Yes, yes, yes, we’re all supposed to be right on about renewables. Even, willing to fund them through the loss making development phase and get to scale. Not that that should be done by either taxpayers or consumers, that’s what capitalists are for. But even if we accept all those points about how luvverly it will be to have non-fossil fuel energy sources the Swansea tidal power project is still a complete and total dog.
Simply because there are other, cheaper, methods of gaining that same energy generation capacity.
This being what market prices actually do for us. There are millions of things that can be done to reduce emissions. In fact, if each inhabitant simply took one less car ride a year that would be 65 million things, wouldn’t it? Or perhaps people will, over time, move to be closer to work thus reducing commutes. Or work from home. Or recycle more steel meaning less coke used to make the virgin stuff. Or CFCs will be captured from old equipment more efficiently. Or….well, you get the picture.
Even within energy generation there are myriad options. More solar, land based wind, hydrogen, nuclear, maybe some bugger can make carbon capture work, what about algal fuels and on, on and again on?
How do we sort through these possibilities? Well, that’s actually what markets and their prices do for us. As Hayek pointed out that market, that entire economy, is the only calculating engine we’ve got to crunch through such complex points.
So, what do we need to know about Swansea then? We need to know the price. What’s needed as the price of their electricity output in order to make it sensible to build the thing?
The company clinched permission to develop the ambitious tidal lagoon project in 2015 but last summer ministers rejected its calls for a subsidy contract which would cost energy bill payers three times as much per unit of electricity as new nuclear power.
It’s a dog, forget it.
There, that was easy, wasn’t it?