Well, we knew this was going to happen, didn’t we?

Household fridges and freezers will need to be automatically switched off at times when Britain’s electricity demand is high, in order to keep the lights on as Britain becomes more reliant on wind energy, experts say.

The current electricity grid will struggle to cope with the number of wind farms expected to be built by the early 2020s because the power they produce is so intermittent, according to a report from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

A radical overhaul of the way the electricity system is managed – including a “smart grid” that can control household appliances to reduce demand when power supply is inadequate – will be needed, it finds.

Seems entirely logical from an engineering point of view. Rather less so from a political one. God knows what the bastards will do if they can reach into your house and control your electronics….and don’t forget, today’s bastards might not be so bad as those we get tomorrow.

48 comments on “Well, we knew this was going to happen, didn’t we?

  1. As an engineer, what seems entirely logical to me is to provide the cheapest, most reliable energy in sufficient quantities to meet demand at all times. Rationally, not one watt should come from wind.

    It is difficult to imagine that future politicians could be worse than the current crop who are prepared to see people die in the name of their CAGW faith. Surely if they got any worse the supine British people would finally awake and start tossing the bastards into furnaces to generate power.

  2. @Luis enrique

    Yes I think investing in energy storage the better option

    It makes no sense to spend on storage, or massive interconnect, if cheaper power can be generated for lower cost from fracked or imported gas, coal or nuclear.

    And it can.

  3. This is the result of absolutely stupid progressive thinking.

    A stable affordable electricity supply is perhaps the single biggest contributor to the doubling of our life expectancy.

    We get all worked up about something which was always unlikely and now on its way to being demonstrably false and we chuck the whole lot out of the window ‘investing’ (excuse me if I laugh) in generation systems that solve nothing and destroy our capacity to continue to enjoy stable in-demand cheap energy whilst bankrupting ourselves and making energy-intensive industry unaffordable in Europe.

    Destruction from within. Most are merely unthinking cooperators, some, very few, had this in mind all along.

    It is political and has never been about ‘saving the environment’.

  4. DocBud

    Didn’t I read the other day that we have been generating electricity by burning aborted foetuses?

    Half-way there!

  5. I’d relate this to Tim’s suggestion, the $80/carbon tax is job done on carbon externalities because UK energy taxation is well above the $80/tonne.
    The suggested measure is quite sensible. But governments aren’t. It’ll be, if x amount of load shifting is good then 2x or 3x must be better. They’ll work their way to the point, they’ll have time shifted so much supply use there’ll be no-when left to shift to. Classic recipe for catastrophic collapse.

  6. Steve, Just another group of people who will have right of entry to your home to force you to have one.

    Problem, Jonathan, is they’ll have the technology to know they cannot turn your fridge off. Such an unsocial act as not taking your fair share of the pain which is solely due to the pollies and totally unnecessary will be a criminal offence and you could end up in jail. Just what the greenies have always wanted, to be able to jail those who refuse to take their green medicine and do their civic duty.

  7. DocBud – “Steve, Just another group of people who will have right of entry to your home to force you to have one.”

    At least it will save the BBC a lot of time as they will know if you have a licence or not and will be able to turn your TV (and laptop and iPad) for you.

    “Problem, Jonathan, is they’ll have the technology to know they cannot turn your fridge off.”

    So get your fridge chipped so it no longer responds. And then buy a small chest-sized fridge for the shed. They can turn that one off. It is not as if a fridge gives out a special signal when it draws from the grid. They will know you have one, not two. They can turn the small one off to their heart’s content. And you can go on using the full sized one.

    “Just what the greenies have always wanted, to be able to jail those who refuse to take their green medicine and do their civic duty.”

    Indeed. That special time when our rulers get a close encounter with the hemp is drawing closer. And they do not seem to realise it.

  8. A rise in homemade cold food storage systems can be envisaged. Ice, straw, a sealed room. An entire industry in cutting ice could be created….
    And nothing the electricity people can do about it as no electricity used!
    Electric fridge is more dependable while power stays on… not when power off.

  9. Good point, SMFS.

    I’ve actually got a food fridge, two beer fridges (well I do live in the tropics) and a red wine fridge (to cool it to a room temperature that is not above 30 degrees).

    They can turn off the back up beer fridge, though thankfully the current Australian government is trying to back away from this madness but power outages at peak times are not unknown in South Australia, NSW and Victoria. Up here we tend to only get them due to cyclones, Category 5 is going to hit north of Cairns tomorrow.

  10. @SMFS “So get your fridge chipped so it no longer responds. And then buy a small chest-sized fridge for the shed. They can turn that one off. It is not as if a fridge gives out a special signal when it draws from the grid. They will know you have one, not two. They can turn the small one off to their heart’s content. And you can go on using the full sized one.”

    Maybe I’m missing something, but presumably ‘they’ can be advised wirelessly that a given fridge is still ‘on’, and ‘they’ could make it a heinous envirocrime to even own two fridges, never mind rechip one of them.

  11. DocBud I am loving your style. As a matter of interest, why not have a cellar dug for the wine? Cost I assume?

  12. >I can see a small industry developing for “chipping” fridges etc. to disable this “functionality” – et al

    Just change user agent profile to respond as $HeartPump instead of $Fridge. And vice versa if you want to get rid of the curtain twitching busybody across the street who grassed you for having more than 1 light on after 10pm last Tuesday.

  13. jeebus people, I mean it may well be that wind power isn’t the right choice, but “cheaper” energy? If you were Richie, Tim would be writing scornfully about how you don’t even understand the most basic ideas in economics: externalities.

  14. I try, I really try, not to be a tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist. I really do.

    But when HMRC want access to your bank account, with you having to take them to court when – not if – they make a massive error, and the national grid wants to be able to turn off your fridge, I do start to wonder whether emigration isn’t the smart option.

  15. Why fridges first? Why not smart TVs, games consoles, hair dryers & air conditioning?
    After all, for families with young children (milk/formula) or diabetics (insulin) a fridge is not so much a frivoulous luxury as an essential life support mechanism. Likewise, the other big power sucker, electric kettle, is pretty important to young families for sterilisation etc.

  16. Interested, we’re on a cliff with some serious igneous boulders so going deep enough would be a problem. We’ve got a cyclone shelter but in the middle of the day it is like the black hole of Calcutta.

  17. Luis. Matt Ridley tells us that up to 2 degrees warming there is a net benefit so the externality cost is a minus so they should be paying us to use the energy. After 2050 the great, great grandchildren can start paying when the externality cost becomes positive.

  18. “Seems entirely logical from an engineering point of view. ”

    Only in the Soviet sense that resulted in nuclear power plant cooling pipes being routed through peoples homes that cannot be turned off even if it’s 35 degrees and sunny outside.

  19. Smart meters are instruments of control. They can only “force” them on a small minority IF (and only after) the mass of idiots have accepted them voluntarily. Hopefully, enough scare stories in the DM/DT etc might just alert enough people to become refuseniks.

  20. Interested, mulled wine is a staple during our harsh winters when the day time temperatures plummet to the low twenties (C) and we shiver through night time temperatures in the mid-teens. I have been known to put a long sleeve T shirt on.

  21. Ha! I used to live in the Middle East – it got above 110 degrees F on the verendah in July and we shivered in the low 70s in the winter.

    Our version of the above was sitting on the beach on Boxing Day in a woolly pully, watching rellies out from the UK splashing around in the sea.

  22. Martin Davies – “A rise in homemade cold food storage systems can be envisaged. Ice, straw, a sealed room. An entire industry in cutting ice could be created….
    And nothing the electricity people can do about it as no electricity used!”

    Don’t forget our Australian cousins:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coolgardie_safe

    Not hugely useful in the UK mind you.

    “Electric fridge is more dependable while power stays on… not when power off.”

    It would be easier to buy a generator.

    DocBud – “I’ve actually got a food fridge, two beer fridges (well I do live in the tropics) and a red wine fridge (to cool it to a room temperature that is not above 30 degrees).”

    So just tell them about the food fridge. Keep the more important ones secret.

    The reasons for this are simple – the government does not have the courage to make the electricity companies install enough peak power. And they don’t want to because by definition peak power generation is idle and hence very expensive most of the time. Much better just to cut people off. It is dispiriting that they lack the sense to make them do it.

    Interested – “Maybe I’m missing something, but presumably ‘they’ can be advised wirelessly that a given fridge is still ‘on’, and ‘they’ could make it a heinous envirocrime to even own two fridges, never mind rechip one of them.”

    They can only be informed if there is a working chip in the fridge telling them what it is. Remove the chip. Still works but can’t denounce you. They could try to make it a crime to have two fridges, but a lot of people have them already. Hard to stop a large secondary market.

  23. @SMFS ‘They can only be informed if there is a working chip in the fridge telling them what it is. Remove the chip. Still works but can’t denounce you. They could try to make it a crime to have two fridges, but a lot of people have them already. Hard to stop a large secondary market.’

    Yes, I wasn’t being entirely serious.

    However, this does get to the numb of a lot of our laws (IMHO).

    Sure, you can break the law(s), and many do. But when you cross the powers-that-be, they have an easy way to nail you.

    Call me paranoid, of course.

  24. Governments are instituted amongst Men to “secure the Blessings of Liberty.” Government has decided it doesn’t like that role, and would rather mess with the people’s energy supply.

  25. The reasons for this are simple – the government does not have the courage to make the electricity companies install enough peak power.

    It is worse than this. Governments are actively preventing the electricity companies from installing the power generation capacity they would like to (in order to make more money) in the name of the great goddess Gaia.

  26. The greens win both ways – they gain petty control over our lives, and they can wail and call for rationing when “food waste” rockets as people have to chuck out spoiled milk and food.

    From a bacteria point of view, are there interesting effects from continually warming and chilling food?

  27. Surely it would save more electricity by turning off the lights to keep the fridge-freezer going?
    The first thing should be to outlaw electrical heaters, not fridges. Gas fires have less than half the carbon footprint of electric fires or radiators. Then unnecessary energy use like tanning machines, holiday flights, games consoles, TV soaps, travelators, food flown in, useless gadgets etc.; then escalators, private cars … until everyone realises what the greenies want,

  28. @Rob

    ‘From a bacteria point of view, are there interesting effects from continually warming and chilling food?’

    That’s a feature, not a bug (to use both a cliche and a pun).

    Population control, Rob.

  29. “Yes I think investing in energy storage the better option”

    Out of curiosity, what mechanism had you got in mind?

  30. Tim, it’s not entirely logical from an engineering point of view. It’s bollocks, because engineering is about tradeoffs between cost, function, and safety.
    This proposal fails on cost since it requires every UK household to install a new fridge, about £5 billion. It fails on function since it can be easily circumvented. It fails on safety since it will to food-poison swathes of people during winter blocking highs.
    Total bollocks.

  31. Interested – “Sure, you can break the law(s), and many do. But when you cross the powers-that-be, they have an easy way to nail you.”

    Yeah but it is the twenty felonies a day thing. We are all breaking laws every day. It is just a question of them having the time and motivation to get us.

    Gamecock – “Government has decided it doesn’t like that role, and would rather mess with the people’s energy supply.”

    As governments are increasingly unable to do anything about the big issues, they are focusing on smaller triumphs, mostly against the Middle Class, that are purely symbolic.

    Too late to vote, too early to shoot.

    Surreptitious Evil – “It is worse than this. Governments are actively preventing the electricity companies from installing the power generation capacity they would like to (in order to make more money) in the name of the great goddess Gaia.”

    I bet that the power companies are lobbying their little hearts out, all in the name of Gaia of course, to make sure that this change takes place. Just as the Water companies do. Rationing supplies is much cheaper than having to build enough capacity to cope with the peaks.

    john77 – “The first thing should be to outlaw electrical heaters, not fridges. Gas fires have less than half the carbon footprint of electric fires or radiators.”

    That is an interesting question. People who heat with gas usually heat the entire house. People with electric heaters often heat one room – or even just their feet. There are big behavioural differences here so I would leap to conclude which is more efficient.

    Thomas Gibbon – “This proposal fails on cost since it requires every UK household to install a new fridge, about £5 billion. It fails on function since it can be easily circumvented. It fails on safety since it will to food-poison swathes of people during winter blocking highs.
    Total bollocks.”

    It will be phased in over time. They want everyone to get rid of their old fridge and buy a new energy efficient one anyway. Fridges have a limited life span so if you mandate all the new ones have chips, over a few decades, they will all have chips. This is what happened with GPS chips in mobile phones.

    It won’t be circumvented by the White Middle Class because they are law abiding. Some of them will love it.

    I imagine the chips will be smart to do a rolling stoppage – they will turn off the fridges for a period, but not for hours. It takes a while for fridges to cool down. If they do it right it shouldn’t be a big food poisoning problem.

  32. As I understand it, this is a bit of misreporting. Smart meters would not be used to turn fridges on or off. New fridges would simply include a bit of electronics to check the grid frequency, If that falls below a given level then the fridge stops cooling. When the frequency picks up, it resumes its job. Its just a bit of load clipping. Along with STOR it makes the current system somewhat more reliable. Of course whether we should be generating 20% of our power from expensive windmills is another matter.

  33. @SMFS
    Firstly, gas fires only heat the same area as electric fires and electrical oil-filled radiators heat the same area as water-filled radiators heated by gas, so you are jumping to a conclusion about the comparison that needs to be made. Secondly it is not necessary to heat the whole house if one has central heating – we have turned off radiators in the rooms where they are not needed.

  34. Sam

    That’s why the likes of Murphy are making threats against ‘secrecy jurisdictions’ – the idea is that emigration won’t solve your issues because the ‘Curajus State’ will exist everywhere, across all countries… Never let it be said that evil lacks ambition….

  35. That’s why the likes of Murphy are making threats against ‘secrecy jurisdictions’ – the idea is that emigration won’t solve your issues because the ‘Curajus State’ will exist everywhere, across all countries… Never let it be said that evil lacks ambition….

    This is why Communism needed the international element: it doesn’t work if people can simply move elsewhere.

    Incidentally, I’ve noticed the French don’t fret about electricity supplies in the way the Germans and Brits do. If there is one good thing Charles de Gaulle did it was not only establish the French nuclear programme and the power stations, but establish nuclear power and the nuclear industry in the minds of the French population. They all seem to be quite proud of it in fact, and rightly so.

  36. And when you protest that this is managing demand instead of providing supply, they say that this is already done with different tariffs e.g if you run the dishwasher after midnight cheaply. They do not seem to understand that a different tariff is MY choice but the smart meter option is THEIR choice.

    And there is the other jolly little wheeze. In the Brave New World we will all have electric cars sitting outside merrily charging up ready for the morning. How many of you are aware that the boffins are now able to drain the charge in those cars to deal with the spike in the demand at breakfast time? So, you can have your nice hot porridge but you will be walking to work.

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