Tory minister: Let's exploit our rich resource of mud, er, wind
Energy MP's hot air is no good for economy nor environment
Britain would be "mad" not to make strategic use of its rich natural resource of mud, a government minister has said.
"We can't afford not to exploit this," said Charles Hendry (Con, High Peak) who proposed that public infrastructure should exploit the naturally abundant material, and rediscover techniques that use it, such as wattle and daub for building walls.
Actually, he didn't...
But Hendry, who is the UK's energy minister, instead wrote this on the Department of Energy and Climate Change blog this week:
It would be madness not to harness the wind to create clean energy and jobs.
As an island nation, the UK is lucky to have some of the best wind resource in Europe – it would be madness for us not to use this natural, secure, sustainable and free resource!
The logic, in each case, is the same: the UK must use something because it is there. You can argue this equally applies to coal - which the UK can exploit for several hundred years using current technology. Indeed, calls to revive coal extraction were renewed last year.
There is no mention of costs. Wind turbines remain a uniquely inefficient, and therefore expensive, power generation technology. And that's before the true cost is included - which includes hooking up these remote bird-blenders to the national grid. (See Wind power: even worse than you thought and Stand by for more big, windfarm-driven 'leccy price rises for the numbers.)
Wattle and daub: Why Not?
And green jobs? Well, on balance they increase unemployment. Professor Gabriel Calzada Álvarez, at the University of Madrid, estimated that each green job had cost the country $774,000, in effect destroying 2.2 "real" jobs.
Writing in The Guardian last year, Simon Jenkins pointed out that the 550 corporate members of wind-power lobby group RenewableUK received £1bn in handouts in 2010. The renewable energy is prolonging Britain's economic doldrums.
Other than a wealth redistribution scheme from the poor to the rich - what exactly is the point? ®
Wind would have worked wonderfully this morning
Everyone turning on lights this morning as the fog and low cloud made it quite gloomy. But all the wind power could suppliment this requirment, except of course the fog was due to no wind. Nuclear is the only reasonable and reliable solution in a non-fossil fuel world.
Pence per watt, nothing else matters. Environmental effects have a mitigation cost that you include in those pence. As do fuel shortages. As does everything else.
I once priced up a small top-of-the-range "home" wind-turbine that I saw in B&Q. The thing was as big as my car. It required planning permission to install. It required electrical expertise that involves calling in your electricity company. It cost more than I've ever paid for anything, ever, except my house.
I worked out that, at theoretical maximum output, you could probably pay its costs back by "savings" on your electricity within about 30-35 years, if you INCLUDED subsidies and took into account how much it would cost to install (even based on doing as much as possible yourself). It had a design life and warranty for 5 years (and considering it would have to weather outside storms for more than 5 years and not degrade it's production capacity in that time one iota, it was unlikely to last). So if I ran the thing for the majority of my adult life, in a force-9 gale that didn't damage it, I would just about break even, even if I included the subsidies in my utopian wind-generating environment. Me blowing on a pound-shop cooling fan, or winding up a "clockwork" torch, was actually more profitable per watt.
Sadly, those figures pretty much match up to everything else I've seen deployed from small ones on boats to huge ones in fields in Belgium. You can make money off them - if you ignore most of the actual costs (i.e. where the hell did you get that plastic from and how would you do that if we'd run out of oil?), run them for decades and have the government pay you lots of money for doing so. Otherwise, it's a complete waste.
Pence per watt. The reason our electricity keeps going up is partly oil-price rises and partly these nutty schemes that actually make things worse. I've always wondered what the pence-per-watt would be in a country entirely powered by nuclear.
Using the same argument....
....there appears to be rich supply of bullshit in Westminster. We should be using that for something.