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« Crisis over? | Main | David MacKay live »
Thursday
Mar032011

The third-world ambition of the UK

Thanks to Phillip Bratby for this clipping from the Telegraph, which seems to encapsulate the UK's third world ambition (in Nicholas Hallam's memorable turn of phrase).

The talk of dwindling gas supplies is strange. Has Mr Holliday not heard of shale gas? Or does he know something we don't? It would be interesting if someone could get David MacKay's opinion on continuity of supply later today.

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Reader Comments (113)

I think this mythical smart grid is very worrying. Wikipedia says this:

A smart grid delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers using two-way digital communications to control appliances at consumers' homes; this could save energy, reduce costs and increase reliability and transparency if the risks inherent in executing massive information technology projects are avoided. The "Smart Grid" is envisioned to overlay the ordinary electrical grid with an information and net metering system, that includes smart meters. Smart grids are being promoted by many governments as a way of addressing energy independence, global warming and emergency resilience issues.

Big brother will be watching your electricity consumption and disable your appliances when the wind drops. That's just what you need in the middle of cooking. It also means that big brother can find out who are big electricity consumers and limit their use of electricity.

A third world dictatorship just about sums up where we are heading.

PS Thanks to John Etherington, author of the excellent "The Wind Farm Scam", for alerting me.

Mar 3, 2011 at 7:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

On a compensation package worth in excess of £2.2M, I guess he'll have no problem buying his leccy at top dollar prices.

But how on earth does anyone think it s progress to go back to 'the good old days' of the three day week and rolling power blackouts?

Or perhaps he is on a suicide mission from Greenie Central:

'We need an entirely futile and pointless gesture, Holliday. And we've done windmills.

Get out there and have your balls shot off by sceptic snipers. Watch out for Delingpole and Booker if you go near the Torygraph! But you'll find safe haven with Randerson and Moonbat at the grauniad.

Right ho Gavin! Its been good to know you. Please just make sure that the lights *do* go out all over Blighty when I'm gone.

Forcing old folk to freeze to death in the deep dark winter is a true sign of civilisation and distinguishes us from primitive savages. It will be my proud legacy that I helped to make it so. Farewell.

Mar 3, 2011 at 8:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Can I feel the anger in the UK rising? I would not want to be a career polition when it goes as even the police will be marching against them.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1362363/Police-bonuses--5k-axed-chief-constables-end-payment-doing-job.html

Mar 3, 2011 at 8:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

This is a perfect example of "careful what you wish for". Long discussed by some. Soon to be discussed by many.

Our governments and others are pushing society towards relatively more insecure energy supplies (doesn't operate all the time when we want/need it amongst other risks) and the companies which create power from that energy are pushing us towards control systems which allow them to ration it ("smart grids") which is reasonable when you consider their responsibility is to deliver power and without a control system they can't really do that. But, we get what WE asked for.

There are unintended consequences (as their often are).

Re "dwindling supplies of gas" ... I'm no expert but seems to me that in the UK the main issue is that of lack of sufficient storage for gas to improve security of the power from that gas being made available to customers. Source of gas is also essential--that's what energy and power companies do for us. That gas-based energy can come from existing UK sources (North Sea and elsewhere), plus possibly from unconventional gas (shale, coal bed methane, etc.) but I don't know the quantities. The UK also imports gas via via pipelines and liquified gas delivered in ships.

Enlightening to see Dr. David MacKay's blog posting from today which shows the energy flows in UK. See http://withouthotair.blogspot.com/2011/03/version-2-of-2050-calculator.html. Study it to get some true insights.

Mar 3, 2011 at 8:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Schneider

Mar 3, 2011 at 8:27 AM | Rob Schneider

"the companies which create power from that energy are pushing us towards control systems which allow them to ration it ("smart grids") which is reasonable when you consider their responsibility is to deliver power and without a control system they can't really do that. But, we get what WE asked for."
---------------------------------

I think you will find that this requirement for smart grids (they really mean "smart meters") emanates from Brussels as a legal requirement therefore it is NOT what WE asked for.

Also, I think you will find that the power companies dread the arrival of this imposition of government control on their customer's electricity meter.

There was talk that there is going to be a GEMHQ where every electricty meter will be wired to this single Government facility, (with the handy on/off switches), and the consumption data will then be sent on to the supply companies for billing purposes.

Trebles all round for the makers of "smart meters".

Apparently, Italy has achieved 100% installation of smart meters already; is there a reader who lives full time in Italy and pays an electricity bill who could tell us how the law abiding citizens have coped with this?

Mar 3, 2011 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

“We keep thinking that we want [the grid] to be there and provide power when we need it. It is going to be much smarter than that.”

Replace “the grid” and “power” by “politicians” and leadership”; “schools” and “education” etc. etc. Oh brave new world.

Mar 3, 2011 at 9:08 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

Time to sack 'power chief' and buy a generator

Mar 3, 2011 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterGendeau

My thoughts exactly Gendeau. It's his job to ensure that we have permanently available electricity. Is he conceding that renewable sources, as well as being massively more expensive, are not capable of making up the shortfall in our energy requirements?

I'm also puzzled by his view that the government is "looking more to communities and individuals to take power into their hands". I don't imagine that they wish to foment a popular uprising - we're far too supine for that. Perhaps they expect us to operate our own generators. It may come to that.

Mar 3, 2011 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Brownedoff:

I'm not in Italy but here, in Sweden, we have "smart meters". Their only function (implemented), as far as I know, is to send consumption data to the electricity board (via GSM, I think). I don't think that the consumption data are real time as I have checked mine via Fortum's website and it only seems to update about once a month.
As fitted, mine can't turn appliances off or on as it just sits on the incoming three phase supply to the house. Maybe they can completely turn off my supply but they can already do that (for the village as a whole) via the substation.
The cost of implementing a practical system to control single appliances or types of appliances would be unimaginable. Every house would have to be completely rewired from top to bottom. Even if they went for the easier option of controlling the individual fused "rings", how would they know what whether it was a computer or a TV that was plugged in?
The only difference to me since having a smart meter fitted is that I don't get (over) estimated bills anymore.
I personally don't think smart meters are a worry - just general dearth of electricity supply. Luckily in this country 90% of our power comes from hydro and nuclear - and, even though wind turbines blot the landscape, their contribution is negligible. Of course, Sweden is fully signed up to the global warming hoax but, amusingly, I notice that we use twice as much electricity per person than the EU average.

Mar 3, 2011 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterBuffy Minton

I have 4 questions queued up for Prof Mackay. Let's see if he responds.

Mar 3, 2011 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterFred Bloggs

Time for an opt out

Let those who want green electricity, pay for its full cost, and accept power cuts. They can sit in cold, dark houses, eating raw vegetables, whilst knitting free range, tofu ponchos, with a feeling of absolute selfrighteousness.

Meanwhile, those of us who live in the real world, can get on with living, real lives.

The inevitability of regular power cuts may be sufficient to shake some sense into the gullible

Mar 3, 2011 at 9:53 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Time for an opt out

Let those who want green electricity, pay for its full cost, and accept power cuts. They can sit in cold, dark houses, eating raw vegetables, whilst knitting free range, tofu ponchos, with a feeling of absolute selfrighteousness.

Meanwhile, those of us who live in the real world, can get on with living, real lives.

The inevitability of regular power cuts may be sufficient to shake some sense into the gullible

Mar 3, 2011 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Re: Buffy Minton

This would not require extensive rewiring of homes. Your mains supply can already be used for network communication (search for homeplug) so there is no need to rewire.
By definition smart meters have two way communication with the distributer so all that is needed is for the smart meter to be able to introduce a signal into your mains supply and for any appliance that understands that signal to obey it. It would be relatively cheap for all new appliances to have this built into them so they could switch off when told. Once new appliances have this built in it would only take about 10 years for the majority of home appliances to be controllable.
It would have to be done at the appliance level and not the mains socket level as there might some issues if they started witching off,for example, home dialysis units.

Mar 3, 2011 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Phillip Bratby wrote:

Big brother will be watching your electricity consumption and disable your appliances when the wind drops. That's just what you need in the middle of cooking. It also means that big brother can find out who are big electricity consumers and limit their use of electricity.

I think Phillip is being alarmist. In a communist or fascist society there would be grounds for such fears but we live in a democracy and, what is more, we have a new Equaltity Act so any rationing would have to be carried out in a perfectly fair manner and instead of abusing its power and forcing people to behave in a particular way the British government would simply encourage them to do so using the fashionable "nudge theory."

It should be a simple task to design an algorithm for rationing electricity taking into account the following factors:

The energy efficiency of all your domestic appliances, the number and type of light bulbs you have, the depth of the insulation in your loft, whether or not you have cavity wall insulation, the number of windows and whether or not they are double-glazed, the type of car you drive, how you get to work (car, public transport, bicycle, walk), what time you get up in the morning and go to bed at night (people should be encouraged to do everything during hours of daylight to reduce their energy usage), the amount of rubbish you recycle, the date at which you last used an incandescant light bulb, the rateable value of your house, the location of your house, your age, gender, sexuality, ethnic background, religion, marital or civil partnership status, whether or not you are disabled or consider yourself to be disabled, educational background, parents' educational background, and your views on everything from climate change to homosexuality.

What could possibly be fairer than that?

Mar 3, 2011 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

"...A third world dictatorship just about sums up where we are heading..." - Dr. Bratby

Well, I hope we don't leave it thirty or forty years, as in the middle east, before doing something about it...

Mar 3, 2011 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterNatsman

Smart Meters and a smart grid will not reduce electricity consumption. Only a police state or technological improvements, that will continue despite governments rather than because of them, will do that. In the margin, smart appliances, such as freezers that delay start up when frequency drops, will help prevent overloads tripping at critical times but, if your kettle or washing machine won't switch on when you want it, you will not be best pleased.

What smart people in a free society might start to do is to figure out how to stay powered. Cheap petrol engine generators converted to run on bottled gas, free from the vehicle fuel escalator, might get popular as well loads of cheap lead acid batteries and inverters. It will be another bonanza for the Chinese, that will waste money, be unfriendly to the environment and not reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Only a dash for nuclear will do that and probably at less cost and be better for the environment.

If in the most democratic country in the world, if we let this nonsense happen we will deserve it.

Mar 3, 2011 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

and there was I thinking Nigeria was a basket case when it comes to power generation! I no longer live or even visit the UK but as David Holland just said, "if we let this nonsense happen we will deserve it".

Incredible that the CEO of the grid would even DARE to make a statement like that! Off with his head!

Mar 3, 2011 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Roy said:


"I think Phillip is being alarmist. In a communist or fascist society there would be grounds for such fears but we live in a democracy and, what is more, we have a new Equaltity Act so any rationing would have to be carried out in a perfectly fair manner and instead of abusing its power and forcing people to behave in a particular way the British government would simply encourage them to do so using the fashionable "nudge theory."

Sorry, Roy, did you leave /sarc off the end of your piece? If not, instead of saying Philip is 'alarmist' I think it possible that you are being naive (sorry).

For the last 13 years under Labour - especially so under Blair - and now, unfortunately, under Cameron, we have been living in a fascist state. In fact, we are a fascist state within a Fascist super state: EU, where your government determines what is best for you, even down to having 'Five a Day Czars'(!!) to make sure we are indoctrinated.

This is the trick of the fascist state: introduce the simple and easy doctrines; allow people to ridicule them and call them 'PC', it doesn't matter, because the trivialisation of such controls will fool people into thinking that the smart meters that will come are equally trivial and will not affect us too much.

And yes, smart meters will only need to send a signal into the house mains (acting like a computer bus) to switch 'smart' appliances (which are not too far away from being shipped).

BTW....I make no distinction between left wing/communist/right wing fascism. They are essentially two cheeks on the same arse - which likes to dump on people.

Mar 3, 2011 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

BTW....a little thought experiment to see how smart-meter-controlled appliances will be taken up:

40 years ago, I worked on the very first Point of Sale Terminals (POSTS) that were installed in high street department stores. he plan was that a common, world-wide barcode system be introduced so that every product you can find on the shelf would be recognised by the POST controlling computers.

How long did that take to happen in reality? 10, 20 years? I reckon that if smart meter-controlled appliances haven't already been designed against a European or World standard (take your pick of the many), they won't be too far away.

Mar 3, 2011 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

Without doubt, if we consume less energy we are going to be poorer.

People need to understand this. Energy consumption correlates with prosperity. The following chart of GDP per capita against energy consumption per capita shows this very well:
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ZMvBuP9rJwc/TFr0C8PRxQI/AAAAAAAAAS0/FHkUgl_ctJs/s1600/prosperity.jpg

Politicians might hope that they can make everyone richer while reducing energy consumption but the facts stand in their way.

Mar 3, 2011 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

The link above is:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ZMvBuP9rJwc/TFr0C8PRxQI/
AAAAAAAAAS0/FHkUgl_ctJs/s1600/prosperity.jpg

It uses data from the CIA factbook

Mar 3, 2011 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

TerryS:

OK, I'll get my coat! I realise what "homeplug" can do (I use it for streaming internet TV from our gateway to the telly) but I didn't think of that "solution" as being viable as most of the stuff in my house is considerably older than 10 years old (my cooker is 48 this year!).
But yes, you are right and I now fully agree with Phillip's sentiments above. It is worrying.

Mar 3, 2011 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterBuffy Minton

Landis and Gyr, makers of my smart meter, are certainly all geared up for the brown future.

http://landisgyr.eu/en/pub/products_and_solutions.cfm?eventProducts=products.CategoryProducts&catID=12

Scary

Mar 3, 2011 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterBuffy Minton

Most comments here do not give Mr. Holliday due justice. His vision is spot on. Despite the short fall in performance, wind farming is the future! We have just been harnessing the wrong resource and understandably plagued with poor results.
Warm winter is the result of CO2 warming.
Cold winter is the result of CO2 warming.
This is conclusive proof of the presence of anthropogenic hot air.
We have not begun to explore this resource because deniers although aware of it refuse to accept it much less make use of it, while CAGW believers although having made it in unprecedented quantity deny making it. Nevertheless this relentless and inexhaustible supply if properly exploited through the use of micro wind farm within our home or office can potentially generate sufficient energy to cater for all our future needs.
The technology is already present, all we need is a fan fitted to a DC motor connected to a battery storage system and a large mouth.
I am thinking of make this into mobile units so that all CAGW believers can wear them 24-7. The down side of such system is that it got in the way of normal speech and deprived deniers the chance to listen to the believers’ teaching, but the up side is that real green/productive energy would be produced for a change.
I am looking for investment partners in developing this system. My plan is to obtain government subsidy within 6 months (this could be huge) and possibly go IPO within 2 years.

Mar 3, 2011 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

Smart meters - those here who seem to be quite comfortable with these abominations clearly have not yet got it.

Now, bearing in mind that, quite recently there were reports that there were manderins in Whitehall who thought it would be a good idea if employers, at the end of the week/month, just forwarded the employee's GROSS wage/salary straight into the Treasury coffers.

In due course the Treasury computers would work out a sum of money that the manderins thought the employee deserved, and then transfer that sum into the employee's bank account.

The same sort of people (nay, possibly even those very same manderins), are already at work in preparation for the rollout of smart meters in the UK (2015?).

What could possibly go wrong?

I urge all to read this document:

http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/Papers/meters-offswitch.pdf

Please, do not read it just before you go to bed otherwise, you will be up all night tearing your hair out and running to the toilet.

I see from above that Sweden has just rolled the smart meters out and not bothered with all the bells and whistles that I am sure are already giving the assholes in Whitehall multiple "night discharges".

Mar 3, 2011 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

I think "Hide the Decline" will soon acquire another meaning. Our government wants to hide the decline in living standards that will follow from all this.

The problem is that by hiding their plans for intermittent electricity, no thought is being given as to what happens if electricity is unreliable. OK, some essential services could be run on generators, but there will be so many mind boggling consequences. Think for a moment about

Hospitals

Sewage management

Food storage and distribution.

The ever more computerised society in which we live.

At least third world countries haven't ever become dependent on decent electricity. We have, and I'd say we will see something close to complete collapse if this really happens.

How do we start a protest against it before it is too late?

Mar 3, 2011 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Bailey

Smart Meters were discussed here a while back and I am 99% sure that the ones Siemens have designed for the UK market are specified to permit remote disconnection. The electricity companies may only have intended this capability be used for non bill-paying customers, but it gives them another option in blackout and brownout situations. The industry's procedures for rolling blackouts are published online somewhere - if I can remember which laptop I saved the document on I will post the link.

Phillip and Bish - thanks for getting the DT article scanned and online.

Mar 3, 2011 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

Can't we just go to half-lighting first?

And another thing. I have heard that when it comes to fluorescent lighting in buildings, etc, it is cheaper to leave them on. I have heard they use the most power when they are first turned on. In essence, it is cheaper to leave them on than it is to turn them off.

Anyone else ever heard this?

Mar 3, 2011 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

If it is true that fluorescent lighting uses it's most power at initial startup, you have to wonder how many other things consume the most power at start up? Has the government done a study of this? We may find that we use less power by letter things stay on idling, verses stopping/starting.

Mar 3, 2011 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

I'm beginning to think that my recent purchase of a 3.2kW generator was not quite as stupid as my family thought...

Mar 3, 2011 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

In North Korea they turn the lights off at night. Maybe there's a solution for the vibrant green economy.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/dprk/dprk-dark.htm

Mar 3, 2011 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Mr Holliday (perhaps he should go on a permanent one) says: 'As a society, we all need to be clear about what we can and cannot afford'...
Right - lets start with wind turbines, then. We cannot afford them - because they produce next to nothing in terms of useable electricity, and are subsidised to the hilt - money which one way or another comes from us as 'society'...
It will be interesting to get the DECC's view as to whether it is now government policy not to be concerned about electricity supply security. Bearing in mind their warm, cuddly view of wind farms and other so-called 'renewables', I fear that it may well be..!
I intent to write, as soon as I've fimnished this post...

Mar 3, 2011 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

I am really, really sad that my UK cousins have lost the gumption and drive that created an empire and now tolerate a police state with a rapidly falling standard of living. I arrived from New Zealand almost a decade ago to spend the last few years of my career teaching Technology and Design in Comprehensive schools. To my horror, since I have been here this very important subject has been emasculated to the point where most schools have sold off their workshop equipment and reduced the practical element of the subject, which both boys and girls need as a part of their normal development, to amost nothing. I found my English colleagues to be utterly hamstrung by the bad behaviour of a few students and a school environment that is PC to the nth degree. State school teachers here are bullied by OFSTED, local authorities, alarmingly ill-educated politicians and civil servants to a degree not tolerated anywhere else in the English-speaking world, and all to achieve utter mediocrity at best. One of my first impressions of schools here was the amount of fear my new colleagues expressed of almost anyone in authority. English State school pupils and students are led to believe that they are being educated, which is generally a terrible fraud as the international comparisons clearly show; The UK is many places below all other English-speaking nations by all measures, only bettering the USA which has become almost a lost cause in the area of state education; I was informed forty years ago, by an American colleague, that fully a thrid of high school graduates in the USA could not read their own diplomas. The UK's political classes have so firmly grasped utter fatuity in almost every aspect of the nation's life that the mad energy Green 'policies' are set to kill off the poor and the old during winter. I am going home soon; I know very well that NZ is far from perfect, but it is not a totalitarian state, which the UK has become. The fact that it is becoming a third-world totalitarian state is truly frightening. When I think of the numbers of my extended family from here and from home who served and those who gave their lives in both World Wars to defend the 'Mother Country', I feel that their sacrifices have been frittered away.
To end my rant, I feel the splendid 'Blitz' mentality actually works against my cousins here who will cherefully put up with the almost anything the ruling elites hand out.

Mar 3, 2011 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Mr Holliday (perhaps he should go on a permanent one) says: 'As a society, we all need to be clear about what we can and cannot afford'...
Right - lets start with wind turbines, then. We cannot afford them - because they produce next to nothing in terms of useable electricity, and are subsidised to the hilt - money which one way or another comes from us as 'society'...
It will be interesting to get the DECC's view as to whether it is now government policy not to be concerned about electricity supply security. Bearing in mind their warm, cuddly view of wind farms and other so-called 'renewables', I fear that it may well be..!
I intent to write, as soon as I've fimnished this post...

Mar 3, 2011 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Well you can play at it yourself and the finding is you need a lot more nuclear to fill the gap than currently planned (or keep the coal ones open but that answer is verboten !!!)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2011/mar/03/power-uk-decc-carbon-calculator

Mar 3, 2011 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterbreath of fresh air

Please don't forget that a smart grid and smart meters will help ensure we do not exceed our allotted quota of energy. From http://www.clickgreen.org.uk/news/national-news/121801-uk-urged-to-ration-energy-to-hit-carbon-reduction-targets.html:

An influential group of MPs has recommended the introduction of a system of energy rationing to ensure the UK remains on course to achieve its carbon reduction targets.

The cross-party committee suggests the nation's adult population would each be granted an equal free quota of energy units, which would be traded in every time gas and electricity was purchased and even when filling the car with petrol.

Read it all. The Green Party is all for it.

Mar 3, 2011 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

@ Kevin I have heard they use the most power when they are first turned on. In essence, it is cheaper to leave them on than it is to turn them off.

Anyone else ever heard this?

I have heard it but I don't believe it - the energy used in starting a fluorescent can't be more than is used in for running it for a very short time. It's more to do with the life of the tube itself being reduced if it is switched very frequently, so that there comes a point where the energy saved costs less than the cost of having to replace the tube earlier.

Mar 3, 2011 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

This document would seem to be pertinent to the discussion:

http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Sustainability/Documents1/DSR%20150710.pdf

Here's a random gem:

2.36. The estimated total cost of the smart meter roll out will range between £8.19 billion and £9.86 billion36 in the domestic sector and between £558 million and £580 million37 in the SME sector. These costs will occur anyway regardless of a customer participating in DSR as the smart meter roll out programme has been mandated.

Mar 3, 2011 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterwoodentop

I'm a little confused now. At what price is windpower, provided by electric providers, available to homeowners? I was under the impression that it was more expensive than traditional sources?

If people are only going to be using electricity when it is cheapest, when is that going to be? When the wind is or isn't blowing?

Mar 3, 2011 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveJR

There is one thing the everyone seems to have forgotten about with smart meters and that is hacking.
How long do you think it will be until some black hat manages to hack the system and indiscriminately switch of peoples electricity remotely?
If multi billion dollar companies like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all fail to secure their games consoles from from being hacked how well would you expect a Smart Meter manufacturer to perform?

Mar 3, 2011 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Mar 3, 2011 at 1:48 PM | TerryS

"How long do you think it will be until some black hat manages to hack the system and indiscriminately switch of peoples electricity remotely?"

Have a look at this -

http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/Papers/meters-offswitch.pdf

Its worse than you think.

Mar 3, 2011 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

Brownedoff

Thanks for the link. This is an interesting document. I will not have time to read it until tonight (if lucky) so no further comment now.

Anyone wondering, the Computer Laboratory at Cambridge University is very much 'for real':

http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/intro/

This document is from an eminently credible source.

Mar 3, 2011 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

If I recall correctly, the smart meters will phone home via one of the mobile networks. Readers of BH will want to situate one of these close to their meter.

Mar 3, 2011 at 2:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJane Coles

How about a "No To Smart Meters" campaign, like to "No to ID cards" one? What else can we do?

Mar 3, 2011 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Apart from its specifics, one of the things that frightens me most about this conversation about smart meters is that we are among the very few people in the UK having it.

How many of us here have friends who 'know' about smart meters? The public at large hasn't the faintest idea what is being planned for it:

- energy rationing by remote control

- probable unreliability of supply

- runaway increases in annual bills

Welcome to the twenty-first century. Bet you didn't think it was going to be like this when you were children?

All in the name of CO2 reduction which reliance on wind will not come close to achieving. And even if we did achieve it, the effect on global emissions totals would be invisible. In other words, it's all utterly, utterly pointless.

Just posturing politicians and greens so stupid that they are literally a menace to the rest of us.

Mar 3, 2011 at 3:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Bishop Hill

I have never had such bad problems - every other comment (either rattled off or composed offline; NOT a timeout issue) gets 'connection reset' error. Just did a cold reset and it happened again on the first comment attempt.

You REALLY NEED to sort this out or you will lose readers. Starting with me. I have had enough of this crap.

Mar 3, 2011 at 3:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Buffy Minton
Landis and Gyr, makers of my smart meter, are certainly all geared up for the brown future.

Living as I do in the Peoples' Socialist Republic of California, I too am the proud user of the L&G smart meter system. I was not asked to join the grid, it just appeared one day. And as a former employee of L&G, computer nerd, networking guru, and retired, I did look into the system. It uses a wireless link back to a telephone pole where the networking is relayed over the power lines to the power company. The protocol is based on TCP/UDP/IP. I have not chased it down further. but it is based on the same protocols used in Siemens Process Control units. L&G is now owned by Siemens, I believe. Please see below for the REALLY SCARY PART.

First of all, it has a 200 amp disconnect relay. It will turn off all the power to the house. It is remotely controlled so no need to send a person out. So, if I don't pay my bill, I will instantly freeze in the dark (in winter) or broil in the dark (in summer)

Second it communicates back giving the consumption every hour, 24 hours a day. I can go on line and look at the pretty graph for my very own personal account. So, no, there is no need to enforce load shedding on me. No need to force me to by a smart cooker or light bulb that will listen intently for a signal to shut down. They can simply increase the rate they charge for using power during peak periods to whatever they want.

The REALLY SCARY PART:

You may have heard of the Stuxnet Virus which "unknown" people injected into the Iranian nuclear recycling/enrichment plants and caused the Siemens industrial controllers to go mad and destroy equipment. These controllers are very similar to the Smart Meter on my house. There is absolutely nothing to prevent "unknown" persons, perhaps some who speak Chinese or Arabic, from taking the Stuxnet virus and injecting it into the smart grid.

Mar 3, 2011 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

In Italy they are installing new meters that (I think) are sending back consumption data - so you don't have to manually read them. Possibly they are differentiating rates depending on the time of the day - not sure.

No 100% coverage (mine is still the old type) and for sure they don't do anything fancy like turning appliances on/off.

Mar 3, 2011 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterMiMo

BBD / BH - I too have not been able to post since 10am this morning - tried on 3 different machines, one shutdown and restarted, soft and hard re-boot of router, but no joy. Firefox3.6, WinXP and Win 7 64bit. But this is the first time I have had this problem and it is minor compared to a blackout!

Mar 3, 2011 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

Success - now I can post what I wrote about 4 hours ago -

Sorry - have had posting problems for few hours - so this isn't as current as it could be:

@ David Bailey - yes, if the grid goes down due to a major fault which then cascades it is a major problem. But they have procedures in place for rolling blackouts - and the power will never be cut to essential users - hospitals, food producers+distributors, refineries etc.. Companies / industries not in the direct food supply chain can apply to be exempt from outages if they can show that damage to machinery etc. would result from an interruption of supply. Householders and service industries are to be left in dark however, until the wind picks up at least. The problem with planned rolling backouts is that the looters know where to go next...

@ Kevin - no. Fluorescent lights need a high voltage (usually by capacitor) to get them going but it is only for an instant. Electric motors have a high draw on power up so it can be best to avoid rapidly switching them on and off.

Alexander - thanks for your perspective, and sorry to hear of your truly grim experience in England. I don't (and hope) that things are not as bad as that here in Scotland - maybe you should do some supply teaching here before you head back to NZ?

Phillip & Bishop Hill - thanks for scanning and putting the Telegraph piece online.

Mar 3, 2011 at 4:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

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