My family and I just returned from a terrific coach tour of the UK and Ireland. I liked being a passenger; it gave me the opportunity to see a lot of the country. As people that know me might suspect, I paid a good deal of attention to the energy infrastructure that I could see from coach.
As is fairly commonly known, retail gasoline prices are much higher, even though the wholesale price for that commodity is a bit less in the UK than it is in the United States. (Great Britain is still a net oil exporter and is home to a number of large, modern refineries.) The difference in retail prices are the taxes imposed by the federal and local governments.
Specifically, we (even my 20 and 21 year old daughters pay attention to gas prices) that the price for a liter of petrol was pushing one pound stirling in England and Scotland and was in excess of 1.25 euros in Ireland. Translating that to US dollars per gallon gives one a price of $6.90. (I have to digress – just upgraded to MAC OS 10.4 – Tiger and used a couple of Dashboard wigets including the Converter and Calculator to punch those numbers. GREAT stuff!)
While traveling through the center of the country, we passed by a couple of nuclear power plants quietly performing their mission and also passed a number of coal fired plants. Apparently those plants were built near mines; I did not see any of the long trains full of coal that are normally near the plants close to my home.
We also had the opportunity to see some very large wind turbines in southern Wales. I had been staring at the large high voltage transmission lines that snake all over that industrialized portion of the country when one of my daughters pointed out the huge white windmills off on a distant hill. I would guess that the turbines, including the blades were easily 2 times as tall as the high voltage towers. It may be that some people like the way that they look, but I personally prefer open vistas.
While traversing the Irish Sea, I noticed that it was a pretty busy place. I wonder how the ferries, fishermen, sailors and commercial vessel operators are going to feel about off shore wind turbine development.