On August 13, 2019 at 11:55, Mac Burks (39) said...
Yes we do have "we're all gonna die" alarmists on one side of the topic. We also have the "how on earth will we pay for it" alarmists on the other side.
It seems...in the US anyway...that we ALWAYS have the money for some things but NEVER have the money for others. A few extra billion (with a B) for the military...ABSOLUTELY! A few extra million (with an M) for education...DO YOU THINK MONEY GROWS ON TREES?!?
Replacing old windows with new windows has an expensive out of pocket up front cost but the energy savings will eventually eclipse that up front cost. Natural gas is cheap? Were there no up front costs? Those pipes magically appeared? Wind and Solar will have upfront costs like everything else but the energy they produce will eventually be the same or less expensive than any fossil fuel based energy available today. Carbon emissions will be reduced and in 10-20 years no one will care or even remember what it cost to make the switch just like no one cares or remembers what it cost to get natural gas piped in.
Had the world not allowed itself to be bribed and held hostage by the fossil fuel industry we could have started our path towards renewable energy decades earlier and those upfront costs would have been paid for long ago. And its quite possible the world would have never heard of "Middle Eastern Terrorists" because the west wouldn't have spent the last 50 years indirectly and directly funding terror networks.
I admire the optimism, but belief in the prospect of CO2
reduction sooner rather than later (assuming thatís a good thing) is misplaced while the likes of China and India continue to build fossil-fuelled power stations with impunity. Similarly (certainly as far as the UK is concerned) your belief renewables can ever compete with dispatchable generation is also wide of the mark, by quite some considerable margin. You talk of millions and billions, but the reality will, in fact, be counted in the trillions.
Firstly, one has to appreciate that since the 2008 crash, successive UK Governments have been striving to get borrowing back under control. Itís working
(albeit at a slower pace than expected), but the net result is a massive increase in national debt - from circa £500b to £1,806b. Money is indeed tight. (NB It may be of interest to note that UK debt interest payments are now the governmentís fourth-largest annual outlay. They even outstrip defence spending.)
2008 also saw the introduction of the infamous Climate Change Act; a cobbled-together litany of wishful thinking with no explanation of how its aim of an 80% reduction in (1990 level) CO2
output was to be achieved. To date, the UK remains the only country in the world with a legally binding CO2
reduction goal. Of course, muppet May has since committed us to a net-zero target, but again there is no explanation of how itís to be achieved or, indeed, its cost. Back of the envelope calculations, though, makes the future look grim.
For example, the UK National (electricity) Grid peak capacity is, at present, circa 60GW. This is supplied by a variety of fuels (plus several load balancing interconnectors from mainland Europe and Ireland) of which the UK wind power component comprises 9,929 turbines (of various output level) with a nameplate capacity of 21.5GW. However, due to their inherent inefficiency, this output is never achieved. Indeed, at the time of writing, present UK wind generation stands at a mere 2.446GW, representing just 8% of present demand
. And even if we were to use their generally recognised efficiency of circa 35%, a further 19,000 enormous 8MW turbines would, in theory, be required to supply 60GW. But it gets worse.
You appear somewhat bemused as to why Natural Gas is relatively cheap when compared to electricity prices. In answer, the UK has long had a countrywide gas grid and connection to it is regularly made when new housing projects are undertaken. Thus, more often than not, there are no upfront costs as its supply is already Ďbuilt-iní. This is set to change, however, with new legislation banning gas supplies in new homes by 2025
being the likely precursor to a complete ban further down the line. The issue here is that from an energy supply standpoint the UK domestic gas supply, alone, is easily a match for the electricity grid, and with the inevitable increase in demand for the latter (plus the increased demand for electric transport recharging), the number of required turbines could easily top a mind-boggling 50,000. And the cost? Of course, this is highly speculative, but if taking the Burbo Bank Extension as an example, which is an offshore array comprising 32 Vestas 8MW turbines, cost £800m and took 2-3 years to build. At this cost and rate of installation, a further 50,000 of them would be valued at around £1.25t and take almost 4,000 years to build. Think Iíll be dead by then.
Of course, no one is expecting investment in just one energy source, but with the shelving of two new nuclear plants through lack of investment (Hinkley C is still ongoing but at ridiculous cost for a mere 3GW) the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is now looking towards hydrogen. The problem here, however (other than its predilection towards going bang when mixed with air Ė of which Iíve had personal experience), is that the most cost-effective method of producing hydrogen, in the vast quantities required, would be the steam reformation of Natural Gas, and the CO2
has to go somewhere. Thus, its use is predicated on a functionally efficient carbon capture and storage process, which has yet to be developed. (Consider also that if they are successful in producing such a process, why would we need inefficient renewables to produce electricity?)
Then there's the cost of upgrading the grid, to carry the additional load, and the upgrading of housing insulation, which alone has been costed at up to £2t. Consider also the social aspect, where the phasing out of fossil-fuelled transport coincides with the worryingly very real possibility of a cobalt cliff limiting the availability of electric vehicles; assuming, of course, one can afford to charge the thing. Furthermore, with a rail network, only half electrified, long-distance travel (by UK standards) will also be affected. Here, some believe hydrogen could be utilised to power the present diesel-electric routes, but its low energy density likely means only lightweight trains could be used. And so it goes on.
I could add the tale of the Kafkaesque/Orwellian smart-meter fiasco. The closing down of UK industry (the car sector is already being affected). Concerns over where the Government is going to recoup the annual £40b+ duty it presently makes from fuel sales. Concerns for the environment and avian wildlife, following the likely prospect of increased on-shore wind farms. Concerns over large deposits of man-made CO2 which could pose a major threat if things go wrong. And, of course, from where the hell is
the money going to come?
Comrade Corbyn believes Modern Monetary Theory, which is neither modern nor a monetary theory (it's merely a license to print money), is the answer. However, as Antony Mueller puts it, Modern Monetary Theory qualifies as the financial equivalent to weapons of mass destruction. Those gullible youngsters protesting with Extinct Rebellion (itís easy to be idealistic and passionate when one doesnít have to pay the bills) really have no idea whatís on the horizon Ė and by that, I donít mean climate change.
As Iíve mentioned elsewhere, sometimes I'm rather glad Iím the age I am.
Update: As an adjunct to my concern over our increasing dependence on intermittent renewables, this story,
in relation to the recent UK power outage,
highlights not only the mess recent governments have made of our energy supply network, but also the need for dependable dispatchable power generation.
Last edited by djy on August 15, 2019 08:07.