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Saturday, May 22, 2010


Yesterday the Scotsman had a good letter from Professor Colin McInnes, of whom it has been said before, giving actual figures proving sea turbines to be about 3 times more expensive than nuclear.
Jenny Fyall writes that the £4 billion to be invested in wave and tidal schemes in Scottish waters will deliver 1,200 MW of electrical power (your report, 19 May). However, the power output of the scheme is to be split almost equally between wave (capacity factor of 25 per cent) and tidal (capacity factor of 40 per cent) so the average power delivered will be in the order of 400 MW.

If the same £4bn was invested in a 1,650 MW EPR nuclear plant (capacity factor of 90 per cent) the average power delivered would be in the order of 1,480 MW, more than three times greater than the renewables scheme, without the need for back-up.
ADVERTISEMENT Moreover, a modern nuclear plant has a design life of 60 years compared with 20 years for marine renewables, so more than 10 times as much energy would be delivered.

In addition, it is proposed that wave schemes are supported by five Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) for every MW-hour of energy produced, while tidal will attract three ROCs.

Each ROC provides £37 per MW-hour to generators (on top of the sale of electricity), so the £4bn scheme will attract renewable obligation costs in the order of £480 million a year. An industrial scale demonstration of wave and tidal power is an exciting development and is to be welcomed. It will allow innovation in engineering design to flourish and will provide real experience of operating costs. However, let's not delude ourselves that we are on the verge of a low-cost energy bonanza.
Being a natural stirrer I wrote to say why it should be 10 times & the Scotsman have printed it as their lead letter.
Colin McInnes (Letters, 20 May) admirably sets out the nuts and bolts of sea turbine cost and efficiency, showing that the £4 billion to be spent will produce 400MW.

His price comparison of this as being equal to a 1,650MW nuclear plant, excluding greater maintenance costs for turbines, may well be what our government is aiming at. It is not, however, what nuclear need cost.

Westinghouse (a company which used to be owned by British Nuclear until our government forced it to sell it to Japan) is selling its AP 1000 generator off the shelf for £1,200 per KW for the first reactor, which may fall to £800 per KW for subsequent reactors, so for the same £4bn we could get 4,500MW of electric capacity, 11 times as much.

Of course we won't get that because even self-styled "pro-nuclear" politicians want massive amounts of time and money-consuming regulation which, as can be seen, triples the cost, even though it still leaves nuclear less than a third of the cost of turbines and nearly a tenth of that of windmills. However, it is important that, whatever the final cost, the people are aware of the true options.

All economic experience shows that the formula, economic freedom + cheap power = economic growth, holds true. Britain already has some of the world's most expensive power, which is why we use less power per unit of GNP than any developed countries other than Ireland, Denmark and Singapore.

If our politicians insist on making it worse and increasing the 25,000 deaths a year from fuel poverty we have the right to know that this is what they are doing.

It is unedited. These are the references I sent the paper:

Ref - Westinghouse costing in $ on here to electricity ratio

Some years ago the BBC ran, with typical commitment to propaganda rather than truth, what they called a "debate on Scotland's energy future" in which they chose the debate to be between 2 speakers who wanted more windmillery & 2 others who wanted nothing but windmillery". I would like the basis of debate to be moved from such a blatantly dishonest bias on "renewables" to a more honest & useful discussion of whether nuclear is 1/3rd of the cost or 1/10th of the cost of politically favoured alternatives (& I would defend the right of the renewabilists to participate giving reasons why they insist energy prices be 3 to 10 times what they could be).

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I would like the basis of debate to be moved from such a blatantly dishonest bias on "renewables" to a more honest & useful discussion of whether nuclear is 1/3rd of the cost or 1/10th of the cost of politically favoured alternatives

You will never get that from the BBC. At best you will see them favor your ideas after you deal a crushing, fatal blow to liberalism and occupy all government offices. The other option is to privatize the BBC, or even better yet issue spectrum patents and sell them as title to the airwaves. I did a little googling and I found this page in supporting a radio selloff.
I previously suggested this which seems similar to your proposal
I wouldn't support your proposal for reforming the BBC or even PBS. Your proposal relies upon the bureaucratic agency to do an honest job in calculating the numbers for such a system.

I have a more personal reason for pushing the privatization of the radio waves. Right now in the US the quality of internet access varies radically in cost and quality, with an extremely small minority still using dialup. If I lived on the Eastern Seaboard in NY or NJ I could get fiber optic service direct to my home for what would seem to be a reasonable price for such a region. If I live in the interior in a small town I might have to use a satellite provider like Hughesnet, which I believe imposes download restrictions and is expensive.

Here in Mesa, I live on a street with one provider (Cox) and my service seems to crap out every hour or so for about ten to fifteen minutes. My neighborhood has been around for about fifty years, and all of the telephone and TV cables are attached to poles running down the alley, so the cost of wiring my house and street with another service like Qwest is pretty low and yet it has never been done.

If the Federal government were to privatize the airwaves, or at least the airwaves used by the TV broadcasters we could have service as fast as Japan for extremely low prices. And I wouldn't have to deal with a liberal broadcast media or bad cable internet service.
Neil I want to show you a good example of the failure of government ownership right here in the Valley of the Sun. Open a new tab in your browser and paste in the following URL:,-111.832581&spn=0.292658,0.607681&t=h&z=11

After Google Maps loads the image of the area you will see a large suburban type city typical of the American Sunbelt, but in the middle of this giant suburb will be a three sided piece of land that is devoid of any economic activity other than a few farm fields. If you look closely the void is bounded by state route 87, the Red Mountain Freeway (loop202) and the 101 freeway. That void is the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian community, in short an Indian reservation where all land is owned and assigned by the elected tribal government.
The numbers do look fairly simple so long as they measure the viewing figures right & if the majorbidders were to have their own accountants able to check it it should be ok.

I assume your online probelms relate to living in a low population density area which requires far more cabling per person than in the middle of a city like Glasgow. We have similar problems in the Highlands.

Ome day when there is no shortage of satellite capcity ...
I assume your online probelms relate to living in a low population density area which requires far more cabling per person than in the middle of a city like Glasgow. We have similar problems in the Highlands.

No, I don't live in the highlands and the area I live in has density as high as any suburb that has quality service. The problem is that Cox setup the local loop improperly and when a bunch of people pile onto the net, or for no reason at all. My problems stem from a lack of competition and laziness/incompetence on the part of my local internet supplier.

If we privatized he airwaves local transmitters, much like cellphone towers, could be setup in each neighborhood of Mesa allowing me to buy a radiomodem and connect for very little.
Even when I pull back it is clear something is preventing development of that area. I suppose if the Indians set up a casino it would give them a competitive advantage rather than disadvantage but either way it shows how regulatory structures do restrain, or even sometimes encourage, development.
The Indians on that reservation have set up a casino, two in fact. Here is a list of tribal government owned businesses that I know of:

*two casinos
*three convenience stores
*one untaxed cigarette shop
*Salt River Sand and Rock -aggregate for construction and cement
*one landfill
*income from tribal land that has been leased out to a community college, and money from land leased to the AZ Department of Transportation for the land under the AZ101 freeway.
*income from growing crops
*income from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs for running various government programs on the reservation

I don't think the Indians would benefit from breaking up the reservation into private parcels since many of them would possibly lose their inheritance and their homeland. As it is many of the Pima Indians are alcoholics and when they receive their checks from tribal businesses they spend the income on alcohol. Probably the only way forward for the tribe is for them to lease out larger parts of their reservation and distribute the income to their members.

Of course, what happens on the reservation is just a reflection of what the Whites are doing off the reservation. Fully 80% of the land in AZ is owned by various government entities, which is why so much of the population of this state lives in the Phoenix metro area. This government owned land can be broken down into several broad categories:

*Indian reservations. I am not going to begrudge the Indians their land, but if we do begin selling off land en masse certain tribes will probably be goaded by private investors into whining for some of it free of charge. The investors will then develop the land outside of the jurisdiction of the state and give the tribal leadership a cut in return for the favor.

*Federal parks and forests. About half of this land could be sold.

*Federal Bureau of Land Management. There is no justification for this land continuing to be held by the Feds, it should be sold immediately.

*Military reservations and bases. These serve a very real need and I'm not going to criticize them.

*State Trust Land. When Az became a state the Federal government gave the newly formed state government a large portion of the undeveloped land in trust with the stipulation that such land was to be sold to finance education. In practice the state legislature uses the proceeds from land sales to replace money that would otherwise come from tax revenue. The state Land Department typically only sells this land in relatively small increments around the major metro areas in order to get as much revenue as possible. The problem with this is that the land goes to developers who build developments with $200k houses, locking out the working class. If this land were liquidated the proceeds could be put in trust for education and the working class could buy small plots to put a trailer on.

If Arizona fails it will because we didn't open up enough land in order to make it financially attractive for the working class of other states to move here and start a family. If we don't attract enough of these people there is a good chance that we will be overrun by the flood from Mexico.

It is a little rich for us to blame Mexico's failure on socialism when we practice it here in AZ.
Looks like, if the Arizona Comgresscritters could get the government to adopt the "raise 10 billion" scheme I proposed yesterday & today, by selling government land iot would work.
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