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UK Draft Energy Bill Avoids Banning Coal Or Gas Power

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the we'll-just-colonize-mars dept.

Power 153

Bob the Super Hamste writes "The BBC is reporting that the UK's new Draft Energy Bill (PDF) avoids banning coal or gas powered plants. The bill would guarantee profits for new nuclear and offshore wind plants by putting a levy on people's energy bills. The bill does not mandate a statement that minsters had previously made about having totally clean energy within two decades. The government states that provisions within the bill will ensure a balanced diverse energy mix as well has stating that future emissions from gas powered plants will have to be captured and stored. The bill also aims to increase competition in the UK energy market by making it easier for new competitors to become connected to the grid. Joss Garman of Greenpeace states: 'By failing to set a clear goal for carbon-free electricity by 2030, ministers are opening the door to a dangerous new dash for gas that will put up both bills and carbon emissions, and increase our dependence on imported fuel. This means families and business will be exposed to rocketing international gas prices. The fastest and cheapest way to bring down bills and carbon emissions is by ramping up energy efficiency but Ministers have totally failed to deliver on this.' Additionally it would appear that the guarantee of profits for new nuclear power plants may not be legal as there is a ban on subsidies for nuclear power under European law and the UK coalition government agreement." Note that wind projects are getting profit guarantees and not just nuclear.

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No mention of the power cable to Iceland. (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077195)

Should we operate on the assumption that the UK assumes that it won't get built?

Pretty Much Expected from the Cameron Government (1, Interesting)

DrEnter (600510) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077197)

This is really no surprise from the Cameron government, which acts like a puppet of oil and gas interests. First dismantling the UK Carbon Trust, and now openly pushing legislation like this. Deplorable all around. As bad as Blair and Brown were, the UK managed to find someone worse in Cameron. Amazing.

Re:Pretty Much Expected from the Cameron Governmen (5, Insightful)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077445)

One person's puppet of oil and gas is another person's guy trying not to implode the economy.

Not true (2, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078375)

That'd be true if Cameron at the same time tried to actually do something with the economy, instead of trying to squeeze it as much as possible with new austerity measures. The ones that have already caused a new recession in the UK.

Re:Not true (2)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 2 years ago | (#40079229)

I've looked at the numbers and I haven't seen any country in Europe (besides Greece by a little bit) reduce their spending year-over-year. That doesn't sound like austerity.

He did raise taxes to reduce the deficit. And that will suck money out of the private sector and slow the economy. But I'm not sure if that warrants the label austerity.

But pretty soon we'll all see real austerity if we maintain the present course.

Re:Not true (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#40079405)

I've looked at the numbers and I haven't seen any country in Europe (besides Greece by a little bit) reduce their spending year-over-year. That doesn't sound like austerity.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-10810962 [bbc.co.uk] - it was futile and unable to reduce deficits, of course. But spending cuts were very real.

He did raise taxes to reduce the deficit. And that will suck money out of the private sector and slow the economy. But I'm not sure if that warrants the label austerity.

Not 'will' but 'has'. The UK is in the midst of the SECOND recession and falling down still. Cameron achieved quite a dubious feat - UK has now been depressed more than in the Great Depression of 30-s. With no way out in sight.

Re:Not true (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 2 years ago | (#40079495)

You seem to have a short memory. New Labour under Blair and Brown were running an increased deficit during the boom, even after increasing taxes. There was no room left for the government to do something with the economy when the recession came.

Government debt stood at 29% of GDP in 2002, and had increased to 37% before the crash in 2007, despite incredibly strong economic conditions. What exactly do you think was going to happen? That's why it's spiralled so quickly to 90% of GDP.

Servicing just the interest on the debt is about the same as the defence budget, or if you prefer, the fourth largest budget item. We're basically fucked for decades due to the previous government's profligacy.

Re:Not true (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#40079679)

You seem to have a short memory. New Labour under Blair and Brown were running an increased deficit during the boom, even after increasing taxes. There was no room left for the government to do something with the economy when the recession came.

On the contrary, I have a very good memory.

Government debt stood at 29% of GDP in 2002, and had increased to 37% before the crash in 2007, despite incredibly strong economic conditions. What exactly do you think was going to happen? That's why it's spiralled so quickly to 90% of GDP.

WRONG!
UK debt end 1998 : 410,2 G£, i. e. 46,7 % of GDP (ONS)
UK debt end 1999 : 405,7 G£, i. e. 43,7 % of GDP (ONS)
UK debt end 2000 : 400,6 G£, i. e. 41,0 % of GDP (ONS)
UK debt end 2001 : 385,5 G£, i. e. 37,7 % of GDP (ONS)
UK debt end 2002 : 402,9 G£, i. e. 37,5 % of GDP (ONS)
UK debt end 2003 : 441,1 G£, i. e. 38,7 % of GDP (ONS)
UK debt end 2004 : 487,9 G£, i. e. 40,4 % of GDP (ONS)
UK debt end 2005 : 529,4 G£, i. e. 42,3 % of GDP (ONS)
UK debt end 2006 : 573,3 G£, i. e. 43,4 % of GDP (ONS)
UK debt end 2007 : 618,4 G£, i. e. 44,2 % of GDP (ONS)
UK debt end 2008 : 750,3 G£, i. e. 52,0 % of GDP (ONS)
http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/spending_chart_1950_2010UKp_11s1li011lcn_G0t_UK_National_Debt_As_Pct_GDP [ukpublicspending.co.uk]

So where's the debt crisis? It oscillated around 40% during the recent "good" years. It only started growing in 2008 because of the freaking global crisis. There was NO reason for austerity. And the effects of austerity turned out to be self-defeating - the projections show that their effects on deficit are minimal.

Everyone preaching about debt should read http://www.amazon.com/End-This-Depression-Paul-Krugman/dp/0393088774 [amazon.com] . Go on, read it.

Re:Pretty Much Expected from the Cameron Governmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40077715)

This electrically conveyed belly-aching brought to you by Oil and Gas Puppetry.

Re:Pretty Much Expected from the Cameron Governmen (4, Funny)

QuantumPion (805098) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078073)

I'm pissed that he didn't ban CO2 exhalation by humans. I mean it is clear we are a threat to the planet and need to be stopped. Then again that's about what I'd expect from the Cameron government, which acts like a puppet for that outrageous corrupt evil special interest corporation known as humanity.

Re:Pretty Much Expected from the Cameron Governmen (0)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078567)

As an exercise for home: Does your strawman burn carbon neutral or does it affect atmospheric CO2?

Re:Pretty Much Expected from the Cameron Governmen (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078283)

Nuclear and wind producers are getting guaranteed profits. You don't think that is a sign of special interest?

Tories (1)

Epeeist (2682) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078325)

To quote Nye Bevan

No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.

Re:Pretty Much Expected from the Cameron Governmen (2)

Cederic (9623) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078933)

I'm confused. Story states that viable energy sources aren't banned in favour of unproven and/or expensive energy sources, and that means Cameron's a puppet?

Kneejerk often?

(Note that I'm not challenging whether he's a marionette, just your logic in inferring it from a fairly innocuous part of a report that has far more important implications)

Re:Pretty Much Expected from the Cameron Governmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40079407)

Well, there's always magic unicorn farts, eh Comrade?

Arbitrary efficiency standards lower costs? (4, Insightful)

LehiNephi (695428) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077199)

Uh, perhaps there's some measure in the law which places tariffs on higher-polluting sources, but I can't recall any time when mandatory, arbitrary efficiency/emissions standards have lowered costs. If higher efficiency truly creates savings, then the mandates aren't necessary. Witness the boom in demand for fuel-efficient cars as gas prices go up.

Re:Arbitrary efficiency standards lower costs? (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078719)

I can't recall any time when mandatory, arbitrary efficiency/emissions standards have lowered costs.

CFL's ? they are expensive, but they last a lot longer than incandescents.

Kinda missing the point (3, Informative)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077247)

Since coal [ucsusa.org] and gas powered plants are the number one cause of pollution and greenhouse gases, this is a pretty big oversight.

Re:Kinda missing the point (0)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077323)

Can't we come up with scrubbers to clean up the pollution that coal plants put out?

It's a shame coal is so polluting, because we have so damn much of it. It's one of the most plentiful fuels in the world! There has to be a way to burn it cleanly!

Re:Kinda missing the point (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077401)

You could, but then it would cost more than natural gas or nuclear.

There are lots of ways to burn it cleanly, but then it costs more than using something else.

Re:Kinda missing the point (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077619)

Conveniently the north sea fields are in steep decline such that the UK is in turmoil from going from natgas exporting nation to importing nation a couple years back, so there will be no natgas competitor. Its like claiming people would never pay $10 for dinner at KFC, because they could just eat passenger pigeon and rack of dinosaur ribs. Oh wait, they're all gone. Well then.

As for the nukes, the nimby types and "hate what you fear and fear what you don't understand" types will slow that down. Add some green fearmongering, etc etc.

So, it'll be coal.

Re:Kinda missing the point (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077761)

Then it will not be clean by any stretch, as doing so would cost more than importing natural gas.

GE has the tech. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40077493)

Can't we come up with scrubbers to clean up the pollution that coal plants put out?

It's a shame coal is so polluting, because we have so damn much of it. It's one of the most plentiful fuels in the world! There has to be a way to burn it cleanly!

I have a relative who is a big shot consulting engineer for GE.

And I pepper him with questions like this whenever I see him.

Yes, there are scrubbers - including taking out the metals like mercury - all that mercury in your predator fish (shark, tuna, swordfish, etc ...) is because of coal fired power plants.

BUT power plants have a very long economic life and environmental laws and knowledge hasn't been around that long. You also have folks who don't give a shit about the environment or at least place economic activity above human health - like China and every other Third World Country.

But anyway, GE at least, has technology to make coal as clean as Natural Gas - but you have to pay out the ass for it.

Re:Kinda missing the point (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40077407)

coal and gas powered plants are the number one cause of pollution and greenhouse gases

At the extreme, stupidity becomes indistinguishable from evil.

The cult of AGW has gone way beyond harmless Malthusian eccentricity - it's now killing old ladies.

Re:Kinda missing the point (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077573)

The cult of AGW has gone way beyond harmless Malthusian eccentricity - it's now killing old ladies.

The funny part is that the British media complain about 'global warming' on the one page and old ladies dying from 'fuel poverty' on the next. The high cost of energy being due to the government's farcical anti-'global warming' programs seems to pass them by.

Or perhaps they just have big investments in 'wind farms'.

So the price hike was the £3 rise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40077745)

So the price hike was the £3 rise to subsidise renewables, not the 150% increase in the cost of gas...

right...

Re:Kinda missing the point (2)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077871)

I thought most media outlets were "wind farms" though...

Britain is so screwed (0, Flamebait)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077369)

At this rate they won't have to tell the last person out to turn out the lights because they'll be going out well before that point.

Re:Britain is so screwed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40077451)

They endured how many wars through the centuries, a religious fascist takeover, AND a total collapse of empire---and they are still there. A bad economy and an energy bill that is *completely reversible at any later date* isn't going to topple them to the point they aren't Britain anymore.

Re:Britain is so screwed (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077629)

A bad economy and an energy bill that is *completely reversible at any later date* isn't going to topple them to the point they aren't Britain anymore.

You do realise that you can't just build new power stations overnight and no-one wants to build nuclear stations in Britain right now because the government can't decide whether they want them or hate them?

Re:Britain is so screwed (0)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077485)

The leaders in both America and the UK are essentially trying to mothball their own economies while transferring their wealth to Asia. They do NOT have YOUR interests at heart. They have their own legacies to financially float and it won't be in the UK. Yes, your fucked!

Re:Britain is so screwed (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 2 years ago | (#40079925)

The leaders in both America and the UK are essentially trying to mothball their own economies while transferring their wealth to Asia. They do NOT have YOUR interests at heart. They have their own legacies to financially float and it won't be in the UK. Yes, your fucked!

Wow! Someone else on /. who is capable of critical thinking, understands what's going on, and doesn't buy into the propaganda!

Bravo, Sir, bravo!

Now, all we have to do is cut through all the propaganda, disinformation, deliberate self-imposed general state of ignorance/stupidity, ideological warfare, and political partisanship to educate the drooling masses of the US/UK Idiocracies.

Yeah. We're fucked. :(

Strat

Re:Britain is so screwed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40078285)

you can get that by remote, like we do in Michigone

jr

Better headline. (5, Insightful)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077373)

UK draft bill avoids fantasy land. Remains connected to reality.

Re:Better headline. (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077465)

My reaction too. It's subsidising nuclear and wind, makes it easier for small experimental generators to be connected to the grid (yay for getting back some of the R&D investment on your new test plant), requires carbon capture for coal plants, and provides an emissions ceiling for any power plant which is going to be lowered every year. And the Slashdot spin is that it sucks because it doesn't mandate immediately switching to unicorn fart power.

Re:Better headline. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40078425)

But the unicorn fart power plants are 120% efficient!

Re:Better headline. (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077517)

No, no, no.

That may be a true statement, but this is a headline! It has to be sensational and scandalous, or it'll never get published by a respected journalism outfit like Slashdot!

Re:Better headline. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40077539)

UK draft bill fails to outlaw electricity. Lights still work.

Re:Better headline. (0)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077583)

Because carbon equals electricity, right?

Hmm, now when was the last time I used carbon-based electricity? Think that was about a month ago...

Re:Better headline. (1)

Cederic (9623) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078955)

That's nice for you. I'm using some right now.

It's cheaper, more reliable and the only approach currently available at the scales needed.

I'd far rather be using nuclear power to generate electricity but sadly I lack the personal resources to implement my own generator.

Re:Better headline. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40077597)

Sorry, but this is totally wrong.

The bill needs to set a trajectory to average grid emissions of around 50gCO2/kWh by 2030. Without this, there's no guarantee of the size of the market for manufacturers of renewables, CCS, and nuclear, because there's always a risk that we'll just fall back on relatively high carbon CCGTs. Not being certain about what government policy objectives are (all energy markets are driven by policy) gives rise to the sort of stop/start investment that drives up costs.

There is ample evidence that deploying steadily reduces the costs of new technology like renewables. According to BNEF, every doubling of onshore wind power has reduced the cost of the technology by 14% (http://bnef.com/PressReleases/view/172); solar PV has come down even faster primarly because investors believed that the US and Germany were committed to subsidising the technology (http://thebreakthrough.org/blog/2012/04/how_we_made_clean_energy_cheap.shtml - in haste, so this is a slightly more biased source, sorry).

This is generalisable to loads of high capex, low opex technologies.

Since when did Greenpeace... (1)

StoneyMahoney (1488261) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077375)

...have spokespeople that can actually make good sense on energy policy without sensationalizing the story, backing it up with maths based on massive over-estimates, or begging you to give them money at the same time? I'm almost impressed!

Why this? (0, Redundant)

daemonenwind (178848) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077385)

Slashdot is a US-centric site.

Why are we getting this news about the UK? Whoever decides what stories get posted is a nastyName.

(hey, it's about time someone said the inverse....)

Re:Why this? (1, Insightful)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077621)

Why not? Insular much?

Now there's an idea (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077389)

The bill would guarantee profits for new nuclear and offshore wind plants by putting a levy on people's energy bills.

Oh yes, because that really encourages people to support clean energy and encourages utility companies to reign in the budgets as much as possible for green energy projects.
Although if they outright banned coal and gas, nuclear is sort of controversial and on the fence, that would leave nothing but green energy from this point forward. Well, unless they can run a plant on Hogwarts magic, that would mean "Oh bloody hell, the wind isn't blowing and the sun's not out so we have no electricity at the moment." That would go over really well. What the need is a Mr Fusion that takes any regular matter like a bunch of US universities are inventing.

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077423)

So in your reality power storage has not been invented yet?

Solar thermal can run for days without sunlight, wind power can be used to pump water up hill, all things that are done right now.

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40077487)

Those can't be done to a scale sufficient to provide all energy needs of the country. Suggesting those as a viable solution is laughable. Watch when the poor freeze and starve because energy becomes too expensive for them to buy any. But hey... at least it'll stop global warming...

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077595)

It will never be not windy over the whole country at once. The poor will not freeze, they get subsidized heating. Personally I would use Nuclear for base load, but coal needs to die.

Re:Now there's an idea (2)

Tailhook (98486) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077831)

coal needs to die

Ah no. Coal needs to continue evacuating to Asia [bloomberg.com] where it can be burned safely outside the environment to make low cost solar panels and composite windmills we can then deploy throughout our happy shiny la-la land. You know, where coal is outlawed.

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077891)

That would be one way to end coal dependence. In fact almost exactly what I meant. We need to use coal power to end the use of coal power by building its alternatives.

I am so glad we agree.

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077653)

Watch when the poor freeze and starve because energy becomes too expensive for them to buy any.

They'll be doing that soon enough because the natgas is basically gone. And they burned the coal in the industrial revolution.

Possibly some pie in the sky stuff will help lessen the impact. It will not eliminate the impact. Therefore we should not try to lessen the impact?

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077927)

How much sewerage does the UK make? (I'm being serious here!)

If a sufficient amount is produced, then syngas plants running on gassified biomatter from the sewerage system could be dropped on top of existing nat gas infrastructures, and would have the benefit of plausibly getting labled "carbon neutral". (If it weren't for fossil fuel fertilizers in the food chain.)

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40079577)

Yeah but anerobic digestion generates less energy than aerobic digestion, so most of the calories end up in peoples guts not toilets. There is energy there.

As a crude engineering estimate, figure out what uses more oil per day, my deep fat fryer or a fuel oil furnace.

Its a brave idea but the scaling factors don't work out.

Re:Now there's an idea (2)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077671)

Those can't be done to a scale sufficient to provide all energy needs of the country.

"We can't repel unsupported assertions of that magnitude!"

In China, pumped hydro is being done on a massive scale simply to avoid building *conventional* power plants, by leveling out the day/night curve. The requirements are:

  * An elevation change
  * Enough water input to account for evaporation

That's pretty much it. And it's cheap. As for solar thermal storage, that's built into the cost of the plant of plants with such a design; it's not an extra. When you see price per kWh quoted on such a solar thermal power plant, that's the price you pay. And solar thermal prices have been dropping pretty quickly over the years.

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077963)

The issue is you need lots of water and/or lots of elevation, about 1000 metre-litres per kilowatt-hour of storage.

Re:Now there's an idea (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078045)

See my idea for tidal powered locks above.

Basically, you take a section of rocky sea coast (UK has plenty), dig out an artificial harbor like area, build what looks like a shipping lock to nowhere in it.

Then, whe the tide is high, you open the doors on the lock. Tide bulge water rushes in. Close the lock when full. Tide goes down. Boom. Reservoir of free water you didn't have to pump.

Further inland, you build another lock. This is the "battery". It is elevated a few feet above the main generator pool. Using power produced at low tide, a small amount of water is pumped into the reservoir lock. At high tide, the reservoir lock flows back into the generator pool while the main lock doors are open to catch the tide. This provides relief power while the main lock refills over the hour or so that the tide is full. Rinse, repeat.

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078755)

I can just see, in many years, headlines decrying ancestral decisions to tap lunar orbital energy which went too far, resulting in lunar orbital decay and imminent collision.

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078561)

"We can't repel unsupported assertions of that magnitude!"

Read David Mackay's book, the one on energy (the one on machine learning is worth a read, too).

In China,

TFS and TFA are about the UK.

There's a distinct lack of what people who have mountains call mountains in the UK. There's some capacity (especiall in Scotland), but not all that much, and a long way from where it's needed.

As for solar thermal storage,

The latitude of the UK is too high and the population too dense to realistically support solar.

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

barv (1382797) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078331)

"but at least it will stop global warming"

Only if we reduce CO2 emissions from fuel to zero, and maybe not even then if stories of positive feedback on tundra swamps are accurate. But hey, look at the bright side, those little old ladies won't need heaters!

But then, why is global warming so bad? Sea level rises? Ask the Dutch to build us Dykes. Little old ladies die of heatstroke? Buy them aircon. Food production diminishes because farmland turns to desert? What about the wastes of Siberia and Canada that become fertile farmland? Also CO2 acts as a fertilizer AND reduces a plant's need for water. Or as a last resort, try hydroponics.

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

Fwipp (1473271) | more than 2 years ago | (#40079101)

Well, for starters, it takes hundreds of years for soil to become fertile "from scratch."

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

Q-Hack! (37846) | more than 2 years ago | (#40079571)

Well, for starters, it takes hundreds of years for soil to become fertile "from scratch."

Not true, it took me about 3 weeks with a tractor and several truckloads of peet to turn 50 acres of desert (silica sand) into good farming soil.

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077733)

So in your reality power storage has not been invented yet?

Efficient, large-scale power storage? Nope, doesn't exist. Small-scale, inefficient systems? Sure, thats easy. But thermodynamics states that every time you switch energy format, you lose some energy. The only proposed moderately efficient scalable system I've ever seen for energy storage is flywheels, and those pose a range of PR problems (namely, multi-ton objects spinning at hundreds or thousands of RPMs).

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077845)

So you bury them. PR problem solved.

Large scale storage exists, pump water up hill. Efficiency matters not when you had no other use for that power.

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077789)

This is the UK, what sunlight? During the day, they have indirect, mist scattered sun from a mostly cloudy sky. No good for solar heating.

Best solution is large scale deployment of tidal powered hydro plants.

Here's the basic idea behind how they could be deployed:

You build what looks like a shipping lock. At high tide, you open the lock, and let the tide in. The at max tide, you close the lock. The tide passes, but the raised water stays in. Nature fills the tank for you. Now you release the trapped high pressure water through hydro generators, and have a small backup battery reserve to buffer production during the next high tide when generation has to stop to let the lock refill.

A very large scale installation could be made between the UK and france, if money isn't an obstacle, and could even be a joint venture between those countries like the chunnel project was.

If I were an island nation with lots of sea coast, its at least something I would try.

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

Cederic (9623) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078993)

So combine the UK's average tidal range with the expected efficiency of the turbines you'd be able to drive using this technique and tell us how many miles of coastline we'd have to destroy to provide power to just one town in the country - say, Birmingham.

Bonus points if you don't have to destroy Ireland too.

Re:Now there's an idea (1)

Rising Ape (1620461) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077781)

If I understand it correctly, it's not "guaranteeing profits" in a sense that the government will pay whatever it costs plus a profit margin. Instead, it's guaranteeing a fixed price for the electricity long term. So they'll have every incentive still to build the plants as cheaply as possible.

If you're going to go down this road though, it would seem to make more sense simply to have the government pay for the plants and recover the income by charging for the electricity. The government can borrow money more cheaply than a private company, after all.

I honestly can't blame them (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40077429)

As a tree-hugger myself I don't see how a modern economy can just dump a major source of power like coal and gas in less than one generation so I can't blame them for this. However, I would've liked to have seem them at least set a goal with some teeth behind it. My feeling though is that people hate to sacrifice even to save themselves and we'll just have to have a real climate hell before anything changes. Sort of like the guy who ignores his health until he has a heart attack despite all the warnings.

Re:I honestly can't blame them (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078827)

My feeling though is that people hate to sacrifice even to save themselves and we'll just have to have a real climate hell before anything changes. Sort of like the guy who ignores his health until he has a heart attack despite all the warnings.

The guy who pays attention to his health can avoid a heart attack.

Alas, nothing the UK government can do will have any impact on Global Warming.

EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE has to do something about AGW, or it won't matter at all.

Face it, if every country that had an obligation to limit carbon emissions under Kyoto were to stop using any fossil fuels tomorrow afternoon, it wouldn't do much beyond delay the inevitable by a few years.

Which makes your analogy a bad one.

I kind of like the idea of UK being a test (3, Interesting)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077439)

Actually, as an American, I wouldn't mind seeing the UK turned into a test platform for green energy (and some social engineering to push it). If it succeeds, they could show the rest of the English speaking world how to do it. And if it turns out to be a hippie pipe dream and fails--well, then we learn a valuable lesson without having to suffer for it in the U.S.

You're on point, Britain! Watch out for mines, and good luck.

Re:I kind of like the idea of UK being a test (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40078081)

And that's why a large portion of Britain hates America these days - we don't like being your Guinea pig bitches

Re:I kind of like the idea of UK being a test (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40078197)

Do you use American-R&D funded prescription drugs? It cuts both ways.

Re:I kind of like the idea of UK being a test (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40078213)

If you don't want to be their bitch, stop sucking their dick every time they shove it into your face. Simple as that.

Re:I kind of like the idea of UK being a test (1)

monktus (742861) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078871)

Your arrogance and guinea piggery aside, Scotland is making good progress towards its goal of 100% renewable energy from the wind, hydro, tidal and wave resources it has available. Indirectly this is of global benefit, but it's primarily for the benefit of Scotland, not 'Murica. The Westminster Government on the other hand seems to be struggling to get anyone to build new nuclear stations in England (the Scottish Government will not give permission for nuclear and in any case, Westminster doesn't like paying for infrastructure outside of the South East of England).

http://www.newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-news/5013-concern-raised-over-nuclear-subsidies [newsnetscotland.com]

Greenpeace guy misses the point (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077495)

This bill isn't about efficient energy use, that's another subject which is addressed elsewhere. This is about setting a realistic policy for clean and reliable energy production.

Small NUkes (4, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077535)

The nuclear industry needs to give up on the large, one off plants and come up with smaller, factory built nukes that can be installed in series, much like batteries.

These are being worked on and some already designed and in prototype stage, but taking them commercial is a regulatory hell.

People are always trying to get the federal government to "do something" that they are better off doing themselves or being done by local governments. But clearing the regulatory hurdles and standardizing these products is a perfect example of what the federal government should be doing.

Re:Small NUkes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40077687)

The nuclear industry needs to give up on the large, one off plants and come up with smaller, factory built nukes that can be installed in series, much like batteries.

And keep shrinking the tech, so that eventually I can put a single micro-fusion cell into my car and ride from LA to Reno.

Re:Small NUkes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40077795)

I'm sure people are working on that. I would love it too.

But, traffic will be hell if there is no financial penalty for driving.

Re:Small NUkes (1)

hendridm (302246) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077797)

I'm a proponent of nuclear power and wouldn't have a problem with a plant "in my back yard."

However, having mini-nukes on the road sounds like a terrible idea!

Re:Small NUkes (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078527)

How much energy flow is needed to drive an EV? Let's see... the battery pack has a 13kw/h or so capacity, and drives for 80 miles or so... approx what, .53kw/h per mile? (530v@1a?)

Let's say instead of a mr. Fusion, we build a large carbon 14 betaelectric power core, about the size of a gastank. It weighs about 200lbs let's say. Inside is a honeycomb of thin carbon 14 rods surrounded in a cheap polymer semiconductor, and which produce about 1v @100ma of juice each. (Totally fictional numbers, btw, but other betavoltaic devices about the size of a penny produce .1v or so, from memory. These hypothetical cores are the size of a #1 pencil, so 1v is well within reason I think.)

You need 5300 cores to reach "direct drive" power output. I think you can fit that many in there if you use efficient packing.

Carbon 14 is a beta emitter, with an absurdly long halflife. It does not use catalyzed fission, and can be produced reasonably cheaply (given its long half life| and thus service life) in bulk by seeding ordinary graphite inside a fast breeder reactor, then centrifuging it properly.

By "absurdly long", I mean "over 1 million years". This means that the semiconductor wrapped around the core will fail before the power source inside it does, so old cells could be recycled economically.

Your EV could drive continuously for decades, nonstop.

We can do it now.

Re:Small NUkes (1, Troll)

Zenin (266666) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077897)

Honestly, nuke batteries just have bad idea written all over them.

Here's the problem with nuclear in a nutshell:

  • In theory it can be perfectly safe and extremely efficient.
  • In practice it is nothing but a ticking time bomb easily capable of effectively wiping a large cities right off the map with additional affects world wide. And it's the poster child for inefficient.

A battery of nukes? Again, in theory it could be even safer and more efficient...in practice however, it's just massively compounding the dangers. Remember, Fukushima was a battery of 6 reactors. A problem in one reactor will hamper or completely prevent attending to issues with other reactors, either physically, available man power, or just attention.

--

Humans have proven, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that we as a species simply are not capable of safely handling nuclear. It's not the science we lack. It's not the tech. It's the management.

Re:Small NUkes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40078247)

In practice it is nothing but a ticking time bomb easily capable of effectively wiping a large cities right off the map with additional affects world wide. And it's the poster child for inefficient.

The latter point is worth considering; nuclear is expensive and should be considered with cost-efficiency in mind just like any other energy source. Unfortunately, comparing the costs of energy sources in practice is very difficult; recall that we are in this problem because fossil fuels appear much cheaper on the market than they actually are: if they were priced correctly, the market would sort out using better energy sources without laws like the one being discussed.

On the other hand, the former is pure BS. Fukushima was a very old design that shouldn't have even still been running and it had a more or less worst-case disaster where the damage was no where comparable to "effectively wiping a large cities right off the map". Any new nuclear plant built would be built to modern safety standards which prevent such disasters from being possible (one of the problems with Fukushima is that it required generators to maintain its safety and the generators failed; modern nuclear designs are safe when completely unpowered).

I assume the GP was referencing TerraPower [terrapower.com] which sounds like an interesting idea. (Google around about it, that link is to the company webpage which of course is going to be overly positive and low on information.)

Re:Small NUkes (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078853)

uclear plant built would be built to modern safety standards which prevent such disasters from being possible

... is horribly expensive.

Re:Small NUkes (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078695)

In practice it is nothing but a ticking time bomb easily capable of effectively wiping a large cities right off the map with additional affects world wide. And it's the poster child for inefficient.

We're to the point that we've had 2 disasters with major nuclear material contamination. One was a reactor that wouldn't have been certified in the rest of the world and lacked a containment dome, the other was basically one of the oldest operational plants in the world, hit by a huge natural disaster that killed far more people than what the nuclear relases are going to.

If I was Evil Overlord over an area(POTUS doesn't have enough power), I'd be embarking on a campaign of nuclear plant production - Step 1 would be shutting down polluting, CO2 releasing, coal plants. Step 2 would be shutting down the old GenII one-off reactors. I'd be replacing them with GenIII reactors while we finished the designs for the GenIV. It's my understanding that a liquid thorium reactor isn't actually all that far off for viability, and that's a reactor type where a meldown is impossible. Especially given that the core has to be a liquid for it to work...

Pointless. (1, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077549)

reporting that the UK's new Draft Energy Bill (PDF) avoids banning ... gas powered plants.

Given the staggering decline in north sea production, because its all gone, I don't think this is terribly relevant.

The fastest and cheapest way to bring down ... carbon emissions is by

is by burning up all the gas? Can't emit carbon if there's none to burn.

I follow the energy business and the UK is in serious danger of disaster in the next decade or so. They don't have the technical equipment or the economic strength or the installed capital (like insulated buildings) to survive the transition from a fossil fuel exporter to pretty much having to import everything. The lights are going out and no more central heated homes. The strong "business as usual" and "kick the can down the road" isn't helping the situation. There will be people freezing to death in the winter, there will be rolling blackouts...

Also all/most of the coal was burned up in the industrial revolution. The last mine in cornwall (and it was a tin mine anyway) closed up more than a decade ago. They can import, for awhile. Its kinda expensive.

People have a very difficult time understanding technological limitations. If only the price gets high enough then the boffins will magically find an expensive way to do anything. Well, no, not really. Print as many pounds / euros as you want, they can't magically fill an empty fuel tank.

Re:Pointless. (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077591)

Given the staggering decline in north sea production, because its all gone, I don't think this is terribly relevant.

Considering that Britain appears to have enough shale gas to power it for centuries, that doesn't seem to be a problem.

Re:Pointless. (3, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077747)

shale gas is primarily a way to turn two barrels of crude into one barrel equivalent of natgas. Sometimes its described as a way to turn millions of dollars of capital investment into thousands of dollars of gas.
It is very similar to ethanol as a primary energy source, in that in rare and unusual geography and situations it is occasionally net positive, but by in large its not gonna work.

Re:Pointless. (1)

EnergyScholar (801915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40079447)

Parent exactly nailed it. Shale gas is a scam. The 'hundreds of years of supply' meme is completely false, and is part of a paid social networking and general marketing campaign put on by a few US Fracking companies. Shale gas has poor net energy, making it not worthwhile from an energy source perspective, AND has the bonus of permanently poisoning the local water supply.

Guaranteed Profits (4, Insightful)

Wildclaw (15718) | more than 2 years ago | (#40077663)

I guess it was just a matter of time.

1: Government builds the infrastructure.
Problem: Not profitable enough.

2: Make the government pay private companies to build infrastructure.
Problem: Not profitable enough.

3: Steal..err...privatize the infrastructure.
Problem: You still have to pay those damn progressive taxes, and what happens when you have to build new infrastructure?

4: Guarantee profits on new infrastructure and not via taxes. Instead just force the citizens to buy it so that it works like a regressive tax.

Since wind doesn't need much guarantee (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40077667)

Since wind doesn't need much guarantee of profit and nuclear requires a huge guarantee, I fail to see how "wind projects are getting profit guarantees and not just nuclear" is any form of redress.

How the hell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40077703)

Would you ban both gas and coal and not return to the stone-age?

So now the US truly stands alone (-1, Troll)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078079)

So now the US truly stands alone as being the only developed nation to commit to doing jack to stop the planet from becoming an uninhabitable Mad Max style hell-hole.

We're number one ! We're number one !

Re:So now the US truly stands alone (3, Insightful)

Kr1ll1n (579971) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078371)

So now the US truly stands alone as being the only developed nation to commit to doing jack to stop the planet from becoming an uninhabitable Mad Max style hell-hole.

We're number one !
We're number one !

And some people wonder why not everyone accepts AGW as fact. OP is why. Rants like this are as obnoxious as a tin-foil hat brigade screaming about aliens being in control of the White House....

Rants like this do nothing but hurt the "green" effort. I do not accept AGW as fact, but as an engineer I am well aware of resource exhaustion. That to me is a greater concern than a "Mad Max style hell-hole".......

Re:So now the US truly stands alone (1, Informative)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078565)

And you do not accept AGW as a fact because why exactly? Please tell the world and the world's scientists because they'r anxious to hear your non-expert POV.

We're mostly engineers here. Some of us are also scientists and scientists are exceedingly cautious and humble about traveling outside their extremely limited domain of expertise.

So please , tell us why you know better than the world's assembled experts on this topic. And while you're at it, tell us about eh vast left wing conspiracy that keeps the large numb er of legitimate, duly qualified scientist's voices repressed on this topic.

I love it when deniers attempt to assume the mantle of "reasonable citizen" when in fact along with evolution deniers, two populations with enormous overlap in membership, they're the the living embodiment of anti-rational, reality-denying ideologues.

Re:So now the US truly stands alone (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078687)

If your opinion about AGW is formed by rants of slashdotters instead of looking at the science, the problem might be on your side. However, I do agree that resource depletion will bite us in the arse before AGW will. In particular considering peak oil.

Re:So now the US truly stands alone (0)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078789)

OK I issue the same challenge to you then. please don't keep us in the dark as to why you know better than the world's scientific bodies and duly qualified experts. No more hot air, put up or shut up.

Please, I know all the denier memes so start trotting them out so we can educate some people here.

Waiting....

Re:So now the US truly stands alone (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078809)

Ehm, I did not answer to you, but to the poster above. How do you get the idea I am a denier?

Re:So now the US truly stands alone (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078867)

Fuck ....sorry. Mea culpa.. it was the layout of the posts on my screen. Total apologies are due to you, good Sir.

Re:So now the US truly stands alone (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078891)

Nevermind. Now go and get yourself more coffee! ;)

Re:So now the US truly stands alone (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | more than 2 years ago | (#40078929)

Early Grey. Hot. London Fog.

Er (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40078621)

the UK's new Draft Energy Bill (PDF) avoids banning coal or gas powered plants

They want the lights to stay on? No shit?

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