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Topic Title: Is the End Nigh for Electricity Market "Rigging" Reforms for Nuclear?
Topic Summary: Top Civil Servant working on EMR resigns making way for change
Created On: 30 April 2013 10:06 AM
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 30 April 2013 10:06 AM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

The Guardians story today

"Electricity reforms under threat as top civil servant resigns"

"Departure comes as analysts warn government not to rely on gas to rescue UK from forthcoming energy crunch"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/envi...et-reform-resgination

We will only have an energy crunch if the politicians and civil servants choose to manufacture one. Now that 3rd Gen Nuclear is quitely being abandoned these Energy Market "Rigging" Reforms for 3rd Gen Nuclear are no longer needed, and in their current incarnation will harm the rest of the energy market rather than help it.

The most urgent energy problem we face right now is too little gas storage, and this is despite the fact that energy suppliers are making bumper profits.

We don't need government to provide new subsidies to encourage this or that, they just need to set the regulatory framework up in the right way to encourage companies it act in the right way (in the national interest as well as their own interest), rather than encouraging them to sit on their hands waiting for a new raft of subsidies paid by another round of levies from energy consumers and businesses.

The Electricity Market Reform Bill is doing more harm than good now, and should be abandoned at the first available opportunity. As I also think it will be a really big mistake to split the Office for Nuclear Regulation off from the HSE there is hardly anything worth salvaging in it.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 04 May 2013 03:46 PM
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jarathoon

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The director of strategy, Ravi Gurumurthy, at DECC has now resigned.

http://www.independent.co.uk/n...meddling-8603504.html

Ravi Gurumurthy wrote an article for Business Green last year.

http://www.businessgreen.com/b...asement-energy-policy

In it he says...

"The consumer is at the heart of the decisions we're making today to design tomorrow's energy system, but the bargain basement is not the place to look for a responsible long term energy strategy."

No this could not be further from the truth. DECC's Energy Bill is all about government manipulation of the energy market by concentrating their analysis on the supply side and the maintenance of a big six oligopoly, without hardly a thought to new entrants and small energy independents and how all this looks from a consumer perspective.

It now looks like DECC are going make a last desperate bid to agree a Nuclear Deal with EDF, knowing that it will collapse as soon as the light of independent public and investor scrutiny shines upon it.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 07 May 2013 12:53 PM
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Ipayyoursalary

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High James, very interesting, Might I suggest you also try posting at the Bishop Hill blog. There's a very lively discussion of energy policy over there - although mostly from the perspective of those highly critical of the whole decarbonisation / green / subsidy farming / climate change agenda. http://www.bishop-hill.net/blo...5/3/decc-in-chaos.html
 07 May 2013 03:30 PM
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jarathoon

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Ipayyoursalary,

Some funny comments, especially when read together. Lots of heat though, and without much light.

Have you ever looked at the blog "daryanenergyblog"

http://daryanenergyblog.wordpress.com/

I find lots to disagree with in this blog, mainly because he exclusively argues form existing available web sources and in effect discounts the effect of future technological advances, or hidden proprietary information.

However accepting this limitation, I find remarkable what one person (assuming it is just one person) has managed to do in terms analysing our current energy policy from a generally coherent and rationally considered viewpoint.

He/She seems to be achieved a better structure and form for the baseline analysis of the energy problem [i.e. what our options are assuming our energy technologies don't improve significantly] than DECC and all the other UK energy academics and consultants have managed combined.

What on earth are we paying all the people at DECC to do that can't be done better by engineers working and commenting on a voluntary basis?

I suspect all we require from government at the moment is impartial data collection and public release, so external analysts can go to work on the data.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 08 May 2013 10:20 AM
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clivebrown

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James

I've just had a quick look at the ''daryanenergyblog''; my first reaction is that its brilliant!

One short quote that I particularly liked, in the climate change section:-
''Indeed perhaps the most worrying aspect about climate change is that we may be facing a rapidly closing window of opportunity to do anything about it. One of the things that gets climatologists waking up in the night in a cold sweat, is what's call "feedback". As global warming deniers are always keen to point out, the vast bulk of the world's greenhouse gases are generated by non-human activity. However, most of these are released in a way the roughly balances with the rate they are absorbed by the biosphere. The danger is that a limited or relatively small amount of climate change provoked by our emissions could alter the climate sufficiently to destabilise the vast carbon sinks held by nature, notably the enormous quantities of carbon locked up in the world's forests or the methane hydrates trapped under the permafrost. Consequently, beyond a certain tipping point we might be unable to do anything to mitigate nor prevent dangerous climate change, hence the imperative to act now. Again, as with peak oil, a wait and see policy amounts to waiting and seeing until it's too late to do anything.''

I must explore it more to see if he comes up with a 'magic formula' for getting the world out of this hole (grave?) that we are digging for ourselves.

Regards.....Clive

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clivebrown
 08 May 2013 12:29 PM
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jarathoon

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Clive,

There was a letter in the guardian yesterday from Professor Jonathan Stern...

"More light and less heat over energy supply"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/envi...ht-heat-energy-supply

he concludes his letter..

"The future of the UK power sector over the next decade has already been determined: wind and gas may not be the best possible option, but it is far from the worst, in relation to costs and carbon emissions. Apologies for the lack of apocalyptic or visionary sentiments about our future energy situation, but these are simply obscuring rather than illuminating the debate."

I think we also have a lot of good engineers willing to design and build more energy efficient products and services...

In the next 10 years all our energy hungary PC's, digital televisions, digital radios, internet servers will need replacing... what happens if instead of 50-400W power supplies in these products we need less than 10W or 1W or even as low as a few mW.

We are also seeing a revolution in lighting, a price point may soon be reached which allows people to change their halogen spot lighting for LED's.

We are seeing more of our waste converted into useable energy. We have technologies for improving the insulation of our existing housing stock. The debate has moved on.

The only part the Energy Bill has played in all of this is as a lightning rod for enough constructive criticism to make progress. There is no purpose left for the energy bill now that new 3rd generation nuclear is not viable.

I personally would like to get involved in help tackle and reduce the problem of nuclear waste and also to help find new cost effective and safe nuclear power generation technologies, but we shall have to wait and see what happens on that front...

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 08 May 2013 09:57 PM
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Ipayyoursalary

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Hi James, no I'm not impressed with the Daryan energy blog at all. First off the blog doesn't allow unmoderated comments, so no-one can query or argue with his assertions (unlike Bishop Hill which has open comments). Secondly it reads like a Monbiot diatribe - exactly the kind of deep green renewables-at-any-cost zealotry which is currently threatening to bankrupt us with sky-rocketing energy bills and rolling blackouts when the wind drops. Without wading thru every bogus assertion he makes - in the 2nd paragraph he seems to be disputing the fact that there's been no global warming this century - even though it's pretty plain from looking at any of the temperature data sets ( eg. http://www.woodfortrees.org/pl...gl/from:1998/plot/none ). The standstill has even been acknowledged by IPCC head Pachurai. The rest is equally as bad : eg. quoting the lie-filled eco- propaganda movie "Gasland", attempting to rehabiliate the failed predictions of the 1970's "limits to growth" then talking about throwing a party to celebrate the death of the 85 year old grandmother who rescued the country from poverty and decline last time Labour bankrupted us. So all in all, not impressed.
 09 May 2013 01:30 PM
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jarathoon

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Ipayyoursalary,

Didn't you see the map of shale gas wells on Barnett Shale Field, in the latest post?

I could use it to send to the Queen and the Prince of Wales to show how the Duchy of Lancaster land in the Trough of Bowland could be remodeled in the pursuit of "cheap" Shale Gas in Britain. I personally think the people of Lancashire (at least) may want to consider the option of finding sensible well thought out and cost effective ways of insulating their homes instead.

As you may know I studied Atmospheric Physics (for a PhD I didn't write up). I readily admit that our terrestrial environment is very complex and difficult to understand, and that the motivation for completely revolutionizing the way we use energy as a society cannot rest upon the outputs from climate models alone.

I understand the limitations of wind-farms.

But I also understand the limitations of coal, gas and nuclear, and current techniques for storing electrical energy, or reducing demand.

Keeping a few extra gas stations, and waste burning stations in reserve, to back up the renewables seems the cheapest and most flexible option for us in the UK at the moment (in the time frame of the next 10 years). We are not short of gas power stations at the moment, but we are short of gas storage.

[In future I would like to see a small proportion of our mains gas come from farms, perhaps by genetically modifying the sort of bacteria that cause cows to produce life threatening (for them) excesses in methane production.]

The difficulty I agree, is the severely cold winter periods of a week or more when there is no wind. One option is to keep some coal stations as winter reserve for the time being, for use during these periods, especially if the grid has to be "rebooted" following regional or national blackout due to flooding or solar storms etc. Another option is more HVDC inter-connects to other countries.

The point is wind-farm generated power will be now be part our UK grid now and in the future, especially if we encourage more energy independents and community power generation schemes. The excess gas stations and gas storage we need to keep in reserve become an insurance policy. After the initial 15 year feed in tariffs, a lot of cheaper energy will start coming to market from wind-farms, levies on this energy can be used to fund the reserve gas stations and storage technologies, needed to back them up.

I think the costs of the final line of insurance, stations which rarely if ever will be needed, require a funding model that encourages better and more cost effective techniques for doing this to be developed over time (e.g. flexible intrinsically safe molten salt thorium nuclear reactors).

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 09 May 2013 03:38 PM
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Zuiko

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Another option is more HVDC inter-connects to other countries

It may be the only option because we left our generating capacity to rot because of too many "interested parties blocking left right and centre.

But all it does it move the problem somewhere else: the power has to be generated somewhere (Nuclear France?); and then we are not in control of our energy supply, which is a big problem now, and this will just make it worse; and we are not in control of how the energy is generated, which makes the whole exercise a joke.


Wind farms will remain a white elephant as long as a thermal spinning reserve is required.

On high-pressure becalmed days (although we do not care to remember such days, they are very common) the entire UK can be without wind. And this can continue for several days. So you need a spinning reserve that is just as big as it is now to power the country until the wind blows again!
 09 May 2013 04:22 PM
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jarathoon

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The spinning reserve I as far as I know (and I am not an expert on this) is spec'd to protect against the largest single point of failure that might occur on the grid, at the moment that is Sizewell B Nuclear station (approx. 1.2GW)

Does wind actually need extra spinning reserve or even need more energy consuming 4 hour notice warm start reserve?

I think the main requirement is for cold start supplemental reserve ( that is gas and waste burning back-up electricity generation stations on 12 to 24 hour start-up notice)?

This is because in aggregate wind power input into the grid varies very slowly and can be predicted hours in advance. If national grid can marshal enough demand response services on the one to two day timescale, then I would have thought there is huge scope for limiting the spinning reserve and warm start reserve to that already needed to backup Sizewell B and other large stations.

That is of course as long as you don't build wind-farms of greater aggregate size than Sizewell B, with a single point of failure grid connection.

I think the existing spinning reserve costs are paid for by consumers, not Sizewell B. Apparently National Grid has plans in place to increase the spinning reserve, not for wind farms, but to allow large electricity generation stations the size of Hinkley Point C to be connected to the grid (1.6GW).

In my opinion large generation stations should pay the full marginal cost of the added increment of spinning reserve that is required for them to operate safely, without crashing the grid if they suddenly go off line. I am not sure they do that at the moment.

James Arathoon


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James Arathoon
 09 May 2013 04:51 PM
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Zuiko

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The spinning reserve I as far as I know (and I am not an expert on this) is spec'd to protect against the largest single point of failure that might occur on the grid, at the moment that is Sizewell B Nuclear station (approx. 1.2GW)



This is the exact problem.

Say you have situation of wind generating X% of the country's power; then on days where the entire country is becalmed the spinning reserve must also be X%

You must say that the spinning reserve should equal the largest single outage. At present, as you say, this would be equal to the largest thermal power station. With wind, it must be equal to the largest single outage due to calm weather. In the case of the entire country being becalmed, this could be a lot of spinning reserve - certainly more than present.

For example, during the London Olympics (when power companies were running around like panicked lunatics praying nothing would go wrong last summer, there were 3 days when the entire output from all of Britain's wind farms was exactly zero). Such days in Britain are much more common than we would like to think. The only places where wind has sufficient speed (and still not such sufficient regularity) are on our uplands, highlands, and off-shore - which adds the problem of grid connections (see Beuly-Denny and the hassle this has caused).



There are very few black start generation schemes in the UK - one of the reasons SSE built Glendoe, which can black start the grid.


Like it or not, our (destructive) hunger for more and more electricity will make nuclear inevitable. This may be from new generation built in our country, or imported from France.
 09 May 2013 06:05 PM
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drhirst

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The system depends upon a hierarchy of reserve, from the very rapid (a few seconds), to minutes, to hours. The fastest acting tends to be called "spinning reserve", in that the generators are running at part load, and are able to increase their output very quickly. Fridges can switch off more reliably and quickly, but only for a short while. While the emergency is covered, slower acting reserves of various sorts can be called for, with varying notice periods. Some gas generators can be started within 10 minutes, but others can take hours. A "cold" coal plant can take up to 24 hours to get up to full steam. Fast acting spinning reserve is very expensive to hold, but the slower acting reserve is much cheaper, and there are more options about how to do it.
Yes, there do need to be reserves available to cover for low wind periods, but they do not need to be spinning. Wind forecasts usually give about 4 hours in which to organise things. When large power stations fail, almost their whole output needs to be replaced immediately, so there has to be around 1.2 GEW available. When wind turbines break, you might lose 5MW, barely noticeable. The new nuclear power stations, if built, could mean that about 1.8GW has to be replaced instantaneously. This is more than the normal export of the power station, as there are major pumping loads that are critical to the avoidance of meltdown.
One also has to have cover for when transmissions circuits break, but these are designed with redundancy. They also have to cope with sudden loss of load, but it is relatively easier to switch a power station down. Sometimes there is a big (and noisy) release of steam.

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David Hirst
 09 May 2013 06:21 PM
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jarathoon

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In the UK given our northerly lattitude I think we need to plan to develop 4th generation nuclear so it is attaching to the grid in the 2030's. We certainly don't need new 3rd generation now, "at any cost", (i.e. with unlimited tax payer and bill payer guarantees.)

Like you I don't like the idea of building too many new gas stations and waste burning stations that will only needed intermittently. So in going the wind power route, in the UK and Ireland, how do we make the best of it?

One option may be to create some very long HVDC power links and networks across europe (and perhaps even into north africa) with the primary goal efficiently swapping anti-correlated wind energy feeds (and tidal power), but giving secondary grid stabilisation benefits as well.

For example I have found one study on this sort of thing on the web, but it unfortunately it doesn't include the UK and Ireland.

http://www.eprg.group.cam.ac.u...s/2009/04/binder1.pdf

(Obviously slightly out of phase tidal energy can be swapped in this way as well as pointed out by others on this forum in the past.)

We might as well get some benefit (in terms of lower cost energy and added energy security) from staying in the european union, assuming we don't vote to leave in 2017.

I think maintaining well laid HVDC cables across europe will ultimately be cheaper and more efficient than maintaining excess gas plant to back up wind and solar.

The supplemental reserve that is needed to keep the european grid stable can be intelligently spread across europe. This obviously means we have to redefine what we mean by energy 'security' and energy 'independance', i.e. so they apply across the european union rather than just to the UK, or just to a newly independent Scotland if it decides to walk away from the rest of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

One or more HVDC power cables bringing geothermal energy from Iceland is also potentially on the cards, which would be a highly flexible power input to the UK grid.

France is going to need to rebalance its grid away from Nuclear over time, as their Nuclear power stations come to the end of their working lives. Germany is actively rebalancing its grid towards renewables. The French, Germans, Spaniards, Greeks etc are all just as likely as us to value the benefits of swapping power with the rest of Europe as us. Does it really matter who benefits most if we all benefit?

James Arathoon


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James Arathoon
 09 May 2013 08:12 PM
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Zuiko

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Does it really matter who benefits most if we all benefit?

I think so, as an Island nation, we should be as self-sufficient as possible. We have seen what happens when eastern european countries turn off the gas taps; we have also been at the mercy of OPEC cartels for decades: I don't think we should walk into another European cartel.

Unlike you, I would also NOT assume the United Kingdom will not leave the EU; depending on what happens in the next two years with the potential of millions more Eastern European migrants coming to Britain, a deepening Euro crisis; and civil unrest in the south; it might well be odds on that the British do decide to leave, and it makes sense to plan for that eventuality.


It's a shame that we have spent so much investing in burning fossils and ignoring the monemental damage this has done to the health of the planet (the public panics about Fukushima, but ignores the Niger Delta which is orders of magnitude a bigger disaster); imagine if all the money we have wasted digging up and then burning fossils and then trying (and failing) to mitigage the environmental and health problems it causes was invested in nuclear?
 09 May 2013 08:42 PM
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Ipayyoursalary

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Originally posted by: jarathoon
Didn't you see the map of shale gas wells on Barnett Shale Field, in the latest post?

Yes. So what? Remember each of those wells is producing a flow of gas equivalent to the output of 20-80 industrial wind turbines at a fraction of the cost - but, unlike the wind, the gas flows 24-7 and can be easily stored for use on demand.

After the few weeks of drilling is over, the remaining well pad installation is about the size of a tennis court - with a couple of low level buildings. Once trees and hedging are planted around the site you wouldn't even know it's there.

I would also draw your attention to the exceptional thickness of our Bowland shale layer. It's 10x as thick as Barnett - allowing far higher volumes of gas to be accessed from a single well pad meaning far fewer pads will be required. This is discussed here http://www.nohotair.co.uk/inde...=168&Itemid=170


I also note that Daryan's Barnett map comes from a renewables industry funded anti-shale organisation ( The Post Carbon Institute ) so it wouldn't suprise me if that map showed every well of every type ever drilled in Barnett (including oil wells) as opposed to just active shale wells as implied.

Either way, you could draw a similar map of McDonald's restaurants around London - and these would arguably be a greater source of environmental pollution than the well pads - in the form of litter and styrofoam cups.

If you have google maps handy you can go checkout exactly what a well pad looks like in Krum‎ Texas‎ 76249. Not much to see atall in streetview. And remember the yanks haven't bothered to disguise their pads with any vegetation. Which do you prefer? One of those tiny well pads or 20-80 windturbines throbbing away, blighting the landscape for miles around?

  

Edited: 09 May 2013 at 09:11 PM by Ipayyoursalary
 09 May 2013 11:42 PM
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jarathoon

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Originally posted by: Zuiko

Does it really matter who benefits most if we all benefit?

I think so, as an Island nation, we should be as self-sufficient as possible. We have seen what happens when eastern European countries turn off the gas taps; we have also been at the mercy of OPEC cartels for decades: I don't think we should walk into another European cartel.

Unlike you, I would also NOT assume the United Kingdom will not leave the EU; depending on what happens in the next two years with the potential of millions more Eastern European migrants coming to Britain, a deepening Euro crisis; and civil unrest in the south; it might well be odds on that the British do decide to leave, and it makes sense to plan for that eventuality.


If we try to build an artificial self-sufficiency in energy (that defies all engineering and economic logic), we will either end up with state controlled industries and collapsing productivity, or alternatively uncompetitive private sector cartels and endemic subsidy farming. That is the vision of the future the current DECC Energy Bill brings to us.

A large part of the cultural and monetary wealth of nations derives from willingness to trade; to trade goods, ideas, skills, customs, practices and indeed even alternative ways of looking at the world.

One of the most isolated countries in the world today, North Korea, is also one of the worlds poorest; not just in monetary terms, but also in terms of cultural diversity as well.

Most migrants go the nearby countries; we mostly go to France and Spain. Migration has always happened and will always happen and is nothing to be feared. Part of the reason for the EU is so that we can all live and work in the community of countries that make up Europe.

The collapse of the former Soviet Union is not going to happen again, so the motivation and need to migrate from Eastern Europe need never again be as strong as it once was. I don't understand, why should we leave the EU? Because of something that has already happened?, Because of something that both Britain and Poland etc ended up benefiting from, that we now can't change? Who knows?

If historians do their job properly they will find may of the EU standards and codes of practice etc that UKIP complain about, ultimately originated in the UK. From institutions like this one, from government, from big firms now gone, particularly ICI. What are we afraid of? The image and reflection of ourselves in Europe?

[Just to show you how mixed up I am: On my mothers side, my great grandfather was an Armenian born in Iran, who served in the 1919 Afgan War, then became an Indian Train Driver; my grandmother was born in Isfahan in Iran also a Christian Armenian, my grandfather was born in Calcutta India I think, and my mother was born and baptised in Rawalpindi/Murree in Pakistan. On my fathers side there is English, Scots, Irish, German like many people in Britain.

I am British, I was born in London that bit is easy, however my ethnicity is so mixed up, I'm not sure I've actually got one!

I have met so many people in Britain over the years, from all parts of the world, and they all seem to have been as much alike, as they have been different.]

Originally posted by: Zuiko
It's a shame that we have spent so much investing in burning fossils and ignoring the monumental damage this has done to the health of the planet (the public panics about Fukushima, but ignores the Niger Delta which is orders of magnitude a bigger disaster); imagine if all the money we have wasted digging up and then burning fossils and then trying (and failing) to mitigate the environmental and health problems it causes was invested in nuclear?


Unfortunately we cannot change the past.

The likes of Shell, BP etc could easily start a process of radically diversifying out of fossil fuels, if their shareholders, employees and customers really want them to do it. After all these organisations are full of the sort of engineering talent they need: mechanical engineers, chemical engineers, geologists, geophysics, logistics experts, systems people etc. etc. All it ever takes to change, as the philosophers keep saying, is the vision for change, and the willingness to make the first step; imagination and motivation.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 10 May 2013 11:42 AM
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Ipayyoursalary

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Getting back on topic: No.10's senior climate and energy advisor Ben Moxham has just joined the list of departures.
http://www.bishop-hill.net/blo...e-bites-the-dust.html

Funny how all these people seem to be quitting BEFORE their energy bill details are published. What is it they say about rats and sinking ships?
 12 May 2013 03:21 PM
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Zuiko

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James, your personal opinion on immigration and ethnicity is all very well; but there is a very real prospect of the United Kindgom leaving the EU. With this in mind, it could be a very costly mistake to plan energy policy, which is crucial to our nation's security, on the assumption that we will remain in the EU.
 12 May 2013 04:41 PM
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jarathoon

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Originally posted by: Zuiko

James, your personal opinion on immigration and ethnicity is all very well; but there is a very real prospect of the United Kingdom leaving the EU. With this in mind, it could be a very costly mistake to plan energy policy, which is crucial to our nation's security, on the assumption that we will remain in the EU.


Should we plan to close the channel tunnel if we collectively vote to leave the EU? According to the more paranoid elements in our society, leaving the tunnel open might be damaging to our future national security once we left the EU.

We already have gas and electricity interconnectors to continental Europe; perhaps they become a danger to our national security as well, if we leave the EU?

What about the Greenwire project designed to bring onshore wind power from Ireland to the UK mainland? Ireland won't leave the EU, should we give up on this as well?

http://www.greenwire.ie/project-rationale/

What about an geothermal interconnector to Iceland? Iceland is thinking of joining the EU. So what should we do then?


What about the danger of Scotland leaving the United Kingdom?

Will we need to separate the existing National Grid Gas and Electricity infrastructures between Scotland and England?

No of course not.

Even if the majority of the Scottish people wanted to, they could never be 100% independent of England, Wales and NI, without completely destroying all our collective economies in the process.

Countries protect their national security by having adequate energy storage facilities and investing in civil emergency contingencies, not by being so consumed by paranoia that they end up blocking trade routes that benefit us all.

The more you analyse the notion that the full restoration of British Sovereignty will be the solution to all our problems (in the context of what is really happening and needs to happen), the more you realise that its complete paranoid nonsense, that only gains traction at the moment because of the temporary economic difficulties that have beset us all since the start of the banking crisis of 2007/2008.

James Arathoon


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James Arathoon
 12 May 2013 04:58 PM
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Zuiko

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You've plucked random political issues out of the air, and repeatedly call people that want to leave the EU "paranoid".

There are a lot of Strawmen in there that do not progress the debate, and certainly millions of people that do not share your political views are certainly not paranoid.


Regarding the dismantling of infrastructure in the event of Scottish independece (which is much less likely that the UK leaving the EU); of course physical hardware will not be dismantled but companies, and the way they are run will have to be dismantled or re-structured.
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