Friday, 5 October 2012

Power shortage risks by 2015

This doesn't feel very 21st century, does it?

Britain risks running out of energy generating capacity in the winter of 2015-16, according to the energy regulator Ofgem.

Its report predicted that the amount of spare capacity could fall from 14% now to only 4% in three years.

But it shouldn't come as a surprise. DK has been warning about it for a long time now, most recently on the 8th of August:

This isn't the 1970s: if the power goes, then so does our entire infrastructure. Banking grinds to a halt, the internet is unreachable (and half of it down anyway), the vast majority of people simply will not be able to work at all.

But even if we do not have to start a series of rolling black-outs, the price of power has been climbing steadily. And power is required for everything these days: as such, as power becomes more expensive then so does everything else.

This government—and its predecessor—have been quite deliberately following a set of policies designed to impoverish everyone in the country. And, throughout all of the other insanities of this time, they have continued to prosecute this war against their own people.

Their aim is simple: to reduce power consumption—whether because of climate change or in order to avoid difficult decisions about building power stations, I do not know (although I have my suspicions).

The government's own report—you know, the one that showed that power would not be more expensive overall—relied on the country using half the electricity that it does now by 2020.

Reducing power consumption may be a laudable aim but it is, frankly, unrealistic in that timescale without a significant down-grading of our current life-style.
I face my ongoing struggle with Hanlon's Razor.

Even if you think CO2 emissions are something worth worrying about, and that reductions here in the UK will somehow make a difference to the global problem, the approach of the British government (first NuLab, now the Coalition) has been sheer lunacy.

The surest way to reduce emissions is to replace coal-fired power stations with nuclear or gas plants. Instead, our politicians have been spunking billions of taxpayers' pounds on ugly, inefficient wind farms which require backup from conventional power sources. Because of the way the backup plants operate, this combined approach is not just staggeringly expensive, but potentially counterproductive:

A study in the Netherlands found that turning back-up gas power stations on and off to cover spells when there is little wind actually produces more carbon than a steady supply of energy from an efficient modern gas station.
Wind turbines only produce energy around 30 per cent of the time. When the wind is not blowing - or even blowing too fast as in the recent storms - other sources of electricity have to be used, mostly gas and coal.

However it takes a surge of electricity to power up the fossil fuel stations every time they are needed, meaning more carbon emissions are released.

“You keep having to switch these gas fired power stations on and off, whereas if you just have highly efficient modern gas turbines and let it run all the time, it will use less gas,” said Ruth Lea, an economic adviser to Arbuthnot Banking Group.

More thoughtful environmentalists are recognising the importance of shale gas. Any sane government would be looking in this direction. Ours, incredibly, seems prepared to let the lights go out rather than confront the irrational demands of fanatical greens.

Future generations will be amazed that we entrusted the supply of energy - the 21st century's most vital commodity - to politicians.

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