Thursday, January 03, 2008

Jeremy Leggett strikes again

Some people accuse the Guardian of being mindlessly opposed to marketing. Well, those people are proved wrong every time Jeremy Leggett is given, for free, space in the Guardian to sell his industry. Last time, he was drawing ludicrous analogies to Spitfires. This time, he's mounting an incoherent attack on the Government's nuclear plans. It isn't worth fisking most of his article as he isn't writing very well and gets lost in inane chatter about consultations. He takes what should have been the central argument in his article, the superiority of renewable power to nuclear, as a given and I can't imagine anyone who isn't a renewable energy executive being convinced.

The article is only worth noting for this, incredible, section - which is a masterpiece of the Comment is Free genre:

"In March the EU agreed a target of 20% renewables in the energy mix; 27 leaders signed up, Blair among them. The EC costed the switch to renewables at €24bn to €31bn a year, assuming an oil price of $48 a barrel. At $78 there would be no additional cost. Before the year was out, oil almost hit $100."

Does he realise what that is saying? Those are estimates of the subsidy that will be required to make renewable energy work. If we are above the oil price at which renewable energy has 'costs' (i.e. costs more than running on oil) then there shouldn't be any need for a subsidy at all.

Leggett clearly thinks the EC estimate is credible or he wouldn't be citing it. Fantastic! Let's scrap the various subsidies to renewable power and let those fine people in the renewable power industry outcompete expensive, peaked oil.


Fibo said...


Mr Eugenides said...

I read your post first before going off to the Guardian to read Leggett. Like you, reading the paragraph you quoted, I nodded: now that oil prices are so high, we don't need a "renewable energy strategy", or at least not in the way he envisages.

If renewable energy is so great, the market will do the rest. Nice and easy.

M said...

I’ve always found it interesting, but unsurprising, the way in which those who are heavily pro-renewable energy apply a much rigorous critique to carbon based energy than they are prepared to countenance for renewables. It seems that being “well intentioned” is more important than any capacity to deliver.