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No Mr. Huhne, no

The energy secretary, Chris Huhne, told the Observer that the UK had no option but to speed up efforts to move away from oil. \”Getting off the oil hook is made all the more urgent by the crisis in the Middle East. We cannot afford to go on relying on such a volatile source of energy when we can have clean, green and secure energy from low-carbon sources,\” he said. \”The carbon plan is about ensuring that the whole of government is engaged in a joined-up effort to lead us into a low-carbon world.\”

No, short term bounces around in the price of oil, just as with any other commodity, do not justify a £200 billion investment in the energy infrastructure we\’re going to be using for the next 30 years.

Long term decisions need to be taken on the basis of long term factors, not short term ones.

Hey, I\’m even willing to agree that moving away from oil is a pretty good idea. But to what is the interesting question.

To say that something must be done, this is something, therefore we must do this is not the way we\’d like policy to be decided though.

There are two major factors, long term ones, which you seem to be missing. The first is shale gas. This looks like it\’s going to dramatically lower the cost of natural gas for the next few decades. Natural gas plants last a few decades… perhaps we should be sticking up natural gas plants to take advantage of this newly cheaper fuel.

In the longer term solar PV is falling in price. Something like 20% a year actually, and there\’s one more generation of technology on the way, multi-junction cells (boasting efficiencies of up to 40%). While predictions, especially about the future, are very difficult, it\’s a generally accepted result in the alternative energy field that solar PV is between 5 and 15 years away from being generally grid comparable in price.

Please note that this is nothing to do with our own Renewables Obligations, Feed in Tarrifs or anything else. The vast investments being made by China (and to a lesser extent, Germany) into this technology entirely dwarf anything that we are doing.

Thus a rational approach to weaning ourselves off oil could be to dash for gas once again: then, as solar PV becomes economic, people will naturally install it all by their very selves.

All done without subsidy, without doubling or tripling fuel bills, just the natural application of economics: the allocation of scarce resources via the price mechanism.

13 thoughts on “No Mr. Huhne, no”

  1. The worst part?

    “And in another extraordinary move, non-governmental organisations, including Greenpeace, will be asked to play a monitoring role to ensure progress across each department is maintained.”

    Neo-Leninists now effectively control British energy policy. The last person to leave won’t need to switch off any lights before piling into their electroshitbox and pootling 20mph down the road to the nearest seaport.

    I’ve always said that when totalitarianism hits Britain, it’ll be wearing sandals and carrying a clipboard.

  2. “While predictions, especially about the future, are very difficult …”

    Nice one, Tim.

    Tim adds: Indeed it is but sadly not original….

  3. Brian, follower of Deornoth

    Let me check I understand the Huhne correctly: in order to reduce our dependence on a source of energy that is extremely expensive and erratic in supply, we are going to build windmills?

  4. You’re right about solar PV – and the great thing is, the thing driving its presence is sheer physics, IT development and Moore’s Law, not crazy geology and speculation.

    I’m deeply sceptical about shale gas, OTOH, for much the same reasons.

  5. Yes but letting human ingenuity solve the problem in a market way wouldn’t give all the ex communists running the environmental movement the chance to destroy capitalism, and control the lives of billions of people now would it?

    That after all seems to be the primary aim of the ‘climate change’ crowd.

  6. Oil price rises affect everything, transportation in particular, so imports become expensive, so perhaps investment in home produce would be a better way of countering rises ?

    I’m even willing to agree that moving away from oil is a pretty good idea.

    Not move away from oil, but move away from foreign supplied energy, that includes piped gas and electricity generated by French nukes.

    But supply is only part of the equation, the determination of demand is the biggest part of any efficiency energy policy, which is why we have a “secret” control room where people watch for the credits in East Enders ready to bring power stations online just before millions of kettles turn on.

    Consequently, what is needed is not only cheap energy, but the “turn off and on-able” aspect of it, something that PV cannot be directly used for, either you waste storing it in a battery, or you do something like push water up a hill so it can be let out through a turbine when you need it, problem is, you generally do this during the night.

  7. Amen Jim…

    The whole climate change bollocks is an opportunity for the communists to smash the society they loathe so completely…

  8. This would be the same Huhne who said he wasn’t worried about the lack of nuclear causing blackouts because if the worst came to the worst they could throw up lots of gas burning generators. That would be some heretofore unknown carbon free gas.

  9. and how many conventional power stations are China building? It is saddening. When it gets really cold round here – which means around 0C – it is quite uncanny how none of the bird-slicers are actually turning and generating power. Why has no one managed to get that simple fact through Huhne’s skull! What happened to the Civil Service?

  10. dearieme between the Scylla of Douglas Jay’s “the man in Whitehall knows best” and the Charybdis of the certifiabloe stupidity of Huhne, what can we do?

  11. @Diogenes: make sure you have a wood burning stove installed and a good supply of logs. We’re going to need alternative methods of keeping warm and cooking in years to come.

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