Archive for the ‘energy’ Category

Falling price of information goods

January 2, 2017

Information, if allowed, flows freely.

Classic Marxist theory, cost consists of capital, land and labour.

We now have a fourth factor, information.

Karl Marx wrote of machines whose cost was zero, that never wear out.

Information does not wear out, costs nothing to reproduce.

Feel free to listen to The Way of the Bow, share with your friends, download.

Digital music costs nothing to reproduce, e-books cost nothing to reproduce. If I listen to digital music, it does not wear out when I listen, I can share with my friends. An e-book does not wear out when I read, I can share with my friends.

I can of course share a book with my friends, but were I to, I cannot read it, it costs something to cut down the trees, make the paper, print, to distribute,  to shelve, to retail. If I share it, for example pass on through BookCrossing, the more often shared and read the more dogeared it will become. One reason why I prefer to give books away rather than share.

The price of information goods tends to zero. If you are being charged more than a pound a dollar or a euro for an e-book, you are being ripped off.

The only thing that maintains the price of a song on iTunes is the near monopoly Apple exerts.

We see this with the price of iPhones, the price maintained by near monopoly and Draconian intellectual property rights, thus Apple maintains a high profit margin, even when its share of the market falls. Helped of course by tax dodging, low wage workers at Foxconn in China and the massive subsidies from the Chinese government.

Compare the cost of an iPhone with a  phone from One Plus, eg One Plus One, One Plus Two, One Plus Three, One Plus 3T.

On leanpub and bandcamp, artists set a minimum price, sometimes zero. Those who choose to pay for a download, can pay more. Often they pay much more than the asking price.

Most jobs could be replaced by robots, were it not for the creation of what David Graeber calls bullshit jobs. The car wash replaced by half a dozen migrants with dirty rags and a bucket of water.

Below a series of charts and a video that illustrate price of information goods falling.

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Into Eternity

August 1, 2016

Hinkley Point C, is a nuclear reactor being proposed for Somerset.

To be built at an estimated cost of 18 billion euros, more than the capital value of EDF who would build and operate.

The electricity produced will be at least double, maybe triple, the existing cost of electricity, at a time when the cost of electricity from renewables is falling.

It is scheduled to produce at least 7% of the UK demand for electricity.

It will be part-owned by the Chinese military. There is already threatening noises from the Chinese that the project may be cancelled. US would not let Chinese control critical infrastructure.

Fracking may take place nearby with increased risk of an earthquake.

It would be at risk from rising sea level.

But what of the waste? UK has no plans for nuclear waste disposal

We can safely store nuclear waste, in cooling ponds above ground, providing there is no interruption to the power to the cooling ponds, no leakage, no earthquakes, no terrorist attacks or theft of the waste materiel, no wars.

At best, storage in cooling ponds is temporary storage for a few dozen years.

In 1970, Finland began construction of a massive underground bunker designed to safely store its nuclear waste until it decays and becomes safe, a process that takes 100,000 years.

How do you safeguard a site for 100,000 years?

How do you warn people?

Go back 100,000 years, and we are at the time of Neanderthals.

Stonehenge, appears to be a giant astronomical clock. But why was it built?

We could leave giant granite monoliths, with warnings, but will the warnings be heeded?

We do not know what the writing on Mayan artefacts means, and yet that is a civilisation Europeans were in contact with in the recent past.

The site could be forgotten. What if, a future civilisation, using ground penetrating radar, discovers the network of underground tunnels. It must be a site of importance, why else would a past civilisation built such a structure?

Hinkley Point C

July 28, 2016

Hinkley Point C will cost 18 billion euros.

Correction, Hinkley Point C  has an estimated cost of 18 billion euros. Large infrastructure projects have a nasty habit of being over time and over budget. This is true of EDF’s latest project in France.

18 billion euros is larger than the capital value of EDF. Major shareholder in EDF is the French government. If Hinkley Point C proves to be, as many suspect, a White Elephant, it will destroy the French government.

The French Unions are oposed to Hinkley Point C and are considering mounting a legal challenge.

The new UK government is having second thoughts.

The price of electricity from Hinkley Point C is guaranteed for the next thirty-five years at double the current price of electricity.

The price of electricity from renewables has been halving every 18 months.

The offshore wind farms Siemens plan to build in the North Sea will deliver electricity at much lower price than Hinkley Point C

Hinkley Point C is a disaster and must be stopped.

Proponents correctly say we need reliable sources of clean energy. That is why we must push ahead with renewables, the more we have, the more reliable, as not reliant upon the unreliability of a  few sources.  Also resilient.

We must follow a Soft Energy Path, one wheres sources are matched to usage.

Nuclear power is hard energy, it is also very brittle.

installation of rooftop solar panels

installation of rooftop solar panels

Last week, my neighbour installed 14 solar panels on his south facing roof. Speaking to the contractors, they said peak output (on a good day when the sun is shining) is 3 kW.

Imagine if every house had solar panels, if new build was mandatory to have solar panels.

Inshore wind farms have been a disaster. Wealthy landowners reap the subsidies. Or did

We need to create community owned local area grids. Into which feed renewables guaranteed a fair price. Consumers would pay a  fair price. Any surplus energy would be fed to other local are grids via a publicly owned National Grid.  Any monetary surplus would either be fed back into the local grid or used to finance community projects, watering of the collaborative commons.

EU pushed diesel, thanks to lobbying by VW (the same VW that rigged emission tests). Net result nearly ten thousand deaths a year in London due to air pollution from toxic diesel.

In US and Japan, a different route of hybrid and electric cars.

One of the problems with electricity supply from renewables, is matching supply to demand. Electricity from the sun  during the day when demand also peaks. Wind blows at night when demand is low

Surplus generation, could be, at cheaper rate via smart meters, used to charge electric cars. Electric cars when not in use, with fully charged batteries, could be used when peak demand exceeds supply. Smart meters can also use the electricity for low grade heat, for example water heating and space heating, where being cut off for a short while does not impact on the user (especially if have manual override).

A couple of weeks ago, a useless report on abuse by the Big Six, a useless report that cost millions to compile. A couple of their worthless recommendations was better use of price comparison sites (better called price fixing sites as paid by suppliers to set up deals) and if consumers had not recently change supplier, add them to a database to receive junk mail from suppliers.

One measure at a stroke would improve the situation, eliminate standing charges, a fixed rate per kW-H, or maybe two rates, one a special cheap rate when surplus exceeds supply (requiring smart meters).

There are no standing charges when paying for petrol, there should be no standing charges when buying electricity.

We do not need to nationalise the Big Six, introduce community owned and controlled local grids, and the Big Six would be driven out of business, as unable to compete.

Post-Brexit, we need investment in green infrastructure, investment in publicly owned railways, in locally owned and controlled electricity grids. What we do not need is bad infrastructure, HS2, Hinkley Point C, expansion of London City Airport or additional runways at Heathrow and Gatwick.

Future of Steel – Ken Clarke & Paul Mason

March 31, 2016
steel - Jeremy Corbyn

steel – Jeremy Corbyn

This week’s crisis in Port Talbot and elsewhere has not come out of the blue – Britain’s steel industry has been in trouble for a long time now. Yet the government appears to have been asleep on the job. — Caroline Lucas MP

The ministry that should have an industrial policy is run by a man who, when the space between his ears registers a thought at all, believes there should not be an industrial policy. — Paul Mason

Ken Clarke and Paul Mason on BBC Newsnight discussing the future of steel in the UK.

Ken Clarke knows all about the steel industry, he once drove past the steel works at Port Talbot.

Why does the BBC insist on wheeling out has been politicians who have not got a clue what they are talking about?

Sajid Javid another useless Tory idiot.

We have an old plant in Wales.  It cannot compete on the world market with modern steel plants.

If this was a short term problem, then yes, nationalise.

But the problem is we do not know.

A rescue plan was drawn up then rejected.

This should be published.

Steel is an old industry.

It is energy consuming.

It is resource intensive.

We should be moving forward to new industries.

What this illustrates is tha we have to move away from large plants, that if they close, they have a devastating impact on local communities.

If this was several companies, with the same total job losses, no one would act.

We bailed out the banks. That is not an argument for bailing out steel, it is an argument for not bailing out the banks.

Steel generates wealth, it adds value. Banks are parasites that bleed money from businesses. Banks do not create wealth. Making things creates wealth.

Is steel a strategic industry?

US makes steel. US does not have problem with steel from China. Why does UK, why does EU? US introduced tariffs. UK government blocked EU tariffs.

Fields full of solar panels

December 21, 2015

At first sight, rows of greenhouses, but no, large fields, rows and rows of solar panels.

Nearby, new houses, no solar panels on the roofs.

Fields are not the place for solar panes, buildings are.

This is what happens when subsidies distort a market.

This bitter earth

August 30, 2015


Phenomenal live performance by Charlotte Church accompanied by string ensemble Ligeti Quartet of This bitter earth outside Shell HQ in London in protest at Shell drilling for oil in the Arctic.

I can’t see how anyone could see footage of the Arctic melting and not feel moved. It’s terrifying to think of what we’re doing to this planet. This song just felt so appropriate to why I came here today. I wanted to capture the sorrow and regret that feels tied up with the melting ice, and the bitter irony of Arctic oil drilling.

I can’t believe the risks that Shell is willing to take. The Arctic ecosystem is already weakened because the ice is melting, yet Shell is willing to risk an oil spill there that they wouldn’t be able to clean up. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Shame on Obama for granting Shell a licence to drill, and only serves to expose his hypocrisy when he says he wishes to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Just over a week ago Shell got the final permits it needs to start drilling for oil in the melting Arctic Ocean. It’s got a window of mere weeks to strike oil and billions of dollars on the line. But every second it drills it’s risking an oil spill in icy waters that would be impossible to clean up and disastrous for the people and unique wildlife that call the Arctic home.

If we are to keep global temperature rise below 2C, 80% of known deposits of oil and coal and gas have to be left in the ground, and yet Shell is exploring for more in one of the world’s most hazardous environments.

Lancashire says NO to fracking

June 30, 2015

In what could well be the death blow to fracking, Lancashire has voted NO to fracking.

The fracking industry had hoped to get approval in Lancashire, then use that to gain leverage across the country.

Councillors ignored how their officials told them to vote, and for once voted how the people told them to vote.

Questions need to be asked, why officials were in bed with Cuadrilla.

Cuadrilla claim will impact upon energy security. Like everything else from Cuadrilla complete and utter nonsense. The amount of shale gas small, its impact negligible, it would also be sold on the open market, thus just as likey to be shipped to Europe.

Energy security will be achieved when we have locally owned and controlled power grids, fed by renewables.

FoE claim the success was theirs. It was not, any more than it was down to 38 Degrees (who also claimed the credit). The decision was won by the hard work of the people of Lancashire, supported by people across the country.

The vote was 10-4 to REJECT. Who were the four councillors who voted for fracking? Name and shame in order that they may be kicked out at the next elections.

A Fossil Fuel Free World is Possible

June 7, 2015

The reality is that climate is getting warmer, the weather is getting more extreme and unpredictable, and we have to become more resilient, more efficient, and more innovative.  — Governor Jerry Brown

Across the world we are starting to see the impact of extreme weather events.

In California a prolonged drought has prompted a 20% cut in water usage by Executive Order.

We’re in an historic drought and that demands unprecedented action. For that reason, that I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reduction across our state. As Californians, we have to pull together and save water in every way we can. People should realize we’re in a new era. The idea of your nice little green grass getting lots of water every day, that is going to be a thing of the past.

But, if Californians are expected to cut their water consumption, why is a Nestle bottling plant exempt, why is fracking exempt?

If California is in trouble then so is the rest of America, because they truck fresh produce from California. Fresh produce is even airfreighted to Europe.

Why? Is this not insane?

We have such an insane system because agriculture can externalise its costs, because Big Businesses controls our food production and distribution system. Food is grown for profit not to feed people.

A Song of Oil, Ice and Fire

June 6, 2015

Would we set fire to works of art, destroy manuscripts, smash ancient ruins with a sledgehammer?

When Isis and the Taliban destroyed symbols of our culture, we were shocked, more shocked even than by the gruesome brutality of their beheadings.

If we are shocked, then why are we tolerating Shell setting fire to the planet?

We have seen the last week extreme temperature in India, with many thousands dying. That is of nothing with what we will experience with thermal runaway if global temperature rise goes beyond 2C. Even with 2C, we are going to see more violent and extreme weather events.

If we are to keep global temperature rises below 2C, we have to keep 80% of known carbon reserves in the ground.

The worth of a company such as Shell, is the value of its known carbon reserves. If it cannot recover, then Shell is worthless.

More extreme and hazardous carbon deposits, mountain top removal, tar sands, fracking, deep water, Amazon, Arctic, are more expensive than renewables (and the cost of renewables is falling).

An oil spill in the Arctic is unlikely to be recoverable.

Shell has already had one major incident on the Arctic.

Why are we permitting Shell to drill in the Arctic?

Advertising Standards Agency bans Greenpeace anti-fracking ad

May 6, 2015
banned Greenpeace anti-fracking ad

banned Greenpeace anti-fracking ad

The banning of a Greenpeace anti-fracking ad by the ASA is indicative of the revolving door and how corrupt the political system has become.

Chris Smith used to be a Labour government minster.

On leaving office, jobs for the boys, seats on the board of Big Business or on a quango, true to script he heads the Environment Agency.

As boss of the Environment Agency he gave the OK to frack in National Parks.

Now he heads the ASA.

As head of the ASA he banned a Greenpeace anti-fracking ad.

Greenpeace:

The ASA just banned our anti-fracking ad!

Here are the facts:

A few months ago we published a newspaper ad stating: “Experts agree – [fracking] won’t cut our energy bills.”

The ASA asked for evidence to back up the claim — so we submitted statements from 22 experts and commentators including leading academics, the energy secretary Ed Davey, and even quotes from fracking firm Cuadrilla.

This wasn’t enough for the ASA and they still said the ad was misleading. But the only evidence they could provide to back that up?… A quote from the prime minister.

Oh and one other thing… the chair of the ASA, Lord Chris Smith, happens to be the head of the Task Force on Shale Gas (a group funded by the fracking industry).

Chris Smith heads an independent inquiry into fracking. An inquiry financed by the fracking industry.

Murdoch, Lord Rothermere, Barclay Brothers, and the porn baron who owns the Express, are doing their best to pervert the course of the election.

But that is ok, they have money, and money buys our corrupt politician system.

If you think this is wrong, then please share the image, share this article.

Tories, Labour and LibDems, all support fracking.

Fracking, climate change, airport expansion, have not featured in the election campaign.

If we do not drastically cut our carbon emission, there will be no future.

If you want to know more about fracking, please watch the talk by Dr Ingraffea, a leading industry expert on fracking.