Friday, August 31, 2007

Well, that didn’t last long. Within less than 24 hours, the Economy Minister slapped down the Housing Minister, saying her plans for tax incentives to boost the rental market were ‘just thoughts’ at this stage. Could this be evidence of the lack of experience I cited yesterday? Though, of course, she’s not now as wet behind the ears as she was 48 hours ago.

I see a hefty fine has been imposed on BAA for its failure to achieve targets for moving passengers through security checks. Several Spanish readers have taken rather badly the complaints against BAA and insisted they’ve arisen only because the company is Spanish-owned. I even saw an article in one of the heavy papers suggesting it was indicative of British commercial chauvinism, though the author rather undermined his case by failing to cite any similarly ‘unjustified’ criticism of the American, German, French, etc. companies which own huge swathes of British industry. So his real accusation was, presumably, anti-Spanish attitudes. Personally, I think this is nonsense and evidence of victimist thinking. Heathrow and Gatwick have been hellholes for ages and it’s impossible to believe Ferrovial weren’t aware of this and didn’t know what they were getting into. If the imminent inquiry proves they really did cut investment in passenger services, then they’ll have no one to blame but themselves. And anti-Spanish attitudes will have had nothing to do with it. Vamos a ver. Meanwhile, BAA has said their new chief operating officer’s task will be to “bring substantial improvements to our operational performance.” Which sounds like a bit of an admission to me. Click here for more on the Spanish connection. As the article says, “Why Ferrovial chose to take on BAA and in particular Heathrow - one of the world's least favourite airports - remains a mystery”.

I also read that in the UK “Energy companies are cashing in on Government subsidies by building wind farms that will never make any money because they are being constructed on sites with not enough wind”. I have to admit this is a suspicion which crosses my mind every time I drive up into the hills and see yet more of these ugly giants disfiguring the skyline. In the UK, it’s reported that “To meet EU targets for renewable energy, the Government has subsidised the wind turbine industry by half a billion pounds. Yet companies have not managed to deliver even 0.5 per cent of Britain's electricity needs”. I wonder what the numbers are for Spain.

I’ve become aware this week that the Google ads on my screen are not the same as those on other readers' screens. So I guess Google is using all the data they have on me to target what the computer says are my interests or needs. But how on earth does it know I’m considering buying a horse? All very eerie. I think I’ll test the theory by writing numerous emails to myself about, say, buying a penguin.

Talking of emails and eeriness, there’s been a massive drop in spam messages to my Terra address over recent days. But I await the storm after the calm. Perhaps the first sign was a message this morning offering me a job with a Latvian company, signed by their CEO, Dik Stain. Which is not a name I’d be proud of.

An article in the August edition of Prospect magazine says that the USA and the UK may end up getting none of Iraq’s oil, once it is flowing again. I wonder what the war-for-oil conspiracy thinkers will come up with then.

Finally, a better-than-average list of odd arrival routes for this month:-
is ‘queered’ valid in scrabble?
E.U. babel whore
Doomed to be Stoned in Sludge Swamp
spaniards white socks
Riot nacionalidad The Brethren Of The Long House
spain running of the midgets
why are galician people different than the spanish people
spanish holiday sardines in a casket
gay policeman porn


Pedro J. said...

Dear Colin, I insist we must give some two years to see what Ferrovial y capable to do with BAA. It would make sense to reduce badly planned investments in the past while you develop the new investments plan.
Anyway I give you the data about wind power in Spain, which is the first country in MgW installed per head and the second of the world in total capacity after Germany. It is also the world´s main producer of Wind turbines.

Of course it depends on the wind but on average wind power represented on average 12-13% of the whole spanish demand of electricity.

You can check data of wind power generation and demand on this site:

I calculated it for the last 30 hours and wind power represents 11,76% of the total demand today.


Xoan-Carlos said...

My understanding is that approx. 50% of electricity generated is lost in the distribution process, so does this mean that even though Spain PRODUCES the equivalent of 12-13% of demand from wind, it only SUPPLIES 6-6.5% of demand?

Nice to see that BAA are laying off another 2,000 staff after the busy holiday season--maybe if the Conquistadors footsoilders had to travel through Gatwick and Heathrow once a week they'd be a bit less chauvanistic. Two more years and Heathrow will look like Bagdad airport, only with more shops and more homeless refugees (English tourists rather than Iraqis) sleeping there. Airports should be nationalised or owned by local municipalities as is the case in most of Europe. Having London's 4 main airports owned and operated by two construction companies and a state-owned company (Aena) from a country where all airports are still state-owned is completely uncompetitive.

Pedro J. said...

I compared the data of generation with the demand data, both includes the loss of distribution process, by the way, It is planned to reach 20% of the electricity demand by 2010. Another interesting figure about wind power in Spain, during the storms in march wind power reached 27% of the demand overtaking nuclear power.

Xoan be a bit patient and wait for the new facilities openning soon at Heathrow....

Xoan-Carlos said...

That makes me feel as if all those eyesores dotted around Galicia's landscape are worth it then. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Following recent A3 autovia trips I note the wind turbines virtually grind to a halt during the afternoon siesta period - is this a noise abatement measure (!), or lack of wind at this peak demand time? If the latter, how is the electricity generated in the afternoons, and is the provision of the stand-by plant included in the calculation of the "economics of wind turbines" (No!)

Colin said...

Pedro J,

I agree that it will take Ferrovial time to sort out the pre-existing problems but the issue is really whether they have made them worse, for which they are now getting a lot of stick. The jury is still out.

Thanks for the data on wind power here in Spain. Though I don't think I'd go so far as X-C and say I feel better about the eyesores. Especially as I can see the ones on the old Ourense road from my windows.

Anonymous said...

Ferrovial is not to be blamed.

Ferrovial worries about providing the shareholders with the best value. So, if they think they can buy at 10, extract 15 and sell at 5 after a short period, they will go for it.

Maybe other strategies are more profitable in the long run...and maybe Ferrovial has other long term investments and prefers to get the maximum profit of BAA in the short term.

Anyway, the ones to be blamed are the ones who sold BAA.

Colin said...

As your logic appears to be that companies can only be blamed if they lose money, why do you say the sellers of BAA to Ferrovial are to be blamed?

Anonymous said...

Because the original "seller" was the State and not a company.

Anyway, if the British (the "shareholders" of the State) are happy with the privatisation, I won't object.
And if they are not, they should be more careful about voting for people like Thatcher.

In any case it was their call. Ferrovial should only be blamed if it does anything illegal. Otherwise, it is just free market in practice.