Tuesday 12 February 2019

"Addicted to Subsidies"

Last Friday's Times contained an article entitled "Politics and business are addicted to bungs".  It was a propos of the 'revelations' about government dealings with Nissan.   I remember writing back in 2016
Whatever the government did or didn't do for Nissan, there'll be many a dark deed done on the road to a successful escape from the clutches of the Commission.
Agriculture is the classic seat of this nonsense: they don't call it "subsidy farming" for nothing.  I know more about energy than I do about those industries; and of course there are energy sub-sectors that have become similarly hooked on the easy money, to baleful effect.  Nukes and renewables soak up formidable quantities of taxpayer and electricity-bill-payer dosh, and not just in the UK, of course.  Someties makes you wonder why anyone describes our economies as 'capitalist'.

Here's one amusing story, though, from my patch.  We've mentioned before the ridiculous Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, which first started to get its hopes up when it featured in the Pork Barrel section of the Tories' 2015 manifesto.  The lagoon-wallahs pitched hard for subsidies that would have run into the billions.  Mercifully, as the full sordid story started to emerge (grotesquely expensive, and very dodgy promoters) the government started to cool; and in June last year they pulled the plug

Well now, Glory Be!  - this would-be project declares it can go ahead without any public subsidy at all.  Just fancy that.  

As it happens, I'd say they are wrong: it's a design that many engineers reckon is fundamentally flawed, and they never got their environmental permits.  But hey, good luck to anyone who's willing to give their ideas a go using just the finances they can raise by themselves.  Why can't governments hold their nerves more often?



Sobers said...

My feeling is that the current promoters will hope to con enough gullible members of the public to put up enough money to keep the show on the road until the next election (whenever that might be) and then if a Corbyn led government emerges, with its commitment to splurge trillions on 'infrastructure' they'll be handily placed to catch a massive multi-billion pound subsidy and off load their 'investment' for a massive profit.

Anonymous said...

If you check the Directors/Investor lists of the subsidy wallahs, you'll find it is the "great and the good".

Why else do they get into Parliament?

Our system has been corrupt for so long, it barely deserves a comment, but well done for trying.

Dan said...

Were I looking at a tidal power option, I'd be looking at a tidal race somewhere and some means of storing electricity for when the race wasn't running. Pumped storage is the obvious trick; huge water wheels submerged in a tidal race lifting water up by several metres to fill a holding pond would be one way to go.

Of course, your problems here are piping water to a suitable holding area and building capacious enough pumping systems to shift enough water to be useful.

Nick Drew said...

Any fixed tidal installation faces some big problems, esp silting, & the whole gamut of envo / wildlife

There are some whackier ones out there, incl this (another hungry subsidy-grabber, going nowhere thus far despite their BS PR)


Wales always seems to attract these spongers: the Welsh govt was limbering up to 'invest' £400m in the lagoon, in return for inheriting the keys 35 years in, when the scoundrels would have taken their money long since, leaving the mid-life capex and the decommissioning liabilities with the Welsh.

I guess they are pretty desperate for the jobs that are always airily promised

Unknown said...

The Severn Estuary is basically one huge,tidal flow of fine mud which totally dominates every flat surface within it!
All the foreshores are metres deep in the stuff and the thaught of trying to keep huge,complicated static machinery operating in such horrendous conditions is wishful thinking.
The lagoons and all 'below water' equipment would pretty quickly be totally covered and smothered by this awful stuff!
All of this has,of course,been 'factored-in' on this ridiculous plan?

Anonymous said...

The Severn scam isn't about making electricity, it's about making money.

Where there is money to be made, damage to the environment doesn't bother these characters at all.

Don Cox

E-K said...

It's the quality of the people deciding the subsidies and handle them that are the problem.

Subsidies in the right places and protected from corruption add dynamism to an economy.

After all that's all a government is - the management side of state subsidy. This lot are beholden to all manner of green crap and leftism.

andrew said...

You are all missing something.

1. As pointed out, when you slow the flow of silty water it deposits, eventually silts up completely

2. Land Securities, Cardiff airport and developer Berkeley Group are backing this

3. As discussed elsewhere GDP > Green

... so ...

you are looking at the first steps towards the first major post brexit great british industrial project - actually the first since the Wash

... The reclamation of the severn estuary.

after all the only thing more valuable than power is land.

James Higham said...

Good if you can get them. MarsOne didn’t.

Raedwald said...

One of the more interesting below ground obstructions I encountered on one construction site on the banks of the Thames was a complex of three tidal storage chambers built in brick and dating back to the 17th/18th Cs. Not unusual, said EH. Used to power water-wheels at low tide that drove iron-working machinery above - both banks in the area of Blackwall having been at that time the locus of such activity

The problem as Nick pointed out was silting-up - it seems they were impossible to clean-out, so as one became choked, another was built.

Nick Drew said...

There's an old tidal mill complex you can see in Bow: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mills

It's very old, but not unique

No-one denies there is tidal energy to be had 'for free'. It's just that the techical aspects of how you go about it are pretty important. The jokers at the Swansea project are the merest subsidy-farmers of the most avaricious and unscrupulous kind

Raedwald said...

A further ref here to east London tide mills - and links to Brian Strong, one of the Three Mills experts


Our 3 underground chambers were excavated by MOLAS in the 1990s - I can't find the archao reports right now, but they were clearly expensive to build

Nick Drew said...

PS, there is no shortage of tidal ideas! - nearly 100 listed here


Wildgoose said...

The modern world runs on energy. Massive subsidies for bird-choppers and the like doesn't alter the fact that given our existing technological capabilities, nuclear should still be providing a large percentage of our base load: