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The lights on, but is anybody home?

A few years ago now, due to the Governments love of doing an "ostrich act", that is, putting its head in the sand and hoping problems go away, the UK was faced with an unprecedented (but entirely predictable) power supply problem.

The problem comes from the European Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), which sets out a timetable for the shut down of power stations with high CO2 emissions by 2016 (this deadline has been recently extended to July 2020).

In typical Government fashion, they ignored this deadline, until it came to a point where if they started construction on new power stations, sufficient to meet the UK demand, they wouldn't be ready to supply the UK grid until 2018 at the earliest, and the current, more efficient power stations were insufficient to meet the UK demand.

This left at least a 2 year gap, in which the UK would not be self sufficient in power generation capacity.

What did the Government do? Did it admit "we screwed up", no, it tried to shift the blame to its citizens. Blaming them for using too much power.

They blamed us for leaving mobile phone chargers plugged in all the time.
They blamed us for not using low power CCFL lightbulbs.
They blamed us for leaving computers and other appliances on standby instead of turning them right the way off.

All because the Government ignored the fact that it NEEDED to build new power stations.

They knew they would never get away with legislating against these things. So what did they do? They sought the cooperation of the corporations. One of the things they did was that they asked the major retail stores to stop supplying filament style light bulbs. As the profit margin on the CCFL bulbs was so much higher, the stores rubbed their hands with glee. They could now refuse to sell us what we wanted, and say "blame the government", while creaming off huge profits.

The Government would also gain by reducing the power demand, after all 60watt to 11watt isn't a huge saving, but multiply that by several million bulbs in use, and it is a very significant saving on our power consumption as a whole.

The only losers would be the citizens. After all the light quality of the CCFL bulbs is abysmal. Dull, and lacklustre.

What the nobody in charge predicted (but could have easily), was that while the major stores stopped selling filament bulbs, the local stores and minor DIY outlets, did not, and they made huge profits from the sale of light bulbs.

People did not make the change to CCFL's (despite many a push, even being given free CCFL's to show them they aren't bad). All they did, was bought their light bulbs from the local stores instead of the major outlets.

Well, finally the major outlets have stopped, and thought "Wait, this aint working. Our projected revenue stream from CCFL's has not materialized. They are just buying elsewhere.", and what is their response?

Thats right. They have started stocking normal (non-CCFL) bulbs again.

I predict that the Governments next move will be to do what it was trying to avoid. To legislate.



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