Wednesday 18 November 2020

The Green Industrial Revolution re-launch

I have a flashback to 2010, then we had a Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who was trying to overcome the huge challenges of the Financial Crash, whilst watching his popularity decline. 

Today it is Boris, struggling with the Covid pandemic, trying to maintain his now tarnished popularity.

Let's have a re-launch the advisers say, something fun and that appeals to everyone, with a suitably long enough time frame that we don't have to do anything now, but will win some Brownie (see what i did there?) points for vision and strategy etc.

And lo, we are presented with the Green industrial revolution. An idea stolen from Rebecca Long-Bailey of the Labour party no less. The benefit to this is there is hardly any meat here to worry about or initiatives that will cost too much when they meet reality. A downfall meme on this is surely only hours away. 

The idea of greening the economy itself is a good one, just ill-suited for 4 year parliaments to really implement. 

However, I am going to defend one stand-out idea. That of phasing out sale of petrol and diesel in ten years. This to me is exactly how Government should regulate. A simple goal to understand and the technology already exists to make this possible. The private sector is left to steer the ship the right way. 

This way is way more efficient than say setting up our own green car company or legislating like the Green party want for everyone to have a free bus service. 

As for the rest of it, tomorrow's chip paper. 


Nick Drew said...

Squeaky-bum time for EDF, though - no mention of Sizewell C

they are re-doubling and -trebling their PR at every level - at the very top, and on the ground in Suffolk

they are even conceding some of the protestors' design gripes (which is easy, because if it goes ahead it won't be EDF that pays...)

david morris said...

However, I am going to defend one stand-out idea. That of phasing out sale of petrol and diesel in ten years.

So.........just nine years then to produce ranges of £10,000 electric vehicles which can do 600 miles on a charge. Nine years to upgrade the power infrastructure to take the load. Nine years to install millions of charge points. Yes, millions. To make this work.

OK - perhaps - if you live/work within the M25

Outside ? You think this is going to be a vote winner ??

Unless of course, elections are something else we're going to have to live without....

Anonymous said...

I despair. Are there any engineers or technically literate people in Parliament? Ban the sale of ICE (internal combustion engines) cars in 9.5 years time in favour of electric vehicles (EVs), complete idiocy.
Firstly, when have our government or any government ever managed to pick a winner? Never! Governments cannot organise a p*ss up in a brewery as the Chinese virus has illustrated. (Don’t get me started on that.) As for road-pricing to replace fuel tax, can our government organise the computer infrastructure to organise this? Judging by track-and-trace, no chance unless it spends billions and billions and even then it will fail miserably.
Secondly, while the batteries installed in EVs have improved in performance in the last ten years, energy volume has only doubled and is still only between one-tenth and one-fifth of the energy density of petrol or diesel. Barring a massive breakthrough, unlikely due to chemistry and physics, EVs will not be able to compete with ICE on range.
Next, we have the glorious idea of replacing reliable gas-powered generation with evermore windmills and solar. Our national grid is already marginal, so how are we going to charge all these EVs when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine (like at night)? Where is the extra electricity coming from? It seems to take 20 years to bring a new nuclear power station on line.
And there is the problem of charging points. Only 37% of houses have driveway parking or garages. So what does the other 63% do? Does someone in a top floor flat chuck a wire out the window?
And are EVs that CO2 friendly? What are the dust-to-dust CO2 emissions of EVs? It’s probably marginal over the most efficient ICE-engined cars. And what about the wrecking of the planet associated with extracting and processing the rare earths required to manufacture EVs, or windmills come to that? Or the child labour involved in extracting cobalt in the DRC? Or the inability to recycle EV batteries?
Assuming all of these problems can be solved, we then come to the distribution of the vastly increased amount of electricity required to charge all these EVs – perhaps a 60% increase in demand. Every road and every pavement will have to be dug up to install larger cables, never mind new transformers on every corner of every road.
I could go on, but you probably get the picture. It’s a technical nightmare, and I say that as an engineer/automotive engineer with 50 years experience. It will probably cost about two trillion pounds, even if 9.5 years is long enough to deliver the solutions and we have the technically qualified people to do it, which we don’t. (Engineering is hard.)
And I haven’t even mentioned the practical on-the-ground problems of people in the provinces. London bubble aside, some of us live in rural areas where cars are important. Politically, this is an existential threat to Boris (Carrie?). You can’t just pander to the eco-elite of London. You can, though, p*ss off everyone outside of the London bubble.

Nick Drew said...

errr - or you just have to keep the extant ICE models running for (much) longer

Anonymous said...

The problem with the Green lobby is they want change before technology has caught up and so often what turns out to be an interim solution is in many ways worse than what it's replacing.

I saw it with light bulbs - insisting that incandescent bulbs are banned and replaced with mercury containing CFL bulbs. Awful things that come with instructions saying if the bulb breaks you must evacuate the room for 15 minutes, take ages to light up, needs specialist disposal and the light looks awful.

LED was clearly the correct replacement for incandescent bulbs and I dare say vehicles will follow a similar path.

Anonymous said...

Given the UK's contribution to global CO2 is less than one per cent, even if so-called climate change and CO2 is a problem, whatever we do is totally irrelevant. Virtue signalling is stupid and costly. Change my mind. Oh and don't say we should set an example because China and India and the rest of the world don't care. Sack Boris; he's been promoted beyond of the level of his competence.

Anonymous said...

"phasing out sale of petrol and diesel in ten years. This to me is exactly how Government should regulate. A simple goal to understand and the technology already exists to make this possible. The private sector is left to steer the ship the right way."

Top-down government diktats are not a feature of capitalism

Anonymous said...

Nick Drew said...
errr - or you just have to keep the extant ICE models running for (much) longer

Yep. Cuba will lead the way!

jim said...

I suppose 'Green' and a few ships is the nearest thing to shovel-ready Boris has.

However, expect a U-turn when the realities of all-electric cars sink in. In my view they are a dead end, strictly a niche product. Hybrids are a useful but hypocritical alternative - who plugs them in - hardly anyone. But they are a useful stopgap and a development platform for better ICE and electric? power sources.

Green is still a long way off.

GridBot said...

Meanwhile, back in the real world (run by investors and banks) I have it on good authority that; to use a phrase bandied round here before: "GDP trumps GHG". (at least in the firm I work for)

I'm scheduled to take a project to an internal investment committee and have been given the steer that any carbon saving project/investment has to make economic sense in the first instance.

Also - there does seem to be some excitement building around the potential use of Hydrogen as transport fuel - however it remains to be seen if enough "green" H2 can be produced to deliver transport needs (which are a 1/3 to a 1/4 of all UK's energy consumption!)

Elby the Beserk said...

Once more with feeling. EVs are decades away from being economically viable.

"A fast EV charger for a car draws 7kW, perhaps for six hours, and a heat pump needs 3kW, potentially for much of the day. But the cabling and substations in most suburbs were sized and installed before these technologies were even thought of. So while there is sufficient headroom for electrification of a few households, the whole distribution system will need to be up- graded if demand grows. "

"Kelly dismisses battery storage as a major part of the solution. “The £45m battery installed by Elon Musk outside Adelaide, South Australia, can power that city for 30 minutes. If you wanted to be able to cover a week’s power outage after a major storm, it would cost around 1,300 times as much using batteries as it would with diesel generators. The idea is ludicrous.”"

"Turning to the raw materials needed to produce batteries, Kelly claims: “If we replace all of the UK vehicle fleet with EVs, and assuming they use the most resource-frugal next-generation batteries, we would need the following materials:

207,900 tonnes of cobalt – just under twice the annual global production;
264,600 tonnes of lithium carbonate – three-quarters of the world’s production;
at least 7,200 tonnes of neodymium and dysprosium – nearly the entire world production of neodymium; and
2,362,500 tonnes of copper – more than half the world’s production in 2018."

Beyond insane. People, READ the paper linked to above and pass it around.

Elby the Beserk said...

Not to mention the immense environmental damage we will be exporting to third world countries

Don Cox said...

It will be difficult enough to build enough nuclear to replace the old power stations that are due to be closed down.

The motorways will have to be given over to walkers and cyclists, with maybe a few horses. Or perhaps horses will be banned too because they output CO2 and Methane.

Don Cox

Elby the Beserk said...

And just come across the estimable Ben Pile's article on Johnson's bout of Covid-Green-20.

If you are on Twitter, follow Ben and seek out his thread where he details his response to the beyond credulous and pathetic executive report from the "Climate Chang Assembly". They are exquisite...

And here's the thread. It's brilliant. And will be ignored.

Don Cox said...

Boris isn't mad. He simply has no knowledge or understanding of science or engineering. The same applies to his whole cabinet, and of course to the opposition front bench.

It would be equally bad to have a government of scientists with no knowledge of history or understanding of human nature.

We need a mixture of people with different backgrounds in the government, not a monoculture of PPE and History graduates.

Don Cox

Matt said...

This is the dreams of rich middle class eco-freaks (like Boris).

Why does the second hard car market exist? Because people want their own transport but many cannot afford to buy new. Multiple tiers exist down towards bangers. This happens because cars depreciate as they get older so open up ownership to the less well off.

But EVs start expensive (and are likely to stay that way for a long while) and don't depreciate in the same way. Sure, after 15 years a Tesla might be worth £1k but the battery pack won't be still going. So the banger end of the market will disappear.

The Cuba analogy might be valid and as ND pointed out you can keep ICE cars going. However, that assumes they don't ban all ICE cars when it becomes apparent that EVs aren't selling like they hoped.

They are that vindictive. Force people to do without if they won't be nudged.

CityUnslicker said...

At least this generated the response I expected. I am with ND, there will be plenty of opportunity for fudge in this, vans for example are exempt, so there will be a lot more van sales... the full infra won't be needed in nine years but 20 and that is a very long time to solve a lot of these issues raised.

yes, charging in cities is a huge issue. But self driving taxis are also around a decade away. The idea everyone who lives in a flat in london has to be able to have their own care and charging point it madness. I have lived in london for years and other major cities, never struck me that I needed a car at all when there.

Also the Government is not betting on EV, it said it is phasing out ICE. How else will the change be made if not by regulation - the only other way would be to achieve the same feat by doubling petrol taxes - a much higher hit on the poor and then a disaster when car use plummets.

iOpener said...

"The idea of greening the economy itself is a good one"


By which I mean, "No, it's not a good idea, it's bullshit".

The entire function of an economy is to produce what people want to consume. The economy currently produces more "Greenness", than we want to consume because of government intervention. That intervention in forcing us to accept more Greenness than we want also forces us to give up the goods and services we do want.

If you want Greenness, go buy some, with your own money.

E-K said...

For the scrappage of the ICE in 9 years time we should be seeing rapid installation of electrical power points and power generation right now.

Does anyone see it at all ?

A fine thing for householders with a drive but most don't have one. So this is cars for the wealthy only. But even they will end up fighting each other at charging points - can you imagine having to wait for some dickhead who has decided to go off and have a meal while his car is charging ?

jim said...

When I see used purely electric cars on the back roads of Guatemala I will believe they are a viable product. Meanwhile I shall be looking out for a reasonable used motor in a few years time, a petrol or a hybrid jobby will do.

E-K said...

"The motorways will have to be given over to walkers and cyclists, with maybe a few horses. Or perhaps horses will be banned too because they output CO2 and Methane."

I'm going to put a saddle on my dog so I don't have to pick up his shit.

Elby the Beserk said...

jim said...
When I see used purely electric cars on the back roads of Guatemala I will believe they are a viable product. Meanwhile I shall be looking out for a reasonable used motor in a few years time, a petrol or a hybrid jobby will do.

2:45 pm

And when they can build a turbine using solely renewable energy, maybe things will work.

20 years?

Anonymous said...

Not mentioned but isn't there an issue with fire (due to lithium) in EV vehicles - rather ferocious hard to extinguish type fires. That will not scan well with potential buyers.

Sparky said...

If the wiggle room is the almost completely ineffective hybrid market, then the government will achieve its aim.
Very new car will be at the very least, a hybrid.

Wether anyone ever plugs them in or not, will depend on the infrastructure to support them.

Elby the Beserk said...

@EK 2:42pm

I think back to the street where I used to live in Bristol. If you were able to park the car **anywhere** on the road on returning from work, it was your lucky day. If you managed to park in front of your house, it was Christmas Day.

Utter insanity. Even more so as the Antarctic and Greenland ice cores both show clearly the planet has been cooling for 7k years (faster the past 3k, and this pattern is exactly the same as preceding interstadial {between full ice age} periods). Add into that the Grand Solar Minimum and the planet may well see significant cooling for a few decades.

I've given up. Covid and now this. A government beyond incompetent, beyond hubristic and out of control. I really don't recall voting for this.

E-K said...

True, Elby.

I had a GF in Tooting and she regularly had to park three streets away from her home. But at least I got to watch her sashay in her kinky boots for a bit longer.

I have always concurred with this. That computer gaming is actually good for kids (I think it's also responsible for keeping the crime rates down.)

My lads did well because of it. They learned many reflexive, teamworking, problem solving and (yes) social skills from it.

And I believe that our future is going to become more and more virtual and that's where our investments should be going - not HS2, roads or railways.

Soon (probably before the phase out of the ICE car) VR is going to become so realistic that we'll be able to do the vast majority of our social and work interactions online and will barely notice the difference. And that's how it already is for very many kids.

andrew said...

I just got called up
"According to our records you have been injured in a recent voting accident..."

More seriously:
Listening to the moral maze last week (12 Nov) on voting and democracy. As usual, one of the witnesses made a really good point that none of the panel had prepared for and so ignored.

Democracy is not about realising the will of the people.
Real life is complicated, a manifesto is not a contract and not read in detail by the average voter.
A lot of subjects are too complicated - pensions / healthcare / detailed brexit policy and their effects are too complex to clearly judge over an electoral cycle.

Democracy is more about holding people to account - retrospective voting.

When you vote you are voting on what the incumbent has done and fairly or unfairly throw out those who disappoint.

BlokeInBrum said...

The VR revolution has for a long time belonged in the same category as nuclear fusion and 3D television - the next big thing, soon(ish). And they've been saying that for the last 30 years+

I think this time is different though and I honestly think that it really will take off in the same way that the vcr did in the 80's.

The technology has come on sufficiently well that the hardware requirements are quite reasonable, the costs low, and the quality of the experience really good.

All that's been needed is a sufficient use-case to give it a push. And that's what we've had with Covid-19.

Faced with months of lockdown, my non-gamer sister purchased an Oculus Quest and is now enamoured with it. Sufficiently so that I got one too. We now can have virtual rollercoaster rides together and have our avatars meet in virtual-space. Bizarre, but entertaining. The documentaries and nature programming can be stunning.

Whats lacking is of course the software support. VR gaming and programming is still at an early stage, but there is a growing market, and with the lockdowns forcing more people to stay at home I think the demand is going to explode.

British programmers used to be at the forefront of the computer gaming revolution (and still punch above their weight globally). Perhaps Britain and British programmers can be at the forefront of a new industry?