There’s a problem with solar power. Night. Clouds. Rain. Hail. Snow. Dust. Bird poop. Etc. Actually that’s a little more than one problem. There’s at least nine. But the biggest problem is night. Because it’s hard for solar panels to produce electricity from sunshine when the sun isn’t shining. That is, until now (see Scientists Discover How to Generate Solar Power in the Dark by Todd Woody posted 4/15/2014 on The Atlantic).
The next big thing in solar energy could be microscopic.
Scientists at MIT and Harvard University have devised a way to store solar energy in molecules that can then be tapped to heat homes, water or used for cooking.
The best part: The molecules can store the heat forever and be endlessly re-used while emitting absolutely no greenhouse gases. Scientists remain a way’s off in building this perpetual heat machine but they have succeeded in the laboratory at demonstrating the viability of the phenomenon called photoswitching…
So how would molecular solar storage work if the technology can be commercialized? Timothy Kucharski, the paper’s lead author and a postdoc at MIT and Harvard, told The Atlantic that most likely the storage would take a liquid form, which would be easy to transport.
“It would also enable charging by flowing the material from a storage tank through a window or clear tube exposed to the sun and then to another storage tank, where the material would remain until it’s needed,” Kucharski said in an email. “That way one could stockpile the charged material for use when the sun’s not shining.”
Of course the takeaway from this is that solar power is so inefficient that Scientists at MIT and Harvard University had to make the impossible possible to make it more efficient. And create a perpetual heat machine. A self-sustaining machine. Requiring no energy input to create energy. If it works, great. It would be paradigm changing. But while we wait we should stop wasting money on solar panels. Which can only produce energy when the sun shines. About half of the day. Unlike a coal-fired power plant. Which produces power 24/7. Regardless of night. Clouds. Rain. Hail. Snow. Dust. Or bird poop.
What’s unique about Windsor, Ontario? The city across the river from Detroit? It’s the only place you can drive south from the United States to get to Canada. So it’s about as far south you can get in Canada. But it’s no Florida. No. They have cold winters in Windsor. They also have snow. And clouds. So it’s probably not the best place to build a solar farm. Any rational person would see this. So guess what the government in southern Ontario is doing? Building a solar farm (see Airport land leased for Samsung solar farm by Chris Vander Doelen posted 3/19/2014 on The Windsor Star).
A “major” developer of solar power will lease hundreds of acres at Windsor Airport for a green energy farm, city council has agreed after years of negotiations with the company…
He said the company picked Windsor as the site for its investment because “we have more sun days than any other jurisdiction in Ontario.” That clearly suggests a solar farm, but Francis wouldn’t confirm that…
The agreement approved Wednesday – the meeting was closed to the public for legal reasons, Francis said – is believed to be the final, long-delayed piece of a massive deal the Province of Ontario and Samsung announced in January 2010.
That’s when former premier Dalton McGuinty announced that the province had signed a $7-billion agreement to produce renewable power with the Korean industrial giant – a contract that became so controversial parts of it were later renegotiated…
But the deal also became controversial as the costs starting driving up residential and industrial power bills, all of which will be affected by the renewable energy plan.
The controversy eventually led to reductions in some of the feed-in tariffs paid to producers of solar and wind power, which likely added to the delays of the solar farm not announced until this week. It also led to the renegotiation of additional incentives for Samsung, which were reduced to $110 million over 20 years…
Installation of the panels would generate many years of employment for an undetermined number of labourers and IBEW electricians. But once built there wouldn’t be much employment generated by the static field of passive solar collectors.
The solar farms were to be part of something called the Ontario Alternative Energy Cluster, claimed by Samsung to be “the largest of its kind in the world” at 1,369 megawatts of output.
They may have more sun days in Windsor than any place else in Canada. But Canada is a northern country. Even Windsor is in a northern clime. And they just don’t get as much sun as they do in more southern climes (see The Climate and Weather of Windsor, Ontario). In the sunniest month they have 9.5 average hours of sun per day. Which means they have 14.5 (24-9.5) average hours of no sun per day. And during these hours of ‘no sun’ a solar farm will not produce electric power. Which means on average this solar farm will produce no electric power for half of the day.
And it gets worse. The average hours of sun per day declines going into winter. October (5.5 hours of sun and 18.5 hours of no sun). November (4.1 hours of sun and 19.9 hours of no sun). December (2.6 hours of sun and 21.4 hours of no sun). January (3.4 hours of sun and 20.6 hours of no sun). February (4.4 hours of sun and 19.6 hours of no sun). March (5.4 hours of sun and 18.6 hours of no sun). So, on average, there are 5 hours of no sun for every hour of sun for half of the year. So you can install solar panels that could produce 1,369 megawatts of output. But they seldom will. So you will need another power source to provide electric power when the solar panels don’t. Which means a solar farm can’t replace something like a coal-fired power plant. For that coal-fired power plant will have to on average provide power 82% of the time. Which is why building a solar farm is a real bad idea.
And it gets even worse. December has 10 days of snowfall on average. January has 12. And February has 9. Just under half the days in the winter months will have snow which will have to melt off when the sun comes out from behind the clouds. If it comes out. Or someone will have to clear the snow from the solar panels by hand.
Windsor also has some other climate statistics (see National Climate Data and Information Archive). They have the most thunderstorm days. So they have more high winds, hail and tornados to damage delicate solar panels pointed skyward than any other part of Canada. And more black overcast days to block out the sun. They have the most smoke and haze days to filter out some of the sun from hitting the solar panels. They have the most humid summer which will coat the solar panels with early morning dew that will run down and drain off in blackened streaks. Reducing the efficiency of the solar panels.
This is why no one is building solar farms without taxpayer subsidies. Which raises the cost of electric utility bills to pay for the subsidies. Eating into household budgets forcing families to get by on less. And for what? You can’t shut down a coal-fired power plant during the day and turn it back on at night. It takes time to make high pressure steam. That’s why they use these plants for baseload power. They’re on all the time. And when demand picks up they add a natural gas-fired turbine ‘peaker plant’ to provide that peak demand. Or some other source that they can bring on line quickly. Like another turbine at a hydroelectric dam. So the good people of Ontario will pay more for their electric power without getting anything in return. Not even a cleaner environment. Because you just can’t replace a coal-fired power plant with a solar farm.
Green energy investments are a horrible investment. The only reason why anyone is building green energy projects is because of taxpayer subsidies. If you take away the subsidies the green energy industry is just going to stop building these bad energy projects. Which is what’s happening now (see Here Are The 10 Best States For Clean Energy Jobs In 2013 by Aaron Tilley posted 3/12/2014 on Forbes).
Clean energy investments had it rough in 2013, and US job growth in that sector is having a bit of trouble too.
That’s at least according to evidence in a new report out today from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2),an environmental advocacy organization for businesses. While the clean energy industry made plans to add an additional 78,000 new jobs at 260 projects in 2013, that’s a 30% dip from the 110,000 job announcements in the previous year. (E2 has only been tracking clean energy job growth for the past two years…)
The biggest reason for the 30% drop in job growth over last year is due to ongoing regulatory uncertainty around federal tax credits and state renewable energy mandates, says E2 communications director Bob Keefe. Congress let the generous tax credits the wind energy industry had enjoyed for more than two decades expire in December–and it looks unlikely they’ll be reinstated in 2014. And four major energy efficiency tax credits and initiatives expired at the end of last year too. On top of that, several states, including North Carolina and Kansas, have attempted to roll back mandates on renewable energy requirements for their utility grids.
If anyone bemoans a cut in government spending in some government program don’t blame the Republicans. Blame the Democrats. And their green energy cronies. The Democrats are taking money away from other programs to pay for these white elephants just so they and their crony friends can get rich.
These projects cost a fortune to build. And the return on investment just isn’t there. Which is why it takes hundreds of millions in taxpayer subsidies to build them. That’s a lot of money to spend when these projects accomplish nothing. They don’t allow us to shut down one coal-fired power plant. Because we’ll need those coal-fired power plants to provide electric power when the sun doesn’t shine and when the wind doesn’t blow. And they take up so much real estate that they’re displacing wildlife from their natural habitat. While wind farms are hacking American Bald Eagles and other birds to death. So they’re not helping the environment.
And they’re not improving the reliability of our electric power. Or lowering the cost. Every time they shut down a coal-fired power plant they increase our electric bills. And increase the brownouts and blackouts we have to endure when we have to rely on less reliable power that costs more (we have to pay more for our electric power to pay for those subsidies) than the more reliable power. This is our government when Democrats are in power. And just imagine how they will run our health care. Who do you think they’ll make rich? And how much will they increase our health care costs? While giving us an inferior health care system? It’s going to happen. Because that’s what happens when Democrats are in power.
Hydrogen is very flammable. It’s why we use helium in our blimps. Because using hydrogen is just too dangerous. As the Hindenburg disaster has shown us.
So hydrogen is a pretty dangerous thing to be messing with. Unlike gasoline. Which is pretty safe and stable in the liquid form. You could even put out a cigarette in a puddle of gasoline. It’s dangerous doing so. And you shouldn’t try it. But the most dangerous thing about gasoline is its vapor. Ignite that and there will be an explosion. Which is what happens inside our internal combustion engines. Where our cars first aerosolizes the gasoline, mixes it with air, compresses it and then ignites it. Of course that explosion is deep within our engines. Where it can’t harm us. Still, it isn’t advised to smoke while refueling. Because there are gas vapors typically where there is gas. And you don’t want you car exploding like the Hindenburg.
Fuel cells use hydrogen to make electric power. All you have to do is stop at your hydrogen fueling station and fill up your hydrogen tanks. Just don’t smoke while doing this. Because hydrogen in its natural state is an explosive gas. This danger aside the hydrogen fuel cell is about to give the all-electric car a run for its money. And last’s night meal may be providing the hydrogen (see POO-power comes to California: Orange County residents to trial SUVs fuelled by human waste by Mark Prigg posted 2/25/2014 on the Daily Mail).
The fuel-cell powered Tucson can drive for 50 miles per kilogram of hydrogen, and its two tanks hold about 5.64 kilograms (12.4 pounds).
Costs of compressed gas in California range from about $5 to $10 per kilogram, depending on the facility, and it takes around three minutes to fill the tank.
Hyundai says it hopes the technology will become popular – and will take on the electric car as the eco-vehicle of choice.
‘Hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles represent the next generation of zero-emission vehicle technology, so we’re thrilled to be a leader in offering the mass-produced, federally certified Tucson Fuel Cell to retail customers,’ said John Krafcik of Hyundai Motor America.
‘The superior range and fast-fill refueling speed of our Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle contrast with the lower range and slow-charge characteristics of competing battery electric vehicles.
‘We think fuel cell technology will increase the adoption rate of zero-emission vehicles, and we’ll all share the environmental benefits.’
If you crunch the numbers and compare it to a gasoline-powered Ford Taurus the numbers aren’t so good. A Ford Taurus gets 29 miles per gallon on the highway. And has an 18 gallon gas tank. Which means one tank of gas will take you 522 miles on the highway. At $3 per gallon for gas that one tank of gas will cost you $54. By comparison the fuel cell gives you only 282 miles on a full tank. And costs between $28.20 and $56.40 for a full tank. Dividing cost per mile that comes to somewhere between $0.10 and $0.20 per mile. While the gasoline-powered Ford Taurus costs about $0.10 per mile.
So at best the fuel cell will have a fuel cost equal to the gasoline-powered engine. But it only has about 54% the range on a full tank. Meaning you’ll have to stop about twice as often to fuel up with the fuel cell. And good luck not blowing yourself up playing with hydrogen at the fuel pump. That is if you can even find hydrogen fueling stations along your drive. The only real good thing you can say about a fuel cell when comparing it to a gasoline-powered car is at least it’s not as bad as an all-electric car. And those zero-emissions? Sorry, that’s not exactly true. The hydrogen may be zero-emissions but making the hydrogen isn’t.
First, sewage is separated into water and biosolids.
The waste water is cleaned, filtered and treated for reuse, while solid waste is piped into airless tanks filled with microbes.
A byproduct of their digestion is a gas that’s 60 percent methane and about 40 percent carbon dioxide, which is burned at the plant for power generation.
However, some is filtered and piped into a unique, stationary ‘tri-generation’ fuel-cell device, designed by the Irvine team, that produces electricity, heat and hydrogen.
The hydrogen gas is then piped several hundred feet to the public pump where fuel-cell autos are refueled daily.
Almost half of the source gas is carbon dioxide. And carbon dioxide has carbon in it. This is the same gas they want to shut down coal-fired power plants for producing. Oh, and methane? That’s a greenhouse gas. This is the gas coming out of the butts of cows and pigs that some are saying are warming the planet. And when you burn methane guess what you get? Water and carbon dioxide. More manmade carbon emissions. That’s a lot of global warming they’re creating in the effort to prevent global warming.
This is one thing fuel cells share with all-electric cars. They may be emission free. But the chemistry to make them emission-free isn’t. We’re still putting carbon into the atmosphere. We’re just doing it in different places. And if we are wouldn’t it be cheaper and easier just to keep using gasoline?
Germany was going green. Between renewables and nuclear power they were really shrinking their carbon footprint. But then along came Fukushima. And the melting of the core in a nuclear power plant. Sending shockwaves throughout the world. Causing the Germans to shut down their nuclear reactors. Of course, that created an energy shortage in Germany. And how did they fill it? By building more new wind farms? No (see Germany Is Relocating Entire Towns To Dig Up More Sweet, Sweet Coal by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan posted 2/14/2014 on Gizmodo).
Most of us think of Germany as one of the most energy-progressive countries in the world. But in recent years, it’s also increased its dependence on a form of energy that’s anything but clean: coal. And it’s demolishing or relocating entire towns to get at it.
While Germany has some of the largest brown coal deposits on Earth, a valuable chunk of it resides underneath towns that date back to the Middle Ages. Most of these are located in the old East Germany, and in the 1930s and 40s, dozens of them were destroyed to make way for mining. The practice ended when Germany established its clear energy initiatives. But now, dirty brown coal reemerging as a cheaper option than clean energy. And the cities are in the way again.
Sunshine and wind are free. They may be unreliable but they are free. But to capture that energy requires an enormous and costly infrastructure. That could still fail to produce the electric power they need when the wind doesn’t blow. Leaving them but one option to replace those efficient nuclear power plants. Efficient coal-fired power plants. Which is the only option they have. Because renewables can never provide baseload power. The power that is always there and can be relied upon. Like nuclear power plants. And those big, beautiful coal-fired power plants. Rain or shine. Night or day. Wind or calm. Coal is always there for us.
The problem with renewable energy sources is that they take up a lot of real estate. To save the environment they must take a big footprint in that environment. And big things cost a lot of money. Such as solar farms. Or wind farms. Even though the ‘fuel’ is free. Sun. And wind. Which is why free solar and wind power is some of the most costly power. And if that wasn’t bad enough we also have to evict some of the indigenous life from their natural habitat (see Sunflower mirrors power California’s desert farm by Rowan Hooper posted 2/13/2014 on New Scientist).
IT TAKES a couple of seconds to work out what’s going on in this photo. You’re looking at a pair of heliostat mirrors – sunflower-like reflectors that turn to track the sun during the day. These are just two of hundreds of thousands such mirrors arranged in the Mojave Desert in California, all part of the Ivanpah solar power project.
Their job is to concentrate the sun’s rays onto boilers located on three central towers, turning water into steam that drives turbines. The site (below) covers 14 square kilometres and will produce at least 377 megawatts of electricity, not much below the summer output of a typical nuclear power station in the US and enough to power 140,000 homes in California…
The project has been controversial. Native American groups have objected, claiming it will impact burial grounds. The project was also held up while desert tortoises – a threatened species – were relocated away from the Ivanpah site. It highlights the fact that even renewable energy projects can have some adverse environmental impacts.
Hundreds of thousands of mirrors? That must have cost a pretty penny. I wonder what happens when the desert winds blow sand onto those mirrors. Either making them dirty and less reflective. Or dulling them by the natural sandblasting of the blowing sand that has worn away solid rock in the dessert. Making them less reflective. Requiring periodic cleaning of these mirrors. And their replacement over time. Thus making a very costly power generation system even more costly.
If we’re not hacking eagles to death with wind turbines we’re kicking another threatened species from its home. Neither of which happens when we burn coal in a coal-fired power plant. While there is only a theory that these coal-fired power plants are harming the wildlife on the planet it is a fact that renewable energy is. So one can only conclude that wildlife like eagles and desert tortoises prefer coal-fired power plants over solar and wind power. Which isn’t harming them. As is evidenced by their being around after centuries of burning coal only to suffer harm from solar and wind power.
Competition makes everything better. For consumers. That’s you and me. For it’s that competition that makes business give us more for less. To please us. And to persuade us to give them our dollars for their products. It’s a great system. It prevents businesses from giving us shoddy goods at high prices. For if they did they would lose their customers. And go out of business. So competition in free market capitalism gets businesses to choose to please their customers. By giving them more for less. Which allows them to stay in business. Unless they have corrupt friends in government (see Industry, not environmentalists, killed traditional bulbs by TIMOTHY P. CARNEY posted 1/1/2014 on the Washington Examiner).
Say goodbye to the regular light bulb this New Year.
… Starting Jan. 1, the famous bulb is illegal to manufacture in the U.S., and it has become a fitting symbol for the collusion of big business and big government.
The 2007 Energy Bill, a stew of regulations and subsidies, set mandatory efficiency standards for most light bulbs. Any bulbs that couldn’t produce a given brightness at the specified energy input would be illegal. That meant the 25-cent bulbs most Americans used in nearly every socket of their home would be outlawed…
Competitive markets with low costs of entry have a characteristic that consumers love and businesses lament: very low profit margins. GE, Philips and Sylvania dominated the U.S. market in incandescents, but they couldn’t convert that dominance into price hikes. Because of light bulb’s low material and manufacturing costs, any big climb in prices would have invited new competitors to undercut the giants — and that new competitor would probably have won a distribution deal with Wal-Mart.
So, simply the threat of competition kept profit margins low on the traditional light bulb — that’s the magic of capitalism. GE and Sylvania searched for higher profits by improving the bulb — think of the GE Soft White bulb. These companies, with their giant research budgets, made advances with halogen, LED and fluorescent technologies, and even high-efficiency incandescents. They sold these bulbs at a much higher prices — but they couldn’t get many customers to buy them for those high prices. That’s the hard part about capitalism — consumers, not manufacturers, get to demand what something is worth.
Capitalism ruining their party, the bulb-makers turned to government. Philips teamed up with NRDC. GE leaned on its huge lobbying army — the largest in the nation — and soon they were able to ban the low-profit-margin bulbs.
When you have collusion between big business and big government you no longer have free market capitalism. No. Instead you have crony capitalism. Where rich people both in business and government collude with each other to make themselves even richer. While making consumers poorer.
The lamp manufacturers got new laws that forced consumers to pay the higher prices they wouldn’t without a law compelling them to do so. Making the lamp manufacturers richer. And the lobbyists poured lobbying money over their friends in government. Who probably stripped naked and rolled around on it, rubbing that cash all over their naked bodies. And said God bless global warming.
We’re killing the planet with all of our manmade carbon. So we have to stop using coal to generate electric power. And instead build these spinning killing machines (see Wind farms get extended leeway on eagle deaths by Maria L. La Ganga posted 12/6/2013 on the Los Angeles Times).
In a decision that highlights the clash between two cherished environmental goals — producing green energy and preserving protected wildlife — federal officials announced Friday that some wind power companies will be allowed to kill or injure bald and golden eagles for up to 30 years without penalty…
Kelley said the new regulations would “increase the protection of eagles and will help develop more wind farms, a leading solution to climate change, which is the No. 1 threat to all eagles and all wildlife…”
Kelley, of the American Wind Energy Assn., said that wind farms had had a negligible impact on bald eagles and that only 2% of the golden eagles killed by humans died because of wind farms. In addition, he said, the population of golden eagles in the West is stable or increasing slightly.
Hutchins, however, pointed to a recent study in the Wildlife Society Bulletin estimating that 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats are killed every year by wind farms.
Is it me or is there a contradiction here? Global warming is the number one threat to eagles. This is why we must build wind farms. So we can shut down our coal-fired power plants. But these very wind farms are killing these eagles. But that’s okay because the eagle population is stable or increasing slightly. Even though global warming is not chopping these eagles out of the sky. The wind farms are. So there would be more eagles alive today if it weren’t for these spinning killing machines. Which would seem to make them a greater threat to the eagle population than global warming.
Something stinks here. And it’s just not the rotting carcasses of the eagles these wind farms have killed. You know what that stench in the air is? Money. Big money. Going to the president’s friends in Green Energy. This is why the president is allowing his friends to kill eagles. So they can keep that money flowing from the taxpayers to Washington to the Green Energy firms and into the campaign coffers of the Democrat Party.
A bankruptcy judge just ruled Detroit can file bankruptcy. Dealing a blow to the union workers and pensioners who will see their benefits cut. A lot. But in so doing Detroit may be able to do something it hasn’t been able to afford in a long time. Turning the streetlights back on.
A lot of these streetlights have burnt out lamps. Some are damaged. While others have been shut off to cut costs. Because the electric power to light these is a large cost item. Even in Britain some cities are turning their streetlights off during parts of the night because they just can’t afford to keep them on all night long. Which puts a silly incident like this into a new light (see Why Did This Man Get Arrested for Charging His Electric Car? by Tyler Lopez posted 12/5/2013 on Slate).
Early last month, a police officer approached Kaveh Kamooneh outside of Chamblee Middle School in Georgia. While his 11-year-old son played tennis, Kamooneh was charging his Nissan Leaf using an outdoor outlet. When the officer arrived, he opened the unlocked vehicle, took out a piece of mail to read the address, and let a puzzled Kamooneh know that he would be arrested for theft. Kamooneh brushed the entire incident off. Eleven days later, two deputies handcuffed and arrested him at his home. The charge? Theft of electrical power. According to a statement from the school, a “local citizen” had called the police to report the unauthorized power-up session.
The total cost of the 20 minutes of electricity Kamooneh reportedly used is about 5 cents…
Are political attitudes toward environmentally friendly electric vehicles to blame..?
Contrary to popular belief the ‘fuel’ for electric cars is not free. It takes fuel (typically coal, natural gas, nuclear, etc.) to generate electric power. Which is why we all have electric meters at our homes. So we can pay for the cost of generating that electric power. Therefore, this guy was stealing electric power. Even if he lived in the city he stole from. Because current taxes don’t pay for electric power. People pay an electric bill based on their electric usage. As shown on an electric meter.
This illustrates a great problem we will have if large numbers of people switch to electric cars. This will place a huge burden on our electric generating capacity. Have you ever placed your car battery (in a standard gasoline-powered car) on a charger when you had a dead battery? If so you may have noticed the voltage meter on the charger barely move. Because a dead battery places a ‘short-circuit’ across the charger. Causing a surge of current to flow through the battery. Recharging the plates. As the charge builds up the current starts falling. And the voltage starts rising. Imagine great numbers of people plugging in their depleted batteries at the same time. It will do to the electric grid what air conditioners do to it in the summer. As a bunch of them turn on the lights dim because of that current surge going to the air conditioners. Leaving less power available to power the lights (and other electric loads).
Air conditioning was such a problem that utilities placed a separate ‘interruptible’ meter at homes. So that during the summer when the air conditioner load grew too great the utility could shut off some air conditioners. To reduce the demand on the generating systems. People lost their air conditioning for periods of time. But they got a reduced electric rate because of it.
As more people add an electric car to the electric grid it will strain generating capacity. And raise electric rates. To get people to use less electric power. If demand far exceeds supply electric rates will soar. Perhaps causing a lot of people to look for a free ‘plug-in’ to escape the high cost of electric power. Transferring that cost to others. Like cash-strapped cities who can’t afford to leave the street lights on all night.
Few have thought this out well. Getting more people to use electricity instead of gasoline at the same time we’re trying to replace reliable coal-fired power plants with intermittent wind and solar farms is a recipe for disaster. In the form of higher electric bills and rolling blackouts.
Britain is green. They have made the prevention of manmade global warming a national goal. They’re gradually doing away with carbon-based energies. Like coal-fired power plants. And replacing them with green things like wind farms. Although one large wind project just got derailed. The £4bn ($6.6 billion US) Atlantic Array project in the Bristol Channel. But just the fact that they were going to spend $6.6 billion to build an offshore wind farm shows you how committed they are in going green. Of course one might ask where does one get $6.6 billion to build a wind farm? Simple. You just add a green levy to everyone’s utility bill (see Energy policies just rob Peter to pay Paul by Telegraph View posted 12/1/2013 on The Telegraph).
Yesterday morning, George Osborne and Ed Balls both graced the sofa of the Andrew Marr Show as part of a pre-Autumn Statement offensive to woo the voters. Perhaps the biggest issue of the day was the fate of the green levies on consumers’ bills – a policy that Ed Miliband began as energy secretary and which the Tories embraced in office as a way of proving their environmentalist credentials. Now the consensus that the consumer should be forced to pick up the tab for saving the planet is gone, thanks to sky-rocketing energy costs. But the solutions proposed by Mr Osborne and Mr Balls may not be enough to induce a warm glow in the heart of the hard-pressed voter.
Mr Balls had nothing compelling to say. He made some noises about “value for money” and said that anything the Government could do to reduce costs was welcome. But it was Labour, after all, that introduced the green levies and remains committed to unreasonable decarbonisation targets. The party’s core pledge now is to freeze prices after the 2015 election. It is, as Mr Osborne called it, “back of a fag packet” stuff. Labour can do nothing to control global energy prices; a price freeze could put smaller providers out of business; and the likely outcome is that companies will simply hike bills before the freeze comes into effect. This variety of socialist populism typically ends up hurting the economy in the long run.
However, there are serious flaws in Mr Osborne’s alternative. Although the average bill could fall by £50 under the Government’s plan, some bills are predicted to rise by £120.
First of all, “back of a fag packet” isn’t a gay slur. A fag is slang for cigarette in the UK. And a fag packet is a pack of cigarettes. So “back of a fag packet” stuff is a plan with so little meaningful details that they can write it out on one side of a pack of cigarettes. It’s sort of like us yanks writing out something on the back of a cocktail napkin. It’s not detailed stuff. And probably not stuff thought out well. Hence the disparaging tone of George Osborne’s criticism of the Labour Party’s idea of a price freeze.
As interesting as this explanation was it’s what is in the following paragraph that is of note. The rise in the average bill of £120. This is the green levy on the people’s average utility bill. Which comes to $197.16 in US dollars. This is the cost of all those wind turbines they’re building. A number so painful that Britons everywhere are saying that this manmade global warming? It isn’t as bad as I once thought it was. So we can stop building these silly windmills. Especially those that cost $6.6 billion. Let’s just leave those beautiful coal-fired power plants on line. So I can afford to feed my family. For I know my history. And my Dickens. England during the Industrial Revolution was a filthy place. Where workers—and everything else—were covered in soot and ashes. And despite all of this manmade carbon it was not warm and balmy during those times. No. People struggled to both eat. And stay warm. England is cleaner today and yet we are suffering from manmade global warming? Right, pull the other.