Electricity Market Reform not Fit for Purpose

This year, the new Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, John Hayes gave the Dennis Anderson Memorial Lecture at Imperial College.  His topic was The Changing Shape of UK Energy Supply.  Referring to supply alone in the energy field is like talking about the heart without the veins.  Our energy supply is a circulatory system, its components form a wholly functional unit.  Minister Hayes started out well, describing our common values, “…protecting our landscape and heritage… secure the common good, government’s role in setting a framework…  the words we expect from our elected representatives.

As he eased into Electricity Market Reform, the biggest shakeup in electricity markets since liberalisation, one already starts to question the extent of futuristic thought that went into this new bill and what changes were actually envisioned.  The bill introduces “market mechanisms” (read: subsidies) for stimulating investment in electricity generation, by providing investor certainty by guaranteeing a fixed price for energy generation.  Despite what Ed Davey is saying about no public subsidy for nuclear, this capacity mechanism and contracts for difference are widely recognised in the renewables industry as  another taxpayer financed subsidy for the nuclear power.  This is because nuclear base load generation will receive funding from the taxpayer for production, regardless of whether it is consumed or not.  A youthful DECC representative at a recent Eco Connect panel discussion estimated the taxpayer exposure at £40 million.  This calculation pales to the billions that are made each year by the energy suppliers and the National Grid.  The number is likely to be 10 times or more than this amount.

The value for money argument doesn’t exist, because for the taxpayer, adding in the cost of decommissioning and waste disposal, the cost of nuclear power is unaffordable.  During the Q&A afterwards, the Minister admitted that energy storage hadn’t been mentioned in the electricity market reform.  A gross oversight since for any energy visionary, energy storage will be the most cost effective way of managing the peaks and troughs of electricity supply and demand.  There are British companies leading the way, like ITM Power so Britain is a leader in contributing technologies, we can let go of the additional costs of Carbon Capture and Storage.

For EDF, a company owned by the French State and the National Grid, nuclear power presents a watershed.  Customers remain locked into buying supply from them as there are few alternatives.  Minister Hayes mentioned the 5,000 jobs that the nuclear industry will create.  Compare this to the 20,000 jobs that were created by the solar industry before the government pulled the rug out from under the Feed in tariff.

The National Grid is a monopoly that ultimately controls the decisions surrounding investment in our energy circulatory system.  National Grid plc is a company whose ideals concern maximising shareholder value distributing millions to them each year. Steve Holliday,  CEO, was accused of ruining the career of a junior female employee who refused to submit to his sexual demands, earns about £2 million per year.

This government proposes that nuclear power play a key role in “keeping the lights on”.  The gap that needs to be filled is 20%.  This could easily be met by an increase in renewable energy generation and investment in energy efficiency, creating many more jobs.  However, this is not the strategy that this government is pursuing, despite all its gestures towards creating a Green Deal.


American classic poem about Mitt Romney

A 92 year old Retired North Dakota District Court Trial Judge and World War II veteran, Ralph Maxwell wrote this fantastic poem about Romney.  It is a bit cheesy , creatively cheesy, the kind that doesn’t get so thick it puts you off.  Anyway, it’s Amercan cheese, the stuff you hate to love!!!!

Its on you tube, I think to be properly consumed, it should have a modern cover.


By Ralph Maxwell

O, Romney-O, Romney-O, Wherefore art thou, Mitt Romney?
You flip-flop here, you flip-flop there,
You flip-flop almost ev’rywhere.
You ballyhoo what you’re gonna do
And then you pull a switcheroo;
You now malign what you found fine;
Seems like you’ve got a jellyfish spine.
Obamacare, by you begun,
Now you’d trash it on day one.
Gun control you did extol,
But now you’re preaching decontrol.

O, Romney-O, Romney-O, Wherefore art thou, Mitt Romney?
We’ve got no clue what you will do
Or what new view you’ll pander to.
Time was you championed women’s choice,
But you no longer heed their voice;
On gay rights, too, guess you withdrew
Support they once enjoyed from you.
Global warming, EPA,
Immigration, minimum pay,
Roe V. Wade, also fair trade,
All joined your flip-flop cavalcade.

O, Romney-O, Romney-O Wherefore art thou, Mitt Romney?
So many things that you were for
You’ve turned against and slammed the door.
Stimulus and cap and trade,
Education, foreign aid,
Campaign reform, tarp rescues, too,
All victims of your switcheroo.
You take your stand on shifting sand,
We never know where you will land;
You vacillate, and you fabricate,
A wishy-washy candidate.

O, Romney-O, Romney-O, Wherefore art thou Mitt Romney?
As gov’nor you let taxes rise,
Now ev’ry tax you demonize.
You say regardless of the facts
You’d take an axe to the millionaire’s tax;
You’d feed the greed of the richest few
The poor and middle class you’d screw.
Your tax returns you hide from view
What evil lurks there we’ve no clue;
If they’re not bad why hesitate?
Is it that they incriminate?

O, Romney-O, Romney-O, Wherefore art thou Mitt Romney?
At Bain you plundered with a flair
And walked away a zillionaire.
You shipped off-shore, good jobs galore
To China, India, Singapore;
A job creator you are not.
And to boast you are is tommyrot.
As a total fraud, Mitt’s got no peer;
What we must do is crystal clear:
Let’s give Obama four more years!
Yes, it’s Obama – four more years!

Paterson a dark horse for the Greenest Government ever

The Tories are waging a war against our environment

With the appointment of Owen Paterson as Secretary of State for DEFRA, the Tories demonstrate that far from being the “Greenest Government Ever”, they are blazing their path of pure disdain for Environmental protection.

Owen Paterson, MP for North Shropshire, is one of the last relics in the denial game, a climate sceptic.  Witness the recent press release by DEFRA as published in Damian Carrington’s blog for the Guardian on 7 September.

“Defra is responsible for a range of issues affecting the environment and the rural economy. One of these issues is the impact of climate change and the Secretary of State is committed to exploring and developing the response required by Government, business and communities.”

As if it still needs to be proven that we have experienced a rise in global temperature as the result of our greenhouse gas emissions.  According to the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project, conducted by Professor Muller, through examination of 1.6 billion termperature records from 36,000 weather stations around the world, dating back to 1753, the Earth’s temperature has risen .9°C since 1950 due to human activity.  The IPCC has also determined irrefutably that there has been a global rise in the Earth’s temperature due to the anthropogenic release of greenhouse gases.  This statement from DEFRA is a frightening indication of what is yet to come in UK environment policy.

Apparently Environment secretary Paterson is also in favour of fracking, an extreme form of shale gas extraction that emits large amounts of methane into the air by flaring.  Methane has eight times the greenhouse gas concentration of carbon dioxide.  No wonder he conveniently choses to ignore the science for the sake of pursuing his purely slash and burn environmental tactics. According to the Tyndall Centre, shale gas extraction pollutes the water table.  Fracking is a technique that injects chemicals into the ground and creates fissures in the earth through high pressure drilling.His appointment casts a black cloud over environmental protection.

Fukushima update

Here is a delightful article from Greenpeace on the current Japanese thought post Fukushima.  People are concerned about radiation exposure in Tokyo since it is only 140 miles from the site of the explosion.  An estimated 5 million tons of debris have washed up on formerly pristine beaches lining the Pacific Northwest coast of America, exposing their residents to harmful radiation.  Never mind the impact on sea life.  Surely a child can see that man cannot have complete control over his environment, despite what some scientists and politicans think.



The Dash for Gas is Short Term Boom – Long Term BUST

Fracking is Extremely Dangerous We can act to stop fracking and extreme energy extraction.  Please tell your MP that you are against Fracking.

Shale gas and coal bed methane extraction methods threaten communities across the UK.  In the government’s drive to incentivise the fossil fuel industry, feeding our addiction to oil and gas instead of investing in a renewable energy alternative, the taxpayer continues to finance tax allowances for smaller fields like shale gas and coal bed methane.  These incentives can cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds.  The tax breaks for the gas industry make £500 million of profit exempt from tax, at 32%, this creates a toxic subsidy of £160 million.  This doesn’t include the subsidy that the gas industry receives for the cost of decommissioning their drilling sites.  According to HMRC, it is the UK Government’s aim to“maximise the economic production of hydrocarbon reserves”   working with industry to increase its subsidy for marginal fields and projects.

The Tyndall Centre has described in detail the dangers of fracking, from its contribution to increasing harmful release of methane (a concentrated greenhouse gas contributing to climate change 20X more than effective at trapping heat than carbon) as well as the danger to the water aquifers in the areas where drilling takes place.  Water is essential to human life and cannot be tainted.

Treasury has done little to disguise its disdain for supporting the renewable industry by its continuous decrease in the amount of Feed in tariff for wind and solar.  The tariffs have a different effect on the taxpayer, as it is not direct tax relief, like the subsidy for oil and gas.  The tariffs are actually paid by the energy suppliers.  Were the government to support investment in the energy infrastructure, the electricity transmission system, energy suppliers may be incentivised to invest in renewables in order to reap the benefit of increased distributed generation.  Unfortunately, this has not been the case.

Renewable energy can make a substantial contribution to the energy mix in the UK.  One example is the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm site, planned at a location 13 kms off the coast of Brighton and Hove.  This wind farm could accommodate a scheme of up to 700MW of installed electrical capacity. Based on current estimates of the area’s wind resource over the long-term, E.On, the project developer, projects the site could generate more than 2,100 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity each year[1]. In a typical year, the wind farm could generate enough electricity for the domestic needs of the equivalent of around 450,000 average UK households. That’s more than two thirds of the homes in the whole of Sussex, including the city of Brighton and Hove.

You have a choice, we don’t have to wreck the environment to maintain our standard of living.

[1] Rampion Offshore Wind farm proposal, Community Consultation Document – Eon Climate & Renewables UK Rampion Offshore Wind Ltd, February 2012

Gas industry influence on Government

We all know that politicians are influenced by lobbyists.  Unfortunately, we don’t have to go further than London to bear witness to it.  Corporations rich in cash are influencing our politicians to spend our hard earned taxpayers money against our best interests.  Fortunately, there are two insiders who are not afraid to blow the whistle on the unfair influence the oil and gas industry has on government legislation.

In this article, Nick Sutcliffe, Guildford District Councillor, identifies the sinister lobbying going on behind the scenes at the Treasury and the Department for Energy and Climate Change.  Last December, in an interview with the Guardian, Caroline Lucas also revealed the extent to which the big 6 energy suppliers have penetrated the halls of influence in government

No wonder we all think that there are no alternatives to nuclear power and the oil and gas addiction that our government feeds.  Our government is investing our money in these industries to maintain the stranglehold that the energy industry oligopoly has over us, making it more difficult for us to transition to a renewable energy future.  The oil and gas industry does not support our energy independence.  It will never be in their interest for us to generate our own electricity and heat by using natural resources like wind and sun when they can keep feeding us electricity generated by fossil fuel and nuclear plants.  These large polluting generation plants transmit electricity over high voltage wires running over our countryside losing 65% of the electricity generated during its journey from the plant to our homes and workplaces.

There are movements building to create community owned energy generators happening all across the UK.  Those who want to support the transition to a low carbon future, to protect our environment and to create energy security can investigate the grass roots movements in their areas.  They can invest in these groups and build their own local energy generation facilities.  This will become the backbone of our energy infrastructure going forward.  Locally generated energy is consumed locally.  It’s clean and efficient.  Its cheaper.  Go find your local generator.

Breast cancer press release disappoints

Cancer Research UK has issued an extremely disappointing press release about the increase in the lifetime risk of breast cancer from 1 in 9 last year to 1 in 8 this year.  There are three factors involved, the first and most influential – genes, the next two equal in importance, lifestyle behaviour and ENVIRONMENT.  There was no mention of the environmental impacts on breast cancer in the UK in the press release.  Women posted on their blog that they felt guilty, not taking more responsibility for their lifestyles to possibily avoid getting cancer.

Governments prefer to keep people ignorant to avoid panic.  Their preference is to keep us all sedated,  like the iconic Stepford Wives.  To believe what we are told that we have to cut down our drinking, eat less and more healthy and most importantly – HAVE MORE BABIES FOR BRITAIN.  These actions will lower your risk of getting breast cancer.

Some of the reason why cancer rates are increasing is because of the rising levels of fine particulates in the air from diesel engines creating unhealthy levels of pollution in England’s cities.  We are exposed to ever higher levels of dangerous radiation from nuclear power plants in the air and in the sea .  No one knows how much radiation we absorb in our daily lives, there’s never been a study of this sort conducted by the government.  The government’s policy is and historically has been –  If we don’t test it, no one can prove it.  We need to insist that before any more nuclear power plants or nuclear waste storage sites are built, that we understand the impact that rising production and storage of deadly radiation will have on the inhabitants of this small island.

We need to see the results of tests that are made of the water where the waste water used to cool the spent fuel rods flows out into our seas and rivers.  We need to know what level is released and what levels are contained on the sands and earth surround the nuclear power plants.  We need to understand how the government can guarantee that we are not exposed to danger despite the higher incidence of leukemia in the proximity of nuclear power plants.

Can the government ensure that there will be no more leaks?

According to a NII report obtained by Mark Gould of the Guardian from the Freedom of information act, in June 2009, a nuclear leak occurred at Sizewell A.  Disaster was averted by a contractor’s chance decision to wash some clothes.  As much as 40,000 gallons of radioactive water spilled out of a 4.5 meter split in a pipe, some leaking into the North Sea.  By the next scheduled safety patrol, the level would have dropped enough to expose to nuclear fuel rods potentially causing them to overheat and catch fire releasing toxic fumes into the air.

Terry Macalister and Rob Edwards wrote in the Observer on 21 June 2009 from a report obtained through the freedom of information act, “the government’s chief nuclear inspector reveals that between 2001-2008, there were 1,767 safety incidents across Britain’s nuclear power plants  “About half were subsequently judged by inspectors as serious enough “to have had the potential to challenge a nuclear safety system”. They were “across all areas of existing nuclear plant”, including Sellafield in Cumbria and Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire, says Weightman, chief inspector of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII)…And it came as the managers of the UK’s biggest plant, Sellafield, admitted they had finally halted a radioactive leak many believe has been going on for 50 years.” A spokesman for Sellafield confirmed it had successfully halted the seeping of liquid from a crack in one of four waste tanks that used to process effluent before it was discharged into the Irish Sea.