Monday 8 October 2012

'Lights Going Out' - no, really?

MSM Catch Up Eventually
Exclusive to all papers, the lights may be going out in 2015 ! 

Well it’s nice when the MSM catch up: we started a little C@W series called ‘watching the lights go out’ way back in 2008 (when the trajectory of declining generation capacity became obvious to anyone paying attention) and have returned to it periodically. 

Of course it’s all being treated as bolt-from-the-blue stuff, which it ain’t. At the same time, it is highly disingenuous for Ofgem to claim they first worked it out in 2009: show us the action-plan you put in place!  Let us read the minutes of heated debates between yourselves and the mad decarbonisers of DECC, when you railed against relying on fantasy nukes and frivolous windfarms.  Actually of course there was a general election just around the corner ... so you buttoned your lips.

Anyhow: for all the journo-come-lately’s, here are a few salient facts. 
  • There are no surprises here (see C@W passim)  
  • It’s fun but fatuous to blame the EC, because the Large Combustion Plant Directive has been in force since 2001 and the closures it will bring about have been locked in and known in detail for years 
  • The situation is much worse in Germany, which will provide a handy test-bed (possibly as soon as this winter) for assessing the consequences, electoral as well as electrical 
  • The lights won’t actually go out very much: but power supplies to industry will interrupted and the economy will definitely suffer 
  • A new round of nuke plant-life extensions will be rapidly granted 
  • EDF will be upping its price for the miserable new-nuke-in-2021, and the DECC-twats will be telling ministers to agree 
Perhaps more significantly, when people see that guaranteed prices of two or three times the current market price are on offer to nukes, every other bugger will naturally want the same, including the only ones that can actually contribute something before 2016, viz owners of currently-mothballed gas-fired plant and prospective developers of the same. DECC will announce its ‘capacity payments’ scheme shortly, which will be the vehicle for this danegeld-fest. 

A more certain way to ensure the doubling or trebling of (wholesale) electricity prices could not have been devised. We can only thank God that the global gas market is too big for the cretins at DECC to tamper with. Having said this, they will probably try. 



Sackerson said...

What does nuclear plant-life look like?

Back to the candlelit pubs of 1970, then.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Thanks for the update. Pretty much what I would have thought.

andrew said...

Now is the time for the Bristol Boat Lake to be built.
If the barrier is put down as far as poss, we get up to 12% of our 'leccy.
.. and on this basis it is probably cheaper than Nukes

Blue Eyes said...

Yes I saw the headlines and chuckled, thinking of the Cs@W!

Seems to me that this might just be kite-flying by the government. If the lights get near to being turned down a little the government will have support to renege on the coal plant closures and turn the political mood against greenery in general.

I reckon a huge swathe of voters are green in principle but in need of electricity on demand in practice.

As you often say: GDP beats whatever the abbreviation is for whatever it is that causes blackouts.

Anonymous said...

I remember candles in Freeman Hardy Willis ( a shoeshop m'lud) where I worked Saturdays as a teenager in the seventies.

Hopefully even higher energy prices and.the odd blackout will kill off mad carbon greenery bollocks for a couple of generations.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

Sadly mad greenery bollocks looks likely to kill off an older generation as soon as we have another nasty winter. Paul Ehrlich will be pleased.

I'm with Billy Connolly. He once said he had the solution to the world's over-population problem. We should just kill every third person and eat them. We would solve our housing, hunger, traffic and prison overcrowding problems overnight. Of course, since irony doesn't always come across in the medium of 'print' I should point out he was joking, lest Green maniacs adopt this as an overt manifesto.

Anonymous said...

Living in a rural area (less than 60 miles from London), brown-outs are already a frequent occurrence. Often those with sensitive electrical plant notice a severe voltage drop - more than the 10% tolerance.

They are keeping the lights on for the many but bit by bit the edges are seeing it now.

Bill Quango MP said...

Paul Ehrlich.

He really deserves his own post.
However , for those that don't know his work - wiki

"One frequent criticism focuses on Ehrlich's allegedly alarmist tone and sensational statements and "predictions" that have turned out to be false. Ronald Bailey of Reason Magazine has called him an "irrepressible doomster ... who, as far as I can tell, has never been right in any of his forecasts of imminent catastrophe." On the first Earth Day in 1970, he warned that "[i]n ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish."

In a 1971 speech, he predicted that: "By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people ... If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000."

Ehrlich wrote in The Population Bomb that, "India couldn't possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980."

A lesson to us all. Never, ever put a date in your predictions.

Paul Ehrlich responds that his oft predicted catastrophes did not occur because there has been a response to his warnings.

Like any good prophet, predicting the end of the world, he has a get out.

"I predict that the world will end at midnight tonight. The ancient Quangonians foresaw a mighty tempest that devoured the earth, and it will occur in 6 hours."

Unless you all pray really hard for salvation, and send me £10 each, or unless I can square it with the universe deity we're all doomed.

Lets see how we're getting along at 11pm.

Nick Drew said...

What does nuclear plant-life look like? - it walks around the garden all by itself, Sackers, talking to the two-headed sheep

MW - all part of the service!

at £140/MWh, Andrew, you can have the Severn Barrage, hamsters on treadmills in parallel ... anything you like, really

BE, anon@1:56 - that's about the way of it [GHG]: though the old double-think is pretty powerful too, there may not be much political capital in disappointing them with a dose of reality (particularly not wearing a smirk like Osborne's)

SW - there could be a serious point in there though (heavily disguised in a jimmy-wig)

anon@5:06 - exactly: it will drive us all (first hi-tech industry, gradually working down the chain towards households) to take our energy needs into our own hands - some bloody progress (and try capping CO2 then, eh?)

cheque's in the post, BQ - trust me

Bill Quango MP said...

Well ..just a tenner arrived. Far short of the £30,000 required.
However, the universal deity deemed me too important to be destroyed. So we all saved! halleluiah!

Budgie said...

SW said: "Of course, since irony doesn't always come across in the medium of 'print' I should point out he was joking, lest Green maniacs adopt this as an overt manifesto."

They already have, SW. Agenda 21 is just the tip of the loopy iceberg.

Electro-Kevin said...

"A more certain way to ensure the doubling or trebling of (wholesale) electricity prices could not have been devised."

Of course, the free market will seek to maximise profit where it can.

It isn't really in the business of keenest pricing brought to the consumer through competition - there are also scenarios where desperation will be exploited to its fullest and without mercy.

How did our government become so exposed over an economic issue of such vital strategic importance ?

Also - I cannot help but think that had we kept our coal industry such a large voter base would have been tied up in carbon that neither Labour nor the LibDems would have dared pursue a greenist agenda.

And that it would have been better to subsidise miners than vast regions of aimless and fatherless chavs who happen to live to a far better standard than their forbears ever demanded.

Electro-Kevin said...

I'm not against the free market btw - but some things are just far too important to be left to it.

Nick Drew said...

Kev: How did our government become so exposed over an economic issue of such vital strategic importance ? - combination of massive ignorance and shameless playing to the green gallery, with a dollop of EU direction

the politest thing one could say about the windfarms etc is, that if they were part of a Keynesian job-creation scheme it might just about pass muster, until the point where it was noticed that the UK content of these things is zippo

I like your 'coalminers' scenario, but then again these people seem willing for us to sacrifice almost anything on the alter of their greenery (e.g. hypothermic grannies) so who can tell ?

some things are just far too important - you are clearly right but drawing the line is difficult and in energy I'd draw it a long way down the 'market' end of the spectrum (and offer you lots of evidence for why that works OK) - provided the market rules are well-drawn, which is the rub

Blue Eyes said...

EK, ND there is a converse to your interesting coalminers point - one theory I have heard is the Thatch embraced greenery precisely so that non-coal technologies could be fostered in order to shaft the coal industry. One reason why *some* nuclear capacity got built in the 1980s...

Electro-Kevin said...

Thanks Nick and Blue.

My point here:

The free market does not behave in the interests of nation.

It is the market rules that are the rub. Yes. They are not tight enough.

This is, perhaps, another way of saying that the shift should be further in the nationalised direction of the market spectrum

Not all the way though, I agree. There is always room for sub-contracting. And politicians in a democracy are subject to market forces too - booted out when things get too expensive or inefficient.

Boldfield said...

If the government paid for the power station to be built instead us paying for them in the electricity price it would save billions. The government can borrow money at much lower rates and the we would not be paying for the risk. Of course this is imposible because the governments friends and backers would not get all that lovely money.

Nick Drew said...

Boldfield - welcome

It's a strong argument in theory, but it has a long history of breaking down in practice, because governments are the worst at making investments & commercial decisions & executing projects

see Defence Procurement,the West Coast Rail fiasco etc ad nauseam

(I say nothing about keeping such investments off the national balance-sheet)

an intermediate approach is something like the old CEGB, which many folk hanker after ...

... almost as if it was a model of efficiency