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The UK Grows its Economy as it Replaces Coal with Renewable Energy

by John Brian Shannon

Great Britain has come a long way since the Industrial Revolution when it was almost completely dependent on coal.

The snapshot in time (below) covers the period May 1, 2019 through May 8, 2019 showing which energy producers contributed to the UK national energy grid and how much they contributed.

The UK was once 100% dependent on coal, but it now uses 5% coal, 19.5% nuclear, 33.3% renewable energy and 39.4% natural gas.

Image courtesy of BBC.

But in 2018, the UK met total electrical demand with 5% coal, 19.5% nuclear, 33.3% renewable energy and 39.4% natural gas. 2019 looks set to be even better from a clean air perspective. Burning coal to meet UK energy demand might reach 1% in 2019.

Every month, more wind turbines are installed and connected to the UK grid. About half of them are installed offshore (out of sight and out of mind) where they produce almost constant power 24/7/365 and are shut down only one day per year for inspection.

The other half get installed in farmers fields where they add energy to the grid day and night. Farmers like this arrangement because it adds to their bottom line as the utility companies rent the land upon which the wind turbines sit.

For example, if a farmer has one wind turbine mounted on his property, he or she will receive approximately £4000. per year from the utility company — but if the farmer has 20 wind turbines on his or her land, he or she will receive £80,000. per year for the land lease and 24-hour-per-day access rights.

In the case of larger farms, this amount could equal his/her annual spend on seeds, or in the case of ranchers, it could meet their annual veterinarian bill plus whatever the rancher spends on medicine and other treatment for their animals.

Although not as profitable as offshore wind turbines, having many electricity generators near demand centres is a definite benefit for utility companies.

The moral of this story is, adding one million wind turbines to the UK grid over the next 10-years (half of them onshore) would work to increase the profitability of farmers and ranchers, and could save them from insolvency during years of drought or flooding.

When did coal ever do that for farmers and ranchers? Never!

Wind power generation in the UK

Wind power generation in the UK theswitch.co.uk

That’s why the UK must commit to adding one million wind turbines over the next 10-years — thereby turning the UK into a major energy exporter to the EU, as the cables to transmit electrical energy are already installed and in use daily to import (expensive) gigawatts of power from the EU annually. See where I’m going here?

Adding half a million onshore wind turbines would dramatically empower farmers and ranchers, most of whom spend their profits close to home; Making land-based wind turbine economics an important force for good in local economies.

Siting those wind turbines so that they don’t trash-up the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) will of course be an important consideration going forward.

It’s important to locate the turbines in natural wind corridors, sure, but installing them within sight of Castle Howard for one example, or within sight of major residential areas is a bad idea no matter how good the wind potential there. Careful siting of wind turbines is a must to… prevent… (wait for it!) ‘blowback’ from NIMBY communities. Hehe.

READ: The UK Has Gone 6 Days Without Burning Coal Now, And Guess What, The World Didn’t End (Science Alert)


The UK Economy Continues to Grow In Spite of the Overly-Extended Brexit Negotiating Period

UK GDP between 2014 and 2018

The statistic shows the GDP of the United Kingdom between 2014 and 2018, with projections up until 2024, in US dollars. Image courtesy of Statista.com

Say what you like about Prime Minister Theresa May (or, ‘Theresa the Appeaser’ as she is known to Brexiteers) and Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond (possibly the most risk-averse man on the planet) they did a good job running the UK economy, although in the end, they couldn’t secure a decent Brexit agreement with the EU; Which is the only reason that both of them are soon gone from their present jobs.

Ultimately, the 3-years of economic uncertainty in the UK caused by the overly-extended Brexit negotiation period prompted the removal of Theresa May from the PM’s chair, and Philip Hammond from the Exchequer’s chair once the next PM is chosen.

But imagine how the UK economy would’ve accelerated had May and Hammond accepted the ring of destiny handed to them by 17,410,742 UK voters in June 2016.

Still, when you can grow the UK economy while removing coal and adding huge quantities of renewable energy to the grid — right in the middle of Brexit — you’re obviously doing something right.

But The People called for Brexit, and Brexit it will be.


Plan Your Work, Then Work Your Plan!

Someone should thank the best Environment Secretary in Britain’s history for the massive renewable energy capacity addition to the UK grid in recent years in locations where renewable energy does make economic sense, for the astonishing CO2 reductions, and for backing energy conservation programmes that reduced energy costs £2 for each £1 of programme spend.

This is where the UK must continue to focus its greatest efforts. Where its cheaper to install renewable energy, then install renewable energy; Where its cheaper to spend on energy conservation programmes to lessen demand, then spend on conservation; And where its better to locate energy producers near energy demand centres, then locate energy producers nearer demand.

READ: Study: UK leads G7 at cutting emissions and growing economy (BusinessGreen) You must register at their site to read the article. Here’s an excerpt though: “Report shows that in the 25 years since the Rio Earth Summit the UK has delivered the best economic performance and the deepest carbon emission cuts of any G7 state.”


The UK Could Lead the World in Local Clean Air Improvements and Increased Renewable Energy Exports

On a county-by-county basis, replacing coal-fired power generation with natural gas-fired generation supplying 15% of total demand in every UK county, 65% of total demand in every UK county met via wind and solar, and hydropower and biomass covering the remaining 20% of total electricity demand in every UK county… is the fastest way to clean energy, lowered healthcare costs and increased energy exports to the continent, which should be Priority #2 of any UK Prime Minister. (Brexit is Priority #1 for now, and being a democrat, I get that)

But next on any PM’s list after the Brexit item must be growing the UK economy while replacing coal and natural gas via generous energy conservation programmes and massive renewable energy capacity additions.

READ: UK Leads G7 in the Combined Metric of Economic Growth + Carbon Cuts (LetterToBritain)

Let’s hope the UK continues its great track record in lowering CO2 emissions, lowering its annual healthcare spend on respiratory disease, and growing the economy.

The only component missing in the UK’s clean air goals are the mind-boggling opportunities that await UK energy producers to export gigawatts of renewable energy to the EU in exchange for billions of euros annually.


Bonus Graphic

Here’s a great resource where you can track in realtime, how much energy the UK is purchasing from the EU.

When the snapshot was taken, the UK national grid was purchasing 3.3 gigawatts of energy from France, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, and other EU energy producers.

Snapshot of UK electricity demand

Snapshot of UK electricity demand on June 23, 2019 at 2:45pm. Click the image to access the realtime dashboard at any time.

Keep in mind that 14.70 pence per kWh is the average cost for electricity in the UK. So, yes, UK energy consumers spend billions to purchase electricity from EU utility companies annually — instead of EU utility companies purchasing billions worth of electricity from UK utility companies annually. Facepalm!


Notes:

  • One Gigawatt (GW) is equal to one million kilowatts (kW)
  • One MegaWatt (MW) is equal to one thousand kilowatts (kW)

For More Information

The U.K. Cut Emissions to the Lowest Level Since 1888. Here’s How (Fortune)

What will it take for the UK to reach net zero emissions? (The Guardian)

Floating wind farms just became a serious business (Quartz)

Brexit: Why I Favour ‘No Deal’

by John Brian Shannon

Once upon a time, I believed in the goodness of the human spirit and I rather naively believed that people would work together to solve common challenges — allowing humanity to triumph over chaos and that everyone, from the leader of the largest country down to the youngest intern, would eventually find themselves living in a de facto nirvana.

Boy, was I wrong!


Be Careful What You Teach Me!

It seems something’s been lost and I can sum it up thus; ‘I’m alright Jack, I’ve got mine!’ which seems to be the overriding imperative in this age.

No longer are people hardwired ‘to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem’ as they were in my generation.

Can you spot the difference between those two statements? Many can’t.

So it is with international relations these days where if ‘Country A’ wins, it automatically means that ‘Country B’ must lose. Such Neanderthal thinking!

Surely humanity has evolved beyond the brute ‘logic’ of the apes of the jungle where ‘Win-Lose’ paradigms are a fact of life and to ‘Lose’ means certain death?

But apparently not, for ‘Win-Lose’ paradigms are popular in certain circles, while more advanced humans employ ‘Win-Win’ thinking to solve their challenges.

It’s almost like there are two species of humans living on planet Earth in the early 21st-century; The intellectuals on the one hand who work the Win-Lose side of the street and the geniuses who work the Win-Win side.

You’ll recall a quote from your philosophy studies which comes from Albert Einstein who wisely said; “Intellectuals solve problems while geniuses prevent them.”

Ahem. Yes. Not too much of that these days, is there?

The other quote of note comes to us courtesy of former U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, who said; “Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.”

So its a mystery to those on the Win-Win side why Win-Lose remains so popular even as Win-Win is obviously a superior problem-solving method. Is it because ‘Genius’ thinking continues to be as ‘unrewarded’ as it was in the time of U.S. President Calvin Coolidge?

(Someone should fix that. Let’s call it what it is; Systemic Problem #1 on planet Earth)

Is that why some (political actors especially) default to Win-Lose paradigms in the early 21st-century — because there’s more profit in that?

If so, it’s only a matter of time before some madman decides the only way to ‘Win’ is to nuke everyone else and then ‘he’ and ‘his people’ can ‘Win’.

I’ll bet there’s a ‘scenario’ written in someone’s ‘playbook’ where that ‘instant-win’ is purported to be ‘the final solution’ for humanity.

I thought we outgrew that kind of thinking at the end of the Cold War — because those doing the heavy thinking at the time were ultra-responsible humans who knew that ‘law of the jungle thinking’ would eventually spell the end of life on Earth.

So, the question is; Are we as a species regressing to Win-Lose thinking?

“As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” — Proverbs 26:11

Let’s hope not.


‘What’s This Got To Do With Brexit?’ You Ask

Well thank you for asking!

We were talking earlier about Win-Lose thinking, and how intellectuals employ Win-Lose ‘solutions’ to ‘solve’ present-day problems.

Meanwhile, others believe in ‘Win-Win’ solutions that work to ‘solve’ present-day problems and ‘prevent’ future problems.

“Intellectuals solve problems while geniuses prevent them.” — Albert Einstein (remember?)

Theresa May worked diligently (and naively) to solve present and future problems in the UK/EU relationship with a view to improving that relationship in the post-Brexit timeframe.

I wouldn’t call Theresa May a genius. But if a person worked hard to solve present problems and to prevent future ones in a Win-Win spirit of fair compromise, such a compliment can’t be too far off the mark.

Unfortunately, Theresa May (rightly or wrongly) felt she couldn’t trust many in the Conservative Party and therefore, she took the Brexit ball and ran with it by herself as far as she could.

Having been shut out of the process, Conservatives were unable to give their full support to Theresa May — and worse — the EU failed to see the brilliance of her Win-Win thinking; Thinking designed to solve present UK/EU problems and prevent future UK/EU problems.

I think Theresa May’s intentions were 100% admirable, naive… and worth a try!


Heroes Often Fail

Ultimately, Theresa May failed to garner enough support among Conservatives and other parties in the House of Commons — and the EU did its part to ensure her eventual failure by insisting on the Win-Lose backstop portion of the deal — a thinly-disguised attempt to grab Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom.

READ HERE AND HERE (skip to point #7 if you’re short on time) where I suggest that the EU needn’t try to steal Northern Ireland using diplomatic stealth, clever language and convenient circumstance to ‘take’ NI from the UK, because the British Royal Family (which owns Northern Ireland, having purchased those Irish counties outright from the poverty stricken Irish citizens at the request of the Irish government in the year 1800) should ‘give’ NI to the Republic of Ireland.

It’s just another form of genius the Royal Family should approve — thereby putting an end to the problem of too much blood spilled and treasure spent in the 19th, 20th, and early 21st-centuries — and to prevent future problems.

It’s been a black hole in successive Monarchs’ finances since 1800, and British taxpayers have paid billions in subsidies to help UK citizens living in NI, and thousands of needless deaths occurred there, and the RF, the UK government, and British taxpayers should be glad to be rid of the responsibility.

No more need to send billions annually to NI to support an economy on permanent life-support through no fault of the excellent Arlene Foster and her DUP colleagues! it’s merely the way the entire Northern Ireland economy has ‘evolved’ rather than being ‘managed’ since 1800. And, no more needless death, destruction of lives and property, people maimed by horrible weapons, and no more heartache!

And the blame for it rests on foreign operators who wanted NI for themselves for more than 219-years — even more evidence of Win-Lose thinking by mediocre people.


With Northern Ireland Handed to the Republic of Ireland There’s No Longer Any Need for the Hated Backstop Clause in the Withdrawal Agreement

Such thinking could solve every remaining problem between the UK and the EU.

  • Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement (sans-Backstop) could then be approved and implemented by the House of Commons.
  • The Political Declaration too could be approved and implemented by the Commons and UK and EU politicians could host plenty of photo opportunities to celebrate their brilliant solution.
  • The Royal Family would be free of continued responsibility by virtue of ownership of the land of Northern Ireland, the UK taxpayer would no longer need to subsidize UK citizens living in NI — and even if UK GDP stayed the same — billions less would be spent to subsidize Northern Ireland — leaving billions suddenly available for Wales, Scotland and England. Not to mention the NHS.
  • UK citizens living in NI would of course, under my proposal, be invited to move to Great Britain (and only if they actually did move to GB by 2021) they should be eligible to receive a generous moving allowance from the UK government. Even if those combined amounts equalled the annual subsidy paid to float the Northern Ireland government for one year — it would make it the last year of NI subsidies!

Well That’s All Good. Why Favour ‘No Deal’?

As a previous generation of UK politicians surrendered some amount of sovereignty to a foreign power which is clearly illegal under the UK’s constitutional framework, it means the UK ‘joined’ the EU illegally and therefore isn’t required to ‘leave’ the European Union as the UK was never a legal member of the EU to begin with.

That’s why the UK can’t enter into a legal agreement to leave that had no force in law to start.

ab initio: A Latin phrase meaning ‘from the beginning.’ A marriage that is ‘unlawful’ is ‘void’ — ab initio — as if it never happened.

Just drop off the key, GB, and set yourself free!


The UK Joining the EEC and the EC Was Legal; Joining the EU Wasn’t

Therefore, whatever arrangements were in place immediately prior to the UK illegally joining the EU would automatically be reapplied (EC rules and regulations) and be legally enforceable until such times as both entities (the UK and the EU) agreed to any subsequent changes in their relationship — which is why in a previous post I suggested an incremental negotiation process should take place going forward.

Therefore, the only negotiation of any immediate consequence is; How much time to give UK businesses to return to EC rules and regulations in place at the time of the illegal accession to the European Union?

It seems pertinent to choose October 31, 2019 in order to streamline the whole operation.


Does the Royal Family need to ‘Negotiate’ with the Republic of Ireland?

No. Under my proposal, the RF would notify the Republic of Ireland (now) of its intention to quit Northern Ireland by December 31, 2020. And that’s it. That’s all the government of the Republic of Ireland is entitled to by the present owner of Northern Ireland.

(Under this proposal) we’re ‘giving’ it to you, you’re not ‘taking’ it. Do you get that?

Maybe they don’t want it. Maybe they’ll give it to Steve Bannon. Maybe they’ll drive all their sheep up there and use it for pastureland. Who cares?


A Better Modus Vivendi

What matters is, this proposal is designed to end present problems and prevent future problems in regards to the sorry situation that’s existed in Northern Ireland for decades. Genius!

No longer would there be a need to send billions annually to subsidize Northern Ireland — and any NI residents who want to move to Great Britain prior to December 31, 2020 should receive generous funding from the UK government to relocate without losing (potentially) hundreds of thousands of pounds sterling. Genius!

There’s no need for a ‘Brexit deal’ as the original treaties allowing the UK to obtain EU membership were illegal for any UK government to sign, and therefore, as it was never a legal joining, let EC rules and regulations be reapplied from October 31, 2019 onward. Genius!

And forget about the never-approved but much-talked-about £39 billion exit fee. The UK was never a legal member of the EU and the UK paid much more to the EU governance architecture than it ever received. Genius!

If the UK and the EU ever decide they want a trade deal similar to the highly-regarded CETA deal with Canada, great! Until then, EC rules and regulations would continue to apply. Which, if UK politicians from a previous decade hadn’t erred, would have remained in effect all along. Genius!

A Vision of Manufacturing in Post-Brexit Britain

by John Brian Shannon

post-Brexit British manufacturing model

McLaren celebrates their 5000th supercar on February 2, 2015. File photo courtesy of compositestoday.com

Yes folks, it really does take that many people to build a McLaren supercar!

In fact, it takes many thousands of people combining forces to build any car, aircraft, or other modern and/or technologically advanced vehicle.

And the point of this blog post is to show that the UK can add one million manufacturing jobs in the automotive sector alone, just by adopting the right policies — policies that help foreign automakers become ‘part of the solution instead of part of the problem.’

So, please bear with me while I show you how the UK could emerge a winner in the post-Brexit timeframe, create millions of homegrown jobs, boost the economy like never before, and supercharge UK manufacturing exports.

If you like the sound of that, then you’re a British patriot and you want the best for your country. I salute you!

(If you’re a foreign car manufacturer, don’t panic, it’ll work out for you too in the post-Brexit era. Just keep reading ’til the end)


UK Slaps a £25,000 Tariff on any Car or Truck (New or Used) That’s Imported After Brexit

WOW! That got your attention, didn’t it?

It’s not as bad as it sounds, because every auto manufacturer would be invited to establish their headquarters for all Commonwealth of Nations countries (and this blogger suggests) that the UK government should provide brand-new, free-of-charge, turnkey factories to every auto manufacturer that wants to build cars and trucks in the UK and sell them to every Commonwealth of Nations country including the UK, sans tariffs, simply by manufacturing those vehicles in the UK.

Remember, The Commonwealth comprises 53 countries with a combined population of 2.5 billion people by 2020 and a combined GDP that nearly matches the U.S.A.

The UK alone, is the 5th-largest economy in the world by GDP (6th by PPP) and India is the 6th-largest economy in the world by GDP (5th by PPP) and other countries in the Commonwealth include Canada (10th) Australia (13th) Nigeria (30th) South Africa (33rd) and Pakistan (40th) and many others whose economies are rocketing upwards in this young century.

Nigeria alone will have more citizens than the United States by 2060. Maybe sooner.

How many auto manufacturers want enhanced access to 2.5 billion consumers, most of whom live in rapidly growing economies with upward disposable income?

The Commonwealth consumers not living in those burgeoning economies live in developed nations with high per capita incomes like the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Brand-new, ‘build to suit’ factories, paid for and owned by the UK government, leased to each manufacturer for £1 per year — with the benefit of zero UK or Commonwealth tariffs for those auto manufacturers, and streamlined access to 2.5 billion Commonwealth of Nations consumers.

If you’re a global auto manufacturer, you can’t lose!


Why Would Commonwealth Nations Agree to This Plan?

The UK unemployment rate is low at present, and falling each year.

In 2019, the UK unemployment rate sits at 3.8% and you’ll remember from your economics class that 2.5% unemployment is functionally a 0% unemployment rate — as exactly that many people are in some kind of transitory employment state without being actually unemployed.

Which means the UK is 1.3% away from zero functional unemployment even with all the Brexit uncertainty due to the overly-long negotiating period. (3.8% – 2.5% = 1.3%)

Q: In the immediate Post-Brexit era and assuming a (functional) 0% unemployment rate in the UK, who will the UK call-on to fill perhaps a million new manufacturing jobs?

A: The Commonwealth of Nations countries, that’s who.

And that’s the benefit of being a member of a large and diverse bloc such as the Commonwealth. For the UK, membership in that group means a huge pool of highly motivated workers ready to jump on a plane and begin working in the UK immediately.

For Commonwealth countries, it means hundreds of thousands of their young people will have good paying jobs waiting for them in the UK at the end of their schooling, and good kids will send some money home to Mom and Dad — who after all, probably paid for their child’s entire education and the airfare to the UK.

Workers who show up on-time and do a good job will of course be invited to stay on where the manufacturing continues year ’round, or find themselves invited to return to the UK by their company at the beginning of the next production cycle.

For the UK, this plan would reduce UK unemployment to zero, then allow any additional labour to be sourced from Commonwealth of Nations countries.

For foreign auto manufacturers, this plan would provide a specially-built for them factory at a cost of £1 per year, and guarantee them no automotive tariffs in the UK and other Commonwealth of Nations countries.


Saving Money, Streamlining Production, Centralizing Administration

Let’s pretend at present that Ford Motor Company builds the F-150 pickup truck in different Commonwealth nations and earns low profit per vehicle because the sales numbers in each country don’t quite support one factory per country. And all of its vehicles are subject to a plethora of different tariffs and fees in the various Commonwealth countries, depending upon where those F-150’s are built and where Ford is shipping them. Very inefficient!

But if Ford decides to build all of its UK and Commonwealth-destined F-150’s in the UK, it means that one humongous factory in Britain could build all of them. There are economies of scale in that approach! And to have the land and building built and paid for by the UK government guarantees the economics work for Ford.

All Ford must decide is where in the UK it wants the factory, which car lines or trucks to build in the factory, and pay an annual £1 rent payment to the UK government.

And no automotive tariffs for Ford in any Commonwealth nation, including the UK. Ever!


But This is An Expensive Plan!

No, not really. Especially when you factor-in some of the possible alternatives.

Such as the entire auto manufacturing sector in the UK dying completely. Which is happening in slow-motion anyway. (Rolls-Royce, Bentley, JLR, Mini, Lotus, Triumph, MG, Rover cars, BSA motorcycles, etc. are almost gone, or already gone)

There go a million existing UK jobs! (For just one example of it going wrong) And there go the additional one million UK jobs I’ve proposed.

But if UK unemployment hits 0% in the UK as I expect AND if one million new auto manufacturing jobs are created via this proposal, that means (on average) each of those additional one million auto workers will pay an average £20,000. income tax annually, and thousands of pounds in other taxes on their discretionary spending because almost every time you buy something in the UK you pay some kind of tax on it. New house, new car, new baby pram, you get the idea.

What is one million times £20,000. anyway? That’s £20 billion annually in income tax revenue HM government isn’t presently earning.

It’s even better if those one million additional workers spend every pound sterling they earn on taxable items in the UK. Maybe twice as good as the calculation above shows.

  • Check the math: 1,000,000 x £20,000. = £20,000,000,000. annual income tax revenue alone.
  • Over 10-years, that equals ‭£200 billion in tax revenue alone for HMG.
  • Yes, some of the £200 billion would be spent to build turnkey factories over that decade, but nowhere near all of it.

Remember: This is Just One Example of Why Britons Shouldn’t be Shrinking Back from Brexit!

Whether we’re talking Volkswagen Golf, BMW 5 Series, Audi A8, or whatever car you want to buy in the UK — if they don’t build them in the UK after Brexit — each vehicle imported into the UK would be subject to a £25,000 tariff.

Because at present, those cars are built in the EU, by EU companies, by EU workers who pay EU income taxes, in EU-subsidized factories — and the UK is getting no benefit whatsoever — other than UK drivers are encouraged by slick advertising to hand over their hard earned money to EU car manufacturers.

However, if they build them in the UK — a no automobile tariff regime for those auto manufacturers would apply anywhere in the Commonwealth of Nations, under this proposal.

I posit that vehicles destined for the UK and Commonwealth market could and should be built in Britain, and by adopting better policies, UK manufacturing will succeed as never before!