"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gormless Gordon demonstrates classic "Displacement Behaviour" as thorny decisions in UK energy needs crystallise

Lord Patel had a step mother in his early life who was an industrious, thrifty, hardworking and earnest soul. In a world of post war shortages she would carefully save paper bags, parcel string and rubber band. The tin of buttons dutifully clipped and kept from discarded clothes provided the infant Lord Patel endless fun and amusement.

A particularly thrifty habit was to save the greasepoof paper that Ministry of Supply half pound blocks of margarine came wrapped in - a nauseous product identified by children as axle grease and said to be the result of melting down grandmothers. A particular kitchen dresser drawer was used to retain these distinctive greasy brown printed paper wrappers.

The exiguous quantities of sickeningly pale margerine, left after a knife had removed everything but a few remaining nano particles would be vigorously smeared on baking trays as a release agent with remarkable energy and only despatched onto the back of the fire when she was satsified that every last remaining smear of the rare and expensive commodity had been utilised.

One imagines that such Caledonian thrift was also exercised in the kitchens of the Brown manse and was passed down along with a fever for collecting candle ends and saving sealing wax.

For such is the process that Gormless Gordon set in train in abandoning the excessive 50% Petroleum Development Tax on fields which started yielding their precious oily cargo before 1993 in the earnest hope that developers will be encouraged to pump the remaining and hard won buckets of black gold with the fervour that Lord Patel's quasi antecedent released the last monomolecular layers of hydrogenated animal fat from margarine wrappers.(see chart of the biggest N Sea oil field which will benefit - the possible output increases are nugatory - the actual list of fields affected appears to be a state secret, telephone enquiries for furtehr and better particulars is fruitless, "Why do you want to know ?" was one initial response. )

Gormless Gordon's worthless gesture politics is exposed by the clinical, brief and telling analysis by Euan Mearns at The Oil Drum " Why oil costs over $120 per barrel" - which was also, astonishingly, fairly well (if briefly) covered on BBC2 TV's Newsnight last night by someone whose name , rank and number were missed but who mentioned "Peak Oil" thus ensuring he will never be be grilled by the divinely beautiful Emily Maitlis again.

We posted about Gordon's raging enthusiasm for nuclear power on Thursday , May 29, 2008
Hutton , Brown call for "a significant expansion of nuclear power " ... well up to a point Lord Copper and the accelerating problems over delay and cost for TVO's 1,600-MW Olkiluoto-3 EPR plant.

The weekend European edition of the Wall Street Journal (page 17 - also available here) has a brief commentary by Henry Sokolski of the Washington based Nonproliferation Policy Education Centre about Italian nuclear energy plans excitedly promoted by the arithemetically challenged Senor Berlusconi last week. The genial pipe smoking Henry makes claims that :

1. German Utility company E.On who favour the Areva EPR plant for their (still hazy) plans for UK nuclear plants (see below) say that construction cost are now looking to be €6 Bn = €3.75 MW see table below). (Not including nuclear waste management cost and plant operating costs)

2. Major US Utility Florida Light and Power have arrived at similiar costs for nuclear build.

3. That this figure equals the cost of 10 modern CCGT gas fired planst each yielding the same energy output

4. Edison SPA has warned that , "the first (Italian nuclear) plant would have trouble becoming operational before 2020"

5. Italian energy "experts" see the talk of the need for State aid/guarantees as apart of a sinister European plot by major groups (E.On, RWE, EDF) arranging massive Government support to squeeze out competitors at the same time that the EU is "officially" eliminating subsidies and encouraging commercial competition.

6. He points out that both french and German subsidies for Areva and Siemens for the Finnish Olkiluoto plant have been upheld by the European Commission after several complaints.... as it supports EU carbon emission objectives.

7. Due to the post Chernobyl hiatus in nuclear generating plant building, the EU has 145 reactors (plants may have more than 1 reactor) that are scheduled for closure withing the next 17 years so that net growth in EU nuclear output is decades away.

On top of this the reader is directed to a "Spotlight" podcast available of Henry Edwards Evans Editor of Platts Power Europe discussing the dramatic slowdown in new build energy generation projects which are hit by , component bottlenecks, soaring capital costs (see chart) , longer lead times, and most important the unkowns associated with Phase III of the EU carbon trade program and beyond 2020 to the "carbon price".

He also identifes the problems that the demands of requiring carbon capture / reduction / sequestration of new coal plants (EU has plans for 12 "demonstration plants by 2015) which doubles costs, and the energy penalty which reduces efficiency, he uses the phrase .."out of the money". Viz the E.On Kingsnorth plant, the first coal fired plant proposed in the UK for 20 years , (despite local opposition) that now has planning permission but awaits approval (initially by the then Energy Minister John Hutton) to go ahead without an agreed carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
The current Kingsnorth coal fired plant is due to close by 2015 because of the European Union’s Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD), which places strict limits on emissions.

E.On has already planned to replace the aged Isle of Grain plant in Kent that is due to close with a new, gas-fired combined heat and power plant at the Isle of Grain , their ironbridge plant will shut by 2015. Meanwhile Government go-ahead for Kingsnorth remains firmly in the in-tray at BERR .

Into this heady mix E.On have also indicated they might use the Kingsnorth and Isle of Grain plants for their favoured Areva EPR nuclear plants.

...and all the while the looming UK Energy Deficit , grows larger ... and nearer. ,,, and the debate (?) over the critical importance of UK energy security is adroitly diverted to discussions about "social tariffs", "fuel poverty" definitions and "zero carbon emission" housing , "Warm Fronts" with all the energy that medieval bishops discussed the size and number of seraphims that could comfortable dance on the head of a pin... "Labour plans fuel help for the poor" .. measures to be announced ... pilot scheme to ensure people applying for Warm Front grants are referred to their energy supplier for tariff advice... £150,000 on .. rolling out of watchdog Ofgem's national Citizens Advice Bureau awareness campaign on social assistance for the vulnerable.Vulnerable 'still at risk of fuel poverty' Scotsman / Fuel poverty plan at a glance BBC News / Row erupts over new fuel poverty action plan Times

God Help us

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