Friday, July 11, 2008

Numbers games

I am on various forums. One threw up this link on nuclear: Warning over nuclear power sites

Before I knew it I was mouthing off...

'Could'. 'Significantly'?

I started life as a Civil Engineer. The unofficial motto was 'Civ. Eng's do for a shilling what any other idiot can do for a pound'.

I then went into advertising, mostly in Asia. The rule there was 'He who goes over approved estimate may dream fondly of getting any more out of client'.

Two different careers. One common theme. Budgeting ... and, without wishing to end up like the JLF in 'Life of Brian', time management (still boiled down to money).

Now, I never went near money in either. I made... make things. But at every stage of my career I have understood the need, and value of accurate estimates. Working with those who drew 'em up.

There were unforeseeables, inevitably. And that's why we had smart cookies figuring out the contingencies to negotiate the contracts, based on accurate parameters.

What the heck has happened?

From Wembley to the 2012 Olympics, it seems you pluck a number out the sky, halve it to win the contract, and then quadruple it so the lawyer fees look only slightly less in comparison.

When it comes to energy, especially nuclear and renewables, I am at a complete loss. With politics and subsidies and targets and agendas muddying and already murky mix.

Black is white. Green is red. Up is down.

As a consumer I just want things quick, cheap, fast and reliable. If I am so minded, I might now throw some ethics in the mix. Those factors are all a juggle. A unit of 'leccy is not very sexy, so I could care less how it arrives or from whom.

Hence, in opting for my supply, I need to know how much, for how long, how often and how well. With some sense on carbon consequences if I feel in the mood to trade some gr££n for some green. Weighing all the options.

It would be nice to have clear, simple charts showing what is front loaded or back loaded, what is more secure because of investment, or what goes into payback and when for the same reason. So I can asses £/kW over a defined set of periods. And if there is a dirty great big plummet (in supply) or soar (in cost) about when my kids are plugging in my blanket because the systems are going off line (decommissioning or exploding gearboxes), I want that in there too. Because it's not fair on them and dumb for me not to be aware.

Now, why is getting that so hard? Or are the massed voices of lobbyists and activists just drowning out any sane long term information (which just must be out there), at least as far as any media I read seems capable of sharing.

It has come to something that I consider our government at best incompetent (what Minister on 6-month rotation could understand the issues) if not corrupt (what MP is going to do what's right today but get 'em bounced tomorrow?), and our media incapable (are there any qualified science reporters any more?) if not venal (ratings trump all), and hence not to be trusted in helping the public understand what it is facing and arrive at a consensus that it will support to drive through what is best for now... and the future.

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