6 thoughts on “Scandal in Westminster: 544 MPs want to continue wasting your money”

  1. Posted 10/02/2012 at 11:49 | Permalink

    An interesting article, Kristian. I have a couple of issues, however.

    “as long as the total amount of carbon emissions in Europe is capped through the Emissions Trading Scheme (EMT), selective subsidies for low-carbon technologies cannot reduce them any further”

    Why is that? I would have thought selective subsidies could push carbon emissions to below the level of the cap. I could understand if you were saying that in practice selective subsidies displace other activity that would have been undertaken to meet the cap, but I don’t see why they could not in principle result in a level of carbon emissions below the cap.

    “the only thing wind energy does relatively cost-effectively: ruining landscapes”

    Personally, I find them quite attractive. Which is not to say that they should be subsidised.

    “Scandal”? I always thought that scandal implied a sense of surprise as well as disapproval. The only surprise would be if 660 MPs weren’t wasting our money.

  2. Posted 10/02/2012 at 14:21 | Permalink

    Tom, you’re right, the subsidy policy could override the cap in principle, but that would require extreme circumstances. You would have to have a cap just below the emissions level that would have resulted anyway, and a subsidy policy big enough to push emissions below the cap. There would then be unused permits left at the end of the period.
    Regarding the attractiveness of wind turbines, I don’t want to impose my own asthetic judgements, but I’d like to have a planning system where you have to buy the right to develop from local residents. If they find wind farms attractive, buying the right to build one would be cheap; if they find them as ugly as I do, it would be very costly, perhaps prohibitively.
    And I wasn’t too serious about the use of the term ‘scandal’.

  3. Posted 10/02/2012 at 15:11 | Permalink

    Kris, Tom – if the subsidy programme is that effective, then you do not need the cap. One or the other, surely.

  4. Posted 10/02/2012 at 16:39 | Permalink

    One way that renewables such as wind could become viable (in certain areas) in the absence of state support is if infrastructure subsidies to users in remote rural areas were ended. There is a strong economic case for shutting down the grid in such locations, particularly when expensive renewals are required. Small-scale wind generation could then prove attractive for isolated homes or local communities (which typically don’t have mains gas). However, the intermittent nature of wind power means it would have to be backed up by other sources such as diesel generators or hydro.

  5. Posted 10/02/2012 at 16:43 | Permalink

    Indeed, to give an extreme example, road signs in remote areas are often lit by mini wind turbines or solar lights

  6. Posted 10/02/2012 at 17:52 | Permalink

    Energy storage is the ‘holy grail’ of electricity generation/ distribution. Have a look at redflow.com.au which provides energy storage solutions for both grid connected and remote area power schemes.

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