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I was rather amused by this fairly recent article in the Guardian called "The in campaign should sell Europe as the Star Trek state":
The writer is Zoe Williams, apparently Daniel Hannan's favourite left-wing columnist, and she wants the campaign to keep Britain in Europe to adopt a much more positive tone, summed up in this paragraph from the article:
"Those campaigning against Brexit need to construct a separate argument for a humane and meaningful response to the refugee crisis, in which the active cooperation of nations is foundational, the one thing that will enable and unleash our decency. That case could, and should, come from unexpected quarters – the Institute of Directors could do it (indeed, it already has). In needs to carve out technological advance, indeed, modernity itself as its natural territory: if the retreat behind borders is backwards-looking, what would forward look like? A European super-grid and coordinated renewables programme, building on Danish surpluses and German ambition, British technology and Austrian rigour, to turn itself into the Star Trek continent, running on limitless free energy, boldly going where no state has gone before."
There are a lot of strange assertions going on in that paragraph, not least that she seems to think that renewable energy is "free energy". I'm also not sure why she thinks British technology has got anything to boast about in the present day. I also don't remember renewable energy being used to any extent in Star Trek.
My view is that if you want to be an advanced technology country or a 'Star Trek state', your best bet is to get out of the EU. To give an example of how being in the EU is not helpful to technological development, consider this news story from the Register from a few months ago:
The news story, written in a sarcastic tone, is about the EU clearing the UK government to be able to give a £50 million grant for designing something called the SABRE space launcher, after checking whether it complied with EU state aid rules.
I would assume these EU state aid rules don't apply to the defence industry, as it would be pretty difficult to develop military equipment without state funding. I also get the impression that renewable energy is relatively untroubled by these rules, even though it must be receiving a huge amount of effective state aid in the EU, much of it from electricity bill payers, and also industry in some EU countries (not the UK) has its electricity bills shielded from the cost escalation effect of renewable energy by government subsidies.
My view is that if you want to do this advanced technology stuff, the first step is to be in a position where the government can fund what it wants, and you don't necessarily get that being in the EU. British politicians and civil servants don't have a particularly good track record in funding technology and knowing which is the right horse to back, but that's a separate problem that can potentially be sorted out.
Well, I had a nice long response written, clicked post and got the message "Spam detected". It appears they (whoever they are) will not allow this.
Of course, they also managed to then lose the post.
It's too late and I'm too tired to re write it now.
I said in my previous post that, unlike some other EU countries, the UK doesn't subsidise industry to shield it from the cost escalation effect of renewable energy. Apparently the UK now does, and has received approval in the last week or so from the EU to provide this state aid:
Following the announcement of major job losses in the UK steel industry a couple of months ago, the UK government has introduced a subsidy arrangement where energy intensive industries now get 60 to 70 % of their Green-related energy costs covered, but they couldn't introduce the support immediately because they had to go through the formal process of getting EU state aid approval (though for anything connected with renewable energy the approval seems to be straightforward).
I suppose this is a significant development, as it is the first time I've noticed British politicians formally acknowledge the idea that renewable energy is too expensive for British industry to be competitive.