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Drax to Stop Smoking

CIRCA | 30.08.2006 20:29 | Climate Camp 2006 | Climate Chaos | Ecology | Health

We the clown medics division of the 1st gaggle of Gigglewatt Valley Regiment of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army are here at the Climate Camp in Yorkshire to help Drax (full name Drax Power Station) quit his chain smoking habit.

With the aid of the new and improved FossiletteTM carbon patch, we think Drax can take his first steps on the road to becoming a healthier, happier, non-smoking power station and an inspiration for all other power stations everywhere.

Our diagnosis is that Drax's unhealthy and filthy smoking habit is the result of pressure and stress brought about by heavy consumption and capitalist tendencies. We believe that with sympathy, supportive counselling and the Circa unpatented five-step recovery programme, Drax can learn to say no to the bullies and their constant demands for power.

Drax particularly needs counselling and medical support to overcome the feelings of guilt caused by the devastating effect that his smoking habit has on others. Remember folks-passive smoking is a killer too! We want to
help Drax say sorry to the thousands of people around the world killed or
dispossed by climate chaos as we feel this is an important part of his
recovery process.

Drax also needs help to overcome his feelings of impotency and low self
esteem caused by the pointlessness of his daily activities. Drax produces
7% of the energy on the National Grid but the National Grid wastes 7% of
the energy it receives. Poor Drax, it must be so hard to spend all that
time doing all that damage, to himself and to his friends, only to
ultimately contribute nothing to the energy needs of his society.

Drax has been trying to kick his carbon habit now for 35 years. Although the
power station we see today has bad breath and a pallid, grey complexion,
it is our professional opinion that if he is willing and able to make the necessary
changes to his lifestyle, he could become the first of a new generation of
happily decommissioned power stations. Free of smoke and free to spend more
time with their communities and in their gardens.

Drax's quit date is tomorrow, 1st September 2006. He is scared, but his friends will be there to listen and to help with hypnosis, the Fossilette patch and reminders about the costs of his habit. And of course, all the love and support he needs to stop smoking once and for all.

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Friends of the earth

31.08.2006 19:25

CO2 emissions per unit of electricity generated:

Cockenzie 9.9
Ferrybridge 9.8
Longannet 9.8
Fiddler's Ferry 9.7
Kilroot 9.7
Ironbridge 9.4
West Burton 9.4
Tilbury 9.3
Didcot A 9.3
Kingsnorth 9.3
Eggborough 9.2
Rugeley B 9.1
Cottam 9.0
Ratcliffe 9.0
Aberthaw 9.0
Drax 8.8
Gas powered station 5.4

Yes, you're not reading that wrong. Out of all the UK's coal-fired power stations Drax emits the least CO2 per unit of electricity generated - i.e, it's the most efficient. Oh, and if you want a source for this, how about Friends of the Earth (page 21):

He's right


Hide the following 13 comments

Prize Clown!

30.08.2006 22:38

Dude, you are a Prize Clown, that’s about the only thing I agree with in the pile of bobbins you've just typed. So what if Drax closes??? What do you think will happen?? Other coal fired stations will be run in it's place! Drax is the cleanest MW of coal generated energy in the UK! If it's closed and two other coal stations are run in its place their combined carbon output will be greater that that of Drax! So congratulations you've just made the situation worse! Or maybe because your a clown and all that bobbins and actually understand nothing about generating systems in the UK you believe that the 4000MW of Drax generation can be replaced by wind farms.... spinning in fields full of flowers we can all frolic around in breathing the fresh clean wind powered air! Get real..... A wind turbine generates about 2MW of electricity, so you'd need 2000 of them to replace Drax. Lets say the biggest wind farm to date in the UK is around 50 turbines.... that’s 1950 turbines short! Then what about when the wind doesn’t blow all the babies in incubators can die in hospitals and the old people of the country can freeze to death. But hey that’s OK because a Clown said it'd all be alright, are you for real?? Yes a lot of energy is wasted in the UK and building energy efficient homes to prevent this waste would be in everyone’s interest.... But don’t you think you should be knocking on the government’s door to implement this not the door of the cleanest MW of coal generated electricity in the country??? Dude your ill informed and lost!!


(sur)realist, as usual you're barking

31.08.2006 00:58

Quick to snipe and criticise. You have no answers of your own except to maintain the status quo that will inevitably lead to mass extinction of millions of species and the deaths of millions of humans. If you have children (unlikely) - then eventually once climate change really bites and affects them and the planet they're attempting to live in, they'll disown you for fiddling while rome burnt.

more realistic

You still dont have a clue

31.08.2006 02:41

Short term, pressure the government into passing legislation into building regulations making homes more efficient. It's not the Grid that wastes 7% it's the consumer who's house is badly insulated or who leave their TV on standby all night, reducing demand in this manner would be my first suggestion to you. Renewable energy sources just aren’t viable on a mass generation scale they provide no guarantee of supply, if the lights were to go out nation wide it's not as easy as flipping a switch to turn it all back on. It takes a long time to build up and re stabilise the networks. Also the system frequency is as critical as the power on the system and I don’t believe renewables are very effective at providing this. However wind and solar would be very viable on a smaller domestic scale, providing power for the consumer and again reducing demand on the system in turn reducing the need for as much generation, this would be my second suggestion to you. I'm not saying this is an issue the world should not be interested in however I am saying that an attack on Drax is very misdirected and the pressure should be on the government. Anyways you think your right I think I am... whatever more to the point do you have one of those squirty flowers in your top button hole and how many balls can you juggle whilst riding on your uni cycle.



31.08.2006 07:37

I can't help but agree with the critisim realist brings up. A more reasonable 'target' would be the low effecientcy coal powered stations surely? Shutting a couple of them down would make more of an effect to the enviroment than shutting drax down. I understand that making the target drax allows you to churn out shock and awe statistics but surely efficient powerstations should be encouraged and allowed to take the load off the older, crapper ones?

effective user

think for a minute...

31.08.2006 10:48

[Apologies for the length of this, but simply exchanging insults seems less than productive]

Ok 'realist', so you have now suggested some alternatives - certainly more constructive than your initial comment. I am in no way involved with the action at Drax, but can only applaud it, and am only being held back from being there by unavoidable circumstances.
My interpretation of the action is that they chose Drax, because it is the largest power station in the UK, and it's closure would therefore have the biggest impact, particularly in the media which as we all know is where politics has to be played out now. Having said that their research also indicates that Drax is the "UK's biggest single source of green-house gas emissions" [quoted from their pamphlet]. Your fact that it is "the cleanest MW of coal generated energy in the UK" is based on a ratio of emissions per MW of energy produced. By that rationale the US, India and China shouldn't be targeted to reduce their emissions as the greatest contributors, instead we should be looking at Lesotho or Madagascar as their technology may be less efficient per MW of energy?
The crux of the matter is the "UK's biggest source of carbon dioxide (CO2) is burning fossil fuels - like coal, gas and oil - in power stations". []

To return to the specific reason for the Climate Camp however, if you looked at their website for a minute, you'd find your reductionist approach of seeing it as simply 'an attempt to close down Drax' is pointlessly simplistic. Their aims are listed on their site here: [] - you'll notice a lack of any mention of the specifics you are getting so irate about.

Regarding your thoughts that we should be "knocking on the government’s door to implement this", I can't agree more and don't really see how you don't perceive this action as at least partly targeted at government. When seen in the context of other related events such as the demonstration in Trafalgar Square [], surely government is precisely who this is targeted at. After all it is government who signed up to the Kyoto agreement, and is already missing it's targets as emissions increase, and unfortunately as usual, it is having to be held to account by those people who can be bothered to do something for the general good, such as those at Drax.

To preempt the inevitable suggestion of nuclear power as an alternative, I quote Lester R. Brown's book "Plan B 2.0" (a must read for anyone actually interested in the future of our planet).
"If utilities pay the full costs of nuclear waste disposal, of insurance against an accident, and of decommissioning plants that are worn out, the expense of nuclear power takes it out of the running."

Additionally if even 5% of the costs of research into nuclear power to date had been, or were likely to be spent on researching renewable energy sources, what would the potential increase in their efficiency be like? Of course no one can own (and therefore sell) the raw materials of renewable energy so the likelihood of the research getting such funding is slim at present - for a similar example please think of the internal combustion engine created to run on peanut oil by Rudolf Diesel (1900). []
Clearly peanuts could be grown cheaply making for a proliferation of available fuel, until big business got involved and rapidly the switch to fuels derived from petroleum allowed for larger profit margins on the mass produced engines, with only negligible performance benefits for the user.

Do feel free to sit on your backside and debate the finer points of this issue, I find myself in that role for this particular action, but please also take the time to read around the subject and try to understand what may be motivating people to act... Why not read Lester Brown's book? (I promise I'm not on his payroll!)
You may even find yourself so fired up (no pun intended) you join the march on the 4th of November.

I leave you with some further thoughts as to why Drax may have been chosen:

"Britain's biggest coal-fired power station [Drax] pumps more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than 103 countries each do, according to figures from the European Commission...",,2-2184145.html

"Countries are not even on track to meet even their modest Kyoto targets, despite growing recognition that we are already facing dramatic consequences as a result of climate change."

"Last year, Drax produced 20.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.",,2-2184145.html

"The UK Government's goal for renewable energy production is to produce twenty percent of electricity in the UK by the year 2020."

striving for understanding

low carbon can work

31.08.2006 12:13

on the wind tubines rant at the top:

2000 turbines may sound like a lot, and I can believe that the largest onshore stations in the UK only have 50 turbines. But there are currently offshore wind farms being planned aound this country - and being built elsewhere - which will have this generating capacity.

Offshore turbines are somewhat bigger and more powerful (3MW). 1600 is an array 40 turbines wide and 40 turbines long - not so impossible, or, in fact even difficult. There have been more complex machines built - in fact the millions of cars churned out daily are an example. Moving offshore, whilst it has problems, makes the scale of the required generation seem not such a big deal. (intermittancy is another issue, but this requires a strategy of distributed power generation, multiple energy sources, and energy storage. It in no ways means that wind cannot be a major contributor to our power supply)

The issue here is political will - and our demands - keep up the great work at the camp!

Here's an interesting diagram of where we get our energy from, and whats its used for (from the govt) - and you'll see a nice 60% of energy in fossil fuel stations goes up those nice cooling towers.

So 'the most efficient producer of MW electricity' is frankly missing the point - why on earth are we running these big fossil dinosaurs, when at least if we burnt fossils in smaller stations, closer to towns means we could use the heat, well, as heat, like they do in Sweden and elsewhere? Not ideal, but one step away from this insanity.

Drax is a monument to madness and inefficiency - close it down!



31.08.2006 15:22

I'm a bit busy at the moment I'll read through the above comments in a bit more detail at a later date...... Just wanted to explain a few points. The reason I feel that you need to view generation on efficiency and cleanliness per MW generated is as follows. OK so I've seen the Camp website and your all for not coming in cars or if you do lift share to reduce emissions right... bare with me this will eventually make sense. Right so if 40 commuters head off to work in a morning each one in their own car, the combined emissions are high right even though the emissions of the individual cars are less. If they all got on a bus the bus would have greater emissions than any single car but less than there combined total. In targeting Drax you have targeted the bus yes it emits more than any single other station in the UK but it services more people overall and this is the greater good, overall less emissions for more people serviced. That makes sense right. If you were to close Drax all the commuters would have to get into their cars to drive and the emissions would be overall greater. Right lets also get this clear coal will not completely go away, as I said above just wind or any renewable leads to security of supply issues so you have to mix renewables with what’s already here. Some coal will be a part of that bigger picture so why not have the cleanest coal out there instead of the 40 cars ???? Do you understand what I'm saying yet some coal will have to stay and this should be the cleanest, which is DRAX. I can’t say it any other way it's not a figure fiddle it’s the truth. Your pissing down your leg in the actions your currently taking.



31.08.2006 18:04

Gigglewatt Valley, this is astoundingly beautiful and delectably funny. It was an honour and a privilege to work with you. I miss you, please write me at And if you want to visit glasgow this month, come on up...and if you want to sail to america next year, swim on over. love and respect xxx

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metaphorically speaking

01.09.2006 13:03

I'm glad there's some discussion about this, and it sounds like common ground is being established which is good.
The Friends of the Earth stats that show Drax as the most efficient of the coal-fueled power stations is based on the report from the Environment Agency for 2002. In the context of climate change and this camp specifically, Drax's relative efficiency is irrelevant as it is only compared to other coal-fueled power stations. Regardless of it's efficiency, the fact remains that Drax is the biggest coal-fueled power station in Europe, and is the "UK's biggest single source of green-house gas emissions".
I hope you won't mind if i appropriate your metaphor to illustrate my point, but it is clear to me that you are still presenting a reductionist argument.
"If you were to close Drax all the commuters would have to get into their cars to drive and the emissions would be overall greater."
You couldn't have picked a better metaphor in my view, and it reveals the problem I perceive in your approach. A power station is there to give us energy to use all the creature comforts we are so used to (including the computer you are reading this on) - similarly a bus is there to perform the function of getting people from A to B. If we can close this coal-fueled power station, and maybe convert it to using biomass instead, or in the short-term switch to more efficient, cleaner options that already exist like gas, with a long-term aim to eventually completely getting rid of these huge polluters, we are not getting rid of the bus and forcing people into their cars... what is being said is, you need to get from A to B, so instead of taking the car or bus, let's start using bikes or even walking (legs weren't just designed for pushing the accelerator pedal). If you can't do that immediately, what about using something less polluting (and this is speculative as I haven't researched it) but what about a moped or even working from home some of the time?

The point is a coal-fueled power station is the equivalent of everyone using their cars without even sharing lifts (admittedly Drax maybe a slightly swishy hybrid car but that's not good enough anymore). We need to think about using the bus, the train, a bicycle or any one of the myriad other options that would achieve the same end result. Drax is the single biggest cause of climate change in this country, to ignore that fact when trying to draw attention to the issues at stake would be profoundly stupid.

Furthermore there is no factual basis to say that coal must remain a part of the larger picture of energy production going forwards. If it ends up being used for a phasing out period while renewable energy sites are developed, even then there are so many other options that would be far better for the environment that should be considered. To return to our metaphor did you know 40% of motor-powered vehicles in Brazil run off ethanol from sugarcane? There are also gas powered buses popping up all across the UK now. It is not a binary choice between inefficient coal power stations, and slightly more efficient coal power stations, look at Scandinavia. Frankly, many countries have made so much progress on this we are starting to look ridiculous.

If you remain unconvinced please point out the urine stains on my metaphorical trousers.

striving for understanding

lack of research!

02.09.2006 17:14

Regarding the wind turbine topic, they may generate clean energy, but all the turbines currently erected in the UK provide the same amount of electricity as half (yes thats half) of one of Drax's units.

So whats the alternative, to cover the UK with wind turbines??

The only real alternative to coal fired power stations is nuclear, which are the most eco friendly (higly ironic!!). Not sure about anyone else but I'd much rather take my chances with climate change than have to suffer radiation sickness!!


slacker research

03.09.2006 14:07

Claire - I'm assuming your 'lack of research' title refers to the comment you left?
- Currently Denmark gets 20% of all it's electricity from wind power
- Europe's wind generation capacity in 2004 was 34,500 MW which is projected to expand to 75,000 MW by 2010, 230,000 MW by 2020 (which by the way would satisfy the needs of 50% of the population of Europe by that stage 195m consumers).
- When the US department of Energy released it first wind resource inventory in 1991, it noted that North Dakota, Kansas and Texas between them had enough harnessable wind energy to satisfy the entire of the national electrical needs - based on the inefficient turbines that existed in 1991. A gross under-estimation it has since found, and with existing technologies, those three states could comfortably supply enough power to cover the entire national energy needs of the United States.
- The heat wave in 2003 largely attributed to climate change claimed 49,000 lives and immeasurably damaged production of crops.

But as you say I'm sure it's just lack of research that causes people to dismiss fossil fuels and the nuclear option (despite nuclear being widely recognised as the most expensive and dangerous method of producing energy).

Please share the research you have performed into wind energy (as already mentioned more than capable of producing half our electrical energy needs in the time it would take to get a nuclear power station online), and I'm absolutely sure you couldn't have overlooked solar energy (used more widely in Nepal than the UK currently), not to mention tidal energy & hydropower, biofuels, geothermal energy, hydrogen power...


striving for understanding

Missed a bit!

03.09.2006 14:22

Terribly sorry to leave another comment before anyone even has a chance to read the previous one, but just noticed Claire's comment that nuclear power stations are the most eco-friendly...

Assuming you understand that 'eco' in that context is an abbreviation of ecology (the branch of biology dealing with the relations and interactions between organisms and their environment, including other organisms) - could you explain how nuclear waste is more 'eco-friendly' than any one of the many renewable energy options that don't produce highly toxic, radioactive waste? Assuming of course that they aren't one of the most obvious terrorist targets and the potential for accidents at those sites (interestingly your research may stumble at this point owing to the imprisonment of scientists who challenge the official figures of the effects -

Awesome - looking forward to it!

striving for understanding

that addition is NONSENSE - pls make it a comment again!!

06.09.2006 16:16

I don't know who made the top comment an addition - those figures are public, and not relevant.

Do you really think that so many people who worked so hard on the climate camp in advance didn't know that or do any research? Are you really that rude or disrespectful?!!

Drax is the biggest single-point emitter of CO2 in the UK, and the biggest power station in Europe. It produces more CO2 than over 100 countries.

And nuclear good, and a lot of the other blather comments - do some research and get a grip. Are you just trying to find fault, or justify why you weren't at the most empowering exciting political event in years? Pity for you.

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