back to article Shocking: UK electricity tariffs are among world's most expensive

In a surprise to no bill-payers in the UK, except perhaps those huddling in homes without power for days on end, Blighty has some of the most expensive electricity in the world. The findings, from research undertaken by comparison site cable.co.uk, were pulled from six months of looking at 3,883 energy tariffs over 230 …

  1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese
    Unhappy

    High electricity prices are less of an issue for me, as the overhead lines here are run by Northern Powergrid. After Storm Arwen, I'm denied opportunity to use any electricity...just imagine the money I'm saving.

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

      As reliable forms of power generation are phased out in favour of "greener" ones ( ie: diesel generators located near wind turbines ), we will all get to experience such temporary unexpected cost savings on a more regular basis.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        We should go back to native coal supplies feeding native power stations, then we can have the power reliability we had in the 70s.

        Assuming we decide to let any of this power go to southerners of course....

        1. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

          70's electricty

          Yep, and once we are addicted to coal, the miners will be on strike for more money (not that I blame them).

          At least the wind doesn't go on strike. Well, not today anyway.

          A question a few friends and I have discussed is what happens to all this wind energy that is being sucked out of the atmosphere? Assuming every country starts to take 100's of gigawatts of wind movement from the atmosphere, what is the overall global effect on weather systems and climate? When we burned the first coal powered power stations, or drilled the first barrel of dinosaur juice out the ground no-one batted an eyelid or thought about the global consequences or how much there was to go round. If we start extracting all that natural wind and atmospheric movement are we leading ourselves down another path to armagedden?

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: 70's electricty

            If you extracted all the wind... yes

            But there is rather a lot of wind energy. A single Hurricane is about 10^15W ie. 1 Million nuclear reactors.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: 70's electricty

              A while ago, 'Skeptical Science' tried to compare global warming with nuclear bomb equivalents. Which was amusing given it's less than the typical energy unleashed by a decent storm.

              But climate activists often do that. Hurricanes are proof of global warming! Except hurricanes can be tracked by IR satellites as they suck heat from the surface to radiate it away. Those climate scientists probably think the windier it is, the warmer it gets.

              Then again, windmills can create climate change thanks to boundary layer and turbulent mixing. So downwind land can end up drier. Plus the effects on insects, birds and other wildlife.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: 70's electricty

                You really need to stop believing the bollocks on Trump news.

                Failing that, please post references to peer-reviewed journal articles that windmills "create climate change" or "harm insects/birds/wildlife".

                1. Steve Crook

                  Re: 70's electricty

                  They do harm wildlife. Particularly, but not exclusively, bats. The rarest are migratory and particularly affected, but it's a fairly general problem. As they get near the blade tips the rapid pressure change causes their internal organs to rupture.

                  They're also an issue for birds that're scavengers because they try to get to the stuff the turbines have already killed.

                  But, apparently, foxes do very well out of them...

                  1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

                    Re: 70's electricty

                    Apparently the problem for bats and some birds is the insects. Basically the insects get smashed on the blades, leaving the smell of food drifting downwind.

                    1. juice Silver badge

                      Re: 70's electricty

                      > They do harm wildlife. Particularly, but not exclusively, bats. The rarest are migratory and particularly affected, but it's a fairly general problem. As they get near the blade tips the rapid pressure change causes their internal organs to rupture.

                      I was curious about this, so I did a quick google. And lo, the first result which popped up was this:

                      https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0242485

                      The abstract sums things up quite nicely (trimmed, my emphasis):

                      Because there are no data available that characterize the pressure changes that cause barotrauma in bats, we compared our results to changes in pressure levels that cause barotrauma and mortality in other mammals of similar size.

                      [...]

                      The magnitude of the high-pressures that bats may experience are approximately 80 times smaller than the exposure level that causes 50% mortality in mice, which have a body mass similar to several bat species that are killed by wind turbines.

                      [...]

                      Accordingly, if bats have a physiological response to rapid low- and high-pressure exposure that is similar to other mammals, we conclude that it is unlikely that barotrauma is responsible for a significant number of turbine-related bat fatalities, and that impact trauma is the likely cause of the majority of wind-turbine-related bat fatalities.

                      > Apparently the problem for bats and some birds is the insects. Basically the insects get smashed on the blades, leaving the smell of food drifting downwind

                      Equally, I was curious about this. And surprisingly, it looks to be true, though most of the articles seem to be linked back to a single study from Germany.

                      https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/csp2.366

                      So, yeah. It sounds like the bats and birds are turning up in hopes of a feast, and simply aren't paying enough attention to the big spinny thing, which they then crash into.

                      Meanwhile, the various animals on the ground are both well fed and relatively safe, bar the occasional stunned beast spiralling out of the sky and smacking them on the head...

                      Joking aside, it does make you wonder what can be done to minimise animal casualties; maybe even something as basic as a sonic repeller or a change in paint!

                      1. Helcat

                        Re: 70's electricty

                        The impact on wildlife (pun intended) has been known for decades. Those impacts also damage the blades meaning they need more frequent replacements which drives up maintenance costs and reduces power production (damaged blades reduce efficiency, and then the turbine is offline for the replacement, which isn't an easy task).

                        The solution is also known: Change the design. There are several alternatives that generate power more consistently, are less reliant on the direction of the wind, and are easier for birds and bats to see, and so they reduce the number of 'hits' on the blades, meaning the blades last longer.

                        There are reasons why many companies don't invest in the alternate designs, the main reason being the initial cost. But some do, and they're generating power more consistently - usually on a smaller scale, however, but these alternatives are slowly increasing in popularity.

                        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

                          Personally I'm rather surprised about the use of windmills. If there's not enough wind, brakes are applied, if there's too much wind, brakes are applied.

                          Why do they not go for a pyramid shape around a vertical axis ? Winds could be hurricane-level and it could still turn (well, I think).

                      2. RegGuy1 Silver badge

                        It sounds like the bats and birds ... aren't paying enough attention

                        MIND THAT BLADE!

                        What blade?

                        SPLAT!

                      3. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

                        Re: 70's electricty

                        Bats are partially repelled by noisy things. As a creature that depends on echolocation using sounds, they generally don't like loud machines (interferes with their vision). Depends on species and sound.

                        1. tip pc Silver badge

                          Re: 70's electricty

                          sound tends to follow the wind, windmills point into the wind, therefore most of the sound from the echolocation is going away from the bat as it heads towards the blade so maybe they think the blade is further away than really is.

                      4. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
                        Alert

                        *Fraudulent*

                        > > As they get near the blade tips the rapid pressure change causes their internal organs to rupture.

                        > I was curious about this, so I did a quick google. And lo, the first result which popped up was this:

                        > https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0242485 ["An investigation into the potential for wind turbines to cause barotrauma in bats", Lawson et al. 2020.12.31]

                        And I had only vaguely heard of this possibility for "some" of the dead bats so was interested and curious to read that research, neatly and readily presented (thanks!). So I did.

                        Well well well. It's fraudulent. Magnificent example of lying in plain sight. A common activist technique: citing a Reference which says precisely the Opposite of what you claim it does. ElReg's old Richard Chirgwin was a master of that during his wind power rants, you'll see it up and down the activist literature, and look, here it is again. Pull this sort of stunt in finance and you're potentially looking at jail time.

                        You'll note this is a peer-reviewed journal. And "non-trivial": PLOS ONE. You can TRUST it, right?

                        Wrong. Follow me now, goys and birls: let's see how to lie in plain sight in peer-reviewed journals. How to corrupt science: a practical example unfolding live in front of you.

                        For starters, all they did was run a model. Whoopdedoo. If you've ever done a lot of modelling, at this point you'll just laugh and put the paper in the bin since it's making sweeping real-world conclusions and is therefore talking out its arse. However, I've always meant to look into the accuracy of fluid-dynamics models and although oddly they themselves provide NO info re confidence-intervals, R2s, etc (see "bin", above), they did provide one powerful authoritative reference for both validity and accuracy: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's full formal all-of-industry empirical tests:

                        "We used the k-ω SST (shear stress transport) RANS model [31] to capture the effects of turbulence as this model has been used successfully in several wind turbine CFD studies [32–35]. In particular, many of these studies [ie, wind turbine studies using this model] demonstrated good agreement with experimental measurements under flow conditions similar to those considered in this work, as previously described by Simms et al. [36]."

                        Great! Simms et al, it is! Actual real-world validity check. '36. Simms D, Schreck S, Hand M, Fingersh LJ. "NREL Unsteady Aerodynamics Experiment in the NASA-Ames Wind Tunnel: A Comparison of Predictions to Measurements." National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 2001;NREL/TP-500-29494. Available from: https://www.osti.gov/biblio/783409.' The abstract says nowt, the body of the paper is here: https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy01osti/29494.pdf.

                        And this is what it ACTUALLY says re the modelling:

                        > Immediately following the wind tunnel test, a "blind comparison" was undertaken to begin evaluating the capabilities of wind turbine modeling tools. This was a significant collaborative effort on the part of the international wind turbine research community. Wind turbine modeling experts predicted the behavior of selected cases of the NREL wind turbine operating in the NASA-Ames wind tunnel.

                        > Blind-comparison results were not favorable. Modelers were surprised by the wide variations between their various code predictions. There were also significant deviations from measured wind tunnel results. More disconcerting was the scatter evident under supposedly easy-to-predict typical turbine operating conditions. For the no-yaw, steady-state, no-stall cases, turbine power predictions ranged from 25% to 175% of measured, and blade-bending-force predictions ranged from 85% to 150% of measured. Results at higher wind speeds in stall were especially disappointing -- power predictions ranged from 30% to 275% of measured, and blade-bending predictions ranged from 60% to 125% of measured.

                        Note the verrrrrry subtle difference there between {"not favorable", "wide variations", "Modelers were surprised", "significant deviations from measured wind tunnel results", "disconcerting", "supposedly easy-to-predict", "especially disappointing"} and how that's presented in the PLOS One article : {"demonstrated good agreement", "used successfully"}.

                        So not only are they not doing real research but merely running a model, but their model itself is hot garbage in actual real-life.

                        And they lied through their back teeth about that. Claimed the opposite was proven. By Authoritay.

                        And this is how you corrupt science.

                        (And this is why I get the irrits with anyone shouting "the research SAYS!" -- take it down to the metal or risk being a "useful idiot")

                        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                          Re: *Fraudulent*

                          I did get one useful thing out of that paper. From their tables of industry-info re tip-speeds, wind-levels, etc, I could calculate out that:

                          a/ yup, standard size blades' tips really are travelling almost exactly 300kph at their ideal "rated" speed. (287.38)

                          b/ even at their minimum operating wind-speed of 3m/s AKA ~10kph, the blade tips are doing 100mph (163.878kph)

                          c/ the cut-out/maximum operating wind-speed seems determined by the speed of sound (and presumably the associated vibration etc as you approach it): blade-tips travelling ~600kph

                          d/ the "rated" or standard wind-speed for nominal/stated power generation is higher than I thought: ~40kph. That's quite a stiff wind, as the minimum for their rated capacity.

                          That's for the small turbines: 126m diameter. Can't be arsed digging for 200m figures.

                          1. charlieboywoof

                            Re: *Fraudulent*

                            almost exactly? just like climate "science"

                      5. heyrick Silver badge

                        Re: 70's electricty

                        "and simply aren't paying enough attention to the big spinny thing"

                        It's not useful to apply human thinking to animals. It may simply be that a turbine blade does not look or move like a predator, so it just isn't perceived as a threat until it smacks them out of the sky.

                        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                          Re: 70's electricty

                          Or just isn't perceived, full stop.

                          See 2 posts above yours for the speeds at the end of the blades. At the standard speed of 300kph, no animal has evolved to watch out for a vertical blade, let alone dodge one.

                          Even at only 10kph/5knot winds, the blade is doing 100mph/160kph. That's better than peregrine falcon territory.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: 70's electricty

                    Some perspective is needed on this, though - the number of animals killed by domestic cats dwarfs anything attributable to wind turbines by several orders of magnitude (3bn vs 300k):

                    https://www.treehugger.com/north-america-wind-turbines-kill-around-birds-annually-house-cats-around-4858533

                    If you want to save wildlife, bell your cat.

                    1. Steve Crook

                      Re: 70's electricty

                      The problem with turbines+bats is that no-one really has a good handle on the flight paths that bats are using. It's very easy to site turbines in the wrong place.

                      Next problem is that ground scavengers quickly remove carcases.

                      Next problem is that wind farm operators are reluctant to allow large scale studies of the problem.

                      Next problem is denial that there's a problem, any problem, with wind turbines.

                      But you can see the turbine companies think there's a problem because of the different things they're experimenting with to make turbine blades more obvious to stuff that flies. I'm assuming they wouldn't be spending this money if there wasn't a problem to fix...

                      Cats. Yup, wouldn't argue that belling is the best solution. But, ironically, it's probably going to be easier to sort out the turbine issues than to get a majority of cats owners to care one bit about what their cat is doing when it's out and about...

                    2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge
                      Linux

                      Re: 70's electricty

                      A recent study found that cats generally only catch injured birds that would probably have died anyway and that they aren't as effective at murdering as thought.

                2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                  Re: 70's electricty

                  Harrabin? That you?

                  Anyway, try-

                  https://www.pnas.org/content/107/42/17889

                  Or start reading HH Lamb instead of the Bbc or Grauniad. Learn the basics of atmospherics and you might start being able to think for yourself instead of regurgitating greenwash.

              2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                Re: 70's electricty

                > A while ago, 'Skeptical Science' tried to compare global warming with nuclear bomb equivalents. Which was amusing given it's less than the typical energy unleashed by a decent storm.

                The sun drops 2,000 Hiroshimas a second on the Earth's surface, IIRC.

                "Skeptical Science" is that idiot (John Cook?) who came out with a "study" of published papers to show that 97% of climate scientists believed global warming was caused by humans.

                _Someone_ had to do something after the previous 97% "study" was discovered to be fraudulent, you see...

                Trouble was, _he_ was fraudulent too. A science journo asked some of the cited (and actual) climate scientists if they agreed with his classification of their papers. Every single one said no, that they should have been classified either neutral or opposing.

                Then Tol found out (think he saw the article?). World's top climate economist. He blew his stack when he saw how Cook had mischaracterised his work. He tore Cook a new arsehole, utterly destroyed the "study". In print. In a peer-reviewed journal.

                1. yoganmahew

                  Re: 70's electricty

                  Richard Tol is the dogs bollocks. A great loss to the ESRI. I never read a piece he wrote without coming away thinking and questioning what I thought i believed.

              3. Avatar of They
                Flame

                Re: 70's electricty

                What are you trolling about???

                Climate scientist don't "probably think" about anything when it comes to weather as there is more than enough information from decades of old and more modern data collection. And thousands of sources across the world - since airlines also report it back that number is hundreds of thousands in real time.

                And the way heat is dispersed and transferred is also basic physics and taught in schools at various levels. Basic science not 'skeptical science.'

                Hurricanes have always existed, the cause and reason is well known and predictable. It is the frequency, magnitude and area (size and location) of where they occur that global warming is meddling with.

                1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                  Re: 70's electricty

                  Not trolling, just exercising the thumbs of angry science deniers. One cried 'peer review, or it didn't happen!'. So one paper, and more thumbs.

                  But such is politics. So are you denying the ocean cooling effect? Or are you denying the observational record? But a few points to ponder. It's a short record in climate terms ie Nx30yrs because we've only had remote sensing satellites for a relatively short time. So now we can count more storms than ever before. And if you're the Met Office, even name the beasts.

                  But it's all just weather, even when shoddy attribution tries to link weather events to human activity. Which can prove challenging when data shows no trends. Models do, reality as is so often the case, fails to perform as predicted.

                  But that's probably just as well. After all, if we're expecting lots more angry weather, does it make sense to build energy policy around giant windmills that are vulnerable to storm damage?

                  (Oh, and citation needers, start by googling Ryan Maue. You'll probably find the top results come from science deniers.)

                2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                  Re: 70's electricty

                  > Climate scientist don't "probably think"

                  Actually any non-activist climate scientist away from public view will tell you it's all as messy as hell. It's not even clear if there's actually global warming. Consider that essentially all the late-20thC warming was: nighttime temps (~no daytime increase), and northern hemisphere not southern hemisphere (not possible if greenhouse-caused). Both oddities are explainable by weather station artefacts (eg, location vs heated-buildings) but not by greenhouse. And the troposphere says that the greenhouse effect is not happening. And ice core histories prove that temperature changes happen before carbondioxide changes (for example, including several replicated studies). And... you can go on and on and on and...

                  For a quick 2-second visual indication that you are placing a lot of trust in numbers which turn out to be fictional, check out the last 3 versions of "the" world's surface temperature. http://verstat.no/hadcrut -- scroll down to hte graph and click thru the 3 HADCRUTs. Keep an eye on the past: notice how your childhood keeps getting colder.

                  > Hurricanes have always existed, the cause and reason is well known and predictable. It is the frequency, magnitude and area (size and location) of where they occur that global warming is meddling with

                  True! Over the warming 20thC, we have seen a small but steady decline in extreme hurricanes.

                  > And the way heat is dispersed and transferred is also basic physics and taught in schools at various levels. Basic science not 'skeptical science.'

                  Hey here's a practical test YOU can do, of the world's best climate model, the IPCC's "gold standard" model: that of the Planck Institute's in Germany. Like all the GCMs they had to "tune" the nuts off it to match what the IPCC defines as a "good" model: a specific climate sensitivity. So for example the main British one changed the colour of snow and changed the biochemistry of algae and that's how _they_ qualified.

                  But the best one, the German one, they changed Convection. As you put it: "the way heat is dispersed and transferred".

                  This means: you can test whether their model is a valid representation of reality, using nothing more than a cigarette lighter.

                  Take a lighter out. Flick it to get a flame. If you immediately hear a >THUMP< as a layer of hot air flashes upwards and smacks into the ceiling, then you know the model is correct. They "tuned" convection upwards by a factor of 10. If you _don't_ hear an instant thump of hot air hitting the ceiling, then you have proved the model wrong. The world's best, the IPCC's best model.

                  Give it a go. For Science!

                  1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                    Re: 70's electricty

                    Oh, and you can see a practical exercise in how to discover fraud in research right here on this ForumTopic. Someone mentioned wind farms vs bats, that some bats are killed just by pressure changes, and someone found some peer-reviewed research which proved that that anti-renewables claim was False.

                    Busted! Fact-Checked! Right?

                    Here's a step-thru the discovery --right on this forum-- that the research was fraudulent.

                  2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                    Re: 70's electricty

                    This is one of the reasons I picked the paper I cited earlier. It's advantage is it relied on actual data from a down-wind weather station. Of course that also means that station's data are 'contaminated' by the effects of the wind farm.

                    I've not checked if that station is used in any of the temperature series. But as you say, there have been a lot of problems with data quality. Not to mention some huge sins like 'adjusting' data. I was taught that you never do that. If you think there are errors, state that and seperate corrected data. Changing original data is essentially falsifying it, and would be considered misconduct in most fields of science or engineering.

                    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                      Re: 70's electricty

                      (Your link still 404s -- maybe re-post it?)

                      There are multiple layers of adjustment, actually. And Australia's Bureau of Meteorology actually does one passive "adjustment" _before_ recording its "raw" data, for its electronic temp sensors. (IT Note: the sensors throw a lot of dud values and are only accurate on average : the mfr requires you to take a series/array of values, strip extremes ("Windsorise"), then average the remainder. ABoM noticed the extremes were strongly positively skewed so simply average the array without stripping duds.)

                      "Homogenisation" is the first normal layer, and that can be HUGE by itself. Check out this graph showing Darwin's first weather stations temps 1880 onwards, BEFORE & AFTER homogenisation alone. source Yup, that's a decline of -0.7degC "homogenised" to an increase of +1.2degC.

                      Homogenisation alone created nearly 2degC-per-Century of global warming, there...

                  3. heyrick Silver badge

                    Re: 70's electricty

                    "have seen a small but steady decline in extreme hurricanes"

                    While at the same time a large and steady increase in the news organisations taking us into the middle of those hurricanes that do happen, so it seems as if the world is ending.

                    (it's a similar question to asking are people more violent now, or is it a perception because acts of violence can be broadcast globally within minutes and discussed endlessly on twenty different channels?)

                    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                      Re: 70's electricty

                      Like the "unprecedented!!!!" bushfires in Australia last year.

                      We lost 18.6m hectares.*

                      In the 1974-5 bushfires, we lost over 105m hectares.

                      More than 5x bigger. The only thing "unprecedented!!!!" was that it was the first big season since socialmeeja+cameraphones. Oh, and the hysteria, I guess.

                      .

                      * (0.6% of our grazing land IIRC. Or was it 0.3%. Hmm)

            2. devin3782

              Re: 70's electricty

              Problem with wind is the turbines only work in a specific wind envelope, storm winds are far too much and the past few years we've lacked enough wind believe it or not.

              https://www.turbinegenerator.org/wind/what-is-wind/wind-speed/

            3. Plest Bronze badge
              Happy

              Re: 70's electricty

              "But there is rather a lot of wind energy. "

              Boris and his mates seem to be full of it right now, maybe we could set up some sort of turbine on top of parliament and snag some of that free energy?

            4. NoneSuch Silver badge

              You say the UK is expensive?

              I live in Bermuda. Wind power does not work here given the regular 125+MPH hurricanes that pass by. They talk about it often, but the laughter that follows the suggestion usually ends the discussion quickly.

              My last monthly power bill for a one bedroom apartment using 857KW/h was $351.51 (£266.34) which makes it the most expensive in the world.

              1. Col_Panek

                Re: You say the UK is expensive?

                It would seem that solar power would work well in Bermuda.

          2. jmch Silver badge

            Re: 70's electricty

            "what happens to all this wind energy that is being sucked out of the atmosphere? "

            a) as per comment above, there is a LOT of wind energy around, however much we extract it's not going to affect the climate

            b) wind is an effect, ultimately, of solar heating, so however much energy we extract gets replenished daily

            1. idiot taxpayer here again Bronze badge

              Re: 70's electricty

              @jmch

              I don't doubt that people said about oil and gas and, sadly, probably still is said by old men who don't give a fuck as their life is almost over, "however much we extract it's not going to affect the climate".

              Is there now such a thing as a free lunch?

              1. Chris G Silver badge

                Re: 70's electricty

                What makes you think old men don't give a fuck as their life is almost over?

                You sound like the kind of ignorant young twat who talks more than thinks.

                I'm 70, live off grid, grow some of my own food, have been recycling as much as possible since the 60s when I first became aware of pollution, what are you doing?

                1. heyrick Silver badge

                  Re: 70's electricty

                  Thumb up - it's your generation that wrote "The Silent Spring".

                  It's my generation that did fuck all.

              2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: 70's electricty

                >Is there now such a thing as a free lunch?

                Well it ultimately costs you a star burning 5million tons hydrogen/second - but you don't have to pay for that

                1. Kane Silver badge
                  Alert

                  Re: 70's electricty

                  "Well it ultimately costs you a star burning 5million tons hydrogen/second - but you don't have to pay for that"

                  Shhh! You fool! Don't give them ideas!!

            2. Helcat

              Re: 70's electricty

              "a) as per comment above, there is a LOT of wind energy around, however much we extract it's not going to affect the climate"

              You come onto a tech forum: One frequented by IT bods, and spout that?

              Perhaps you need reminding about Chaos Theory? About the butterfly effect?

              Yes, taking energy out of the wind WILL have an impact on the climate. Everything does. The questions is HOW MUCH impact it will have and what form it will take.

              The hope is that it will have significantly less impact than burning fossil fuels.

              As to the question of what happens to all that wind energy? Some is converted into electricity (Doh!), and some into heat (friction). Noting you can't create or destroy energy, only transform it, that should cover what happens to the energy removed from the wind.

              1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
                Linux

                Re: 70's electricty

                > Perhaps you need reminding about Chaos Theory? About the butterfly effect?

                Fun Fact: Chaos Theory came about due to Climate Modelling.

                Chap's name was Edward Lorenz, MIT, mathematician by training, became a meteorologist during WWII. In 1961 he was working on a computer model he had designed to simulate weather patterns, and he rounded one of his inputs ("tuning", in GCM parlance) from 0.506127 to 0.506.

                His virtual-world went bizarro.

                He wrote it up as "Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow", Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, but in normal scientific language it meant buggerall to anybody. A decade later, he kicked off the meme via a lecture: "Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?" (@ American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1972.12.29).

                So it's an example of itself. Round a variable in your program, create a global meme.

            3. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

              Re: 70's electricty

              As the air moves around the globe, it redistributes heat and moisture.

              If we take energy out of the wind, it moves just that little bit slower.

              That means that we have affected the distribution of heat and moisture - i.e. we have, definitely, affected the climate.

              Probably not to any significant degree.

              But considering where we are with CO2 emissions, we probably ought to check.

              1. Wellyboot Silver badge

                Re: 70's electricty

                >>>ought to check<<<

                If only to see what stupidly high number of TW/h we can extract from wind before any change can be identified in long term data.

          3. General Purpose Bronze badge

            Re: 70's electricty

            > If we start extracting all that natural wind and atmospheric movement are we leading ourselves down another path to armagedden?

            If there's no more wind then we have either (a) stopped the world turning, (b) frozen the atmosphere or (c) removed the atmosphere. Doing any of these with windmills, though sub-optimal in some ways, would win galactic admiration as a Feat.

            1. Youngone Silver badge

              Re: 70's electricty

              Do you live in a volcano by any chance?

          4. Nifty Silver badge

            Re: 70's electricty

            "what happens to all this wind energy that is being sucked out of the atmosphere"?

            Help! Global cooling!

            But seriously:

            https://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2018/07/09/how_people_created_ice_in_the_desert_2000_years_ago.html

            On dry, cloudless desert nights with the cold vastness of space laid bare above the surface of the Earth, heat can readily radiate from substances like water, escaping from the atmosphere to space itself, where temperatures are roughly 450 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. So much heat can radiate from water that ice can form at ambient temperatures as high as 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

          5. Ian Johnston Silver badge

            Re: 70's electricty

            A question a few friends and I have discussed is what happens to all this wind energy that is being sucked out of the atmosphere?

            The absolute maximum which can be extracted is called the Betz Limit and is (16/27) or 59.3%. That's the proportion of KE which would otherwise go through the rotors disk which the blades can extract. In practice most large turbines run at about 50%. Which sounds a lot, but since there are gaps between them and they are, on an atmospheric scale) very low, in fact only a minuscule proportion of the energy in wind is extracted by turbines.

          6. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

            Re: 70's electricty

            Wind does go on strike. Sometimes for days at a time. Look at Gridwatch.

          7. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

            Re: 70's electricty

            I have an additional question. If you generate hydrogen by electrolysis what happens to all the oxygen?

            A high oxygen environment would be great for bushfires.

            1. ChrisC Silver badge

              Re: 70's electricty

              Doesn't it simply recombine with the hydrogen at the point where you use said hydrogen as a fuel?

            2. the spectacularly refined chap Silver badge

              Re: 70's electricty

              At grid scale they'd bottle and sell it, same as any other large scale industrial byproduct with any value whatsoever. Hell, Drax manages to sell the vast majority of ash it generates.

              As a side effect expect the price of LN2, argon and other gases to go through the roof, at the moment they are effectively heavily subsidised as a byproduct of oxygen production for industrial and healthcare use.

          8. goldcd

            Re: 70's electricty

            "The day the wind stopped" - a new blockbuster

            1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

              Re: 70's electricty

              > "The day the wind stopped" - a new blockbuster

              Actually I think the more modern title for it would be more like (in a deep trailer voice):

              Beaufort Zero

          9. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

            Re: 70's electricty

            "A question a few friends and I have discussed is what happens to all this wind energy that is being sucked out of the atmosphere? "

            A good question - it must be, I've been asking it for years / decades.

            The standard answer seems to be 'well, we take so little energy out of the system, it obviously has no effect'.

            At which point I tend to reply - 'would that be in parts per million?' - and watch for the reaction.

            In practice, it probably is of no consequence, but given that's what we presumably thought when we started burning coal industrially, it would seem sensible to maybe not undertake the N thousandth attempt at modelling CO2 induced climate change and actually spend some time and money thinking about / modelling the effects of extracting energy from the wind. Just in case.

            Also, there is some research that suggests that a new wind farm reduces the wind speed going into an existing downwind wind farm (and thus the efficiency of the existing wind farm).

            Further, a few months ago there was a news story (which I now can't find) that referred to a new wind farm creating turbulent air which again had a negative impact on an existing wind farm 'downstream'.

          10. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: 70's electricty

            "If we start extracting all that natural wind and atmospheric movement are we leading ourselves down another path to armagedden?"

            If you start extracting it all you stop extracting any very soon after, you need the wind to carry on past the turbine to allow fresh wind in...

            The theoretical max is under 2/3rds if I remember the numbers correctly. And of course there are substantial gaps below and around the turbines, let alone the size of the gap *above* them...

          11. Persona Silver badge

            Re: 70's electricty

            At least the wind doesn't go on strike. Well, not today anyway.

            More of a "go slow" rather than a strike today in the UK. It's running at 25% of nameplate capacity. Solar is on strike with next to nothing being generated, which is not unusual as it regularly skives off for much of winter. It never puts in a night shift either.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      overhead lines

      Thars ya prahblem!

      We're pretty much forced to use underground lines here in Florida (aka hurricane central) as overhead just plain doesn't survive.

      It does have the side effect of no ugly poles and lines - on the other hand, an underground transformer in my neighbor's front yard caught on fire, and they had to dig it up and replace it. An interesting "my... front yard... is emitting smoke!" moment there.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        "an underground transformer in my neighbor's front yard"

        Was it Optimus Prime?

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        We're hoping that "wires causing 5G cancer" nuts would persuade them to bury the wires up here in the Pacific North West - but it's cheaper to send out trucks to remove the fallen trees and replace the wires the day after each storm (apparently)

        Did have a cool demonstration once where we had a suspect fault in an underground line to the lab. They bring out a big truck with a serious generator and some fun-sized coils and send a mega-zap (technical term) into the cable to find the weak point = a bang and a jet of steam come out from the lawn showing you where to dig.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          I try and avoid HVDC on account of never wanting to find out how an arc lamp feels.

          Or just watching photonicinduction's YT vids. I did once go look at a pretty impressive crater in the A4 near Newbury where all the magic pixie smoke escaped an oil insulated cable. And managed to shatter a water main, and our 288f cable.

  2. Filippo Silver badge

    Back when Fukushima happened, I remember saying something on the lines of - there goes any chance of getting serious about nuclear, oh well, we'll do it anyway twenty years from now. I feel I'm more or less on track.

    1. Mozzie

      The Japanese are shifting very rapidly to lignite brewed blue hydrogen. Nuclear is very much out of favour at the moment.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Germany just ships the lignite to Poland and burns it there - thus giving them clean power (at least if you only count their own emmissions)

      2. Filippo Silver badge

        Yes, but the EU is explicitly considering it, and around here (Italy) high-ranking government officials are talking about it without immediately getting tarred and feathered - that would have been unthinkable only five years ago.

        Let's see what it looks like when, ten more years from now, we will be well on track for missing all decarbonisation targets.

      3. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

        Already posted this question but what happens to the oxygen when you produce hydrogen by electrolysis of water?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Cool by-prodtuct that can be used for breathing when we have cut down all the trees :)

          1. hoola Silver badge

            Or treat all the Covid patients...........

            Sure you have to turn it into medical grade gas but we do appear to have needed more over the last 18 months,

        2. Filippo Silver badge

          Well, it's oxygen. It's useful, so you can store it, but if you just released it into the atmosphere you wouldn't be doing any damage: very soon (on the scale of such things), someone will burn that hydrogen, at which point that oxygen will be water again.

        3. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Large Dragonflies?

          @LybsterRoy - If you can get the atmospheric O2 high enough, animals with a tracheal system can grow larger. I always liked the idea of dragonflies with a 60cm wingspan.

          I wonder what they would hunt?

  3. JimmyPage

    We still have candles in ...

    along with some handy PIR-when-dark lamps that cut in when there is a power cut.

    If you have stairs, they may be a life saver.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We still have candles in ...

      fnar fnar

    2. juliansh

      Re: We still have candles in ...

      or a torch?

  4. Fonant
    Facepalm

    I thought privatising electricity generation and supply was supposed to drive down costs, through competition?

    Perhaps privatisation doesn't actually work for things that are public services?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Yes, the private industry is now free to buy electricity from Libya.

      It just needs the government to pay for the infrastructure to get it to you

      1. TRT Silver badge

        "...the private industry is now free to buy electricity from Libya."

        Jonathan Brearley: "Oh my God. They found me. I don't know how, but they found me. RUN FOR IT, MURRAY!!"

        Sinead Murray: "Who? Who?!"

        Johnathan Brearley: "Who do you think?! THE LIBYANS!!!"

      2. NXM

        I'm taking a suitace full of Leyden jars on my next holiday to Libya

    2. Alumoi Silver badge

      Of course it works. For the corporations. The people? Fck them!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In principle, competition should drive down costs. In practice, it doesn't. Just look at the cosy cartels - supermarkets, banks, oil companies, big breweries, etc - who pretend not to be acting in concert whenever they put their prices up. It's even worse in the energy sector because the regulator is weak and there's essentially no genuine competition.

      We're also paying extra on our bills to subside the staggeringly high costs of building new nukes. Which are going to get a 30-50 year licence to print money once they come on-stream. No market forces at work there at all.

      1. James Anderson

        I don't get this nukes are expensive meme.

        France's electricity is half the price of UK electricity largely because of the amount of nuclear power they have on tap. This in spite of the UK getting 5% of its electrical power from cheap French imports.

        The UK has had great early experience of nuclear energy with the Magnox reactors (which were not really built generate electricity but rather to provide weapons grade plutonium). Later projects were economic disasters due to insisting on the use of untried "innovative" local designs.

        1. clyde666

          You got it there - nuclear power generation provides the basis for nuclear weapons material.

          So much of the costs of that industry are borne by government. One way or another, and not often transparantly.

          Then the future costs of storing the waste material.

          What might otherwise be called "off the books".

          1. hoola Silver badge

            Whilst I agree that there are issues with dealing with the radioactive waste from nuclear, and it does have a high cost, the current situation with climate change is actually costing more. The difference is that it is mostly insurance companies paying for cleaning up the flooding or wind damage.

            We all ultimately pay, it is just not surfaced in the same way.

            One could also argue that radioactive waste is easier to deal witi:

            You know exactly where it is and can control it.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          There's a fix for that....

          Thorium cycle reactors produce much less toxic waste and no fissionable by-products. I ran the one at Oak Ridge for several years. One of the few downsides to Thorium cycle is that there are no medically useful by-products! Other than that, I'm still fairly sure that it's the way to go as the fuel is abundant throughout the world.

    4. Oddlegs

      The current expense has next to nothing to do with privitisation which should be evident from the huge number of private suppliers who are going out of business. Clearly they're not creaming off huge profits. Even in the good times Bulb et al didn't actually make money. They've effectively been subsidising their customers' bills with their investors' money.

      I agree that there are structural issues on the generation side and privitisation there will have contributed but let's not pretend that utopia lies in nationalising all public services. Nationalisation tends to lead to under investment and unions who like to throw their weight around. The happy medium for energy is probably a highly regulated, privately run industry which I think is what we've tried to create in this country. We've just done it very badly.

      1. Stork Silver badge

        Power and water are natural monopolies and competition doesn’t make much sense.

        Until 30 or so years ago, in Denmark the electricity companies were public owned but run as not-for-profit without daily meddling from politicians, they were left to engineers and bean counters.

        Around then the Danish electricity prices were the second lowest in Europe - before taxes.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Which suppliers have gone bust? Here’s a tip, leaches like Bulb are not / we’re not suppliers. They and their ilk move numbers around in spreadsheet, they generate fuck all power and own none of the infrastructure to get the energy to you. You cannot have a competitive energy market, so why bother?

        1. veti Silver badge

          Ask E.ON or NGC if they want to take on the job of billing energy users. Watch them squirm at the very idea.

          Electricity retail is a highly regulated and also very competitive market. If you think you can make good money at it, do it. Nothing is stopping you. But be warned, the margins are nowhere near as fat as you think.

          Comparing consumer prices with Libya, which provides oil basically for free to its power stations *and even then* also subsidises the bills directly, is just stupid.

          1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

            That's true - Eon find it so difficult to supply they've changed their supply name to Eon Next Energy or some other twaddle ... :-(

            It's the energy brokers that are finding it difficult - the generators and suppliers are raking it in, the brokers are betting on the outcome ... If it was indeed a fair and open market, the "green energy" suppliers would not have had a price hike when oil prices went up ...

            1. Potty Professor

              Green Energy

              I changed to a Green Energy supplier a year ago, but now the introductory period is coming to an end, they have raised my price by just over 25%. Luckily, I am on a Pay as you Go tariff, so have managed to cram about six months' credit onto my meter, so I won't have to pay the new price for a while, and hopefully I will be able to find a lower tariff elsewhere by that time.

              1. Wellyboot Silver badge

                Re: Green Energy

                If it's a smart meter won't the unit rate just change and eat the balance faster anyway?

      3. Kane Silver badge
        Trollface

        "Nationalisation tends to lead to under investment"

        Not like now, eh?

      4. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

        Sorry if I got this wrong but I don't remember Bulb et al actually producing ANY energy. They were just arbitrage middle men who guessed badly.

      5. batfink Silver badge

        "Nationalisation leads to under investment" - no, that would be a government decision to underfund it. Most likely so they can sell it off to their mates at a knockdown price.

        This pattern of deliberate underfunding => crap service => privatisation has been around for decades. Already coming to an NHS near you.

        1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge
          Facepalm

          That lie is 46 years old now.

          Will you people be having a party for the lie's 50th birthday?

    5. General Purpose Bronze badge

      But... but ... if it wasn't for privatisation, we wouldn't have had all those wonderful technological advances like smartphone apps for submitting meter readings!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        FTFY:

        we wouldn't have had all those wonderful technological advances like smartphone apps for tracking you and selling your contact data

    6. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

      Privatisation did drive prices down. Which is why it is cheaper than Germany.

      But gas/oil prices and green policies drive the price back up.

    7. codejunky Silver badge

      @Fonant

      "I thought privatising electricity generation and supply was supposed to drive down costs, through competition?"

      Which it obviously has since the costs of energy have gone up (because of government! Not the market) and the governments price cap is bankrupting suppliers. The private companies are not fleecing people, the government has caused the price of energy itself to rise and then put a cap on how much the private companies can charge (which is below the energy price).

      This isnt a UK problem this is any country 'going green' problem.

      "Perhaps privatisation doesn't actually work for things that are public services?"

      You would need a better example than one that is proving you wrong. The blame for this is eco nuts, MMCC co2 mud hutters and government listening to them 2 groups.

      1. DevOpsTimothyC Bronze badge

        Re: @Fonant

        governments price cap is bankrupting suppliers

        If by suppliers you're meaning the retailers where customers buy their electricity from, then yes as they operate on the margin and are heavily regulated.

        If (as the tone of your message seems to intend) you mean the generating companies who put energy into the grid, then no.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: @Fonant

          @DevOpsTimothyC

          "If by suppliers you're meaning the retailers where customers buy their electricity from, then yes as they operate on the margin and are heavily regulated."

          Yes them, the ones with a price cap below the cost of the energy they supply.

          "If (as the tone of your message seems to intend) you mean the generating companies who put energy into the grid, then no."

          Those being the ones forced to use increasingly unreliable sources of power generation resulting in much higher energy supply costs.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "privatising electricity generation and supply was supposed to drive down costs, through competition"

      And before that, Calder Hall promised to generate electricity so cheap that it wouldn't need metering

  5. alain williams Silver badge

    Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

    It is possible to generate electricity in a relatively carbon free way.

    Gas: the carbon is in the product.

    Electricity price per kWh is about 3 times that of gas -- it should be the other way round to encourage people to change.

    I know that many will downvote me for saying this, but we must move away from gas as part of our climate change efforts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

      > I know that many will downvote me for saying this, but we must move away from gas as part of our climate change efforts.

      From an environmental standpoint you may be right, but there's just no way you're winning that argument today.

      Ooop north, they're currently without leccy. If they were all in electric cars, they'd be utterly screwed.

      It's true that most gas central heating won't work without electricity, but you can at least light a gas hob to make hot drinks/food. Electric only? Screwed.

      Environmentally, we need to move to electric only, but we're simply not nearly prepared enough for that.

      1. Refugee from Windows

        Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

        The driver for the pricing is the "wholesale" price, which isn't a free market. There's subsidies towards "renewables" ie intermittents, and loading on prices from gas generation. It would be that we should have an energy security policy, but we've not had one of them for decades.

        Last century there was a policy of not using gas for electricity production as it was seen to be too valuable to use for this (encourage gas heating to move away from dirty coal fires).

        We're still sitting on a lot of coal here, at this rate it'll soon be economical to mine it to make hydrogen.

        1. R Soul

          Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

          We haven't had an energy policy (or transport policy or industry policy or housing policy or...) since the Thatcher era. Market forces are supposed to sort this out.

          1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

            That's how it should be done.

            If you want evidence as to why: look at what a dogs dinner is being made by government over energy.

      2. gv

        Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

        "you can at least light a gas hob to make hot drinks"

        I'm guessing you don't have a modern gas hob: as a safety feature, it cuts off the gas supply if there's no electricity.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

          Not the case on my gas hob, still works if power to cooker is off (hint, just need a match to light it obviously as auto ignition will not work) .. and this is only a few years old cooker.

          Being able to cook & boil water in a power cut is one of the key reasons to get a gas hob (the others being that that big BTU flame is he only way for proper wok cookery, & nothing beats flame for instant control)

          1. TRT Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

            I have an alcohol backup system just in case.

            1. jmch Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

              "alcohol backup system just in case"

              Is that an alcohol-burning stove, or do you, so to speak, cut out the middleman and go for direct ingestion?

              1. TRT Silver badge

                Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

                An alcohol burning stove. :) but I like to take a hybrid approach.

          2. CountCadaver Silver badge

            Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

            Try an induction stove, seriously, the power available is impressive, I can boil a pot of water way faster than my dads gas cooker can.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

              Try using your induction stove without electricity

              1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

                Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

                Where I live, in the north of England, we haven't had a power cut that lasted more than a few minutes since approx Christmas Day 1995.

                Even that was only a few hours.

                Planning your life around "what if the power goes out" isn't going to turn you into the resourceful character in an end-of-civilisation TV series.

          3. Stork Silver badge

            Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

            Genuine question: have you tried induction? Ours does give a fairly good power transfer.

            What I dislike about gas hobs is the difficulty in setting a repeatable, low power such as for boiling rice with the 2+3 method.

            1. JamesTGrant

              Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

              Well, I can help you here…

              Firstly this works for basmati rice, American long grain is terrible in comparison (environmental, cultural, taste)

              Rice in saucepan (rinse in sieve 1st if you want no stickyness (personally I rarely rinse a good basmati rice).

              Do this on a medium to small hob ring.

              For two people, 150g rice

              Add pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt (flakes or from salt grinder, whatever, careful if using fine cooking salt (use less), if you want fragrance then add a few (like four or 5, fresh or dried, doesn’t matter) bayleaves or a star-anise if you like aniseed hints

              add cold water from tap about 2 times the volume the rice takes up in the pan (approx 250ml water)

              Put lid on pan

              Highest heat from hob ring until really boiling and foaming - don’t let it boil over!

              Lowest possible heat on hob ring for 10mins

              Remove from hob, remove lid, stir with fork, serve, eat.

              Perfecto!

              No messing with hob settings, either fully up, or minimum.

              With love to all!

              1. Stork Silver badge

                Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

                Thanks, that’s very similar to what I use to do. I use two volume rice to three volume water, bring to boil (with glass lid) and turn down to minimum. Boil for 10 minutes if basmati, 12 if parboiled, switch off and leave to rest about ten minutes.

                My problem with gas has been that minimum often was not low enough, it kept boiling over.

                1. JamesTGrant

                  Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

                  Too much power captain! Tricky!

                  1. Wellyboot Silver badge

                    Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

                    Raising the pan on a short bunsen stand might help.

                2. adam 40 Silver badge

                  Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

                  You are all doing it wrong, you should use about 5 or 6 times as much water as rice, and then rinse the cooked rice after with boiling water.

                  To allow the water to all be absorbed into the rice keeps the arsenic concentrated. Wash that bad boy out!

                  1. Woody39

                    Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

                    I agree about the no absortion method, but boil with salt for 7 minutes only (no stirring), turn off heat, drain rice and return to pan with lid on and leave for 5-10 minutes. rice will have fluffed up nicely.

                  2. Stork Silver badge

                    Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

                    Interesting reading, at least we’re mainly on basmati which has the lower content.

                    I learned the full absorption method when cooking at uni; if you are doing rice for 12-15 students six times as much water as rice give most kitchens logistic problems

              2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

                Chinese method. Works a treat.

            2. DuncanLarge Silver badge

              Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

              Then keep an eye on how its doing

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

              Never had a problem with gas, and you can easily adjust visually with the flame. I've always found electric hobs to be quite chaotic when trying to keep a pan simmering.

          4. NXM

            Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

            When we moved to our present house in a fairly remote part of Cumbria, having had to put up with regular power cuts in a slightly less remote area, I put in a stuffing big battery stack plus inverter, gas powered generator, and charger. Cooking is mostly with gas, heating is mostly with wood stoves.

            I'm not saying everyone should do this (particularly since it's expensive and needs maintenance), but relying on electricity for everything seems rash to me. Especially when you know how rotten a lot of the overhead line poles are.

            When there's a big outage round here, people usually go round with the generator to keep peoples' freezers frozen, especially for the oldies.

            Once we were sat in watching telly when my other half said "what's those lights in our field over there?" Turns out it was the leccy board with a load of jcb's replacing a pole after it snapped off in the wind. We hadn't noticed the power cut.

        2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

          > I'm guessing you don't have a modern gas hob: as a safety feature, it cuts off the gas supply if there's no electricity.

          How modern is modern? My current one is only a few years old, and works fine without power (well, except the igniters, obviously). Every gas hob I've had before has too.

          > it cuts off the gas supply if there's no electricity.

          I'm guessing that's hobs with flame-detect or similar? Cutting off one energy source because the other isn't available sounds like an anti-feature to me

      3. keith_w Silver badge

        Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

        ICE vehicles run on petrol. Petrol is stored in big tanks in the ground. Petrol is moved from the big tanks in the ground to your vehicle by a pump. The pumps are run by electricity.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

          On the plus side, pumps run on electricity. Which can be produced by taking some of the tank's contents out, pouring it into a petrol or diesel generator and away you go. Priming the pump as it were. OK, so I guess you could use a wind pump, but that probably wouldn't be spinning.

          Some EVs might manage to get juiced up given superchargers can rely on diesel or gas gensets.

          1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

            Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

            Fun fact: COP26 ostentatiously provided electric cars for all attendees. Nowhere near enough chargers. So they were all charged with portable diesel generators.

            1. codejunky Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

              @W.S.Gosset

              "Fun fact:"

              Have you got a source for that? I believe you I would just love to see it

              1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

                Gawd. Can't remember, some Scottish local site.

                https://duckduckgo.com/?q=COP26+electric+cars+all+attendees+chargers+portable+diesel+generators.&ia=web

                Here's a couple:

                https://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/cop26-world-leaders-electric-cars-could-be-powered-up-by-vegetable-oil-fed-generators-because-of-charger-shortage-3412247

                https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-courier-advertiser-perth-and-perthshire-edition/20211011/281689732991155 "Anger as generators are moved to power electric vehicles for COP26 VIPs"

                240(!) electric Jags. Chip-fat though, not high concentration carboniferous stuff.

                1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                  Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

                  > Chip-fat

                  Obama's energy science adviser, Steve Koonin, worked out that if we recycled 100% of the world's cooking oil, with a full years annual production, we could run the world's diesel transport for a number of days.

                  Can't remember how many, now -- I'll have to look it up tomorrow.

                  But basically, vege oil is just rich people posturing with toys, it's not a real-world large-scale energy source.

                  1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                    Cockup re Recycled Cooking Oil vs Diesel

                    Well my memory buggered that one up right royally. I said "a number of days". That number is "1" and "days" should not be plural.

                    Per Stephen Koonin:

                    > Processing all of the 200m metric tons of vegetable oil the world uses each year would satisfy just one day of global diesel demand.

              2. clyde666

                Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

                Absolutely is the case.

                Google is your friend.

                Diesel generation provided at Gleneagles Hotel for the 20 electric cars, there being only one charging point.

                1. codejunky Silver badge

                  Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

                  @clyde666

                  "Diesel generation provided at Gleneagles Hotel for the 20 electric cars, there being only one charging point."

                  20 or 240 JAGs? And is it that the charging point was diesel or that diesel generators were taken because of only 1 charging point.

                  I would have googled it if W.S.Gosset didnt have any links but I wanted to see the sources he had read. That you seem to be saying something different from your googleing is a reason to ask

                  1. clyde666

                    Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

                    It was well reported in the local press at the time.

                    electric vehicles bought for the Cop26 attendees. Used for shuttling them back & forth to the Gleneagles Hotel.

                    Which hotel only had one charging point.

                    So the diesel generators had to be brought in to keep the cars moving.

                    https://www.mrctv.org/blog/desperate-elites-climate-conference-will-use-oil-based-generators-charge-their-electric-cars

                    https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/electric-cars-shortage-shock-at-cop26

                    Thanks for the correction on the numbers of vehicles. It does seem it was 240 of them, not the 20 that were originally reported.

                    1. codejunky Silver badge

                      Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

                      @clyde666

                      "It was well reported in the local press at the time."

                      "Thanks for the correction on the numbers of vehicles. It does seem it was 240 of them, not the 20 that were originally reported."

                      I wasnt attempting a gocha, I missed the reports (purposefully avoided as I didnt care about the event) and only had the number of vehicles due to W.S.Gosset.

        2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

          Fuel can be pumped out of those tanks using a means other than electricity. It can also be transported, in much smaller tanks, to people who need it.

          Garages can run off a back-up generator and still refuel as many cars as can get through the forecourt.

          None of the above is true, at scale, for EVs.

      4. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

        Speak for yourself. I run my gas heating controls with a UPS and a backup petrol genny.

        Problem is they stopped putting our gas in massive iron containers a few years ago now and went over to electrically run pumps. They've also got a diesel genny to run the electric gas pumps - previously it just needed a bit of gravity.

      5. Joel 1
        Boffin

        Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

        >Ooop north, they're currently without leccy. If they were all in electric cars, they'd be utterly screwed.

        Not necessarily - if you get the right car, you can also run them in reverse and provide 240V from the car to what you plug in to it. And with a battery of ~75KWh, that could keep you going for quite a while, with the other advantage that if the battery starts to go down and power still isn't back, you can drive it off to charge it somewhere which has power, and then bring that stored power back home for the next few days.

        I grant you that your consumption might need to change for a while to maximise the time the battery can supply, but some power is better than none (and LED lights could run for a LONG time, plus enough power to keep the boiler running).

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

          Out of interest, which cars? I know it's an idea that's been floated, but AFAIK, not implemented. Plus there are potential safety issues with home generation. If there's a cable cut, power's often isolated so engineers aren't working on a live cable. So homes that export power usually have to have an isolator that cuts power when there's a fault on the incoming feed.

          Sometimes that also means a power cut to the property, which complicates going 'off grid'. It can also be an issue for fire safety. So both the risk of DC faults arcing and causing fires, then isolating power so firefighters can deal with the fire safely. And I guess additional challenges if there's an EV or lithium UPS also involved.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

            The Gen 2 Prius was one. There was a mod kit which allowed you tap the traction battery to get 220V ac out of it quite easily. It wasn't the highest current but it was enough to keep a freezer and a few LED lights going. There were a few people on the Prius technical forums who used the mod very successfully - mainly in the US in the more rural areas.

          2. Joel 1

            Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

            >Out of interest, which cars? I know it's an idea that's been floated, but AFAIK, not implemented.

            Hyundai Ioniq 5 for one - available now, and also has the ability to charge to 80% full in <20 minutes if you can find a fast enough charger.

            It is true that you do need to have isolators if you have power generation onsite - solar inverters cut off if there isn't grid power unless set up as an off-grid system. What I'm not sure about is whether it would be possible to isolate the house from the mains circuit, and have the solar power working with the EV power supply - put surplus back into the EV.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

              Cheers. I know some cars have 240V or 110V outlets for gucci campers, but AFAIK, they're current limited. So trying to run a house from it might just trip a fuse or breaker in the car. There might be enough to plug a freezer in though, especially if that's also in the garage.

              As for isolation, main thing is to ensure the incomer is not energised so you don't electrocute anyone working the fault. Luckily it's also pretty standard for DC builds. So detect incoming power failure, switch to battery and signal the genset to fire up. Then when mains is restored, either switch back automatically, or manually. As long as the cutover switch is between incoming mains and distribution panel, you should have an uninterruptable and safe house. As an added bonus, you could also decide which spurs to protect, ie not shower or cooker circuits, if there's only a small UPS and generator.

              So all possible, just refer to a qualified electrician, and check building regs.

      6. Adair Silver badge

        Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

        'If they were all in electric cars, they'd be utterly screwed'

        OTOH, 'if they were all in electric cars' most of them would have a nice big fat power bank sitting outside their house. Obviously they would also need to have an inverter lying around, and would have to be thoughtful about what appliances they prioritised as needing feeding, BUT it would still be better than sitting in the dark with a packet of damp matches.

        1. Joel 1

          Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

          >Obviously they would also need to have an inverter lying around

          If you get the right car, it comes with the inverter built in, and just spits 240V out a socket. Presumably you would need to be careful plugging it into your mains system, as otherwise you will be trying to feed power for the whole neighbourhood, and the amount of power in the battery doesn't seem so great....

      7. shd

        Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

        Not difficult (or costly) to use a car battery and an inverter to power the control side of gas central heating. (Or, for a bit more, have a small generator to power some light as well. But with the advent of E10 petrol, recommend LPG instead)

      8. AndrueC Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

        It's true that most gas central heating won't work without electricity, but you can at least light a gas hob to make hot drinks/food. Electric only? Screwed.

        This is why houses that have gas central heating should also have a gas fire. I paid a rather eye wateringly large amount to have my old balanced flue gas fire replaced (£1,400 if I remember(*)) but as long as there is gas flowing to my property I have a source of heat. Although it's in the living room the heat flows surprisingly well throughout the house. It does have electric ignition but it uses 2 AA batteries so I'm not dependant on the mains supply.

        (*)That did include a new surround, new mantlepiece and flue relocation. The new fire is sunk into the wall.

      9. hoola Silver badge

        Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

        In many of the more remote (and not so remote) areas electric is the only option unless you go down the oil/lpg

        Both still need electricity to work.

        Yes the costs need to reverse, insulation can only do so much and bluntly, only new builds can really provide the levels required to provide parity on running costs.

        The crunch comes when new gas boilers cannot be purchased to replace failed units in existing installations.

    2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

      "We must move away from gas as part of our climate change efforts."

      Indeed. I'm contracting currently at one of the 7 UK GDNs and I can assure you that there are significant efforts going into how to decarbonise the gas supply by using Blue or Green hydrogen.

      I'm not surprised the UK has highest bills seeing as the prime motivator is short term corporate profit rather than to provide robust social utility at value. Seeing that the gas in your pipes is supplier agnostic, the fact that so many of these 2 bit rinky-dink billing companies have gone to the wall pretty much proves that they are all built on houses of straw using dodgy hedging mechanisms and other unsound mechanisms to offset the lower tariffs they use to entice customers in in the first place.

      If you now count "Zog Energy" it's now 24 failures in 2021 alone. Why on Earth they are not regularly stress tested like the banks is anyone's guess - but that would be too much like hard work for Ofgem right? So we're now back to where we were originally with 4 - 5 major suppliers providing billing for the majority of supply. But hey... market competition in the energy sector right : that'll sort it with minimum effort required from the lazy idiot Politcos!!!

      What an absolute utter f**king failure. To paraphrase Mr Dryden from Lawrence of Arabia... "all in all I wish I'd stayed at home in Tunbridge Wells."

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

        The high cost is the renewables obligation, the carbon charge, and the stupid contracts-for-difference required to keep the power on and the frequency at 50Hz in the face of intermittent wind power.

        The current emergency is the stupid Govt using "climate change" as an excuse not to repair our strategic gas storage.

      2. adam 40 Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

        Blue Hydrogen does NOT decarbonise.

        It's just stripping the carbon off methane, and the carbon (CO) gets burnt and released into the atmosphere anyway.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

      The problem is, most of the electricity comes from coal, gas or nuclear, all of which are an environmental catastrophe.

      The coal industry is making big waves here, with the government wanting to get out of coal completely by 2030, although it looks like they have compromised and it will be 80% renewable by 2030 now...

      "Green" energy is coming along, but it isn't 100% reliable, it isn't cheap to implement at the moment and it requires the weather to play ball.

      I'd love for electricity to be cheaper, again. Prices have skyrocketed here (Germany). Our prices have risen to around 24p/kWh, but only because the local energy company bought energy in bulk on the futures market. The general price is over 30p/kWh.

      But at least supply is fairly stable, at the moment.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

        "coal, gas or nuclear, all of which are an environmental catastrophe"

        Nuclear's only an environmental catastrophe for 40-year old plants, or in the imagination of Greenpeace. Germany' error wasn't to shut down it's nuclear power (most of it WAS old and potentially unsafe), but to not start renewing it with newer plants. Now it's stuck pretending to be green by producing green locally and buying the shortfall coal-generated from Poland

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

          Gorleben is one of the biggest problems in Germany, with nuclear power. It was supposed to be storage for depleted fuel, but the storage is just not really thought through. We just don’t have any suitable containers that will last thousands of years without leaking.

          The energy production might not cause any real problems, but the waste is a long term environmental nightmare.

          1. andy k O'Croydon

            Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

            Unless you recycle it in fast burner reactors, which sorts out the energy problem and the nuclear waste problem.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

              This. The solutions do exist in theory, some have even been tested at least partly, but it's a big CANNOT cause ewyl nukes and Fukushima and anybody isn't even looking at it anymore.

    4. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

      @alain williams

      "It is possible to generate electricity in a relatively carbon free way.

      Gas: the carbon is in the product."

      You will get downvotes from extreme greenies but yes it works. The primary problem with this is the supply which is for a fair part of Europe reliant on Russia. Russia has purposefully kept Europe from building up reserves and controls supplies for influence. Trump screwed that up for Russia by allowing the US to be self sustaining, and the UK also has that ability too (fracking).

      Unfortunately the same eco nuts against gas dont realise their monuments to a sky god require a gas backup and bringing UK energy supplies to its knees

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

        It's not all Russia's fault. Towns used to have gas holders for storage, but those have been vanishing and replaced with housing. Real storage seems to have been replaced with virtual and forward contracts instead. Which has also been the problem for the virtual energy suppliers who've been busily going bust.

        Then there's geopolitics. So that's a combination of Russophobia, and protectionism. The US built LNG export terminals and wants the EU & UK to buy their gas, not Russias. And then there's the hype for hydrogen. That will need a lot of energy to extract from either water, gas or other hydrocarbons.

    5. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: Electric should be cheaper, gas more expensive

      Most (granted mainly this time of year) electric is generated by gas turbines.

      High gas prices directly translate to high electric prices.

      Everyone has been accustomed to the terms that carbon is bad, yet mos5 of those people won’t understand that every breath they take they too emit carbon, or that trees/plants absorb atmospheric carbon as they grow, or that the planet naturally releases more than 10’s the amount of carbon as do human activities.

      Yes we should reduce human carbon emissions but the reality is that not using gas would just increase carbon emissions somewhere else.

      Solar doesn’t work at night, wind doesn’t work on still or too windy days.

  6. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

    Think it is bad now?

    Just wait till gas is outlawed because of its emissions and we are all forced to heat our homes from electric at 3-5 times the cost of gas. And charge our electric cars and whatever else. Then all these idiots who have adopted smart meters will enable the electricty companies to charge whatever they like on a minute-by-minute basis depending how much wind is available and how much greed they have that day. Freezing outside? Never mind, electricty for the next 36 hours is only £5 per kw/h, but if you wait for a warm and windy day in the summer, we will supply it to you for only 5 pence. Yes, folks, it's the unregulated free market and competition.

    Never mind, the electricty companies will sack all their linesmen and maintenance teams to increase their profits. Why do we need to trim trees and growth alongside power lines - that costs money. why do we need to have local depots stocked with emergency repair materials - we can sell the depot land for housing and make a huge profit. We don't need to have customer service agents around to answer the phone as everyone can do self-service via the online app using their electricty powered computer.

    Think I'm joking? Come back in 20 years and ask. Did you ever think you would have to pay for taking your rubbish down the tip? Or that your council would fine you for putting the wrong rubbish in a bin? Or have to put a padlock on your wheelie bin to stop your neighbours using it? Or that you would have to pay per mile for driving a car and insurance ontop of fuel taxes and costs?

    Yep, what a fecked up future we have made for ourselves.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Think it is bad now?

      Have you thought of taking back control ?

      1. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

        Re: Think it is bad now?

        Yes, we tried that. But there were not enough lorry drivers to deliver the control once we had taken it back.

        If only the government and industry had 4 years notice that there was likely to be shortage of drivers they could have done something to prepare for it. But that may have involved forward thinking and planning.

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Think it is bad now?

      >Why do we need to trim trees and growth alongside power lines - that costs money. why do we need to have local depots stocked with emergency repair materials - we can sell the depot land for housing and make a huge profit...

      The tale of British Rail should have been a warning. Ignoring the actual running of trains (an inconvenient but necessary expense) the infrastructure was handed over to a private entity who disposed of its personnel in favor of a outsourcing to private contractors. Despite numerous warnings that this wasn't working (e.g. the SNAFU at Kings Cross where a contractor forgot to finish replacing a short stretch of track over the weekend) it took a significant disaster -- Hatfield -- to underscore the fact this wasn't working. The result was that the insolvent Railtrack became the taxpayer funded (bailed out) Network Rail, continuing the long tradition of "privatize profits, nationalize losses".

      The fundamental issue is productivity. Not the popular understanding of "work the 'droids to death" type productivity, but national productivity. When you have a society based on mooching off others -- "providing services" -- then you will inevitably end up with very high costs and very poor service as more and more leverage (debt) has to be serviced. It will be interesting to see how far this can be pushed before everything implodes, (For all I know it has already because its not a point event, just a series of incremental changes until we turn around one day and ask "How did we get here?".)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Think it is bad now?

      You may not have noticed, you will do soon if not, but if you want to stay off a smart meter you will pay 10%+ more than with one. You think the charges will be bad for those on the smart meter? It will be worse not on one.

      1. adam 40 Silver badge

        Re: Think it is bad now?

        Maybe, but with my dumb meter they can't cut me off _remotely_ they have to come in and remove the board fuse.

        Oh, didn't you know, all smart meters have a remote control cut-off device!!!

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: Think it is bad now?

          More than that. They can be used by the short-term traders to dial down the current to your house, per circuit. Involuntary Demand Management, aka brown-out. That is in fact their _point_, their purpose. That's why the power companies are so gung ho for them. They are in effect ~ a remote control for your house.

    4. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: Think it is bad now?

      > Or have to put a padlock on your wheelie bin to stop your neighbours using it?

      How do the bin-men empty your padlocked bin?

      You've given me an opportunity to release a bin-related grumble though. We used to be pretty good - food and garden waste (even some surplus cardboard) went in the green compost bin, general recycling in the recycling bin and the grey general-waste bin rarely went out more than half full.

      Just after taking their yearly charge for the green bin, the local council changed supplier. The new composting service only takes garden waste, no food items and no cardboard.

      So, not only do I now have a bin that's smeg-all use 6 months of the year (gardening, in winter? sod off), but our grey-bin is back to absolutely stinking, and our nice compostable scraps instead get burnt at the council's incinerator.

      Yet, they'll be all surprised pikachu next year when most houses with a green bin decide not to renew it.

      1. Boothy Silver badge

        Re: Think it is bad now?

        That's been one of my grumbles for some time now, the lack of consistency from one area to the next, and then it changes periodically. I can put x in my recycling bin at home, but it goes in the general waste at my mums house. I get garden refuse collected every two weeks, my mum has to call the council to get a special one off collection. I used to be able to recycle batteries in my green bin, (pop them in a bag and put in the tray where the glass goes), but now they won't except them anymore, which requires a drive to the recycling centre, or to a major shop, both some miles away, as there are no local places to drop of batteries.

        There really should be some sort of UK wide standard that all councils need to adhere to.

  7. Wolfclaw
    Facepalm

    Energy companies gambled with low cost schemes to get punters to sign up, got burnt and consumers now have to pay the price, let see how quickly prices come down. On the good news a second storm front should produce some nice wind, oh that's right, wind turbines don't work in strong winds. DOH !! Bring bank nuclear energy !!!

  8. cantankerous swineherd

    no mention of standing charges, or are they averaged in somehow?

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      The price cap is based on usage X per annum costing £Y, (mythical average user) If you use more or less you pay more or less.

      The unit price & standing charge is at the whim of the supplier as long as the cap isn't breached, they could in theory set £3.50 per day as the standing charge but then would have to set the unit price near zero.

  9. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Things may change soon

    Prior to Bulb going south companies simply failed and the transfer system moved customers to another supplier. Bulb was far too big for this so is running with a £1.7Bn bailout* which should see it through to the spring price cap change - the government is effectively a domestic energy supplier providing subsidised power now.

    If the market price hasn't dropped significantly by spring then the consumer price cap rise needed to allow the suppliers a 'break-even' retail price will become the issue leading into the UK May local elections, millions of voters waving eye watering winter bills will be demanding affordable power.

    Market economics are very secondary to mid-term political imperatives.

    * 1.7M accounts - about 5% of UK domestic, no other supplier has the hedged future supplies to allow them to accommodate this many extra accounts and purchasing what they need on the spot market would likely drive them out of business as well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Things may change soon

      What energy did bulb ever supply? None, that’s the answer, we must stop using these bullshit phrases for capitalist leaching scams. They were middlemen that latched on and sucked as much as they could. To those who point out the lack of profit, no profit is easy if you make sure you have big expenses to affiliate companies.

  10. msobkow Silver badge

    If you want to see "gouge", check out the cell phone data rates in most of Canada...

    1. Barry Rueger

      Just moved to France. 200 gigs is 14.99 euros.

      Canada: 20 gigs is $80!

      It is truly staggering how badly Canadians are being robbed and cheated by the Telco monopolies.

  11. martinusher Silver badge

    Its the deregulation model

    Electricity prices in Caifornia are now "Time of Use" which means that we can end up paying 38c a KWh for "peak" -- 4pm to 9pm -- usage, depending on the supplier.

    Its no coincidence that around 2000 our then Republican state government deregulated our electricity industry. The model was introduced from the UK where the system had been taken private, then intention being to then spread it to other states. The result here was an unmitigated disaster, not because the power system couldn't cope but because system was set up to benefit financial engineers rather than the public. The most notorious effects were the brown-outs and rotating blackouts caused by shortages that were deliberately engineered to push spot prices higher. This was hidden from the public by a firewall of commercial and legal secrecy which -- unfortunately for the ISO, Enron et al -- had a small hole in it in the form of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. This remained independent and the then leader blew the whistle about how they couldn't sell their surplus power to needy customers because they were legally required to put it through the ISO bidding process. (So much for the "free market".) The result, apart from a dramatic rise in power prices, was the state government was forced to intervene, stabilize the market (at significant cost to consumers) and generally sort things out. It also set the stage for the state becoming reliably Democratic -- the whole power thing was an almighty con perpetrated by boosters.

    The UK has Ofgen rather than our PUC but it seems to be an agency deliberately designed to be toothless. The result is the UK's got a hit and miss power system with a lot of fly by night retail operators all trying to play the market and apparently getting caught because they're selling long and buying short. There's lots of money being made so efficiency doesn't come into it (where else in the world would a supposedly first world country use diesel electric generators to fill in for demand?). The solution to supply costs is political; we can at least mitigate the problem with abundant solar (but even then the lobbyists are gunning for it -- its eating into profits so needs to be made uneconomic). As a rule, every time something's been privatized with glowing promises of lower costs and better service it has invariably resulted after the honeymoon period in higher costs and lousy service -- it figures if you think about how business works.

  12. grsbanks

    Price fixing, anyone?

    With so many smaller energy providers going bust in the UK because of the steep increase in wholesale gas prices and because they kept prices down by not taking out insurance to protect them in such an eventuality, only the big 5 or 6 are left in business. We were switched from a provider who went bust over to Brutish Gas and I'm now paying more for electricity alone than I was paying for dual fuel before. I have no idea how much I will be charged for gas because of "technical difficulties" getting account details transferred to BG from the failed provider.

    Not a good situation.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: Price fixing, anyone?

      Just before (as in a week) they went under, Utility Point hiked my DD to insane levels.

      Then EDF went "because of higher prices, we're increasing everyone's DD by 20% for gas and 10% for Electric". Worse, because the account's not fully migrated over yet, their support couldn't do anything about it.

      So I cancelled the direct debit until they can.

      Still, I'm glad I didn't get sent to BG

  13. Steve Graham

    This morning, I got a letter from Power NI to say that from the start of January, their prices will increase. By 21.4%.

  14. mark l 2 Silver badge

    The article doesn't mention why the UK leccy is one the most expensive in the world? Is it more expensive to produce it here than everywhere else? Or is it tariffs and taxes that the government add on top of the wholesale price that makes it expensive, like our petrol and diesel prices?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The tariffs to pay for new nukes (and decommissioning the old ones) certainly don't help.

      But I think much of the cost goes on pointless overhead. Namely the armies of lawyers and bean counters on the power company payrolls to oversee the market and look for loopholes to fuck over each other and the customers. I'll bet power companies employ far more of these oxygen theives than they have people who keep the lights on by running power stations, maintaining the grid and so on. I wonder if any of those life forms helped with the storm repairs, even if it was to just bring protective clothing or warm food to the people fixing the downed power cables?

    2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      A couple of years ago one of the UK govt bodies (can't remember which, right now; one of the market oversight ones) did a full market review and discovered+announced that roughly a third of retail power costs were directly attributed to additional renewables-specific expenditure.

      Plus there's a lot of individual transients overlapping in the gas market. Due to baseload being rapidly wound down in favour of intermittent sources propped up/infilled by gas, you're suddenly in a crunch on one key element. Just like every engineer and trader has warned about for years.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What did you expect? It's mostly mindless regurgitating of our sources here. No need for thinking, just copy-paste ...

  15. PRR

    FWIW, here in the USA the study-quoted ten cents is rare. Yes my niece paid 4 cents for a while under an old policy of modernizing farmers (even when farmers were all forced out). But in most of the country 17 cents would be nice, LILCO was pushing 27 cents. My 18c here was just jacked to 21c. That's not to mention islands off the coast, either on long old cables or frequent Diesel fuel. (Had one island used jet-fuel turbines for summer peaking.)

    Also some of their regional summaries don't add up for me. That study may bear re-studying.

  16. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
    Stop

    Blame the renewables

    To further the "green" agenda, the amount that is paid to renewable generators (mainly wind farms) is way higher than the amount paid to fossil fueled power stations for the same amount of electricity. The fossil fueled power stations are also hit by the "carbon tax" that has made many power stations uneconomic. The result of the "green" agenda has been to raise the price of electricity substantially.

    Icon for what should happen to all "green" taxes and incentives =====>

    1. James Wilson
      Thumb Up

      Re: Blame the renewables

      Yep. That's the point. The move to renewables isn't because because they're cheaper, it's because if we continue to burn dead dinosaurs at the rate we are then we'll make (even more of) a mess of the planet.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Blame the renewables

        @James Wilson

        "The move to renewables isn't because because they're cheaper, it's because if we continue to burn dead dinosaurs at the rate we are then we'll make (even more of) a mess of the planet."

        No. Just no. Got a chuckle tho.

  17. Def Silver badge

    What a useless survey

    Comparing prices of anything around the world doesn't make much sense if you don't also compare incomes and present the results as percentages.

    Norway has cheap electricity compared to the rest of Europe, but that's only half the story. When you consider the average wage in Norway (~£50k) the price of electricity becomes almost insignificant. (And yet everyone here is still going crazy because electricity here is currently three times higher than usual. Which it is, but it's still dirt cheap, relatively speaking.)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only there were some kind of Single Market for Electricity in Europe GB could join, to keep the prices down.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      @AC

      "If only there were some kind of Single Market for Electricity in Europe GB could join, to keep the prices down."

      I am sure Germany would be begging to join it.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: @AC

          "Is that deliberate ignorance or feigned?"

          No idea. Maybe if your the original AC you could answer it but I couldnt answer for them.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @AC

        "I am sure Germany would be begging to join it."

        Is this feigned ignorance, or genuine?

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: @AC

          "Is this feigned ignorance, or genuine?"

          Germany has incredibly high energy prices as it first moved to green energy at great cost and serious subsidy, then found itself subsidising fossil fuel power generation. So I am taking amusement at the stupidity of the statement "to keep the prices down".

          So as my previous response to the responding AC comment since deleted- I dont know if its feigned or genuine ignorance as I cannot speak for the original poster.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @AC

            "Germany has incredibly high energy prices"

            That just sounds like something a paid UK power company apologist would post.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: @AC

              "That just sounds like something a paid UK power company apologist would post."

              Or someone who can read, including this article where its stated that Germany pay more. Dont trouble yourself AC, your stupidity isnt tied to your post history.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @AC

            It was your ignorance that the (poorly worded) question was about, hence it was removed and then reworded.

            You have revealed quite clearly that it is genuine with your irrelevant soapbox rant.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: @AC

              @AC

              "It was your ignorance that the (poorly worded) question was about, hence it was removed and then reworded."

              Ok. So after you reworded the question I have answered the question. And you dont seem able to refute it so the original poster who coincidentally like you is AC may have feigned or genuine ignorance in their post.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @AC

                You have provided the answer - your are ignorant of what the original comment was about.

                The question was always about your ignorance. Your total lack of appreciation for the irony in the original comment.*

                (There is a 2nd AC here too, but the other was pointing out your resemblance to an apologist for UK power, which is something I'd not thought of.)

                *There is a Single market for power which the UK left at the start of this year which keeps prices for its members lower than it would otherwise be.

                Your rant about Germany is totally irrelevant to this.

                1. codejunky Silver badge

                  Re: @AC

                  @AC

                  "There is a Single market for power which the UK left at the start of this year which keeps prices for its members lower than it would otherwise be."

                  Gonna try you one more time. The problem isnt solved by a common market for power. As I already explained to you the problem is the push to green energy which is the issue in the UK and Germany (seeing relevance?).

                  Germany took this further than the UK by subsidising green unreliables to the point that actual power generation was too costly. Then they subsidised fossil fuels just to keep their lights on. The French for example have an average cost (for now) as they have power generation. The UK and, further along, Germany have been shutting down power generation and building monuments to a sky god. Thats why a gas pipeline from Russia is so important to Germany (to keep the lights on).

                  Hope that helps you understand why I responded as I did to the first comment which seemed to think there were cheaper prices because of the common market instead of the actual factual higher prices we see in the real world due to green policy.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: @AC

                    And as I said, you completely miss the point and continue to.

                    Your soap box about green energy is completely irrelevant.

                    The reason GB is hit so hard by the current situation is due to leaving the common energy market.

                    What the cause of the situation is, is not the point. The point is any such problem would be worse.

                    (And obviously that is not to say there wouldn't be a sizable hit, just that the Single Market takes the edge off it.)

                    1. codejunky Silver badge

                      Re: @AC

                      @AC

                      "And as I said, you completely miss the point and continue to."

                      I just read your comment and cannot believe you start with this line. Unless its irony? Satire?

                      "The reason GB is hit so hard by the current situation is due to leaving the common energy market."

                      Except the UK is having the same problems as other 'green' countries, so it isnt a problem with leaving the common energy market. That is why I have mentioned France and Germany where France isnt having these issues. The problem is the reliance on monuments to a sky god which require gas power generators and we have a lack of gas supply. To resolve that we either run other power generators (not unreliables) or fracking which would make us self sufficient with cheap gas for decades.

                      "What the cause of the situation is, is not the point."

                      Except the cause of the situation is why inside or outside such common energy market the problem is still the same. Its green insanity on unreliables which is the problem completely.

                      "The point is any such problem would be worse."

                      If we went to the extent of Germany then yes it would be worse. If we decided to copy say France it wouldnt be. And there are other options too which would solve this.

                      "(And obviously that is not to say there wouldn't be a sizable hit, just that the Single Market takes the edge off it.)"

                      The thing taking the edge off is France raking it in by selling its 'green' neighbours electricity because the French are actually generating it. Hell even Biden went begging to Putin when he undid Trumps good work at self sufficiency and lower prices.

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: @AC

                        And YET again you miss the point, or more likely pretend to miss it with your faux incredulity, so you can carry on with your soapbox rant.

                        The point made was that the problem was made worse by leaving the Single Market and thus having to pay far more to cover the shortfall.

                        The French rake it in by selling to those outside the group.

                        1. codejunky Silver badge

                          Re: @AC

                          @AC

                          "And YET again you miss the point, or more likely pretend to miss it with your faux incredulity, so you can carry on with your soapbox rant."

                          So either we are talking cross purposes or you are remaining AC for a complete lack of grasp on gas prices hitting all countries heavily reliant on gas because there is a shortage and some countries going green rely on it heavily. But to you its softened by something pointless to the price rise (lack of the resource necessary to generate power)?

                          Its not a soapbox rant, just slapping you with the facts hoping at some point it sinks in.

                          "The point made was that the problem was made worse by leaving the Single Market and thus having to pay far more to cover the shortfall"

                          The French may disagree-

                          https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-09-24/france-slams-eu-s-single-electricity-market-as-aberration

                          Yet the problem in multiple countries all relying on gas due to green commitments are all having the same problem. A shortage of gas (this keeps coming up dont it). Spain is in on the problem too (although asking the EU to fix it seems suicidal)-

                          https://www.ft.com/content/463d0eed-c9c3-4a2d-9958-0125c864237d

                          Oddly the problem seems to be a shortage of gas. And why are these countries so reliant on gas? (its in the links) decarbonising goals. Green garbage that dont work.

                          1. Anonymous Coward
                            Anonymous Coward

                            Re: @AC

                            Again irrelevant nonsense.

                            The point is outside the single market the UK pays more.

                            The underlying global causes do not change that.

                            So you are simply trolling.

                            1. codejunky Silver badge

                              Re: @AC

                              "So you are simply trolling."

                              Says the AC writing garbage.

                              1. Anonymous Coward
                                Anonymous Coward

                                Re: @AC

                                You started with the garbage by failing to understand a comment, and then doubling down on that failure so you could soapbox a load of irrelevant nonsense (Or irrelevant facts, I don't care which, because they aren't relevant to the comment).

                                So no, I'm not writing garbage, you are. And you are trolling.

                                If you wanted to make a point about green energy, it should have be a separate threat, not used as a pathetic attempt to counter something you don't like.

                        2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                          Re: @AC

                          @AC:

                          You really don't have the faintest clue about ANY of this, do you? The sum extent of your "understanding" of markets let alone the complexities of regulated energy markets let alone the EU, is Big Club = Good.

                          So I'll try to convey at least one key point in words you might be able to grasp, at a level you might be able to grasp.

                          If you have *1* person who can't sell you what you need, the price doesn't magically become cheaper if you have *200* people who can't sell you what you need.

                          Because: no magic.

                          Or let's try it another way. If you have *200* people who don't have a commodity, that commodity does not magically spring into existence if you push them into a room together.

                          Because: no magic.

                          1. Anonymous Coward
                            Anonymous Coward

                            Re: @AC

                            Except some of them do. So your entire point is bogus.

                            1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                              Re: @AC

                              "You really don't have the faintest clue about ANY of this, do you? The sum extent of your "understanding" of markets let alone the complexities of regulated energy markets let alone the EU, is Big Club = Good."

                              1. Anonymous Coward
                                Anonymous Coward

                                Re: @AC

                                Actually I do, but you don't.

                                Because you are making an irrelevant argument, and incorrectly too.

                                1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                                  Re: @AC

                                  > Actually I do, but you don't.

                                  > Because you are making an irrelevant argument, and incorrectly too.

                                  Child, I've been FCA regulated with unlimited authority to trade, including these markets (but not to supply). I've traded 27 markets and at one point was looking at renting an oil tanker for 6mths to buy spot and deliver physical to a forward. (Sadly I couldn't get one cheap enough -- couple of points short of profitability.)

                                  You, on the other hand, are so profoundly ignorant that even my ultra-dumbeddown analogy still flew wa-aaaaay over your head.

                                  Listen, it can be exciting when you're 12 years old to get on the internet and pretend like a grown-up. Spout things you've heard grown-ups say. But your actions and your ignorance give you away, as does your hilariously immature language. You are either 12-14yo or have very serious intellectual development problems.

                                  Either way, this forum is not the right place for you. Go somewhere else to spout stuff you think sounds cool.

  19. clyde666

    nuclear electricity

    I remember newspaper headlines saying that eventually electricity would be free because the new fangled nuclear power stations would generate electricity so cheap they would pay us to use it.

    That was the message from the government and the nuclear industry when they needed to get public acceptance for building more nuclear power stations.

    Propaganda - we've heard of it.

    1. Pete4000uk

      Re: nuclear electricity

      I also hear that 'renewables' are cheap as wind and sunlight is free. Bills keep rising though.

    2. firefly

      Re: nuclear electricity

      If there were indeed headlines saying that it was probably media hype and nothing to do with the government or nuclear industry.

      The 'too cheap to meter' phrase was coined by an American government suit in the 1950s. He wasn't taken seriously then so I've no idea why people misrepresent it today.

  20. codejunky Silver badge

    Isnt this good news?

    Congrats! This is great news isnt it? Where is the commenter who once said to me that energy had been too cheap and needed to be expensive? This is a success story isnt it? All those climate change doom mongers who would have once been stood on a street corner with a sign or sandwich board screaming 'the end is nigh' have finally been listened to and this is the brave new world you all wanted?

    This is a success for those mud hutters aka greenies who would see us all freeze to death. But nobody really cared when it was just the old people being priced out but the winter fuel allowance bought some votes, but no more energy. Those power stations campaigned against and put off over the last couple of decades were obviously unnecessary and we can now all sing Kum ba yah, hold hands and huddle close as we freeze.

    The good news is with the death of power generation the climate wont change (which is the most anti science stupidity out there but they think they are smart).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Isnt this good news?

      ^ Rightwing "humor" post or just redpilled ravings?

  21. clyde666

    where would this cheap electricity come from?

    Joined up thinking would be a marvellous invention.

    For instance, we could consider how to get power from where the renewables make it, to where the mass populations use it.

    Like a national grid.

    Like any true bottle neck, we have a national grid that does not have the capacity to carry that much from the north to the south.

    Guess what - any producer in the north (renewables territory) has to pay to build the capacity to inject their clean power into the grid.

    Those consumers of it do not contribute towards the cost of that.

    Which is why we will see a huge number of new nuclear power stations being built especially in the south.

    Given the cost of safely protecting the waste output for as long as human beings will exist, nuclear is the most expensive source of electricity.

    On the safety side - we don't have to worry that much if a big windmill collapses. On the other hand, a nuclear facility going belly up could be - what's the word - catastrophic for nearby cities.

    1. codejunky Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: where would this cheap electricity come from?

      @clyde666

      "Given the cost of safely protecting the waste output for as long as human beings will exist, nuclear is the most expensive source of electricity."

      The actual waste of nuclear isnt that much. The waste of nuclear can be reprocessed and reused providing decades more power. The cost of nuclear waste is often the overreaction to it.

      For example Trump reclassified some of the non-dangerous nuclear waste as non-dangerous and people kicked off because it must be deadly because it had something remotely related to do with nuclear.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: where would this cheap electricity come from?

        "For example Trump reclassified some of the non-dangerous nuclear waste as non-dangerous"

        Not only is this post nonsensical, but Trump axed the Yucca Mountain waste facility just to try and win Nevada. (Spoiler Alert: He lost.)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: where would this cheap electricity come from?

        codejunky> For example Trump reclassified some of the non-dangerous nuclear waste

        Military program nuclear waste. From plutonium extraction. Not civil waste.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: where would this cheap electricity come from?

          @AC

          "Military program nuclear waste. From plutonium extraction. Not civil waste."

          True. But still waste from nuclear plants is also held to a higher standard. I am not saying there is no actual waste but of that there isnt much.

          1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

            Re: where would this cheap electricity come from?

            The toilet paper and desk chairs etc in the admin block are classified as nuclear waste. Despite being less radioactive than average concrete.

      3. clyde666

        Re: where would this cheap electricity come from?

        You obviously haven't been anywhere near a nuclear power station then.

        One of my friends has a company which has spent almost its entire existence removing waste from the Dounreay facility. That's about 30 years now.

        When it was being built, the builders saw this big hole over near the sea and just dumped all their rubbish into it.

        Turned out most of the rubbish was contaminated in one form or another.

        The hole went right down to the sea, and and radiation was pouring out for years.

        It all had to be dug out, securely contained, transported a long way away, and is now in storage which will need to be monitored for thousands of years.

        The half life effect.

        All of that is expensive. Usually paid for in one way or another by the government, so it doesn't obviously show up in the costs.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: where would this cheap electricity come from?

          @clyde666

          I dont see anything in your comment that argues against what I said. It seems you have an example of misbehaviour not anything to do with the distinction of Nuclear waste from waste that is not harmful (sounds like the opposite from what you have said about it).

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: where would this cheap electricity come from?

      I think you are wrong there and the costs of interconnecting wind farms are often subsidised. Or just socialised, ie costs passed through to energy consumers. It's one of the cons used to make wind farms look attractive by using 'levelised costs', which ignore interconnects and the cost of dealing with intermittency.

      Same thing is used to make nuclear look expensive by not treating that as a low/no carbon generating source. Plus nuclear provides dependable baseload capacity, which 'renewables' can't. And as for waste, most of that comes from medical and industry. Plus some oddities. So the Eden Project in Cornwall did some fraccing for a geothermal power project. Snag is Cornish granite is radioactive, and will irradiate some of the components. Not to a particularly high level, but enough to require more paperwork. Or just letting people point out that that 'green' project risks leaking radioactive water into the environment.

  22. mercyground

    Until the "Greens" understand properly about base load, they can fuck off and go live in a tent in a field.

    You CANNOT run a grid on renewables. Certainly not regionally. You would if you had a world wide energy grid and everyone plugged into that (good luck standardising all those different electrical standards and voltages btw). You also need some sort of superconductor grid that has minimal transmission losses. Then you could have solar, wind, tidal and geothermal from world sources power the earth grid. But we are talking far fetched Star Trek future.

    As much as the greens hate it. Our base load is nuclear and that's the way it SHOULD stay.

    Add in more solar, wind and tidal if u can as you remove coal stations.

    But you are raving insane if you think you can run a grid without proper base load generation.

    1. firefly

      You can't even run a continent on renewables. This summer right through to the beginning of November saw the calmest winds since the 1960s, and output from wind farms was almost non-existent for much of that time. And that was not just the UK but most of Western Europe.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Net Zero at what cost

    In the drive for a greener "Net zero" the price will rise, it is not surprising really that the cost of living in the UK is one of the highest in the world.

    The drive for "Net zero" is a pointless virtue signalling exercise anyway while the rest of the world continues to burn coal and gas.

  24. clyde666

    Side effects of nuclear

    Most people won't know / won't remember / won't care about the effect on Europe of the Chernobyl disaster.

    We still have here farms which are not allowed to sell into the human food chain. Due to contamination brought over by wind from Chernobyl at the time.

    That is a side effect of the nuclear power industry. One which is not calculated into the costs.

    Not to mention the continuing effects in Ukraine of a huge area out of bounds.

    There were many people around here who took in children from that area for holidays in the years after the disaster. I'm told that the incidence of cancers and other conditions has been off the scale.

    1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      Re: Side effects of nuclear

      There are no effects.

      Its all hype, created by ignorant media and reactionary governments.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think I'm going to buy one of those little Chinese USB power banks off ebay. The ones that have a little Li-Po battery and can apparently deliver 90000000mAh.

    Should be big enough to run my whole village.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm moving to Costa Rica and installing a 20kw solar system to power my supercomputer so fuck the UK I'll be alright on my 40 acres of paradise :D

  27. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Choices

    I see a lot of commentary from people on here who pretty obviously have no idea about how power generation works. One compared the damage caused by an exploding nuclear power station to the damage caused by ONE falling wind turbine!<LOL> In what universe are these even remotely comparable? Each nuclear power station generates a constant 1GW of power but the biggest wind turbine outputs a MAXIMUM of 7.5MW so you need to compare at least 133 turbines falling simultaneously, and if we take the average power output for the wind turbine (2MW) then that becomes 500 wind turbines falling. Wind turbines are also unreliable since they are dependant on the vagaries of the weather (as we found out this last summer) and nobody wants them anywhere near their house.

    How's about this. If you use electricity then you have a choice. Live right next to a wind turbine, live 500m from a gas fired power station, live 2 miles downwind of a coal fired power station, or 10 miles from a nuclear power station. I know I'd choose the nuke every time.

    We NEED a mixture of power generation types because all methods of power generation have costs and risks and only an idiot puts all their eggs in one basket. Nuclear fission is going to be part of that until nuclear fusion becomes workable just because of the sheer amount of power generated. Burning fossil fuels is also going to remain part of that because they can be switched on and off to balance generation vs demand which nuclear fission can't. Wind/solar will also be part of that but these can't be relied on as their output very much depends on the weather.

    1. Fr. Ted Crilly

      Re: Choices

      careful now, you are getting dangerously close to making sensible comments on teh internets... :-)

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