Monday, 16 December 2013

It all comes together on UK Energy planning

It had to really, Jim Ratcliffe, the rather focused capitalist entrepreneur who owns Grangemouth has a few bits to say today in a BBC interview.

 Ratcliffe had to suffer as the Unions smeared him repeatedly during the negotiations at Grangemouth which nearly led to it be ind shutdown. They have been a lot quieter since, focusing in stead their efforts more successfully in getting Ed Miliband to back track from any unhealthy idea about Union reform.

However, a classic from Ratcliffe. He alleges that in France of all place he has recently been involved in a deal of Nuclear power that involved a state subsidy of the price at €37, versus the £92 granted by the UK government. That difference is eye-watering in the extreme; its tens of billions of pounds handed over to Chinese and French companies.

Together with out recent insights into the insanity of offshore wind, the changing of Drax and now Eggborough to burn unsustainable wood pellets - there can only be one conclusion.

The Lib Dems really are in charge of energy policy. At the current rate of mistake making I doubt there will be enough power left for us to write this blog in the UK by 2016.


Kilgore Trout said...

The role of Lib Dems in government stopped being funny a while ago now.

One can but pray for their electoral oblivion.

What a truly depressing read.

hovis said...

I think the same about all parties ...

Nick Drew said...

I find it amusing to read people puzzling over Ratcliffe's plan to "import US shale gas" to Grangemouth

(it simply means ethane in ships, for his ethane cracker, supplies for which are diminishing from the North Sea, for obvious reasons - the import facility will be quick & cheap to build and Atlantic ethane prices, like those of natural gas, have been trashed by shale)

Demetrius said...

Saw the interview. Truly amazing. I am becoming glad that I did some calligraphy a while back.

Blue Eyes said...

Can't the UK buy French leccy at that price? Or even less because we will be buying in bulk?

DJK said...

Or can't we just build our own (British) nuke? It's not absolutely necessary to rely on foreigners all the time.

rwendland said...

DJK, we cannot build our own nuc, as we have no designs for one, nor recent experience. Not even a not-safe-enough previous Generation II design.

The UK nuc industry decided to back gas-cooled power reactors in the 60s, as oh-so-much-better than the yankee water cooled design. Proved to be a commercially terrible decision, and left us with all the wrong experience. Unless we want to produce more Plutonium (we already have 100+ tons in store we know not what to do with) rather than electricity.

Anonymous said...

rwendland: "we cannot build our own nuc, as we have no designs for one,"

Conventional nuclear, yes. What about the 'unconventional' fuel cycle?

DJK said...

rwendland said: "we cannot build our own nuc, as we have no designs for one"

Only half true. In reality, all that's lacking is the confidence to build one. The cost of the French design should be the incentive to do it.

One could compare to the aircraft carriers. We had no available design for them either, but did it anyway. And before anyone says, the cost/ton of the carriers is nearly identical to HMS Dreadnought (1909), HMS Hood and HMS Vangaurd, at constant per capita GDP prices.

So, despite the wails of despair from PPE-educated politicians and civil servants, DIY nukes are probably less expensive than brand new French or Chinese, and certainly less expensive in life-cycle cost.

rwendland said...

I'd beg to differ on UK creating a new nuclear power station design from scratch at a vaguely economic cost. Current Gen III designs are all refinements of previous designs, with the benefit of the experience of building the previous designs. eg the French EPR (4-loop 1650 MWe PWR) is a refinement of the problematic N4 design (4-loop 1450 MWe PWR), 4 of which were built.

We would be at a huge disadvantage designing from scratch without the PWR experience base. Anyway there are more existing Gen III designs (EPR, AP1000, VVER-1200, ABWR, ACPR1000, ACR1400, Atmea, ESBWR, APWR) being hawked around than demand supports. Another one makes no commercial sense.

Licensing one existing design and building many might make sense, and could create an experience base (a bit like China did), but that would probably require UK state intervention a la CEGB, rather than private enterprise.

'unconventional' fuel cycle designs are R&D projects, not something that could be built on a commercial scale with private finance for a decade or three.