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« Crisis over? | Main | David MacKay live »

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)

Terry S, 10:08am

I am sure that when I glanced through the Cisco annual report, one of their stated business objectives was to have a "Cisco smart switch" fitted to all domestic appliances.

Mar 3, 2011 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterdavid ashton

Huhne uses high oil price to justify spending on renewables, considering the amount of coal we have !!!!

Mar 3, 2011 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterbreath of fresh air

Is there a link to the full article? I can't seem to find it anywhere. It's quite an admission - something deniers have known all along, of course. But it's fascinating to watch the spin machine in action as the overlords try to convert a huge disadvantage into a virtue. "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength."

Mar 3, 2011 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterNavy Bob

Their control in your own home... at will.

Mar 3, 2011 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterTomRude

“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.”

On what planet is not having power when we need it ‘smarter’?

Either Doc Holliday has swallowed DECC’s imprimatur about wind generation and is running with it, or he’s spectacularly optimistic about consumers, let alone industrialists. I hope he doesn’t meet any aluminium smelters or data centre managers in a dark alley.

Mar 3, 2011 at 5:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

How do the UK authorities think they're going to reconcile the British public to unreliable or intermittent mains electricity when everyone will be able to see life continuing as normal across the Channel in nuclear-powered France?

Mar 3, 2011 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered Commenteranonym

BBD - I’m sure the problem is not of the Bishop’s making.

I, too, have been having posting difficulties today, and it’s very annoying if you compose directly on the website.

However, if you have a text editor (Word will do, but is a bit OTT - I use a free program called RoughDraft) then use that to compose the piece and cut and paste the result when you’ve finished, you won’t lose it and you can reply to several posts at once if necessary.

Mar 3, 2011 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Martin A & lapogus,


Mar 3, 2011 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

It's also covered here
and you can read a bit of Holliday's speech to the RAE at

Mar 3, 2011 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Ontario is installing smart meters for all homes. There primary purpose is to allow time of use charging for consumption. Electricity will cost approximately twice as much during the day as during the night. Theoretically, they could use spot pricing which can go higher than $5 per kwh for brief periods! The bill of goods we were sold was that this would allow consumers to save money by more judicious use of electricity. The roll out cost is a line item on our electricity bills which have been rising at 9% annually for the past few years. During the pilot stage, the most conscientious users were saving about $50 a year.

Mar 3, 2011 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterWayne

Mar 3, 2011 at 5:53 PM | Phillip Bratby

From that Grauniad article:-

"Holliday will predict that the UK will need to increase its installed capacity of electricity generation from 75GW today to 100GW by 2030, in order to meet the rapidly rising demand for electricity that will result from the move to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport and heating - switching vehicles from petrol to electric, and to use electricity for heating rather than gas."

This man obviously does not read documents published by his own organisation. He talks today of a capacity of 100GW needed by 2030, whereas in June 2008, National Grid issued a document (Going Green - see below) calling for a capacity of 99GW by 2020/21.


If these idiots in Westminster persist in going for 30GW connected wind (you know, 10,000 windmills @ 3MW each) by 2020, then National Grid will need at least 99GW of capacity by 2020, otherwise they cannot allow those windmills to be connected to the grid, because they will not have enough spinning reserve capacity to cope with the intermittency problem.

Mar 3, 2011 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

James P - I usually use Notepad but found that it made no difference when I was experiencing the 'connection has been reset error' for most of today. As Simon Hopkinson points out on page two of the Crisis Over thread, it is more likely a conflict between errant Firefox cookies and the Squarespace code. Simon recommends using Chrome when there is a problem, but make sure you don't use the preview option before posting.

The problem has resolved itself now, at least on this machine, so all we have to do now is work out how to get through to the idiots in Westminster and Holyrood that "greening the grid" as Phil Hammond said will only produce very expensive and intermittent electricity - and that rolling blackouts are not necessarily a good idea in a developed country.

Mar 3, 2011 at 6:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

James P

As per lapogus above. The issue is (as I noted in an earlier comment) definitely not being caused by timeouts or use of the preview post function.

I'm also able to post now.

Mar 3, 2011 at 6:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

As Chris Huhne has stated "I have no intention of the lights going out on my watch," perhaps he should find out why Holliday, and therefore the National Grid, thinks they will.

Mar 3, 2011 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Frightening that someone in such a position should be spouting this garbage. Energy policy by Greenpeace.

Mar 3, 2011 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered Commenter3x2

Various Frustrated Posters

I find that the problem with time outs clears about a half hour after it hits me. What I do is type in the post box and if I get hung up, I use Notepad, select all in the box and save it to a txt file. Then I go away for some time, turning my computer off. When I return, I copy out the txt file, paste it back into the box and try to submit.

I am sure it is a problem at the ISP the Bishop uses. The fix would be another ISP, and that would be very expensive and painful. L

Mar 3, 2011 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

David Bailey (12.11pm) says:

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

Absolutely my thoughts on reading the article in the Telegraph yesterday.

The man (Mr Holliday) is responsible for providing us with power when we need it. Who the h--- does he think he is to tell us that we will have power when he, "they", decide that they will let us. His job is to ensure that we do receive power when we decide that we need it. As long as all the major political parties continue to follow policies headed in this direction, they will not get my vote. Problem is, who can you vote for to get the message across?

I've always been a straightforward centrist sort of guy, but, because of these parties (lack of) energy policies to protect our power supplies, none of them got my vote at the last general election - and I've always made a point of voting at all elections previously. I'm not lazy though. I did go to the polling station to not register my vote.

So similarly to what David Bailey said, how and where can one effectively protest against the current approach to energy supply?

Mar 3, 2011 at 8:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeT

SSAT - well remembered and good point (Huhne saying hw won't let the lights go out on his watch). Lets not forget what Phil Hammond stated on the BBC earlier this week - that electric cars will be better than petrol/diesel after the "greening of the grid", and that "onshore wind turbines no longer require subsidies, as they can pay for themselves" (while the cost of ROC subsidies to mainly on-shore wind turbines was over £1bn last year). The civil servants in the DECC are so clueless thay are beyond help, the governments' scientific advisors north and south of the border are clueless about the basics of atmospheric physics, the H2O cycle, and electrical energy generation and distribution. The Royal Society's report on climate change seems to have been put together by geographers and sociologists who wouldn't recognise a negative feedback if it hit them in the face, or that the total produced by 5GW of UK wind farms was less then 200MW on 3 separate days last December when grid demand was 60GW. The Met Office is run by dishonest marketing consultants who lie about the forecasts they do or do not make depending on how the jet stream behaves (which their super models evidently can't predict/project or even guess). Our politicians are scientifically illiterate and more interested in their expenses than combating fuel poverty and hypothermia, and the BBC is staffed by some of the most gullible and inept journalists on the planet. I'm too old now to move to New Zealand so I suppose I had better buy a decent generator, plant some tatties, and hope for the best. Time for a dram.

Mar 3, 2011 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

Problem Posters

I'm using Firefox 3.6 and never had any problems with resets or timeouts. If the words Ethereal or Wireshark don't scare people, and someone's consistently having problems, would be happy to help get a log file captured and analysed. Or just explain how to do the capture because the folks at Squarespace might want to see that.

And back to smart meters, be afraid, especially as the Stuxnet code is in the wild. Zero day attacks require skill, modifying existing exploits require much less. Mores the pity. Much expense passed on to the consumer for no real benefit, and greatly increased risk of disruption. Naturally your supplier will accept no liability for any loss or damage caused by smart meters. It should be caveat emptor, but the UK's made it law that they'll be fitted.

Mar 3, 2011 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

No need to worry it looks like Norway has found a nice new "little" energy source. Read the numbers carefully.

Mar 3, 2011 at 8:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss

Surely the notion of smart metering goes against the recent European Court of Justice anti-discrimination ruling - smart meters discrimate against people who have no money !

But seriously, the idea of adding an extra layer of complexity to the grid seems absolutely bonkers. Power systems are relatively stable, with all the machines synced together by powerful electromechanical forces. There are loads of relatively stupid relays which can detect and clear faults easily and quickly. If you now add millions of "smart" communications devices on top of that, possibly driven by buggy software - well it's a recipe for disaster.

Mar 3, 2011 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan


Illegitimi nil carborundum.

Mar 3, 2011 at 9:47 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Snotrocket wrote:

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.

I thought it would be obvious that I was being sarcastic and satirical. Unfortunately the way society (in Britain at least) is going reality soon catches up with satire. George Orwell was a bit premature in giving his famous novel the title 1984 but if he were alive today he would see that many of his predictions have been fulfilled.

It often amazes me what we put up with from the authorities. I doubt if previous generations would have stood for many of the things that central and local government, the judiciary, the educational system, police, and the quangocracy inflict on us. The Roman emperors kept the public docile with a policy of providing them with "bread and circuses." We have modern equivalents.

If I remember rightly the ending of the novel 1984 (it is over 40 years since I read it) the last sentence describes how Winston Smith has capitulated to the system and says:

"He loved Big Brother."

I don't think we are quite there yet but even if most people do not love Big Brother the people who think that they are the only ones whose opinions matter, i.e. the Guardianistas, certainly do.

Mar 3, 2011 at 10:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

not sure what bbd's problem problems sending comments...have you tried running an anti-malware routine?

Mar 3, 2011 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Atomic Hairdryer

I have previously reported my run-ins with the time-out problem. Clearly a queueing issue with a server somewhere. My best guess is that given that Square Peg in a Round Hole now requires the user to type in the correct sequence of letters shown during the confirmation anti-spam sequence that their queue is hanging up with an insufficient number of threads waiting on the various users to type the sequence they are presented with. Bad design. Pure and simple. Simple answer, much more clever code. That costs money. Or, many more servers. I know you know a good deal about this stuff from previous posts, but it is clearly a bad software design tied to their use of the confirmation code. Everytime I got stuck guess where the time out occurred? This is also a problem I dealt with in the 1970's on PDP-11's running RSX-11M and on just about every system since. One does not wait on replies, one queues it on a buffer of sufficient size and add a time out on each request so that you clear the buffer of dead responses. Not rocket science. Not modern computer science. It is the reason interrupts were invented 50 years ago.

Of late, I have been seen less of this, but it still occurs

As for Stuxnet you are right. We are doomed. I have a pair of copper bars in my garage so when my smart meter goes dumb, I can remove it and jumper the feed to my house so the juice flows. Illegal, but at the price of gasoline for my generator, I could give a shit. This is NOT a recommended procedure for 99.99% of you who have no idea what I am talking about. It could kill you. The Mains in the US is the same as in Europe - 240 VAC -and that will put a permanent wrinkle in your hair if you do it wrong.

Mar 3, 2011 at 11:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

If only it was that easy. Smart meters that is. This is similar to the great sell of Bill Gates when he told you how the personal computer and Microsoft will control all in your house. Just call on your cell phone and your diner will be ready when you get home. Or when the Economist newspaper wrote how you will just walk into this measuring thingy, where you will be scanned and in a few days your suit will arrive from Hong Kong.

Reading your electric meter remotely is not so difficult, as is monitoring things in general. Controlling things remotely is not easy however. And we are talking about a lot of points, millions in Britain and tens of millions in America.

I am not aware of any distributed or centralized control system on the planet conceived designed or planed that could do this.

This is not what you should worry about. What you can afford to pay for is what should worry you. As the cost of generating electricity goes up but Britain gets poorer and poorer there will come a time soon when something will have to give. TV, Internet, cell phone, car, food, house and others, you will not afford them all.

Mar 3, 2011 at 11:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Steiner

Last time I had commenting issues, I tried commenting on Chrome (Safari), Firefox and IE. Had issues on all three. I think the problem is squarespace.

Mar 4, 2011 at 12:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

I think it's still possible - though risky - to jump an electricity meter.
The planned power cuts will be windows of opportunity to do it at less personal risk (of electrocution).

Mar 4, 2011 at 1:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank S

Holy cow, you guys are up sh*t creek. Enjoy the dark ages, when it comes perhaps you can burn a few greenpeace nutters at the stake to keep warm.

Mar 4, 2011 at 4:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhysics Grad

SSAT - indeed, I am not going the let them grind me down but I do worry for my kids' future. The education system if not wrecked seems to be seriously compromised, the universities appear to eschew critical thinking, and the only jobs available for my kids in 10 years will be crane drivers who will be on overtime replacing broken windmills.

I found the link to the industry's protocols and procedures for rolling blackouts:

Electricity Supply Emergency Code - see and

I haven't checked the links recently but they worked a few months ago. (h/t to someone on here).

Mar 4, 2011 at 8:10 AM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

As for the inevitable increased cost of electricity, at 5.30pm on December 6th 2010 when GB peak demand reached 59.9GW and output from all GB metered wind was only 193MW, the Maximum System Buy Price (SBP) was £423/MWh.
(Source - live data from

I did not note the Maximum SBP the next day when demand also hit 60GW and wind output was only 123MW. Likewise December 20th 2011 when demand peaked at 59.9GW and wind output was similarly insignificant.

Mar 4, 2011 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

I'm pretty sure that there's a nice cash business to be had jiggering "smart" appliances so they don't respond to commands. Ultimately they are going to have a switch of some kind on the active line.

Mar 4, 2011 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Borgelt

Why is this guy still in a job?

He's just told everybody that he's not capable of doing what he's paid to do.

Mar 4, 2011 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterDougS

I spend long periods in Italy, and pay an italian electricity bill. Certainly all the meters round my way are smart meters, but called "electronic meters". Reading the user manual, one wonders how life was possible without them.

The main selling point seems to be that the usage is transmitted back to the supplier, so the bills are always readings, not estimates. Apparently I can also view my quasi continuous electricity usage on their website, why I would want to do such a thing is however beyond me. Another "consumer advantage" is also their ability to activate or deactivate the supply. Deactivation is only mentioned in terms of exceeding ones contractual maximum usage. Since the standard domestic supply has long been limited to 3kW however, italians are quite used to the supply tripping out if one accidentally switches on the oven, washing machine, and electric fire at the same time.

In the UK most people seem to have been successfully softened up for this, I have had several intelligent, not particularly green, people express their opinion that we are abusing the worlds resources and need to use less electricity. With this view, smart meters that "help you reduce your electricity usage" get happily accepted. Any questioning of this theme is however summarily rejected. The BBC has a lot to answer for.

Mar 4, 2011 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterPJB

If anyone has any doubt about the juggernaut of environmentalism and how it is affecting not only the UK but Europe, the Mediterranean and North African countries then this is a must read. A well resourced piece that the MSM would probably label conspiracy theory, but then again a huge chunk of the MSM are referenced and in all probability you may find even your own employers.

Understanding Desertec and European environmentalism in general, requires an investigation of the business enterprises with a stake in this project and this movement.

'Desertec Industrial Initiative’s (Dii) founding shareholders were: ABB, ABENGOA Solar, Cevital, Deutsche Bank, E.ON, Nordbank, Solar Millennium, Munich RE, M+W, RWE, SCHOTT Solar, and Siemens. By October 2010 the following new shareholders were on board: Enel, Flagsol, NAREVA, Red Eléctrica, Saint-Gobain Solar, and TERNA.'

There is another raft of companies who, while not Dii shareholders, are formally committed to Desertec. These are Desertec’s “associate partners”:
3M, AGC , Audi, BASF, Bearing Point, Commerz Bank, Concentrux Solar, Conergy, Deloitte, Dow, Evonik, FCC, GL, HSBC, IBM, ILF, Intesa San Paulo, Italgen, Kaefer, Lahmeyer International, Mauri Solaire, Max-Plank-Gesellschaft, Morgan Stanley, Nur Energy, OMV, Bosch, Schaeffer Gruppe, SP, SMA Solar, and TUV.

'This is hardly a full directory of the world’s, or even Europe’s, “eco-industrial complex.” Another cluster of exclusively German companies, and German subsidiaries of multinationals, are members of Econsence (a.k.a. German Business Forum for Sustainable Development). Econsense was created, in 2000, by the German Federation of Industries whose President remains Econsense’s spokesman. Econsense’s mission statement commits all members to activism around Climate Change and environmental sustainability. Almost all Econsense publications deal with Climate Change, bio-diversity, bio-fuels, and sustainable development. Econsense members are:

Evonik Industries, Heidelberg Cement, KPMG, Linde AG, Price Waterhouse, RWE, Siemens, Tetra Pak, Thyssen Krupp, TUI, Chemical Industry Association, Vodafone AG, Volkswagen, Allianz, BASF, Bayer, BMW, Robert Bosch, Deloitte, German Railways, Deutsche Bank, Lufthansa, Du Pont (Germany), En BW, E.ON, Ernst and Young, and German Stock Exchange.'

Mar 4, 2011 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

An awful lot of hot air being generated on this one, but not much seems relevant. My six pen'orth:

We are making this more complicated than it is. Basic fact - successive governments (including the present one) have failed to build gernerating capacity for the future, and now its too late. The big red herring that brought about this delay - wind (maybe see my previous posts that wind turbines are not 20% or so efficient but only 10% because about half their output is given when its not needed i.e.nighttime, summertime etc). We need to start now building new coal fired power stations and up-grading the existing ones rather than shutting them down. It won't happen and we'll finish up economically bankrupt. Sad, but I'm a geriatric and I'll manage somehow.

Next, smart meters are not the same as a smart grid. Smart meters are ten a penny, the smart grid hasn't been invented yet (not commercially, any way)

There is a lot of nonsense talked about lights - domestic and municipal. We need nighttime load for our power stations to function properly, so we need the lights on. What is much more important is to shift load from the afternoon peak to the nighttime trough. That's why electric cars are so beneficial (replace diminishing hydrocarbons with off peak power) and why the propaganda should be directed to getting people to use high demand appliances (typically tumbler driers ) after 8 PM.

Could go on, but nobody reads these posts anyway.

Mar 4, 2011 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

It is a bit worrisome that the UK has fewer nuclear plants planned or proposed than the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, as of this month and according to the World Nuclear Association.

Mar 4, 2011 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterGarrry

Mar 4, 2011 at 2:34 PM | Vernon E

".......... propaganda should be directed to getting people to use high demand appliances (typically tumbler driers ) after 8 PM"

FFS, what ever happened to the freedom to choose how to conduct my own business in my own "castle"?

What business is it of some dozy government dipstick to dictate when I do my washing and drying?

I will switch my stuff on when it suits me, not when the Gaudianistas think I should.

Now, Foxtrot Oscar.

Mar 4, 2011 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

As promised in my two (typo-ed) posts above - I did indeed e-mail the DECC, asking if it Mr Holliday's comments were now government policy.
I'll let you know if I get a response.

Mar 4, 2011 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Just checked the NETA page.
Wind is providing 0.5% of demand.
Dear Mr Huhne - can we now stop playing with windmills and get on with building some nuclear power stations, PLEASE..??

Mar 4, 2011 at 5:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Don Pablo

What happened to 110V mains in the US? I'm not arguing, just surprised!

Mar 4, 2011 at 5:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

James P

Don Pablo

What happened to 110V mains in the US? I'm not arguing, just surprised!

The American domestic power system is a three phase 110 volt system. Two of the phases are delivered to the house. These are 240 volt at the meter, and through the wonders of Fourier, look like a single phase 240 system to the electric stove and dryer. The two phases are split at the circuit breaker box and distributed to the various circuits in the house as 110, with the neutral (NOT GROUND) being the common leg between the two input phases. The Neutral goes back to the stepdown transformer on the pole, which is why there are three wires coming into the house. The safety ground is also present, shown as green in the US and goes to a copper bar in the ground outside.

Since the high voltage side of the transformer is also grounded, you will see a slight (2 to 5 ohm) resistance between the neutral and safety ground. That is the impedance of the secondary winding in the transformer on the pole.

Given that the two 110 phases are 120 degrees out of phase with each other, you have to know what you are doing when messing with the wiring. You could short one phase against other.

While I have not spent much time on the wiring in my house in Ireland, I am aware of loop circuits which are connected to two circuit breakers, apparently to increase the load the line will bare. This would be totally illegal and nuts in the US, given the three phases.

Mar 4, 2011 at 6:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Imagine a world without computers, telephones or televisions. Imagine no washing machines, fridges or cookers. We have become so reliant on electricity that it is difficult to picture life without it: it wakes us up in the morning, cooks breakfasts, runs trains, powers factories and offices, and brings entertainment directly to our homes.

From a review of Children of Light: How Electrification Changed Britain Forever, Telegraph March 1, 2011.

Forever not as long as you thought it was

Mar 4, 2011 at 8:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterL Nettles

Don Pablo-
Domestic (residential) electric power distribution in the USA is predoninately single-phase 120/240 volts. 1-phase distribution transformers of (e.g.) 7200-240 volts with the secondary coil center grounded. This allows for 120 volts on each "side" of the center-grounded secondary. The three conductors of the service cable consists of two primaries and a neutral. The neutral is grounded at the transformer and at its service panel busbar. Voltage is 240 volts between the two primaries and 120 volts between each primary and neutral. There is no phase angle difference between the split 120 volts. The service panel allows for household circuits of 120 volts for most loads and 240 volts for larger appliances such as stoves, AC, dryers, etc. Main distribution feeders are three-phase, 4-wire rated (e.g.) 7200/12,470 wye. Power is then fed from one of the three 7400 volts-ground cirduits to residential loads.

Mar 4, 2011 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeinAppalachia

Mar 4, 2011 at 5:31 PM | David

"Dear Mr Huhne - can we now stop playing with windmills and get on with building some nuclear power stations, PLEASE..??"

"PLEASE", even in upper case, will not cut it.

More drastic measures will have to be adopted, but who is there to take the lead?

A Winston Churchill figure is needed to reverse this diaster, but looking at the current crop of PR men, solicitors, teachers, social workers, merchant bankers etc.and other snivelling pygmies in Westminster there is no hope of salvation.

Wishful thinking/on: All those politicians, officials and activists who were involved in (a) the dismantling of the CEGB, (b) the suppression of the construction of nuclear power stations, (c) the demonisation of coal fired power stations, (d) the rabid promotion of wind power, (e) the passing of the Climate Change Act 2009 and (f) other "saving the planet" initiatives, should be rounded up and transported to The Tower of London in tumbrils, hung in chains and flogged daily on live TV. Wishful thinking/off,

Wishful thinking/on: Anybody who comes up with a sound business case for the rapid construction of coal fired and nuclear power stations should be given access to zero cost finance to ensure that the work proceeds at maximum pace. Wishful thinking/off

Mar 4, 2011 at 8:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

Apparently this appears unattributed on p.14 of the Mar. 2 issue. Here's the Guardian's report, without this little detail mentioned:

Mar 4, 2011 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrian H

Don Pablo

Loop (ring) circuits should return to the same breaker. UK used to use a spur system but with the development of the national grid, it was envisioned that houses would be heated by radiant electric heaters in each room: the ring doubled the current capacity of the cable. The ring is still the standard but North Sea gas then windmills have arived since its conception. It's supply to your house you now need to worry about, not distribution within.

Mar 4, 2011 at 9:28 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Found this on the National Grid website Winter Outlook 2010-11
Winter 2010/11 Outlook – Gas
7. The Met Office have now ceased formal publication of their long term winter weather
forecast, however their website continues to provide some long term analyses. For
the period of December through to February the data presented suggests a higher
probability of above average temperatures rather than below average temperatures.

Mar 4, 2011 at 10:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterChrisM


Sorry, but you most likely have two phases in your house if it is in the US, each of 120 or so volts, and each is 120 degrees out of phase with the other.Trust me on that. The two combined give a single phase of 230 or so with a phase shift of 60 degrees. It looks exactly like single phase to appliances. It was all explained by Fourier many years ago. Look up Fourier transforms for the math.

Go outside and look at the mains power to your house. There will be two black cables and one white or silvery colored one twisted together. If there are only two, then you really do live in Appalachia where single phase wiring was done long ago. But if you have 240 v service in your house, you have standard US domestic service, as I suspect you have. The two black ones are the mains power per phase and the silvery one is the neutral shared by them. I spent five years working for Landis & Gyr selling SCADA equipment to US power companies along with the Duncan meter man who sold power meters to the same companies. You might be surprised to learn that the average power meter for a house sold to the utilities for less than $8 in 1990.

Open the panel to your circuit breakers and look at the way there are TWO black wires coming in from the meter and how they connect to the left and right side of the panel. There will be a single white or bare metal wire going back as well. Those are the two phases and neutral.

Those are each 120 V circuits and different phases of each other. Bridge the two and you get 230 V. There are two bridged circuit breakers interconnected on the circuits for your electric range and other 230 circuits which connect to both of those black wires. The ganged circuit breakers connect to both of those black wires, giving the difference between the two of 240 or so volts.

That number is approximate as I have observed my "Smart" meter measure it as anything from 220 to 260 volts, depending on the load on the system. The "Smart" meter measures it and reports it back to the central office, I am sure, so they can more accurately calculate the power I actually used.

All of the 110 volt circuits are connected to one or the other of the two black wires, but not both. The electrician tried to balance out the load when wiring the house. Should he have not done a good job, the imbalance goes back out the neutral to the transformer where it is lost and I am told that the meter will measure that imbalance as though it was actual load and you pay for it. Bet you didn't know that. :)

It might be worth getting your electrical system evaluated, having the load per phase checked to see if they are about the same. If there is a difference, you are paying for it anyhow. That is the way the meters work -- they measure the heaviest phase load and multiply by two, assuming it is balanced. That was true of analog meters, I don't know about digital meters such as the smart meter. But I suspect they still do the same as it is best for the company.


Loop (ring) circuits should return to the same breaker.

You would think so, so that you could cut one breaker for a circuit, but it is common, I am told, to have it on two breakers, as I have in my house. A pain is the ass, but very common in Ireland and UK, I am told. Something to do with the price of breakers. Apparently the higher amperage units cost much more than two of the lower amperage that can be used. So I am careful to test the circuits when working on them to be off with a meter. I do have two breakers on the same circuit. Perhaps it was the Leprechauns who wired the house, but there you have it.

You can NOT wire a house legally anywhere in the US with this loop common in the UK and Ireland. It must be a branch and not a loop. If you want a high amperage circuit in the US, you buy the heavier gauge wire. You use 12Ga for 120V/20 Amp and 14 Ga for 120V/15 Amp. There are other requirements for other voltages and loads, but those are 99% of US house wiring. I leave the 220-240v Circuits to the professionals.

Mar 5, 2011 at 12:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra


The three conductors of the service cable consists of two primaries and a neutral.

If you go out to your street and look a that power lines and you will see either two wires (as I have) or three wires. If there are two, you are getting two of the three possible phases from the US transmission and distribution system. You can NOT get three phase power to your house at any reasonable cost as there are only two phases on the poles.. If you see three, then it is possible to wire your house for three phases although the power company may refuse to install the proper step down transformer. As you point out the primary side of the transformer is grounded, but the secondary side is neutral just so they can add two phases together.

You sound like a typical journeyman electrician, who really, really believes that there is 240 v single phase power. And to be honest, you are right. The waves add together, shift 60 degrees and look just like single phase to the equipment. But have you every wondered why there are TWO PRIMARIES as you call them? Think about it.

One day, for the fun of it, wire the two black wires in a panel together without a load between them. You will see sparks. That is because they are out of phase by 120 degrees. You can get the same effect by firing up a gasoline generator, connecting it to the house and forgetting to cut the mains breaker and the line suddenly becomes hot again. That is why the code requires isolation switches for generators.

As I said, look up Fourier. He explained it all.

Mar 5, 2011 at 12:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

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