Monday 5 February 2018

Germany Bad, UK Surprisingly Good.

German GHG emissions
Welcome to my world of energy data.

Exhibit A is the lunacy that is German energy policy.  Those working in that country's energy sector will tell you there is no energy policy.  There is however a half-baked thing with a name - the Energiewende - which used to be much loved by greenies everywhere, but has fewer apologists these days.

It's an object lesson in how not to strategise.  What gets measured, gets managed - and the Germans decided to target renewables, per se, in the manic way only Germans can.   One supposes many of them just kinda assumed that CO2 emissions would fall as a matter of course if they pumped up the renewables; but no: they have been flat or slightly rising for the past 8 years.  And as Germany will easily over-achieve against its renewables targets (courtesy of hurling immense amounts of money at them and allowing, nay forcing, the grids to do whatever it takes to accommodate them), so it will miss its CO2 targets in a most embarrassing manner.  This article details their ignominious failure.

But apologists there still are, and few more laughable than the tireless Craig Morris of the Potsdam Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies. Here he is, wittering away in defence of his beloved Wende but, you will notice, never once mentioning CO2.   Well, he can't, can he?  It's humiliating.  Still, in amongst all the sophistry, lots of lovely data and colourful charts.  But you'll find fewer and fewer people advocating German policy as the model to follow these days (certainly not good old Moonbat, for example).

In the UK we don't really go for grandiose schemes.  For sure, a glance at back-issues of this blog (check the Energy and Industry tag) will show there is plenty to castigate.  But in terms of just getting on with things practically with a strong empirical bent, by international standards we are very good at it.  Ofgem rarely gets stuck on dogma, and is remarkably willing to admit to problems & rectify them promptly.

By way of illustration, Exhibit B is last week's Capacity Auction**: as always, technically smooth and yielding a good result for consumers, viz a very low clearing price.  More data, more colourful charts.  Countries all over the world are planning to emulate our Capacity market: though ours was not the first, it's a very successful one.  As is typical in this country the auction rules have been tweaked continuously to reflect issues arising, but not so much as to undermine the principles involved.  To repeat: in other countries they marvel at how quickly - and transparently - Ofgem can turn around a cycle of (i) identify a problem; (ii) design a fix; (iii) go out to meaningful consultation; (iv) process and act upon any genuine improvements suggested by interested parties; (v) implement the resulting fix.  No tearing of hair, no pointing of fingers, no dogged insistence on sticking with the first attempt, no hiding of data.  It ain't like that in other places.

Anyone would think we were capable of running our own affairs ...


** this is the somewhat-less-than-riveting auction for 2018/19.  The more interesting one, for 4 years forward, follows later this month.  I'll report back in due course. 


Electro-Kevin said...

They do great porn though.

The excessive emissions come from all that burning rubber.

Anonymous said...

Why not get an interconnect to the USA and get coal driven energy production from there. As they are no longer bound to reduce emissions, then use them instead.

Anonymous said...

Ofgem may be good with economic side of job but my recent experience with them over apparent breaches of safety conditions of licenses for gas is less than convincing.

0800 number (answered as Cadence! not National Grid!) did not have my postcode - been in house for two years

The IGT supplying my estate cocked up under pressure connection and got air in supply. Up to 50 houses affected. Some days later fence blown into trench and could have been in contact with 250 mm PE main close to under pressure connection stubs!

Developer dealt with and made house calls luckily all appliances fitted by them had modern failure devices (so did not have to cut off no replies!)

The GDNO did not have any record of our estate when they sent operative out he had to call on his mobile to find way.

Called HSE who at least listened (major hazards at Sheffield)

Ofgem took message on whistleblower line said would call back but have not.

Actually more to story but just on this wonder what they are for?

Unfortunately I spent 40 years in gas industry including time on district and as Grid Controller so had to clear yardarm!

Anonymous said...

"Why not get an interconnect to the USA "

Are they still thinking about an Iceland link? Plenty of thermal and hydro power there.

Nick Drew said...

The Icelanders are still thinking about it!

But the line losses thwart any serious consideration - even with 'free' electricity at their end (like 'free gas' for LNG plants in Qatar etc). And, of course, it turns up at the wrong end of the country ... That said, any time they'd care to finance the capital costs, the Grid would be happy to oblige

Dick the Prick said...

Do we have any update on Hinkley yet? @ND - has the tide boon project died yet - I remember you having misgivings? Private Eye were quite good as to that bollox.

Nick Drew said...

Dick - there is a lot happening at Hinkley (see this drone footage)

- but as can be clearly seen, it is just extensive preparatory work: they can't start building the actual power station (or even the big components) because the French authorities haven't approved the design. All you can say is: when the frogs decided they had better sign the contract for fear of what May might do (hah!), they had to get started on something. They are so far pregnant, they might as well start digging holes at Hinkley.

All that said, I still think there's an outside chance it won't go ahead

The lagoon is even easier to keep "alive" because it's just a monstrous gamble, with (relatively) small ongoing costs for them to stay at the table - mostly, a big ongoing PR effort. There seem to be enough people willing to take equity in the "project" at long odds of success, that the chancers involved can keep the show on the road. (In S.Wales you can't move for their wretched publicity - and highly duplicitous it is, too)

nothing can be ruled out when it's public money they're after - at the end of the day, some Tory idiot could say hey, there's a few votes in this, and it's too small for anyone to notice on their leccy bill, and anyway it doesn't start up for years and w don't start paying until then

the only good thing on the lagoon, is that the 'energy establishment' is against it (civil service, Dieter Helm, FT etc etc): and quite right, too

Anonymous said...

Its an easy game for the lagoon people, they just wait for Corbyn to take over. He'll sign anything in return for a Glastonbury crowd shouting they love him, which isnt a difficult thing for a PR campaign to organize. A quick win for all concerned. Makes you sick but there it is.

Electro-Kevin said...

Anon - a tide of plastic and discarded tents is usually left at Glastonbury.

They should raise the vote to thirty, not reduce it to sixteen.

rwendland said...

ND, au contraire, EDF/Areva have been building major components for HPC well in advance of need or contract, I guess to give some workflow to otherwise idle plants. They have become unstuck on this following the Le Creusot mis-manufacture (excess carbon) & safety paperwork "adjustment" scandal.

eg the Reactor Pressure Vessel head for HPC, a large and complicated component, was manufactured as far back as 2007-2010. Following the scandal this item was in fact destructively tested as it was the sister to the more urgently required Flamanville RPV head which Areva needed evidence to get the regulator to OK. In fact the French regulator rather weirdly OK'd it for use just for a few years until a replacement could be made - they seemingly don't believe it is to spec but (touch wood, and given the dire political/business situation of French nuclear) think it will at least last a few years without cracking!

But other major HPC components are probably likewise already made and in store.

Don't forget it is only 66.5% frogs, as China General Nuclear have a 33.5% HPC stake.

Anonymous said...


You appear to be hinting that HPC was a done deal a decade ago and that the sunk costs were so large that "no" was never going to be an answer.

Who are they paying off in HMG - or can't you say?

Dick the Prick said...

Thanks ND. It's quite a fascinating career you've carved out for yourself. Thanks for the updates :-)

rwendland said...

Anon@5:15 pm - Huge commitment to HPC a decade ago, but to be fair any export would do (to bridge the gap for French new builds until replacement of their own large fleet was hoped for from around 2025). So while HPC was penciled in the ledger against the head built way ahead of need, they believed if HPC fell through there would be another foreign new build it would be used on.

And my guess it was built for additional workflow could be wrong. That EPR head is the largest the Le Creusot works ever built (the Finnish EPR head was ordered from Japan). So maybe they thought they needed to build two to prove the new process was reliable and/or judge costs. Or maybe they were concerned about reliability and thought they should have a spare for the Flamanville EPR build for risk reduction as it is a long lead-time component to build another?

So maybe I overstated it a bit above. But this is only a blog comment!

Note the EPR design as used at HPC is now being abandoned, after it has proved difficult and expensive to build, in favour of a simplified "new build EPR" design. So it is uncertain if any stockpiled major components beyond HPC requirements will be of any use!

Then just a fortnight ago French Energy Minister Nicolas Hulot said "for now [building a new-model EPR] is neither a priority or a plan. Right now the priority is to develop renewable energy and to reduce the share of nuclear." French nuclear is in a big mess right now.