Thursday 29 November 2012

A Waste Of Energy

While the main media goes into overdrive about The Leveson Report into the UK Press; you have all been bad boys and girls; it has to stop and we have ways of making you behave yourselves.  Spanking is out unless privacy can be pleaded.

The EU Referendum blog points out the strange business of The Energy Bill being published on the same day that Leveson lent us his thoughts.  Richard North asserts that as the Press is declining fast and few people trust TV in any case, many of us look for our news and comment from elsewhere.

Freedom of speech and comment is very important indeed, with some safeguards open to all and not just the rich few.  Energy, however, could be argued as being more important because the whole structure of our economies and hence current society are now dependent on the supplies of energy immediately on call.

Our need for reliable energy is phenomenal compared to the relatively recent past.  I can recall a home with a handful of low power light bulbs sparingly used, no separate power sockets, no heating appliance that used electricity, a radio listened to only when necessary and a flat iron that needed to plugged into a light socket.

There was a gas cooker and heating was by coal fires, when you could get or afford the coal.  In contrast at this moment, a computer system is in operation, the storage heaters are all fully charged, at least five bright lights are on, the water heater is probably active, a radio is going and later another radio and TV in use. 

There is a fridge, a freezer, an electric kettle, the kitchen hob is being used, but not the oven at present and probably one or two other things in use.  The washer/dryer is resting but will soon be needed.

We have been to shops today whose functioning and distribution systems use huge amounts of electrical power, stopped at garages to refill ditto and on and on and on.  Any real disruption or loss of supply would see us in real trouble,

The story of the last two decades have been persistent dither, doubt and evasion of the issues being created by the need for new supplies of electricity, the upkeep of the national grid and the monitoring and payment for use.  Inevitably, into this vacuum of government thinking and policy all sorts of opportunists have intruded.

There is enough discussion on the web about the disastrous intervention by too many vested interests with a lot of money to play for in a field where government is determined to substitute subsidy for policy and go for media friendly schemes where the media have been bought and only the taxpayer or consumer loses.

What we are offered is big schemes and big ideas all costing big money.  Once the idea of a national grid was that it linked a distributed network of local power suppliers, each geared with plenty of spare capacity. 

The grid was available to deal with variations and any local breakdowns.  Now we all depend on the grid and supplies that are limited to major operations with local ones giving relatively limited inputs which are not reliable. 

To base a future on this kind of operation is asking for trouble, let alone hope an extension to the Russo-German gas pipeline will save our skins from cold.

My grandfather, born at a time before electrical power became widely available and who was over thirty before he made much use of it, often said when told of all the wonders to come, “Where will it all end?”

We may be about to find out soon and on the evidence of The Energy Bill sooner than we think.

1 comment:

  1. "The story of the last two decades have been persistent dither, doubt and evasion of the issues being created by the need for new supplies of electricity"

    I agree. Somehow it seems to have slipped away from engineers and professionals into the hands of politicians and crazed environmentalists.

    Bring back the professionals.