Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Keeping the lights on

According to the Guardian neswpaper, The UK government has admitted that they are in negotiations with EDF, concerning nuclear new-build and, crucially, over "contracts for difference" where the generators are guaranteed a "strike price" and if the market price falls below this, then a surcharge is added to customers bills.  Apparently the contracts are proposed to last for 40 years, so we could be subsidising EDF's (and maybe others) profits for that long.  One very unpleasant thought, is if the companies involved in building new gas power plants seek similar subsidies. 
The pressure on the government is ,in part, due to the warning from the energy regulator OFGEM that due to EU emissions regulations, closure of some coal and oil fired power stations could lead to a 10% drop in energy generation capacity in April alone (with further decline to come).  Mr Buchanan, has said that the UK needs more gas to make up the shortfall, but competing for that gas on a global market will increase the price.  This also explains the government's interest and tax support for more drilling in the North Sea and fracking.

I think a key issue around this is that there seems to be an assumption of continued normality and consumption.
  Whether we are talking energy from renewable resources or from fossil fuels or nuclear power, our current (and growing) level of energy and resource usage is unsustainable.   
We should be investing in renewables, yes.  But we should be prioritising reduction of demand, not just for electricity but for everything.  Our lifestyles are killing the planet.  We do not have the right to do this.  This is the hard sell, this is the unpleasant truth.  Solar power, wind turbines and electric cars will not save us. 

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