Monday, 21 October 2013

Enter The Chinese Dragon - and the start of bonded servitude

Under foreign flags
Readers of C@W are aware that I am generally untroubled by inward investment and foreign ownership of UK assets, though this is clearly not a view shared by all who visit these pages.

The Chinese aspect in today's jaw-dropping (if highly trailed) nuclear announcement is a bit different, though.  There is the national security angle, of course, and many will be most agitated by that.  I don't dismiss it, but it's not what strikes me the hardest.  Security of supply is a non-issue: the Americans tried to pin that on Russia as a gas supplier during the Cold War and it never stuck.  Safety ?  Technology ?  All issues that can be resolved - if you count buying the ridiculous EDF / Areva EPR technology as a good idea in the first place.

More foreign flags
I am more concerned about what it signals, or rather confirms, about what I have long felt to be the probable strategic response of European governments to our parlous financial position.  A couple of years ago I wrote that when we are really up a gum tree the Chinese will have a deal for us, and we will meekly sell the farm.

This is a particularly acute risk for the UK, in my assessment.  In our semi-detatched euro-positioning, our vulnerability to having the City isolated by jealous continental and American financial authorities, and our commendable centuries-old willingness to roam the high seas, we will always be inclined to 'trade our way out of trouble'.  

Now true commercial trade is a great thing and would indeed be the ideal way forward.  But increasingly what we see is a baser trade: the prostituting of our institutions to the whim of Russian and Chinese wealth.  If they want to lavish their money on our libel courts or Mayfair shops, that's one thing.  But it won't be ending there.

Today we see the first of the mega-bargains our desperate UK politicians will enter in order to engineer short- and medium-term relief from our woes.  Faustian is just one way to describe it.  Another would be the PFI-ing of the UK economy to China.  Future generations will curse Camerosborne roundly, as they pay grotesque prices for electricity and probably a great deal more.

And the prices may not only be measured in currency.  Bonded servitude may be the term we are looking for.



hovis said...

Do you think Osbourne has gone to China to sell us down the river because they won't let the buyers in because of current Visa red tape? ;-)

Demetrius said...

A few days in a post I suggested we are now being colonised "The Opium of the People". The title recalls those of my family engaged in the 19th Century opium trade. The big boots on now on the other feet.

Blue Eyes said...

I don't see what difference it makes whether the Chinese buy nuclear power stations or government bonds. For the UK economy it is surely better that the Chinese buy UK nuclear power stations than US government bonds? At least we get a tangible asset rather than a few extra points on the Rightmove index?

rwendland said...

I'm wondering how the government is going to offer a less subsidised price to future new nuclear builders than this outrageous price to EDF/CGN/Areva for difficult to build EPRs. Future cheaper-to-build new nuclear would by massively profitable at the current price, and we could end up with a huge amount of highly subsidised nuclear built.

Uncertainty about the amount of future new nuclear will impede the investment decisions on the replacement CCGT we need in the next few years, as the tail end of their ROI periods profits will be hard to predict into the nuclear future.

My list of possible new nuclear at current pricing is:

6.8 GW: 4 EDF EPRs @ Hinkley C & Sizewell C
8.1 GW: 6 Hitachi (Horizon) ABWRs @ Wylfa & Oldbury
3.4 GW: 3 NuGen AP1000s @ Sellafield
5.6 GW: 4 Chinese CAP1400s (or 5 ACPR1000s) @ probably Bradwell
1.2 GW: existing Sizewell B PWR expected to be life-extended to 2055
+ maybe some Russian VVER-1200s that the UK has already agreed can go through regulatory approval

Altogether that is 25+ GW which is more than the entire UK summer baseload requirement, so taken with other already built baseload, means that we would be paying subsidised nuclear pricing to generate electricity we don't need overnight - essentially the same over-provisioned baseload situation France is in.

The govt will obviously have to say no to some of this, which begs the question as to why the govt said yes to the most expensive EPRs now.

CityUnslicker said...

Thisis why Government does not work. When the Left go on and on about public goods and market failure and the benefits of the state; you get this.

Chinese running rings around DECC. DECC shoudl come to work with fuzzy red hair, big red shoes and fake noses for the rest of their working lives as punishment.

Now we are stuck, as rightly commented above and in the post, with the most expensive nuclear, just at a time when fracking offers us the chance to actually reduce future energy costs - now we will be doubling them at least.

That is £2500 a year bills for everyone, for ever. Plsu the de-commissioning will inevitably get backed out to a future Government.

Incredible. This is from the same school as the NHS doctor's contracts.

Ryan said...

Just hold on a mo:

1) Hinkley B provides just 1% of UK leccy

2) Hinkley A is being decommissioned

3) The site cannot be used for anything but nuclear, what with it glowing in the dark and all.

4) We don't have any nuclear technology in the UK because we refused to build them for years

5) We are far behind the French in terms of nuke technology

6) Thus Hinkley might as well have a nuke on the site, it won't contribute much to UK leccy and EDF will have to be involved

7) What exactly is the relationship of the Chinese investors? Are they investing on behalf of UK gov or EDF? Are they private investors or the Chinese state?

8) The price is set at double current UK prices but work won't start until 2020 I heard (energy prices currently rising at 10% p.a. so what is exactly is the deal?

Seems to me not quite the big deal your are painting here, but with no detail on the morning news and none here it is difficult to say.

Nick Drew said...

Ryan - so (starting with your point 8) this is a monstrous bet on wholesale energy prices rising for approx 45 years

is that one you'd like to bet these sums of money ?

the greens tell us, with some justification if you look at Germany, that loads of generation with zero marginal cost (viz wind & solar) actually reduces wholesale prices

(though not of course prices-to-consumers, who must pay for all manner of other things on top, including rebuilding the grid, subsidising said wind + solar, and balancing the grid when the wind doesn't blow or is in the wrong place etc etc)

so - care to forecast & bet on wholesale energy prices 10 years from now? 20? 30? 40? ...

Blue Eyes said...

CU: well I wouldn't start from here.

Look, the strike price is lower than for the "eco" forced investments. Do I like the rigid regulated market? No, but subbing nukes is far more sensible than subbing windmills and tidal. I think this signals that even if we go hell for leather on fracking the G is not going to allow a new dash for gas-generated leccy.

If the strike price scheme gets innovative reactors built in the UK because the builders think they can return a profit then maybe over the course of 20, 40, 60 years Britain can be at the forefront of a new-nuke industry. Maybe this is where we get our base load from until the other technologies get cheaper.

I still don't understand why we should care who ponies up the cash to build the stations. Surely it's not beyond the wit of man to make sure that they can't be switched off remotely from Beijing?

If we taxed carbon at a level aiming to meet our Kyoto etc. commitments, how cheap would gas-fired electricity really be, long term?

Nick Drew said...

BE the effective strike price is higher than almost anything except wave/tidal

"£92.5" for 35 years is approx the same as "£155" for 15 years (offshore wind) and a lot more than £100 x 15 (onshore wind), solar, waste, biomass etc etc

I'd really challenge the idea that we're getting anything innovative with the Hinkley EPRs - the are the last of the dinosaurs

Blue Eyes said...

Ok I was not suggesting that the first new nukes are innovative. My idea was that maybe if Britain proves itself to be "a good place to invest" in nuclear development (cf, say, monopolistic France or bonkersly pious Germany) then the *next* wave of new nukes might come to Britain.

If we set an arbitrary (high) strike price and stick to it people will want in on the action. You might call it creating a falsely high return on capital. It's certainly not my first choice of framework - I would prefer a simple and predictable carbon tax regime - but if we are going to try and get people to build heavy infrastructure other than under a nationalised industry, this is one way of doing it.

This way is at least open to competitive pressures (in principle if not in practice), and I don't even hear Red Ed proposing a return to the CEGB.

And I still speculate that replacing base load with overpriced nukes is cheaper than replacing base load with windmills. How long do your "cheaper" windmills last before they blow up/rust away/turn out to be in the wrong place?

So while I agree with CU that ideally there would be lots of fracking and no global warming, and that all and sundry should be allowed to build and run the cheapest power stations money can buy, we are a bit where we are.

rwendland said...

ND, thanks for posting that factoid that "£92.5" for 35 years is approx the same as "£155" for 15 years (offshore wind)". I haven't been able to get my head around the inflation maths behind that, but I suspected as much.

In the FT comments a guy (Uncle Monty), who reads like he understands all this CfD maths, posted a fuller analysis, backing your conclusion up:

on-shore wind with a CFD tariff of £100/MWh - but crucially for a period of only 15 years - now offers vastly better economics than nuclear with none of the construction over-run risk ...

... if we assume a black power wholesale value of £50/MWh and all prices (including discounts) indexed equitably to inflation, then the relative "35 year" prices of what is being offered to renewables technologies under the same CFD scheme (for comparison against £92/MWh for Hinkley) are:

Landfill gas: £56/MWh
Hydro: £69/MWh
Onshore wind: £71/MWh
Dedicated new-build Biomass CHP: £80/MWh
Solar Photovoltaic: £82/Mwh
Anaerobic digestion: £91/MWh
Offshore wind: £95/MWh - falling to £86/MWh for later projects

This is very sobering stuff, some of these technologies (notably biomass) provide genuine baseload power with more flexibility than nuclear and none of the risk, while others (notably solar) are on a curve where for every GW installed the price of the next GW comes down. Placed in this context, it is incredibly difficult to see how this deal is going to benefit the UK in any way at all ...

Does this make sense to you? Are the numbers a fairly accurate approximation?

Timbo614 said...

The most important detail that I don't know is: How we we paying? In what Currency? When do we start paying?

as for the price per MW/Hr if it's twice the current rate then 3% inflation will easily take care of it...

46.25 x (1.035^35) = 130.14 :))

So if I was going to live that long I'd sign up for 202n or whenever it's ready...

Timbo614 said...

cock-up alert! I was thinking 3.5% inflation then changed it to 3% so the final figure is right, the 1.035 wrong.

Also depending how we are paying.. we get something physical, they get money, of which we have and endless supply if it's sterling.

Nick Drew said...

Mr W - yes, to the degree of accuracy possible with several big assumptions to be made, the relativities are about right and I would line up behind Monty's maths

for completeness we could add:

sewage gas - £62
waste burning - £65

no shortage of those, either ! (set up collection-point in the basements of Westminster + Whitehall)

Blue Eyes said...

OK so assuming those numbers are right, why is the government going for this? It would be a very easy political win to give the go-ahead for carbon neutral, diverse biomass/landfill gas/al. to fill the production gap. No doubt these plants (see what I did there?) could be up and running in half the time it takes to build a nuke.

So either the authorities are corrupt or incompetent or both. Or I am missing some crucial fact like there isn't enough wood or something.

And I still don't understand what disadvantage we have put ourselves to by accepting Chinese investment.

Electro-Kevin said...

The energy privatisations went well then.

The French government owned EDF and communist China coming to our 'rescue.'

Yes, ND. Bonded servitude on its way. I think the Chinese plan is to achieve supremacy by means of indebtedness, not war. Very clever.

They will have done it by producing and selling us tat rather than building warships and bombers.

We have been outworked and outwitted.

Nick Drew said...

BE, I've had my say on the Chinese

so what's missing? I'd say you've missed one of those decision-dynamics that bedevils politics (and why the fewer decisions politicians are allowed to take, the better)

- they've all signed up for 'decarbonisation'
- they've (properly) been disabused of the ability of wind to do the job, & convinced of the need for base-load power, and the benefits of diversification
- they never had any deeply-rooted concept of value for money / cost-effectiveness / whatever you want to call it, and it's other people's money, more than a decade from now
- they've been nuke-lobbied very professionally for many years
- ditto by the civil engineerng industry which truly depends on the mega public projects (Channel Tunnel, T5, Olympics, Crossrail, HS2 etc etc): the strong whiff of Keynsian hole-digging should not be ignored
- they are surrounded by civil servants who love really big interventions ...
- ... and ex-CEGB types who love big, chunky, centralised projects with lots of command-and-control involved, and see nothing wrong with gold-plating
- they are suckers for 'security of supply' arguments
- they really don't mind lying, it's almost one of those macho-tests for a politician to be able to learn, and then spout, a carefully crafted lie
- none of them really understands or trusts markets
- they like big 'legacy' projects for the boasting-book
- once a bandwagon gets rolling, there's no stopping it
- there are no external financial reality checks once you are dealing with AAA-credit (which is effectively what's going on here)

... I could go on. Is a picture forming, can y'see what it is yet?

[you are quite right: there isn't enough wood for bulk biomass to replace existing nukes (as well as replacing coal, which is happening already) - plus, mega-scale wood burning does nothing for CO2 or the environment generally (in case anyone minds about that) or indeed security of supply, since it must all be imported, or indeed price, since scarcity is likely to push the wood-fuel price up significantly]

Anonymous said...

Magisterial stuff, ND. It's worse than your worst prognostication.

Do you think EDF threatened to take their ball home and HMG crapped themselves? An energy minister on R4 said yesterday that no UK company could build a nuclear power station. Shouldn't they and their predecessors have been worrying about that earlier?

Fair play to the French though. Still seem to have a concept of national interest.

"there isn't enough wood for bulk biomass to replace existing nukes"

I see RWE are going to be shipping timber from Canada to burn in UK power stations. Is that really green?

The world seems quite sane (especially China and France). But the UK's gone mad.


Blue Eyes said...

So what we are saying from the free-market corner is that having set the decarbonisation boundary conditions, we should expect people to build new capacity in time for the capacity crunch without any false incentives but it probably wouldn't be nuclear because it takes too long and is too expensive to build each station?

In a free market we should probably expect numerous smallish projects. Maybe even ones which the British economy has the capacity to build without outside assistance?

If it's any consolation, I am reading David Smith's book about the history of monetarism. What is interesting is how quickly "received opinion" can and does change.

Nick Drew said...

Is that really green? - no, almost certainly not, Laban: in some circumstances burning wood results in more CO2 than coal (another post needed)

BE - we should expect people to build new capacity in time for the capacity crunch without any false incentives but it probably wouldn't be nuclear - yes, that's about it (again, another post needed)

I have already written a while ago on how exactly this worked just fine for our gas capacity, when the North Sea decline was seen years in advance and the private sector fixed the problem with no bungs (though with a tiny nudge from an adroit minister ...)

Blue Eyes said...

Good. Then you have persuaded me back into the free-market corner after my little aberration yesterday. Thank you.

Electro-Kevin said...

Blue Eyes - 'free markets' (advanced ones anyway) operate within government protected infrastructure. Energy is key to that infrastructure. I believe that it is wrong to think that any sophisticated market without state apparatus. We have allowed our energy supply to become exposed to the same whims as chocolate and coffee markets.

I could never be as relaxed as ND is about foreign ownership of UK assets, no matter who those foreigners are, and before you reach for the 'X' word my fervent belief is that our abandonment of any notion of patriotism is the cause of our undoing - this is not the same as being xenophobic.

Not enough has been said about China, ND. I have more to say on it.

The disarmament of Britain is being brought about by debt - not war. This would be viewed as ingenious were we to believe it to have been planned. I don't suggest for one minute that it was planned but I do believe that the Chinese spotted the unfolding opportunities some while ago.

Watch what happens to the funding of the US navy very carefully. If they are as silly as we are they will cut back their military to pay down debt and for Obama-care.

Blue Eyes said...

EK I would never argue against that first point. It was the genius of the Barons to bring the Crown under the rule of law, protection of private property (by the state), the reforms of the late 17th century etc. which allowed a free market to exist at all.

And I also agree that it is appalling that leading economies have allowed themselves to drift into bankruptcy.

The good news is that when we default, the exporting countries will be far more stuffed than we will be - they need our paper much more than we need their iPods and furniture. Which is why I have no problem letting the French or Chinese taxpayer build new infrastructure for us.

Anonymous said...

"when we default, the exporting countries will be far more stuffed than we will be - they need our paper much more than we need their iPods and furniture"

But we won't default until things are really really bad. We proved that when we kept the banks vertical. And when things are that bad, and the creditor nations say - "right, we'll have BP's rigs and fields to make up", what position will we be in to object?

Free market religionists think quasi-mercantilists like China and even Germany are misguided. While money is important, power is more important. If any Brits are able to write history in the future, the victory in WW2 will be seen as the last fruit before a catastrophic autumn of uninterrupted decline.


Anonymous said...

Of course it may be that BPs shares will already be 100% foreign owned by then ...


Ryan said...

"Ryan - so (starting with your point 8) this is a monstrous bet on wholesale energy prices rising for approx 45 years"

Except that Cameron on morning TV was implying that it would be double current wholesale but with generation starting in 2020 and ending in 2080 with the price being fixed at that level across its whole lifetime. That seems to be a very good deal to me. But is it true? So far I haven't seen any real detail.

It does seem feasible to me because EDF will be installing known technology at a known price with likely little cost overrun and most of the cost of a nuke is upfront, the fuel being relatively cheap. Little infrastructure costs since the infrastructure already exists on the site now that Hinkley A is decommissioned.

Really what we are looking at here is more of a PFI deal where the cost of the initial build is being amortised over electricity supply for a known period.

I seem to remember from my college days that at its peak nukes only accounted for 10% of UK generation. Basically these sites can't really be used for anything else, so the infrastructure is there for nukes and you might as well use it. It is part of a diversified energy program which is a good thing. Even if you are overpaying (and it looks like you aren't and certainly you have failed to prove it here) you are only overpaying at the margins with the benefit that it diversifies your supply.

Don't like the cost of your leccy? Suggest you swap to LED lighting then pronto (30% of domestic leccy goes on lighting - can be reduced to 3% using LEDs)

Blue Eyes said...

Laban, how do you think this rather pokey damp little island rose to prominence in the first place? The way we keep our independence is to keep strong. The way to keep strong is to stick with the rule of law and free markets. It's a bit flaky to resort to name-calling. Free markets aren't a religion: they are the best way we've yet found to increase productivity.

Badman said...

Landfill gas: £56/MWh: piss in the ocean

Hydro: £69/MWh: been there done that. What's new???

Onshore wind: £71/MWh: Good experiment that didn't work. Turns out you need a power station on standby for every windmill when the wind don't blow

Dedicated new-build Biomass CHP: £80/MWh: Combined heat and power??? Really??? What and where are we going to put all that heat and how??? Exactly how much biomass do you think we produce? How efficient is it getting it from a farm in Wales to Staines?

Solar Photovoltaic: £82/Mwh: And as we move into DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME it don't look quite so good

Anaerobic digestion: £91/MWh: Burp some leccy for me please

Offshore wind: £95/MWh - falling to £86/MWh for later projects: As above.

Please build me some nukes or a nice big fossil fuel power station. Don't give me any more of these little subsidised toys.

But given that 17% of UK leccy is used on lighting, why don't we have a national program to move us to LEDs??? Oh, because SAVING leccy means SAVING money and the feckers in the supply industry wouldn't want that!!!!

Nick Drew said...

EK - am with you and BE on the dependency of markets & business (& indeed almost everything else) on the structures provided / maintained by society

that doesn't mean falling for the engineers (and statists) when they say, ah but energy is completely different and can't be left to "the market"

loads of people you'd expect to be quite economically liberal are suckers for special pleading under the banner of 'security of supply'

energy has some special characteristics, as does food production (another vital industry) but consumers have benefited greatly from the introduction of competition in the energy industries since the '80s

market disciplines work wonders in well-regulated frameworks (that's the social structure in action), wherever there isn't a true 'natural monopoly' in play - which privilege should be strictly restricted to (some) large-scale, fixed transportation infrastructure (pipes and wires)

as I said to BE earlier, for proof I offer the gas markets, first in N.America, then UK, now increasingly Eu and global

electricity is a very difficult case in which to figure out what is really going on because on top of a very promising free-market agenda has been layered (in the most careless and ignorant fashion) a 'decarbonisation' agenda which has, overall, been a mess, soon to be a disaster

Ryan said...

'that doesn't mean falling for the engineers (and statists) when they say, ah but energy is completely different and can't be left to "the market"'

I don't entirely agree with that. One of the benefits of the CEGB was that we went from having leccy supplied entirely by coal to having diversified supply with different power plants providing a mix of solutions suited to their supply characteristics. Given the problem of keeping politics out of coal supply, that was a good thing. The engineers had the opportunity to determine the mix of plant required.

I don't see that happening today. Government wants renewables, rightly or wrongly, and then involves itself directly in choosing those renewables. The mix of supply is determined not by economics and practicalities but by political expediency, vigourous lobbying and corruption. That's the wrong way to do things. Better to have a board of engineers that take the overall strategy determined by government and then seeks to implement that strategy with plant. It is then up to the market to provide that plant at competitive rates. This way the correct mix is arrived at and suppliers of plant can be assured that the government won't pull the rug from under their feet by installing massive oversupply of capacity.

Anonymous said...

BE - I wasn't taking a poke at you ...

"The way we keep our independence is to keep strong."

I'd suggest that being 100% foreign-owned, unable to make things and with limited natural resources is almost the definition of not keeping strong.

"The way to keep strong is to stick with the rule of law and free markets."

But when the law can be bought, as Zuckerberg and the Gang of Eight are attempting to buy US immigration law to enrich themselves?

"Treason doth never prosper, what's the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason"

"they are the best way we've yet found to increase productivity"

Absolutely true for the UK of the last 200 years. Now cheap energy is no more and there's major demographic change i.e. we're not who we were. Will the next 50 years be like the previous 50? I think not.


Kilgore Trout said...

"electricity is a very difficult case in which to figure out what is really going on because on top of a very promising free-market agenda has been layered (in the most careless and ignorant fashion) a 'decarbonisation' agenda which has, overall, been a mess, soon to be a disaster"


Do you think that the Energy Bill would be a good idea if the 'decarbonaisation' agenda was not layered on top?

I have read elsewhere that the entire bill is a mess that will lead to catastrophe in Britain's electricity market.

Nick Drew said...

before replying to the above, a quick factual for Ryan@10.44: nukes have provided 20% on average over many years (sometimes more) - not 10%. And of course I agree about self-financing energy conservation measures: it is near-criminal how govt lavishes scare resources on really expensive, useless stuff way up the MACC (post follows) when there is so much still to be done that pays for itself

now, onto KT ...

Nick Drew said...

Do you think that the Energy Bill would be a good idea if the 'decarbonaisation' agenda was not layered on top? I have read elsewhere that the entire bill is a mess that will lead to catastrophe in Britain's electricity market

You may well have read it HERE, KT because it is and it will

in fact, unless derailed very soon, it will lead to the end of Britain's electricity market, which, let's face it, is none too robust

but it's hard to separate it from the de-carb agenda because it wouldn't be the package it is without that agenda

here's a summary

- the UK gas market is an excellent example of how, despite what the centralisers and statists (and engineers) say, you can let the market determine the best allocation of scare resources and achieve both reduced costs, and security of supply (I have written about aspects of this many times including the short comment to BE above)

- by 1998 it was clear the way the CEGB was split + privatised, with a 'Pool' system instead of a bilateral free market ('self dispatch' of power plants, rather than central algorithmic dispatch) was not giving us the full benefits possible from true competition / liberalisation: and Mandelson (bless his expensive cotton socks) was convinced of the need for Real Reform - i.e. bilateral trade

- initially the National Grid, deeply in love with the Pool, gave the usual answer, "sorry, it can't be done!" but, to their eternal credit, when it was explained to them carefully what was needed in detail (I may have had a hand in this) they came to see it as a challenge to their professionalism to carry it through - which they did, surmounting huge obstacles very commendably

- and lo! it worked, with very very few teething troubles: and even survived the melt-down of Enron (which was a very pivotal player and market-maker and cheer-leader and convincer) only a few months later

- it wasn't 100% perfect, and in particular, liquidity at various points in the wholesale market was less than ideal: but then two damaging things started being imposed on it


Nick Drew said...

... continues

(note, in the above I see I switched the order of certain contrasted points but I hope it is obvious that Pool = central dispatch = Bad, and bilateral trade = self-dispatch = Good)

- the first baleful thing was vertical-integration-by-acquisition, which should never have been allowed when the liquidity was still being established. I've written about this recently. Nothing wrong with V.I per se, but it diminishes liquidity unless that's already good and deep to start with. A Disaster

- the 2nd thing was the over-laying of the 'de-carb' agenda. Now again, if you do it right it needn't be a problem. The first and still fundamental plank was a good one in theory - the Emissions Trading Scheme. But, to make a long story short, this promising initiative was (a) botched in several details, and (b) felt to be "giving the wrong answers" - because it didn't result in a "high enough" price of CO2. By whose standards?? the people who wanted to build crazy, expensive renewables.

- so then, layer upon layer of distortions are heaped on the back of this relatively new market. How it would have developed if left alone / nurtured properly, we may never know. What the current 'reforms' do is (a) give ministers the power to intervene 5 days a week if the want to; (b) further undermine what remains of liquidity etc; (c) turn the UK market into a kind of giant PFI scheme

- there are only two obvious saviours (should be 3 but I don't see the EC feeling confident enough to veto the whole lot on market integrity grounds, even though they should)

(1) implodes of its own contradictions, not least of which is that nothing being tried actually works, even by its own lights

(2) the gas market, alongside which the UK electricity market must co-exist for the foreseeable future, is now too global to be tinkered with by UK idiot-politicians, and may preserve at least some discipline

(now I need some sleep)