The Energy Secretary wants to keep the lights on – at a price

 

               After fifteen years of dithering about nuclear energy policy we learned yesterday that the UK can carry on running its existing fleet of nuclear power stations for longer. The safety case will be examined reactor by reactor, but the mood is to lengthen their lives yet again. It’s certainly a cheap and immediate answer to the short term problem of  how to keep the lights on.

               We also learned that the government has found a way of paying investors and operators more to generate power from future new nuclear stations that does not fall foul of EU subsidy rules. The consumer will have to pay more, but we are told this will be a bargain if as the planners assume fossil fuel prices soar later this century. The present dear prices of nuclear and renewable energy will look cheap, they argue,  as the UK benefits from its low or no fuel cost for much of its power generation.

                Nuclear and renewables have two big advantages. Not only do they have low or no fuel costs in the future, but they are built on UK territory so they help to provide us with greater security of supply. Perpetual renewables like hydro and wave power offer much more security than interruptible renewables like wind power, where the UK will need substantial fossil fuel back up capacity for when the wind does not blow.

                  On the back of the government’s decision it is still not clear what mix of power generation the UK will enjoy in ten years time. It is one thing to offer suitable contracts to woo the nuclear generators, it is another to get them to commit to building very large investments on the promise of a stable and profitable price regime for forty or fifty years ahead  in such a political area.  The government has wisely licensed a large amount of new gas capacity, but so far the industry has been reluctant to commit to construction. Gas remains the cheapest way of generating power, and the UK may well have much more gas available as shale gas is added to the North Sea natural gas deposits.

                 Let us hope that on the back of the latest statements of intent from the government some building work is started. I hope the industry will go  for cheaper power by committing more to gas stations, and recommend getting more of the gas out of the ground as part of our industrial revival. I also would like to see more of the renewable element coming from perpetual renewables.

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87 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    Clearly the way to go is gas, coal, nuclear and better efficiency and insulation (but only where this efficiency is actually cost effective). Most good hydro sites are already being used and gas/coal can anyway get cheaper in real terms with new technologies.

    Tidal still gives peak and troughs so it not “on demand” at all in practice (nor renewable technically though certainly long life). Also one needs to enclose and drown a huge area to get much power. The Severn Estuary for example with huge costs and environmental costs and local impact issues for people and businesses.

    I see that, speaking to the Sutton Trust education charity in London, Mr Clegg said there was “no evidence” that reducing workers’ rights would boost jobs.

    Why do you need “evidence” it is just blinding obvious that it will make companies more efficient and thus grow and be less reluctant to take people on. It is like saying “I do not see any “evidence” that hitting employers over the head with a cricket bat, taxing them at 50%, starving them of lending, and giving them heavy fines and time consuming regulations will cause them to grow any less!

    Perhaps he should take two football teams and saddle one with employment laws, no retirement rules, gender and disability equality rules, a 50% tax bill for the wasteful state sector and the other team with freedom, easy hire and fire and just a 20% burden and see who wins. Will that be enough evidence for him?

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 5:50 am | Permalink

      Also the more you have pay to lawyers and bad employees to get rid of them and the more time you have to waste on it the less time and money you have to develop and invest in the business and the fewer customer you will retain.

      Is this not obvious to Clegg, Cameron and Cable? How on earth could it not encourage more real jobs?

      • uanime5
        Posted May 23, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

        Poor job security does discourage employees from spending money in case they’re suddenly fired. This is very bad for the economy.

        Also making it easier to fire employees can lead to massive job losses. For example if a company that has branches in France and the UK needs to shed 500 jobs if it’s easy to fire people in the UK and difficult to fire people in France all 500 jobs will be lost in the UK. Poor job security is why the UK keeps losing jobs while continental companies can retain them.

    • Bazman
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      You do not need evidence? Says it all. Blind belief in this policy and many others. Putting millions in fear of their jobs whist thousands of others resenting to the limit that wages can be cut with the threat of the sack and more desperate people employed. They will certainly not be hazarding a guess on future income and spending thats for sure. You cannot see that hitting the employees with a cricket bat as you say will not be a disincentive for them or you think there will be an incentive in fear? Which? Or will they be happy to be freed from their employment as you laughably say. Easy for someone who I suspect does not do any work.

  2. John
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Something decidedly fishy is going on with various civil service/producer interests conspiring to ‘park’ exploitation of our shale gas reserves.

    See here
    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/5/20/shale-gas-dropped.html
    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/5/18/number-10-discusses-shale-gas.html
    …and this from Lord Lawson’s GWPF
    http://thegwpf.org/energy-news/5776-downing-streets-anti-shale-cabal-looks-decidedly-dodgy.html

    It would appear that Cuadrilla were not invited to the Downing Street seminar at which the matter was discussed.

    Given the startling effect of shale gas on US energy prices, is this not something that you should be raising with No. 10?

  3. norman
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Technology will find an answer, not governments. Worry about today and the next 15 years, don’t try and look fifty into the future.

    Use such fantasy as an excuse to implement widely unpopular policies by all means, but don’t waste too much time and energy trying to justify it.

    • outsider
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Dear Norman, technology has already found answers but we lack the imagination to develop and implement them. For instance, I understand that we were proffered the first thorium- fuelled power station (same as atomic but uses an element that cannot melt down or be used for weapons) but turned it down, so they are now being developed elsewhere, probably in China.

      • APL
        Posted May 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        Likewise we had the opportunity if we must build the futile HS2, to use brand new technology on an essentially green field site ( apart from everyone’s houses that have to be knocked down, of course. But our politicians don’t care about such things. ) where we could have used a brand new but tested ( in Japan and China, technology – Magnetic levitation which is quieter and faster.

        Probably more efficient too.

        But our pedestrian politicians decided to employ technology first concieved in the 1800’s instead.

        And we let this rabble govern us?

  4. lifelogic
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    I read in the telegraph that Cable has made a direct attack on the report, which was leaked to them, he said he was opposed to the “ideological zealots who want to encourage British firms to fire at will”.

    What about the “ideological zealots” who want to destroy what little is left of British Industry through absurd regulation, expensive quack energy and a 50% + tax borrow and waste state sector, the enforced fairness/equality nonsense, and the C02 “risk/huge exaggeration” religion. They are the really mad and destructive zealots.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9280473/Controversial-Beecroft-Report-on-employment-law-published-ahead-of-schedule-after-leak.html

    • Bazman
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      Beccroft is a venture capitalist with or previous interests in scam pay day loan companies. Hire and fire at will as in You, you and you. This unwinding of decades of progress on workers rights is acceptable. Do you think the same is acceptable in living standards and healthcare. A race to the bottom?

  5. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    You are so right about fracking. But why are we still discussing it and not getting stuck in like they already have in very conservative Saudi Arabia or the USA for heaven’s sake!

    You are so right about wind power. It does’t work. Here in the fens, the water was not drained by a lot of windmills: you need fossil fuel (steam) to do that. This is 200 year old technology speaking.

    I sometimes despair of the sheer wimpish bureaucracy of my little country.

  6. Helen
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Even so, its not a long term answer. It seems governments are too afraid of the green lobby to make long term decisions, or just don’t want to invest for the long term, in a short term Parliament, whilst they consider only their short term rule. In other words, let it be someone elses problem.

    I’m sure there must be a reason, but I always thought that the last government would have made it a legal requirement for all new housing to be fitted with at least 2 solar panels. As this government has not taken up that baton either, it must be thought that solar panels are not quite what they are cracked up to be.

    If its juts an oversight and not a problem with the solar panels, imagine what a difference it would make to energy consumption and the technology and price of the panels by now. If its price, widespread use would make the panels cheaper in even the short term and they could even be VAT free to help out.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      Solar panels are great if you want to pay 10 times the price of normal electricity and only want the electricity mainly from about 9am -4pm and in the summer.

      Also if you like climbing on your roof periodically to clean the moss and dirt off it. Please take full note of the working at heights directives and expense first!

      • outsider
        Posted May 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        To bc fair, the economics of solar are much better/far less bad if built into new homes, where they can also be designed like Velux windows to clean from inside. Sadly, we do not build enough new homes, especially houses, for this to make much of an impact.

        • lifelogic
          Posted May 23, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

          Better, well perhaps, but still a nonsense at current prices.

        • ChrisM
          Posted May 24, 2012 at 3:25 am | Permalink

          Solar Panels lose efficiency at between 4 and 10 percent per year so never actually pay for themselves.

    • Mark
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      The problem with solar is that the value of the electricity produced takes around 60 years to cover the cost of installation – without allowing for any interest on borrowing to pay for it. The life of the installation is shorter than the payback period. In other words, it’s a way of losing money. Only by subisidising installations, offering them 10 times the price of conventional power generation and “assuming” that the generate rather more electricity than they actually do can households pretend that it is an investment generating a return. In reality, it is the rest of us subsidising vanity projects.

  7. Mick Anderson
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Those in SW1 and Brussels doesn’t care how high the price of their folly is, because it’s the tax payer who has to pick up the tab. They should start listening to the engineers who can make things work, rather than the single-issue pressure groups.

    The UK should stop trying to hit arbitary “green” targets for energy. The two most important aspects are reliability and affordability, and their current policies fail both these tests. The subsidies required to run a few wind turbines are an utter waste, as are the transmission losses to feed in the limited energy generated from the obscure windy places that these infernal machines are sited.

    Far better to develop Thorium-based nuclear reactors. The Russians have already gone down this path – why are we not “Leading the World”? It uses up what is effectively the waste from the previous generation of nuclear reactors to run. Isn’t recycling your waste supposed to be a “green” gospel?

    That and shale gas would give reliable power, independence from other countries, and drive down the cost of energy. All we need is a competent government….

    • oldtimer
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      I raised the wuestion o fthroium reactors once with my MP. The reply he forwarded to me from the DECC advisors was No. Thorium reactors are not on their agenda.

    • Derek Buxton
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Hear, Hear, unfortunately our leaders have their own agenda which is based on high prices for all the necessities of life. All “green” taxes should be scrapped and resources put into nuclear with gas as a quickish fix until we get some new build going. But that is not going to happen, we have the so called elite who have no idea of science or engineering. They are only in it for the power and will see the rest of us in hell before quitting.

  8. colliemum
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    “The consumer will have to pay more, but we are told this will be a bargain if as the planners assume fossil fuel prices soar later this century.”

    I hope that you are not going to swallow this piece of economic nonsense, John!
    And I hope you’ll not just rely on those prophecies from the DECC but look at the refutations published e.g. at GWPF.
    May I suggest you have a little talk with your colleague Lord Lawson about these DECC figures.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      You do not need to talk to Lord Lawson about an hour’s thinking with a small calculator, the back of an envelope and a good engineer/physicist would do it.

    • uanime5
      Posted May 24, 2012 at 12:03 am | Permalink

      Given that oil and gas are not infinite they will eventually run out. They will also become more expensive the less there is available. This is why most people assume fossil fuels will become more expensive.

      • APL
        Posted May 26, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink

        uanime5: “This is why most people assume fossil fuels will become more expensive.”

        It would be correct to think that supply and demand will impact the price of fossil fuels.

        Now it is a different question to ask, ‘what has impacted the price of fuel most, government policy or supply and demand?’

        The answer is government policy, when the cost of production of a commodity is x yet the price of paying for that commodity on the high street is 100 times x then to find the thief you need to look no further than government.

  9. oap
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    I downloaded and read Mr Davey`s written ministerial statement. It is difficult to imagine a more misleading statement.

    He writes about Feed In Tariffs, Contracts for Difference, “incentives”, “better deal for consumers”, “ensuring sufficient reliable capacity is available”, and that EMR (Electricity Market Reform) “will enable large scale investment in low-carbon generation capacity in the UK and deliver security of supply in a cost effective way”. He concluded: “I am confident that measures contained in this Energy Bill will enable us to keep the lights on, bills down and air clean”.

    What he is really saying is that consumers will be taxed and taxed again to subsidise inefficient means of generating electricity. If his Bill settled for building more gas fired stations without more subsidies and taxes to pay for wind farms then he would have a better chance of being believed.

    A few specific points. DECC is living in a fantasy land if it believes that there are known ways of achieving carbon capture – the Royal Academy of Engineering has dismissed the notion that they exist. It is curious, is it not, that carbon capture schemes are required for fossil fuel generation but not for the colossal investments needed to implement the renewable energy programme – an instance of double standards. CO2, per se, does not make the air we breath “dirty”; it is necessary for photosynthesis. The claim that we need “clean” air to justify these taxes and subsidies is false. It is also hypocritical because many industrial activities and the jobs that go with them have been, and will continue to be, exported abroad.

    Given the many doubts, uncertainties and unknowns that are at the heart of the CAGW hypothesis that is driving this Bill I am unsurprised that businesses are taking a cautious approach to investment. For them it is a time for masterly inactivity. Long after the political advocates of this flawed thesis are departed from the scene, they could be left with £billions of useless investments.

    • Derek Buxton
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Quite correct. The carbon scam is just that, a scam. It will cause no harm but does good. We would not be here if it had not turned up in the early days of the planet.
      As to the Davey statement, pure junk! Soon under his idea, the poor will be in poverty without lighting or heating, with only the hope of dying.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      Indeed you are surely right.

  10. A Different Simon
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Supposing the Govt’s worst nightmare comes true and shale and tight gas is a success in many locations over the UK .

    What is going to happen ?

    Is the Govt going to cripple domestic shale gas with demands of carbon dioxide capture and storage ? If so is it going to apply them to foreign imports ?

    Or apply regulatory inertia to cripple it , perhaps by making the planning system apply unaltered to subsurface works ?

    Will it allow consumers and industry the benefits of lower cost power arrising from shale gas ?

    Or will it tax it to death to achieve price parity with nuclear ?

    The Govt is making a very big mistake here John .

    This is no different to a very , very poor PFI contract . The Govt is saddling future generations with paying for this at a super premium price .

    Did your colleagues learn nothing from the Bombadier – Siemens train debacle ?

    It would be better for the taxpayer to fund the reactors outright upfront .

    Energy prices have to treble for it to become viable for the private sector to assume the risk of cost overrun on new reactors or double if the taxpayer does .

    Which is the Govt proposing ?

    • outsider
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      Dear AN Simon
      You make some good points. Outrageous though it may seem, the idea of the state building a new fleet of low-waste atomic power stations on the old designated sites and then selling them at market price (to avoid accusations of subsidy) might make a lot of sense. The whole operation could be completed for less than the cost of HS2 and deliver immeasurably greater benefits. Timing is critical for building atomic power stations because of their much higher capital costs and now is the times because interest rates are at record lows that cannot last unless we remain in recession indefinitely. (Compare this with poor old Eurotunnel, which was built during a time of high interest rates and high inflation, which ceased when it opened). What a pity there is zero chance of this happening.
      Careful development of shale gas seems a good idea – it is almost bound to be if Whitehall/Brussels are against it. But the benefit will mainly come to the balance of payments and local employment. The gas will be sold at world prices, so any energy cost benefit can only come from lower transport costs

      • Mark
        Posted May 24, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

        Shale gas would back out LNG imports which are expensive because the gas must be liquefied and transported great distances. Arbitrage via the Interconnector pipeline would mean that UK gas was always at least cheaper by the cost of transporting gas to the Continent. In any event, there would be substantial tax revenues on the profits of production that would allow other taxes to be lowered – e.g. fuel duty.

        • outsider
          Posted May 25, 2012 at 1:57 am | Permalink

          Fair points Mark.

    • BobE
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

      Its probably owned by the French anyway!!!!

  11. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Please, not another “dash for gas” to deplete the shale gas as rapidly as we’ve depleted North Sea gas, just because of an increasingly dubious climatological theory.

    Instead let’s have a short Act of Parliament expressly disapplying this part of Article 191 TFEU:

    “and in particular combating climate change”

    and stating that public authorities must NOT take carbon dioxide emissions into account when formulating or implementing official policy.

    After all, that phrase was only introduced with the Lisbon Treaty, and if Cameron hadn’t abjectly capitulated on November 4th 2009 we could have had a referendum on whether to approve a Lisbon Treaty (Disapplication) Bill, rather than supinely accepting that treaty in its totality.

  12. Acorn
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Perpetuals are resources that are not affected by human use, really, sunlight and wind are the main qualifiers. Tides and non pumped Hydro are affected, but I am being picky.

    ENERGY STORAGE research and development is essential for the future deployment of intermittent renewable. We have got to be able to store excess generation from on-shore, off-shore and sub-sea windmills and the getting ever cheaper solar panels – PV or thermal.

    Dinorwig pumped hydro was built to store cheap generation and have it – 1800 MW – available in seconds, for “peak lopping”, at the touch of a button. The inflexible Nukes would pump it up at night (nukes don’t like being turned up and down) and we had block storage heaters running on “white meter” overnight cheap nuclear electric – remember those days; that is when we had an energy plan and the CEGB driving it. Those were the days.

  13. Posted May 23, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    The BBC typically reported the windmill subsidy as “subsidy for new nuclear & wind” which then metamorphisised into a “nuclear subsidy”. Clearly there is no lie too outrageous or obvious for our state broadcaster to tell.

    In fact the AP1000 reactor is available, off the shelf from Westinghouse (a compnay owned by British nuclear until the Labour government nanjrupted it by regularoty fiat) for £6-800 m. As John points out the fuel costs of nuclear are negligible and since it is so automated that they can run for several years without a human hand, the genuine running costs are also neglibible.

    All the rest is government imposed parasitism. Since nuclear is far and away the safest method of generating power, indeed far and away the safest large industry in the world (2 deaths in the last 20 years worldwide compared to 50 on windmills in the UK alone), none of this can be honestly hystified on safety grounds.

    The £110 million the government says we must stump up could thus provide 137 GW of continuius power, roughly 3 times our entire normal usage. Actually for a production run that long the price would probably fall. That much power, at miniscule production costs would obviously get us out of recession and into a world beating growth rate.

    If the ecofascists, parasites and Luddites in our ruling nomenklatura, were not, in the manner described by Orwell in 1984, actively trying to impoverish the country to enhance their power.

    • forthurst
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      How is Fukushima Reactor 4 these days?

      • APL
        Posted May 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        forthurst: “How is Fukushima Reactor 4 these days?”

        Firstly the disaster at the Fukushima reactor site has killed maybe ten* people, the tsunami that promoted the Fukushima incident has killed hundreds of thousands, wiped entire towns off the map, yet you focus on the nuclear reactor?

        The 2010 floods in Pakistan affected 2,000,000 people with a death toll of around 2,000 people.

        It’s worth keeping a sense of proportion.

        *probably less.

        • APL
          Posted May 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

          “hundreds of thousands”

          Correction: Actually more like 20,000.

        • forthurst
          Posted May 24, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

          Your estimate for the death toll from Fukushima is almost certainly wildly optimistic and the situation still is uncontained except in terms of the MSM:

          http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2012-19-07/senator-fukushima-fuel-pool-national-security-issue-america

          This is not a matter of Luddism v progress; mechanised looms did at no stage threaten to fill the Northern Hemisphere with Caesium-137.

          • APL
            Posted May 25, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

            Forthurst: “Your estimate for the death toll from Fukushima is almost certainly wildly optimistic”

            In fact it was pessimistic.

            Now if we are worrying about the nuclear pollution in the atmosphere as a result of the Fukushima incident, perhaps it would pay to put it in perspective with a nifty little video on utube.

            If Mr Redwood would prefer not to post the link then you can search for: ” Animated map of nuclear explosions, 1945-1998 ”

            Since 1945 there seems to have been 2053 nuclear explosions on the planet, for the first couple of those years a good many of the detonations were in the atmosphere.

            So, when you are getting all worked up about nuclear pollution in the atmosphere, watch the video and you may think, ‘That horse has bolted!”.

          • Posted May 27, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

            The estimate of 10 nuclear deaths is pessimistic by 10. There was a death onsite when the tsunami hit but that was a tsunami death nothing to do with radiation. There were several deaths in a nursing home within the zone but these were entirely because the staff ran away rather than looking after there charges. Nothing to do with radiation & merely proof that the “environmentalist” anti-nuclear scare industry has been responsible fot at least 10s of thousands of times more deaths than radiation.

            There have been zero radiation deaths and zero reason to expect any – this is publicly acknowledged by every hinest journalist – admitedly a rare breed.

            Equally Chernobyl, according to the UN report, saw 55 deaths, about 2/3rds from radiation. It also reported that far and away the major health effect was the 25,000 abortions caused by the anti-nuclear scarers anmd deaths from stress depression & dislocation from the same effects.

            If the “environmentalists” and anti-nuclearist were anything other than corrupt callous liars sociopathically uninterested in human life they would never be promoyyng these false scares.

      • Mick Anderson
        Posted May 23, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        How is Fukushima Reactor 4 these days?

        It’s still irrelevant in the UK.

        This is not a part of the planet prone either to significant earthquake or tsunami.

        • Mark
          Posted May 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

          trying to silence the italics.

      • Mactheknife
        Posted May 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        The causes of Fukushima were not technical faults in the reactor – it was a force 9 earthquake followed by tsunami. Even Prof. James Lovelock the ‘father’ of AGW said wind turbines would not withstand a force 9 earthquake either. By the way he has now changed his views and says his AGW predicitions have not come true and nuclear energy is the way forwards. At least we would have to shut them down if its to windy. If only some of the eco-loons in our own government had the courage to acknowledge they are wrong – maybe we could get our energy pricing down ?

      • lifelogic
        Posted May 23, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        Best to position them well but even in Japan it was not the nuclear reactor that was the real problem – bikes are far more dangerous.

      • Posted May 24, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

        Somewhat less damaged than a windmill hit by a 9.3 earthquake and then a 70 meter tidal wave would be. The same applies to the cars, factories, houses, bridges, coal power stations, a hydroelectric dam etc that got in the way. Also 21,000 people but that isn’t newsworthy to the ecofascists running the BBC, as Alte Fritz points out.

        So obviously every honest Luddite who has denounced nuclear because of Fukushima has also publicly denounced driving cars, living in houses, getting power from coal/hydro/windmills & I will be interested to see your link to having done so Acorn.

        After all honest Luddites are such rare creatures, indeed I believe they are totally extinct on our state broadcaster propaganda unit.

        After all the gentle ribbing the fact remains undisputable by any slightly honest observer, and unignorable by any totally honest one, that nuclear’s safety record is thousands of times better than virtually all the alternatives, including windmills.

    • Bazman
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      The World Health Organisation says there could reach 4,000 civilian deaths from Chernobyl. a figure which does not include military clean-up worker casualties.
      There are many more examples to refute your fantasy.
      Running costs of nuclear are difficult to accurately measure .but has been described as the most expensive way mankind has ever invented to boil a litre of water. Which is more credible than your laughable propaganda. How much in total has including the human cost and disruption cost Japan. They don’t need your Titanic theories not backed up by falsification of safety records and accidents which was commonly known in Japan. Railtrack in charge of something more dangerous than a train? NO THANKS. To use a 70’s anti nuclear slogan.

      • APL
        Posted May 24, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

        Bazman: “4,000 civilian deaths from Chernobyl.”

        Suppose it is true? So what?

        In 1980, six years before Chernobyl, 5,953 people die on the UK roads. In 2010, 1850 were killed.

        Bazman: “How much in total has including the human cost and disruption cost Japan. ”

        Less than the earthquake and tsunami?

    • uanime5
      Posted May 24, 2012 at 12:15 am | Permalink

      What’s your source for ’50 [deaths] on windmills in the UK alone’?

      Also a nuclear reactor is just one part of a nuclear power plant so you can’t calculate the cost of a nuclear power plant just using the cost of the nuclear reactor.

      • Mactheknife
        Posted May 24, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        Since collating of data began in the 70’s there has been 1208 accidents resulting in 102 fatalities (to March 12). Of the 102 fatalities, 70 were construction workers engaged in building wind farms and 32 were “public” deaths i.e. unrelated to construction. There has been 234 blade failures i.e. thrown off the turbine and 185 “fire incidents” and lastly 128 “major component failure” where the component was designed to withstand the conditions which caused failure.

        Need any further stats? Or maybe you’d like to greenwash thses out ?

        • uanime5
          Posted May 24, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

          I noticed that you didn’t provide a source for any of these statistics. Got any proof you didn’t just make them up.

          Also you claim that out of 102 deaths 50 were in the UK. Care to explain why the UK has about half of all deaths and the rest of the world has the other half.

      • Posted May 25, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        Google it yourself Uni – I am tired of having dozens of times proved your assertions were false without you once acknowledging the facts let alone apoligised.

        If you are trying to say that deaths mining reactor materials should be coun ted in, though you produce no figures, you must also say that the mining of materials, including rare earths for windmills must be included so it wouldn’t affect the argument either way – if you actually had some evidence to back your conjectures that is.

  14. Leslie Singleton
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Now you refer to just “hydro and wave”–Sob!! There aren’t that many places in the UK suitable for “hydro”, and those that are, are small, and I thought “wave” (two kinds from memory viz pelagic and end effect) was discounted years ago. To my knowledge and bemusement you have never once mentioned “tidal” FLOW generation (I emphasize not talking about barriers). I keep saying this (few others seem to, though there are one or two companies in the field) but Tidal Flow seems self- evidently to me the way to go. “All” that is needed is some kind of underwater turbine or (sea) mill fastened to the sea bed and away we go, tidal flow does the rest (presumably there will also be a “hydro” ie river flow effect if the turbine is sited high enough up an estuary). Note very little if any disturbance to anadromous fish or lesser spotted wading birds or to much else. It is true that the flow peaks twice a day but ultra predictably so. The turbine or mill of course works in both directions. The only significant flaw is the corrosive power of the sea rotting the works of the turbine or mill but I don’t see why that should be any worse than that applying to turbines in a tidal barrier scheme. There are problems with barriers but I have never heard of rotting turbines being one of them. Dangle a turbine and as I say away we go. Please stop ignoring this or at least please explain why you are ignoring it if on purpose.

    • Mark
      Posted May 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      There is a tidal flow station in Strangford Lough at Portaferry.

      http://www.power-technology.com/projects/strangford-lough/

      The project cost is around 15 times as high as CCGT plant per kW of capacity, which is why such efforts are now getting a 5 ROC/MWh (500%) subsidy. It really doesn’t make sense to pay 6 times as much as for electricity generated from coal.

  15. Alte Fritz
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    An academic on yesterday’s World at One made the unchallenged assertion that investors would not touch nuclear with a barge pole. Is there really any evidence for that?

    He also asserted that the nuclear lobby had turned lots of Tory MPs to support the policy which seems an odd thing to do if building new nukes is unfundable.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      Sounds like a “BBC” academic. It is true however that the irrational opposition to nuclear generates risk and pointless additional cost on the industry.

      • Bazman
        Posted May 24, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        Irrational opposition. Is this what the many valid points are? How about irrational religious beliefs in nuclear power supported by massive subsidy. Massive subsidy from the taxpayer not private industry.

    • uanime5
      Posted May 24, 2012 at 12:17 am | Permalink

      Well give the large costs, long build times, and the length of time needed to make a profit it’s not surprising that few investors want to build nuclear power plants. Large construction projects aren’t popular because costs can quickly spiral out of control.

      • A Different Simon
        Posted May 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        Quite .

        Also the Govt can borrow at much lower rates than the nuclear companies .

        Whenever we try and remove financial risk , either of overruns or by guaranteeing returns in pensions benefits , things get much more expensive .

      • outsider
        Posted May 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        That is why the best time to build nuclear is when interest rates are low.

  16. Mactheknife
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    John

    You may have seen Ed Davey interviewed by Andrew Nail on Sunday Politics a few days ago.

    The conversation revolved around energy policy in particular Shale Gas. Davey was quick to dismiss this new potential source of energy in favour of their renewable policy, even though the result of Shale Gas exploitation in the USA has provided them with huge economic benefits.

    Over the last two years it has been shown that the UK has very significant reserves of Shale Gas. In his interview Ed Davey tried desperately to dodge this issue citing potential problems with the extraction process known as ‘fracking’ and questioning whether the resources we have are really that great. He stated that Shale Gas has really only significance for those with high reserves such as the US or China. Finally he finished with the old political trick of strangling any new initiative with “tight regulation”.

    It has been shown by independent studies and from evidence from companies such as Cuadrilla that we have significant Shale Gas deposits both onshore and offshore. Caudrilla say and have reconfirmed that the deposit in the NW near Blackpool has 200 Trillion Cubic Feet and this is a conservative estimate. There are more deposits around the UK that have yet to be analysed. For the offshore reserves, independent analysis has given a figure of 1000 Trillion Cubic Feet. To put this into perspective the UK uses about 3.5 Trillion Cubic Feet per annum, so deposits and reserves of this size, even if they were not fully accessible, would make the UK self sufficient for the foreseeable future. Furthermore it casts significant doubt on Ed Davey’s comment on UK reserves. Was he just ignorant of the facts or being economical with the truth ?

    He also spoke of the recent conference at No10 where energy companies were invited to put their view on Shale Gas. Interestingly Caudrilla were not invited and commented:

    “No, we were not invited. Nor were we consulted about potential shale gas production in the future. I was surprised to see negative statements from people who have never seen our core data or open hole log data. They may consider getting their facts in line next time since this is such an important issue to the country”.

    He also mentioned earth tremors as a result of fracking. Firstly they are so light and on a par with thousands of naturally occurring tremors which happen in the UK every year. Also living in a mining area we have had such tremors for over 100 years and guess what – we are still here alive and well !

    Shale gas has produced incredible results for the US economy, with manufacturing jobs returning from low cost locations around the world. There are numerous articles and reports on this – please do take the time to read some of them.

    Most sensible scientists and engineers have stated that there is no viable reason why the UK or any other country should legislate or pour significant resources into trying to defeat something which may not be happening in the case of AGW. Despite green pressure groups and certain politicians using the discredited “consensus” argument, there is still much which is yet to be discovered about our environment and how it functions. Renewables technology such as wind power is expensive, inefficient and damages the environment and is opposed by most communities where turbines are sited.

    We have now seen that the climate computer models which have been used to frighten governments have been proved wildly inaccurate as empirical evidence has not matched prediction. When will governments take note of this ?

    Mr Davey and those with DECC show a remarkable degree of ignorance of the science when it comes to AGW. My correspondence with Gregory Barker at DECC has shown both an appalling and depressing lack of knowledge. So, I fear it is more about politics than science with the LibDems continuing their stranglehold over environmental and energy policy, driven by their friends in Greenpeace, WWF etc.

    Our economic recovery cannot begin until we acknowledge that the “green” energy policy of wind renewables is nullifying everything we COULD do to kick start our economy.

  17. Alan Wheatley
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Re low-cost, secure fuel for nuclear.

    It is a while since I investigated the fuel cost of nuclear, so I am speaking from memory. Perhaps others can contribute.

    My recollection is that uranium is a limited and diminishing resource. Much of it is in places we would not like from the point of view of fuel security. There is a substantial energy cost in getting it out of the ground and then converting it into a suitable form to be used as a fuel for a reactor.

    Thus, the is a substantial environmental impact before a single watt is generated.

    As more reactors are built and supplies diminish the cost of uranium will increase. Over the lifetime of any new reactor this will have a major impact on the cost effectiveness of the project.

    So Nuclear fuel is not low cost, nor is it a secure source. And nuclear is not a carbon free method of electricity generation.

    There may still be a case for nuclear in terms of economics and carbon, but the argument is nothing like as good as is popularly portrayed.

    • Mark
      Posted May 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      Some data on Uranium mining:

      http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf23.html

      Bear in mind that reserves are a function of price, and low prices caused by historic oversupply have discouraged further exploration. Recent lower production will deplete stocks, raise prices and raise production.

      Also bear in mind that some breeder reactors can extract 40-60 times as much energy as single use reactors per tonne of original uranium.

      • Alan Wheatley
        Posted May 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Mark.

  18. Alan Wheatley
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    This site is always a good place for useful and interesting tips. Most recently I have followed up the several mentions of thorium reactors, and very interesting it is too.

    I learn that it is in fact an old technology, with, for instance, a reactor in the USA running successfully in the sixties. The only reason it was not persisted with seems to have been because uranium was preferred at that time because of the related benefits for making nuclear weapons.

    In the last decade NASA looked into thorium as a means of providing power for a colony on the Moon, but it was apparent that the same technology would work very well on Earth. There is a ten-minute video clip explaining all, which you should be able to find via Google. Thorium has several advantages over uranium reactors. One benefit, it seems to me, is that it would be possible to have a thorium reactor in the middle of an high-enegry use industrial park (e.g. steel and glass making) and there by minimise transmission losses.

    I think the UK would be mad to make long term commitments to uranium reactors when thorium looks a much better bet.

    The government should put its money (our money) into rewarding solutions, not trying to pick winners.

    • outsider
      Posted May 25, 2012 at 2:12 am | Permalink

      Yes, but the problem is that thorium reactors are now being developed in China and in India (different system) and, if that is right, they are unlikely to be up-and-running or licensed for export to us for a decade or more. Meanwhile, we need to replace our existing nuclear capacity. This is not a huge new venture, untried technology, just replacing old with new to maintain energy balance. Having missed the boat on thorium, it is now for the next round of building, not for this one.

  19. outsider
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,
    I cannot agree that new gas-fuelled power stations will be cheap. Rather, to use your headline, they will keep the lights on – at a price. And that price, based on the world price, will be little affected by development of UK shale gas.
    The advantage of electricity from gas is that it is relatively cheap and quick to build and flexible in use. But we should reasonably expect the world gas price to rise strongly, unless there is a long world stagnation. Japan has understandably but pathetically panicked over atomic power, leaving the lights flickering. Germany and some other EU countries are phasing out atomic power. They will demand much more gas. Sure, supplies will rise too, but US shale gas will be used to expand electricity from gas over there and Russia is in any case the Saudi Arabia of natural gas, able and willing to turn the taps up or down to maximise revenue.
    Extending once more the life of the British Advanced Gas-cooled reactors will, I think, mean that this last British design will have proved immensely profitable over its life cycle. Unfortunately, the windfall profits will accrue largely to the French government. That will give EDF, along with the two German companies that supply most of our power, to keep energy short in this country and keep the price up. Then they will just add the odd gas-fuelled station as required to leave us with just sufficient power to meet the reduced demand at higher prices.
    Frankly, there is no point in the UK having an energy policy because we are in no position to implement one. In political terms, it sort of makes sense to play around with irrelevances such as wind power to disguise our impotence.

    • outsider
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Sorry,comment should read “That will give EDF… a strong incentive to keep power short”.

    • Mactheknife
      Posted May 24, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      The International Energy Agency has stated that we have over 250 years supply at current useage rates. Bearing in mind that new huge gas fields are being discovered almost every week, how do you come to your conclusions ?

      • outsider
        Posted May 24, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

        Watching the market over the past 20 years is quite a good guide, I would have thought. And when you say “we” have 250 years”supply”, could you clarify who “we” may be. How much of that is in Russia and Kazakhstan? And what do they/you mean by “supply” ?

        • outsider
          Posted May 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

          Actually, I have now answered my own questions, thanks to IEA website. 250 years is projected reserves assuming technology is available to extract them. Proven at current technology is 60 years at present consumption (growing by a trend 2.7 per cent, but that is plenty. Of course it is even better if we can extract lots of our own shale gas.
          That is not the point. There is still plenty of oil but proven reserves cannot be delivered instantly to your doorstep. And, as I recall, the discovery of an oil and gas province in the North Sea did not lead to cheaper petrol at the pumps. It did bring cheaper gas until about 1990 but only because British Gas had sole buying rights.
          Trend in gas prices will be determined by the growth in world demand and the growth in world output. That is simple. My expectation is that output will tend to lag just a bit behind demand , like oil, and gas for export will lag a bit more behind import demand, if only because the biggest producers are also the biggest consumers.
          Once you have built a fleet of replacement atomic power stations, marginal costs are relatively low.

  20. Mark
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    The cat is out of the bag on extending the life of existing stations. If it can be done for nuclear, it can certainly be done for those stations facing closure under the LCPD – a measure equivalent to shooting the electricity industry in the foot. By extending the life of those stations we can keep costs down, both because we don’t have to pay for replacement capacity, and because coal fired electricity is the cheapest (cheaper even than gas). The point needs to be made that 31st December, 2015 is already too close for adequate replacement of that capacity given current building plans.

    That leads to the main point: Britain’s energy policy is not credible or sensible, and so energy companies have become extremely wary about investing here.

    Both nuclear and renewables now rely on foreign technology and supplies of critical raw materials and components for maintenance as well as initial building. In any event, much of our utilities industry is now owned by foreigners, thanks to the sell-off under Labour that demanded that pension funds buy gilts to fund Brown’s deficits and sell shares (E.On, RWE, EdF, and Iberdrola all bought substantial interests under Labour).

    It will take a sea change in policy to turn things around. Perhaps when the lights go out?

    • uanime5
      Posted May 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      Existing power plants can’t be used indefinitely and will need major repairs if we want to keep on using them. Most weren’t made to last until 2015, which is why they’re being shut down.

  21. Barbara Stevens
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Its all a mystery to me, all I know is that I’ll be fleeced whatever they do. Affordablity for heat and electric is really a lifeline for many, and when winter bites, and it has a funny way of catching one out, there will be many souls shivering when it hits. If you’ve no money or not much of it, heating a house and living is the main priority, and if you have kids more so. The elderly too, although they have the heating allowence suffer from energy bills they cannot afford. Its becoming a political hot potatoe. The mad greed Lib Dem’s don’t care one jot how their mad schemes are paid for as long as they are implemented, or the pain and suffering along the way. I think we should go for this Thorium based energy it seems the way forward for to me, not that I’m knowledgeable on the subject. Now its mentioned I’ll look it up. Why is it this country is always the last to acknowledge new industries and ideas? One thing I do know, enjoy the good weather folks while it lasts and put next winter out of your minds, and enjoy what God’s sent us, this good weather, at last.

  22. TomO
    Posted May 24, 2012 at 4:00 am | Permalink

    What’s clear is that this administration’s energy policy (not convinced that’s the correct term by a long way) is being driven by innumerate activists embedded in the civil service or possibly some reverse consultancy from the Nigerian Ministry of Electricity.

    Either way what they’re presently offering is ill informed to the point of crass stupidity or plain wilful sabotage.

    This must stop.

  23. Derek Emery
    Posted May 24, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    The IMF predict oil prices to double by around 2020 http://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/New-IMF-Model-is-far-more-Accurate-at-Predicting-Oil-Production.html and http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-05-14/markets/31697443_1_peak-oil-crude-world-oil-production Gas will probably track the price as an equivalent fuel.
    Oil will be even higher by 2030.
    Renewable energy is low density http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm/2469/Understanding-E-=-mc2 to quote
    …Contemporary 50-story windmills generate 1-½ MW apiece, so it takes 660 windmills to get 1000 MW. They must be spaced about half a mile apart so a 1000-MW wind farm occupies 125 square miles. Unfortunately the best windmills generate electricity only 30 percent of the time, so 1000 MW really means covering 375 square miles at widely dispersed locations….

    The UK generates typically 40 GW of electricity so would need 15000 square miles devoted to wind power. Many areas are unsuitable and have low wind speeds. Towns and cities will be off limits as will near airports. To smooth power fluctuations means an equivalent capacity in continuously spinning gas power stations which rather does for green credentials.

    Electricity is only about an eighth of all energy consumed in the UK http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_Kingdom

    It would require 8 times the area if relying on wind power to fulfil the UK energy requirement. Much of this energy would need to be converted to hydrogen production by electrolysis to allow for the many users who need portable energy sources (previously petrol or derv for example). Germany is considering conversion to hydrogen http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/40001/page2/

    I suspect that only nuclear energy is capable of replacing the use of fossil fuel to support the high energy use by the west. Most likely if there is not alternative to high priced fossil fuel by 2020 2030- there will be a large economic downturn as many goods and services become unaffordable. Many additional nuclear power stations would need to be built to produce hydrogen to replace fossil fuel and they take 20 years to build. You would need to have a program now to be in place by 2030.

    The EU decision makers (Germany and France) are moving against nuclear (Germany to close all nuclear and Hollande has a proposal to reduce nuclear).
    Meanwhile China and India are building evermore coal fired power stations (one a week for China).

    This must increase the future economic growth differential between the EU and Far East. Japan’s financial rating is being downgraded in part because it has to import more fossil fuel from closure of nuclear power stations.

    • Mark
      Posted May 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      I wouldn’t trust IMF price projections. Try looking at what they forecast in 1985 for 1995, or 1998 for 2008. They were out by large multiples in each case – first high, second low.

  24. Barbara
    Posted May 24, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    All renewables, including ‘perpetuals’, are inefficient. This is all about turning the clock back to pre-industrial revolution days.
    Talking about renewables buys into the lie that CO2 (which is not ‘carbon’) is a problem (0.00114 of one percent of CO2 is attributed to humans, so implementing the entire twenty per cent EU ‘obligation’ would make a difference of a magnificent 0.0002279999 per cent worldwide). And for what? No-one has ever shown a direct relation between CO2 and temperature: no-one. It is all based on faulty assumptions in (badly-programmed) computer models.
    We are being asked to accept prohibitively expensive, inefficient, possibly rationed and intermittent energy – to, effectively, cripple our industry and shut down our home heating, to reverse the industrial revolution, all on the basis of a lie. A lie which has become trendy, so everyone wants to be associated with it.
    If I wanted to destroy Britain, I couldn’t have come up with a better plan. Seriously.
    Watch this video as Bryony Worthington, a Friends of the Earth press officer, explains why she believed the UK should be subordinated to the undemocratic UN, how she and other greens ‘captured’ David Milband and David Cameron and how she couldn’t believe how easily she was allowed to rush the Climate Change Act through:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3xseCcfMZY
    Only 3 MPs objected.
    In return, she was made a baroness. Unbelievable.

  25. Derek Emery
    Posted May 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    The UK may have substantial reserves of shale gas but the price of this will track the world price of oil and gas which is predicted to double by 2020 by the IMF no less. The actual price will be a function of world GDP growth but can only be expected to increase yet more with time so by 2030 is likely to have a big negative impact on the economy.
    Uranium based reactors are probably the only way for the next few decades of meeting the huge Western energy needs as renewables do not have the energy density to meet capacity.
    Thorium reactors are likely to replace uranium reactors as the world reserves as sufficient to last many hundreds of years. Another advantage of thorium reactors is that they can use used to burn uranium reactor waste. Thorium reactor waste has much shorter half-lives and thorium reactors are expected to be much cheaper and safer than uranium based reactors. Some links
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium
    http://www.thorium.tv/en/thorium_reactor/thorium_reactor_1.php
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/williampentland/2011/09/11/is-thorium-the-biggest-energy-breakthrough-since-fire-possibly/
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf62.html
    http://www.deccanherald.com/content/246849/india-all-set-tap-thorium.html

    It seems unlikely much nuclear development can happen in the EU as the trend is against nuclear.
    One solution could be to have Russia build nuclear reactors on its territory and export this energy from a safe distance of many thousands of miles to the EU by a super-grid arrangement equivalent to the way Russia exports gas to the EU by pipelines. I suspect Russia would be only too pleased to fulfil this role and it has the economic muscle to put this in place quite quickly. It could replace a declining Russian income from gas as reserves run down and prices rises reduce demand.

  26. Derek Emery
    Posted May 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    I should have added that Russia could also use its nuclear power to generate hydrogen and use its present gas pipelines to export this fuel to the EU so it could export both electricity and gas in substantial quantities to meet part of the EU energy needs. Hydrogen is known to cause embrittlement of metals but is not seen as a major problem see http://pesn.com/2005/11/18/9600204_Hydrogen_Embrittlement_non-issue/

    I guess the EU could also import hydrogen manufactured in India and China and Russia from electrolysis by nuclear power plants using tankers that are presently used to carry gas. These are even safer distances away from the EU. I would suspect that China could well decide to export hydrogen to the whole of the world in a big way in future as gas prices inexorably rise. China has both the capital and resources to do this more quickly and effectively than any other country.

    This would make China’s GDP rise even faster as it would not only be the world beating manufacturer but the equivalent of a super-rich oil state exporting to the rest of the world at the same time.

    • Bazman
      Posted May 24, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      So we depend on Russia for energy is the bottom line. Why not just buy gas off them? Some areas of Russia float on seas of gas and oil.
      Russia is a very unstable country politically and very soon you would find yourself held to ransom as lot of money is made there giving ‘permission’ for things. This ‘economic muscle’ is mainly theft of resources from the population by an elite who are not interested in long term investments. It’s the conveyor belt theory.
      I would say in a more down to earth way that any politician believing Russia is the answer to energy problems and they will not cut off supplies is a F8%^wit and you are another fantasist.

      • outsider
        Posted May 25, 2012 at 2:20 am | Permalink

        You are right about Russia but I am bit confused as to what you are in favour of if nuclear is too “right-wing”. Fracking in the North-West? Coal? Can’t believe you are a windmill fan.

    • Mark
      Posted May 24, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

      The hydrogen economy is a long way off from being economic or practical. For some economics see:

      http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/consumer/hydrogen/basics/production.htm

      HIC in pipelines is just one problem – I’ve seen HIC in oil pipelines simply from the small amounts of H2 produced by SRBs (sulphide reducing bugs) in the oil. Hydrogen has a low energy density per unit volume even at high pressures or as a liquid – both creating handling and safety difficulties.

      It’s much better to keep methane as methane for energy use, rather than turn it into hydrogen.

  27. Derek Emery
    Posted May 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    If and when China decides to become a massive exporter of hydrogen produced from nuclear power it means the EU can just build low cost gas power stations for all electrical production as these will be zero carbon since run on hydrogen produced from Chinese nuclear reactors. Hydrogen can also be used as a substitute for petrol or Derv to run zero carbon gas engines powering lorries tractors car etc. Hydrogen can be piped to homes and industry to run heating and industrial processes.

    There is no need for the EU to bother itself with difficult investment decisions and even more difficult planning and energy engineering projects as long as China decides to become the world producer of hydrogen to replace the oil and gas energy that the oil states presently produce. The money to be made by China must make it a very attractive proposition.

    We will be able to carry on much as before with low tech and cheap investment in Gas Power Stations and in conversion of internal combustion engines to run on hydrogen.

    Only China has the money and technical resources and the drive to do this but it helps the EU which is massively in debt and unable to drive such massive projects, even if it was pro-nuclear which it is not.

  28. Derek Emery
    Posted May 25, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    I cannot find accurate costings for hydrogen produced from electrolysis using nuclear power but the conversion process can be over 70% efficient in energy terms http://www.nrel.gov/hydrogen/pdfs/36734.pdf

    France produces around 80% of its electricity from nuclear energy and has one of the cheaper electricity tariffs http://www.energy.eu/.

    I suspect China or for that matter India or Russia could produce nuclear power stations with hydrogen electrolysis units more cheaply than the EU due to their lower base costs. Their cost of nuclear electricity per kWh is likely to be lower so the cost of hydrogen in terms of its energy per kWh will be cheaper than possible here.

    As the cost of gas inexorably rises (probably in parallel with oil price rises) then the cost of hydrogen will reach a crossover point where it becomes cheaper than natural gas or oil per kWh.

    Once China has production thorium reactors which are much cheaper than uranium reactors and then uses these to manufacture hydrogen the price of hydrogen will come down noticeably as one of the biggest costs will be the cost of the electricity.

    If production Chinese thorium reactors are 25 years away or so then the cost of gas/oil is likely to be so high then they will be able to sell all the hydrogen they can manufacture as fast as they can make it. Perhaps they will then have a massive programme to roll out thorium reactors and electrolysis units?

    • APL
      Posted May 26, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      Derek Emery: “and then uses these to manufacture hydrogen the .. ”

      Noooooo! Burning hydrogen produces Di Hydrogen Monoxide, which is a notorious greenhouse gas and in has been known to kill people too.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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