Green fantasy

The government has just (November 2020) released a 10 point green plan for a move towards an ultimate net zero carbon goal for the UK. Its ambitious goals are clearly meant to contribute to slowing the onset of the worst effects of climate change.

Sadly many of the points in the plan compete in credibility and spin with Rudi Giuliani’s analysis of Venezuelan designed software in US election voting machines switching votes to Trump.

There are many fanciful ideas such as replacing fossil fuel boilers in 15 years or so, and having sufficient power and charging points for electric vehicles driven by the ban on new conventional cars in 10 years time. More opaque are the plans for Nuclear power; for example that small local reactors might be installed in factories – something no other country is contemplating given the attraction to terrorists of a handy source of fissile material in an insecure (compared with a normal nuclear plant) location.

Confidence in the government in this area and in British technology capabilities is somewhat eroded by the fact that the UK has had to contract the French and Chinese states to build the latest nuclear station, Hinckley Point C. GIven the steam arising from the use of Chinese technology in infrastructure projects, it’s slightly odd that one would involve then in the country’s largest nuclear power plant.

The government agreed to pay EDF (the French state organisation and main contractor) £92.50 MW/hour at 2012 prices for electricity. As Grumpy sits here, the web indicates that the current market wholesale price is about £50 per MW/hour – about half as much. Consumers will have to top that up on their bills to the tune of some £50 billion over the contract term, but no offers on the odds for that not to rise.

The 10 point plan follows this general line; vast numbers of new jobs; many rather opaque benefits in a rush to net zero; better health from all the enforced cycling and walking, etc. The sums are vague, but the plans will cost at least £90 billion of ‘investment’ given the numbers in the plan.

The simple fact is that governments have no money (they are loaded with debt). If companies invest, they do so because it will generate a return – they don’t ‘pay’ for anything. There is only one source of funds to meet these expenditures and it is consumers/ taxpayers – the ‘other peoples money’ Margaret Thatcher spoke of. What long experience teaches us all is that any government project costs vastly more than the lowball figures to get parliament approval (check CrossRail).

Grumpy undertakes to subject himself to the ultimate humiliation of posting a picture of his geriatric and wrinkled nude body on this site if Hinckley C gets built for £21 billion and is completed by 2024.