Posts Tagged 'Nuclear Power'

Nuclear disaster in the UK

The news over the weekend and this morning confirms the UK is in the throes of a self inflicted nuclear power disaster.  The fall out has the capacity to be catastrophic for energy consumers.

This concerns the deal, mentioned in passing in our last posting, that sees the French and Chinese consortia behind the financing and construction of HInkley Point C in Somerset, guaranteed a minimum price for the energy generated that is nearly double what we pay for nuclear power today.

The comment I intended to make at this point is eclipsed by Richard’s observations, which more eloquently articulate what I intended to say:

What is very far from clear, though, are the exact reasons why nuclear has increased in price so much. Nevertheless, in what is clearly a rigged market, the most likely culprit is the regulatory ratchet.

Increasing the time taken to approve schemes, and adding to design and construction costs, regulation is reckoned to be enough to have caused the massive price hike. And much of the regulation will have been promoted by Green activists, the aim being to price nuclear power out of business.

According to this seminal book, the process has been going on a long time. Now, it would appear, the activism has achieved its effect. We have a nuclear disaster – but not one that the Greens had predicted.

As fuel costs rise fuel poverty will kill vastly more than nuclear power is ever likely to. That is the real disaster, made all the worse by the fact that it is largely the result of deliberate ploys to increase the price of nuclear generated electricity.

We have recently seen similar efforts across the European Union by green activists to make the potential of shale gas to provide a secure, domestic source of energy, unaffordable through regulatory cost.

This is not about safety.  This is not about efficiency.  It is certainly not about providing sufficient energy to meet the growing demand of a rising population.  It is solely about forcing countries to adopt what the activists perceive as ‘green’ and ‘clean’ energy because the alternatives would have been made uneconomic due to politics alone.

These green groups are pursuing their own narrow, dogmatic and flawed agenda, but have been appointed by the EU as the ‘voice of the citizens’.  Without our consent or input these groups have been installed as our ‘representatives’ to government – but are following an agenda that we have never been asked to consider, let  alone endorse.

The folly of HS2 and government spending priorities

In its ‘wisdom’ the government has given the go ahead to HS2, or the second phase of the high speed rail programme.

The initial outlay of over £17bn is supposed to fund the HS2 line from London to Birmingham.  The line will be electrified because electricity is considered cleaner than diesel.  In the years that follow the plan is to extend the line to Manchester and then on to Scotland, increasing the cost to at least £33bn.

This is a shining example of the short sightedness, idiocy, ignorance, dogma, call it what you will, of the government’s spending priorities.  There is not a pressing need for this expensive rail line – although as Richard North makes clear on EU Referendum, there are certainly political pressures at play for it.  Yet there is real concern about the ability of this country to produce the power it needs to keep the lights on.

£17bn could pay for the construction and eventual decommission of at least five nuclear power stations.  One would think that would be a priority.  Instead the government chooses to construct something that will draw power from the grid, not something that puts power into it.

It is bad enough that this government has a fetish for unreliable wind power and puts huge sums of taxpayers’ money into subsidy for its provision.  But it is worse that the government refuses to subsidise new nuclear build that would benefit millions of people and instead chooses to channel huge sums of money into one small section of the rail network that will benefit a very limited number of people.

There is no shortage of tax pounds going to HM Treasury.  But there is a problem with the decisions about how that money is used.  Increasingly it is frittered away, diverted to whims and fancies of the political elite, rather than allocated to the delivery of quality essential services for the population.

No matter how much we complain or shout in protest, the political class is unmoved.  This is proof that we do not live in a democracy.  Elections may take place, but the decisions of the political class are not controlled by the electorate.  Consultation about the HS2 line saw an overwhelming majority of respondants reject the principles, specification and route selection for HS2, but their views were dismissed out of hand.

Democracy is about more than putting an ‘X’ on a ballot paper, it is about representatives who are elected doing our bidding.  In what way are the political class doing our bidding?

Update: If you use Twitter you might be interested in contributing to this – #betteruseof32bn

Energy policy chickens coming home to roost

The negative effects of the dash for gas, to pick up the slack for poorly performing renewables, didn’t take long to kick in did they?  The failure of successive governments to develop new nuclear generation is writ large.  The people paying the price are the likes of you and I.  Meanwhile the renewables speculators get rich at our expense with their lavish subsidies, even though the output will have a marginal impact on energy supply in this country.

On 7th December last year, this blog mused on the great energy delusion, observing that:

After all, renewables are supposed to become our baseload power source if you believe the idiots in Westminster who are bought in to the power generation revolution. It’s easy to say that gas fired power stations will pick up the slack, but the dash for gas is forcing the price upwards as demand from China to western Europe is on the increase. While we are able to get gas from Norway we will increasingly be relying on gas from Russia and the middle east to meet the energy gap created by unreliable and over rated renewables.

Today we have British Gas announcing it is hiking its gas prices by an average of 18% in August. Why? Although these comments were carried on BBC radio the BBC web report leaves out some key details, so we defer to the Evening Standard for the full explanation:

British Gas said wholesale prices had increased by 30 per cent since last winter because of “increased gas consumption in Asia and the impact on supply of unrest in the Middle East and North Africa”.

Managing director Phil Bentley said: “We know there is never a good time to raise prices, but we are buying in a global energy market and have to pay the market rate.”

But what of our wind turbine adoring Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Lhuhne?  As always, he is off in the land of make believe where he is seeking to distance himself from the consequences of the policy he supports:

I refuse to stand by and watch this happen.

The UK electricity market has to change so we escape the cycle of fossil fuel addiction.

Alternatives, like renewables and nuclear power, must be allowed to become the dominant component of our energy mix.

Only radical reform now will give us the best chance in the long run of keeping the lights on at a price that doesn’t wreck our economy over and over again.

What we are experiencing is what has been caused by the approach he supports.  He shares the blame.  As a Eurofanatic he actively supports EU actions that are driving up our energy costs, yet is putting all the blame on the energy companies.  Lhuhne as a renewablesfanatic supports the exorbitant cost of renewables subsidies, and the forcing of the energy companies to purchase all power produced by the turbines regardless of their cost.  He has long been rigidly opposed to state subsidy for nuclear power and continues to be.  But reality is starting to bite and now he is calling for more nuclear which is reliable, despite putting our money into renewables that are not.

So where is this radical reform he speaks of?  It’s nice to see Lhuhne talking about the best chance of ‘keeping the lights on’.  According to his own party leader, Nick Clegg, there was no evidence that there’s going to be a terrible energy gap and that the lights are going to go out in the middle of the next decade.  Chris doesn’t seem to agree with Nick any more.  But the problem is the climate change lunacy, the obsession with unreliable and intermittant wind power, the regulations and obligations imposed on us by the political class  is wrecking our economy already and plunging millions of people needlessly into fuel poverty.

Huhne’s attempts to point the finger at the energy companies, who are forced to deliver on government policy, must not be allowed to wash.  The buck stops with him and his ideologue pals who have accelerated our descent into chaos and exacerbated the problems he claims to be refusing to stand by and watch happen.

Huhne does not have the solution.  He is a major part of the bloody problem.

Fukushima and the overblown media storm

At times like these, with a nuclear power station incident like the one at Fukushima, what people should see in the media is objective reporting, explanation, comparison and context.

Instead we get the kind of headless chicken sensationalism of the type which the British media excels at.

However an antidote to effects of the nuclear panic-mongering can be found nestling in the pages of The Register.  If you have a few minutes to spare take a look at this piece by Lewis Page, then ask yourself why the wonder that is the British media is incapable or unwilling to report the details in a similar fashion.

Angela Merkel’s nuclear kneejerk and green spin

‘Japan crisis: Germany to speed up nuclear energy exit’ booms the BBC headline today as the anti nuclear onslaught continues following the multiple reactor crisis at Fukushima.

The story explains how German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced a ‘measured exit’ from nuclear power in response to the crisis affecting four reactors in Japan.  Stating that the Japanese disaster meant it could no longer be ‘business as usual’ in Germany – a country renowned for its earthquakes and tsunamis – Merkel told the Bundestag that the goal was:

…to reach the age of renewable energy as soon as possible.

It is an interesting goal given the reality of Germany’s current energy generation strategem which was covered briefly on this blog back in January.  For while Merkel tilts left in an attempt to appease the panicking nuclear-hating Greens, German energy policy shows a distinct lack of confidence in renewables to deliver the power needed in an industrialised country.

Just consider the extent of Germany’s new build coal fired power stations currently under construction, as detailed on EU Referendum, that shows that while Merkel is talking the talk on renewables she is not walking the walk:

– EVONIK, Walsum (Duisburg), 800 MW black coal (2010)
– RWE, Neurath (Cologne), 2 x 800 MW lignite (2009)
– RWE Westfalen (Dortmund-Hamm, 2 x 800 MW black coal (2011)
– EON Datteln (Dortmund), 1 x 1100 MW (!) black coal (2011)
– ENBW Karlsruhe, 1 x 800 MW black coal (2011)
– Trianel (municipality) Lünen, 1 x 800 MW black coal (2011)
– Vattenfall Moorburg (Hamburg), 2 x 800 MW black coal (2011)
– Vattenfall Boxberg (close to Leipzig), 1 x 800 MW lignite (2011)

The dates in brackets are the completion dates of the boilers (hydraulic testing and first fire).

While Germany’s significant investment in coal makes good sense Merkel’s pronouncement about a ‘measured exit’ from nuclear power is an example the worst kind of gesture politics.

It is worrying that a national leader resorts to disproportionate kneejerk policy borne of emotion rather than policy based on evidence.  By seeking to play up renewables on the one hand and greenwash the mainstay of energy generation capability on the other, Merkel is demonstrating the kind of hypocrisy that characterises the political class.

Oh for a politician who will set aside spin and tell it like it is on wind power.  Wind is not the panacea portrayed by the wind lobby and greenies, it remains a poor value and unreliable form of generation and only benefits the recipients of the lavish subsidies that look all the more disgraceful on those days when energy is needed but the turbines have no wind to turn them.

France – our partner in defence

If the United States need a reason to scale back the extent of intelligence cooperation with the UK, then David Cameron’s God-awful treaty with Nicolas Sarkozy has opened a huge window of opportunity for Washington.

Not content with selling warships and technology to Russia – thus filling a gap in Russian military capability that slowed them down during the contrived invasion of Georgia – Paris is now selling nuclear technology to China. The Americans have always realised the French will do anything for money but probably did not think a British government would choose to align itself so closely with such an unreliable country. As EU Referendum says of Cameron, he:

…might just as well have parcelled up all our military and industrial secrets and sent them direct to Peking, cutting out the middle man.

Dr Richard North goes on to correctly observe that:

…you cannot be a “strategic partner” with both China and the United States. The UK has to chose and, in getting into bed with the Kermits, it has made its choice. It is a dangerous, stupid choice and one that we will all have cause to regret.


Huhne’s disturbing energy doublespeak

He is sceptical about the economics of nuclear power, yet has unswerving faith in fantastically expensive and unreliable renewables.

He says there will be no public subsidy for nuclear because it is an old technology and that “The market will decide which low-carbon technologies will be used”; but pours our tax pounds into new wind turbines that produce only 20-25% of their capacity and stands by rules that force power companies to buy all electricity produced by wind turbines regardless of the cost.

He believes there are investors who will be investing in new nuclear, but can only find investors who will invest in renewables by throwing public money at them to subsidise to huge cost.

This is the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne.  This is the man whose vision of future electricity generation in this country is so divorced from reality even sci-fi fans would laugh it off as too far fetched.  If you’re not worried about how the lights will be kept on in years to come, you should be.  The stakes could not be higher.

Some people understand the nature of Huhne’s problem.  However we are powerless to stop the elected dictatorships in this country from doing what they want and playing politics with our energy supplies.  We are at the mercy of a dangerously out of touch ideologue who ignores evidence in the pursuit of realising his fantasy.

Con-Lib energy policy: Pay much more, get less

Welcome to Britain, a land being dragged back into the 19th Century by a political class determined to enact changes that reverse the progress made over many decades in order to appear virtuous. (Hat tip: EU Referendum).

Chris Huhne, for it is he, has again been talking energy in the Westminster bubble.  As the Telegraph reports, his vision of our future energy provision and energy use means households will see a rise in their annual energy bills of at least £300, while at the same time they will be put under pressure to reduce energy consumption.  The government wants us to change our lifestyles to make it possible for them to impelement their regressive vision of the future.

The lights are not going to go out on my watch…

Huhne told reporters.  He’s right about that.  By the time the lights start going out because of this ridiculous obsession with CO2 and wind turbines – and the nonsensical refusal to put public money into building essential nuclear capacity and resulting variable and unreliable nature of energy generation, Huhne and his fellow travellers will have long since been ejected from office for their incompetence.  Our friends at EU Referendum have suggested an alternative way of dealing with these idiots – while revealing just how high the cost of our energy could go.

When one considers that a substantial number of properties in this country cannot be insultated due to their design, what difference will a smart meter make to them?  While the Con-Lib cabal are eager to invest public money in expensive and inefficient technologies to increase the proportion of power coming from renewables from the current 5 per cent to at least 15 per cent, making our energy mix more unreliable, they refuse point blank to invest in nuclear. 

Investing in nuclear power stations today could bring forward the date when reactors could come on line to fill the gap left by retiring coal and gas fired plants.  While we tilt at windmills, many other countries who do recognise the need for nuclear and are booking up the limited number of specialists who can build the reactors.  We are missing a window of opportunity to look after our interests because our leaders are living out their eco fantasies at our expense.

Huhne, Cameron and the rest of the virtuous circle of millionaires have got it badly wrong.  But they are in good company because their Brokeback partner, Nick Clegg, also gets things badly wrong.  Given Huhne’s acceptance that we have a coming energy gap, let’s just take a moment to recall what Clegg said about warnings of the lights going out:

The Government has spooked everyone into thinking that we need nuclear by saying there’s going to be a terrible energy gap – the lights are going to go out in the middle of the next decade,” Mr Clegg said.

There’s actually no evidence that’s the case at all. They’ve raised the wrong problem in order to push the wrong solution.

The real problem is that our energy mix is not green enough and we’re over-dependent on oil and gas from parts of the world that aren’t very reliable.

And wind turbines that produce only about 25% of their potential generation capacity are reliable??  Such a wrongheaded mindset underlines the dangerous folly we are being sucked into.  Our leaders are doing too little, too late.  The immense cost of this inaction dating back many years are now being passed on to us.  And the best these idiots can come up with is to tell us to pay more and use less power while they look around for places to plant more windmills. 

If these people continue to hold sway, we may as well go out today and buy the new line of low energy, CO2 neutral washing machines shown in the picture above.  But count on it that uber-wealthy 7-home Huhne and his ilk will not have to resort to such measures themselves.

Huhne signals extension of Con-Lib energy policy folly

The Sunday Telegraph is among a number of media outlets carrying the frustrating and worrying news that Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, will this week pave the way for a controversial increase in wind turbines – wait or it – in a bid to protect Britain from a looming energy crisis!

If there is one thing guaranteed to precipitate an energy crisis for this country, it is the determination to squander taxpayers’ money on subsidies for wind powered electricity generation, despite evidence showing that carefully selected onshore windy areas where turbines have been put up, barely achieve 20% of the generation capacity they were built to deliver.  It is delusional of Huhne to suggest that Britain can be protected from a looming energy crisis by putting up even more wind turbines that have proved incredibly inefficient at generating power when it’s needed.

Due to its intermittent and variable nature and the propensity for the wind not to blow during times of peak demand (think back to the lack of wind during the bitingly cold winter), wind turbine generated power can never form the energy baseload required to underpin Britain’s electricity needs.  Yet it is the baseload capacity that requires replacement due to the age of the fossil fuel driven power stations and the government’s half baked, EU-driven Low Carbon Transition Plan.

The only stable and therefore reliable form of generating baseload electricity that isn’t fossil fuel based is nuclear power.  It should be a no brainer that this is where government should be devoting its financial resources.  But in a demonstration of ignorance and stunning arrogance in his Sunday Telegraph interview, Chris Huhne has declared that there will be “no money” for state subsidies for a new generation of nuclear power plants.  One can only question the mental state of man because such an approach could be catastrophic for this country.

To compound his idiocy, Huhne went on to praise electric cars, claiming that models such as the Tesla sports car, which goes from 0-60mph in under four seconds, showed that energy saving needs not hamper on-road performance.  Just where the extra electricity to meet the new and additional demand for power for such vehicles will come from, Huhne doesn’t say.  But you can guarantee his beloved wind turbines will fall well short of delivering the required capacity.

The fact is Huhne is a liar. He is just another political charlatan.  For him to declare that onshore wind turbines were “incredibly competitive” in producing electricity is an outright deception.  The generation figures show wind turbines are inefficient.  Added to that the cost to electricity consumers to support the wind turbine feed onto the grid make wind power far more expensive than coal or gas.  Renewables cost more.  When Huhne says:

“We have a tremendous natural resource in the Dogger Bank, which is an enormous shallow area of the North Sea, the same size as Wales.

“It’s relatively cheap to put wind turbines in that shallow area. It’s beautifully windy so it does actually produce a lot of electricity – that is a really important natural resource for us.”

he also omits to mention that offshore turbines are suffering from subsidence and sinking into the seabed and the cost of fixing the problem runs into tens of millions of pounds that will also be met through electricity bills.  So much for relatively cheap. Relative to what, exactly? If there is no government subsidy of nuclear energy then the costs of electricity consumers could more than double in a short space of time.  The investment required to keep the lights on, raised by energy companies on the markets alone, will prove astronomically expensive and be passed on in our energy bills.  Many millions more Britons will be consigned to real fuel poverty as a direct result of Lib Dem intransigence, climate change obsession and fantasy politics.

Huhne, like his boss Nick Clegg, is guilty of ignoring the reality of our situation and using energy policy as a poster boy for their greenwashing of society.  After all, Clegg says there is no looming energy gap in the first place and argues our energy problem is a lack of renewables in our energy mix.  Yet his and Huhne’s policy is to preside over a policy that will reduce the proportion of reliable energy sources in that mix.  It is truly the politics of insanity and we are about to become its victims – and all under a Conservative dominated government.

Update: EU Referendum has more on this supposed ‘march of progress’.

Con-Lib climate change and energy policy is a looming disaster

The Cameron-Clegg axis has demonstrated its lack of critical faculties in united fashion when David Cameron and Chris Huhne visited the Department for Energy and Climate Change.  The Cleggerons’ slavish devotion to the creed of climate change has been put before the need to properly tackle environmental problems such as pollution and deforestation. 

The focus on reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (despite no evidence that proves it causes global warming) as outlined by Cameron cannot bring about the necessary energy security for this country that he also mentioned.  Wind turbines simply cannot and will not deliver the reliable generation of baseload power this country needs.  At immense cost it will produce only a fraction of its potential capacity but the huge costs will still be passed on to consumers.  We need an energy mix comprising nuclear, gas, coal and efficient renewables.  But the kneejerk political class continues to undermine its development. 

The Lib Dems will oppose nuclear generated electricity because they feel it isn’t safe or green enough; we don’t have sufficient gas storage and have to increasingly import gas from abroad as our North Sea reserves fall, driving up the cost; coal is plentiful and accessible, but EU interference and the carbon bogeyman see to it that we will reduce coal generation capacity rather than increase it to meet our needs; and we have yet to uncover a widely distributable efficient form of renewable energy as investment solar does not pay for itself, wind fails to produce when it’s needed and tidal power remains on the back burner with only the damaging Severn Barrage under consideration.

People should remember Nick Clegg’s views denying the looming energy gap that will result in rota disconnection to reduce the supply of electricity to a level that can be generated.  Cameron is buying into the same idiocy.  You can put in all the vastly expensive theoretical generating capacity you like, but if it doesn’t translate into Gigawatts of electricity fed into homes, businesses and the transport network, it is a huge white elephant.  The blinkered approach is only made worse by the pursuit of lunatic feed in tarrifs.

We may have a supposedly ‘new politics’ but we are blindly going forward to bygone days of the lights going out and huddling around candles and wondering when the power will be turned back on in our homes and when our offices and factories will be able to resume production essential to our economic well-being.  We have dark days ahead that will make the economic crisis look like small beer yet the Cleggerons insanely tinker around the fringes with their thumbs up their bums and their brains in neutral attempting to appear caring and virtuous.  On their heads be it.

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‘The skeptics will accept it because it is cheaper’

That is the opinion offered by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates returning to the theme of his backing for the development of Traveling Wave Reactors or ‘TerraPower’.  Gates, according to AFP, has broken from philanthropic work fighting poverty and disease to take on what he believes is another threat to the world’s poor – climate change.

He was speaking to a Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) Conference audience ‘packed with influential figures including the founders of Google and climate champion Al Gore’.

TerraPower is not a new idea, however no plant has ever been constructed even though it’s been kicked around by scientists since the 1950s.  The idea of using depleted uranium as a power source is excellent but there has not been sufficient interest in the concept previously because of the cost.  But things are different now because the idea is being pushed hard by Intellectual Ventures, an organisation founded in 2000 by Bill Gates’ former chief technology officer at Microsoft, Nathan Myhrvold.  Gates and Microsoft are, unsurprisingly, investors in Intellectual Ventures.  It just so happens that IV created a startup company in 2009 called TerraPower, to realise the Traveling Wave Reactor dream.

Since Myhrvold’s outfit got serious about this energy source, Bill Gates has been banging the drum to generate interest… and investment.  When Gates visited China’s state nuclear power technology corporation (SNPTC) last November,the write up was notable for the absence of the words ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’.  But it comes as no surprise that a hardcore energy venture in need of large sums of money is swiftly metamorphosed by Gates from a purely energy initiative into a climate change one when the platform at the TED Conference put him in front of people such as Al Gore.  Gates is smart enough to know he had to position this energy idea in a climate change, zero carbon context.

After all, when it comes to accessing large sums of money the only benefactor in town is the taxpayer funded climate change club, doling out billions of pounds, dollars and euros of our hard earned taxes to all manner of projects, research programmes and advocacy groups.  Gates and Myhrvold want part of that action to move their TerraPower business venture forward and make them richer still.

Gates was certainly careful to press the right buttons at TED.  He was clearly mindful of the pressure on the climate change industry from the steady stream of exposés about unsupported claims, data manipulation, excluded material that enables scientists to ‘hide the decline’ in temperatures.  Fighting off the sceptics is priority one for the climate change industry, so Gates skilfully sent the message that supporting his prospect will see the sceptics roll over, meaning the money train will be able to continue unmolested.

The interesting thing here is that the climate change industry is changing tack and believes they way to mute dissent from AGW sceptics is to focus on cost:

Gates dismissed climate change skeptics, saying terrapower would render arguments moot because the energy produced would be cheaper than pollution-spewing methods used today.

“The skeptics will accept it because it is cheaper,” Gates said. “The might wish it did put out CO2, but they will take it.”

It seems that in the climate change bubble there’s a feeling that the concepts of good science, honesty and the recognition of the difference between theory and fact are not important to AGW sceptics.  The issue is whether man is affecting the climate or not.  The drive for cheap energy is a sensible goal irrespective of climate change matters.  But Gates has made it a climate change issue for no other reason than to open up the flow of taxpayer funded investment into TerraPower’s coffers.  Love the technology idea, hate the deceitful approach.

Because money is the primary driver of climate change claims and proposed solutions, these people seem to think that everyone else has the same motivation for the stance they take on the subject.  This is why multi billionaire Gates is sending up his test balloon, to see if those on the other side of the AGW argument can be bought off.  It is cynical and illustrative.  Also, as EU Referendum points out, such is the power of prestige and mutual admiration among the super rich and super powerful who stand to benefit from policies that punish the rest of us, Gates can make his unsupported claims without being drowned in a wave of derision.

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