Saturday, 27 October 2012

An Example of A Renewable Energy Policy

EDF became the fifth big energy company to announce a price hike yesterday. They are increasing prices by 10.8% from 7 December, citing the (disputable) excuses of higher network charges, energy efficiency and social schemes and wholesale energy costs. Folk living in the north of Scotland will pay even more than the rest of the UK.

The company insisted its new standard variable prices would still be lower than those of the other four big suppliers to have announced price rises recently.

E.ON is the only one of the big six energy suppliers that hasn't announced price rises yet this autumn, having pledged to fix prices until the end of 2012.

Last week the energy regulator Ofgem said it would make the market 'simpler, clearer and fairer' for consumers.  This promise came days after David Cameron urged the energy giants to overhaul confusing tariff systems.

We hear protests from politicians every year and Ofgem isn't fit for purpose.  It has little or no power to dictate to the suppliers.

Let's not forget green taxes make up 20% of household energy bills. The politicians are directly responsible for that as they insisted upon introducing renewable energy policies which they were fully aware would increase prices so much that many hundreds of thousands would fall into the full poverty trap each year.

Pointman has an excellent post this week.  He outlines the position of Germany which quickly changed from a mixed energy policy to one using renewables.  If we don't realise the UK - and Scotland in particular - is running down the same road, but at a slightly different speed, then we're fools.


Joe Public said...

You hit the nail on the head -

"Let's not forget green taxes make up 20% of household energy bills."

Politicians have been (deliberately) misguided by those pushing a 'green' agenda.

Tim Yeo & John Selwyn Gummer are doing so for personal profit, which makes it all the more appalling.

"Last week the energy regulator Ofgem said it would make the market 'simpler, clearer and fairer' for consumers." So, Ofgem - (& their individual Gas & Electricity predecessors) have been around since the utilities were privatised & supervised the entire Marketing Structure, now admit they were incompetent at allowing a so-called 'unfair' market to develop.

cynicalHighlander said...

Let's not forget green taxes make up 20% of household energy bills.

An assertion with no evidence to back it up.


Fossil fuel prices are responsible for the significant recent increases in consumers’ energy bills – not renewables. Renewable technologies, particularly onshore wind are becoming increasingly competitive and have the potential to keep bills down for consumers in the future, and the FiT and RHI provide a means for social landlords and others to tackle fuel poverty.

Joe Public said...

@ cH 11:46

"......FiT and RHI provide a means for social landlords and others to tackle fuel poverty."

Would you advise who actually pays the FiT & RHI?

I'll remind you that the FiT that generators are forced to buy power at is as much as 45.4 p/kWh.

This is paid for by all electricity consumers as an enforced subsidy.

Those same generators can only sell that same product at approx 10p - 13p/kWh

Name one other business that can only sell its product at 1/3rd - 1/4 the price it is obligated to buy at.

Oh, and don't forget to factor in the cost of buying conventional generation plant for those time the sun don't shine or the wind don't blow - but you want their commodity.

microdave said...

@cH - If renewable energy is so successful why are solar panel makers going bust left right and centre, and not forgetting that Vestas are in very serious financial trouble. Name me one wind farm which would still have been constructed if the FiT wasn't in place.

And I hope you'll be looking across the North Sea in the coming months to see how Germany copes (or doesn't) with their huge amount of variable wind generation, and no adequate grid of their own to get this power to where it's needed. Their neighbours have had enough of helping them out, and risking collapse of their own networks.

footdee said...

fossel fuels ----year on year increases

wind power year on year decreases

footdee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
footdee said...

In prices

Hamish said...

Whether you believe in man-made climate change or not (I don'i),
fossil fuels are effectively finite,ie their renewal cycle is in millions of years.
So whether you like it or not, we need to develop renewable and sustainable forms of energy.
That will at least keep us warm and keep the lights on, though I think it will be a challenge to develop an airplane that can be powered by a waste-burning stove.

cynicalHighlander said...

Joe Public

If you wish to talk in money terms then consider that 1 barrel of oil contains the same amount of energy that 4 men working 12 hour shifts for 365 days I could argue that the oil is far to cheap in comparison!

As Hamish points out that we live in a finite world and all the easy (cheap) minerals have been extracted increasing the cost of extracting in an upward line.

Yes the wind can be erratic but it has never in my lifetime stopped blowing for over 3 months as is happening at the moment with Hunterston with no explanation. I believe there are a lot of empty houses around that site it is a wonder that the anti windmill brigade haven't snapped them up or do they know something about these areas as being not suitable/dangerous for human habitation.

Joe Public said...

@ Hamish & cH

I agree fossil fuels are finite; but there are 100's of years' supplies already discovered.

[30 years ago we in the UK knew there was at least 300 years-worth of coal beneath our feet.]

As fuel prices rise, a phenomenon called "The Price of Discovery" kicks in. At low prices it's uneconomic to prospect in difficult locations; at higher prices, it becomes worthwhile. That is why "known reserves" strangely increase rather than decrease, as commodities are depleted.

cH - in your 1st posting, you stated ".......FiT and RHI provide a means ..... to tackle fuel poverty." Actually, that is 180 degrees incorrect. FiT + RHI cause fuel poverty. Simply because they're subsidies.

If Wind & Solar were so beneficial, they wouldn't need subsidies, would they?

The only long-term, reliable, dependable, CO2-free energy source is nuclear.

JRB said...

On Friday past I received the letter from my energy supplier advising me of the impending price rise.
For me, living in the Highlands that rise worked out at a staggering 14% increase.

That was it – I’d had enough.

For years I had complacently gone along with all these price rises, merely shrugging my shoulders and accepting the situation.

But no longer.

Using the power of the internet I checked out some price comparison sites.

And guess what – I HAVE now switched; I’ve saved in excess of £250 on annual bill; will get a refund of £160 from old supplier for money in credit and will pay NO more than I’m paying now for the next twelve months.

I urge everyone to shop around and switch supplier.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Everybody's is arguing for one or the other method of energy production isn't working.

Truth is they are all 'working' just nobody has come clean and got to grips with the fantasies presented as 'facts' by the energy 'cabals' -both conventional and progressive - in their fight to retain control of the market and the profits they can engender from it.

To gather power from natural renewable forces is a no-brainer. There are no upstream costs associated with it and the costs of harnessing it cheaper and in the long run more efficient in both direct logistical and environmental costs associated with extending the reliance on either fossil based power or nuclear.

However you look at it the Model T Ford of yesterday has little reference to the Ford Focus of today in terms of performance, reliability and efficiency. A similar process of development will apply to renewables but with the efficiency gains being earned from a no-cost, non-toxic source.

As I said a no-brainer - provided we keep control over those who wish to exploit it by distorting what should be a social advantage into a cash cow of corporate profit.

Hamish said...

Joe Public, you refer to the phenomenon of the "Price of Discovery" as if it was some benign force which transforms availability of resources.
It is simple the law of supply and demand when supply is limited and demand is ever-increasing. The price goes up, so it becomes economic to extract 'difficult' oil (located in hostile environments or low-quality) that would otherwise be left under the ground. But by definition, this is mighty expensive oil.
Congratulations to JRB for doing what more of us should do.

There is a curious irony in a Conservative government threatening the energy companies for doing what big business will always do: try to maximise profit.
There is no difference in the basic product they all offer, so it all comes down to devising clever tariffs and saturation advertising.
A clear case for public ownership.

subrosa said...

I received a letter yesterday JRB. Haven't opened it as yet.

It would be of interest to me (and others in this part of the world) if you felt you could tell us your old supplier and your new one.

I, for one, would be grateful. I'm with nPower for both gas and electricity at the moment.

subrosa said...

Indeed they're working Crinkly, but some systems better than others.

The problem here is Scotland is the National Grid connection prices. They make renewables expensive and nobody seems to be prepared to further confront the regulator.

If that problem could be resolved then Scotland would be in a strong position.

subrosa said...

The utilities should never have been privatised Hamish - you're right.

The tariffs are like the rail timetable, more or less unreadable unless you have insider information.

subrosa said...

CH, I beg to differ. I didn't put a link to the statement because I was told that fact first hand from nPower, when I phoned earlier in the year.

I now pay extra on my utility bills and I have no choice.

subrosa said...

Microdave, the Pointman link in the post shows the situation in Germany.

subrosa said...

Don't you think windpower will always have to be subsidised in some way footdee?

subrosa said...

Hamish, I don't think the current policies are anything to do with man-made climate change - that's used as an excuse for so many things, not least making fortunes for Al Gore and his ilk.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

JRB -I wish you success in your search for savings.

I think I've posted on this before but I ask whether your new quote gives you (both gas and electric)a pence per kilowatt hour rate?

This is the one rate that is relevant. Yet to my knowledge never included in the quotes supplied by the 'switch' marketeers.

You have to take into account the fact their earnings are created by encouraging people to switch. I have tested this by giving them one set of details, then repeating the process using their recommended provider as my existing provider and told I would save if I switched to the first provider.

Best of luck.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Rosa - The National Grid problem is a dynamic created by Westminster as a dividend for its Treasury.

On independence the problem will no longer apply since they will buy whatever amount they chose to at the rate and quantity as it crosses the Scottish border. Just as they do with the power they import from France.

Hamish said...

SR There are some places where wind power is efficient, Shetland for example, where 50% working is achievable. Unfortunately, these places tend to be remote from the major areas of consumption.
The charge for connecting to the National Grid from, say, Shetland has to cover the £600 million cost of the undersea cable.
I agree with Crinkly that if we invest in renewables, they will become more cost-effective.

subrosa said...

Indeed that's another benefit of independence which should be highlighted Crinkly.

subrosa said...

I'm all for renewables being cost effective Hamish. What I do object to is having my bills hiked so as a wee town up the road can get massive subsidies from their mini-windfarm.

Unknown said...

EDF energy are owned by the French govt (85% shareholders) so there's nothing we can do to stop them increasing their costs. Their energy supply is mostly nuclear ( 75%) and they own the UK nuclear energy supply so I'm not sure how they can use the increase in fossil fuel supplies as an excuse to increase prices.
Wind power is useless because it requires 100% back up from conventional power so you have to pay for 2 systems of energy at the same time.
The most 'efficient' windfarm that is 18% efficient.

Unknown said... at Eaglesham moor near Kilmarnock. 75 square miles of devastation and it supplies less than a small coal plant.

footdee said...

Joe public says ----f Wind & Solar were so beneficial, they wouldn't need subsidies, would they?

The only long-term, reliable, dependable, CO2-free energy source is nuclear."

But omits to say that nuclear needs even more subsidy

footdee said...

rosa ---Don't you think windpower will always have to be subsidised in some way footdee?2

not when the industry is in full production with the gains in economys of Scale ---would maintenence cost more than nuclear ,I dont think so. by the way offshore wind would cost more than land based windturbines to build but to save the landscape it would be worth it .
When built Wind power is free as opposed to year on year increases for fossils

Unknown said...

footdee..."When built Wind power is free as opposed to year on year increases for fossils"

Sadly not true footdee. The maintenance costs are high ( a gearbox change in the North Sea is about £100K.)
I travel up the A74/ M6 quite often and a quarter of the windmills are idle waiting for maintenance.
They also require 100% back up power from conventional power stations for when the wind drops or is too windy to operate. This ramping up and down of output is very wasteful. The costs of the 100 % standby requirement are never mentioned.
Tourism is worth billions to Scotland but is being ignored as our beautiful landscape is being dug up and our skyline is being devastated.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Lord Monty - point by point.

Maintenance costs are high?
£100k is a drop in the ocean to the maintenance costs of a conventional station and less than mist to a nuclear.

Idle windmills indicate they are waiting for maintenance?

Not necessarily as generally they're braked to match grid demand. It is one of their benefits since under conventional it takes a day to run down the turbines and if the boiler needs shutting down you can look at at least seven days before you can start the procedure of getting steam to set.

The figure of 100% back up requirement is ridiculous and ignores the waste element of conventional stations producing electricity whether there is grid demand or not.

On your tourism point I agree with you - off shore farms have a better wind envelope and are less intrusive on the environment.

subrosa said...

Footdee, perhaps the day will come when subsidy won't be needed but that's a long way off - a good few generations off I would suggest.

The town near me which is subsidised has an agreement for 40 years. That's why I think as I do.

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