Energy Change

BBC : Bespoke Inaccuracy Purveyor

Image Credit : Emily James

Twitter alerted me to a fascinating piece of documentary produced by one Tony Roe, an “Inside Out Special” that aired on BBC One, Monday 10th October 2011 at 19:30, 7.30pm, but only in the East Midlands region. Called “Power Struggle” it contained released Police footage, and parts of the “Just Do It” film by Emily James.

Apologies to those of you outside the BBC iPlayer territory if you want to view it, because you won’t be allowed to, because you don’t pay a TV Licence in the UK, and the BBC haven’t realised that they could make a lot of juicy revenue by opening the iPlayer up to international pay-per-view. Silly them. But I digress.

I was mildly irritated by the attempts of the narrator to keep “balance” during the early part of the piece, but I felt myself starting to get wound up when I hit the following section at roughly 26 minutes in :-

[Narrator] “Coal power stations are getting too old to carry on. The cost of renewing our power industry with something less environmentally damaging is enormous : 200 billion pounds. That’s the equivalent of building two Channel Tunnels every year for the next 9 years.”

[David Porter, Association of Electricity Producers] “There are very big question marks about whether the industry can actually raise this money. The companies don’t have that sort of money. It’s not there. So they’ve got to go to the financial markets to persuade people that the UK is the right sort of place to in which to make major investments in energy infrastructure. And I ought to say that having protest groups closing down power stations and so on doesn’t always send out the right signalling in that regard.”

[Narrator] “New ways of generating electricity are already happening because of an EU Directive, at a cost added to our fuel bills. Renewables like wind power now produce almost 10% of our electricity and the East Midlands is one of the biggest providers…”

Somebody should have done some fact-checking in my humble opinion !

1. The “200 billion pounds” figure is taken from the Ofgem “Project Discovery” report. It’s not a figure of the amount to turn Britain’s electricity green – it’s a estimate of how much money is needed to make up for decades of lost investment. It’s true that this figure includes a portion to turn over electricity generation to renewable sources. However, the BBC documentary comment is a gross distortion of the situation. The underlying problems in the UK’s electricity generation industry have been caused by privatisation, which led to short-term profit-making at the expense of long-term investment in the next series of power stations that are now becoming desperately needed.

2. Protest groups “storming” power stations have nothing to do with the energy industry’s reluctance to make new investment in the UK. The underlying problem is that, for some bizarre reason, the UK Government is still hell-bent on supporting nuclear power, and nuclear power is expensive without government subsidies. And since the Chancellor George Osborne is crying off spending money on energy, the energy companies are even more against the idea of setting up new infrastructure in the UK. I don’t know why anyone thinks the collapsing “financial markets” will invest in energy in Britain without fat subsidies, either. It’s all about the returns, in the end. The energy companies and the venture capitalists and the private equite people want a healthy dose of British taxpayer cash back from their condescension to build us some new power plants.

Essentially, the energy industry, and any potential investors, are waiting for a bailout-stimulus-carrot. If the UK economy keeps collapsing, that may not come. The lights will go out if the UK Government does not begin a strong policy of energy conservation.

3. The narrator repeats the myth that renewable energy added to the British fleet of electricity generators is causing a rise in our fuel bills. This is technically incorrect – as renewable power has nothing to do with fuel. Natural Gas is a fuel that is used to generate electricity, and its price has been rising for the last few years. Wind turbine generated power actually lowers the nation’s Natural Gas fuel bill. The argument that renewable energy is causing hikes in energy bills is also not set in context – renewable energy is adding a few percent to energy bills – and that could be recouped in a few years time as fossil fuel costs will remain high. Meanwhile, strategies to attract new investment funds are going to add much more than the dent made by renewable energy capacity increases.

It’s not only the BBC that misinterprets the facts, but the BBC should do more research before repeating confusion.

Yet again the BBC purveys inaccuracies. Nobody checks out the facts, and very few people realise they’ve been disinformed.

A few more links :-
And this one that doesn’t even mention nuclear power which will likely drive the highest price rises in electricity in the UK :-

Please let’s have some accuracy about energy prices – there are a number of factors that are conspiring to make energy more expensive : fossil fuel prices on the open market, energy companies trying to increase their margins to please their shareholders which include the pension funds, European Union emissions and pollution laws that we do need to enact, the EU’s renewable energy policy, the need for a new round of investment in electricity generation plant… You cannot blame all energy price rises on green energy policy – that’s a nonsense position !

One reply on “BBC : Bespoke Inaccuracy Purveyor”

You made a pretty inaccurate statement yourself:

“The underlying problem is that, for some bizarre reason, the UK Government is still hell-bent on supporting nuclear power, and nuclear power is expensive without government subsidies.s”

Might want to rethink that, considering new Nuclear stations aren’t being subsidized. Oh, and if you want to complain about nuclear subsidies (as you seem to be) – you can’t ignore the renewable subsidies either.

Not that I’d expect much better from a ‘green power’ blog, but come on – you can do better surely?

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