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Quite, and obviously

Reaching Labour’s target for decarbonising the economy will cost “hundreds of billions” of pounds, a shadow minister has disclosed in a recording obtained by The Telegraph.

Darren Jones, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said the £28 billion per year originally allocated to Labour’s green investment plan was a “tiny” amount.

He said the fact that Sir Keir Starmer had downgraded his investment plans from £28 billion to £4.7 billion “made it sound as if we basically junked the whole thing but we definitely haven’t”.

Mr Jones told a public meeting in Bristol that private capital would have to be used to upgrade infrastructure, but “public subsidy” would still be needed alongside that.

The way to do it cheaply is to do it over time. As things wear out replace them with less emittive. The way to do it expensively is to try to do it faster than the natural capital cycle. This is just obvious.

And the thing being ignored, of course.

14 thoughts on “Quite, and obviously”

  1. Labor here in Oz is naturally shrieking that Dutton’s entertaining proposal to build nukes instead of windmills will cost hundreds of billions. Of course they still haven’t given us the cost of the windmill approach.

    What I like about it is that the virulent protests of the left might cause so much delay that we can keep the coal burners going until a new fad comes into fashion.

  2. @Boganboy

    They always leave out the cost of energy storage for windmills. If they do ever mention storage then it’s batteries with a 4 hour supply rating. Time enough to start up fossil fuel generation but not to achieve decarbonization. As a minimum they should be costing about 150 hours of backup to cope with the wind not blowing for a week. The batteries for that cost 80 times more than the windmills they backup. It’s also a disaster waiting to happen when the wind doesn’t blow for more than that 150 hours so you still need to fund, build and maintain those gas plants as a backup to the backup.

  3. I’m finding it hard @Boganboy to work out whether the received wisdom is more insane in the UK or Oz. Dutton putting his big boy pants on and saying if we want to retire coal we need nuclear is refreshing, but the danger is if he loses on that it’s gone for another couple of electoral cycles before it can be raised again . Entertaining in the meantime though.
    @andyf, the problem in Aust is they keep claiming that disparate sites will overcome wind droughts, big continent, etc. This is bullshit and requires a huge amount of new transmission lines (28,000kms I think) to even try to make that happen. Plus restrictions on gas exploration and constant lawfare against new gas fields mean that even gas peaking plants aren’t very viable.
    On balance, I think we’re equally screwed.

  4. Bloke in Keighley

    A comparison I’ve been using while all the parties are promising to spend even more and it’s only going to cost £x billion.
    Total UK electricity consumption is in the region of 270 TWh. Average wholesale price of electricity fluctuates, but call it ~£60/MWh.
    Unless I’ve screwed up the conversion that comes out to ~£16 billion to cover the costs of generating the countries electricity, including profit, and the cost of all those lovely jobs. Only a ballpark estimate, but it’s not going to be an order of magnitude off.

    Puts the ‘tiny’ £28 billion proposal for green investment into perspective a bit

  5. the problem in Aust is they keep claiming that disparate sites will overcome wind droughts, big continent, etc.

    Doesn’t that mean that each dispersed location has to have enough (real, not nameplate) generating capacity for the whole continent? And therefore they have to build 3x or 4x or 5x the required capacity? On cost alone that’s surely going to make it more expensive by far than building a few nukes in the middle of nowhere.

  6. If I were building nukes in Oz it wouldn’t be “in the middle of nowhere” but at coastal sites where there’s oodles of briny to reject the waste heat into.

    Most of the Aussie coast hasn’t any sizeable population and yet is close enough to population centres to keep the transmission losses down and, indeed, to help keep the construction costs lower than mid-desert.

    Of course when I lived there I could I could get an easy rise out of Aussies by advocating “nuclear” (though it was weapons I meant at the time).

  7. Private capital?
    Only going to invest if the subsidies are guaranteed, so we’re back to government spending.

    Heysham (4 reactors), Sizewell B, Torness and Hartlepool are scheduled to shut down before 2035. Hinkley may be on by then. The Japs have pulled out of Wylfa. Sizewell C is still only 50,000 pages of how to protect the newts.

    We’re fvckd.

  8. Three things I’d quibble with over that £16bn/year estimate, which is broadly correct:
    – all capacity being added is costing significantly more than £60/MwH, e.g. strike price for next year’s wind is over £70 (with inflation adjusted) , nukes more and carbon capture subsidies are outrageously high
    – all new capacity being added until the new nukes arrive is unreliable
    – electric demand is under 1/3 rd of UK energy overall i think, so supply needs to expand to replace that
    – UK already officially uses lower amounts of energy than it should. The embedded energy costs of importing steel, fertilisers, cement soon, some foods and others should be included in the amount UK spends on energy.

    Still remarkable though – even if we call it all in £85 billion spent on energy, that’s a fortnight’s GDP roughly, which is incredibly low historically to get a year’s energy from two weeks work.

  9. “ As things wear out replace them with less emittive.”

    They did this. They replaced coal power stations with windmills. So now gas generated and imported electricity provide what coal did.

    If worn out gas power stations are replaced by wind, you still have to build a new gas power station to be ready for when wind conditions are not right.

    I wonder what people can’t understand about intermittency? The grid has to be under tension continuously at a frequency of 50Hz +/- less than 1Hz. That requires constant, uninterrupted supply to provide base load, and guaranteed controllable supply to deal with variations in demand above base load.

    Intermittent generators cannot do that.

    And no nuclear is not the solution because it has to run continuously and cannot be used as back-up to intermittency.

    It’s physics.

  10. It’s no more possible to “decarbonise” a real, first world economy than it is to destupidise a lammy or a rayner.

    If I were a betting man though, I might consider a small flutter.

    Time travel happening before the former.

    Spud writing something sensible on economics before the latter.

  11. @ John B
    Nuclear is *part of* the solution as it can provide reliable base load while unreliables provide – occasionally when they feel like it – the excess of current demand over minimum demand. So we should only need batteries and stand-by gas-powered generators for the minority (or 98.7% of that minority) provided by unreliables since minimum daily windpower output is 1.3% of maximum daily windpower output (hourly it’s probably less than 0.1%).
    Switching entirely to unreliables plus batteries would require batteries that could store solar-generated electricity from the autumn equinox to the following spring equinox. Dinorwig and Nowegian fjords can do this but their capacity is less than 1% of that which would be needed.

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