Boris Johnson announces ten-point green plan, including investments in nuclear and wind, and new combustion vehicle ban from 2030
Obligatory 'not a fan of the Tories'.
That said, this is quite good, isn't it? I'd like to see a bit more spending but that which is present seems to be targeting the right areas to me.
My thoughts exactly! It could definitely go further, but I realised as I read it that I'd steeled myself with the general "oh god, what's gone wrong now?" that reading the news brings, and then I was pleasantly surprised.
"Quite good, actually" seems to sum it up, from what I'm seeing.
One point I'm sceptical about is using hydrogen for district heating.
Hydrogen isn't an energy source, it's an energy carrier. So are they planning on producing hydrogen in one location, ship it to this town, run it through fuel cells to produce electricity, use that electricity to heat water, then pump that hot water around town? If the hydrogen is produced from water electrolysis, that seems like a massive waste; just use the electricity to heat the water directly instead. And if the hydrogen is produced from natural gas, that also seems like a massive waste; just burn the natural gas in this town and use the heat from that instead.
One of the quite reasonable criticisms I've seen of the announcement is that it lacks clarity and/or detail. There's a lot of wiggle room in that hydrogen point, for example, and I imagine the government themselves haven't worked out the details yet (yes, it would be entirely fair to say that they probably should have!).
I'd say you've outlined a very plausible worst case: generation from fossil fuels and then a whole set of inefficient conversions to get useful work out of it.
I'll counter that with a plausible best case: we're generating hydrogen renewably, and investing in storage and shipping technology so that it can be traded like oil. Suddenly Iceland's geothermal, or solar in the Sahara, can be of use to countries all over the world. From a consumer and infrastructure point of view, the old natural gas infrastructure is retrofitted to hydrogen, sending it directly to home appliances (the official release specifically mentions cooking as well as heating) to smooth the net zero transition and avoid overloading the national grid in the short term.
Now I don't actually think that whole utopian view is really going to happen, and honestly I think your pessimism is probably more realistic, but I can get on board with a bit of investment to see if we can manage at least some of it.
Huh? Burning hydrogen works just fine for energy production. The tricky bits actually come in how you produce it without devolving to syngas production or the like (as you identify), and/or the transportation, as compared to liquid fuels at any rate.
It's much easier (from a startup perspective) to have a PV cell produce a small, but steady amount of hydrogen than to throw together a giant CSP collector to boil water to create steam for your power plant. But I'd bet if you invested heavily in solar powered water electrolysis, on-site power generation would work out pretty well (or at least, in a sunny enough place anyways).
Maybe they're going to pipe it around and burn it like natural gas?
That is a good point; it might be feasible if they're able to use already existing infrastructure. I'm sure there are towns in the UK that get district heating from natural gas power plants, and it's probably not too hard to retrofit them to burn hydrogen instead.
It's better than things are now but it's nowhere close to being good. Half the things on the list either aren't funded at all, which means they might as well not exist, they're just wishes. Or they're under-funded to the point of being essentially worthless. Nothing in that list goes anywhere near far enough, with the possible exception of the nuclear funding, and I only say that because I have no idea how much funding that needs (or where the money is going - if it's just buying reactors from the Chinese it's stupid).
The things that are good - especially the offshore wind thing - are barely Boris's work at all. All that means is they'll give out some more licenses to allow building of windfarms, mostly to private companies like Eon and whatever the Danish one is called. There's no actual investment from the government - all the money remains in private hands and generally leaves the country. So it's Boris taking credit for something he has barely got to do anything for. But you can bet plenty of Tories and their pals have investments in the companies who will get the fast-track license approvals.
The thing is, I'm fully for offshore wind. The UK has a huge potential resource there. But why can't we do it as and for the country rather than just give it away to private companies? If the state invested in those windfarms we could have free (or at least very cheap) clean energy for every household. we could have free electric car chargers in every car park, which would do more for EV takeup than any arbitrary sale cut off date (which the industry will effectively reach itself before 2030 anyway). We could even sell the excess to the mainland and make some money for the country. Reducing people's energy bills moves a lot of people out of poverty, or at least out of the cold and darkness which is the reality of winter for the very worst off in the fifth biggest economy in the world. Cheap power means lots of public services can spend money on their service rather than their lighting. There's so many potential benefits. So I'd say that no, what they've done isn't "quite good", it's more "the worst possible option which isn't doing nothing"
Not a fan of the Tories because they don't do anything deserving of my respect.
Oh, and most of this isn't new money. If we take the figure between what the Tories and Labour claim, this is only £6bn extramoney from a $12bn package. Boris found £12bn today for stupid fucking wars we don't need or want but can only find half that to make sure we've got a planet to fight on? No. Not good enough. Nowhere near.
I'm really hoping it takes a hs2 path. They've promised all these things and said it will cost £30bil. That price tag gets it through parliament and then the cost can rise to what those promises would actually cost over time.
Would I prefer him to promise the right amount up front? Sure. Would the tories do that? Nah.
What would it take to get a party as progressive as the Tories here in the US? I'd love for a party here to usher in a "Green Industrial Revolution" as they put it. God knows we need to combat climate change and provide a safety-net for our citizens.
I know the point you're making but my head exploded reading that ;)
You've made an unintentionally tragicomic statement on US politics there. The Tories are officially called the Conservative party, and that's not a misnomer. They're our mainstream right wingers, with Johnson widely being derided as a British Trump-light.
Conversations like this are a sobering reminder of just how insanely far right your Overton window is. Sadly, pulling it back to some semblance of the center is a lot easier said than done.
The Tories are not progressive. It's just the US is so absolutely screwed politically that they look that way in comparison. Our Conservative (aka Tory) party is roughly comparable to your Democrats. Compared to most developed countries both are pretty solidly conservative.
The Tories would tear down the NHS and the benefits system in a heartbeat if they thought they could get away with it. As it is they're just doing it gradually on the sly anyway. They're about to rip up the Human Rights Act for goodness sakes (fyi, that's the law which gives UK citizens freedom of speech).
Tories are pretty progressive, even on an EU scale. First party in Europe to have an elected female leader, leaders in climate change, one of the earliest to pass gay marriage, a relatively ethnically-diverse cabinet (look at frances and germanys for example), a person of asian descent likely to be the next leader of the party etc.
They are ambivalent about the poor but with what qualifies as progressive these days Tories do pretty well. /drunkpost
Ethnic and gender diversity != progressive, imo
Also, just because they heavily push their few non-white and/or non-male members (and they are very few if you look at the pictures from their conference which is blindingly white and overwhelmingly dudes) to make themselves appear representative of the actual make-up of UK society doesn't mean those people act in a way which helps minority groups. They don't. Priti Patel is enacting policies which would have meant her own parents wouldn't have been able to enter the UK. She'd kick herself out for the colour of her skin. The Tories are a party of white dudes with a very thin veneer of token brown people and women over the top.
Behind only the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, some US states, Spain, South Africa, more US states, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, even more of the US, Argentina, Denmark, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, over half of the US now, France, and phew, there we go - just before New Mexico.
So no, I wouldn't really say one of the first. Not one of the last, but still not exactly at the vanguard of progressiveness. Also the Marriage Act 2013 was mostly the work of the Liberal Democrats who were in (minority) coalition government at the time. A majority of Tories voted against it at every reading. Some years before the Tories did, however, pass a law banning the "promotion" (aka 'mention') of homosexuality in schools, then arrested anyone who protested it.
I would say that being progressive means enacting policies based on - and I can't believe this is what counts as actually progressive at this point - actual data. The Tories, more than any other party, do things based on their feelings. They feel like schools should do more tests and set more homework, despite the evidence saying otherwise. They feel like benefits should be cut so that the poor can have the opportunity to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, despite the evidence saying otherwise. They feel that letting the market run essential public services delivers better services at lower cost, despite the evidence otherwise. They feel like lowering taxes on the rich helps create jobs, etc. etc.
I'd like to piggy-back of @RNG's comment in a similar vein: boy would it be nice to have a government as progressive as the tories here in New Zealand. Jacinda Ardern, while a great public speaker, is leading our "centre-left" party to historically centrist positions that defy the original definition of what it mean to be a leader of the Labour Party—quite literally the party for labourers and the everyday working class.
Mapping the most important points in Boris' 10 point plan to our actions here in New Zealand:
We have no plans to ban the sale of combustion engined cars, with no public funding for electric vehicle charge points, even as we risk Europe's old ICE cars being dumped on us as more sensible countries begin the initiation of sales bans, nor do we have any grants for the purchase of electric cars whatsoever, beyond the removal of road user charges if you already own one.
Literally no plans to build any new green energy capacity in New Zealand, not just offshore wind power (we don't have any), but any wind power at all. There's a vague goal of becoming "100% renewable energy" by 2030, but it's nebulous at best.
Hydrogen production has been mooted, but nothing official has been discussed yet. Hydrogen is an energy-carrier, not an energy-source, but it's good to have around and promote for a variety of reasons.
It really is depressing when you realise just how far my country is behind the rest of the world in climate action despite claiming and selling itself as "clean, green New Zealand". It's basically a national lie at this point.
So just to address your points:
Nobody really needs to ban ICE, certainly not ten years out from now. ICE will naturally phase itself out before then as EVs get cheaper and oil more expensive. It's mostly just theatre on the part of Boris and the rest of the politicians announcing these sales bans. Nobody is going to keep making ICE just for the relatively tiny NZ market, maybe you'll be a bit behind the EU/UK, but it won't take long.
You guys already generate more power from wind than you do from coal! NZ has good wind resources but it's even better placed for hydro and geothermal, both of which you have significant amounts of installed already. NZ is a pretty massive success story for renewable energy with around 80% of your energy mix coming from renewable sources right now, which is up there with world leaders like Iceland and Norway. Getting that to 90% by 2025 should be easy. By comparison the UK has less than 40% of it's power coming from renewables. We need much better plans than Boris's plan to get us even close to where you already are.
I suspect that's also the reason you're not seeing much new action on green power generation. Your government doesn't need to announce a new plan because current policies are already working just fine. Let the remaining coal plants get decommissioned over the next ten years and that's pretty much job done. Carbon neutral energy by 2030 is genuinely achievable for you, pretty sure the UK can't say the same.
source one and the far more obvious source two
As I've already said elsewhere in this thread, the Tories are not progressive at all, they're literally called the Conservative Party. They're somewhere to the right of your National Party. Also they're not really doing much with this "plan" at all. There is, like there always is from them, a lot of impressive sounding talk but it's not backed up with much in the way of actual action, nor much money. I would love to have a party like your Labour party running the UK. Would I prefer someone even further left? Always! But anyone lefter and more progressive that the Tories would be an improvement.
What makes you think oil will become more expensive?
As much as there's a lot of reasons for people not liking nuclear unless we installed huge hydroelectric dams we do need some form of renewable baseline to pick up the night time slack and it fits the bill well whilst creating jobs (I know jobs are expensive and another thread said its a negative thing but compared to dams it's similar)
While nuclear will play a role in decarbonization, solar+wind can have surprisingly high penetrations (I've seen projections of ~80%) into the grid with relatively few issues (and I say this as someone who works in the nuclear sector and supports new builds). I believe that nuclear will form most of the last 20-30% of capacity in Britain (along with biomass, geothermal, and the relatively small amount of hydro).
I'm sure you know this working in the industry, but I'll add that nuclear has a big advantage of being on-demand. Wind and solar really put you at the whims of mother nature.
Having on-demand energy is also important today because we don't have impressive energy storage yet. That may change in the future, but for the next 20-30 years at least we'll need reliable on-demand energy production.
For those reasons I'd argue for an even larger split towards nuclear. It should be central to any modern energy plan.
It certainly has that big advantage, but wind and solar are less expensive to construct and quicker to build overall, which helps lure in investors. Nuclear construction delays scare investors away.
Right now, nuclear has three major issues to deal with: costs (driven by several factors), public acceptance, and political stalling over spent fuel management. One of the things I'm hopeful about regarding the Biden administration and Congress is nuclear power, Democrat's support has shot up 20 points in the last few years, and the Senate recently introduced a bipartisan nuclear bill (probably won't get passed this go-round, but I see it coming back next year).
For costs, SMRs which use less nuclear-grade steel and concrete and require minimal on-site assembly have a huge advantage, I'm very interested in seeing how NuScale, Terrestrial Energy, and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. perform. Interestingly, Terrestrial integrates their molten salt design with energy storage, and they heavily promote working with renewables.
Regarding the waste issue, technically there's plenty of solutions, but politically it's tough, we need to move toward a consent-based siting approach.
When you say you're in the nuclear sector (great username for that) is that in the UK?
I didn't think we could use geothermal here, where has the crust for it?
Unfortunately not UK, US. I actually didn't realize Britain currently has no geothermal stations right now, but I mostly assumed they'd be developed during the 21st century. See @Thra11's answer.
That's fair, I can definitely see a lot of places it would work but I'd not heard of any so the Cornwall link is cool. I presume the US has more than just the yellowstone area with its major plate boundary down one side as suitable places?
The place currently tapped the most is called the Geysers, in Northern California.