Saturday, September 24, 2011

An interesting development

It will come as no surprise to regular readers to know that I believe Chris Huhne to be an extremely dangerous man—if, that is, you want to keep such trappings of our civilisation as electricity and heat.

A few days ago, he spelt out just why our energy bills have risen so massively, in his remarkably up-front comment on the increase in gas-driven power stations.
The UK's "dash for gas" will be halted by the government because if unchecked it would break legally binding targets for carbon dioxide emissions, Chris Huhne, energy and climate change secretary, said on Monday evening.

"We will not consent so much gas plant so as to endanger our carbon dioxide goals," he told a fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrats party conference in Birmingham.

The number of gas-fuelled power plants is increasing rapidly because they are fast and cheap to build compared with alternatives. They also create about half the carbon emissions of coal-powered plants and have been seen as a "transition fuel", helping smooth the path to zero-carbon electricity.

In general, gas-fired stations are a good thing—especially if you are trying to adopt renewable energy in the form of the massively unreliable wind turbines—because the stations can be spun up and down relatively quickly.

Further, they are quicker and cheaper to build, relatively, than any other type, they emit less carbon dioxide than fuels such as coal (if you care about such things) and, as such, are the only things that are likely to keep the lights on.

And, presumably, any government would want to keep the lights on. After all, the Three Day Week didn't do much for the electoral prospects of that utter bastard Heath. And, given our far greater reliance on electricity for every aspect of our home and business lives than in the Seventies, any party who let rolling black-outs become a feature of their government would be unlikely to see power again for a very long time.

However, one of the downsides of gas—and this seems to exercise even those who do not give a shit about climate change—is the fact that we have to buy a lot of it from Russia. And that leads to otherwise sensible people starting to use phrases such as "energy security"...

So, Cuadrilla Resources's announcement (which came only two days after Huhne's "dash for gas" comments) must be seen as an amazing discovery.
A company backed by former BP chief Lord Browne claims to have found a gas field near Blackpool that could be the largest ever discovered in Britain.

Cuadrilla Resources believes there are 200 trillion cubic feet of "shale" gas in the Bowland basin, which could result in a Lancashire gas boom creating 5,600 jobs at peak production.

Shale is a type of onshore gas common in the US, which is extracted by blasting apart rock in a process called fracking.

More testing is needed, but the estimates suggest Britain could have more shale gas than Poland, which has been considered Europe's biggest holder of probable reserves.

As has been pointed out, not all of the 200 TCF will actually be recoverable but, even at 50%, this find could deal with all of our power needs—at peak usage—for 30 years.

If our supposedly sovereign government would now just turn around and tell the near-bankrupt EU to fuck off, we can keep the lights on and stick two fingers up at Russia. It's a win-win situation.

Not only that, but it is likely that Cuadrilla's find is not the only one likely.
It’s not just Blackpool you know:
Widespread in the Craven Basin, including the Lancaster, Garstang, Settle, Clitheroe and Harrogate districts, south Cumbria and the Isle of Man; also in North Wales, Staffordshire and the East Midlands.

It is, to use a technical term, friggin’ huge mate.

It's also interesting to note that most of the reserves seem to be in ex-industrial, Labour-supporting areas of the country. This could be a neat chance for the Coalition to try to pick up some support in these traditionally red-voting areas, might it not?

Of course, if the Coalition block these developments (and the lots of lovely jobs and prosperity that go with them), then they are going to find themselves really very unpopular.

And even more so when the black-outs start.

So, Chris: your move...

UPDATE: this discussion is becoming ever more urgent since the ten new nuclear power stations that Huhne was hoping for almost certainly will not materialise...
SSE pulls out of the nuclear game. Well of course they do. And it's a cert that neither E.on nor RWE will be up for it either any more, given the pounding they are getting in Germany and their well-publicised shortages of capital; Centrica have voiced their (very sensible) doubts: which just leaves EDF, and the depleted GdF/Iberdrola JV now that SSE have deserted them. I could just about imagine EDF approving one new UK nuke in the next 2-3 years, if Crapper Huhne's new Capacity Payments scheme (due to be published later this year) attracts them sufficiently.

Now Huhne was hoping for 10 new nukes. 'Perhaps one, maybe' looks a bit thin in that context. There comes a point, and it may not be long now, when the required 'run-rate' of new investment becomes plainly infeasible. Actually, it is already, but not quite obvious enough yet, it seems.

Every politicians wants to be remembered: but do Huhne and the Coalition really want to be remembered as the people who shut down the British economy...? It's time to get a grip, guys...

20 comments:

Mark M said...

Absolutely bang on. One of the biggest problems we currently have is that we have to turn wind farms off because we can't spin down coal stations quick enough to prevent overloading. Much better (again, assuming to believe reducing CO2 emissions is good) to have gas and let those wind farms generate far more of the time.

As for fracking, well, the government claims to want to get new jobs in the North of the country. What a perfect opportunity. We can reduce our carbon emissions, increase energy security, generate thousands of new direct jobs and many more in the supply chain and drive our way out of recession. Any government who rejected that would have to be insane...... let's just see.

Clarissa said...

Given the frankly insane energy policies of this government and the last, power blackouts this decade seem almost inevitable.

Time to stock up on the UPSs me thinks...

Shouting Into The Void said...

Not convinced by fracking myself.. It's a fairly controversial technique that does, without doubt, induce small earthquakes (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-13700575) and use a heck of a lot of water (which in the SE we may need one year). Furthermore in a number of instances (See the documentary Gasland) it does seem to have contaminated the local water table.

Pogo said...

SITV... Fracking is a technology that has been in use since the 30s and there's absolutely nothing "controversial" about it - unless you're one of the poor saps who take their scientific and engineering advice from the BBC.

The "burning taps" in that pile of crap "Gasland" were from natural methane caused by rotting vegetation in the water table - fracking occurs at depths at least ten times deeper and the likelyhood of gas permeating up through 5Km or so of impervious rock is just about zero.

Re water use - the present technologies are starting to recycle...

Remember, the BBC are the broadcasting arm of the Guardian and Greenpeace - and just about as reliable a source of scientific "facts".

Shouting Into The Void said...

Ok, well I'm prepared to be told that I'm wrong when I'm wrong. Do you have a link for the vegetable source of gas?
My knowledge has mostly come from the documentary I mentioned so I'll read a little more about it. I wasn't aware it had been going on since the early 1900s.
Got to be careful about the number of chemicals involved, but your post has reassured me.

parlow said...

Huhne the eco-loon is exceptionally dangerous, but 'all that it takes for evil to take hold is for good men to do nothing'. Are the rest of our glorious leaders and legislators so cowardly as not to stand up and shout about this?
We are currently at the zenith of man kinds existence, we got to this point by science, engineering and capitalism. Science, to find out how the universe works; Engineering, to make use of scientific discoveries; and Capitalism to efficiently deliver these to the masses. Our energy needs will not be best saved by looking backwards to the 12th century, but by looking forwards. Short term, Gas; Medium term, nuclear fission; Long term, nuclear fusion (see ITER project in France and NIF in USA). Please shout it loud, "OUR ENERGY NEEDS WILL NOT BE MET BY ARSING ABOUT WITH FUCKING WINDMILLS." This is before I get onto the the massive transfer of other peoples money to the Landed Gentry. (see James Dellingpoles numerous)

Captain Fatty said...

Shouting into the Void:

Have a squint at:

http://www.energytribune.com//articles.cfm/7206/Ten-Fracking-Things-Everyone-Should-Know

Cheers,
Captain Fatty

Anonymous said...

http://4chon.net/new/res/962018.html

Roger Thornhill said...

This is not just about heating and electricity. Gas can drive vehicles and we can easily move to CNG/LPG bias, just as Thailand has done since it found gas fields to last it 50 years. Price of fuel has plummeted and I am certain it assists in the balance of payments.

Roger Thornhill said...

Oh, and if anyone really did need yet more evidence that Chris Huhne is a weapons-grade, deep water, subterrainian, authoritairian, carpet-munching, lentil-powered fracking bell-end, then this is it.

Skimmer said...

Nuclear power dropped out of the picture when Shale Gas was commercialised. With the massive gas reserves suddenly in reach, the forward price for gas halved, so there is just no way that a nuclear plant can return it’s cost of capital, and whatever the greenwash, amongst the generating companies money talks.

Professor Pizzle said...

"but do Huhne and the Coalition really want to be remembered as the people who shut down the British economy...?"

In Huhne's case, yes.

Chalcedon said...

the current concentration of CO2 is 390 ppm. This is very, very low compared with other times in the geological past. it is usually getting on for 1000pp. We are actually in a 'starvation' period for CO2. we could do with a lot more, or rather the plants could. the government is not only mad and deluded by all this nonsense being spouted about greenhouse gases, it also doesn't consider the big picture.

Michael Fowke said...

"Every politician wants to be remembered: but do Huhne and the Coalition really want to be remembered as the people who shut down the British economy...?"

That's exactly what they want to be remembered for, so they can force us into the EUSSR. Britain needs to be weakened.

Blue Eyes said...

Since when was there a water shortage in Lancashire? It's no coincidence that the cotton industry started in Lancashire.

Ian Thorpe said...

Fracking does not cause earthquakes. What it might cause is mining subsidence which we know a lot about in Lancashire. Subsidence does result in small, lcalised tremors at times.

Anyway, no worries about Huhne, the fracking coaliton will be gone by the time they're ready top start pumping gas. The Lib Dems are busy tearing themselves apart now.

Roger Thornhill said...

Chalcedon - any linkies? An interesting area.

Ian - Maybe the LibDems will spin their problems as "refining" ;-)


p.s. well done to DK for securing the cover gig.

Brown Eyes said...

If we have gas we should be exploiting it, as, in my opinion, we sould be exploiting our coal, using whatever 'clean' technology we can invent. We should be using anything we have got to keep us as independent as possible for energy supply. Energy producing countries (eg Russia) will sell their supplies ot the highest bidder, which might not be us.

OllyAnCap said...

related bbc panorama production on the energy industry et al...

OllyAnCap said...

woops! here is the link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0177101