Steaming into a Crisis

Today I took an elderly relative down to the local railway station to watch an old restored steam train pass by as it pulled a few hundred enthusiasts on a journey to London.

I am not really into steam but I must admit that these trains do make a evocative and picturesque sight (and hey, a family outing is always welcome!)

After the lumbering monster had passed through, dousing us in steam and soot, the old boy turned to me and smiled.

“In ten years we are going to need all these old relics”.

Regrettably he is probably right.

He knows, I know, and I bloody well hope that you know, that in this country, within ten years, there is going to be a shortfall in electricity generation capacity of crisis levels.

All it will take will be a severe cold snap, or the Russians getting uppity about their gas or one or a number of the old decrepit run down nuclear or coal plants breaking down.

Please, whatever you do, do not be stupid enough to think that wind power is going to get us out of this hole. All the current focus on wind energy is doing is digging us in deeper.

At a time like this we need an energy minister capable of making informed, difficult and decisive decisions. But all we have is Chris Huhne.

At least he has put in motion the construction of half of the new nuclear stations we need, which is a step in the right direction. But he is still wedded to the fairy-land fantasy of using wind power to provide a significant proportion of our power.

This means is that money that really should be allocated to building generating plant (that actually works) is diverted into wind farms so the utilities operating these wind farms can cash in on the subsidies. This money ends up in the coffers and share dividends of the greedy utility companies while the looming crisis gets ever deeper.

With the subsidy, the cost of wind power (an intermittent, unreliable and ineffective power source) is actually not far off double that of other forms of generation. The huge profits to be made on wind farms is crippling re-investment in vital non wind generation plant.

If (or should I say when?) there are power cuts, it will be interesting to see how long the electrified railways can keep going.

Maybe then, our old relics will come in handy.

Steam trains to the rescue? Far fetched? Maybe.

But no more fantastical than the belief that wind power can prevent the energy gap crisis happening, let alone provide a long lasting contribution to out electricity supply.

1 comment:

Dioclese said...

Nicely put, Billo.

The tragedy is that is we stopped fucking about with all this arty-farty alternative nonsense and poured all the money into fusion research, we could actually solve the problem.

Alternatively, we could let Obama stick his snout into Korea and pretty soon we wouldn't have a planet to worry about anyway.

Incidentally, are you going to fly my "Cunt of the Year Awards" banner for me. There might be a bottle of Metaxa in it? On the other hand, there might not...