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Freedom from Electricity Blackouts – Employ Good Launch Technologists

Comment 20th June 2020

Freedom from Electricity Blackouts – write clear and concise White papers – employ good Launch Managers – like BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and/or AMEC.

The Future is bleak. I am advised that electricity power supplies will fail in winter in five years time and we will be subject to blackouts and because these will be widespread, it may be that phone lines will also be dead. Thus crime might proliferate, and contact with the Police might be impossible. Traffic lights will not work, so accidents may occur. My freedom to enjoy the opera or the cinema, to contribute to discussion in a town hall, or even just to survive in the cold – you need electricity to open your gas or oil valve, and to light the flame on your central heating.

The DTI (or the BERR) published a White Paper in 2007 “Meeting the Energy Challenge” in which all they did was frighten everybody off investing at all, because they would not risk investment or prediction themselves. The White Paper said that we are due to lose 22.5GW of electricity generation through shut-downs of capacity by 2020, and details in para 5.1.13 that a new 25 GW of capacity is needed to be operating by 2020, and a further 10GW by 2030.
This Energy White Paper presented 91 pages of waffle in Section 5.1 (Electricity Generation – Investment Framework) of the White Paper, with only one chart – showing minimal renewables growth over the last ten years and no chart at all about the predictable future. The whole section talks endlessly about the need to invest, and the support that investors need over resource prices, and that electricity market prices affect the future, but nothing is said about those prices or investment returns, presumably because there is risk in every prediction and the Government was avoiding commitment itself. Government hides the subsidies from the general public too, so we have been forced to accept Government statements on Energy as if they were SECRET. The same applies to”PEAK OIL”, which Ministers have ignored for many years.

How do we compare different technologies? Well, wind produces noise and is very visible, but does not generate stable power, and needs continuous expensive backup. Wave power cannot be seen, but is probably continuous – does it work well enough yet? The Severn Barrage is EXPENSIVE and inefficiently works on tidal velocity when lower cost more continuous output solutions work on tidal head. Coal produces smoke without CCS. Fission produces emotional waste. Anaerobic digestion needs to limit smells, but may use plant and food debris successfully. Palm oil production is destroying the Rain Forest, so WE ALL KNOW that is very EXPENSIVE. Financially they cannot be compared because the data does not clearly exist – CRAZY!!

White Papers need to be brought up to Industry Standards – they need clear charts and just a few pages of clear and concise text. It took me a while to construct my simplified Investment Chart described in the Appendix below, because I had to find the data (there was nothing in the totally inadequate Energy White Paper where it should have been of course), and it was easiest to collate and draw it for nuclear power, but its concept is equally applicable to every other Project that anybody is asked to invest in. It is time the Government reduced costs by reviewing White Paper Strategy influencing as they do Law and Policy, and to start by planning for the Country clearly enough. Why is this type of clear Investment Chart NEVER in any UK Government White Paper for any Energy Source, whether coal, gas, oil, fission, wave or wind power?

The cost of a White paper is not just in the paper produced, nor in the investigation and writing time taken by the authors, but primarily in the way it would affect Government Policy for the future. The lack of a credible Energy Policy so far will be extremely expensive in the long run.
To maintain this different sort of personal freedom, you may even have to repeal the Emissions Laws which dictate that we shut down coal fired power stations before they are economically ineffective. And we need to extend the life of any other Power Generation essential to avoiding blackouts.
Lord Tombs carried out a survey of the civil service a couple of years ago, and he found that there were very few professional engineers employed, and none at the highest level. No wonder the Energy White Papers/Policies are so poorly conceived.
Just how much more expensive can Government make their job? Clearly, to write a White Paper badly can cost a fortune in misinforming Policy, and in delaying the introduction of solutions.

This is now very much a Technological World, and the Civil Service must recruit Technologists to understand and control appropriate inputs from Industry. I use the word Technology in its widest sense, so you need big engineers to talk to big engineering industry, in several disciplines. Electrical Engineers for electrical power distribution, Mechanical Engineers for generating that power, and Civil Engineers for building big projects. You do not need Scientists, except for Scientific projects, and Electrical Power Supply is Engineering not Science.

The people Government had in 2007 constructing and writing Energy White Papers were clearly not Engineers. If you saw tonight's BBC2 programme "How to Build a Jumbo Jet Engine" for example, you will know how competent Big Industry has become – I think you should ask them to help you reconstruct big chunks of the Civil Service, and thus reduce your costs enormously. It is not just waste you need to tackle, but ability and competence, thus to achieve low cost over the life of a Project.

Importantly, costs hugely escalate if you have to correct thinking later on (eg. correcting already built parts) or to launch something in an emergency, so get it right first time, in time, and right at the start. This has not happened in Government Energy Policy so far.

I would suggest that you ask BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and/or AMEC to help you start again.

Appendix
Simplified Investment Chart

The chart helped me to understand why Investment in Energy of any sort is so slow – the returns are simply not good enough without subsidy in comparison with other investments. Government hides the subsidies from the general public too, so we have been forced to accept Government statements on Energy as if they were SECRET.
I find the "Your Freedom" website will not allow me to add the chart – so I describe it here – the vertical axis is minus 6 to plus 10 billion pounds, the horizontal axis is zero to twenty five years.
There is a bottom line running from zero pounds at zero years to minus two billion at eight years, which is the build cost investment line. This line continues at a slightly different slope indicating the continuing running cost to about minus six billion at twenty five years.
From the minus two billion eight year point, there is an income (from the consumer) line, rising to plus three billion at twenty five years, and a doubled income line rising from that minus two billion at eight years to plus ten billion at twenty five years. The cruncher is the FTSE 100 Investment Line which rises from zero pounds at zero years to plus ten billion at twenty five years, based upon investing the 2 billion cost of the Project in other averaged FTSE 100 Stock. Only a DOUBLED income approaches that return, or an equivalent subsidy.
Why is this type of clear Chart NEVER in any UK Government White Paper for any Energy Source, whether AD, coal, gas, oil, fission, wave or wind power?

Why does this matter?

How do we compare different technologies? Well, wind produces noise and is very visible, but does not generate stable power, and needs continuous expensive backup. Wave power cannot be seen, but is probably continuous – does it work well enough yet? The Severn Barrage is EXPENSIVE and inefficiently works on tidal velocity when lower cost more continuous output solutions work on tidal head. Coal produces smoke without CCS. Fission produces emotional waste. Anaerobic digestion needs to limit smells, but may use plant and food debris successfully. Palm oil production is destroying the Rain Forest, so WE ALL KNOW that is very EXPENSIVE. Financially they cannot be compared because the data does not clearly exist – CRAZY!!



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