What DK said

The IPSA thing rolls on.

I’ve said my piece. Obo has kept the flame alight.

DK steps up to the crease to open the third innings, with style and alacrity.

He responds to a pretty lame cri de coeur relayed by Tory Boy*.

Perhaps these morons could try the old “oh, I couldn’t work out how to do it” on HMRC and see what the reaction is? It would be something along the lines of “you owe us a £100 surcharge plus 10% interest for every day that you fail to submit. Oh, and stop fucking whining about it, twatface.” Which, coincidentally, is pretty much what my response to this IPSA debacle is.

I say, more power to IPSA’s elbow: make these MPs suffer and maybe—just maybe—these people will stop trying to tie the rest of us up in bureaucratic knots. And even if they don’t, at least they’ll be having a miserable time.

Do read the whole thing, and admire DK’s ability to make the post stand up without invoking Tom Harris.

While you’re at it, read DK’s take on Chris Huhne’s fuckwitted energy policy. It reflects my view very well indeed.

AJ

* He loves it so

The penny finally drops

I pointed this out on 26 October 2008 and 5 May 2009.

Someone has finally pointed the elephant out.

Better late than never I suppose.

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Analysts for Saturn Energy calculated that a fuel duty of up to 10p a mile would be required to pay for the extra demand which will be created if the Government’s targets on renewable energy are hit.

The Climate Change Committee has said that 1.7 million electric cars should be on Britain’s roads by 2020.

The firm’s experts said the National Grid was already struggling to provide enough power for Britain’s needs and urgent modernisation was required to boost capacity to provide for the needs of any surge in the number of electric cars.

The firm also said that electricity should cost "about the same as petrol", which is certain to deter those motorists who are shifting to electric cars to try to save money on driving.

Critics of electric cars have cited research which appears to show that such vehicles are only half as efficient as diesel engines, once the environmental cost of traditional power generation is taken into account.

Well I’ll be damned.

AJ

Today in total and utter fuckups

… we introduce civil servants to the term ‘due diligence’ – something we find quite handy in the commercial world.

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In an extremely critical report, the Public Accounts Committee attacked the Government’s failure to get a guarantee from EDF that it would build nuclear stations without subsidy when selling its 36pc stake in January 2009 for £4.4bn.

The cross-party group of MPs, which holds government spending to account, criticised the “systemic weakness” at the heart of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and its approach to risk that could cause “serious liabilities to fall to the public purse”.

Ah yes – the DECC, as run by Ed Bonzodogdoodahband. The useless twat.

“Given that there is a clear risk that EDF will not build them, with or without such subsidy, the Department needs to say sooner rather than later how the country’s increasing energy demands would be met under those circumstances,” said Edward Leigh MP, chairman of the committee.

“It is of concern, to say the least, that the Department does not know how much nuclear generating capacity will be needed to meet our future energy needs.”

The committee was “not convinced” by the Government’s reliance on the market to deliver investment in nuclear power and renewable energy, he added.

“When selling strategically important assets, like its stake in British Energy, the Department should carry out systematic and timely assessments of risk,” Mr Leigh said.

Quite.

Still, I expect they’ll all have a bloody good laugh when it turns, out in 3 years time, that the Tories can’t afford to get any of the required nuclear generating capacity built, because (French state owned) EDF have shafted us.

Buy diesel generators.

AJ

Merde du jour

I had a whole bunch of stories I wanted to blog about, but then I had to go and do some fucking work, which impressed me not a jot.

So, here’s what I had lined up for today:

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Which is rather contrary to the weaselly claims he made at PMQs on Wednesday.

Next, who gives a fuck about this?

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I have absolutely no idea why this shit is still illegal in this country. Fucking puritans.

As for vice cops – Captain Buzzkill one and all – lowest of all cops. And that’s low. Once again, I refer you to the honourable Doug Stanhope.

Talking of cops…

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There are plenty of non-public sector blogs for children and hokey old women who like to anthropomorphise animals. That is all.

I’d rather you just concentrated on not melting the dogs to death in your cars, chaps.

In old news recycled:

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Ofgem reported on this yesterday?

Perhaps they’d have saved themselves 12 months by just reading some blogs and newspapers. After all, some of us have been concerned about this for a while now. Or maybe it just took them 6 months to remove the swearing from my blog posts.

Indeed – the front page of The Economist looked like this last August:

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Concerning.

More concerning, though, is this:

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Read that carefully, click through and digest. By many measures, we’re not in much better shape than Greece. We could end up in the same boat as them if our sovereign debt is downgraded this year.

So, perhaps the fact that we’re not in the Eurozone is the only thing standing between the us and ‘special measures’ imposed by Brussels, including a budget imposed by the ECB.

Next – the shock. The Sherlock. The meh.

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No fucking surprise when you look at what our society has become – divided, spiteful, shallow, avaricious, covetous, resentful, expensive, dirty, violent – and what our state has become – overweaning, overtaxing, under-delivering, deceitful, fraudulent, war-mongering, fear-mongering, risk-averse, bullying, nagging and judgemental.

Errr.. that’s it for now. If there’s anyone I didn’t mention, they’re all nobheads too.

AJ

Light bulb: £30

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What a fucking breakthrough. £30 will buy you a light bulb that’s as good as a fucking 60p bulb.

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Ahhh.. but there’s good news too!

The special bulb is the first environmentally-friendly product which is able to give the same quality and light as a normal 60-watt traditional bulb.

The manufactures, Pharox, say the LED bulb will pay for itself within three years because it costs just 88p annually to run, and lasts for up to 25 years

Up to 25 years you say? Well, I suppose 3 years is up to 25 years. Weasel words. Hmmm. Later in the arsticle:

Mr Otten said his bulbs will last for around 25 years or longer if used for four hours a day.

Well, I’ve got two things to say at this point:

Firstly, the compact flourescent blubs we are being forced to use are neither a bright as claimed, nor do they last as long as is claimed. The EU admitted as much.

The European Union recently admitted energy saving light bulbs are not as bright as their traditional counterparts and claims about the amount of light they produce are "exaggerated".

Secondly, I’m gonna guess that these £30-light-bulb-guys are going to need to raise big venture capital to be able to produce these bulbs en masse. Here’s what every VC is going to say to them:

“And what do we do after everyone has a house full of these bulbs? Sit tight for TWENTY FUCKING FIVE YEARS until they need some more?”

So the VC will give them money on the understanding that they reduce the longevity & durability of these bulbs so that they have to be replaced every 3-5 years. Aside from getting the capital to take these bulbs to a bigger market, this would have two immediate effects:

A) That’s the cost-benefit analysis blown out of the water of there’s a 3 year payback period and a 3-5 year lifespan.

B) Has anyone looked at the dust-to-dust cost of these things in terms of energy to produce, right from mining whatever semiconductors are used, through casting, building, shipping, packaging and disposal? I reckon there’d be a huge impact once the (never gonna get funding) 25 year bulb idea is blown out of the water.

And the article contains a superb twisting of language from a journalist seemingly born to govern.

The new bulb could offer a ray of hope to consumers upset by the EU ban on old-fashioned high-watt bulbs which forces them to opt for energy-saving models, most of which are compact fluorescents bulbs, which normally take longer to reach full brightness.

Let the mongnitive dissonance commence.

AJ

Wot the Slug said…

Power station protest idiocy

So swampy and his chums are still at it.

In my not-so-humble opinion, trying to shut down a power station is bordering on evil.  I can imagine that anyone with friends or family in a hospital local to that station, would be of the attitude that any protestors there deserve whatever beating they get. Fucking with people’s power supply is stupid, potentially dangerous, and probably the best way to alienate the rest of the population in terms of persuasion.

In point of fact, don’t hospitals have UPS & generators for critical equipment? If not they’d better start thinking about it because rolling power cuts will be the norm in 5-6 years time thanks to a combination of the EU and the greenies. Anyway…

Given that their stated mission was to break in and "stop power production"  I have very little sympathy with any protestors taking part who may have been hurt, and frankly they don’t even have the excuse that it was a legitimate protest – they went in order to commit a criminal act of vandalism.

Do read on

AJ

Banging the electric drum again…

This has been a bit of a hobby horse of mine for quite a while now

The establishment voices are finally waking up to what is ahead for us…

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SOUTH AFRICAN burglars pay close attention to electricity. A moratorium in the early 1990s stopped new power stations from being built, and by 2007 demand was overwhelming the country’s electricity grid. So Eskom, the national power company, began cutting supplies to specific suburbs for hours at a time. One side-effect of the rolling blackouts that afflicted Cape Town and Johannesburg was that they disabled the electric fences, spotlights and alarms that adorn richer people’s houses, making them easy pickings for thieves. At first the blackouts were announced in advance; later, aware of the risks, Eskom imposed them without notice. Fortunately for South Africans, the economic slump has trimmed demand (and a huge, rushed building programme boosted supply), but it will be 2013 before order is properly restored.

Britain is running short of power too—so quickly that some economists claim, only just tongue-in-cheek, that the economic slowdown is useful. “A recession is the best demand-reduction policy ever invented,” says Dieter Helm, an energy economist at Oxford University. Many power stations are due to close over the coming decade (see chart 1), and supplies are getting tight. The government reckons that, of a total of around 75GW in generating capacity, 20GW will disappear by 2015.

The private sector is less optimistic. EDF (a state-owned French firm that wants to build nuclear plants in Britain) puts the size of the hole at 32GW, and E.ON, a German competitor, reckons it will be 26GW. One survey of experts before the recession (conducted by Mitsui-Babcock, another power-station builder) found that three-quarters expected blackouts by the time of the London Olympics in 2012. When the BBC did a similar poll in 2008, the downturn had pushed the date back to 2015. “There’s a risk of blackouts somewhere between 2013 and 2016, depending on how fast the economy recovers,” says Mr Helm. “It may not happen,” says an engineer, “but we’d be lucky”.

Blair and Brown are leaving yet another legacy that will see this country pushed to the brink of ruination long after they’re gone.

Is there anyone who doesn’t want these fuckers assassinated?

In other news, if my portfolio had survived Brown’s end to boom & bust, I’d move a shitload of money into diesel generator manufacture & servicing, as well as UPS providers.

Datacentres are going to be fucked & goddamit, I’m going to make some cash out of it.

When life gives you lemons….

AJ

Sainsbury’s discover ‘free’ electicity…

Or so the Tellygiraffe would have us believe, in their global warming section…

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Now, I know journos (and greenies) aren’t renowned for their robust scientific knowledge and method, but, you can’t fucking make free energy and you can’t have a real-world system which is zero-sum – you can’t beat entropy.

This ‘kinetic road plate’ they talk about seems to be one of these things:

The bold claims made in this video, by the inventor, in 2005, about this solution providing free energy have been repeated since on the official website.

FAQs

Q1. Doesn’t the ramp just steal pennies from our petrol tanks?

A1. The ramp is designed to be situated in parts of the roadway where vehicles are having to slow down, for example on downhill gradients, when approaching traffic lights or roundabouts as well as replacing sleeping policemen and traditional traffic calming measures.
In the these situations, the kinetic energy of the car is being dissipated into heat (i.e. through the braking system) anyway; the ramp at this point scavenges a degree of kinetic energy as the car passes over it, but this is far less than is lost through other mechanisms.

This is, of course, bollocks of the most blatant kind. Let’s look at it in more detail:

The ramp is designed to be situated in parts of the roadway where vehicles are having to slow down, for example on downhill gradients,

On the over-run (whereby I’m using zero fuel), on downhill gradients, do I really want to be going over a fucking speed-bump, you cunts?

when approaching traffic lights or roundabouts

I’m not always slowing down approaching traffic lights or roundabouts – i.e. when the lights are green. If you make me slow down when the lights are green, or there’s an opening on the roundabout, and I therefore miss the green light or the opening, I will dig up this piece of shit and insert it up your ringpiece sideways.

as well as replacing sleeping policemen and traditional traffic calming measures.

Ah – so where you said (at 2:30 in the vid above) ‘unlike the speed bump, the ramp produces no discomfort to the car occupant’ you actually meant ‘except where we’re flogging it as a replacement for speed bumps’. Furthermore, you’re advocating putting a speed-bump replacement on the approach to roundabouts and traffic lights.

They’re clearly making shit up as they go along. How do these people get funding? (I’m looking at you, government.)

Anyway.. none of this matters just now, as I’m willing to bet these things will never see the public highway.

The point it: where is the magic electricity coming from? From you car, of course. You’ll be giving the gas pedal an extra prod to get over it, with all the associated fuel usage and CO2 output.

So Sainsbury’s will be taxing its customers to power its tills and, of course, to cover the capital outlay of this Wile E Coyote piece of shit.

It may only be 0.1p it costs you to drive over this thing but, as these supermarket cunts may say, ‘every little helps’.

As an aside, looking at the fucking waders you’ll find in supermarkets, maybe a better idea would be for each till to be powered by an exercise bike with a dynamo attached.

AJ

More fun with electric cars…

Via the Adam Smith Institute blog, I see that..

As the Atlantic reports in its May issue, the exploding demand for hybrid cars and windmills is likely to create a bottle neck in the supply of a commodity with the exotic name of neodymium.

Neodymium is a crucial material for build lightweight permanent magnets “that make the Prius motors zoom” and are needed for the generators of wind mills as well. In fact, the present production of neodymium would have to be doubled in order to make just a few million electric cars. The main pit for neodymium in the US, California’s Mountain Pass, has recently been closed after a series of leaks released hundreds of thousands of gallons of radioactive waste into the environment. The dirty little secret of green cars and windmills is that the neodymium has to be yielded from rare-earth ore, which are regularly contaminated with radioactive thorium.

Buy Geiger counter stocks….

AJ

Electric Cars draw only hot air….not electricity….

I’ve previously blethered about electric cars and the problems of available electricity generating capacity.

I shouldn’t have worried. According to some people who evidently have no vested interest whatsoever, there is no problem.

UK’s national grid ready for e-car expansion, claims report

A new study claims to show that if three million of us went out tomorrow and bought plug-in electric cars, the UK’s national grid could support our charging needs without missing a beat.

Oh wait.. here comes a vested interest.

The report was carried out by a consortium called the Range Extended Hybrid Electric Vehicle (REHEV) project, led by Jaguar-Land Rover and part-funded by the government through the Technology Strategy Board. The REHEV also includes engineering concern Ricardo, power company E.ON and battery developer Amberjac Projects.

The report modelled four different vehicle fleet charging scenarios: uncontrolled domestic charging, uncontrolled off-peak domestic charging, ‘smart’ domestic charging and uncontrolled public charging throughout the day – commuters who recharge their vehicles while at work, for example.

Assuming e-cars made up ten per cent of the UK vehicle fleet – that’s around three million cars and vans – REHEV reckons we would be looking at a peak demand increase of around two per cent or approximately 1GW. And that’s the worst case scenario with us all plugging in our e-cars willy-nilly – other, more controlled scenarios apparently placed even less strain on the grid.

Let’s look at that number. They’re saying the peak demand will increase by approx 1GW. That’s 1 000 000 KW. So, if 1 million of the 3 million electric cars are plugged in at 7pm when their hapless owners get home from the coalface, they each, according to the above figure draw 1KW. That’s half what a kettle draws.

Tesla motors say that you can completely recharge a Tesla in 3.5 hours, at 70AMP current draw. Now, that’s USA, so 110V, 7.7KW. For us with 220/240v that’s a 32AMP circuit feed (6.4-7.2KW), which no household has just now. So let’s use a lower powered charger that draws 2KW from a 13amp circuit and be charitable, saying that the charging time is trebled. That’s 10.5 hours to recharge your electric car from a domestic mains circuit.

So, back to that 1GW. If the car charger draws 2KW, only 500 000 of the 3 000 000 cars plugged in at the same time would soak up this 1GW of generated capacity. 1/6th of cars. And that would be on an overnight (9-12hr) trickle charge.

Someone is talking absolute cack here.

AJ

Too little, too late…

As the farcical two-step of NIMBYs and lentilists that is the planning process for nuclear power stations gets underway with the naming of 11 potential sites for new reactors, ‘experts’ warned that the reactors cannot possibly be ready in time to meet the shortfall in electricity supply that is going to open up between 2012 and 2015. No surprise really…

Experts warn of ‘energy shortfall’ as nuclear sites revealed

The government fired the starting gun today for the rebirth of Britain’s nuclear power industry, announcing the names of eleven sites earmarked for construction of new reactors.

Each of the new stations will cost £4.5 billion to build and will be powerful enough to supply as many as 2 million homes with electricity for up to 60 years.

Energy experts warned that the first one would not be ready before 2017 at the earliest — too late to avoid a yawning gap opening up in Britain’s energy supplies with a string of ageing coal and nuclear stations set to close over the next few years.

All good news for frightening punters into buying the gear I sell. :-)

AJ

UPDATE: The Times also has an Op-Ed by Dieter Helm – Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of New College.

Fast-forward to 2015 and the energy position could be precarious. By then the remaining coal power stations will be facing closure because of the pollution control requirements of the EU directive on large combustion plants. By then all except one of the existing nuclear stations will also be closed or facing closure. Having to replace so much coal and nuclear capacity in such a short period is unprecedented – except perhaps in wartime.

Gordon Brown to Power Electric Cars on Hot Air…

I’ve blethered previously about the fatuity of pushing the UK towards electric cars, when there is diminishing generating capacity to serve our existing needs.

Now, Broon, plans to make them the vanguard of the ‘Green Budget’

Exclusive: PM reveals plans to create first ‘green’ cities geared towards electric cars in drive to create 400,000 new jobs

Aye… right

Never was very good with numbers, Gordo.

Mike Rutherford unpicks the plan in the Tellygraff.

AJ

Post boxes must become as socially unacceptable as chair legs.

A very similar sentiment was expressed by Ed BonzoDogDooDahBand yesterday when he said:

The Government needs to be saying ‘It is socially unacceptable to be against wind turbines in your area – like not wearing your seat belt or driving past a zebra crossing.

???

His comments were made at the screening of new climate change documentary The Age Of Stupid.

Oh, that’s right… The Age of Stupid is being pitched as a documentary. In the same sense, I hope, that Spinal Tap was a documentary. Anyway, back to the point.

Teddy’s words were but a clumsy wielding of a technique known as ‘denormalisation’. There’s a rather good paper on the subject here, which I was lead to from Taking Liberties.

Basically, denormalisation is the modus operandi of the meddling Righteous classes, when they want to put a stop to something they don’t like. Smoking, drinking, junkfood, speeding, 4x4s, flying, global warming ‘denial’, cash economy, tax avoidance, unregulated freedom – you name it. Rather than tackling the object of their meddling, the approach is to demonise those people who partake of the unapproved activity – paint them as pariahs and social outcasts. Thanks to the collaboration of the fourth estate, and the collusion of the many agents of righteous and the gullible in society, the vision can become the reality – look at the way smokers are treated now.

Anyway, the X is as socially unacceptable as Y formula works like this:

  1. Let X equal something we want to ban.
  2. Let Y equal something that is already egregious in the public mind.

An extreme example would be:

Derek Draper said, “Guido Fawkes’ blog should be made as socially unacceptable as child pornography.”

A real world example would be:

Road safety experts believe speeding must become as big a social taboo as smoking and drink-driving.

The divisiveness of this strategy and the insidious, fragmenting impact it has on society are dealt with nicely in the above paper – here’s a quote:

These campaigns dehumanise whole categories of people, which is arguably the most damning conclusion possible. Whatever one may or may not think of the smoking habit and of smokers, themselves, one unavoidable truth is that the smoker’s social status (or lack thereof) in the modern era foreshadowed the current, lowly social status of the fat Briton, and it sadly foreshadows, with equal accuracy, the descending social status of the responsible adult gambler and drinker.

So, have you spotted the obvious flaws in Ed’s statement? Let’s look at it again:

‘It is socially unacceptable to be against wind turbines in your area – like not wearing your seat belt or driving past a zebra crossing.

  • X = Opposition to wind farms

This is not a social group you’re going to marginalise easily, because it’s not a social group at all – opposition to windfarms comes from rural folk, NIMBYs, bird enthusiasts, climate change deniers realists, hikers and people who have calculated the energy lifecycle of a wind turbine, including manufacture and erection and realised that the thing would have to run 24×7, in a force 9 gale for 400 years before it generated the same amount of energy used in putting it there.

  • Y = Seatbelts

I may not have my finger on the pulse here, but I’ve never been upbraided by a righteous for not wearing my seatbelt (that said I have been ticketed by a 9 year old copper). In fact, the argument for seat belts starts to fall apart under scrutiny, since the theory of risk compensation shows (and road safety statistics back this up) that drivers take less care the more safe they feel. Which is why, when seat belts became compulsory, the number of RTA casualties inside cars fell by the same amount that pedestrian and cyclist casualties rose. The casualties were not reduced – they were displaced from inside the car to outside of it.

The optimum pattern for seatbelt usage is for all passengers to wear them, but not the driver.

But there’s another value that Ed offered for Y:

  • Y = Driving through a zebra crossing.

I doubt Rodney King shares your view, Ed.

AJ

In other fails…

In the dregs of this particularly crappy winter we’re running out of gas – as predicted by the peculiarly prescient EUReferendum, who points out that the Indypedant has now picked up on his theory from January….

Raiding the reserves

We wrote about the possibility of a gas shortage in a piece in early January, suggesting that the danger period was early Spring. No one took a blind bit of notice, of course – we are, after all, only a blog, and a particularly irritating one at that.

However, now The Independent on Sunday has picked up the theme and, since that is a corner of the revered and all-seeing MSM, then there must be something in it.

Filtered through what is perceived to be of the greatest interest, we are thus told of a "Threat of gas price rise as reserves run dry," with the information that pipeline breakdowns and cold weather are leaving a yawning breach in nation’s energy security. The problem period, as we predicted in our piece (pat – pat), is next month as "vital gas reserves" are set to run dry.

The source of this information is Centrica, owner of British Gas, which says that, on present trends, its main reserve will be totally depleted in a little over three weeks. And though extra gas can be imported from Norway and the Netherlands to make up any shortfall, serious breakdowns have hit pipelines from both countries in the past week.

And we need to remember that a significant proportion of our electricity comes from gas generators.

As we have observed, though, this is only half the story. The underlying problem is the excessive reliance on gas for electricity generation, a problem that is set to get considerably worse as generators build new gas-generation capacity to fill the gap caused by the lack of a coherent energy policy and the insane emphasis on renewables.

So, perhaps the things I’ve been predicting for 2010 onwards need to be thrown out of the window. If we start getting power cuts (and heating failure) in March, Brown’s government could be brought to its knees by April. General election May, Call Me DavePM. But the later predictions could still come true.

AJ

Head-long into the unenlightenment

Pointed toward via several sources. Quoted in entirety from the ever vigilant EUReferendum blog. This ludicrousness.

Light bulbs and Eco-Fascism

Today’s Daily Mail carries a long op-ed from Booker setting out the case against the ban on incandescent light bulbs which was requested by the leaders of the 27 member states at the European Council last week.

To put it in context, Booker writes of us now being deluged with news of the latest proposals from our politicians about how to save the planet from global warming, citing Gordon Brown and his "new world order" to combat climate change, coming on top of Mr David Cameron’s proposals for strict "green" limits on air travel.

Thus we have the EU declaring that a fifth of all our energy must be "green" by 2020, even though there is no chance of such an absurd target being met. We must have "green" homes, "green" cars, "green" fuel, even microchips in our rubbish bins to enforce "green" waste disposal… and now "green" lights.

Echoing this blog, Booker wonders whether these politicians any longer got the faintest idea what they are talking about. "Do they actually look at the hard, practical facts before they rush to compete with each other in this mad musical-chairs of gesture politics?" he asks.

And, in response to his own question he then points up "just one instance" of the hysteria now sweeping our political class off its feet, an instance which was bannered across the Daily Mail’s front page on Saturday in the headline "EU to switch off our old light bulbs".

This was the news that, as part of its latest package of planet-saving measures, the EU plans, within two years, to ban the sale of those traditional incandescent light bulbs we all take for granted in our homes, forcing us to buy the so-called high energy efficent lights.

Aside from anything else, this is an incredible speed given that one of the main lobbyists for change, Philips Electronics, was calling only for a ten-year transition.

No doubt Tony Blair and the other heads of government who took this decision (following the lead of Fidel Castro’s dictatorship in Cuba) purred with self-congratulation at striking such a daring blow against global warming. After all these "compact fluorescent bulbs" (or CFLs), to which they want us all to switch, use supposedly only a fifth of the energy needed by the familiar tungsten-filament bulbs now to be made illegal.

Booker notes that among the first to congratulate the EU’s leaders was Green MEP Caroline Lucas, who claimed that "banning old-fashioned light bulbs across the EU would cut carbon emissions by around 20 million tonnes per year and save between €5-8 million per year in domestic fuel bills".

Put that way, of course, who could argue? Certainly not European light bulb manufacturers who are struggling to compete against cheap imports of incandescent lights, or the retailers who stand to benefit from the much higher margins on CFLs.

Yet some of the people who are arguing – and are far from impressed by the EU’s decision – are not a few electrical engineers who have been clutching their heads in disbelief. Did those politicians, they wondered, actually take any expert advice before indulging in this latest planet-saving gesture?

In fact the virtues of these "low energy" bulbs are nothing like so wonderful as naïve (self-serving) enthusiasts like Ms Lucas imagine them to be. Indeed in many ways, the experts warn, by banning incandescent bulbs altogether the EU may have committed itself to an appallingly costly blunder.

It is a decision which will have a far greater impact on all our lives than most people are yet aware, presenting the UK alone with a bill which, on our government’s own figures, could be £3 billion or more.

The result will provide a quality of lighting which in many ways will be markedly less efficient. Even Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor who put forward the proposal, admitted that, because the energy-saving bulbs she uses in her flat take some time to warm up, she often has "a bit of a problem" when she is looking for something she has "dropped on the carpet".
But even more significantly, because they must be kept on so much longer to run efficiently, the actual amount of energy saved by these bulbs has been vastly exaggerated.

So what are the disadvantages of CFLs over the traditional bulbs we will no longer be allowed to buy? Quite apart from the fact that the CFLs are larger, much heavier and mostly much uglier than familiar bulbs – and up to 20 times more expensive – the vast majority of them give off a harsher, less pleasant light.

Because they do not produce light in a steady stream, like an incandescent bulb, but flicker 50 times a second, some who use them for reading eventually find their eyes beginning to swim – and they can make fast-moving machine parts look stationary, posing a serious safety problem – the so-called "strobe effect".

CFLs cannot be used with dimmer switches or electronically-triggered security lights (see package label, illustrated below), so these will become a thing of the past. They cannot be used in microwaves, ovens or freezers, because these are either too hot or too cold for them to function (at any temperature above 50C or lower than –18C they don’t work).

More seriously, because CFLs need much more ventilation than a standard bulb, they cannot be used in any enclosed light fitting which is not open at both bottom and top (such as the type illustrated) – the implications of which for homeowners are horrendous.

Astonishingly, according to a report on "energy scenarios in the domestic lighting sector", carried out last year for Defra by its Market Transformation Programme, "less than 50 percent of the fittings installed in UK homes can currently take CFLs".

In other words, on the government’s own figures, the owners of Britain’s 24 million homes will have to replace hundreds of millions of light fittings, at a cost upwards of £3 billion. Not only is this an unwelcome cost, but the time scale of two years to replace as many as 60 million light fittings is wholly unrealistic.

In addition to this, low-energy bulbs are much more complex to make than standard bulbs, requiring up to ten times as much energy to manufacture. Unlike standard bulbs, they use toxic materials, including mercury vapour, which the EU itself last year banned from landfill sites – which means that recycling the bulbs will itself create an enormously expensive problem.

Perhaps most significantly of all, however, to run CFLs economically they must be kept on more or less continuously. The more they are turned on and off, the shorter becomes their life, creating a fundamental paradox, as is explained by an Australian electrical expert Rod Elliott (whose Elliott Sound Products website provides as good a technical analysis of the disadvantages of CFLs as any on the internet).

If people continue switching their lights on and off when needed, as Mr Elliott puts it, they will find that their "green" bulbs have a much shorter life than promised, thus triggering a consumer backlash from those who think they have been fooled.

But if they keep their lights on all the time to maximise their life, CFLs can end up using almost as much electricity from power stations (creating CO2 emissions) as incandescent bulbs – thus cancelling out their one supposed advantage.

In other words, in every possible way this looks like a classic example of kneejerk politics, imposed on us not by our elected Parliament after full consultation and debate, but simply on the whim of 27 politicians sitting round that table in Brussels, not one of whom could have made an informed speech about the pluses and minuses of what they were proposing.

There was not a hint of democracy in this crackpot decision, which will have a major impact on all our lives, costing many of us thousands of pounds and our economy billions – all to achieve little useful purpose, while making our homes considerably less pleasant to live in.

Such is the price we are now beginning to pay for the "eco-madness" which is sweeping through our political class like a psychic epidemic, The great "Euro-bulb blunder" is arguably the starkest symbol to date of the crazy new world into which this is leading us.

Photo of light bulb showing components, courtesy of Rod Elliott.

Bleak.

AJ

Lights out Update

Some unencouraging news from The Times:

Coal power station closures could see Britain forced to start turning out the lights from 2013

A TENTH of the UK’s power plants could be forced to close by the spring of 2013 – two-and-a-half years ahead of schedule, new research shows.

The revelation will stoke fresh concern that the government has not done enough to head off a looming energy generation gap that could lead to blackouts across the country.

Under an EU directive, companies operating old coal and oil-fired plants were given the option to spend hundreds of millions of pounds to upgrade them to comply with tougher pollution standards.

Those that “opted out” of the programme – nine plants representing about 15% of UK power supply – were given 20,000 hours to operate, starting from January last year through to the end of 2015. Based on research from the energy-consultancy group Utilyx, several of these plants have been running at historically high rates that would put them out of commission much sooner than originally thought.

The coal-fired plants at Kingsnorth in Kent, owned by Eon, Scottish Power’s Cockenzie plant, RWE-owned Npower’s stations at Tilbury and Didcot, and Scottish & Southern’s Ferrybridge plant will all be decommissioned by the spring of 2013 if current patterns continue. The stations generate some 7.6GW of electricity – 10% of the UK’s total capacity.

The first of them, Scottish Power’s 1.2GW plant at Cockenzie, which generates enough power for 1m homes, will close as early as September 2010 based on current rates. The research was based on analysis of running patterns at the plants from January 1 this year to the end of October.

“It is likely that a significant proportion of the UK’s opted-out coal plant will close earlier than 2015, with the impact felt around 2013,” said Kevin Akhurst, managing director of generation at Npower.

H/T EUReferendum

AJ

Lights Out Soon

I have mentioned previously that we’re going to be needing more electricity generating capacity.

Now, the top man confirms the suspicion.

National Grid chief Steve Holliday: blackouts will be common in 7 years

Britain could face regular blackouts within seven years if the Government does not intervene in the energy market to ensure that more power stations are built, the head of National Grid says today.

In an interview with The Times, Steve Holliday, chief executive of the company that operates the power and gas transmission network, said that Britain was facing an acute shortage of generating capacity because a string of ageing nuclear and coal-fired plants were due to be retired from service.

The warning came after Ofgem, the energy industry regulator, said on Friday that it was to consider fresh incentives to encourage the development of renewable energy schemes in Britain.

Mr Holliday said that National Grid’s own analysis indicated that, under a business-as-usual scenario, Britain would fail to attract enough investment in new plants and would lack sufficient generating capacity to meet peak demand around 2015.

This will be a fine legacy from 11-18 years of Labour government and 20 years of foaming-mouthed environmentlers. Of course, the latter will get what they want. We’ll be reduced to candlelight, penury, barbarism and I expect we’ll be communicating by painting pictures on the wall with our own faeces.

Utter, utter bastards.

AJ

Joined Up Government #65574

Over at EUReferendum, there has been extensive coverage of the inevitable power shortages that the UK is going to start experiencing in the next 5 years. Not hysteria about one-off shortages of power, such as happened in May 2008 (see also here and here), but full-on ‘half our generating capacity is going offline before 2015′.

So it should come as little, or indeed no, shock to read that the government is feverishly hatching a plot to get us into electric cars.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article5010490.ece

Charging points for electric cars are to be installed in thousands of car parks and on streets as part of a government plan to convert drivers from petrol and diesel to electricity.

Under the scheme, motorists will be able to plug in and recharge their batteries while shopping or at work. In the longer term, those who are unable to wait will be able to exchange their empty battery and drive on with minimal delay.

Ministers plan to kick-start mass production of electric cars with a £100 million package that will include incentives for manufacturers and tax breaks for drivers.

They intend to borrow ideas pioneered in Israel, where half a million recharging points are being installed in a scheme known as Project Better Place.

An aside, but, if it’s true that there is something in Israel called Project Better Place, I can think of better things the project might consider to make it a ‘Better Place’. Probably the same sort of enviro-pillocks who liken every dying polar bear to a holocaust.

But anyway, there’s good news!

Renault and Nissan are developing an electric car with a range of more than 100 miles and plan to mass-produce them from 2011.

Really???? We’ll be able to go more than 100 miles from 2011?? Thank you ever so much. I don’t use my car every day, but on the days that I do, 90% of my travel involves round trips of 150 miles or more.

And if the car takes as long to charge as my mobile phone does, I’ll be having a wee snooze between getting home from work and going to the bloody supermarket.

But all of this is beside the central point. Which is this:

WHERE’S THE ELECTRICITY GOING TO COME FROM YOU COMPLETE AND UTTER NUMBSKULLS??

In the meantime, it should come as even less surprise that there’s a plan afoot to put electric hackney cabs in London.

Some lentil crunchers have been doing the maths over in America, and the news is good there too.

The researchers looked at what would happen if all these vehicles were plugged in at 5 P.M. (at 6 kW of power on average, with a 25 percent market penetration by 2020) and found that up to 160 new power plants would have to be built.

So, 25% market penetration in a 300m population (USA) vs 25% market penetration in a 60m population (UK). That would mean we’d need 32 new power stations in the UK. And that’s before we take account of rising consumption in households and the above mentioned impending electricity crisis.

Another aside, but if the car is drawing 6kW to charge, that means you’ll have to have a whole new 30amp feed installed in your domestic electricity system. Possibly a whole new consumer unit, and a whole bunch of H&S wank because you’ll be trailing a cable – delivering 30amps of current at 220v AC – outside and plugging it into a wet car. You’ll probably be required to have all your shoes converted to rubber soles or suchlike – and don’t think that’ll be the last step on the road to abolition of leather footwear!

Anyway, there’s even better news, when it comes to using coal-fired power stations to charge electric cars.

Oh dear. More petrol, Vicar?

AJ

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