Skip to main content

The Windmill Goes Round and Round

Lord Mandelson Here’s Greenpeace’s Executive Director John Sauven on the British energy plant:

"If this plan becomes a reality, it will create hundreds of thousands of green jobs and make Britain a safer and more prosperous country. This will be good for the British economy and, in the long-run, save householders money as we reduce our dependence on foreign oil and gas.

This is likely part of what pleases Sauven:

Up to £180m would be made available to promote wind and tidal power – this includes setting up a low-carbon economic area in the south-west to promote marine technologies and money for up to 3,000 wind turbines off the UK's shores by 2020.

And why not? As Britain reworks its energy regime, renewables are extremely valuable – both in themselves and for gaining enough traction and resources to work on issues of scale and reliability. By 2020, those 3000 turbines might be fewer or might be capable of generating more electricity than currently anticipated. A big order and long timeframe can be great for innovation.


But subsidies can be a problem – when it’s nuclear energy.

[…] Business Secretary Lord Mandelson […] stated in June: "We are not going to achieve a competitive [nuclear] sector by handing out subsidies. We are not in the business of giving out subsidies. We are in the business of maintaining a level playing field."

Well, as seen above, no. And:

Yet to some observers, low carbon technologies do not appear to be competing on a level playing field. [EDF Energy chief executive Vincent] de Rivaz and other major utilities such as E.ON and RWE have been quick to point out that the more photogenic generation sources such as wind and solar are the beneficiaries of generous subsidies and tax breaks. Equally, carbon capture and storage technology is receiving massive R&D funding and incentives. For all the government's rhetoric on free market attitudes, it has effectively picked its winners already.


Energy Secretary Ed Miliband sounds as though he knows where his fights may come from:

Critics of turbines, which can be more than 300ft high, say they disfigure the landscape and cause noise. Some engineers also question whether they are efficient enough to be economically viable but Mr Miliband said people must come to accept wind farms as a necessary part of Britain's energy sector.

He said ministers would be sensitive to residents' concerns about turbines, but insisted: "They have to go somewhere."

And if he anticipates a fight on wind, imagine adding nuclear to that. Why, nuclear units eat up space – er, sound like a hundred engines going at once – um, well, we joke. Every energy source has a downside. And as we mentioned, it’s possible the wind industry will mitigate some of them.

Shaun Spiers, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said the group supported the expansion of renewable energy but the countryside must be protected. "There will be no public consent for renewable energy infrastructure if it is centrally imposed or causes great damage to the beauty of England's countryside," he said.

NIMBY - this will be the big fight, we suspect.

We wondered what Lord Mandelson looked like. Pretty much like this.


Anonymous said…
Rather than providing subsidies it would be better if government got out of the way and didn't create a need for subsidies in the first place.

A proficient coder can't even write a page of code without one ore more bugs or ugly corner cases sneaking in that require debugging to find; in that light the 30 000 page tax code is an unpalatable idea, even more so when you consider that the language it is written in is a lot more ambiguous than something like C++ or assembly. It is made much less unpalatable when you consider the massive abuse of tax code for repaying political favours, protectionism of one industry against another, crafting milker bills and social engineering("sin taxes", wealth redistribution etc.).

If hurricane katrina thought you anything it should be that central government planning continues to be a terrible idea. Not only did FEMA royally screw up the rescue work, they prevented others from helping; in one particularly egregious case a local sheriff posted armed guards to guard against FEMA, which had previously cut communication lines.

A large part of the charm of loan guarantees for the nuclear industry is not the prospect of getting help from the government. If the government has skin in the game they're not going to be too opposed to letting the project finish, where as otherwise a government beaurocrat could kill it with the stroke of a pen in return for some votes from the greenie weenies or some campaign contributions, a wink and a nod from the coal industry.

Subsidizing nuclear justifies politicians in subsidizing whatever they like, e.g. near useless paleotechnologies like wind and solar. This is a bad idea.

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…