Well, not really Larry, no

The biggest beneficiaries of Saudi output curbs today would be solar and wind producers. The unit cost of renewables has already fallen sharply as a result of technological advances, and each ratcheting up of oil prices will make solar and wind more competitive.

Sure, all three are methods of producing power. But we don’t actually use oil – less than 1% of UK supply last I looked – to produce electricity. The electric car fleet’s not large enough to make any difference as yet and transport is where we use near all the oil. Plastics are largely natural gas these days. So is heating, cooking. Or electric. And as Gazprom has found out gas prices don’t mimic oil any more.

Sure, in the long term they’re all substitutes for each other. But only over decades. A change in the oil price isn’t going to move the dial on wind or solar in anything measured in single digit years.

25 comments on “Well, not really Larry, no

  1. “The electric car fleet’s not large enough to make any difference as yet…”

    My local borough suddenly started seeing electric charging points springing up in various locations this spring. To date, I’ve not seen one in use. Not one!

  2. JuliaM, if Kensington is anything to go by, the major users will be council vehicles.

    Isn’t it great that as we move towards winter a Guardianista starts talking about the benefits of solar power!

  3. I’m always truly amazed by commentators who seem to think that any significant amount of grid electricity is produced by burning oil…

  4. The biggest beneficiaries will probably be US frackers, (and our frackers if the government got out of the effing way.)

    And I’d really like to examine the evidence that wind and solar are getting cheaper. This kind of bland assertion by a greenie usually falls apart when looked at forensically.

  5. Khashoggi though.

    Why the apparent murder of an allegedly dodgy Saudi man by other Saudis in the Saudi embassy in Turkey is our business (or Trump’s business) isn’t clear. On the face of it, this is the sort of thing about which you send a stern letter to the United Nations – not threaten World War Camel.

    However, the full court press of anti-Saudi coverage and commentary – including the “ex” head of MI6 (!) popping up to publicly accuse the Crown Prince of organising a murder – is sketchy as fuck.

    Lest we forget, people are murdered in strange circumstances in Foreign all the time, usually with little Western attention. Just last year, the head of a Persian TV company was assassinated in Istanbul in an apparent Iranian government hit:

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39761451

    More recently, the Chinese disappeared the head of Interpol. He’s presumed dead and nobody in power seems terribly bothered.

    All signs point to Khashoggi being a very naughty boy who was involved in things he shouldn’t have been. When the likes of MI6 and CIA bosses are spinning to the press on your behalf, fuckery is afoot.

  6. But Steve, he was a JOURNALIST! And all the press release recyclers in the UK are wetting themselves at the prospect of this becoming a habit.

  7. “The electric car fleet’s not large enough to make any difference as yet…”

    …and when it is, just picture the scene as all the cables under your street light up when everyone starts plugging in their 60kWh and above batteries for charging when they get home. Your smart electricity meter will control your life then.

  8. Since solar and wind power supply is totally unaffected by demand, why should reducing the supply of oil make any difference whatsoever?

  9. More numbers just to prove how people really just don’t have a grasp of the problem.

    The RAC says 254.4bn miles were driven by cars in the UK in 2017. Let’s assume all are now driven in a Tesla model S, the most efficient electric car (so Tesla claims). A 100kWh full battery charge does 335 miles at peak efficiency.

    Driving 254.4bn miles in a Tesla requires 760 million charges or 76bn kWh. Evenly spread over 24 hours, 365 days a year, this adds 8.7GW to UK energy demands (now running around 35GW*). Shift that to the night 12 hours helps, but increases demand to 17 GW during those hours which would push nighttime energy use above the current daytime** even ignoring peaks and troughs due to time of year, holidays and so on.

    *https://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk
    **expect smart meters to determine if you can leave early for the airport or not

  10. More recently, the Chinese disappeared the head of Interpol. He’s presumed dead and nobody in power seems terribly bothered.

    This is the really weird one.

  11. Correct, Kevin B.

    ‘The unit cost of renewables has already fallen sharply as a result of technological advances’

    A No true Scotsman/appeal to ignorance fallacy. We have no evidence that the assertion is true, just their repeated assertion.

    “Repeat a lie until it becomes truth.”

  12. ‘The unit cost of renewables has already fallen sharply…’ so not producing electricity can be done at much lower cost.

    Excellent!

    Sitting in the cold and dark has never been cheaper.

  13. Exactly Noel. And no-one really believes you can (in any realistic fashion*) get over 300 miles from a Tesla, any more than you would expect to achieve the manufacturer’s quoted mpg figures in your petrol/diesel car.

    * Maybe in Holland at a constant 90 kph …

  14. Noel,

    My brain’s got a bit addled since I retired and I may have missed something.

    Max power transfer theory tells us that at best you can get 50% efficiency and there will be other losses, so if you want to consume 8.7GW you’re going to have to generate at least 17.4GW

  15. @noel scoper

    Driving 254.4bn miles in a Tesla requires 760 million charges or 76bn kWh. Evenly spread over 24 hours, 365 days a year, this adds 8.7GW to UK energy demands (now running around 35GW*). Shift that to the night 12 hours helps, but increases demand to 17 GW during those hours which would push nighttime energy use above the current daytime** even ignoring peaks and troughs due to time of year, holidays and so on.

    Plus we mus determine if the local energy distribuition system can deliver this energy to the places the cars are being charged. Many will be in rural areas, many will be in urban terraced areas

    Good luck with upgrading capacity for those customers- who will pay?

  16. “The unit cost of renewables has already fallen sharply as a result of technological advances…”

    This may be true but are the cradle to grave costs of renewables being included (the cost of site selection, preparation, mobilisation, installation, operation, connection to the grid, maintenance, demolition and return of the site to it s original condition [or do we only need to do that for fossil fuel generation?])

    I smell bs

  17. “The unit cost of renewables has already fallen from outrageously expensive to just eye-watering expensive.”

    FIFY

    Note that ‘The unit cost of renewables has already fallen sharply as a result of technological advances’ is devoid of quantification. It’s now only 4 times more expensive than conventional sources.

  18. “It’s now only 4 times more expensive than conventional sources.”

    For wind, for 30% of the time….

  19. The thing is that the Model S isn’t actually *that* impressive on “fuel consumption” given what it’s doing. 100kwh is about equivalent in sheer energy content to 11l of petrol. Call that 22l once you’ve allowed for charging losses. 335 miles from the equivalent of 22l is 69mpg – my dad has had a small diesel car that manages that fairly easily for 10 years now. I think one of the smaller Volvos currently claims 85mpg, and I suspect would do more than that driven tactically. I was getting north of 75mpg out of a 1998 diesel passat a couple of years back, mainly by tactical use of “silent sixth” as the old wagon drivers used to call it – one of the most stupid things we do in the UK is teaching drivers never to coast out of gear, which is purely a hangover from cars with dubious drum brakes, where engine braking is about the only way way to slow them down in a straight line – taking your car out of gear whenever you don’t actually need to be accelerating saves a fortune in fuel, as well as wear and tear.

    Ignoring tax, electricity is also more expensive than diesel for an equivalent amount of energy – less all tax, diesel is about 52p/l at present, while 9.1kwh of domestic electricity will set you back around £1. this drops the nominal mpg from 69 to about 37, which is worse than most decent diesel estates.

    Ultimately this is the problem with electric vehicles – they are only cost competitive because of the huge tax penalty imposed road fuel. They are actually more expensive to run other than the tax savings – and mass adoption will inevitably result in the government having to find the missing revenue somewhere – probably by road pricing.

  20. Starfish, I have an engineer friend who says solar doesn’t work at night (!). I know it’s crazy talk. But he’s a licensed engineer.

    ‘as a result of technological advances’

    Another empty assertion.

    That’s too polite. It’s a fvcking lie. It’s the same shi+ today that it was 10 years ago.

  21. BiND: that’s not what the max power transfer theorem tells us; we very much design the grid to work at high efficiency rather than at maximum power transfer rate. UK transmission losses are in the order of 6 to 10%.

  22. I’m always truly amazed by commentators who seem to think that any significant amount of grid electricity is produced by burning oil…

    ALL of ours is generated by burning oil – hence a ~7% price increase from October… 🙁

  23. @ BiC Not quite all, just 90+%, shrinking gradually.
    Cyprus is an example of where one should expect reliable on-shore and off-shore winds to generate electricity through strategically placed windmills. So they have large subsidies and a target of 6.8% of electricity produced by wind by 2020.
    Cyprus gets much more sunshine (per acre, per head or per whatever) than the UK so solar water heating is sensibly used to a greater extent than in the northern less sunny countries. They have a target of 7% of electricity to come from solar by 2020.
    If Cyprus has a 14% target for electricity from renewables by 2020, what target should northern cloudy UK have? Well, it’s got 30%.

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