Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Scorched Earth Week: Energy

There is something paradoxical about identifying a would-be environmental policy as having ‘scorched earth’ characteristics. Nevertheless, NuLab’s setting of wilfully infeasible targets for emissions-reduction and renewable energy development, can have that effect. And, they seem to have scorched the brains of the Coalition to boot.

This has nothing to do with the ‘legally binding’ aspect of their targets, because upon examination it turns out (of course) that under the legislation the Secretary of State retains for himself the right to change the targets more or less at will. No, the threefold damaging aspects lie elsewhere.

1. the stymieing of extremely useful technology, to wit, the new generation (no pun intended) of ultra-efficient coal-burning technology which needs no subsidy to let it prosper, and which is the ideal replacement for old coal plant. All it needs is to be freed of the open-ended obligation to fit (or retro-fit) carbon-capture systems.

2. the dreadful and unnecessary cost we will be put to, when after years of hiatus in mainstream development, and expenditure on windfarms, solar arrays, and the whole panoply of remedial measures and monstrous feed- in tariffs needed to accommodate these inefficient toys, we finally need an emergency programme of new gas-fired plants to meet our needs.

3. worst of all, the looming trap of signing up to international ‘penalties’ for failure to meet the certain-to-fail targets. To be fair, NuLab was prevented from taking this one final insane step by the chaotic non-result of Copenhagen. But they greatly encouraged the ravening international-taxers by their manic willingness to sign up for ever more ludicrous commitments.

= = = = =

How badly scorched is this earth ? We are certainly doomed to a needlessly expensive resolution of the coming power-generation gap (see this blog passim). However, I’d say the greater problem is that NuLab’s enviro-policies seem to have scorched the brains of both the Coalition parties. The differences between all three manifestos in this area were mere matters of detail.

There is one glimmer in the gathering gloom: a recently-reported willingness in the Coalition to rethink the threatened Environmental Performance Standards for power plants, which are part and parcel of (1) above. Might this be the first sign of a U-turn ? More anon.

Otherwise, the prospects for near-term relief from these crazy policies depend on us being overtaken by highly undesirable events – energy prices so steep that it all becomes irrelevant; and/or a second round of recession/depression that so reduces energy demand, and our ability to pay for crazy green schemes, that once again it’s no longer an issue.

Not a happy prospect.



James said...

When my neighbour told me his feed-in tarrif (which was considerably higher than I was paying for my electricity) I thought he was mistaken. As you say, why on earth are we subsidising inefficiences ? Its not like these solar panels are a long term solution to anything. Unless the gov't believe the cost of power will quadruple in the next 10 years. Gulp.

Nice idea reflecting on the scorched earth policies btw..

Electro-Kevin said...

I was hoping the first round of recession/depression "would so reduce energy demand ..." that we discarded left-wing policies on all issues, not just energy supply.

Budgie said...

The CAGW hoax is the fault of "the scientists". They are the ones who maintain that it is only global warming that is occurring and that it is solely caused by man-made CO2.

We know from some scientists own statements that they have fiddled the figures and been advised (subject only to their own choice of the balance between 'effectiveness' and 'honesty') to exaggerate the 'problem'.

Again this cannot be 'scorched earth'. In this case 3 of the 4 main parties have fallen for the hoax hook line and sinker.

Steven_L said...

Nick? Do you super critical coal plant thingy's burn books?

I was thinking about Gordon's 1,000,000 word excuse?

Nick Drew said...

burn books?

yes indeed, & we could do with a good book-burning (that's what they do with diseased carcasses, after all), but the resulting emissions would fail all known environmental standards

still, it's a quandry isn't it ? ordinary pulping would produce a pretty toxic sludge

& then there's Blair's ...

Elby the Beserk said...

And speaking of energy as we were, here's a couple of interesting links...

Bill Quango MP said...

Patently has something too Elby.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Agreed, agreed, agreed.

This is one of the few things I actually worry about, bearing in mind the lead times involved in getting new power stations up and running.