Wibble wibble from Friends of the Earth

How can they say this with a straight face?

No nuclear power station has been built without state cash – as our government recognises. No subsidies means no nuclear. Supporting nuclear means getting behind taxpayer-funded subsidies for, in George Monbiot\’s words, the \”liars\” who run the industry.

In contrast to the billions spent on nuclear, there remains real reluctance to invest in renewable energy. Only last week ministers cut support for small-scale renewable power. Their plans for electricity market reform will not support the development of offshore wind and other marine renewables.

It\’s entirely wibble, isn\’t it?

No, not the facts put forward, but the argument.

Nuclear requires subsidy therefore we shouldn\’t use it.

Meaning that we should now provide even greater subsidies for renewables because nuclear requires subsidy.

Yes, well done, here\’s a lollipop now go and play with the other children.

Do note that, not including this subsidy, nuclear produces \’leccy at about 10p per unit. Solar, including the subsidy, produces it at 46 p or so.

So, electricty production in the UK is around 400 TWh (2004 figure but good enough). Nuclear is 20% of this (again, good enough). 80 TWh. A TWh is 10*9 kWh.

Thus total production of nuclear in the UK, per year, is 80,000,000,000 kWh. So, if the nuclear subsidy were to be equal to the solar subsidy then the nucelar subsidy per year (ie, 80,000,000,000 x 36 p) would need to be £28,800,000,000 per year.

£29 billion a year.

As the general estimate is that the subsidy of the entire nuclear system over the past 60 years (yes, including all the bomb making n\’all, the R&D to work out how to do it etc) is estimated at £50-£100 billion, or £1.6 billion per year, that appears to make nuclear cheaper than solar by £25 billion a year.

Which is, when you come to think of it, a bit more than just chump change.

And this is just massively gorgeous:

By contrast, after just a few years\’ support in Germany, solar panels are expected to be producing power without the need for public subsidies.

That link is to an article from 2008.

At the solar industry trade fair in Munich over the weekend, there was growing confidence that the holy grail known as \”grid parity\” – whereby electricity from the sun can be produced as cheaply as it can be bought from the grid – is now just a few years away.

OK….

The market will probably expand another 40% this year,\” said Carsten Körnig, of the German solar industry association, referring to both PV and solar thermal systems, which produce hot water. He said his previous assumption – that grid parity would be reached in Germany in five to seven years – now looked very conservative since it allowed for only a 3% rise in electricity prices each year. In many countries increases of 20% a year are becoming the norm.

How excellent. OK, so the conservative assumption was that solar PV would have grid parity in 2013. But that\’s too conservative. It\’ll be shorter than that. Good, we\’re now in 2011….so grid parity has arrived, yes?

Excellent, so no more subsidy is needed, is it?

You really do have to be some kind of numpty to use the proof that you don\’t need subsidy any more as an argument for more subsidy.

And an idiot to not notice that that is what you are doing.

19 comments on “Wibble wibble from Friends of the Earth

  1. And like Al Gore setting up the Carbon trading exchange in conjunction with Goldman Sachs, of course these huge sums of taxpayers money aren’t going into their pockets are they?

  2. The answer is Fusion Power. It’s only 40 years away. And it has been only 40 years away for all my adult life.

  3. dearieme: you’re reading the wrong stuff! Mine is at least ten years ahead of yours, having pegged fusion as thirty years away since about forever. If it’s thirty years away, then you can basically read, ‘We don’t know when it’ll happen.’

    But to be serious, that target is starting to move now: the plan is that Iter (plasma in 2018, we hope) should produce an energy surplus as the first nuclear fusion facility to do so. That wasn’t even on the cards a while ago.

  4. You really do have to be some kind of numpty to use the proof that you don’t need subsidy any more as an argument for more subsidy.

    Ah, no. Having seen this argument in many other areas, and seen it work, I think using this argument indicates a rapid intelligence well aware of the lack of attention most taxpayers pay to arguments designed to get money out of their purse.
    In other words, people who use this argument are trying to screw the taxpayer, and unfortunately are all too often successful. They may be amoral, but they’re not numpty or idiots.

    And of course, if you don’t notice that’s what you’re doing, you’re likely to sound more sincere and thus be more convincing ,and thus less numpty, than if you do so in full knowledge of what you’re doing.

  5. I really love the implicit assumption that grid parity will be achieved if the price of other generation methods keeps rising by 20% per annum! This means that the price doubles every 3.5 years or so.

  6. It’s an innnnteresting argument, that nuclear is bad because it requires subsidy, when all renewables are subsidised (AFAIK). Thinking about it, isn’t coal subsidised as well?

  7. “that grid parity would be reached in Germany in five to seven years – now looked very conservative since it allowed for only a 3% rise in electricity prices each year. In many countries increases of 20% a year are becoming the norm.”

    I’m confused – surely rising electricity prices make them more competitive, not less? Unless they’re the reason for the rise…

  8. “Thinking about it, isn’t coal subsidised as well?”

    Why don’t you tell us, UKLiberty, is it?

    But please don’t tell us about subsidies that certain governments such as Iran and Indonesia pay to subsidise the energy costs of consumers. These are subsidies irrespective of the source of the energy.

  9. At September 2010, “UK coal producers received around £162 million of operating aid during 2000-02 and £53 million of investment aid during 2003-08, but the Government are not currently paying any subsidy for coal production.”

  10. It also requires the eco-fascists to redefine the term subsidy. When you put money into something purely to give it away that is a “subsidy”. When you do it with the reasonable expectation of getting it back and then some or of buying something you want with it (usually nuclear bombs) that is “investment”.

    I do not know of any instance of subsidy of nuclear plants, though it is theoretically possible. It is also theoretically possible for there to be an honest “Green” hidden somewhere.

  11. As usual they are misquoting (Chris Huhne in this case), who is himself distorting the picture in order to support his political views. Read the original “since Three Mile Island” whereafter US consumers did a mega-nimby panic. “More people were killed a Chappaquiddick than at Three Miles Island”
    Dozens of nuclear power stations were built without government subsidy prior to three Mile Island. EDF makes a profit on the electricity it generates using nuclear power.
    The ultra-safe CANDU reactors have been marketed abroad – I don’t have time to find chapter and verse but i fail to see why either government would subsidise an imported reactor.
    Minor point – “grid parity” includes transmission costs and return on capital spent on building the power station and the grid network and the profits of the power station and the grid operator and makes no allowance for the intermittent supply from solar cells and the insurance premium that would need to be paid for the grid to supply power when that from the solar cell declines due to clouds or smog (Southern California) or night-time.
    Cost of “produced” does not = price of bought

  12. “the plan is that Iter (plasma in 2018, we hope) should produce an energy surplus as the first nuclear fusion facility to do so”: great – all the unexpected difficulties, and accidents, must be getting closer then.

  13. Unless I dreamed it, Simon Hughes said with a straight face on Question Time last week that a major argument in favour of solar was that, unlike nuclear, it required no subsidy.
    I nearly rolled off my sofa, but no-one challenged him.

  14. In many countries increases of 20% a year are becoming the norm.

    Okay, if we assume this is true, why are prices rising by 20% a year? Is it because the actual cost of making electrons whizz around the national grid has gotten bigger? Or is it because, thanks to numpties like FoE, the generation industry is being loaded with all sorts of carbon taxes; taxes which are then passed on to the consumer?

    Answers on a post card please.

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