Saturday, 24 January 2009

Who owns the generating stations?

We know who owns the megawatts (FRG 20,510; France 19,259; UK 18,262) but before listing the amounts of power delivered by each type of fuel, how many powerstations, using what type of fuel, are owned by whom in 2008?

Nuclear: only 10 stations, all owned by EdF. That must rate as the greatest triumph of the anti-nuclear Movement, even if there are worries about the disposal of waste. France itself has 57, producing 88% of the county's electrical power at a low price to the public. French companies also built the two units at the Koeberg power station outside CapeTown.

Coal: 18 stations, owned by FRG (6), Spain (4), France (3), UK/Spain (2), UK/Japan (1), USA (1), Canada (1). Just as an aside, the Canadian owners include a teachers Pension Fund.

Other Hydrocarbons: again, the 'Big Three' predominate in ownership of stations using gas, oil, gasoil (and including diesel, kerosene (paraffin in GB-speak): FRG (27); France (19); and UK (39 - a big number but this includes a number of small local powerstations generating <10 MW).

Hydro-electric: the only useful renewable power source, with three large installations over 100 MW and the rest mostly under 20 MW. Generally speaking, hydro just keeps going, given a moderate amount of rain, or a river that has a generous supply somewhere. There are 81 installations, mostly owned in the UK (59). Another aside, the Inga I and Inga II powerstations (1,774 MW installed base) on the Congo River are in a bad state of repair, but produce around 700 MW today. They are being re-furbished currently (Inga III and Inga IV and could produce around 50,000 MW (60% of the total UK pwer output).

Wind: when you really want it, it never obliges. Ask any sailor who likes to race. It can be very frustrating. Anyway, there are 97 installations (groups of windmills) with the bulk of ownership associated with UK: UK (25); UK/Spain (18); UK/FRG/Bahrain (17). The FRG is well represented (20) and France (6). The only problem with wind is that it needs back-up, when there is no wind, the users have to get their power from somewhere, so there has to be excess capacity available within the system. But is can still save on oil and gas, nevertheless.

Biomass: great! Especially the chicken poo, with Australian interests leading the charge (4).

So, have we been shafted through the sale of powerstations to foreign interests? The opinion here is a resounding YES. More on that in a while. Building up slowly to the Opinion Page.

Coming next: How much power is generated from the various fuels?

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