Moonbeams from the Larger Lunacy

I thought of all sorts of titles for this article, but eventually I settled on this one - the title of a book by that master of humour, Stephen Leacock. The reason: I am utterly baffled. Words fail me; a sense of humour is the only way of coping.

A new government; a more realistic approach. That's what I hoped. After a decade or so of avoiding decisions on nuclear, depletion of North Sea Gas, and increasing energy imports I hoped for some sensible changes and some long-term, sustainable planning aimed at giving us an affordable energy supply.

Unfortunately I still cannot see any sign of a coherent energy policy.

Advisers seem to be more interested in meeting imaginary climate 'targets' than keeping the lights on, and the Minister's title "Energy and Climate Change Secretary" does not inspire confidence.

To quote Viv Forbes: 'Some people think that the global warming scam is finished, and that there is no further threat to our jobs, our economy and our energy supplies. Unfortunately there is no reason to relax. Public opinion has changed but the politicians have not'.

Take a look at this advice, given to Government by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) at the end of June 2010. It is surreal.

"Britain must build twice as many wind farms every year, put a million electric cars on the road, and insulate every home to meet legally-binding climate change targets".

Leaving aside the fact that there is no proven link between carbon dioxide emissions and global temperature, let's consider these three points:


Regular readers of this website will already know of the dismal record of Germany's wind farms. Germany has had to build several coal fired power stations to supply the backup power for when the wind stops blowing.

The turbines have to run continuously even when the wind is blowing, and when doing so they generate no power. This is the most inefficient way of running a turbine.

Secondly, the concept of a turbine's 'rated output' is grossly dishonest. It bears no relationship to the amount of energy actually generated. Yet we are routinely told that a wind farm will supply power for, say, 50,000 homes. Dividing the claimed figure by ten gives a more realistic estimate. The cost is five to ten times the price of electricity generated by other means.

The rated output of my home turbine was 600 Watts, and it was not cheap. It gave 8 Watts in windy periods. Let us hope that under-performance of large turbines is not so bad as that.

About 85% of of electricity is generated using coal and gas, much of it imported. This means that if we had a million electric cars in regular use, they would be recharged 85% of the time using fossil fuel energy. We would also need a larger National Grid.

Yet we are already in a situation where the Grid can barely cover our needs during the winter. We have been told that power cuts are likely, as our remaining nuclear stations are decommissioned and our older coal stations are closed down because of their sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions - the Large Combustion Plant Directive.

How, exactly, are electric cars going to improve the situation?

No-one can argue that effective home insulation is unwise. One must remember however that grants have been available for a large number of years to improve insulation where this is practicable. New houses are built well-insulated.

The last government said recently that 10,000 homes a week would be given "eco-upgrades" to make them more environmentally friendly. The most cost-effective measures would be loft insulation and cavity wall insulation, which are relatively cheap and which decrease energy bills considerably. Presumably the new scheme will be similar.

I am expecting to be told that the costs (my increased fuel bills) will be outweighed by savings.

I already have loft insulation, and my walls have no cavities. Will I get a rebate?

ND, habitat21

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