According to the Good Book, “there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth”. And recently, we’ve had several. There was George Monbiot, long-time anti-nuclear campaigner, recently converted to the nuclear cause (although for the bad reason that it cuts CO2 emissions). There was James Lovelock, of the Gaia Hypothesis, who has said “Twenty years ago we knew where the climate was going. Now we don’t”. And now we have Fritz Vahrenholt.
Vahrenholt may not be a household name in the East Midlands, but he’s well known in Germany where he’s been a prominent environmentalist for many years. He worked in environmental agencies, and then in the renewables divisions of major energy companies. Currently he is the CEO of the renewables arm of RWE. Over a long and distinguished career he has collected many academic honours. He has also been active in German politics as a socialist.
With this background, his conversion from Warmist to climate sceptic is all the more surprising, and all the more welcome. On June 13th he was invited by Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation to give a lecture at The Royal Society, explaining his position and introducing his new book, “The Cold Sun”. I couldn’t attend, but a colleague has given me the notes that follow.
Summary of lecture
· As Chief Executive of the renewables branch of RWE, he had a one billion euro budget plus, and failed to make a profit on wind or photovoltaic – “a disaster”
· The lack of sun in Germany caused the PV failure
· The lack of wind (variability from pattern predicted, and less than predicted) in Germany caused the wind failure
· The variability of the wind could have been predicted accurately because the wind follows a ten year cycle called the Atlantic Decadal Oscillation – basically driven by the pressure difference between Iceland and the Azores (there is also a Pacific Decadal Oscillation)
· All these failures caused him to question the received wisdom of the IPCC and the ‘bible’ of the renewables industry, the IPCC report
· He now tends to favour a multi-factorial model including the cosmic ray-sun activity (magnetosphere/solar wind) put forward by Svensmark
· He believes that CO2 is not the main climate change driver – “CO2 models are all inaccurate” and fail to predict
· The best models predict some cooling in the next few years
· Even when renewables create excess energy, it cannot be stored easily or cheaply
· Bond cycles are confirmed world over (that’s Fred Singer’s “Unstoppable Global Warming — every 1500 years”)
· He believes that EU has unhelpfully created a “hustled, angst-driven energy policy”
· His book “The Cooling Sun” will be released in English, date not available
· He has gone from being the darling of Greens in Germany to a hate figure, but he wants science to win, and he believes that it is winning and will win
Ironically, it is his company, RWE, that is seeking to build the Batsworthy Cross wind farm in North Devon, on the edge of Exmoor. I was a witness at the appeal hearing last Friday. What a glorious irony that the Chief Executive of RWE renewables should now have turned against the theory on which the whole renewables industry is based. But it’s clear that the sceptics are winning the arguments.