2018 – Things Just Keep Getting Better

Lighten up Peeps. Things are getting better. OK? Yes really! 

Things ARE getting better (and better and better) as the years roll on. There may be dips and troughs. But really, things are getting better. Much, much better.

Relentlessly better.

You know - serious things – like infant mortality.

In 1917 infant mortality in the UK was 130 per 1000 live births. Now it is less than 4.

GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, England and Wales Dep through time | Historical Statistics on Life and Death for the Country | Rate: Infant Mortality Rate, A Vision of Britain through Time.
URL: http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/unit/10001043/rate/INF_MORT
In 2014 it hit an all time low of 3.6 and has wavered around this figure ever since.

But here's even more good news. There is a significant strategic push in the NHS to get this down further so expect further falls in coming years.

Which brings us to the NHS.

What about NHS cuts? Closures?. Is it about to collapse? 

No. In fact it is all of the above are just a set of politicized  doom-mongering bollocks designed to frighten you.

It is true the NHS has a lot of strains. But it is absolutely nowhere near collapse. In fact the amount of money allocated to the NHS year on year has been going steadily up since the aftermath of the financial crash.

Expenditure in 2006/7 was £79Bn. This year it topped £120Bn. That is in real terms too.

Rather than a failing and diminishing service, last year there was an increase of 5.1% in people starting treatment in the NHS.

Read This Astonishing Document on the statistical performance of the NHS. Some things are up and to be fair, some are down but only by a little. The through-put is breath-taking.

People telling you the NHS is about to fold are lying through their teeth. They should be ashamed of themselves.

There is still a lot wrong with the NHS especially the almost random bureaucratic and automotive treatment of front line staff. We really need to treat front line staff better, and I do not just mean money. Some of the management practices in the NHS are incredibly damaging and demoralising.

Couple that to a raft of political appointees to top management roles who got there by entitlement rather than ability and you end up with the occasional horror like Staffordshire NHS trust.

But even so, this is NOT a failing service. To suggest it is failing is unfair and dishonest.

Crime has remained low. Again we have dips and troughs and nasty abominations but according to the independent crime survey (CSEW) it is going down.  Yes really! Look!

A deep injustice was (partially) righted with the release of Sgt Blackman. Now he deserves some heavy duty compensation in 2018.

Employment has hit an all time high and the economy is doing well despite all the doom-serring over Brexit.

Let us just remember the fear-mongering that went on before the EU referendum. Look at this. Today we can see the dark fantasy it was. (notice the "immediate impact of a vote to leave" - full Treasury document Here

Negotiations with the EU over Brexit have been unpleasant. But that is hardly our fault. I think it is beginning to dawn on many people that the best thing to do would be to just go to WTO rules and then afterwards maybe negotiate (or not) a potential trade deal with the EU. The new year will tell.

Energy-wise Hinkley C is doing well. While I've not heard of anyone who thinks it is the best reactor design choice, we are where we are and so it deserves our support.

It should be remembered that the last six commercial reactors built in the UK (2 each at Heysham 2, Torness and Sizewell B) were all built on-time and to-budget. So why shouldn't Hinkley C?

We've had more shenanigans from the wind fantasists with a clever yet illusionary piece of propaganda promising £57.50 MWh at Hornsea 2. The way it has been presented is in my opinion not far off pure fraud. So no change to the wind industries methods then.

Frankly, we are about as likely to get wind at £57.50 MWh as we were to get solar at £50 MWh. Remember all the hype about that? It has now been quietly dropped.

Finally I just picked up that Australia has licensed Golden Rice . This is a major step forward for combating Vitamin A deficiency that causes an horrendous level of childhood blindness among the poor in the third world. Its also one in the eye for the anti-humanitarians in Greenpeace. They have dogmatically fought tooth and nail to prevent Golden Rice development. They bear a heavy responsibility for the 100,000's young lives blighted by blindness in the last few years.

But anyway, its a new year! 2018 promises to be a a real roller coaster, but that will just make things more interesting!

Let us all saddle up and push things forward. After all, things only get better because we work to make them better. There is still plenty of work to do!

Happy New Year.

Love & Kisses


Boycotting a Second Eu Referendum

Remember the Eu Referendum 2016?

The 2016 EU referendum was the biggest and most well attended celebration of democracy ever held in the UK. As we all know, on a huge turn-out, the majority voted to leave the EU.

Even so, the Leave majority should have been higher. But many were intimidated into voting remain by a mountain of ugly fear-mongering propaganda. All paid for by the wealthy corporate sponsors of the remain campaign.

Yet enough of the proles held their nerve.

We metaphorically punched the sneering metropolitan elite and their political stooges on the nose.

We demanded the return of national self-determination. No more should we be dictated to by an anointed group of self serving bureaucrats, especially by those in foreign lands.

We should all remember as well that this was no overnight whim of the British public. We have been promised (and then denied – because they thought they’d lose) referenda on EU membership by all main political parties over many years. The Eu referendum was only held when the Conservatives ran out of wriggle room.

Implementing Our Decision?

But how goes the proud boast published and sent to every home in the land? Do you remember? The promise that whatever the result, the governemt would

[quote] “implement your (the voters) decision”[unquote]

It goes badly.

It goes badly not because a democratic desire for self determination is ill considered or that removing ourselves from a ugly monolithic and elitist bureacracy is wrong.

It goes badly because there is a well funded, EU inspired tranch that seeks to overturn the democratic decision of the UK population.

The EU has a long and shameful history of doing this (I won't bore you with it here but here’s a pre-referendum post of mine detailing their methods Click Here …).

So whats the plan?

How the EU plans to De-Rail Brexit.

Going on past performance and the current remainer MSM reporting (See Here) it looks like the main EU battle plan is to force a second referendum. 

There will be another huge fear campaign (which actually looks to be already in full swing). As the vote nears they will throw in a couple of concessions (to be reneged on later).  They have successfully done this before in Denmark (1993) and Ireland (2001 and 2008)

If they succeed, then in essence meaningful universal franchise democracy in the UK will have ended.

Referenda wise, there will be no “best of three”.

Two hundred years of progress towards meaningful democratic participation for the demos (or plebs, proles or whatever you want to call us) will have ended.

So how should we the great unwashed non metropolitan un-elitist JAMs defend our democracy from what amounts to a EU inspired coup?

Primarily we MUST consider how to see off a second referendum. Ideally we should quash a second referendum before it is held.

But unfortunately due to the leverage the Eu has on the political classes, it is likely to get political traction and be forced through parliament without having to appear in anyone's manifesto.

Don’t forget, the majority of MPs (including the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Leader of the Opposition) were/are all remainers. They are (to say the least) reluctant brexiteers. They are more interested in jobs and power than fulfilling the interests of the British public.

But if a second referendum is forced through parliament, what should we do? Here is my opinion.

Boycott a Second Referendum

(the following is my current opinion only and is open to challenge. I am quite happy to embrace better ideas and ditch this)

The published statement “We will implement your decision” means just that. It does not mean “we’ll ask again later if you say leave”.

Holding a second referendum before we have exited the EU is invalid. Nothing has changed to the extent to justify nulling the first result in favour of a second.

The first referendum was held only after it was included in a pre-election manifesto. The government was elected on that manifesto. It was a manifesto pledge and so had to be honoured, albeit reluctantly.

If remainers wish to hold a second referendum - that’s fine. As long as they obey the same rules and AFTER the original referendum is honoured.

Specifically they need to get the second referendum included as a pledge in a party manifesto. That party then needs to be elected to government on that manifesto. Then they can hold their second referendum.

So if the EU/Remainers force an invalid referendum, should we the public take part in this travesty of democracy?

My answer to that is No! (or rather HELL NO!)

The response to any imposed second referendum should be BOYCOTT.

OK this means the remainer will “win” their illegal referendum (if they are stupid enough to hold it) but as long as the turn out is derisory (say 30-35%) and wholly one sided they will clearly not have a mandate.

We can of course start organising such a boycott now. We can for example get prominent folk to publicly state they will not vote in such an invalid referendum.

I would suspect that given the prospect of a significant referendum boycott the remainers/Eu may take fright and the second referendum would be abandoned anyway.

Finally we the Boycotters, as well as pledging to boycott the vote, we can also sign a declaration refusing to aknowledge the validity of the bogus second referendum.

So that’s my idea. Maybe you have a better one. Write it up let’s get the ideas out there. If we are going to defeat this anti-democratic EU inspired conspiracy – we need to get the ball rolling.

Time is getting short!

Renewables, Drax and Myth Busting No 1

It appears Drax wish to bust some myths about renewable energy (see HERE) They are tweeting about them one by one. So I thought I'd have a go too and dig under the headlines at least for the first so-called "myth" they wish to bust: Here it is.

The First "Myth" they want to bust is...

"Myth 1 — Renewables are unpredictable"

There’s more to renewables than solar panels and wind turbines. Tidal power is much more predictable than either, and geothermal power — using heat from the Earth’s core to generate electricity — is almost completely reliable.
As for predictability, sustainable biomass uses compressed wood pellets to generate electricity whenever it is needed. It’s completely predictable. You can use it to produce electricity on demand, to control frequency in a split-second or for baseload power. It’s as reliable as coal or gas, but with a fraction of the carbon emissions.

Yes it is true! There is more to renewables than wind and solar (both of which are hopelessly intermittent)

It is also true tidal power is more predictable and geothermal is reliable too! And that Biomass can provide baseload.  But we still have some problems here. So let us look at these predictable and reliable examples of RE goodness.


Sadly in the UK we have barely any tidal power at all. That is because in most places tidal power is simply unfeasible. Consequently little is planned and even this is horrendously expensive and arguably technically dubious.

To cap it all the maximum that could be generated by tidal is 12% of demand. But anyone who believes we could get anywhere near 12% is really living in the world of Tooth Fairies and Easter Bunnies. (h/t to  Dr Jim Hansen HERE)

But lets look at what Tidal there is and what is planned/proposed


In Scotland there is a tidal stream scheme (MayGen - HERE). Currently it has a maximum capacity of 6MW ( similar output to that from a single locomotive engine) But the dream is to expand this to is a maximum capacity of 398MW. Either way its capacity factor will be around 20%. (So averaged output power will be about 1.2MW/80MW)

There is a big incentive to build the dream. Tidal Stream generation is the only type of generation that makes offshore wind look cheap.

MayGen will be paid no less than 5 ROCs subsidy (or £225) per MWh. This means that typically they will be paid £260 per MWh whereas normal generators (gas/nuclear) get paid about £43 per MWh.

To be fair MayGen is verging on experimental. It is the very tip of the state of the art.

We know Tidal Stream power may be predictable. But is it viable? Or affordable? I'll leave you to decide.

But one thing is certain: It ain't going to be the golden bullet to save intermittent RE anytime soon.

Swansea bay Tidal Lagoon

Then there is the proposed Swansea Tidal lagoon. This will have a (very, very) brief maximum output of 320MW. But its capacity factor will be less than 20%. Averaged over a year its output power will equate to approximately 60MW. The estimated cost of building this thing is £1.3 Billion (Ouch!).

That is about the same cost as building a 1.2GW (i.e. 20x the output) CCGT gas plant.

Compared to the Scottish tidal stream scheme though, the Swansea lagoon will be cheap with only 1.8 ROCs subsidy per MWh. It will be only 3 times the cost of normal generators.

Again. Predictable it may be. Affordable? Viable? Or even environmentally benign? You decide.

(Euan Mearns did a wonderfully complete analysis of the Swansea Tidal Lagoon  HERE.)


Just like Tidal power, in the UK we have little to no geothermal power generation.

In fact the UK is geologically a bad place for geothermal energy. True - we can tap shallow underground heat for heat pumps and space heating but electricity generation? Really?

As far as I can tell the prospect for any significant geothermal power generation in the UK is Nil.

End of.


Then we come to the meat and potatoes of the Drax myth busting. Their glorious Biomass.

Happily I have to say that just about everything they say is true. I (sort of) believe them in their sustainablity claims as well. But there are problems.

But first - a pedantic point:
.....It’s as reliable as coal or gas, but with a fraction of the carbon emissions.

DON'T BE SILLY! Of course burning biomass emits Carbon Dioxide and MWh for MWh virtually the same as coal!! The fact that you offset that by replanting does not mean that magically no Carbon Dioxide or pollutants get emitted when you burn wood pellets! You could equally offset coal by planting trees - you just can't use the same space.

But back to what I see as a major problem with biomass.

Bear in mind to simply maintain the current Drax 2GW generation in a sustainable manner will require an immense 12000 sq Km of forest. (Wikipedia HERE)

How much more biomass can we (morally or practically) import from abroad?

I don't know.

But I would suspect that we are already at the limits of sustainably maintaining a supply of wood to the existing Drax wood burning plant.

So there you go. If you want non-intermittent RE in the UK, in reality you've got Biomass.

But how much more Biomass can we build before we start seriously damaging the environment?

Anyone who knows the answer to that one please tell me.

I'd love to know.

Why Microsoft Shares the Blame for the Cyber Attack.

Many folk have poured derision on people/business's still using Windows XP. After all, general support for XP was discontinued three years ago. Some further support was available to large organisations but essentially the operating system was abandoned by Microsoft in 2014. So,
many would say it would be foolish to continue with XP and anyone still using it deserved to get caught by this criminality.

Yet there is another story here.

Windows XP came out in 2001 and was initially truly awful. Yet over the following 13 years bugs were fixed and back doors closed. By 2010 Windows XP had hardened and was ( and still should be ) a robust and bug free operating system. XP has many applications far beyond mere desktop and laptop PCs. It is also extensively used for equipment control.

As an example, I understand that one of the problems that hit the NHS was the crippling of some body scanners that had Windows XP integrated into their design.

Microsoft abandoned XP because they wanted to force people to buy their later operating systems and associated products.  They ignored the fact that many could not afford the change (which usually required a hardware switch as well).

But as well as poorer desktop/laptop users, many companies/organisations simply could not move long established and complex equipment to a new operating system.

Microsoft could have easily offered (and profited from) an annual support fee of (say) $5 per machine. Bear in mind that after 16 years since it was launched, the code base in XP was hardened and reliable. New patches would be far fewer than with a new product. Code maintenance would require a smaller team. They would be working on an known and well established code base.  

But No. Microsoft decided to walk away.

Microsoft's action to stop publishing updates/bug fixes was both immoral and irresponsible.

In my opinion, if you produce a product on which people lives and livelihoods depend, irrespective of whether it is hardware or software you have a moral obligation to offer support for that product for more than a mere 6 years after it becomes obsolescent.

It appears Microsoft have now relented and produced a new security patch for XP (I wont comment on Horses and when to bolt gates). I hope they now realise the foolhardiness of their abandonment and step up to their responsibilities by re-instigating support for XP.

AS for the scum-bags who used this exploit I do hope they are caught and go to jail for very many years, or catch a bullet. Preferably the latter.

An Expensive day in April.

The 30th April 2017 was a Bank Holiday Sunday in the UK and consequently the use of electricity was very low.

By chance it is also a Goldilocks day for wind and solar. Not too much wind but windy enough to provide a high output. The icing on the cake was that the wind speed was pretty constant across the day. Solar meanwhile has a nice day too with cloudless skies.

The day has been lauded far and wide as the day the UK was supplied with more power by renewables than by all other sources combined. When averaged over the day, the subsidised renewables (wind, solar and biomass) contributed 41% of the total energy used.

I wondered how much this Goldilocks day cost the UK taxpayer in subsidies.

The Electric insights website (Here) gives us a lot of information.

Here is a snapshot of the full day of generation from 30th April.

Knowing a few of the details of the subsidy regimes and the average generation per technology over the day we can get a rough idea of how much this golidlocks day cost, both for actual electricity generated and for wind, solar and biomass subsidies.

All of existing RE generation (bar the shouting) is subsidised by the Renewables Obligation (RO) or for smaller generators by the Feed In Tariff (FiT). CfD's (contracts for difference) are yet to apply to operational generators, but they are unlikely to reduce the total cost by much (if anything).

Bear in mind  RO and FiT subsidies are NOT the full price. The fullprice is (subsidy + selling price).

Currently one ROC is worth £45.58

Interestingly the RO for ground level solar (1.2 ROC/MWh) is almost the same as the latest total FiT price (generation + export) for small arrays.  Which means I will assume all solar gets the same subsidy of 1.2 ROCs/MWh (actually this is an significant underestimate of the subsidy due to a number of reasons - but I'll use this to err on the side of caution with this rough calculation)

Large scale wind has two separate ROC subsidies - one for onshore (0.9 ROCs/MWh) and one for offshore(1.8 ROCs/MWh). Offshore is far more productive per turbine than onshore while there are more onshore turbines than offshore. So a happy medium is to place the average ROC subsidy at 1.35 per MWh( (onshore + offshore)/2)

There is also some embedded wind which is subject to the FiT scheme. But per MWh this works out at approximately the same level of subsidy as our average for on-shore and off-shore.

Roughly working out the subsidy per technology for this single Goldilocks day:

The average power output over the day for wind was 8.8GW So the total energy generated was (8.8 x 24) just over 210GWh. Our subsidy  per MWh is (1.35 x £45.58) or £61.53 per MWh. So the subsidy on 210GWH amounts to £12,921930.

That is (as near as dammit) £13 million for the day

Obviously solar only works during daylight so although there was a glut at midday of around 5GW, when averaged over the day the output was a more modest 1.5GW or 36GWh. The subsidy cost is 1.2 ROCs per MWh.

That comes out roughly £2 million for the day.

Biomass power averaged 1.4GW over the day producing 33GWh of energy. Biomass gets one ROC per MWh.

The subsidy for this single day was just over £1.5 million.

So the total subsidy was £16.5 million.

How does this compare with the total generation cost?

Now the average payment (ex-subsidy) for all generators over the day was £32.43 per MWh and the average total power was 28.4GW.  So the total cost (ex subsidy) for all the electricity generated (28.4 x 24 x 32.43) was about £22 million

Bear in mind that my back-of-a-fag-packet subsidy calculation of £16.5 million uses the latest (and smallest) FiT rates.

It is pretty clear that when you include the hidden ROC and FiT subsidies this single day of 41% penetration by Wind, Solar and Biomass came close to doubling the wholesale price of electricity.

Yet on this sunny, windy, and expensive day in April, there was also an elephant in the room.

It is an elephant whose name environmentalists dare not speak. An elephant that is shunned, ignored or pilloried.

That elephant is the UK's existing nuclear power fleet.

One that April day it continuously provided about 25% of our power or 7.3GW. It does this day in day out 24/7. Not just when there is a Goldilocks day.

There were no emissions and for existing nuclear, there are no subsidies.