Monday, August 22, 2011

Spinning idly in the wind

One of the chief architects of our destruction: "I don't care about energy bills, because I don't pay mine—you do, you fuckin' mooks."

Christopher Booker's latest piece in the Telegraph should have every person in Britain gnashing their teeth at the rampant stupidity of this Coalition's energy policy—specifically the utter lunacy that is embodied in off-shore wind farms.
Last week, the BBC ran a series of reports by its science correspondent, David Shukman, on the Government’s plan to ring our coasts with vast offshore wind farms.
The nearest thing allowed to criticism of this policy came in an interview with the Oxford academic Dieter Helm, who we were told had “done the sums”. What, Shukman asked, had he come up with? The only figures Helm gave were that the Government’s offshore wind farm plans would, by 2020, cost £100 billion—scarcely a state secret, since the Government itself announced this three years ago—plus £40 billion more to connect these windmills to the grid, a figure given us by the National Grid last year.
Helm did not tell us that this £140 billion equates to £5,600 for every household in the country. But he did admit that the plan was “staggeringly expensive”, and that, given the current extent of “fuel poverty” and the state of our economy, he doubted “if it can in fact be afforded”.

Even shorter on hard facts, however, was Shukman’s report on a monster new wind farm off the coast of Cumbria, where a Swedish firm, Vattenfall, has spent £500 million on building 30 five‑megawatt turbines with a total “capacity” of 150MW. What Shukman did not tell us, because the BBC never does, is that, thanks to the vagaries of the wind, these machines will only produce a fraction of their capacity (30 per cent was the offshore average in the past two years). So their actual output is only likely to average 45MW, or £11 million per MW.

Compare this with the figures for Britain’s newest gas-fired power station, recently opened in Plymouth. This is capable of generating 882MW at a capital cost of £400 million—just £500,000 for each megawatt. Thus the wind farm is 22 times more expensive, and could only be built because its owners will receive a 200 per cent subsidy: £40 million a year, on top of the £20 million they will get for the electricity itself. This we will all have to pay for through our electricity bills, whereas the unsubsidised cost of power from the gas plant, even including the price of the gas, will be a third as much.

Booker also points out—reinforcing what your humble Devil has been saying for years—that wind power is inherently unreliable and, as such, we would need to build a MW of conventional power for every MW of installed wind power.

Or, of course, the lights go out.

This would be stupid enough were we forced to duplicate our power capacity at gas- or coal-fired prices; that we must build wind farms at 22 times the cost of conventional power plus the gas- or coal-fired power stations is nothing short of insane.

And, ultimately, we are going to have to pay for all of this. And we are going to pay through the fucking nose.

The trouble is that the government knows damn well that people will not stand for massive rises on energy taxes; as such, the government and the EU have forced the power companies to carry much of the cost—thus making the energy companies out to be total fucking demons*.

As Matthew Sinclair points out in this superb rant to the Freedom Society (whilst promoting his book, Let Them Eat Carbon), most people are simply not aware of the vast costs being imposed on the power companies by our Lords and Masters in the name of the discredited Climate Change scam.

It does appear that the energy companies are, however, protesting somewhat. Bishop Hill recently submitted a Freedom of Information request on a meeting between the government and the Electricity Retailers Association (ERA).
Here's an odd thing. Some weeks back I noticed that Gregory Barker, the Climate Change minister, had met with representatives of the Electricity Retailers Association to discuss "information on consumers' bills".

To me this seemed rather odd - why would electricity retailers need to discuss the information on bills with ministers? Perhaps Mr Barker wanted to insist that some information was passed on to consumers?

An FOI request later, I discover that the meeting was at the request of ERA itself—it appears that they asked to speak to ministers about a number of issues—Fuel Poverty, the Green Deal, the Community Energy Saving Programme and the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target. Putting this together with DECC's record that "information on consumers' bills" was discussed, I conclude that ERA wanted to make the costs of these government programmes transparent.

Unfortunately, I can only infer this because according to DECC, no record was kept of the meeting.

The Grauniad recently ran a fucking ludicrous story about how climate change might lead aliens to eliminate us because our carbon emissions would lead them to assume that the human race was "out of control".

Personally, I think that these self-same aliens might well kill us all.

But only because they would look at the fucking colossal idiocy enacted by our governments (and the rampant apathy of their citizens) and decide that the human race is too fucking stupid to be allowed to live.

* Alright—worse demons than they actually are.


john b said...

Comparing the capital cost of wind capacity with the capital cost of gas capacity is a bit of a pointless exercise - given that the marginal cost per MWh of wind is 0, whereas the marginal cost per MWh of gas is $lots and rising (and this, not CO2, is the point: gas is getting ever scarcer and the Russians have most of it; we want to minimise our reliance on the Russians to keep the bloody lights on).

The fact that providing spare gas capacity is super-cheap is an argument in wind's favour. If providing spare gas capacity to hedge output on the occasions when there isn't enough wind only adds 5% to the total bill, that demolishes the arguments about requiring wasteful back-up. That way, we're using wind most of the time, and whatever gas we've managed to buy off the Russians at inflated prices only when we really need to.

Adam Bell said...

Mr John B is exactly right; capital costs are not the same as ongoing costs. Booker is a professional contrarian who's objected to every single health/science scare that's come up during his career. He thinks asbestos is just fine, for goodness' sake.

The subsidies are less about making wind profitable, and more about when we get more wind power. Onshore wind is already cheaper than new gas plant, and a significant portion of existing sites would be built on without the subsidy anyway. The subsidy exists to ensure that we get the more marginal sites built on asap, rather than after gas prices spiral out of control.

Offshore wind, while more expensive, is much the same. Costs for it will eventually come to market levels, but we can't wait for that.

The Sheikh Of Arabeee said...

Note the use of that weasel word "capacity" by these two shills. There's installed capacity, and then there's actual capacity, and the two are not the same.

Typical fucking watermelon fucking bullshit.

john b said...

Sheikh: for one, take back "shill". I'm paid by the digital marketing industry, not the windmills industry.

For two, you clearly can't read or do sums. My 5% figure is based on Brooker's estimate of real-life capacity (~1/22), not on Vattenfall's nominal capacity rating. In other words, my point holds *even* in the unlikely event that Brooker is telling the truth, because it's based on the assumption that he is.

Anonymous said...

It's Booker you idiot not Brooker. If you can be so wrong on this small point it puts into perspective your stupid opinions on the wind turbine issue.
Flippin' Guardian readers. Troll someone else's blog please. Sensible comments only.

john b said...

What, for typo-ing an R? Fuck off; I've been commenting here since it started and am real-world mates with DK. Go have a wank over Michelle Bachmann.

Michael Fowke said...

I love the word "Mook". I've only used it once in my blog, but need to use it more.

john b said...

Disappointed that there's no screenshot online of the Simpsons episode where stereotypical Italian-American gangster Fat Tony is seen reading the New York Review Of Mooks.

low resolution fox said...

I found this page to be quite interesting on the subject. A friend recently got a job as an project accountant on Phase 3 and recommended this page as a description of what he's doing:

If you wanted to force the lowest income classes out of inefficient homes and into apartments this would be the way to do it.

Although this says that gas costs are 2.2p per kWh. I'm sure I pay 12p!!

MU said...

I hope the energy companies tell the state to fuck off and help end this ridiculous clusterfuck government, permanently.

sculth said...

John B said: "The fact that providing spare gas capacity is super-cheap is an argument in wind's favour. If providing spare gas capacity to hedge output on the occasions when there isn't enough wind only adds 5% to the total bill, that demolishes the arguments about requiring wasteful back-up."

This does nothing to address the enormous enforced mis-allocation of resources required to build the turbines and maintain them and operate them in uneconomical conditions.

And that's not to say the money should be invested in other things like Thorium power. It shouldn't be taken off us in the first place. I can only wonder and shudder at how much private innovation, trade for mutual benefit and redistributing of wealth by choice these kinds of projects prevent by leaving us with less money in our pockets.

The Sheihk Of Arabeee said...

John B.

"Digital marketing industry".

Yet another reason why this country is fucked.

Smart-arsed number crunching disingenuous fuckwits commanding ridiculous salaries from taxpayer funded quangos to produce fucking bollocks fart-figures like that. Fuck off, numbnuts.

We who work in real jobs, making real things, we who are being driven into the fucking ground by the costs of paying shitstain fucking dickheads employed by fucking profligate fucking smartarse jizzwads like you- we have had enough.

Fuck you.

And fuck you again, cheesedick.

Fuck off.

"Digital marketing industry".

Industry? Fuck off.

john b said...

"taxpayer funded quangos"

I've worked on one taxpayer/fakecharity funded project in my life, for about a week, when I was a management consultant. And I spent three months managing another project for an NGO that was solely funded by voluntary donations from major companies. Other than that, my work has been exclusively for private sector, for-profit companies.

During the 10 years I was based in the UK, the projects I worked on generated revenues of tens of millions of pounds. About half the clients we worked for were overseas, so that's several millions of pounds of *directly generated export income* for projects I've worked on. And solely in terms of my personal billing hour and the projects that I pitched and won myself, the total export income to the UK was well over a million quid.

In short, the work I do is highly productive, highly skilled - and is one of the things that British companies do far better than foreigners, so they're willing to pay us fuckloads of money to do it for them. Meanwhile, the work you do is a complete fucking waste of time, because Chinese people can do it better and cheaper than you.

The UK generates its export income from professional services, media and financial services, plus ultra-high-level technology, because that's where the UK's comparative advantage lies. The reason you're suffering isn't because People Like Me are screwing over the economy - I brought more money into the UK economy than you ever will - it's because you're a clueless whining fuckwit.

Roger Thornhill said...

I think the problem here is that people feel they are being sold to by vested interests. and often only to justify a fait accompli. It gets everyone's backs up.

If offshore wind was purely a commercial endeavour and we did not have the environmental "backing", I suspect it would be condemned, sabotaged even, by now by protestors over whale beaching and bird shredding.

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