Posted by: Pete | March 12, 2022

#EnergySecurity

UK Energy Security

A War-Footing

The UK needs to approach the energy crisis with the zeal and drive of a war effortBecause we are at war, on two fronts; the first is our dependency on fossil fuels from unpredictable nations like Russia and Saudi Arabia, the second is the impending climate crisis. We may judge the former to be more pressing but unless the conflict with Russia escalates into WW3, the latter will have long-term consequences even more devastating to the UK than the current invasion of Ukraine. Yet, when we deploy the logistics and people needed to address even seemingly overwhelming challenges, we know we are capable of stepping up to the plate, our successful NHS COVID vaccine role-out proved that.

So what is to be done? First we must recognise that even in peacetime, the privatisation of energy supplies has failed. It has failed because of serious flaws in the free-market model. Public utilities like energy are too important to the nation to be left outside government control, and their mission must be economic continuity of supply rather than maximising shareholder dividends or executive remuneration.  Regulation is an anathema to any free-market enterprise but without the heavy-hand of the energy regulator and occasionally even government intervention, energy prices would result in even more severe fuel poverty for the population and excessive costs to industry. Yet during times of shortage, we currently export gas to maximise profits and shareholder value. And when shortages result in demand outstripping supply, prices are allowed to rocket, making huge profits despite attempts at price regulation. None of this is in the national interest but why should it be? The energy companies are doing precisely what they’re designed to do. 

At the time of writing, we are living through the logical outcome of privatised energy, rocketing costs to consumers, deep concerns of continuity of supply, profiteering by energy companies, and the inability to focus on the looming disaster that is the climate emergency. And that is without going into all the issues surrounding ‘billing’ companies that add tiers of cost to consumers whilst adding zero value to the same gas and the same electricity.

But nationalisation on its own isn’t enough. We also need to wean ourselves off the fossil fuels we import from other nations and develop our own, secure, energy supplies.  Fortunately we are an island nation with abundant natural energy all around us but we need to harvest that energy with the same zeal our ‘Land Army’ fed the nation during WW2. We need a coordinated effort to source the necessary raw materials, manufacture and implement tidal, wind, solar, wave, and geothermal systems along with the necessary logistics and project management, and we need it urgently. Incentives need to be given for domestic generation, and the installation home insulation must be given without charge where it is needed, both of which to lower the demand on our energy grids.  

Then there’s nuclear power, and in recent weeks we’ve witnessed how our worst fears of the weaponisation of nuclear plants could transpire. Russian artillery attacks on at least two Ukrainian plants demonstrated the sinister prospect of them being transformed into huge ‘dirty-bombs’ capable of spreading radioactive materials over vast areas. However bombproof we attempt to make these plants, there will always be an enemy missile powerful enough to breach them.  And the devastation of a strike would not be limited to horrific casualties; it would also engulf our resources attempting to clean up afterwards. In addition to the potential threat to plants, there could also be disruption to our supplies of uranium. We currently source these from the current ex-Soviet countries like Kazakhstan and Ukraine, but even if we sourced from further afield, we would still be vulnerable to attacks on shipping.  We may not require vast quantities of uranium and we may in the future have the technology to source our own, but today and in the near future nuclear contains its own unique risks.

Is there time to address all these issues? Bluntly no, there isn’t time to do all this in order to avert existing pressures on the cost and supply of energy, our security of a continuous supply, or the accumulating damage to our climate.  And there certainly isn’t time to develop and build new nuclear sites that utilise secure alternatives to uranium. Nor is there the time to implement fracking for shale gas on a large enough scale, even if we were to ignore the hugely negative impact it would have on our second front – fighting climate disaster. However, we can still utilise our existing sources including ‘sunk’ investment in new nuclear plants near completion and we really have no alternative but to do so during the implementation of alternative systems.  In a perfect world, we’d avoid bringing more nuclear sites into operation but sadly this isn’t a perfect world. And we must ensure that we are fully connected and able to buy and sell energy with our neighbours in mainland Europe. Across such a vast area there will always be excesses in supply and demand, we must be a part of that network even if that requires a re-modelling of our relationship with the European Union, it is in our own self-interest as well as that of the EU member states. 

The above picture may appear extremely gloomy but there is a very sunny outlook.
Reliance upon alternatives will mean reliance upon virtually no fossil fuels other than for lubrication. 

The transformation of Britain must include an accelerated transition to electric vehicles (EVs). Transport, in addition to heating, is the main consumer of the fossil fuels we currently source from hostile or potentially hostile countries.

To accomplish this transition, greater emphasis must be made on addressing the current inhibitors that prevent people from changing to EVs, including the distribution and availability of public charging points, as well as the cost and supply of EVs.

Multiple types of plug-in cables and the ownership model of charging points frustrate the ability of EV drivers needing to charge their vehicles. A single, standard plug-in cable must be adopted, there isn’t time to leave this to market forces as was the case with VHS/Betamax video cassettes. And once the connections are standard, every EV must be able to charge at every charging point, irrespective of their choice of payment account, much as a bank cash machine can accept any bank or credit card to withdraw cash. The affordability of EVs can be improved by government assistance in the stock-piling of critical raw materials, such as lithium for batteries (we already have a lithium mine in Cornwall), and the provision of low or zero interest government backed finance to the automotive industry and consumers specifically for the production and purchase of EVs.   

The cost and source of funding is typically used as an argument for delay but in wartime, we must do whatever is necessary to win and there are ways to ease the financial pain of transition. As during past conflicts, government investment bonds can offset the capital requirements as well as the decreased fossil fuel tax revenues. Investors seeking long-term, secure returns for individuals as well as pension funds for our aging population always welcome such financial vehicles.
 

Pre-nationalisation a windfall tax on the profits of energy companies will benefit the exchequer as well as resetting their share value, hence the price of subsequent nationalisation. Thereafter the cost of production and distribution, rather than the market, will alone set the prices of energy to the consumer and industry. Today a shortfall in the supply of gas is creating a price escalation from all energy suppliers. Even those electricity suppliers that claim to be using 100% renewable energy are increasing prices when their costs haven’t increased at all.  The ‘acid test’ is the huge profit being declared by such companies. And not only will public energy be cheaper to supply, we need no longer pay the significant public subsidies to the fossil fuel industry currently funded by taxpayers.


The transition itself will match or exceed the industrial revolution in its impact on our society, creating tens of thousands of new jobs and sustainable economic growth. That growth will transform our economy by providing new tax revenues from our workforce and companies. 

The goal will be total energy security with sources distributed all around our coastline and across our land, ending our vulnerability to attack and ensuring our continuity of supply forever. These sources will require no fossil or radioactive fuels and will turbo-charge our drive towards net-zero. 

With domestic and industrial energy costs slashed, inflation in our economy will plummet. Not only will this dramatically assist household budgets and industry costs, but it will create a financial landscape in which the Bank of England can print money without the fear of inflationary damage. This money can further power long-term infrastructure projects and the sustainable Green revolution that will defeat our enemies on both fronts. 

It is hard to imagine today, but think of a world with no petrol costs, miniscule home heating and energy costs, the colossal income streams of countries with regimes like Russia and Saudi Arabia dried up and our dependence upon them permanently severed. Best of all, think of how we would feel passing on our planet’s climate saved from the abyss to future generations.

#EnergySecurity

Posted by: Pete | January 17, 2021

CHAT – NOW AVAILABLE IN PRINT and KINDLE VERSIONS!

The social media giants of the early decades in the 21st century have died and been replaced by ‘CHAT’, a new artificial intelligence network built on a powerful quantum computer, affectionately called the ‘Engine’.

Avoiding the failings of its predecessors and free from the misuse of data, CHAT has become ubiquitous. A key feature, powered by the Engine, is the network’s ability to translate any language to the language of the user, in real time; meaning that everyone around the world can speak to each other as if they are all speaking the same language.

CHAT’s artificial intelligence was developed at a remote campus of Cambridge University in Warwick, England. The academics at Warwick, led by Professor Nick Caine, continue to search for new languages, both human and non-human, to extend the capabilities of the Engine. CHAT’s  public relations executive, Tiffany Hope, spreads the word on all the latest news from Warwick to the entire global network of CHAT users.

Under the management of Professor Caine and his team at Warwick, the Engine polls the internet for signals to translate around the entire planet and even beyond, by connecting to a wide range of equipment ranging from wildlife monitors to space stations. But one such ‘signal’ that initially eludes the translation abilities of the Engine gets the attention of one of the university department’s sponsors, the US military intelligence agency.

As the mysterious signal, code-named, Alpha285, gradually reveals more about its origins, Nick is subjected to increasing pressure from his sponsors to allow the agency to take control.

Set in a future where the legacy of past generations’ environmental abuse has come home to roost, and human ingenuity has created innovative solutions that attempt to arrest the damage, the pursuit of knowledge about Alpha285 becomes fraught with danger and intrigue.

Available on Amazon!

Posted by: Pete | November 11, 2020

CHAT – Quantum Powered Social Media

The social media giants of the early decades in the 21st century have died and been replaced by ‘CHAT’, a new artificial intelligence network built on a powerful quantum computer, affectionately called the ‘Engine’. 

Avoiding the failings of its predecessors and free from the misuse of data, CHAT has become ubiquitous. A key feature, powered by the Engine, is the network’s ability to translate any language to the language of the user, in real time; meaning that everyone around the world can speak to each other as if they are all speaking the same language. 

CHAT’s artificial intelligence was developed at a remote campus of Cambridge University in Warwick, England. The academics at Warwick, led by Professor Nick Caine, continue to search for new languages, both human and non-human, to extend the capabilities of the Engine. CHAT’s public relations executive, Tiffany Hope, spreads the word on all the latest news from Warwick to the entire global network of CHAT users.

Under the management of Professor Caine and his team at Warwick, the Engine polls the Internet for signals to translate around the entire planet and even beyond, by connecting to a wide range of equipment, from wildlife monitors to space stations. But one such ‘signal’ that initially eludes the translation abilities of the Engine gets the attention of one of the university department’s sponsors, the US military intelligence agency. 

As the mysterious signal, code-named, Alpha285, gradually reveals more about its origins, Nick is subjected to increasing pressure from his sponsors to allow the agency to take control.

Set in a future where the legacy of past generations’ environmental abuse has come home to roost, and human ingenuity has created innovative solutions that attempt to arrest the damage, the pursuit of knowledge about Alpha285 becomes fraught with danger and intrigue. 


Available 27th November, 2020 or pre-order now!
https://amzn.to/3pkT4hF

Posted by: Pete | January 20, 2018

500 Years of Island Life

Cover 500 Years, front copy

From the early 1400s to the 21st century, the island of Guernsey was a microcosm of society edging its way from feudalism towards democracy. During those 500 years, the Lihou family worked and lived on the island and their story is woven into many of the great events that have shaped, not just the island, but the wider world. Sixteen generations of the Lihou family span the half-millennium of this story and with each generation, a unique view of the society and context of their everyday lives unfolds. Where historical records have established the facts, as with Parish registers, they have been included. Oral history, books and reports have also provided much of the historical detail. But where no such records exist, conjecture has been used to create a possible version of events, which affords a rare glimpse into the lives of our ancestors.

Available on Amazon.co.uk [Click Here]

Available on Amazon.com [Click Here]

Facebook Page with BBC Radio interview about ‘500 Years’ [Click Here]

 

Posted by: Pete | August 1, 2015

A Beautiful Day Sailing in the Sound

Plymouth is an amazing city, parts of it are in dire need of some TLC but when you know how devastated it was in WW2 that somehow sits more comfortably. It was on the front line as a naval base and was badly wounded. But the regeneration is finally transforming the city to its former glory.

I never imagined myself returning to city life all those years after leaving London but then this is no ordinary city. The marketeers call it the ‘Ocean City’ and when you look out over the Sound, it is truly spectacular.2015-07-31 13.07.50

Dolphins and seals are regular visitors and even a whale was seen nearby the other day. Mount Edgcumbe Country Park provides a splendid green contrast to the waters edge and with anchorages at Kingsand and Newton Ferrers less than an hours sail, we’re spoiled for choice.

2015-07-31 14.09.34I took this shot of the ‘other side’ of the Mewstone yesterday. Note the tiny stone hut – I wonder what its story is!

Sitara and I were a little late back for dinner because, frankly, I couldn’t tear myself away from such a beautiful days sail. Although I did try to blame a temporary drop in the wind. 🙂

This soon picked up and she steamed back through the Sound reaching an impressive 6+ knots at one point where the tide flows near Drake’s Island.

2015-07-31 13.08.10

It’s very tempting to just keep going out to sea and visit Guernsey and the islands again or turn the helm a bit to starboard and head across the Atlantic.

But this will do me fine!

Posted by: Pete | October 3, 2014

Why shouldn’t Prisoners have a vote?

David Cameron states that part of his justification for Britain withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights is the right for prisoners to have a vote.

This is a perfect example of why we should stay in. His individual judgement is highly subjective and we would do better to listen the wisdom of others.

The purpose of prison is to protect society from offenders and punish inmates for their wrong doing. But the former is surely the greater goal, our aim should be to prevent re-offending, unless we intend to keep all prisoners locked up for life.

Part of the process to reduce re-offending is to try to integrate prisoners back into society, not alienate them further from it. By withholding their right to vote, we’re simply pushing them further away and making it more likely they will continue to re-offend on release.

Posted by: Pete | July 27, 2014

Pensions Guidance an Expensive Farce

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/63482

via Pensions Guidance an Expensive Farce.

Posted by: Pete | November 6, 2013

Ignore the Politicians, Vote for Democracy

Pete Lihou's Blog

The right to vote is precious and was hard won by many brave individuals. But it is being undermined by politicians.

The credibility of democracy rests upon the idea that a person, or party, sets out a manifesto and the public vote for, or against it. But the system requires honour. What value has democracy if promises made in the manifesto are broken or a string of polices that weren’t included are implemented?

Over the years, politicians have come to realise that the public will just ‘grin and bear it’ if, once elected, they ignore the mandate given to them. Can anyone say the NHS is safe in Tory hands? What value can be placed on anything Clegg promises after he broke a solemn pledge on Tuition Fees? Were the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya democratically agreed by the electorate?

Of course, politicians want you to vote because by…

View original post 197 more words

Posted by: Pete | May 2, 2013

Ignore the Politicians, Vote for Democracy

The right to vote is precious and was hard won by many brave individuals. But it is being undermined by politicians.

The credibility of democracy rests upon the idea that a person, or party, sets out a manifesto and the public vote for, or against it. But the system requires honour. What value has democracy if promises made in the manifesto are broken or a string of polices that weren’t included are implemented?

Over the years, politicians have come to realise that the public will just ‘grin and bear it’ if, once elected, they ignore the mandate given to them. Can anyone say the NHS is safe in Tory hands? What value can be placed on anything Clegg promises after he broke a solemn pledge on Tuition Fees? Were the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya democratically agreed by the electorate?

Of course, politicians want you to vote because by doing so you legitimise the system. They will tell you about the value of democracy and quote the voting turnout figures as evidence of public consent. They would rather you voted for the another party than not vote at all. The media will also encourage the notion of tactical voting but your own common sense, if not your conscience, should be guiding you only to vote for those you in whom you believe and trust.

If you genuinely have such faith in an individual or party, they deserve your vote. But look at their track record of honesty before deciding. This isn’t like supporting your favourite football team, loyalty to a political party irrespective of their ethical behaviour makes you as culpable as they are when they tell lies to the electorate, ignore manifest promises or exercise double standards as with the expenses and tax avoidance scandals.

Voting for any of the current major parties perpetuates the dishonesty that has been allowed to dominate the current system. If you value democracy, perhaps now us the time to vote for it by withholding your vote from those who will abuse it. Ignore the politicians and vote for democracy.

Posted by: Pete | March 26, 2013

Search & Rescue service needs our courage!

They’re already destroying the Coastguard, now they want to hand over our vital search and rescue service to a US company and pay billions for this ideological nonsense.

The move will devastate the local economy in Helston and cripple tourism at the intended new site in Newquay.

We’ve seen how previous privatisations have resulted in a dysfunctional rail network and basic local utilities being supplied by foreign companies miles away. We’ve seen prisoners escaping from privatised security and we’ve seen a raft of daft, nonsense from the vast majority of privatisation. Who has benefitted? Not taxpayers or service users, not employees, only the shareholders in these businesses.

The coalition is madder than Thatcher and more determined to push through their unproven ideology. They must be stopped and the nation must pull together and find some of the courage displayed by these brave service men and women who routinely put their lives on the block for us. We’ve already let down the Coastguards, let’s stop the rot!

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