England's weather is not as warm as ours

At a time when a secure source of energy is starting to get more attention with national governments, it is not at all evident that there has been as much planning as needed to cover the rising problems. Consider, for example, the concerns that are now being expressed in England over the possible shortage of gas this winter. Just as was the case in the United States back in 1977 (see last Tuesday's post below the fold) the UK seems to be heading toward a real possible shortage of fuel this winter. There are two problems
Soaring gas prices are undermining the competitiveness of British manufacturers compared with European rivals and ensuring that Britain has enough gas to maintain supply during a cold winter.

The price of UK gas and electricity (which is derived mainly from gas) has doubled in the past 18 months, compared with rises of just 15 per cent in Germany and 40 per cent in France. According to Nicholson this means that "there is something akin to a two-tier market operating in Europe".

He says: "We seem to be paying 50 per cent more for our gas than the Germans and 30 per cent more than the French."
But the problem is, just as is the current case with Indonesia, the supply, and even the British gas, goes where the money is.

Also, the UK has become increasingly dependent on natural gas from continental Europe as its own supplies of North Sea gas dwindle. When demand for gas is high during cold weather, it has to be imported via cross-Channel pipelines, notably the interconnector, a two-way pipe that imports gas from Europe.

So what would happen in a severe cold snap? The interconnector - the pipeline which runs from Bacton in the UK to Zeebrugge - is designed to supply gas to the location where there is the highest demand and price but it has not always proved to be 100 per cent reliable. Earlier this year for example, when wholesale gas prices in the UK hit £2 per therm in the first week of March, the interconnector was still exporting gas to Europe rather than bringing it in.
Unfortunately the hope of the British Government has been to look to Norway, but the new pipeline to bring that gas to the UK won't be around for at least two more years.

Yet another case, as with Indonesia and Colombia, where the locals may go short, since business is, after all, business.

The problem of course that Governments have is that, like us, they rely on the accounting of agencies to give them the information. And there seems to be a growing doubt about how accurate that information is. One of the bases for Daniel Yergin's CERA report that suggests that the world is not going to have an energy problem soon, was the promise that non-OPEC oil supplies would begin to grow significantly. However we have all seen the recent reports from Russia that confess to not being able to increase supplies much higher than they currently are. And now the CEO of Schlumberger points out that non-OPEC in general is falling behind predictions (thanks to Peak Oil for a source).
Gould, responding to a question on a conference call with analysts, said the demand drop in China is of comparatively little concern next to the wanting performance of non-OPEC supply, which lags the amount projected by the International Energy Agency, the energy watchdog for the U.S. and other industrialized countries.

"No one seems to have focused on the supplier and what is really interesting is if you look at the supply numbers for the first half-year, the non-OPEC supply is about 1.2 million barrels a day below what the IEA currently has in their forecasts," Gould said.
Some of that loss, no doubt, is coming from the more severe drop in North Sea production that had been anticipated, a drop that is unlikely to be recovered.

What with the US agencies saying that the current increase in demand actually occurred last year, so that there isn't really that much of an increase this year, one begins to wonder if anyone actually knows what is going on. And if they don't then surely we are back in the days of 1976 sailing into a crisis without a plan. And we know where that led, though very few folk seem willing to go back and look.

Ah, peak oil.

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Another reason to hurry up the construction of that offshore wind farm off the coast of the UK, I suppose.

Either that, or buy a lot of winter clothes (from China? heh)...

It's going to be an interesting century.

Come back for a flyby about 2105; you'll find most humans living underground, well insulated, needing very little energy input year 'round. The surface will be allowed to 'go native' again, other than farms. Even the citiies will look like giant parks. People will come up as they wish, but they will live and work underground.

It will be an electrified, grid world. Electrons flowing everywhere, keeping people connected via image so they don't need to travel there. Just look there, through the camera. No need to ship your meaty self all that distance.

Transportation will be mass transit, form point to point. Underground tubes, mostly, with rails above ground. Once at your point, everything is within walking distance, unless you want to go get lost in the new wilderness.

There won't be very many people, compared to today's population. Because of this, there will be little lacking in the way of food or water, and not enough people to mount a proper world war.

The planet will begin healing by then.

Right now, we're still stabbing it.

This huge offshore wind farm seems pointless to me and I feel for those who may have to live near it. We need a lot more micro-turbines not huge skulking monsters that ape the giantism of today's failing world. As for living underground...I was in Orkney last year and visited Skara Brae which was first inhabited about 5000 years ago. It seemed to lie mainly underground and looked like a fantastic living arrangement...as for the other stuff in your futuristic way of life...I think society and knowledge may be too brittle to be confident about such a scenario.
I don't know how the UK will fare this winter though I do know there is a huge amount of waste (get that extra jumper on!) but also there was a first shipment of LNG a week or two ago from Algeria so perhaps that will help somewhat.
Lastly, the moral taken from all this is that the Thatcher govt. was the worst (possibly) in UK history. Stuff the miners and the coal industry, make a headlong, headless-chicken dash for gas, waste oil revenues on welfare for huge swathes of the unnecessarily unemployed, underinvest in rail and then privatise it, privatisation per se, build huge out-of-town shopping developments, export manufacturing jobs etc. (x20). Here is a good example: I live in the Southern Highlands and our electricity comes from hydropower...yet our privatised power company Hydroelectric was bought by Scottish and Southern Energy whose main market is in the south of England. Our electricity used to be very cheap (always cheaper than the south of Scotland) but no more. The south of England, with its huge population relative to ours, basically dictates our energy prices yet our climate ranges from 5-10 degrees C. colder and their average wage is probably double ours. Yet will we get preferential treatment during a country-wide cold snap? Well what d'you think?!

I wish antifas world would get busy growing. Right now, we are reliving the 1970's, surging forward blindly as governments juggle numbers meaningless to their own people, acquired from sources far away from the oil fields. One need only look at the worlds disconnect between prices, demand and reserves to see how clusterfucked things are.

Nobody is making any major moves OUTSIDE of the petroleum sphere yet, and so it appears we are still picking up speed towards the brick wall.

Philip Martin said: "This huge offshore wind farm seems pointless to me and I feel for those who may have to live near it." We need a lot more micro-turbines not huge skulking monsters that ape the giantism of today's failing world.

It's quite disheartening to see these words, since it seems to me that megawatt scale windmills are the only game piece that we've got past the goal line. (Assuming that the game is sustainable energy for all humanity, until the sun burns out and the Earth is no longer inhabitable.)

My understanding is that the big ones are a lot more "bird friendly".

You could swear the world is melting.

I don't mind so much the hot days, but its all night long now. No rest for my wicked self.

I think of moving into an igloo, but at the rate we're going they'll all have melted.

Joseph Palmer said "It's quite disheartening to see these words...". I hope I can be allowed a point of view to state a workable alternative to the huge turbines that will be difficult to set up (I assume) compared to micro-turbines which (again I assume) will not need much change of infrastructure. If sustainability is the key idea how does setting up these huge turbines further that? Micro-turbines should be fairly easy to repair but the larger ones...?
I have no idea concerning how bird friendly either of these are but who is saying how bird friendly the big ones are? Who?
Anyway I have no say in which turbines go where so don't be too disheartened!!!


This is what got me started on wind power:

The Danish Wind Industry Association - Loads of real data

Vestas Wind Systems site - These guys make the big windmills today.

The big reason for big windmills is that there is a lot more energy to be found with a hub height of 80 meters, vs the 5-20 meter hub height of a micro-turbine. They are simply more efficient, and can economically produce power in far lower (Class 3) winds.

Big turbines are quieter, and are normally sited in wind parks, away from populations. Micro-turbines in everyone's yard would be a new source of noise pollution, and would create a rather frenetic skyline.

I wish I'd been better about logging links, but another data point is that I've read that wind is variable over smaller regions than once thought. If you link windmills to the grid, power can be economically shared from the windy areas to calm, over just a few tens of miles.

I think PV (Photovoltaics) is the better solution for distributed power, since the environmental impact at the installation is minimal. We're close on PV, existing systems are practical, and have a positive EROEI, but are not yet price competitive with wind, nuclear or fossil fuels. That gap is closing, there are several roll-to-roll manufacturing plants in the works, which will drive down the cost per watt, even if the efficiency per square meter is not up to that of sliced silicon. Once the cost per watt is in price contact with fossil fuels, I think (hope, pray) that new construction will require PV in the same way that it now requires good insulation.

Well Joseph...hats off to you for digging deeper but can I be a bit skeptical about who is actually driving us down the "macro" route? About where the research is coming from and the quality of the efficiency analysis?
Wind energy is just getting going so if this is to be the new major source they won't stay only in isolated areas for long. I seem to remember the turbines proposed for the Western Isles site are a LOT bigger than those already up and running and as for noise pollution...I would need to judge for myself. My main point would be sustainability...these huge things will need replacing one day...we need to get things right now...as far as I can see, wind is being pushed as an answer to climate change not to Peak Oil and Gas. As far as I know green groups in the UK want more micro-turbines and I would agree. I am not totally against the larger ones but some real visionary perspective is needed about where we are going with this infant industry. Lastly, so much goes wrong in huge infrastructure projects in the UK that only becomes apparent afterwards. I don't have much faith in our decision-makers in business or government to get it right. We need to look at everything that we do now that an energy crisis is upon us and that is not happening...once again it's the famous muddling through attitude.
Anyway..time for bed...night night all!