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« EU considers minor expansion of corrupt biofuels scheme | Main | Mothballed plant »

The insanity of central planning

Here's an extraordinary story from Friday, which I missed at the time, but picked up via Timmy.

NHS hospitals are being asked to cut their power demand from the National Grid as part of a government attempt to stave off power blackouts, which the energy watchdog Ofgem warns could arrive as early as 2015.

According to one energy company, four hospitals have already signed up to a deal under which they will reduce demand at peak times by using diesel-fired generators.

So in order to save the planet from the perils of carbon dioxide, we are going to run major power users on diesel generators. Canny, Mr Davey, canny.

The sheer idiocy of the situation the environmentalists in DECC have got us in to is almost unbelievable. I see no alternative to closing the whole department.

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    Response: cvzjAOiS
    - Bishop Hill blog - The insanity of central planning

Reader Comments (89)

I think it's a combination of:
lack of joined-up thinking,
the law of unintended consequences,
the Peter Principle,
the dumbing down of education,
institutional corruption and
green stupidity.
Have I missed anything?

Jul 1, 2013 at 6:48 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

PB - I'd add 'individual corruption' to your list.

Jul 1, 2013 at 6:53 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

I still wonder whether 'Care in the Community' is really the right path for our most severely mentally disturbed.

But 'Care in the Department of Energy and Climate Change' is definitely an experiment that has failed and should be terminated forthwith.

Jul 1, 2013 at 7:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

"The sheer idiocy of the situation the environmentalists in DECC have got us in to is almost unbelievable. I see no alternative to closing the whole department."

I wish Bish, I wish.

Jul 1, 2013 at 7:17 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Systemic (as well as individual) corruption.

Individuals could pursue their individual corruption without necessarily failing the public's interest. (Heinlein's "honest graft", your brother-in-law gets the contract, but the price is fair, the work is necessary, and done well.) Systemic corruption rewards "dishonest graft", wherein price is high, work unnecessary, and if done at all, done poorly.

Jul 1, 2013 at 7:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn C

When Ed Davey says

Prices aren’t going to spike. The lights are going to stay on because we’ve got a very well thought-through plan.
you know the country is in trouble.

Jul 1, 2013 at 7:31 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Davey appears to be much worse than Huhne and all the other Lib Dems together. That man must go.

Jul 1, 2013 at 7:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterGummerMustGo

This is what happens when idiots get into positions of power.

Jul 1, 2013 at 7:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh.

From a practical point of view, there is some sense in this proposal.

All major hospitals will have stand-by generators, which are idle for 99.9% of the time. They'll be operated occasionally and for very short periods, just to check they're functioning. It makes some sense to give them a prolonged run, 'to blow the cobwebs' out of them. However, I don't know whether they're sized to cope with the main electrical load, or, just for emergency lighting etc.

Either way, their total capability is a tiny proportion of local total demand.

Whatever, now's the time to buy shares in a Generator Hire business.

Jul 1, 2013 at 7:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

As I have said before, it is time some senior people in the military called a meeting with Cameron and his fellow idiots, to stress the national security issues that will arise in the first blackouts, and implore the decision makers to get building some new gas and coal plants and scrap the renewable subsidies which have led to this shambles. Unlike Friends of the Earth and WWF, the military are entitled to have some input over energy policy, as it will be the army which is called upon to restore order in the cities, once the blackout riots begin.

Jul 1, 2013 at 7:55 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Here in Oz we have had an outbreak of Legionaires Disease at a Brisbane hospital seemingly due to the hot water thermostats having been turned down too low to conserve power. End result, 2 dead (so far) and at least one other seriously affected. Still we seem to specialize in "green" schemes that kill people (the Pink Batts debacle).

Jul 1, 2013 at 7:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterAxelatoz

It's here

Jul 1, 2013 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterTom Mills

Save even more Electricity sack nurses and shut hospital wards.

Great way to reduce CO2

NHS envy of the world what a joke.

And how much are NHS fatcat public sector bosses getting paid.

Jul 1, 2013 at 8:37 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

This is what you get when he PPE political caste has no access to common sense advice from experienced engineers.

What happens is they fail to anticipate the simplest of future events thinking that they can simply order 'something must be done'. The use of diesel back up generators is a classic. Come 2016 we'll see emergency provisions to allow high streets up and down the land to use diesel generators on the pavement to power EFTPOS so they can continue selling.

Oxford Street will become like Baghdad at its lowest point.

Mrs Thatcher had an experienced engineer in her cabinet - Nick Ridley. it was he who organised the coal stocks and the hydrogen generators to allow the power stations to work.We need a similar approach.

Think of Davey and the Lib Dems as the equivalent of Arthur Scargill's wrecking tactics. We need to defeat them by similar tactics. Use work-rounds so their hands can be removed from the levers of Power. Probably the best is ridicule: a mock-up of Huhne as Mr Toad and Davey as a baby in a nappy, unable to do more than drink and fart.

Jul 1, 2013 at 8:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

"Central planning" is a red herring in this context. Informed (though perhaps overly sanguine) comment on the hospital generators issue can be found at:

"Peak lopping" (meeting short bursts of intensive demand during e.g. rush hours) used to be done efficiently in Scotland using a combination of hydro and Pumped Storage - both technologies can go from a standing start to full load almost instantaneously. Despite its own lowish efficiency, Pumped Storage allows thermal plant to operate more efficiently when demand is relatively low: the savings in fuel (and thus CO2 emissions) are substantive.

However, though generators are understandably coy on the issue, both technologies are now increasingly being used to "load balance" wind power instead. That, and the imminent closure of coal-fired plant under the EU's Large Combustion Plant Directive, are among the key reasons for the looming crisis.

Critics of the wind power industry have been predicting for a decade at least that the call would eventually be made for subsidy to build thermal plant to back up wind power and thereby solve a problem that the powers-that-be have long insisted did not exist. (Remember that fatuous notion that did the rounds a few years back that the wind was always blowing somewhere in the UK?) See e.g. John Etherington's "The Wind Farm Scam" (2009). Could be that that's pretty much where we're at now.

Jul 1, 2013 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

"Prices aren’t going to spike. The lights are going to stay on because we’ve got a very well thought-through plan."

There is no plan, I asked to see it and received what I can only describe as a statement of intent, it was near a statement of requirements even. The problem we have is that politicians make decisions but few of them have ever been involved with, yet alone running, a major engineering project, which, agree with it or not, and I don't, should have a detailed engineering plan and costings. If there was a plan, then we should be able to find out who's responsible for delivering it, does anyone know who that might be?

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:00 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

So, as a result of policies to reduce CO2 emissions, we are going to be facing shortages of electrical energy. Electrical energy on the grid emits 0.43 kg of CO2 per Kwh. A diesel generator uses 0.28 to 0.4 litres of fuel per Kwh and each litre of fuel emits 2.68 kg of CO2. Let's assume that hospital generators are toward the efficient end, say, 0.3 l/kwh. This means that these diesel generators will produce 0.8 Kg/kwh.

So to save CO2 we are going to produce double the CO2.

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterRon

The logical follow up to this is subsidies to the public to buy their own diesel generators to get themselves off the grid.

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

it is time some senior people in the military called a meeting with Cameron and his fellow idiots

If only one of the military people could be a certain Colonel Cromwell from Huntingdon...

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

UK Energy Policy is a disaster area but Joe Public has the answer at least partially to this non-story. This has nothing to do with NHS Hospitals coming off grid to run their facilities off their own power plants and everything to do with the reverse, i.e use their own reserve power plants to supply (and be paid for) contributing to the grid.

See this very sensible (as per usual) article from Richard North.

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Axelatoz that's a Dynamite story can copy and paste up the link.

The NHS is the most Sacred Cow in Britain after the Royal Family used to be the church.

Cameron and Milliband election cry "The NHS is safe with us".

That is the next question for Lord Donoughue to ask in the House of Lords.

Will the drive towards Renewable Energy and Carbon Reduction Compromise NHS Patient care?

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Interesting it isn't in the Graun's Environment section, so probably missed by the disciples over there.

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats."
H. L. Mencken

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered Commenterpeter laux

"We had to destroy the energy policy in order to save it."

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

If you want to see where Mr Davey gets his inspiration from, you could check here:

Davey, Deben and Prescott at GLOBE International, 7th June 2013,

Prescott, 14th January, 2013:
All fully supported by the government via the FCO:

"On 14 January 2013, GLOBE International presented the 3rd edition of the Climate Legislation Study and formally launched the GLOBE Climate Legislation Initiative at a high level Summit held in the Locarno Rooms of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London."

Prescott and Deben in China:

April 18th 2013
"Minister Xie Zhenhua announces Chinese Climate Law within 1 to 2 years at GLOBE Event in Beijing"

"The Minister was joined by GLOBE President and Chairman of the UK Statutory Climate Change Committee, Rt Hon, John Gummer, Lord Deben, the former UK Deputy Prime Minister, Rt Hon. Lord John Prescott, Steen Gade MP, the Chairman of the Danish Climate Change Committee and President of GLOBE Denmark, Arnaud Leroy MP, the Vice President of GLOBE France, and Deputy Antonio Ramos Preto, Chairman of the Portuguese Parliament's Committee on Environment and GLOBE Secretary General Adam Matthews."

Nice pictures of the delegates and speakers at these events.....
"GLOBE International was originally founded in 1989 by legislators from the US Congress, European Parliament, Japanese Diet and the Russian State Duma with the mission to respond to urgent environmental challenges through the development and advancement of legislation.

Today GLOBE chapters have been established in the parliaments of most G20 countries and EU Member States."

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:33 AM | Registered Commenterdennisa

"We are paying large consumers to reduce their energy consumption. This includes hotel chains, water utilities and NHS hospitals, which can save between £100,000 and £200,000 every year by implementing our demand reduction scheme," said Ziko Abram, KiWi Power's founder and director

Nice round numbers with a huge spread, what's not to believe. Presumably a mixture of hypothetical "savings" and more tax money being shifted to those parts of the system where it achieves least.

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterSH

All insiders have their own generators now!

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Welcome to <s>Lagos</s> London.

In Nigeria, almost all large organisations and rich people own a generator, for the times when "NEPA done quench". Which was several times a day, for several hours at a time.

NEPA, in their beneficence, would allow gen sets, but only if they were wired in before the meter, so one had to pay for the power you generated.

The only difference I see, is that the costs will be shared by all rate payers, and organizations with large gen sets will prosper.

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterLes Johnson

I would like to think of myself as being "ahead of the curve" by anticipating the logical outcome of this "omnishambles" that is called energy "policy".

I bought my own petrol (two-stroke- so lots of pollution) generator some 4 years ago, together with wind-up rechargeabe lanterns and camping (gas) cookers and heaters.

The lights may well go out but at least we will have light, warmth and cooked food.
The generator will be used to keep the fridge and freezers running :-)

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

NHS envy of the world what a joke.

Jul 1, 2013 at 8:37 AM jamspid

The NHS is a killing machine.

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

Of course the Energy and Climate Change Dept should be closed down. And the climate change act should be repealed, forthwith. But when you have ministers seemingly wearing blindfolds, and sticking their fingers in their ears, whenever a sceptic tries to explain their stupidity, these moves will never occur.

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Webster Tarpley analyzes the positions of John P. Holdren [Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)] and Paul Ehrlich in the ECOSCIENCE text, in their extensive publications and in the context of the larger Eugenics movement:

p.733 HUMANITY AT THE CROSSROADS ...continuation of recent trends in population growth,industrialization, and environmental disruption will lead to disaster; deliberate and massive social and economic change will be necessary-to avoid this outcome.

p926 THE HUMAN PREDICAMENT;FINDING A WAY key to saving world society lies in a measured and orderly retreat from overdevelopment in today’s OVER DEVELOPED COUNTRIES (ODC) - A process we will label ,for want of a better word, de-development.

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth Jones

No lecky, no pooters..........

Will this wonderful new and improved, this fantastical unjoined up "lack of energy policy" mean that, it's back to chalk and blackboard in the classrooms of the nation?

About bloody time too.

Jul 1, 2013 at 9:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

"I see no alternative to closing the whole department."

Not enough ...

Since these gits are intent on winding the calendar back more than a century, I think it entirely appropriate that we re-introduce this useful device

I mean, it fits in nicely with Moonbat's re-wilding, consumes no power - what's not to like?

Jul 1, 2013 at 10:07 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Encouraging tales of carbon shriekers getting cold feet, the bum's rush, more time to spend with their families, and other sundry fates not nearly harsh enough given the harm they have helped cause in Australia:
(hat-tip Tom Nelson)

The encouraging thing is the speed of it all. When those who rose on the waves of political panic over CO2 into influential positions in DECC note that that sea is calming, the fog of confusion produced by shoddy science, degenerate Royal Societies, and slick PR is lifting, they would be advised to jump sideways in search of new positions lest they be pushed out or down from where they are now.

Jul 1, 2013 at 10:29 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Madame Thérèse Defarge would welcome the opportunity to resume her knitting, whilst watching our current generation of politicians ascend the scaffold. Now, where are my needles?

If not possible, we should draw Cameron's attention to the fate of Admiral Byng after his performance during the Battle of Minorca (1756)

"A cushion. We need a cushion. Someone find a bleedin' cushion. Tout suite!"

Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres.

Jul 1, 2013 at 10:30 AM | Registered Commenterperry

What is the EU's Large Combustion Plant Directive if not (very) Central Planning?

Jul 1, 2013 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

AlecM is right. An acquaintance in the power business with direct experience of the dept describes DECC as all bright graduates, no engineers. A clear-out is the only answer.

Jul 1, 2013 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterTim

So, this must be the real Anthem of the Greens?

Jul 1, 2013 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

"a very well thought-through plan."

If it's so good, perhaps we could see it..?

Jul 1, 2013 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

"the EU's Large Combustion Plant Directive"

How's that going in Germany, I wonder..?

Jul 1, 2013 at 10:40 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

And what do they use for back up when the Diesel generators fail ?

Jul 1, 2013 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

lapogus and JfR - just as long as they don't include Morisetti in their meeting with the military

Jul 1, 2013 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy

@Les Johnson

been there (quite a lot) - and that's where we're heading.

The parallels are striking - s'funny, never see anybody from the Guardian eulogising Nigeria....</sarc>

Jul 1, 2013 at 11:13 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Ye Gods, unbelievable. Breathtaking stupidity.

Jul 1, 2013 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered Commenterceetee

Look at things positively. This is very good news. The more instances like this, the better for everyone.

Not many are equipped to discern the nonsense in the Met Office's statements about how their super computer models confirm fossil-fuel caused climate change (and their admission that their models are the *only* confirmation of CAGW).

But everyone can see the nonsense in running small diesel generators to reduce the load on efficient power stations.

Making the madness apparent to all brings forward the end of the Great Delusion - although I fear it will still be with us for a long time to come.

Jul 1, 2013 at 11:39 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

That's quite an unusual energy policy: Electricity is going to be supplied by the national health service.

Perhaps electricity use from carbon sources will only be allowed with a doctor's prescription?

Jul 1, 2013 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Bish, have you seen this?

Jul 1, 2013 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterRightwinggit

Electric shock treatment may be the answer.

Jul 1, 2013 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Michael Hart: You talk about the irony of the NHS providing electricity, but our Old Boys' Association gets its Newsletter published by NHS Printing. And very reasonable they are too!

Jul 1, 2013 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

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