As we all know, the world faces a global carrot crisis. Unless something is done now to increase the production of carrot renewables, mankind's ability to see in the dark will soon be a distant memory.
Which is why, according to the Major's brainy friend Herr Docktor Professor Franz Kuntz, the government is about to launch the Carrot Renewables Allotment Protocol (or CRAP).
Modelled on the pathbreaking German scheme (which was devised by none other than the good Docktor himself) CRAP will reward consumers for growing their own renewable carrots. What's more - and this is the real stroke of genius - rather than simply consuming carrots, households will be incentivised to grow a surplus which can then be sold to the National Carrot Grid at a fixed premium price. So not only will they be helping the planet and future generations, they'll be helping themselves to a right old packet.
Renewable carrots can be grown pretty well anywhere - the garden, a windowbox, on the backseat of your Toyota Prius, or even on top of your mini wind generator. And you don't need any special skills - literally anybody can do it. All it takes is a simple Photovoltaic Carrot Panel, obtainable for just £15,000 - £20,000 from Kuntz Industries (Leipzig). Too much? Well don't worry - the government will pay half.
So are we all up to speed with FIT - the Feed-In Tariff for renewable energy? It's the current hot idea for stimulating microgeneration in homes across Britain, with a new government plan expected this very week. In fact, FIT is the new hot idea worldwide, and here's a nice pic showing how it all works, with a two-way connection to the grid allowing you to supply electricity... at least if the sun's shining:
The German scheme has been going since 1990 and it works as follows. The government subsidises the installation of electricity generating solar panels or turbines or pig muck digestors at your home. It then forces the local power company to couple your generator up to the grid at no cost to you. It then forces the power company to buy all the energy you care to supply at a fixed premium price of 2-3 times the current price for ordinary power station power.
And it's all been hailed as a fantastic success. In 2005, Germany generated 12% of its electricity from renewables, whereas we managed less than 5%. What's more, the German renewables supply industry is booming and reportedly now employs 250,000.
But doesn't the power company object to the extra costs imposed on it? Well no. The power company doesn't mind at all because you see, it's allowed to pass on all its extra costs to its customers.
Ah, the customers... we knew some schmuck would be writing the cheque. Surely they object to their electricity being more expensive?
Well, supposedly not. The official line is that it only costs a typical domestic customer about £20 pa more, and they're happy to be doing their bit for the planet.
But can that be right? £20 sounds pretty low. True, the capital costs were initially subsidised by the taxpayer rather than the power customer. And true, we are only talking 12% from renewables: if it increased to 100%, the cost burden would be more like £160 pa.
Still sounds low. All-in, the average cost of solar electricity is 2-5 times that of current domestic tariffs, and wind-power is about 2 times. So with the average electricity bill now running at just under £400pa, you have to guess the true extra cost for 100% renewables generation would be more like £400 pa.
And as we know, that understates the true cost because many renewables, like wind and solar, are intermittent sources of power, requiring the maintenance of expensive standby facilities as well.
Be on your guard against FIT being spun as a get of jail free card. It isn't free.
And be equally on your guard against CRAP being spun as the answer to the carrot crisis. The only way out of that is for the Saudis to step up production.