Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Renewables: the Bums are Squeaking

Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist and policy director at Greenpeace UK, said: “Wind and solar energy are at the point of becoming really competitive with fossil fuels, but failure to support them for another few years will result in huge losses of potential jobs.” 
Inde, Renewable Energy Industry Is About To Fall Off A Cliff (sic)
He has been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put in phials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw inclement summers. He told me, he did not doubt, that, in eight years more, he should be able to supply the governor's gardens with sunshine, at a reasonable rate: but he complained that his stock was low, and entreated me "to give him something as an encouragement to ingenuity, especially since this had been a very dear season for cucumbers."
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels

If only it had been as few as eight years with the renewables: but the windies, in particular, have been at it for decades, with pitiful results.  The onshore wind industry has had its bluff fairly well called (though existing windfarms continue to be featherbedded) but the government is still pouring our money into the offshore sector and the best you can say about it is, Keynes would presumably have approved if more of the jobs etc were British.  I take the opportunity to repeat my oft-made prediction that the maintenance of over-the-horizon arrays will turn out to be a seriously under-estimated problem / cost.

Ever Been in the North Sea in Winter?

Solar PV is better: the vast amount of research into ever-improving solar generation shows every sign of paying off (eventually).  Let some other idiot governments accelerate the process with a different bunch of taxpayers' money.  Universities and tech labs all over the world (including UK) really have momentum now, and solar can safely be left to reach the status of "really economic" all by itself.

Even with oil at $30 for a while.  Meantime, stand by for more disingenuous whining from Parr, Legett and the vested interests they represent because, despite lots of whistling the in the dark ("It's good because it means more oil will stay in the ground") $30 will do for them more surely than a big shale gas discovery in George Osborne's back garden.



Weekend Yachtsman said...

"but failure to support them for another few years will result in huge losses of potential jobs.”

Which is good, because as Timmy is always reminding us, jobs are a cost not a benefit.

BE said...

My wind policy would be the same as my solar policy which would be the same as my nuclear policy. Set a carbon tax to make sure there is a cost for the external environmental and other costs, and let the market decide how to allocate resources.

Dave Ward said...

"I take the opportunity to repeat my oft-made prediction that the maintenance of over-the-horizon arrays will turn out to be a seriously under-estimated problem / cost"

Which is precisely why they are "Over the horizon" - i.e. none of us poor buggers who are paying for them will be able to see how many have failed/collapsed/caught fire etc...

Electro-Kevin said...

Do these devices return the energy for the own manufacture, let alone power for the consumer at reasonable cost ?

Nick Drew said...

actually, yes to the former (while emphatically 'no' to the latter)

(see, I'm back in *didactic* - it's my default mode)

Arthur Dent said...


Total output from all that very expensive hardware is currently (1930 on 19th January)running at 0.08GW representing 0.16% of supply

rwendland said...

Though lest we forget we should remember the renewables "subsidy" is about the same magnitude as the £3.31 billion annual budget of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. And we have been spending roughly that for around the last 10 years, and will continue at roughly that rate for perhaps another 20 years on the NDA. Without taking account of the extra current nuclear R&D govt expenditure, and the forthcoming Hinkley C financial pit should EDF+China finally agree it.

It's plain where the biggest subsidy is, and will continue, going!

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