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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Electricity Prices Internationally

  I ran across this Wikipedia list of what electricity costs in various countries. The difference would be remarkable if I hadn't been preaching on the subject for years. Mostly they fit the trend of the most |Luddite countries being most expensive and those with most resources being cheapest. I assume Chinese "renewable tariff" figures are not close to the normal since Chinese electricity use is 3 times greater, per unit of GDP output than here.
 Global electricity price comparison - US cents/1kWh

Australia 19.67

Belgium 29.06

Brazil 34.18

Canada 10.78

China 16.0 (tariff for renewables - not true grid price)

Denmark 40.38

Dubai 07.62

France 19.39
Germany 36.48

Hungary 23.44

Hong Kong 12.04

Iceland 03.93

Ireland 28.36

Perú 10.44

Russia 09.58
Taiwan 07

UK 21.99

Ukraine 03.05

USA 11.20

  If Hong Kong, a country with no resources and no nuclear power can produce at 12c per KWh nobody can claim any higher cost is inevitable.
   It is clear that an international HVDC grid, as advocated previously, would bring competition into a market which shows great signs of the lack of it, considerably reducing prices for most of humanity..

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Friday, February 24, 2012


Rates of multiple sclerosis are so "dire" in Scotland that essential foods should be fortified with vitamin D, according to an Oxford academic.
Professor of clinical neurology George Ebers has published a study showing a strong link between the condition and vitamin D deficiency.
He says the Scottish government could face legal action from people who go on to develop MS in future.
  The "legal action" threat is a clever one. It presupposes that government is respo9nsible when it doesn't regulate us enough, which is a slippery slope of an argument. On the other hand in the current atmosphere, mixing equal parts of big state fascism and bureaucratic inaction on all subjects it is probably relatively effective.

    Looking at the governmental responses to this adding vitamin D to Scots' food has gone from the stage
of being a left field idea which only the politically marginalised could ever support (ie me in 2008) to being so politically acceptable that no politician is willing to go on record as opposing it. The argument now is merely that we must never act with anything approaching speed but "would be guided by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition which was due to issue new advice on vitamin D in 2014" and "that trials of vitamin D supplements in large populations were needed before the Scottish government could act" which is remarkably similar to their position given to me on my proposal for a monorail at Glasgow airport - that because it hadn't been considered in detail one couldn't say with certainty that it was "so superior" to the (now cancelled) alternative and until such time as this superiority had been proven by detailed examination no such examination could take place. Really.

    Oh well, if progress is glacial and our political classes do everything possible to avoid any decisions, at least, in the vitamin D case there actually is a little progress.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Commercial Space Development - Its Raining Soup - Get a Bucket

  SpaceX may file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as early as next month, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The IPO may value the company at more than $1.5 billion,

  Which brings me to some advice Heinlein gave in To Sail Beyond The Sunset given by the main character in her Prudence Penny investment column 
‘THE MOON BELONGS TO EVERYONE - but the first Moonship will belong to Harriman Industries.'
I advised them to hang onto their Prudence Penny portfolio... but to take every other dime they could scrape up and bet it on the success of D. D. Harriman's great new venture, placing a man on the Moon.
From then on ‘Prudence Penny' always had something to say about space travel and Harriman Industries in every column. I freely admitted that space was a long-term investment (and I continued to recommend other investments, all backed by Theodore's predictions) but I kept on pounding away at the notion that untold riches awaited those farsighted investors who got in early in space activities and hung on. Don't buy on margin, don't indulge in profit-taking - buy Harriman stock outright, put it away in your safety deposit box and forget it - your grandchildren will love you.
  Not with a perfect roadmap written out - which is why the first SpaceX launch to the ISS, which when previously scheduled for the beginning of February I said would usher in the commercial space age. It is now scheduled for late April and will do so. The trend is certain but the footsteps variable which is why "Don't buy on margin, don't indulge in profit-taking - buy Harriman stock outright, put it away in your safety deposit box and forget it - your grandchildren will love you."
  Some folks understand that all that is required is a little encouragement to the free market.
The Virginia General Assembly is soon to consider a bill that will allow an income tax deduction of up to $8,000 (£5,100) for burials in space, WTVR reports.
The tax break for families who decide to commemorate their loved ones by hurling their earthly remains as far away as possible is part of a plan to boost the prospects of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia.
  And a question for American supporters of an X-Prize Foundation:

How would you feel about other countries joining in by providing the Foundation with a proportionate amount calculated by GDP? I suspect Canada would add happily add 6% & that Israel would be a net beneficiary.
If it is that good a deal why should America share it? One reason would be that if it were established by treaty it would be more secure from political fashion - back when NASA was preparing to launch Skylab it came close to being cancelled by the Luddites in Congress but a critical argument stopping this was that the Europeans had signed a treaty buying a module on it.
I would like to think that my own country, Britain, would be willing to switch our space effort (£275 million a year) from the European Space agency (a bureaucracy that makes NASA look mean and lean) to such a Foundation, but have doubts about our political establishment being smart enough to spot a no-brainer.

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