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« Private property | Main | Geosciences' green strategy »
Monday
May052014

Today does sensible

The Today programme looked at energy security today, with particular reference to Europe's relations with Russia. But in addition to this current preoccupation there was also some clear-eyed consideration of the effect of renewables on the grid and the relationship between environmental concerns and the need to keep the lights on.

It's twenty years too late, of course, but I suppose we should be grateful.

Audio below.

 

Energy security Today

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Reader Comments (11)

And yet, a little later in the programme, they interviewed Ed Davey, on his way to Rome, who appeared to say the opposite, and pushed his continuing fanatical love of renewables...

May 5, 2014 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterOld Goat

This is far too sensible and would never normally be allowed. The thought control police must be away for the bank holiday.

May 5, 2014 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiggerjock

Oh boy, this guys company will harrassed out of town by the green thugs

May 5, 2014 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

The Arguments For and Against Wind Power

Another argument often made in favour of wind power is that indigenous primary energy production provides energy security. This is only partially true. Security of supply needs to be broken down into three components 1) dispatchability, 2) geopolitcal risk - supply disruption and 3) scarcity leading to high fossil fuel (FF) prices and physical shortages. Intermittent wind fails on the dispatchable front. ....

May 5, 2014 at 1:19 PM | Registered CommenterEuan Mearns

From Euan Mearns' link:
"Another argument often made in favour of wind power is that indigenous primary energy production provides energy security. This is only partially true. Security of supply needs to be broken down into three components 1) dispatchability, 2) geopolitcal risk - supply disruption and 3) scarcity leading to high fossil fuel (FF) prices and physical shortages. Intermittent wind fails on the dispatchable front. ...."

----------------------

Surely wind fails much of the time on the scarcity front too. With a contribution varying between something and nothing often on a minute by minute basis it can never be relied upon, which results in "scarcity leading to high fossil fuel (FF) prices and physical shortages". You either have to have fossil fuel inefficiently available at a premium to kick in at a moment's notice when the wind drops or physical shortages - or a mixture of both.

May 5, 2014 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

It is on the final point of reducing dependency on dwindling supplies of FF that wind may score. In 2012, Europe produced 99 MTOE (million tonnes oil equivalent) of wind electricity [2] compared with gas demand of about 450 MTOE. Gas supplies to Europe were tight that year and wind therefore alleviated gas scarcity and arguably contributed to keeping the lights on and spot gas and electricity prices down. This benefit from wind may increase going forward.

You'll normally find in all controversies that there is some truth on both sides. Finding the balance is the challenge. Of course, if we hadn't shut down some large coal fired plant, the scarcity issue would not arise.

May 5, 2014 at 5:42 PM | Registered CommenterEuan Mearns

May 5, 2014 at 5:42 PM | Euan Mearns

Of course, if we hadn't shut down some large coal fired plant, the scarcity issue would not rise.

Too true!

We could take a leaf out of Germany's book. From the RWE website:

Niederaussem, 20 kilometres northwest of Cologne: Nine gigantic power plant units make this complex RWE's biggest energy location. Between them, they produce nearly 4,000 MW – enough energy for four million households. One of the giants in particular catches the eye: the "BoA" unit, 173 metres high and a milestone in fossil-based electricity generation. With an efficiency of more than 43% this "lignite-fired power station with optimized plant engineering" is about one third more efficient than conventional systems. A record value – and at the same time a clear avowal of the future viability of lignite-based power generation.

May 5, 2014 at 8:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

May 5, 2014 at 8:25 PM | Billy Liar

I don't know how the Germans get away with it. Drax is 4 GW capacity and we are converting it to run on hardwood forests from N America. Longannet 2.8 GW, the same, though it looks like they may just be running it on Scottish forests that are fast disappearing. Germany of course has lignite, lots of it. So they build a power station with a flange saying "connect CCS here" and away they go.

May 5, 2014 at 9:51 PM | Registered CommenterEuan Mearns

Ironic the old vast BBC TV Center complex in White City London used to run on two Gas Turbines out the back and when they used to shut down during the night they kept the Gas Turbines running on idle and sell the power to the local grid.

Wonder what is powering Media City Salford Manchester current home of the BBC and Coronation Street.Wonder how much that is costing .Very power intensive media industry is television production.

May 5, 2014 at 9:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

There appears to be a curious sort of split personality within the Today programme, where it comes to energy matters, to pursue the point that Old Goat was making.

On the one hand, we'll hear a sober and level-headed interview with an analyst like Malcolm Grimston by one of the business journalists such as Simon Jack or Tanya Beckett, but then someone else will talk to Ed Davey or Sir David King on the subject of energy and we're back in low-carbon fantasyland.

It's sometimes as if the BBC consists of a number of watertight compartments in which different versions of reality hold sway, much like stand-alone computers running different operating systems, but in the same office. Maybe this sort of compartmentalisation, if it exists, is understandable, given the tension and contradictions between "official reality" and "real reality", as it were.

Regarding the chaos of UK energy policy, here's Malcolm Grimston again on the Today programme late last year, making similar points about coal and renewables:
https://sites.google.com/site/mytranscriptbox/home/20131127_r4

May 6, 2014 at 7:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

Billy Liar, re RWE:
'....a clear avowal of the future viability of lignite-based power generation...'
As Tony Hancock (Oh, yes, I really am that old) used to say: 'Have they gone raving mad..?'
The fact of the matter is of course, that despite all the 'grandstanding' and nods to 'renewables', Germany 'gets it'.....

May 6, 2014 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

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