Thursday, June 26, 2008

Good News/Bad News

Hippy v Hippy

There's been good news and bad news for Tyler today.

The good news is that within two years he'll move from being the victim of state discrimination laws to being their beneficiary.

As a white middle-class heterosexual bloke, he's endured years of being discriminated against, and his cowed demeanor is shaming testimony to society's guilt. Indeed, just today Commissarette Harman shrieked out a fresh assault, making it legal for him to be formally discriminated against in the job market.

But what's this? Some good news! The Commissarette also announced that, henceforth, any white blokes who somehow make it to 60 will be given the same rights as everyone else! We'll be protected by our very own anti-discrimination laws. How empowering will that be!

Of course, the Major - miserable old cynic that he is - reckons Harman is only doing this to court the OAP vote, and that the whole package - positive discrimination for women, ethnics, and transgendered Jedi - will drop another crushing red tape burden on British business. Too bad, says free-bus-pass Tyler.

But it's not all good news.

Today Tyler attended a seminar on the prospective costs of Britain's commitment to the EU's renewable energy targets. And that put the wind up him good and proper.

The seminar - coincidentally held on the very day Gordo launched his own... er... "vision" - heard a presentation on some work in progress, so possibly not available for blogging. But there's plenty that is, and that's more than enough to suggest Tyler's old age will be a distinctly chilly affair.

In brief, Blair committed us to producing 15% of all our energy needs from renewables, EXCLUDING NUKES, by 2020. We currently produce less than 2%, so that's a huge increase. And by far the bulk of the burden (maybe 70%) will fall on electricity generation, which only accounts for some 20% of our total energy usage. So the entire electricity generating industry will need to be transformed beyond recognition. In just 12 years.

The cost is likely to be staggering. Power company E.ON has estimated the bill at around £10bn pa, the equivalent of an additional £400 pa (around 40%) on household fuel bills. Others reckon it will be considerably higher.

But even worse than that, there are very real doubts about whether the target is in any way feasible. For one thing it implies a massive increase in wind power, despite the fact that the world equipment supply and installation industry is already working flat out with order books full for the next four years.

Well, that's OK you say, it's just a load of wibble anyway: who cares if we don't do it? Especially if it's going to cost a packet.

Not so fast. The problem is that many of our existing power plants are reaching the end of their lives and will be closing. If we don't build replacements we're into a world of black-outs, long winter evenings and freezing pensioners. One of whom could be Tyler.

But if we do build replacements - nukes and coal are best - then our commissars will get wigged by their EU "colleagues", which would clearly never do. Plus, we'd likely get whacked with a mega-fine from some Euro court or other.

So. Bad news.

PS I was truly shocked by some of the figures tossed around at today's seminar (which I will blog if I can get clearance from their owner). I like to think I'm reasonably up to speed with such matters, so if I was shocked, I can well imagine how the typical taxpaying voter will feel. It needs to be out in the public arena soonest - how come our public service broadcaster hasn't done one of their climate doom specials on it?

PPS On that famous Severn barrage, the informed view at the seminar was that it does make economic sense (Tyler senior will be pleased, because it means he's right and I'm wrong). True, the latest cost estimate is £23bn (BOM adjusted, call it £30bn). But the technology is tried and tested, it is apparently Europe's largest untapped renewable energy resource, and unlike many renewables like wind, its power would be quite predictable. And yes, it would take a decade to build, but it would have a projected life of 200 years (wonder why not infinite?).

1 comment:

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