Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Energy Security: Last Refuge of Scoundrel

Ever since I started in the energy business which is *ahem* several decades years ago now, whenever policy matters have arisen a version of Godwin's Law has kicked in and someone justifies their outrageous plans for governmental interference by reference to that hallowed precept, security of supply.  At this point, even corporate types often nod sagely, and surrender the free market argument to the dirigistes.

And almost always they are wrong, wrong, wrong.  It is certainly important to have security (and also just plain old reliability) of supply as an unbending goal of energy; but history tells us that almost always, since there is no underlying shortage - far from it - this is best achieved by rigorously ensuring the unfettered operation of the open market (as written about here several times over the years, with specific examples).  Of course, 'unfettered' is a relative term in such politically-charged commodities as coal, oil, gas and electricity: but the extent to which the markets can be left to work their usual magic is vastly under-rated by all manner of people who should definitely know better.

Anyhow, having just seen the EC sneekily advance its power-grab, the 'Energy Union' under the false flag of security, we now have Ed Balls planning a mini-version of something similar: an 'energy security board'.  In a world of honest policy debate one could look forward to this with a degree of relish (a security board, not a Labour government of course) because it would directly pit the proper concerns of reliable electricity supply against the nonsensical claims of the wind turbine lobby, and the baroque fantasy which is EDF's nuclear offer.  Then we could have all sorts of useful analysis on just how much should the nation be willing to pay for self-sufficiency in energy supply.  (A lot less than the Hinkley £92.50/MWh indexed-linked, I should say.)

However, we all know how the rhetoric works in practice.  Security is important:  gas comes from Russia = evil;  therefore we need heavily to subsidise  . . . . . . . . .  [fill in your favourite daft source of electricity here].  It's all so predictable.

ND

10 comments:

Blue Eyes said...

I prefer a broad diversity of supply, which is why I have plenty of candles for when Ed Balls is running the show.

Dominic de Mariveles said...

The Labour Government is going to make everyone do spin classes in gym's to keep fit and save the NHS money.

These will forthwith be connected up to the grid allowing transfer or energy from food consumption to power use.

There, just need to write the IM now....

dearieme said...

Give Labour their due: they are good at recycling shite.

Jan said...

D de M
I've often thought the same thing. Some clever person needs to work out how it can be done and we will solve our energy problems at a stroke. Just think how much energy would have been created from the London marathon if the technology to harvest it existed. A sort of human dynamo...

Blue Eyes said...

Have you seen that Black Mirror story? The drones in society spend all day cycling to generate power, and then are forced to spend their spare time and money on talent shows and computer games. The only route out of serfdom is to win the talent contest.

DtP said...

I've not been engaged in this election fortunately - I think my sanity has just about recovered - but it was really incredibly scary as to how policy proposals were signed-off at the last election. Seriously, get a bright young thing SPAD and a crusty old bag carrier to sign off and bam - you're in front of the cameras. Technical specialists need not apply!

Timbo614 said...

@DtP "I've not been engaged in this election fortunately - I think my sanity has just about recovered"

This is why I have not been commenting, I just had to stop reading all the shite. Pixel pasted promises galore and not worth the joules they use.

Maybe I can re-engage with 10 days to go and stay sane but the blatantness of it all is astonishing.

If the labour party were proper socialist/marxists then they would be rooting for Varafoukis but... not a word of support for their compatriot in kind.

As for energy security in reality given the current political volatility, is there any real security to be had? If there is a big cockup internationally, probably caused by the US you can pretty much forget supplies from abroad (Russia, ME, etc)... so those windmills and solar panels may turn out to be useful one day even if we only got power a few hours a day!

adham said...


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adham said...



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adham said...



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شركة مكافحة حشرات بالمدينة المنورة