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« Energy, just like old times - Josh 205 | Main | Shameless »
Sunday
Feb242013

Booker on when the lights go out

Normal BH service will be resumed tomorrow. In the meantime Booker has a good, if thoroughly depressing, look at the UK's energy crisis.

Has anyone in the government said they think the lights will in fact stay on? Or should we accept their sullen silence as an admission that we are in trouble?

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Reader Comments (80)

How will the young greenies survive if they can't charge their I-phones?

Feb 24, 2013 at 8:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Here is an article (also in The Telegraph) about wind farms in peat lands NOT reducing CO2 emissions.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9889882/Wind-farms-will-create-more-carbon-dioxide-say-scientists.html
"Wind farms will create more carbon dioxide, say scientists
Thousands of Britain’s wind turbines will create more greenhouse gases than they save, according to potentially devastating scientific research to be published later this year. "

Feb 24, 2013 at 8:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Peter

Come on...this is all part of the political classes master plan.

They create an emergency (deliberately running down the power generating capacity in the UK) and then they implement THEIR solution (more windmills and mirrors).

Sadly the electorate is nothing but labour/tory/lib dem sheep and will only ever vote for their party and NEVER vote on policy or past performance!

In a strange sort of way we are getting exactly what we deserve (as I tell my Iranian friends about them getting the Government they deserve).

Regards

Mailman

Feb 24, 2013 at 8:38 AM | Unregistered Commentermailman

I wanna defect to UKIP!

Feb 24, 2013 at 8:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Has anyone in the government said they think the lights will in fact stay on? Or should we accept their sullen silence as an admission that we are in trouble?


http://www.thegwpf.org/energy-bill-drag-britain-dark-age/


No Bish they are not going to be silent enough.

Feb 24, 2013 at 8:50 AM | Registered Commenterretireddave

It is becoming more evident that smart meters are being introduced to limit our use of electricity as a means of preventing rolling blackouts (or worse). There is increasing emphasis on being more energy efficient (which can, under certain circumstances, make economic sense) but the key to a thriving economy is abundant cheap energy. Government policy is the opposite of what it should be.

I'm not going to speculate on whether policy is deliberately wrong or its just because we have been led by idiots for so long.

See also:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/telegraph-view/9889148/Only-the-Tories-have-a-grip-on-energy.html

Feb 24, 2013 at 8:51 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Rose in The Mail on similar theme.

Feb 24, 2013 at 8:52 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

The BBC is still silent on Pachauri's recent comments. Presumably, they realise that as soon as they mention this they will have to acknowledge the real reasons the UK's energy sector is in such disarray.

Feb 24, 2013 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

One has to wonder what would happen if some entrepreneur across the Channel decide to offer "cheap" electricity thru the HVDC Cross-Channel connection or, even wanted to put their own in to access UK markets?

Feb 24, 2013 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered Commenterbarnacle bill

The greenest government in history will soon become the *darkest* government in history.

Feb 24, 2013 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeffinLondon

...Or should we accept their sullen silence as an admission that we are in trouble?...

I believe that what you should read into their sullen silence is a complete disconnect between 'Islington Thinker' mode and 'Electrical Engineer' mode.

The politicians live in a Westminster bubble, where the normal laws of physics do not apply. Instead, a slick powerpoint presentation showing how CO2 can be captured for a trifling £50bn is accepted without question.

In this world the lights are always on, magical technical things happen, and no one must ask why, because that suggests that you are interested in science, or, even worse, know something about it. So long as Sir Paul Nurse keeps assuring us that all is well, everything is wonderful.

Their silence is not sullen. It is completely vacuous. They are silent because not one of them has ANY idea what is being talked about.

Feb 24, 2013 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Mailman

no master plan. Just incompetance and technological illerate political classes. That really believe in green new technologies and that fossil fuels are old tech

sad really

Feb 24, 2013 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

@ Martyn

"I wanna defect to UKIP!"

Oh, that would be SUCH an attractive - and potentially powerful - alternative.

If only Farrage wasn't such a knob.

http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=83650

Feb 24, 2013 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

On one thing Yeo is right:

Energy policy has been neglected for over a decade. I’m afraid under the last government there was a new energy minister about every six months and very little long-term planning at all.

Unfortunately all his solutions are still intended to line his own pockets without solving the energy crisis that 16 ministers have created. As Barry Woods says "incompetance and technological illerate political classes".

Feb 24, 2013 at 10:08 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Sinister. Stupid. Destructive. Ambitious. Ignorant. Blinkered. Cruel.

Maybe the German language could admit a word capturing all of this in a oner.

In English, maybe just 'Green' will have to suffice by association.

Feb 24, 2013 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Sadly, and as an engineer and former Chartered Environmentalist, I cannot see how anything but immediately stopping coal fired stations being closed can help us.

Last week I checked at random and found that energy demand was at that time about 45GW. Wind was providing a whopping 0.19 GW, coal about 20 GW.

Taking a longer view it seems that, on a very good day, wind may achieve up to about 3 GW.

So,we need backup from gas above about 0.2 GW from wind, or put another way, at least 100 times as many turbines, probably 200 times to be safe.

It has been suggested that bills will go up to £3,500 pa ave. I think £5,000 pa ave by 2020, as we pay for these wind follies.

Between the Wye and Severn rivers in Gloucestershire, in areas of outstanding natural beauty, we are promised windmills, which should kill the Forest of Dean for tourists (as well as the birdlife, bats, etc.).

At this moment its very cold and very still (as it usually is during cold snaps when high pressure lingers) No number of wind turbines can help at these times. There is a huge code of practice for sustainable homes soon to add massively to housing costs, but nowehere in it does it require standby generators and perhaps a 12v battery system for lighting homes during black outs.

The civil servants who really run the country seem to heed and facilitate 'civil society' (the NGOs such as FoE, WWF and Greenpeace) in some kind of drive for a new world order where these extremists, not the voters, control our futures. (Greenpeace recently launched their 'battle for Britain' - be afraid) The mandarins permit and encourage leading activists to take control of learned societies by undemocratic means.

It seems to me that either the MPs wake up and reject impending greenie disaster or the voters must seek parties that will, such as UKIP.

Democracy is drifting away just now, as our leaders strive to please our EU masters. Perhaps daily blackouts, which seem inevitable, will be the peoples Battle of Britain when ordinary people say 'enough.

Feb 24, 2013 at 10:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Baird

The incompetence of recent British governments is staggering but if we get to the state where power cuts are frequent that will top the lot. As modern civilisation is so dependent on a reliable supply of electricity the government has a fundamental duty to ensure that we have one. It doesn't have to run the power stations or the national grid but it does have to ensure that the infrastructure is adequate and that our supplies of power are secure.

If the lights do start going out then why shouldn't those responsible go on trial? I don't mean just those in authority now. After all, if someone who had warned about the dangers was put in charge of energy policy tomorrow it would hardly be fair to blame him/her for failing to prevent problems occurring in the next year or two.

However I see no reason why anyone who was in the cabinet under Blair or Brown should escape prosecution. Similarly members of the current coalition government should be prosecuted since they have had time to take measures to try and avoid an energy crisis but instead have deliberately chosen to adopt measures that make such a crisis more likely simply because they want the endorsement of the pro-green media.

Feb 24, 2013 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

There ia also another report in the same paper that Wind turbines increase CO2 production. Mentioned is peat destruction and the subsequent increase in CO2 production. No mention of the backup required that produces CO2 all the time at the cost of no electricity.
This government has completely lost the plot. There are no MP's who have any understanding of science. They are all either lawyers, media plonks or economists. Totally useless.

Feb 24, 2013 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

We all drop ‘when the lights go out’ into casual conversation as if the lights are important. To a healthy adult a power cut is usually a slight inconvenience with or without lights. It’s other areas of society that suffer far greater.

At the height of fears about H5N1 the government issued a new electricity supply plan. It wrote to businesses, including care homes, saying that their electricity was as vulnerable as the average household and that in a time of serious shortage there would be rolling blackouts. If they wished to be protected from power cuts they needed to do something for themselves ie get a generator. My question ‘how many did something about it and would those measures work?’ If you’ve ever been in a care home you’ll know how everything needs power and without it, lives that are already bleak will become intolerable.

And what of businesses? Too many are already on the brink of financial collapse, regular stoppages might be the final straw. Most manufacturing businesses can’t just turn on and off like a laptop. Some need days of set up and wind down and a single hour of power cut a week is equivalent to closing the doors for good.

Would ‘elf and safety shut schools of they are to be without power for an hour? Will parents in one power zone be allowed to leave work to mind children in another? Or will the kids finally get fresh air with enforced school yard banishments? What will they do if a planned one hour break turns into an unplanned three hours?

When you start to look at how society has changed since the last backouts, you realise how dependent on power we have become.

Feb 24, 2013 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

What will the headlines be when someone sets fire to their home with a BBQ or gasses their family by sticking a generator in their garage?

Feb 24, 2013 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Barry,

Im not so sure that everything can be put down to incompetence. When you have so many commies and socialists in power who have wet dreams over redistribution of wealth (yours not theirs btw) then I think the current situation is being deliberately created so they can implement THEIR vision of what society should be (government driven!).

I hope you are right though.

Regards

Mailman

Feb 24, 2013 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered Commentermailman

Blaming the politicians... is the smallest part of the story in my view - ours for the most part are opportunistic and obsessive hobby horse jockeys of limited imagination and intellect.

The real key in this is the role of the civil servants - they have a *real duty* to objectivity, that means that they must make reasonable effort to do the arithmetic, enumerate consequences and ensure minimal disruption.

The "rotten apple" (Bryony Worthington et al) activists emplaced by Blair. Brown, Miliband, Benn, Huhne, Davey and Cameron have been pushing their toxic agendas effectively unhindered by any accountability and using buckets of cash from the state treasury to fund dozens of "Grand Academies of Lagado" and in a la-la land exceeding Jonathan Swift's single invocation of sunbeams and cucumbers about 300 years ago....

The first man I saw was of a meagre aspect, with sooty hands and face, his hair and beard long, ragged, and singed in several places. His clothes, shirt, and skin, were all of the same colour. 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." I made him a small present, for my lord had furnished me with money on purpose, because he knew their practice of begging from all who go to see them.

Prescient or what?

FAIL

What to do?

Feb 24, 2013 at 11:08 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Last week a helpful poster gave me this link to MPs with some sort of technical qualification and/or an active interest in things scientific: http://sciencecampaign.org.uk/?page_id=1543
It lists 65 MPs - that is a mere 10% of the total.
So it is hardly surprising that they seem to be detached from reality, considering measures which will have such monumental consequences.

Feb 24, 2013 at 11:17 AM | Registered Commentermikeh

@ tomo

You should think twice before drawing attention to Jonathan Swift because when the wind turbines fail us the government might instead decide to base its energy policy on extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers!

Feb 24, 2013 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Feb 24, 2013 at 11:18 AM | Roy

They're already at it - it's called biomass...

In the early 90's I tinkered with making my own diesel with the cast-off oil from local chippies - doing some backgrounding I came across the fossil-"renewable" combustion rule of thumb.

If you take the entire cultivable surface of the planet and plant it with the most prodigious oil producing plant you end up with an 80% shortfall in energy required to support the status quo.

Lovelock's enthusiasm for nuclear is based in large part I understand on this rough relationship.

My point fwiw - is that we have public employees who are supposedly (expensively) selected to be amongst the brightest and most competent of their generation - numerate, open minded, objective and pragmatic being supposedly high on the list of desired attributes - what we've ended up with - is regularly documented at Bish's place in exasperating detail.

We need regime change.

Feb 24, 2013 at 11:42 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Suppose the UK decides, collectively, to ditch green socialism and Go Coal. Or Go Frack. Or Go Nuke or Go Anything but Green Dreams.

From five to ten years. Lead times. With the climte heading, inexorablely, into the next Ice Age. Check where the ice sheets stopped. You Scots should check out moving to Notingham or further south.

Feb 24, 2013 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

Non-breaking news!! The BBC has precisely ZERO mention of Pachauris reluctant but stunning acknowledgement of the 17 year global temperature standstill.

The 'Greatest Threat To Mankind Ever' is in an apparent pause, and the nations 'leading;' news source has an attack of absolute omerta on this multi-billion pound news.

Astinishing. Not.

However, thankfully they did find prominent space to speculate on conjecture that may, may, trigger as-yet-not-occurring Arctic 'perma-frost melt. Truly, you could not make this level of institutional bias up. The Stasi would have been proud.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science_and_environment/

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

Just how many of us will die before the political classes (Conlablib) finally sit up and take notice?
UK energy policy is "Crime Against Humanity".

Those who willingly and wilfully implement this policy must be held to account.

Nuremburg-style trials would be appropriate.

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

PS....Don't ya just love how the BBC Environment section leads on the personal problem of an otter?!

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

Jimmie Haigh,

All is not lost.

http://shop.biolitestove.com/BioLite-CampStove_p_15.html

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:12 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:08 PM cheshirered

Don't you know by now the BBC never do colder only 'otter... sorry, I couldn't resist.

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Last week a helpful poster gave me this link to MPs with some sort of technical qualification and/or an active interest in things scientific: http://sciencecampaign.org.uk/?page_id=1543
It lists 65 MPs - that is a mere 10% of the total.
So it is hardly surprising that they seem to be detached from reality, considering measures which will have such monumental consequences.

Feb 24, 2013 at 11:17 AM | mikeh

ONLY THREE VOTED AGAINST THE CLIMATE ACT !!!!!

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

What will the headlines be when someone sets fire to their home with a BBQ or gasses their family by sticking a generator in their garage?

Feb 24, 2013 at 11:02 AM | TinyCO2

Already happened in France when an english couple poisoned themselves accidentally with their generator. Even in france we suffer frequent power cuts, very short and very long, in the countryside. Rare in the towns.

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

PS....Don't ya just love how the BBC Environment section leads on the personal problem of an otter?!

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:08 PM | cheshirered

They are concentrating on their penises. again !!

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:08 PM cheshirered

Don't you know by now the BBC never do colder only 'otter... sorry, I couldn't resist.

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:17 PM | TinyCO2

Yeh, it's has fascinated me for some time now that ALL weather forecasters now say, "chilly, cooler, less warm but ever so rarely "colder".

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

One has to wonder what would happen if some entrepreneur across the Channel decide to offer "cheap" electricity thru the HVDC Cross-Channel connection or, even wanted to put their own in to access UK markets?

Entrepreneurs are as rare as hens teeth on the continent. Won't happen IMHO.

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

@ stephen Richards 1231 hrs:


PS....Don't ya just love how the BBC Environment section leads on the personal problem of an otter?!

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:08 PM | cheshirered

They are concentrating on their penises. again !!
Feb 24, 2013 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards


Does that mean that they are all a bunch of WILLY WONKAS?

Feb 24, 2013 at 1:01 PM | Registered Commenterpeterwalsh

From *comments* in the Telegraph;

"I'm reminded of the comment by James Watson, the Nobel Prize winner, speaking about his fellow scientists..."

"One could not be a successful scientist without realizing that, in contrast to the popular conception supported by newspapers and mothers of scientists, a goodly number of scientists are not only narrow-minded and dull, but also just stupid."

Which is no comfort but does illustrate the pool from which *consensus* and hence policy is drawn. Yet with the two pillars for political action, the Gore scenario and peak fossil, buckled and bent by observations, no one is checking that edifice for collapse.

If we really have a collective interest in the future for our grandchildren, I suggest a time capsule containing the Climate Change Act, Watson's quote and a book on coal mining techniques.

Feb 24, 2013 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

JerryM wrote

quote
If only Farrage wasn't such a knob.
and
http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=83650
unquote

Better a knob than rule by knobs talking b******.

Your link goes to Richard North, hardly a disinterested commentator. He sounds as if he has a grudge against Farage -- did they have a falling out? I know that UKIP is very careful to distance itself from the Far Right fringe, racists or extremists of any persuasion.

JF

Feb 24, 2013 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJulian Flood

Let us polish the crystal ball and look forward to 1 January 2016, just less than three years away, to see what has happened to our glorious 27GW fleet of coal burners, to be reduced to 19GW by the end of the LCPD saga, ending 31 December 2015:

As the swirling fog clears inside the ball, we find that only one former coal-burner, that is, the now wood-burning Drax (3.5GW - 10% less than burning coal) is running because the other 15.5GW coal-fired proper power stations have decided to close down for good on 31 December 2015 because it is just too much bother and expense to bend to the new IED regulations, the fuel taxes and the continuing uncertainties from the numpties.

Just now, coal is providing 18GW.

Feb 24, 2013 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

mailman - those people yu describe definitly exist, with those motivations, but are the hangers on, not driving it (though helping keep it going)... all part of the greenrush

the same people hanging on,will no doubt do the same thing, with the next cultural phenomena/scare

Feb 24, 2013 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Sinister. Stupid. Destructive. Ambitious. Ignorant. Blinkered. Cruel.

Maybe the German language could admit a word capturing all of this in a oner.

@John Shade

That would be 'UnheimlichDummDestruktivEhrgeizigUnwissendBlindGrausam'

I think you are right: 'Green' is better.

Feb 24, 2013 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Crawford

Feb 24, 2013 at 12:12 PM | jferguson


"Burns sticks, pine cones, pellets and other biomass."

Surely that's not very environmentally friendly? No tree hugger would ever go for it...

Maybe there's an App for it.

Feb 24, 2013 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Jimmy Haigh,
One of the retailers of this device in the US, REI, claims that you can lower your carbon footprint through its use because it burns renewables etc. How this works is a bit of a mystery to me.

One use of this thing that made a certain amount of sense to me, at least, was to recharge ones Kindle, the Kindle containing all of the survivalist tomes, Mackensie's "10,000 Receipts" for example which would guide you through your disconnection from the net when the power finally does fail.

I pray that what follows is not offensive, but it has occurred to me that we in the colonies will owe you and your countrymen (well not precisely you, but certainly your elected masters) a very great debt of gratitude for screwing up the renewable nonsense first and thus showing our mindless politicians what happens when one fails to grasp just how many windmills, solar panels, and hydraulic storage sites are actually needed to keep a 21st century civilisation perking.

What you say? They were hoping for the 12th century?

Hopefully the coming cycle of black and brown-outs will inspire a close look at package Nukes, and the UK will then lead the rest of us into the next era as you so often have in the past.

Feb 24, 2013 at 3:37 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

Someone else named 'Bryony Brownout', and it was an easy step to 'Bryony Blackout'. It's not really fair to name for there's enough blame to spread around to all the deserving, but look at the damage she accomplished by herself.
========================

Feb 24, 2013 at 4:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Feb 24, 2013 at 3:37 PM | jferguson

I think we are in complete agreement.


By the way I got out of the UK 8 years ago and moved to warmer climes... No greens - or bloody "carbon" taxes - where I live now!

Feb 24, 2013 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

OK Let's start a list of those responsible for this mess:
PM Blair for signing the EU directive
Deputy PM Prescott - just a useful idiot
PM Brown for selling Westinghouse dirt cheap
Lab Ministers who said "over my dead body" to nuclear power
Every Environment Minister except the incumbent
PM Cameron
Deputy PM Clegg
Every DECC Minister except Hayes
About 99% of MPs
About 99% of DECC civil servants for giving bad advice
Several Scientific Advisors for giving bad advice
Committees advising Government (eg CCC)
Ofgem

That's enough for starters

Feb 24, 2013 at 4:10 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Feb 24, 2013 at 9:21 AM | barnacle bill

One has to wonder what would happen if some entrepreneur across the Channel decide to offer "cheap" electricity thru the HVDC Cross-Channel connection or, even wanted to put their own in to access UK markets?

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a9533d84-87b9-11e0-a6de-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2LpmFp8nH

Keep up! :)

Feb 24, 2013 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

We have 650 MPs plus a House full of Lords (I don't know if that is the correct collective noun). Is there a single one of them who can table a motion demanding that our coal fired power stations are kept open, at least until we are certain that our energy supplies are safe?

Is there a single MP who is prepared to table a bill for the abolition of the Climate Change Act?

If not, what use are they?

Feb 24, 2013 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

It's going to vanish from iPlayer early next week, but there's now a transcript of last Tuesday's interview with Ofgem's Alistair Buchanan on the Today programme, here:

https://sites.google.com/site/mytranscriptbox/home/20130219_ab

Feb 24, 2013 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

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