Royal Mail Flotation

If I want to sell my house I go to a reputable estate agent. They advise me on the value of my house and if I think the advice is reasonable I ask them to find a buyer. They then market the house and find a buyer at the price (or near the price) the estate agent has advised. If I find out the next day that the person to whom I sold the house has resold it at a profit of nearly double the price I got I might well ask questions about the competence and integrity of the estate agent who advised me in the first place. Continue reading

Entertaining the Taxman

The feeling that there is one law for the rich and another for the poor is strongest and most easily demonstrated when it comes to tax affairs. We all have to pay tax, whether we like it or not, or suffer the draconian consequences. We have to pay promptly and devote quite a lot of our resources, if we run a business, in figuring out the various taxes and getting the money to the tax man. For this we need to employ bookkeepers, accountants and others to discharge our duty. Continue reading

Goldman Sachs – your dedicated financial advisor

The world is slowly beginning to understand that if you allow a key industry or service to be controlled by a handful of enterprises, they will compete against the public interest rather than compete against each other. In the United Kingdom there are a handful of energy companies selling precisely the same products at virtually the same prices. The differences between them do not make a market. Continue reading

Jatropha – a possible source of bio diesel?

Air New Zealand has been trialling for Boeing and Rolls Royce a mix of traditional kerosene fuel with oil from the Jatropha plant seed (Jatropha Curas) in one of its airplanes. Jatropha oil mixed with kerosene improved fuel consumption by slightly more than one percent, which could lead to savings of four and a half tonnes of carbon dioxide over a typical long haul flight if the plane was powered by a fifty/fifty mix of Jatropha oil and kerosene. Continue reading

Solar concentrators – dreams of renewable electricity and a new grab for desert land

Virtually all of the electricity that we use involves turbines, which are sophisticated plumbing devices. Usually the turbine is wound up by a heat process most often burning gas, oil, or coal to heat water into steam to drive the turbine. Nuclear energy does not involve burning but still heats water into steam. If you live or play in Las Vegas the electricity that makes the city possible comes from the massive turbines of the Hoover Dam.

Photovoltaic cells have heat process and no turbines for their electric generation, but these are very small producers of electrical energy compared with gas, oil, coal and nuclear energy and are presently expensive because they need a great deal of energy to produce current, so that their lifetime emission is around 58 grams per kWh compared with 900 or more for coal and around 2 for nuclear power.

However there is another way to use turbines and their associated plumbing using sunshine to heat water into steam for creating large scale electricity. Continue reading