Cheaper energy

The news of problems with Toshiba’s nuclear power generation investment plans will prompt some new thinking here in the UK. Some in the press are suggesting that in order to carry forward a programme of additional nuclear stations beyond Hinkley, the UK government will now itself have to venture into being a minority investor in these new plants. Private sector companies are finding it a stretch to handle the very high up front investment costs of a new nuclear station. They also have to worry about the long term nature of their commitments, and the eventual costs of decommissioning the facilities when they are worn out.

 

It is true, as the government argues, that nuclear has merits compared to wind power. It is much more reliable, and the plants can be run permanently without the same amount of back up power than interruptible renewable sources require. Whilst a nuclear plant is dear, you do not need an equivalent amount of stand by capacity, as you do for wind. The idea has been to supply unsubsidised power from nuclear plants. That means guaranteeing them a high and constant price for the power they will generate, given the high fixed costs involved. Some see guaranteed prices as just another variant of subsidy.

 

The enthusiasm for UK nuclear is based around the decarbonisation plans of Labour and the Coalition governments, in harmony with the EU requirements. The new government, leaving the EU, can rethink  our energy needs and vary the policy. The overriding objectives should be to provide a sufficient supply of affordable power. We need that both to pursue the new Industrial strategy,and to tackle fuel poverty. Building a new nuclear industry here may make sense, but only if it can be done in a way which delivers sufficient power at affordable prices. The government is pressing ahead with Hinkley and in Cumbria. It may be the case that a new fleet of gas powered stations will also be needed to ensure plentiful good value energy.

What is sure is that you don’t have a meaningful policy to fire up many industries we have lost or where there has been decline unless they have access to cheap power.

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76 Comments

  1. Roy Grainger
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    Another factor to consider is that a switch to electric cars – currently favoured by tax breaks breaks – will require dozens of new power stations to be built and given the excessive lead times on nuclear they are unlikely to be an
    Option.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      The switch to electric cars with current technology is very misguided. Their range, recharge times, depreciation, battery weight, battery life, complexity and costs (before the absurd grants tax and other advantages) make them largely unsuitable for most people – other than perhaps as a virtue signally second city car for the rich. Why should they pay no tax on their fuel, when a petrol car pays about 300% on it?

      They will come in due course when they get them to work. R&D first then roll out only when they work (and are economic without subsidy or government bias). Government subsidies to roll out this duff technology is hugely damaging to the economy.

      But Mrs May types like picking “losers” with tax payers money.

      • David Price
        Posted February 15, 2017 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

        Do you have data and references to back up any of your assertions?

        According to DoT 2016 statistics 94% of road trips are less than 25 miles, against a common range of 100 miles for a BEV, so it would appear that range would not be an issue for most car users. The average annual mileage in the UK is less than 8,000 miles suggesting BEVs which have been attaining 100,000 miles would be good for at least 12 years against the average age of a car of 7.8 years and Battery warranties of 8 years.

        It seems your main gripe is taxes, though the 5% VAT does pale against the 300% on petrol surely the issue is the government is charging too much tax on petrol not that others pay less.

        We are agreed on the grant, I don’t think there should be special grant on EVs as they are more economic to run than ICE anyway. But then there must be all sorts of subsidies and tax concessions used by businessmen and landlords that ought to cease as well, where should one begin ….

      • NickC
        Posted February 16, 2017 at 12:20 am | Permalink

        All current battery technology is basically a chemical pile. At low voltage and high current they are a fire risk. When they burn they are very toxic. Without the CAGW hoax we would not have battery vehicles except for some specialist requirements like flts or limited local delivery vans in city centres.

        • Jon Davies
          Posted February 16, 2017 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

          Do you work for Exxon or one of the oil companies? I have to ask as you don’t think there is a fire risk from 60 litres of petrol. The data I have seen is that the fire risk for electric vehicles is LOWER than for petrol. Maybe you could quote me the safety body from which you draw your own somewhat spurious conclusions.

        • David Price
          Posted February 17, 2017 at 6:05 am | Permalink

          While Petrol and Hydrogen aren’t a fire risk?

          Petrol is an ideal fuel as it is so energy dense but requires safe transport and storage while IC engines and drive trains are complicated and need far more maintenance than an electric motor.

          How many middle east wars are others prepared to fight to access the oil and how much pollution are others prepared to put up with so you can drive your petrol car or bike?

          CAGW is not the only motivator.

    • David Price
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      I don’t believe this is necessarily the case. Most EVs are charged overnight when spare capacity is already available and would actually help to level out demand. If anything the problem is demand management rather than simply demand capacity.

      • NickC
        Posted February 16, 2017 at 12:15 am | Permalink

        “Demand management” = rationing.

        • David Price
          Posted February 17, 2017 at 5:57 am | Permalink

          No, staging and balancing.

          Most EVs are charged at home and at night. Why do you think Economy 7 is cheaper?

    • Jon Davies
      Posted February 16, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      The infrastructure impact of electric vehicles and their storage batteries is complex.

      Using housing and vehicle based battery storage gives the opportunity to charge storage devices when demand is low (at night for nuclear) or when supply is high (sunny and windy days for renewables). It also allows stored capacity to be released from batteries rather than start up short term power generators to manage short term peaks. The point is that battery storage is a game changer as far as capacity is concerned and brings intermittent renewables more into the game.

      I would encourage the government in developing national infrastructure to support this. In particular further provision of fast charging stations in public and private locations would be helpful. The average journey is 30 miles per day. A charger at home and work would take most of the range anxiety out of electric vehicles; I accept for long journeys with a short range vehicle this is not ideal and other solutions need to be found.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    “Some see guaranteed prices as just another variant of subsidy”, well of course they do they clearly are. The Hinkley C deal is an appalling waste of tax payers money, it makes no economic sense. Why was it not cancelled, are Hammond and May incapable of basic sums and did they do them?

    “It may be the case that a new fleet of gas powered stations would be a better way of ensuring plentiful good value energy.” May be? It very clearly is a far better way.

    Nuclear is a “reliable” base load but it is not efficient otherwise nor as “on demand” as gas or coal. It cannot be turned up and down quickly and efficiently, as hydrocarbons generators can. Not that I am against the right nuclear projects at the right cost.

    The Trump administration is going to expose the great carbon “pollution” lie and all the fraud that has gone on with the climate alarmism agenda, the scientific “experts” and the blatantly distorted temperature records and lies. This will change the agenda, even the BBC may have to stop their climate lies and fire the dreadful alarmists they employ.

    The government “expert” forecasts have all proved wrong and all in the same direction high.

    No warming now for 19 years, this despite the CO2 increased concentrations. Nothing very significant before that either, it is not driven significantly by human CO2, there is no climate catastrophe lurking round the corner.

    • Jon Davies
      Posted February 16, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      Out of curiosity is Donald Trump going to publish the science behind his/ your assertion that carbon emissions are a great big lie? Personally I’m still waiting for a tobacco company to tell me that cigarettes do cause diseases and death. Because they argue it is not 100% certain they will never admit it even as their customers go to to their graves. It’s called creating an element of doubt; the tobacco and oil companies have been doing this for decades. Maybe you would like to quote me some peer reviewed papers (not from the phony organisations sponsored by Exxon) which support your statements.

  3. E.S Tablishment
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Find which entities use the most power.Then downsize them to manageable proportions.Or, eliminate them.
    How much extra power is needed for X amount of railway, including power of those used to service it? Our media has not costed it!
    How much power is used in ball-bearing production, for example? Is it cheaper, power wise, for the NATION ( not the private or nationalised company ) to import them?
    The point: Electricity and gas are taken for granted in this country. Industrial development is not looked at holistically, merely as unit production/profit/employment. Our nation should not afford high energy consuming industries if low energy ones produce equal wealth.

    • Edward2
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      Tough for people employed in these industries when for green holistic reason you shut down where they work and earn a living.

      • alan jutson
        Posted February 15, 2017 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        Edward

        Agreed.

        Me thinks perhaps E S T has never worked at the sharp end of heavy engineering, aircraft, shipbuilding, the motor industry or Civil Construction.

    • NickC
      Posted February 16, 2017 at 12:26 am | Permalink

      “Industrial development” (I think you mean production) is “looked at holistically” – that’s what costing is for.

  4. British Spy
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Remoaner French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron,says Russian hackers and media are interfering with his election campaign. Remoaner Hillary Clinton says the same about the US Election. Remoaner Ben Bradshaw MP says the same about Brexit. A Russian plot no less.
    Do Russian Intelligence operatives take performance enhancing, ENERGY producing drugs, or are they just working more smartly than our lot?

    • hefner
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      How can we be sure that British spies are “the best in the world”? As are our police, our NHS, our social services, judiciary, politicians, …

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 15, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

        Well certainly not the dire NHS, social services, the (overpriced and absurdly slow and complex) UK legal system. As for politicians the competition round the world for the worse politicians is rather fierce. I suspect the UK’s dire politicians are better than the average – but there are certainly far, far better ones around.

    • Mitchel
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      And only a year or so ago Senator McCain was telling anyone who would listen that Russia was nothing more than a “gas station with a country attached”.

      Oh how they laughed!

    • forthurst
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Emmanuel Macron has good grounds for calling out Russian media; it has not been backward in coming forward with film of the rioting taking place in Paris, which the MSM was wisely suppressing as it might deter the French from voting for the latest ‘establishment’ candidate.

  5. agricola
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    There is a reported coal fired generating plant in Chennai (Madras ) that following capture of it’s emissions turns CO2 into baking powder. Can I suggest that this is investigated before we get carried away on a nuclear solution. Of the myriad committees in the H o C, do you have one that is qualified to make a scientific judgement.

    • Mockbeggar
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      Without looking into the precise figures, I’ll bet you’d find that only about 20% of the CO2 is “captured” and that the cost of doing so increases the energy cost to close to some “renewables”.
      All scientists should be issued with T shirts saying “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that.”

      • Mockbeggar
        Posted February 15, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        Mind you, scientists say that mainly because they want more research money to carry on working. (Cynic!)

    • turboterrier
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      @ agricolar

      do you have one that is qualified to make a scientific judgement.

      In a word NO

      • DaveK
        Posted February 15, 2017 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

        Peter Lilley – one of the few who voted against the Climate Change Act I believe studied Physics at Cambridge. He also knows about the economic fall out of such stupidity which is probably why they ignored his questions and kept him away from Climate Change Select Committees.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Just how much demand for baking powder do you think there is?

      • stred
        Posted February 16, 2017 at 2:32 am | Permalink

        When baking powder is used, it releases the CO2 back into the air.

  6. Mark B
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    . . . the UK government will now itself have to venture into being a minority investor in these new plants.

    No, no, no, no, no !!!!

    It is not government money, it is taxpayers money ! I and other taxpayers do not want to underwrite private enterprise and subsidise their profits. If an idea cannot be funded by private capital, then it is probably a bad idea that will not give a return.

    We should have an energy policy that allows investors to invest in the best means to provide energy generation and supply.

    Early Canals, roads, bridges and railways were all built using private capital. Even our former Empire owned much to private venture than State involvement.

    I do not ask the government to subsidise my investments, so why should the government ask me to do so for others.

    There is more than a whiff of wrong-doing here for me.

  7. Journo
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    The BBC is not exerting a massive amount of energy in reporting the riots in France. Truly off the grid.Most of it is conducted by barristers, clergy, business people, rock stars and Daily Mirror journalists

  8. Ian Wragg
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I am currently working on a small landfill gas generation facility in the USA.
    Compare and contrast prices paid for green energy.
    USA $38 per MW or circa £30.
    UK renewable obligation £107 per MW.
    How can our industry compete on such an uneven playing games field.
    We are being deindustrialised in the name of sustainability which is anything but.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Miliband left a poison pill with the Labour party membership rules that resulted in Corbyn , and another with climate change obligations which will result in the closure of much of our industry, and what is truly staggering is that Cameron and Osborne in a moment of insane virtue signalling doubled up on it. An expanded Heathrow will on its own will consume a large chunk of our climate change allowance. Our political classes seem to have a personality disorder, where one moment they are wittering on about rebuilding our industrial base , then the next they are putting in place virtue signalling legislation on climate change that is going to close it down.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Exactly this government’s energy policy is bonkers and it has been for years. Put Peter Lilley in Charge please and get rid of Hulme, Rudd, Ed Davey, Morgan, Grieg Clark types please. Put some decent physicist and engineers in charge instead of the high priests of green lunacy movement.

      The laws of physics will not change to fit the green loons religions, or as Richard Feynman put it. For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.

      Furthermore green lunacy is no longer even good public relations (or good politics) it is nearly completely dead! 19 years and counting and still no recent warming.

      put it “Nature cannot be fooled”

    • turboterrier
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      @ Ian Wragg

      Totally brilliant comment.

  9. Benjamin
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    The lack of any cohesive, long term plans for our existing coal generation stock shows a gross dereliction of duty by successive governments.

    Phased upgrades of existing plants to utilise modern, relatively high efficiency turbines (i.e. building in parallel, decommissioning the old generator) on site is cheap and effective. Existing road and rail connections can be used, overall emissions drop, and generation capacity is secured.

    Our supply of natural gas depends on comrade Putin’s goodwill. Renewables aren’t reliable or cost effective yet, and the cold kills more people right now than exposure to emissions or climactic change. Buying in capacity from France is business as usual at the moment, which is scandalous.

    • ian wragg
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Our existing coal fired plants have been made uneconomical to run by Gideons carbon tax.
      Together with the tax and stations no longer being run at base load, we are paying subsidies to keep them open.
      One arm of government is doing all it can too tax them out of existence whilst another department is giving them subsidies to stay operational.
      Only in the UK could this happen.
      France has now become a net importer through the interconnector due to their own massive problems with the nuclear stations, so no more relying on them for back up.

    • boffin
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      ….. but not just Putin’s goodwill!

      Our politicians seem blind to the fact that our gas supplies are dreadfully vulnerable to asphyxiation by others.

      The case for reinstatement of coal-fired stations is strong indeed.

      • DaveK
        Posted February 15, 2017 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        Or go all out for fracking.

  10. alan jutson
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Oh how I wish our politicians would allow a simple but honest price, reliability, sustainability, and emissions comparison to take place with regards to all sorts of energy production, and without any sort of subsidy involved, so we could actually compare one source with another, and then make some sensible plans for the future based on that, rather than some fake ideology or dogma.

    I can see yet another decade of procrastination and muddled thinking taking place whilst our energy resources simply dwindle away, or/and until power rationing is the norm.

    • hefner
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Don’t expect politicians to “allow a simple but honest … some fake ideology or dogma”. Do your own research. Consider who was in power when bad decisions were taken in the last forty-five years. Do not let them bamboozle you into thinking they are whiter than white when their neoliberal policies were at the origins of our present problems (in particular, deindustrialisation).
      And one of these less than honest contributors to the situation might be much closer than you think.

    • turboterrier
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      @ alan jutson

      Got that right in one Alan.

  11. A.Sedgwick
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Hinkley C is a massive mistake along with HS2.

    Your repeated suggestion concentrating on a number of new gas fired power stations is the obvious 20 – 30 year solution. After that new technology in battery storage and nuclear power and harnessing solar power will have advanced significantly.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Dear A.S.–And don’t forget Tidal–More experimental and small at present than much else so admittedly costs a lot but costs will fall given time. Not enough being said about shallow Tidal Stream with loose turbines scattered about rather than their being built in to walls. One reads that a deep scheme has just been set going in the Bay of Fundy. And one sees nothing on Wave Power. I remember discussion on end effects rather than just up and down. I like Lagoons and giving a small experimental one a go makes sense to me. I have often wondered why if a Lagoon can be built (and there seems little doubt about that) we cannot build Lagoons down the East Coast which don’t get washed away unlike what we are always told happens when we try to hold back the sea there. And why can’t we reclaim and make Polders (and dykes) as they do on the other side so apparently routinely. We cannot just let our already small island get smaller without more of a fight.

      • Mark
        Posted February 15, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        Costs will not fall for tidal lagoon energy. Most of the cost is building the enclosing wall, something that is very old technology indeed. There is also very little room for closing the gap between theoretical maximum performance of hydro turbines and current technology. Moreover, studies have shown that using the favourable sites around the UK does not result in smoothing out the power produced, which would continue to have gaps at high and low tide. Tidal stream energy is very expensive – and also rather limited in scope to be anything more than a minor source, even if it can be made to work more reliably. It is also very peaky in power production.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 15, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        Tidal is far too expensive especially small toy Welsh ones (and the power is not on demand either – nor renewable it slows the earth’s rotation) more of a base load with neap & spring tide variations on top. Look at the costs and do the sums they do not add up.

        They silt up and the barriers get smashed by storms too.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted February 16, 2017 at 5:16 am | Permalink

          Dear Lifelogic–Read about the Bay of Fundy scheme–Are they all bonkers over there? Big difference between Lagoons and Tidal streams. How long (I suspect billions of years) till Earth slows down?

        • hefner
          Posted February 16, 2017 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

          Lifelogic, I have already asked you for your reference about the slowing down of the Earth’s rotation. In case you had never realised that, there are tides linked to lunar attraction “interfering” with the Earth rotation. Could you please as an engineer make a small calculation of the order of magnitude of the effect of the tides, and of the effect of such a Welsh tidal basin?
          I thank you very much in advance for your piece of wisdom.

  12. Michael Fish
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    I have found this website really helpful. No, not pages and pages of stuff, just a very understandable set of dials which even I can understand.http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk
    Nuclear: steady, reliable. Diesel (emitting lots and lots of carbon) comes second easily. Wind, variable and, at peak, only produces a fraction of the power the other two do. Coal (and the hypocritical and stupid biomass): being cut back and phased out, but still there, faithful, reliable. Solar – doesn’t register.
    If only someone could invent a way of storing electricity for later! The “pumped” system is interesting, but insignificant.
    Hope that helps!

    • oldtimer
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      You have missed out gas powered generation – which is the obvious choice both for speed of implementation and relatively low cost of investment to achieve new generating capacity. In its way stands the regulation and political correctness imposed by the climate change agenda.

      There should not be a problem with supply – even if UK fracking does not deliver. Global energy demand has been flatlining and is expected to remain that way looking ahead because of long term demographic changes, improved efficiency and changes in the structure of production activities. Energy pricing is likely to remain very competitive. The worst possible thing the UK can do is to saddle itself with ultra expensive long term energy contracts. But with the political class that has been and remains in charge of these matters that seems the most likely outcome.

    • forthurst
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      I have no idea where you are getting your figures from: currently, gas (Combined Cycle Gas Turbine) is supplying over 50% of demand. Where is diesel? Presumably backup is inclusive in the wind capacity, should it be called and diesel which is operated by large energy consumers is not recorded as it offsets demand.

  13. Iain Moore
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    There are some things the state does better than the private sector, nuclear power is one of them. The costs and timescale puts it beyond the capability of the private sector to fund such operations, or as we have seen with Hinkley point the guarantees that have to be given are so extensive it makes private sector an expensive option. We should stop faffing around trying to get private sector involvement with building nuclear power stations, re-nationalise British energy and rebuild our state nuclear power sector.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 16, 2017 at 6:19 am | Permalink

      The is almost nothing the state does better than the private sector. Defence and a system of law and order perhaps. But have you looked at the fiasco of defence procurement in the U.K., or the absurdly expensive, slow, multi level, arbitrary (and totally lacking any real deterrents) the systems of law we have is.

      Even when they do something worthwhile they have usually caused more harm than the benefit by extracting the taxes to do it from people who would have used it rather better.

  14. libertarian
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    There really is an very simple solution to this

    Small Modular Reactors

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_modular_reactor

    Oh and where I live we are busy decommissioning a perfectly functional nuclear power station, just because the EU told us too

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 16, 2017 at 6:20 am | Permalink

      Which reactor?

      • stred
        Posted February 16, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        The Dungeness Magnox reactor was allowed to reach the age of 40 before being decommissioned. The gas cooled adjacent reactor will be allowed to work until 2028. We will then have more nuclear power being shut down than new stations opening in 12 years time, and that is if the regulator approves and decisions are taken now without delay. They will have to build more gas stations or go up the creek.

        http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/WR-Decommissioning-progress-at-Dungeness-A-2101154.html

    • David Price
      Posted February 16, 2017 at 6:40 am | Permalink

      Agree, SMRs would give more flexibility offering staggered rollout that could accomodate new technologies over time and phased decommissioning. Personally I prefer a more distributed solution, even better if a hybrid approach using a mix of generation and storage were adopted.

  15. Bert Young
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Cheap and reliable energy is as important to the domestic consumer as it is to industry . Before putting money into nuclear we must exploit everything that is available naturally and on our door-step . Fracking has come under very heavy criticism but , if the resource is there , we must exploit it . Electric cars have a domesday scenario – the more there are the more generation is required .

  16. The Prangwizard
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    It is extreme folly to allow control of strategic or other important industries to be in the hands of foreign investors and government controlled businesses. There is a national interest to protect here, it not a matter of making and selling burgers.

    And we have lost manufacturing power because of the foolish idea we can always buy stuff from others, so why make things ourselves. That’s how we are being forced to buy French steel for our submarines and so on. Inward investment is just a euphemism for selling our business to foreigners.

    At the other end of the spectrum we get US retail clothiers for example who rent a shed somewhere and use it a distribution centre for US made goods. Just adds to our trade deficit and stifles our smaller businesses and prevents their growth. Open for business means come along and help yourself. All the surplus cashflow and profit is then exported back to the US.

  17. MikeP
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    There is a role for wind power to meet Climate Change objectives (our own in due course, not the EU’s). These objectives ought to allow us to continue with gas-fired and even coal-fired stations with carbon capture technology. But as an island nation we should by now have perfected wave-generated power and aim to build scores (or even hundreds if necessary) of such power stations around the coast to bring the cost down.
    Given the horrendous cost of building Hinckley and decommissioning nuclear power stations at their end of life I find it hard to believe that wave power costs couldn’t be brought in under the long-term cost of nuclear. Safe, carbon-free, radiation-free. Simples.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 16, 2017 at 6:23 am | Permalink

      We should scrap Climate Change Objectives. It is unscientific drivel, as is now widely recognised by most sensible physics and scientists. Trump will hopefully expose all the tricks and fraud that has been used push it.

    • stred
      Posted February 16, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      The late Prof MacKay worked out the maximum energy available from wave power if wave generators were put all around the UK’s coast. It amounted to a very small percentage. A number of wave machines have been developed. All are very expensive and produce variable output. Tidal generation suffers from the same problems. His book ‘Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air’ is available free on the net. If only amateur environmentalists and ignorant politicians would read it.

      Before he died, he gave an interview in which he said that although he loved wind turbines, there was no point in building them with 100% back up, as we might as well build nuclear stations and run them all the time. This interview can be seen on Utube.

  18. JM
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I think that where power is concerned, we should be doing three things:

    1) Concentrating on making the most efficient use we can of hydrocarbon energy sources;
    2) Incinerating waste that would otherwise go to landfill to recover the energy contained therein; and
    3) Investing heavily in research into battery technology so that we can store the electricity made from renewable energy for subsequent use. This would be particularly useful on a domestic scale.

    As has already been observed, if we are to move to more electric cars on the road, we are going to need a shed load of generating capacity to charge all those cars up overnight, which we do not presently have.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      Dear JM–Incinerating waste sounds good and as a child 60 years ago there was a silo thinggie (in Hornsey, North London) doing just that but it became not so simple. My understanding is that this silo (possible not the right word but that is what it looked like) and others along same lines were forced to shut down because the incineration (incomplete combustion?) sent Dioxin in to the atmosphere–not something to mess with. I am not an expert but the flavour was that you were lucky just to get rid of the waste (with gas jets I believe, ie using energy) and producing energy was not within the realm of things.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 16, 2017 at 6:25 am | Permalink

      Storage of electricity is very expensive and wasteful of energy far better to generate as needed. Coal, gas and oil do this very well indeed.

    • stred
      Posted February 16, 2017 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Prof MacKay also pointed out that there is a similarity in capacity between intermittent wind generation and a national fleetof electric cars. The government is keen on you owning an electric car as it hopes the wind will blow at night and everyone will have their car plugged in and not need to use it. Good luck with that one.

      No remotely economic way of storing this amount of energy has been found, whether by batteries or pushing stuff up and dropping it down. They think making hydrogen migh work but have not found a way to stop it leaking when distributed or not losing much of the energy in conversion. This is shown on the governments document on the ‘smart’grid.

  19. Antisthenes
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Gas fired powered power stations and solar where appropriate are obviously the most economic options. Domestic gas will be in plentiful supply once fraking commences in earnest. So nuclear and bird mincers are not really an option even if those constantly exposed as dodgy climate change statistics are true. In fact we do know that those stats do not incorporate the beneficial effects of technological advances and advanced they have and will.

    So government policy should be to stop subsiding as that is just encouraging malinvestment a burden on the taxpayer and reducing private sector investment in more productive activities. Instead concentrate on incentivising research and development in technologies to reduce CO2.

  20. norman
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Brexit is a game-changer in all this, and we are lagging behind, or have less options, than Trump’s America.
    Not too keen on nuclear, for safety reasons. Earthquakes – OK, we’re not like Japan, but who knows what could happen in future – more likely, terrorism or war.
    Gas? Only if UK source available. Coal – OK with suitable filters?
    Am not an expert, but commonsense, non-doctrinaire approach is now sorely needed.
    Obviously absolutely crucial to get this right. As much a matter of national security as defence and a healthy industrial base.

    • Anonymous
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      Presumably you mean nuclear ‘war’.

      In which case a few reactors going *pop* won’t make much of a difference.

  21. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    We need to reconstruct our own civil nuclear power industry, which of course was once a world leader. With some other countries turning their backs on nuclear power there may well be top class nuclear scientists and engineers who could be recruited to work for us if we no longer have enough homegrown expertise.

    We will also need to sort out the Euratom business. As I understand it is EU lawyers who are saying that when we hand in our notice that we are leaving the EU legally that will have to be taken as notice that we are also leaving Euratom, whether or not we want it to have that effect. I note that Switzerland has an association agreement with Euratom, but have not yet checked whether that could be taken as a model or it would only serve as a precedent for a country outside the EU nonetheless having links to Euratom. On the other hand I did take a look at the Euratom treaty, and it seems to belong to another era when there was still widespread enthusiasm for the potential of nuclear power.

  22. Atlas
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps the arrival of President Trump will cause a root-and-branch revaluation of the trustworthiness of the man-made Global Warming claims which are behind all these expensive energy schemes? I hope so.

  23. ian
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    When have a government that has no money and has to subsidy nuclear power station by way of the end uses electric bill which as you say is not affordable for 35% of the public and most small business and big energy uses like steel, germany has now switched back to coal and shutdown all of it nuclear power station, why not follow their lead, build coal power stations next to the coal field so you have no transport costs, have the latest filtering fitted with 25 MW solar station around it with wind power and a gas power station so you have everything on one site and in the summer you can take the gas offline or the coal and as the coal filtering tec improves you have it fitted, low maintenance costs, coal power station self feed from the coal field or mine, the solar and wind run themselves and gas just switch on and you can build all that yourselves at a low cost while mitigating pollution to a low level and one connection point for the grid.

  24. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, I read here:

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/14/david-davis-brexit-bill-parliamentary-ping-pong-article-50-sweden

    “Threats that the government would reform the Lords if it did not pass the bill quickly were empty, Newby said. “There is zero capacity in Whitehall to worry about House of Lords reform, it’s ludicrous to even contemplate it,” he said.”

    This arrogant unelected legislator-for-life should be informed that it wouldn’t take much “capacity in Whitehall” to draft an amendment to the Parliament Acts to draw the teeth of the Lords, however the chamber may be composed in the future, by cutting the maximum period for which they can delay a Bill from thirteen months to three months.

    It doesn’t seem to occur to him that if the Lords insist on deliberately wasting time and money by repeating amendments to the Bill which have already been debated and rejected by the Commons then that could not only stir up public opinion against their chamber but also against the resident EU citizens they say they want to defend.

  25. ian
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    and word of note, if your going to build power station of any kind with public money, it should stay public other wises your just wasting everybody time and money because private will charge the same price as now or more so if want cheap power they need to be public because running costs are low for gas, wind, solar and coal, you can get gas and coal costed price and man power needed is low, it not like the old days with big costs for man power and employing to many people.

  26. behindthefrogs
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Why do we continue to ignore water generated electricity? Looking at the river Thames only four of the twenty eight weirs capable of generating electricity are currently converted. Osney Lock is currently likely to produce an above target 200,000 kilowatt hours of power this year. Enough to power nearly fifty households. Most of those downstream of Oxford would be capable of considerably exceding this amount 95% of the year. For example one lock is providing the power requirements of the 200 households at Windsor Castle.

    This power generation is cost effective and each weir can be converted to support one or more reverse archemedes screws in under two years,
    We need to

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted February 16, 2017 at 5:30 am | Permalink

      Dear Frog–Yes–Would be nice to go back to the days when every stream in the land produced power, even if only for own use as in water mills. One didn’t need a huge flow either, just enough to fill a mill pool every so often. Unlikely unfortunately. Never hear much about how Germany manages so apparently easily and successfully to use its coal in their power stations. And what about that lovely new steam locomotive (Tornado) running on the Settle – Carlisle line? If the railways went back to steam think how much less power needed from power stations. Also unlikely unfortunately.

  27. Mark
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    It should be clear that the decision to go with French EPR nuclear technology is deeply flawed (and probably based on EU politics). At the moment, the country that seems best able to produce nuclear power stations at reasonable cost – under half that at Hinkley Point, and well below “renewable” alternatives – is South Korea. They have a proven design, and are already opening export markets on the back of it. We should try to form a partnership with them to take advantage. We should also be wary of trusting Chinese designs and investment.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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