There is no Free Lunch

It has been suggested that hydro electricity and nuclear energy are better alternatives to burning fossil fuel, because these sources do not provide emissions. Those suggestions are wrong. Continue reading

The World’s Largest Solar PV Array

While the United Kingdom’s renewable energy sector is losing business, due to uncertainty about government policy and the administration’s poor understanding of renewable energy the renewable energy sector in India looks as though it will become increasing prosperous and increasing important to the economic development of India. Continue reading

Subsidising Global Warming

We hear much about the large subsidies paid for renewable energy. In Many countries a feed in tariff system have been developed to subsidise the production of electricity from photovoltaic panels and large subsidies are paid to landowners and electricity generators who install wind turbines. Both PV and wind turbines do produce electricity but what they produce cannot be stored easily and the production is intermittent. Nevertheless governments, who regard energy as electricity, are happy to spend taxpayers’ money on these measures, rather than on measures, such as solar water heating, which can produce renewable heat at a cheap cost; unlike electricity heat can be stored.

Subsidies come in different guises. In essence any measure or favourable tax treatment which distorts the market or provides an un-level playing field is a subsidy. The Overseas Development Institute thinks that as a whole the governments of the world spend half a trillion dollars in subsidising…fossil fuel! Continue reading

One Last Binge

According to the European Union’s statistical agency, Eurostat, the carbon dioxide emissions of the United Kingdom have increased from 2011 to 2012 by 3.9%. This increase has occurred despite all the wind turbines that have been installed, despite all the new cars that burn petrol and diesel more efficiently, despite all the PV panels installed and all the other froth and bubble that the UK government uses to try and stem the tide of greenhouse gases that its nation produces. Continue reading

Ignorance is Everywhere

Ignorance is everywhere but in some places it is more deeply spread than in others and on some topics, such as the environmental protection I can find myself in despair about the ignorance.  Fox News is a good example, although it is not unique. I have seen similar ignorance displayed on the BBC and by the Advertising Standards Authority. Some may be well educated but education does not make you smart.

The following is a good and recent example of what I mean. Continue reading

Wind Turbines and the foolishness of subsidising them

About ten miles north of Ramsgate, in the middle of the Thames Estuary some 175 offshore wind turbines have been installed and are now operating, as wind turbines operate, in their own misunderstood fashion. If it is windy, and not too windy, the turbines generate electricity. The publicity claims that the wind turbines will generate enough electricity for 470,000 homes but the publicity is imprecise. There are only 22.5 million homes in the United Kingdom and to power them all will need another 50 arrays of similar turbines but unfortunately it is not as simple as that. Continue reading

Mindless Renewable Energy Targets

In the almost mindless race to meet the United Kingdom’s emission targets the government has decided to subsidise, at taxpayer’s expense, the generation of electricity in a way which will mean the creation of far more greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading

Energy Prices Set to Rise as Risk of Power Cuts Increases

Already it has started. First the rumours of an energy price increase have gathered momentum. Although most energy companies have rules out an increase for the rest of this year, unless you have fixed your energy price, expect a swinging increase in gas and electricity bills from January onwards. There are probably several reasons why you should expect a price increase.

  1. Natural gas prices remain linked to oil prices and as the world come out of recession demand for natural gas and oil will increase. Most of the UK’s electricity is generated by natural gas. Most of the UK’s heating is provided by natural gas.
  2. Natural gas remains a regionally priced commodity whereas oil is an internally price commodity. Most of the UK’s natural gas comes from European sources, as natural gas production in the North Sea declines.
  3. As with any regionally priced commodity prices are high when demand is high and low when demand is low. Demand is always higher in winter, and there is still very little natural gas storage in the UK. We and the energy companies therefore los the opportunity to buy and store natural gas in summer when the prices are low.
  4. We have been reducing the “spare” electrical generating capacity for many years. If we are to avoid the possibility of power cuts we ought to have a “spare” capacity of around 50%, so as to cover for a very cold long winter. At the moment we have about 14% spare capacity and OFGEM, the regulator, expects this to fall to 4% in 2015.
  5. We have closed our coal burning power stations rather quickly, and although OFGEM appears to blame EU legislation for this, the truth is that the UK has been rightly closing coal burning power stations for years. What the government have not done is to build sufficient new power stations. I know that many think that governments in the UK do not build power stations – that is the job of the generating companies – but in truth the generating companies will only build power stations if they receive huge government subsidies. The government has very little tax payers’ money left and therefore no there are no subsidies as one by one the generating companies refuse to take the commercial risks of building new nuclear power plants.
  6. There has been insufficient investment in energy saving; the energy we require each year will be significantly less in terms of that required for space heat if we required all buildings to be properly insulated.
  7. Investment in renewable energy has been, so far, in the wrong kind of renewable energy. We have wasted much money on wind farms and photovoltaic panels which produces little effective energy saving because electricity cannot be stored but have not spent anything on solar water heating, a simple and effective technology where the energy created can be stored until it is need.

All of these factors will mean that energy – both heat and electrical – will come in increasingly short supply, which creates a perfect situation for the energy companies who can all raise their prices for something that we need and cannot generally buy elsewhere except in the case of solar water heating, where we can but the power plant and install it on our roofs.

The taxpayer will pay in higher energy prices and will risk power cuts in very cold weather, because successive governments’ failure to develop a sensible energy policy.

International Spending on Renewable Energy

If you measure climate change measures that each country adopts by money spent and targets you get a fair idea of the importance that each nation places upon climate change. Of course measuring targets is foolish; targets are fairly meaningless, can be easily fiddled and often miss the point. For example the United Kingdom Continue reading

What Energy Policy?

I listened to the United Kingdom’s Energy Minister, Mr Ed Davey, speak on the radio about the proposals for nuclear energy. He spoke about the need for investors to see a clear return on their investment within a settled and predictable framework and that by putting a levy on electricity bills investors in the nuclear industry would see a clear guaranteed return (guaranteed by the consumer no less) and would therefore invest in the building of new nuclear electricity generating plants. It is a statement which sounds logical but is full of inaccuracies and has a great measure of hypocrisy. Continue reading