Some months ago we wrote:
If someone asks: how could an athlete run the mile in 3 minutes?, it is arithmetically correct to reply: by running 30% faster. But this would not be a satisfactory answer.
But it is the answer Ed Miliband gave us yesterday in a suite of some 20 documents, centerpiece of which is the UK Renewable Energy Strategy, purporting to guide us to 80% carbon emission reductions by 2050. The stuff relating to the last 25 years of this period is the merest science fiction (e.g. generating more electricity than now, but all of it with zero emissions), and actually I have no problem with that: none of us knows what technologies will be available then.
It’s the rubbish relating to 2009-2025 that bugs me, and in particular one very specific area. Miliband is looking for some entirely feasible emission-reductions from the two-thirds represented by transport and buildings (heating) sectors, but proposes to turn the screws to a fanciful degree on the other third, Power and Heavy Industry. And here, in one of his handy graphics, is how that 3-minute mile is to be run (click to enlarge):Note how the really impressive reductions start in 2013. Where do they come from ? Here’s another chart (my annotations), playfully headed “The UK is likely to have sufficient generating capacity” (sic):
If you look at the accompanying data, the trick is obvious: (1) a massive wave of as-yet unidentified ‘renewable’ power-plants kicks in, starting 2013. This is handy in two ways: first (*fanfare*) it solves the problem of where the electricity is going to come from when (2) the fore-doomed nukes and old coal plants close (see this blog passim), and second, since the lead-time for these plants is 3 years, the fact that no-one can point to them in 2009 doesn’t mean they aren’t all going to start construction next year !
And thus does Mr Miliband propose to run his 3-minute mile. Let’s hope the Tories have something more rational to offer in due course. More tomorrow.