vic

                Re: "we haven't worked out what to do with the nuclear waste"

                It's justified in the rest of the text, feel free to go read it.

                It isn't.

                Basically he's saying that courtesy of the tides, you can put (say) 2GWh of electricity in and get more than 2GWh of electricity out, by adding some tidal energy too

                If that is the case, then what he's got is a hybrid energy extraction tool. What he has *not* got is something that's >100% efficient. Claiming it is so is a decidedly worrying proposition, whatever the guy's title might be.

                Vic.

    3. ToddR

      Nuclear is not safe (Fukushima and Chernobyl being fine examples)

      But not good examples.

      Chernobyl, if you stop the maintenance watch out

      Fukushima, Build on the side of the island were you don't get the big waves

      1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Nuclear is not safe (Fukushima and Chernobyl being fine examples)

        It wasn't the maintenance that caused Chernobyl to go "bang" in a glow-in-the-dark way, it was the management's insistence on carrying out an experiment which ended up overrunning and so took place in the middle of a shift change. Human error caused the fatal chain reaction. Even though the crew scrammed the reactor once they realised what was happening, it was too late to prevent the overheating and explosion.

        tl;dr nuclear IS safe as long as you understand what you're doing - and don't build your reactors next to the sea more or less on top of a known fault line.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Nuclear is not safe (Fukushima and Chernobyl being fine examples)

          NYET: RBMKs were not ever considered particularly safe. They can, however, produce some Pu.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nuclear is not safe (Fukushima and Chernobyl being fine examples)

        "Fukushima, Build on the side of the island were you don't get the big waves"

        And don't trust TEPCO to run/maintain it.

        And don't trust the regulatory authorities to make sure it's properly and safely run and maintained.

        Other than that, yes.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Nuclear is not safe (Fukushima and Chernobyl being fine examples)

          "And don't trust the regulatory authorities to make sure it's properly and safely run and maintained."!

          Avoiding regulatory capture is difficult in most industries.

    4. Suricou Raven

      Chuck it down an ocean trench or throw it down a deep hole and seal it off. The volume of waste is small enough that 'hide and forget' is a viable approach.

      1. ElectricRook

        I preferred the Yucca mountain option, stuff it into a granite mountain and seal it off

    5. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      What to do with the waste

      The Juno space probe to Jupiter is solar powered because of a shortage of nuclear waste.

      One person's life time's lifetime supply of long term nuclear waste if using 100% nuclear power fits in a dinner plate.

      Wouldn't it be nice if we could reprocess nuclear waste into fuel. (The terrorist threat in the link is a bit silly as there is a much bigger target in northern France that would cause the UK plenty of problems and calling Tony Blair pro-nuclear would have made me laugh out loud, but I am too busy paying for his windmills).

      It would also be handy if we could build proper storage facilities.

      There are plans to use the high neutron flux from fusion reactors to convert long term nuclear waste into short term nuclear waste that can be used to generate power. I am sure if such plans get close to construction the windmill lobby will make it illegal.

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: What to do with the waste

        One person's life time's lifetime supply of long term nuclear waste if using 100% nuclear power fits in a dinner plate.

        Well, that solves the disposal problem. We can just eat the nuclear waste.

      2. Robert Sneddon

        Waste

        Sorry but the Juno probe wasn't going to be powered by "nuclear waste". Pu238 is the preferred fuel for radioisotope thermal generators (RTGs) for a lot of reasons and it's not found in other than trace quantities in spent nuclear fuel. It's actually manufactured by a complex and expensive process involving exotic chemical processing of spent fuel to extract neptunium-237 and exposing that in specialised research-style nuclear reactors to breed it into Pu238. The problem is that the research reactors in question are being shut down as they age and/or fall foul of tighter operating restrictions such as not using highly enriched uranium fuel, and nobody wants to cough up the money to build new ones to modern safety standards. This is also affecting the nuclear medicine supply chain.

      3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: What to do with the waste

        The Juno space probe to Jupiter is solar powered because of a shortage of nuclear waste.

        That ain't waste. You need to bredd your Pu-235 from Neptunium in a special breeder reactor.

    6. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      > in some Reg Reader's lifetimes sea level will be 3 or 4 metres higher than it is now <

      Not even the IPCC projects that.

      http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/unfccc/cop19/3_gregory13sbsta.pdf --> For most Reg Readers it'll be around 0.5m. The ultra-alarmist projection is 1m by 2100.

      We actually do need to spend more on coastal defences for SE England because it has been sinking for several thousand years - but that has nothing to do with climate change.

      If you're voted down, Private Fraser, it's because you're not really contributing anything useful to the discussion.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coat

        "SE England because it has been sinking for several thousand years"

        You'd think all those heavy granite mountains at the other end of the island would either keep it balanced or even tip it the other way.

        (sorry, just using the sort of logic the extreme climate change peeps like to use)

        Coat - The water proof one with buoyancy aids built in ----->

    7. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "in some Reg Reader's lifetimes sea level will be 3 or 4 metres higher than it is now."

      1-2 metres. 3.-4 metres is unlikely for about 200 years.

      1. That Lewis Page (Written by Reg staff)

        Sea levels

        Or ...

        Worst case 2100 is maybe 0.3cm, soonest you could possibly get 1m is 2200. Soonest you could possibly get 3m is 2500AD.

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/10/03/sea_level_rise_barely_30cm_by_2100/

        "There is no scientific consensus" on sea levels, say scientists

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/07/15/there_is_no_scientific_consensus_on_sealevel_rise_say_scientists/

        1. ChilliKwok

          Re: Sea levels

          If it continues at the same 3mm/yr rate it's been rising at for centuries, readers will face the terifying prospect of a 20cm rise in their lifetimes. Oh how will we cope with this dick's-worth rise when we already handle a 4m rise between low and high tide. Oh the humanity!

  28. Permidion

    stats - you can make them say what you want

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/295355/5_Electricity.pdf

  29. Stephen Booth

    IT angle

    Our data center has an agreement with the power supplier that gives the power company remote control to switch us onto our backup generators at times of high demand. Not a huge power capacity from their point of view (couple of MW) but useful for short term spikes. From our point of view it helps ensure the system gets tested more frequently and its probably better to be switched over cleanly before the problem fully develops. Making better use of the distributed generation capacity at customer sites is now much more technologically feasible than it used to be. I't won't do anything to address the lack of bulk capacity but it will help ride through shorter events.

  30. Elmer Phud
    Flame

    Night sky

    Just turn all those bloody adverts off!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Our MPs

    I always complain to anyone who'll listen that very, very few MPs are actually qualified to hold an office in their chosen subject..

    "Ed Davey – a Liberal Democrat and Oxford philosophy, politics and economics graduate"

    And really, that says it all. What planet does this idiot live on?

    1. John 156
      Big Brother

      Re: Our MPs

      I think you'll find that a PPE degree is ideal training for becoming a minister in a modern, vibrant, multicultural cretinocracy in which the pursuit of self-enrichment through graft whilst driving the country towards third world status is the name of the game and has been for decades.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Our MPs

        In Oxford it was always regarded that PPE is a bullshit waffle degree where you can write whatever you want as long as you make up some half arsed justification in your text. It was rumoured to be pretty much marked on word count... [I didn't do PPE]

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Our MPs

        This is the old joke (still being recycled by Stephen Fry, I believe) that Oxford people expect to run the country, and Cambridge people don't care who runs the country so long as they have interesting jobs. Churchill, of course, went to neither; he went to Sandhurst, another place that provides interesting job opportunities (but rarely in politics).

        I only got interested in politics when it became apparent to me that sometimes you have to get involved in order to keep your interesting job.

    2. ToddR

      Re: Our MPs

      It doesn't say a lot for Oxford does it.

      Ed Davey BA (Hons), PPP and knucklehead

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Holmes

    I shall certainly be panic buying a back-up generator power by domestic gas.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Im sorely tempted by a Micro-CHP boiler. - unlimited electricity until the Russian/Fracked gas runs out.

  33. codejunky Silver badge

    Idea

    We could turn on the mothballed plants that actually work and severely cut funding to the green tech to pay for it. Since I pay my tax money for public services (e.g. power) not numpty schemes and wealth transfer (e.g. green tech) I know where I would prefer my money to go.

    I am all for improved insulation and more efficient homes. I am all for kicking the moron up the arse who leaves their house lit up like an xmas tree when they are in a single room. Giving money to monuments of a sky god in hope of a wind to blow or mirrors to the prayer that we actually see some sun (this is the UK) is stupidity.

    Working tech only. Real power generation we can rely on. The kind that keeps us tax payers alive

  34. doowles

    People can moan about renewables but it is our main way of gaining energy independence.

    Our offshore wind capacity is one of the best in the world. If it was all exploited then we could power the country 5 times over. Think about Saudi Arabia and their oil reserves. The UK is similar in its wind power resources.

    Just saying...

    1. jason 7 Silver badge

      "If it was all exploited then we could power the country 5 times over."

      Constantly 24 hours a day, 365 days a year?

    2. ToddR

      But when the wind doesn't blow Saudis keep pumping the oil

    3. you are idiots

      You are an eco nutter,(probably a sales and marketing twat)

      No, it fucking won't (no wind no power), and you can pay the £gazillions it would fucking cost for your stupid fucking pipe dream.

      Learn some fucking maths and mechanical engineering + power engineering + marine engineering

      Then you might actually understand the problem.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "understand the problem."

        Fucking learn to fucking write fucking more than fucking three fucking words without a fucking obscenity you fucking witless fuckwit. Maybe even a whole sentence.

        Then people might pay some attention to whatever fucking point you were trying (and failing) to make,

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        apart from the issue of needing windmills _everywhere_, the grid needs a full redesign, rebuild and massive overcapacity overlay in order to cope with widely distributed, widely varying energy sources.

        The issue is as much about infrastructure as it is about actual generation.

        1. ChilliKwok

          Here's another idea: forget the stupid hugelŷ expensive windmills then you don't need to massively redesign the grid at huge expense either.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The problem is people are never clear what they mean by "power the country". Too often they mean, "produce the equivalent of current electricity consumption", which is rather less than the total energy needs of the country.

  35. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    Actual preparation for the future

    I've always been of the thought that the best solution for the energy sector would be to build plenty of high-capacity nuclear reactors with the unneeded capacity being shunted to a sea-water processing plant that produces fresh water and extracts hydrogen, deuterium, tritium and other useful chemicals. This would provide fresh water for the future when it has become so much scarcer than it already is (Or at least emergency coolant for the reactors). Extracting hydrogen and related isotopes will greatly help when fusion power is ready for production or at the very least reducing the price for hydrogen-powered cars and hydrogen-burning power plants.

    This would certainly be a long-term investment, but the pay-out will be huge with benefits to society and humanity. We need to stop thinking short term or relying on future generations to solve our problems.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Actual preparation for the future

      Unfortunately that's a sensible plan, and not something that will have been dreamed up by a politician or parcelled out by accountants therefore it will never happen. Just like the good plans of building canals to ship heavy non-time sensitive goods up and down the country and to shift water from where there's lots of it (I'm thinking of you, Manchester) to where there isn't so much.

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: Actual preparation for the future

        shift water from where there's lots of it (I'm thinking of you, Manchester)

        It's a long time since I lived near Manchester, but in those days it got most of its water from the Lake District. It may have a reputation for rain, but that doesn't make it a source of water. Have they discovered massive aquifers beneath the city?

  36. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Hmmm

    Time to buy new batteries for my UPS I think.

  37. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Facepalm

    You cant just "bring online" mothballed coal and gas-fired plants.

    1. The vast majority of these are going to be base and intermediate load steam turbine plants. They take days to fire up and synchronize with the grid. And...

    2. You have to maintain them. Hard to do when the qualified staff has moved on once the plant has been mothballed. Amazingly enough, utility-scale boilers and coal handling/pulverizing equipment needs to be kept up. Natural gas-fired is less of an issue, because you dont have the fuel handling. However, if you decommission a natural gas plant and then bring it back up, you can crash local natural gas delivery pressure if in the interim other gas users have moved into the area and nobody has upgraded the local gas mains, because, hey, its not like they are going to start up that decommissioned gas plant again. And...

    3. And because these are base load plants, they are designed to run continuously for months on end. Not be shut down and brought back up because the wind stopped blowing somewhere.

    And....

    4. And finally coal-fired plants require a big-ass coal pile. Its not very economical to have this pile sitting around for weeks waiting for a capacity event that requires bringing the plant up.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: You cant just "bring online" mothballed coal and gas-fired plants.

      Your hysteresis is showing!

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why do you people even need electricity? Does anyone over there even do anything productive anymore?

    We can get by with reruns on the Telly for the winter. You guys go ahead and take an extra month off for the holidays.

  39. The Brave Sir Robin

    That's because..

    ...the people in charge are a bunch of self serving, greedy, useless, public school fuckwits no matter what colour badge they wear.

  40. teapot9999

    Build nuclear now!

    Governments have wasted years messing about when they should be building nuclear power stations. Just get on with it!

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Build nuclear now!

      My concern is that given the way the country has gone down the privatisation route, any new nuclear plant is going to be built by the lowest bidder. Or the French. I may sound Francophobic, but the poor quality of their electrical stuff is frankly shocking.

  41. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    FAIL

    Instead of

    standing around bitching about it, how about we drag out all those politicians from 10-15 yrs ago who made the decisions not to start building replacement plant and , well, let our imaginations run riot.

    Seriously , these people knew what was coming, we knew 20 years ago that the AGR stations would be coming to their mechanical end around about now, so why has'nt the replacement capicity been built?

    Why are we building wind turbines if they dont produce the baseload we need or peak power when we need?

    Solar in this country is a joke, and as for tidal barrages.... we'll build one in the Severn, 2 in the solent at either end of the isle of wight, Thames, wash, humber, firth of forth, and clyde and we may just have a chance with tidal.

    But the public dont care. and wont care, which we have politicians make decisions for them, but the public will care the day the power goes off....

    On the plus side.... no more f***ing light pollution from a neighbour who has 500 Mw security lamps lighting up his inaccessible back garden.

  42. HarryBl

    Is there any chance of getting some people into government who've actually got a fucking clue?

    1. JohnMurray

      Short answer: No

      If you have not gone to Oxbridge, or joined the Eton duvet-sharing elite, you have more chance of shagging the Queen than becoming a front-bench polo.

  43. Benjol

    What have they done with David MacKay?!!

  44. b 3

    "expensive, unreliable renewables"??

    the sun shines every day!

    the wind blows (practically) every day!

    the sea moves every day!

    as for the expense, solar panels have come down a hell of a lot in the last 10 years and are continuing to do so.

    we don't need to use poison for energy, none of this toxic nonsense is necessary. we have clean, free energy all round us. we just have to reach out and grab it. paying for energy is a scam.

    1. ChilliKwok

      Re: "expensive, unreliable renewables"??

      Yes, coal and gas are free too - you just need to dig them up. And as it happened this can be done alot more cheaply than attempting to harness diffuse intermittent sources like sun, wind and tide. After all, coal and gas are basically concentrated solar energy. They're nature's battery.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "expensive, unreliable renewables"??

      "the sun shines every day!"

      Actually, the sun shines all the time.

      Where exactly are you planning on placing the solar panels? In orbit?

      Or the "easier" option of sticking them on top of a pole so they stay above the cloud cover? Good luck with that.

    3. jbburks

      Re: "expensive, unreliable renewables"??

      So, I suppose you've dropped your connection to the grid and the gas mains and just grab this free energy?

  45. John Savard Silver badge

    Obvious Solution

    Build enough nuclear power plants so that their output is in excess of the maximum peak load consumption in the foreseeable future. That way, you can shut down all the fossil-fuel fired power plants.

    The excess power in off-peak hours can be used to make useful items like aluminum and heavy water, just as is done in areas with abundant hydroelectricity.

    While this might be a tad expensive, it's probably still cheaper than solar and wind power. And it is carbon-free.

  46. jbburks

    There goes the rest of the UK manufacturing...

    Well, this should put a nail in the coffin of the sliver of UK manufacturing that's left.

    With India-style dodgy power, there will be no reason to manufacture anything in the UK.

    And with service jobs going from the Polish to the Romanians, there won't be anything left for employment other than bankers in the City.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "At any time the British Gov't must realise the people are only 3 hot meals from insurrection and violent revolution" IIRC that came from a CIA anaylist, so this comes as little surprise and a predicted outcome of Margaret Thatchers destruction of the power industry, speeded up somewhat by the carbon treaty commitments...

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