Green Energy: The worm turns

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I have been arguing for a long time that EU energy policy is a disaster for competitiveness.  It is driving up energy costs, forcing industries, and investment, and jobs out of the EU altogether.  And at the same time, it is leaving millions of households and pensioners in fuel poverty, many forced to choose between eating and heating.  And after all that, it is not clear that it is having any impact at all on emissions.  Indeed it may, perversely, increase them, by forcing industry out to other jurisdictions with lower environmental standards.  I understand that a ton of steel made in China results in twice the emissions as the same ton of steel made in Europe.

I’ve been puzzled by the fact that industry generally has been very slow to make the case on energy costs.  I’ve had some large energy users worrying privately about power costs, but most large companies seem to be intimidated by Big Green, and daren’t voice their concerns.  Marks & Spencers lorries carry that absurd slogan “Plan A.  Because there is no Plan B”.  Yes there is a Plan B, Mr. Marks.  Plan B is, don’t do Plan A.

Now, however, BusinessEurope, one of the major European industrial lobby groups, has put its head over the parapet and told Mr. José Manuel Barroso in no uncertain terms that it’s time to stop focussing on climate mitigation, and to concentrate instead on competitiveness and security of supply: And about time too.  As the Good Book says, “There is joy in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth”.  At last, we have a tentative outbreak of common sense.

But what about the European parliament, that bastion of green orthodoxy that can be relied on to support climate alarmism through thick and thin?  There are signs of a breach in the dyke, and the little Dutch Boy’s finger may no longer suffice to stem the tide.  I wrote recently about the parliament’s vote on the Commission’s ETS back-loading proposal, which the parliament rejected — for once putting jobs and competitiveness ahead of climate policy.

And earlier this week, we had another small but surprising — and very encouraging — development.  An amendment mildly critical of wind turbines and solar panels was passed, albeit by a tight margin.  By 337 votes to 324. in a report on Renewable Energy, the following amendment was passed: “39. Points out that, in some regions, especially small communities and islands, the deployment of windmills and photovoltaic panels has met with public opposition; points out that windmills and photovoltaic panels are perceived to have an adverse effect on tourist industries and on the nature and form of countryside/island landscapes”.

That’s right.  The European parliament recognised, for the first time, the downsides of renewables, at least in terms of landscape and visual intrusion.  I can’t call it a breakthrough or a sea-change, but it’s certainly tip-toeing in the right direction.

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119 Responses to Green Energy: The worm turns

  1. catalanbrian says:

    Or, dare I suggest, that they are just recognising that there is a minority out there that may agree with UKIP’s blinkered energy policy

    • UKIP energy policy is NOT blinkered, they are simply bringing out the truth of the VERY, VERY blinkered Greenies, DECC, OFGEM and Major Generators who are just jumping on the band-wagon of making a ‘Fast Buck’. The whole renewable energy and climate change lobby is quite simply a SCAM. Open your eyes to truth and reality please!!!

    • Donald Rikking says:

      People who care about the environment and know what they are talking about want nuclear. Arguments against it are misinformed, outdated and regressive.

      As of 2012, France’s electricity price to household customers is the 7th cheapest amongst the 27 member European Union, and also the 7th cheapest to industrial consumers, with a rate of €0.14/kWh to households and €0.07/kWh to industrial consumers. France was the biggest energy exporter in the EU in 2012, exporting 45TWh of electricity to its neighbours.

      NUCLEAR FRANCE = 65 million people. 395 million metric tonnes of CO2 produced annually.

      COAL/ GAS/ NUCLEAR (+pathetic renewables sideshow) BRITAIN = 60 million people. 532 million metric tonnes of CO2 produced annually.

      Hinkley, in Somerset, will cost £14 billion and supply power to 5,000,000 homes. There are 25 million homes in the UK. The UK taxpayer will have forked out at least £120 billion for windmills by 2020. HS2 will cost over £30 billion.

      Who’s ‘blinkered’?

      Professor Lovelock – the founder of the modern CO2 obsessed ‘greens’ – calls turbines ‘monuments to a failed civilization’. Mark Lynas sums up Germany’s renewables commitments like this: “My conclusion is that unfortunately Germany’s ‘renewables revolution’ is at best making no difference to the country’s carbon emissions, and at worst pushing them marginally upwards. Thus, tens (or even hundreds, depending on who you believe) of billions of euros are being spent on expensive solar PV and wind installations for no climatic benefit whatsoever.”

      Wind does not replace or displace our use of coal, gas or nuclear. It is the very definition of a PC folly.

      • catalanbrian says:

        For the sake of clarity I would like to emphasise that I am a supporter of nuclear power generation,and not just in somebody else’s back yard. In addition to living within 1km of a windfarm I live about 5k from a Nuclear power station.

      • The Mystery Oracle says:

        At Westinghouse Electric Company, nuclear is our only business (unlike the French AREVA with their green smokescreen Wind Turbine Pantomime) and nuclear is our core competency. Building on 125 years of innovation, Westinghouse now introduces our next product innovation with the Westinghouse Small Modular Reactor (SMR).

        The Westinghouse SMR is a >225 MWe integral pressurized water reactor with all primary components located inside the reactor vessel. It utilizes passive safety systems and proven components – realized in the industry-leading AP1000® reactor design – to achieve the highest level of safety and reduced the number of components required.

        In addition to the generation of electricity for grid
        transmission, the Westinghouse SMR offers other
        carbon-free energy options
        • The heat produced from an SMR unit can be valuable
        in district heating applications
        • The unit is well-sized for applications requiring large
        quantities of reliable power, such as desalination or
        energy-intensive applications like manufacturing and
        chemical plant operations

        • 331 reactors are proposed in 37 countries over
        the next 15 years, worth $1.6 trillion or more.

        The most robust…
        Westinghouse’s passive safety systems already
        provide enhanced safety margins and resilience
        to extreme events,

        The most certainty…
        The rail-shippable scale allows for efficient factory
        fabrication and delivery that guarantees quality control
        levels unattainable with on-site construction

        With Westinghouse’s approach, and involving our long term
        UK Partners, Rolls Royce Nuclear Power Engineering, we could
        for instance build a new “Hinkley Point” sized capacity in stages,
        using our new design of SMR and have the plant generating for
        the GRID in less than six months, and with a continuing program
        of additional modules added as they become available, have a site
        such as at Hinkley Point, at the same capacity as is proposed by
        the AREVA consortium, in less time and at less cost to the UK
        consumer.

        AND THAT’s NUCLEAR FACT ROGER !

      • Me_Again says:

        Why the hell aren’t we using them then? I’d rather by American nuclear reactors than their Trident missiles.
        These in particular sound practical, state of the art and better still modular. Interchangeable units means higher online efficiency by reducing maintenance downtime, lower danger, because you can bet smaller units dispersed in a nest system would be easier to control in the event of a problem.

    • Me_Again says:

      I think you may find that the minority is in fact the majority. You’ve lost the climate debate and without that foundation the whole soggy house of cards falls. The raison d’etre of the windmill and to a lesser extent the solar panel was based on this flawed theory. This isn’t a UKIP thing alone but they are the only party big enough to buck the PC system and say that the emperor has no clothes!

    • 1957chev says:

      You could suggest it…but you really should take it a step further….The E.U. is a sinking ship, and unless you fancy yourself to be the Captain of the ship, the very one who steered it so badly off course, I would get the hell off that ship, and into the nearest lifeboat right now! U.K.I.P., whether you recognize it or not, is the lifeboat that stands the best job of saving you.

    • 1957chev says:

      Growing quickly into a majority…..

  2. Roger,
    Thank you for reporting a very slight move against the climate change agenda and I see UKIP’s honesty about this real issue as a major factor in bringing about this recognition that ‘so-called’ Green Energy is not all its trumped up to be.
    Many of the Greenies have turned a blind eye to the ‘actual truthful carbon footprint’ analyses in obtaining raw materials, manufacture, construction, operations and maintenance areas. This is why China, in particular has bye-passed the spy glass test or should it be termed ‘the blind eye of truth neglect’.
    In relation to wind turbine utilisation, I think here in the UK that we have all ready passed the ‘point of no-return’, that is where any further deployment of wind turbines will actually increase carbon emissions rather than the intent to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. That actually means that there is absolutely ‘no point’ to continuing building wind-turbines both ‘on-shore’ and ‘off-shore’, its time that all subsidies to ‘so-termed’ renewable energy developments were stopped because they are NOT DOING WHAT THEY PROCLAIM to be doing!!! and they are costing us more than double for the energy being produced.
    STOP all massively expensive transmissions like major power system interconnections because transporting power intermittently over large distances just AINT cost effective, it causes increased transmission losses and these are just being charged through the energy balancing system arrangements that are NOT being devisive in their cost or carbon emissions selection processes.
    PUT A STOP to this WANTON WASTE NOW!!!
    George Wood.

    • Brian H says:

      by-passed

      Nice enumeration of some of the stupidest of the decisions driving the Renewables Travesty. Dispersed, uncontrollably variable energy costs money to concentrate and store. Duh. It’s SO painful to watch.

    • 1957chev says:

      Your comments are bang-on George!

  3. Minority? Have you been to Skegness or Blythe or Cornwall lately? They are a blight on the landscape. Costing more money than they are worth.

    • catalanbrian says:

      So the entire population of the UK lives in Skegness, Blyth and Cornwall and the majority of those are supporter of UKIP’s energy policy? Unless this is true I think the term “minority” is correct. Yes you may consider them to be a blight on the landscape but there are others who think the opposite, and they are equally entitled to an opinion.

      • David H. Walker says:

        Energy policy, in general, is about determining who prospers and who pays by through coercion, litigious or legislated. The government is manipulated by those members of the establishment, the aligned and the do-gooders to set the boundaries and, lately, real effectiveness has not been in their field of view. There is no easy answer, but the solar panels and windmills are indeed a horrible blight on the countryside. If you don’t believe it, time-travel to the mountaintops of pre-green agenda Indio, CA and look down. Then bring yourself back to today and catch a second look. You’re nuts if you refuse to recognized the problem it causes.

      • Donald Rikking says:

        Yet those ‘others’ you refer to are clearly in a minority as they do negatively effect tourism. This can be seen in Scotland, for example. They also negatively effect house prices – as the Canadian courts have just acknowledged.

        I’d also remind you that in Scotland over 70% of all subsidy poles are built on carbon sink peat bogs. The Scottish Government was told by Aberdeen University – in a study the Scottish Government commissioned – that peat bogs should not be touched. They hold more CO2 – if that’s your thing – than Amazonian rainforests. Yet STILL they are built on peat bogs.

        These developers couldn’t care less about the environment. They just want taxpayers money.

      • DougS says:

        Brian: I happen to live a few miles from Blyth – home to the UK’s most inefficient wind farm!

        In 2010 the average output of the Blyth Harbour Wind Farm was 4.9% of installed capacity. In other words; eight and a half ornaments and half a wind turbine!

        Does that sound like sensible use of subsidies ripped off taxpayers?

      • They are of course a blight. And Lincolnshire is clear about this, as demonstrated in the poll organised for the Lincolnshire Council. People not living near them are entitled to have them, and their wind folly ‘view’, but should desist from forcing them onto others.

      • 1957chev says:

        Even the people across the ocean, here in Canada, know that U.K.I.P. is your best chance to survive the E.U. meltdown. Get out while you can!

  4. catalanbrian says:

    Ads I said, some may not like the visual impact of wind and solar generation but others are not at all concerned about this matter. Somehow I think that, given the choice, most people would sooner live within sight of a wind turbine or a set of solar panels than a conventional power station whether it be gas, coal or nuclear, but thereagain I may be wrong in this. As it so happens I look out upon 12 large wind turbines on the mountains at the front of my house and my house is powered by solar panels as I have no access to grid power. I have no problems with this visually, and I dare say that I am not alone in this view. I hasten to add I am not a “do-gooder”, just someone who sees the reality of energy production and its environmental impact.

    • The bigger picture is what you should focus on and that is that wind and solar power only deliver electrical energy intermittently. The argument does not hold that if the wind isnt blowing here it will be elsewhere. Whilst this is true a factual analysis would show that to harness the intermittent wind or the daylight solar panels you still need conventional and nuclear to back them up to attain a reliable electricity source. It just so happens that to use intermittent wind and solar you have to result in starting and stopping or running partly loaded conventional power stations. This makes them less efficient and in fact they lose of the order of 20% efficiency from a previously 65% efficient generator. This taken across the board results in increased carbon dioxide emissions overall rather than a reduction. Therefore above a 15% density level of wind-turbines there are no carbon emission savings overall and the more you add thereafter the CO2 emissions increase. So there is no point at all of adding further wind-turbines to the mix. This double cost electricity should be halted now because there is no further carbon emissions benefit. Therefore stop the ROC subsidies now and change course back to gas fired power stations, as America has, who are now seeing a significant reduction in electricity prices and their industrial might growing whilst reducing carbon dioxide emissions due to increased gas-fired power plant production.

    • David H. Walker says:

      catalanbrian, please volunteer your yard for the next public utility-sized solar panel or windmill installation — demand they’re in your yard. There are plenty of examples of lost property value and psychosis among those who live in the vicinity of the latter.

      My sister, who lives in the California High Desert, was routinely compelled/recruited into fighting the agenda out there to keep her community relatively free of windmills, solar panels and super-sized powerlines. Thankfully the eco-freaks lost their bids and/or their wells ran dry, and they have abandoned their nutty, vain projects.

      • catalanbrian says:

        I do already have wind turbines in my “yard”, within a kilometer of my house. Perhaps I don’t object to them because I have become psychotic as a result of their proximity!

      • I will try and locate the evidence of these things setting themselves alight. As one who has two not one Atomic Power Station on my doorstep, I am not averse to progress, but, you appear to be in the least a tad blinkered in your thinking and argument of your personal cause. These things cost a lot of money which we don’t have in the first instance, and they have to be supported by other power stations of various designs, so, what is the point of them? They are a blight of the landscape and are not in the least bit economical, just another way for the gullible to fall for the patsy story about the Global Warming etc., and are a utter and complete waste of time and space.

    • Glad you’re relaxed about the visual intrusion. But you should be concerned about the dramatic impact on energy costs and industrial competitiveness.

    • Donald Rikking says:

      Please name some coal stations that have been shut due to the last decades obsession with renewables?

      There are not any – quite the opposite, in fact.

      I have no visual problems with my hamster running about in its wheel. I, however, accept that my hamster will not be able to power a modern economic nation. You need to realsie that wind/ solar/ wave can’t either.

      On that note, we are now learning that the solar cell industry is one of the fastest growing emitters of virulent greenhouse gases such as sulfur hexafluoride, which has a global warming potential 23,000 times higher than CO2, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

      The funny thing is that UKIP – with its (long term) nuclear ambitions and its highly controlled immigration – will do more for the good of the environment than all of the self titled Greens ever will/ have.

      • Leo Smith says:

        You make a very nice – in the old fashioned sense of the word – point. There is no difference in aims between any person who has some kind of conscience with respect to the world they are leaving to their descendants. The issue is not the goal, its the way to achieve it.Some of us examine the world dispassionately, use the science and technological skills we are familiar with, do the research and the sums, and discover that the answer is nuclear power. Others, lacking those skills, use emotion, prejudice and bigotry instead, and come up with windmills.

        A third category – those seeking to win elections, with almost no conscience at all – note that the bigots are a strong force, and realise that windmills may win elections. Forgetting that they cannot actually power a country.

        “The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract.”

    • Me_Again says:

      Wrong, I am quite happy to live within sight of a nuclear power station, preferably one with a Thorium reactor core. At least it will do what it says on the tin and will not require constant subsidy of the taxpayers.

      How can you possibly justify wind turbines, we live on a globe you know, each one of those monsterously useless things has around 2 tons of neodymium in it. Where do the do-gooder windmill companies get that from? China. Why? Because it is cheaper than buying from the environmentally safe but more expensive Canadians.

      Your wind mills have managed to create a lake 12 miles by 7 of toxic and radioactive sludge. The people who live in the area suffer constant respiratory problems and incredibly high levels of pancreatic cancer. The Chinese method fabrication and extraction just pumps the effluent out onto the landscape and it has settled in this depression which once was farmland before the West decided to put windmills all over the place.
      It is a globe so shitting on one side of it and polishing the other does not balance things.

      In addition to cure the government’s addiction to be seen to do the ‘PC thing’ they are prepared to offer a 100% subsidy to all onshore generation and 200% for offshore. Now you know why there is so much pressure on planning departments for onshore wind.
      NONE of these developments NONE of them would be built without taxpayer subsidy because the systems are not commercially viable.

      So as usual the truth is the first casualty of these debates. Go stick your head back in the sand.

      • Ken Gallowglaich says:

        They are called Wind Turbines, not Windmills.

      • John Kemp says:

        Ken Gallowglaich
        I call them windmills as a derogatory term since they remind me of the children’s windmills of long ago.

        So windmills is what they are!

    • 1957chev says:

      Given the choice???? If that is true, then….give people the choice. Don`t impose these useless machines on anyone who does not want them.

  5. Frankly catalanbrian, I think your view which you are entitled to, is wholly selfish. You have no idea of what the costs are, and do you have any idea what these things do when they catch fire? Think on Brian.

    • Ken Gallowglaich says:

      “When they catch on fire!”. Good god, who are these ignorant small minded little fools!

      • Catch fire, throw ice, throw blades, topple over, kill endangered birds and raptors, cause sleep deprevatation when placed too close to bedrooms, trash the environment through proliferation and dominating all else by their sheer size, poluting farmland with massive amounts of concrete, and forcing up energy prices at a time of recession and fuel poverty.

      • 1957chev says:

        Do you not know how to “surf the net?” Of course these industrial wind turbines have caught fire. They burn quite nicely….thick black toxic smoke…quite dramatic. Google wind turbine accidents…and have a good day.

  6. catalanbrian says:

    I object to being called selfish, but I suppose to some people with whom I disagree, this very disagreement is considered to be selfish, so I will leave it at that .

    On the question of costs am I to assume that you, yourself are aware of the costs (the real costs and not just those quoted by a biased party). I understand that the costs of wind power per generated KWh are currently similar to those of new coal and gas plants but have the added advantage of not being influenced by the future uncertainty over costs of coal or gas. Perhaps you could advise me if I am wrong in this respect.

    As far as your question regarding what these things do when they catch fire, well I expect they burn just like anything that catches fire. And by the way do you have any figures as to how many wind turbines have actually caught fire and how much damage has resulted from these fires? I would be interested to know.

    • Bellevue says:

      More to the point, Catalanbrian, do they actually work? Do your solar panels provide all your energy needs, all the time?

      • catalanbrian says:

        They provide all of my energy needs most of the time but to be fair I do live in Catalunya where we do get more sun than in the UK. I do occasionally need additional power (in my case generator power, which I agree is less efficient than grid power but I have no choice because I have no grid connection) but very rarely and generally only in the winter months when the sun is lower, the days are shorter and lighting is used for longer periods. On an annualised average basis my generator runs for about 1.5 hours per week, mainly to run my washing machine but at the same time charging my batteries.

        But I have never advocated that the UK, or anywhere else, should adopt entirely solar or wind power, only that these technologies should be part of a general mix of generating capacity which also includes gas, oil, coal, nuclear and hydro. Surely it makes sense to minimise our use of finite (and whatever anybody else might say, they are finite) resources if we are technologically able to do so, so that these resources last longer. Perhaps, ideally, we should substantially increase our nuclear capacity (nuclear only uses minimal resources) but then we have the anti nuclear lobby to contend with! There is of course no simple answer, if only there were and if only politicians would not pretend that there is.

      • Ken Gallowglaich says:

        If some of you people and Mr. “Straight Talker” Helmer and that arrogant humourless little spelk James Delingpole and his buddies Ridley, Lawson and Brooker wish to read the views of Shell, who do actually understand what is happening, have costed the scenerios, accept that Climate Change is real and show that temperature increase is likely to exceed 2 degrees, like most rational informed individuals, go to the Shell website and read that they predict Solar power will ultimately represent 40% of global energy requirements for one of their two scenarios. They are big on gas of course and this represents a very conservative oil company view, but excellent work. Of course many, many miles away from the views and statements of silly political ideological nitwits on here, but there will never not be such right wingers wittering on who do this for personal and psychological reasons. Keeps us on our toes! They are right about one thing however, building wind turbines on land is now unacceptable and they will all go offshore. http://www.shell.com/global/future-energy/scenarios.html

    • I note that the video evidence I entered here has been removed, so by whom may one ask? And, in regard to wildlife and using turbines under sea, the Slimbridge Wildlife Trust are opposed to any kind of Barrage across the Bristol Channel/St Georges Channel or Celtic Sea depending which atlas one consults these days?
      The evidence was the wind turbines on fire, ring any bells anyone?

      • catalanbrian says:

        You make an oblique suggestion that I may have removed the video “evidence” relatin to wind turbines on fire. Can I disappoint you by pleading not guilty. I would suggest that the only person who can delete things from this blog is Mr Helmer. Pehaps he can clear this up for us

    • Leo Smith says:

      I am afraid you are just plain WRONG about costs.
      IF you strip out all the carbon taxes, givernment incentives and use like for like cost comparisons between the various technologies you will discover that the overall lifetime holistic cost of renewable technology (excluding hydro) starts at about twice that of nuclear – which itself is higher than e.g. coal – and goes on on some technologies to be as much as ten times coal costs.

      Sure you can compare apples and oranges, disregard externalised costs (grid, backup, O & M costs, capacity factors and the like) and fudge the numbers to make it look like ‘grid parity’ is achievable. But that is so disingenuous that it amounts to lying, and if it were done by companies that actually had a renewable product to sell, would be essentially fraudulent. Since they do it via ‘arms length’ lobbies, of course, they escape legal sanction. Lobbies can lie all they want.

    • 1957chev says:

      The costs are influenced by the need for back up from fossil fuels. The costs are affected by a corrupt government subsidizing the hell out of them. The costs are affected by our ever-rising electricity bills. The costs are affected by the greed of the developers and all the people who must be bribed to buy into this scam….Bottom line, the whole damn thing is unaffordable, unsustainable, and a blight on the rural landscape as well. Do research on it, somewhere besides the parties that will benefit financially by pushing their corrupt “faux green”agenda.

  7. John Hancon says:

    Catalanbrian,

    The looks of wind turbines is a personal view, but there is one further problem with random (wind and Solar) energy generation.
    Managing the variable load and matching the generation to supply that load, is a complex operation. The grid operators take into account factors such as the weather, Television schedules, anticipated industrial demand and historical data etc. They are obliged to keep at least 5000 Megawatts of generation capacity in reserve to cover breakdown and unanticipated increases in load. To keep the system running at 50Hz (cycles per second), they have ‘spinning reserve’ (Generators running and synchronised to the grid producing a very small amount of power, ready to be run up to full output at short notice), pumped storage hydro generators, interconnectors to France, The Netherlands and Ireland, at there disposal.

    When we add to the mix a variable generation source such as wind farms and solar panels, it complicates the equation dramatically. It can be like driving a car on an ice covered road. A skid is corrected by a small adjustment of the steering and accelerator. Wind and solar generation is like having some one else applying the brake now and again in a random fashion. This leads to an overreaction by the driver causing ever increasing skidding in both directions and eventual loss of control altogether.

    When the generation system is overloaded the whole thing slows down, that is, goes below 50Hz and conversely when the system is producing more power than is needed by the load, all the generators speed up over the 50Hz. When generators slow down they become inefficient. When they speed up beyond their design limits they can destroy themselves. When randomly variable generation (wind and solar) exceeds 15 to 20% of the total required generation it becomes very difficult to control. Problems are being encountered by the Czech grid on windy days in Germany, where they have threatened to cut the grid connection to Germany to prevent serious damage to their generators. If the Czech grid was disconnected with very short or no notice from the German Grid, it would have a cascade effect back into Germany and beyond into Austria, causing damage and chaos.

    Given that maximum load is around 60,000 Megawatts at 6 pm weekdays in January in the UK, solar panels are not available. When a large high pressure system sits over Western Europe with little or no wind and very cold temperatures (common in January), there is no wind generation either. This will be a problem next winter as we have been obliged by EU regulation to close seven large coal fired power stations, without building enough new Nuclear, Gas or Coal stations to replace them.

    Lets hope next winter is a mild one.

  8. Martin Lack says:

    Dear Mr Helmer,

    When considering the remarks that follow, please bear in mind that I am a Conservative voter.
    http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/why-i-am-not-a-socialist/

    In a speech to the European Parliament on 4 February 2009, you claimed, in characteristically robust terms, that the EU was:

    …planning to spend unimaginable sums of money on mitigation measures which will simply not work, and by damaging our economies will deny us the funds we need to address real environmental problems. As a British journalist, Christopher Booker, has remarked, global warming alarmism is the greatest collective flight from reality in human history.

    According to Andrew Grice in the Independent newspaper (2 Dec 2009), you have even accused the Church of England of having “abandoned religious faith entirely and taken up the new religion of climate change alarmism instead”.

    Given that you are not a climate scientist – or indeed any kind of scientist – you would appear to have allowed your belief in free-market economics prejudice your approach to the science and/or you have uncritically accepted the opinions of a handful of similarly prejudiced scientists who (or indeed non scientists) who say that climate change is either a scientific conspiracy to perpetuate research funding or a political conspiracy to install worldwide socialist government.

    So far, you have the International Energy Agency, the US Department of Defense, the International Monetary Fund, and the Committee on Climate Change, all saying that further delay in the decarbonisation of power generation systems will be a false economy. Therefore, please forgive me for being so blunt but, how much more evidence will it take to convince you, a non climate scientist, that climate scientists are not “just in it for the money”…?

    Yours sincerely,

    Martin C Lack BSc(Hons)(Geology), MSc (Hydrogeology), MA (Environmental Politics).

    • Thanks Martin. Good question. Your are quite right that I am not “a scientist”, though you may also like to know that I have a Cambridge maths degree, and have followed a range of scientific issues that interest me. But the fact is that politicians have to make decisions and take positions on issues — and I suggest to you that I know a great deal more about science, and about energy policy, than most of the MPs who blindly voted through the disastrous Climate Change Act. I know enough about science to know that scientific questions are settled by the creation and testing of hypotheses — not by appeals to authority. The global warming hypothesis is looking increasingly threadbare. I also recall that a few hundred years ago all accepted authorities agreed that the world was flat, and you could be burned at the stake for taking an alternative view.

      And in reply to Mr. Gallowglaich — I’m sorry that I can’t quite match your standards of snide sarcasm. But you have clearly forgotten that in the context of climate orthodoxy, large corporations that need to retain the ear of legislators have to genulect to the modish climate fantasy. Catch them over a beer, and they take a very different view.

      • Martin Lack says:

        I take it you mean you have not seen enough evidence yet. If so, it would help if you looked at some (rather than relying upon an argumentum ad verecundiam of your own – courtesy of the very few people who tell you want you want to hear).

        The passing of the Climate Change Act in 2008 was a landmark in cross-party co-operation at a national level, and may even have convinced the Chinese that some Western countries are actually willing to acknowledge their responsibility for the bulk of historical CO2 emissions. The Communist Party of China may now only be acting in the interests of self-preservation, but at least it is acting (rather than continuing to dispute the science).

        It is interesting that you should mention belief in a Flat Earth – or that Sun revolves around the Earth – as this is directly comparable with the disputation of climate science today. Climate change “sceptics” are not like Galileo. Galileo confronted an obscurantist Establishment with evidence that it refused to look at (such as moons orbiting Jupiter) and insisted that – as the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west – it was very obvious that the Sun goes round the Earth and not vice versa.

        The only obscurantist Establishment today is the fossil fuel industry: In order to describe climate science as a threadbare hypothesis it is necessary to put your faith in a handful of industry-funded contrarians (like Roy Spencer or Richard Lindzen) who – having been theologically or politically prejudiced before looking at any data – would have us all believe that the majority of climate scientists are now behaving like an obscurantist Establishment themselves. This is, to say the very least, highly improbable.

        Given the fact that theoretical heat-trapping effect of CO2 was deduced from basic principles, tested in a laboratory, and continues to be validated by events (i.e. global warming did not stop in 1998, etc), your position is simply not credible: Indeed, it is comparable to someone insisting that the Earth is only 6000 years old – which is very easy to do if you reject every piece of evidence that suggests otherwise as part of a scientific and/or political conspiracy.
        http://www.desmogblog.com/2012/11/15/why-climate-deniers-have-no-credibility-science-one-pie-chart

    • Martin, you make the argument that society should be run by academics who should be the only ones we listen to when making judgements balancing the harm of things like fuel poverty against the benefit to the environment of reducing CO2.

      Can I just ask a simple question: if you need a prescription do you go and see a bio-chemist or do you go and speak to a practitioner whose job it is to use that research and use it to make an informed decision?

      For in effect this is your argument! That the politicians cannot use their own judgement and instead if they are told by one group of researchers (who happen to have a bias like e.g. working for some big drug company that) e.g. we should all buy tamiflu “just in case” (precautionary principle) … that we should all just roll over and do what they tell us to do because no one can dispute the diktat of the “experts”.

      And don’t we all know how much money has been wasted that way: on ID cards, Millennium bug and a host of other government projects which were all advised by the “experts”.

      EXPERTS ARE OFTEN WRONG! Even someone with a BSc(Hons)(Geology), MSc (Hydrogeology), MA (Environmental Politics can be wrong!

      In all areas of life we have a lot of professional decision makers who are very used to taking scientific data and combining it with soft data and making decisions on based on that science. This is not unique to climate … but only on climate do academics demand that only they can say what happens. But professional decision makers have the skills to combine hard and soft information. Such as the research on climate together with the bias and motivation of researchers together with the impacts on society, the economics and risks. This is not what academics are taught to do.

      In contrast, that is precisely the training I have. Science, engineering and an MBA. And the main thing that has taught me is that people, no matter how much they think they know, are fallible. And one of the first things I learnt as an engineer is “it may work in theory … but it often doesn’t in practice”. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and
      I have studied this subject in depth for more years than I care to mention and I am far more qualified than you to make a decision not only on the science, but on the economics, but the social costs like fuel poverty as well as the engineering aspects.

      And having weighed up the evidence in all its forms, I have no doubt whatsoever that no one looking at the evidence as a whole could possible conclude this is a good policy.

      • Me_Again says:

        It would appear that one of the most important statistics NOT quoted is that the average temperature in central England [winter] has dropped by 1.45 degrees Celsius over the last decade. That fall is double the temperature gain between 1850 and 1999.

        http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterferrara/2013/05/26/to-the-horror-of-global-warming-alarmists-global-cooling-is-here/

        I think we should take more notice of Cosmologists and start laying in plans for a much colder Britain with a shorter growing season and more severe winters. One bad winter is just weather, two bad winters is just weather, three bad winters is a trend, how many before it is climate change?

      • Martin Lack says:

        Forgive me, but, I am not aware of making any demand that the World be run by academics (although politicians are not doing a very good job [it must be said]). However, if you wanted to know what is going on with the Earth’s climate, would you go and ask an economist like Nigel Lawson, or would you go and ask a climate scientist like James Hansen? Furthermore, having asked relevant experts for advice, would you not think very carefully before ignoring it?

        Although I have 20 years experience of using probabilistic computer models and (I suspect) a better-than-average grasp of palaeoclimatology, I am not, nor have I ever claimed to be, an expert in climate science. However, with the benefit of the above, I have looked at the arguments of those that dispute the scientific consensus regarding climate science (mostly non climate scientists). Having done so, it seems obvious to me that they have reached an unreliable and extremely dangerous conclusion that there is no need to decarbonise our power generation systems as fast as possible. The fact that many political, industrial and economic institutions (such as the Pentagon, the IEA, and the IMF) now agree that further delay will not be a good idea makes those that disagree look increasingly irrational (unless, of course, they are conspiracy theorists).

    • 1957chev says:

      Even the most brilliant scientists do not agree on whether or not climate change is man-made. We certainly are not helping by pricing energy out of the range of low-income earners. Wind turbines should be small and privately owned, not hooked up to the grid to cause the rest of the population to pay for this inefficient energy source. Renewables, pushed onto the population the way they are now, will surely cause a powerful backlash. It could have evolved in a much more humane and financially feasible way.

      • Martin Lack says:

        I think the powerful backlash will come when sea level rise accelerates to the speed at which it rose when the Earth came out of the last Ice Age. Recent research indicates there have been several periods in the last 3 million years where the Earth has been much warmer and wetter than it is now and – since this caused a great deal of terrestrial ice to melt – sea level at those times to be much higher than it is today.

        Although this is contrary to what we may have thought, this is not a reason to be complacent. The fact remains that, agriculture, urbanisation and modern civilisation would never have been possible without the relative climate and sea level stability of the last 12 thousand years.

        Meanwhile, the industrial burning of fossil fuels has now facilitated a seven-fold increase in the global human population and is driving the Earth towards a new climate state not seen since Antarctica first became glaciated about 35 million years ago. This is not a hypothesis – it is basic physics. Atmospheric CO2 does not explain everything but without CO2 as the main driver of change you cannot explain anything.

      • Me_Again says:

        Martin, we have a place near us Called Alkborough flats. Fantastic bird watching and a lovely place for walks at the confluence of 3 rivers. Time was those rivers were so polluted they could not support fish -in my life time. Well in my life time too they have cleaned up their act and we now have Salmon and Trout again. They had a long set of sea defences and the flood plain used to be arable land. When the warmist theory became accepted they decided -sensibly regardless of theory- making a breach in the wall would allow an overflow system to evolve to soak up the extra water from sea level rises caused by warming, there’s even a nice big explanatory plaque showing what will happen as the sea rises. Brilliant for wetlands and associated fowl.

        There’s one little problem. It doesn’t appear to be rising at all never mind at the predicted rate. Where I stand to read the blurb on the plaque should now be regularly inundated but as far as I can tell -and I walk my dog down there most days- every now and then the water comes through the breach at high tide, probably in tune with the moon phase I guess, it shows no sign of edging further up the flats. There doesn’t appear to be any empirical evidence of sea level rise at all.

        Is it measurably rising anywhere we can sea and measure? Is someone out there looking at old photos and comparing with today to note the change? Otherwise I would not believe it is happening.

      • Martin Lack says:

        Thanks for taking the time to respond at length. So as not to repeat myself, I should like to invite you to read my recent post about the Channel 4 Time Team programme regarding a Tsunami that hit the UK 8000 years ago. If you missed it, the video (embedded in the post) is well well-worth watching. If you at least read my post, you will understand why…
        http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/stone-age-tsunami-whatever-next/

      • Me_Again says:

        Martin, I have studied this subject at some length. I do not accept that man is causing climate change, like Tony Robinson I believe that the climate changes in cycles which we have yet to understand.
        The CO2 thing is I believe a monstrous red herring. It has been known and accepted for a long time that clouds account for over 95% of greenhouse effect so it beggars belief that the tail is wagging the dog. CO2 is essential for life and there are feedback mechanisms already in existence in ecosystems to moderate or even reverse change. It is obvious that anything green will take advantage of an increase in CO2, anything that photosynthesizes exposed to higher levels of CO2 will grow quicker faster and bigger, will produce more fruits, seeds, roots etc. -certainly help to resolve world food shortages.

        Our efforts to impoverish the UK with ridiculous carbon taxes and an obsession with carbon dioxide ignore the devastation being wrought in the equatorial rain forests of south america, africa and asia. If carbon is an issue why are we not threatening to use some of our useless Trident missiles on countries which are literally ripping our lungs out?

        Why are Brazil, and Indonesia in particular, allowed to keep on deforesting their land at our expense?

        Ok although I don’t agree that CO2 is a problem there are easy ways to mitigate it anyway, if we are serious. Using iron to seed the almost sterile pelagic oceans turning them into vast breeding grounds for phytoplankton. This has so many positives I’m gob smacked that it isn’t being done all the time. I read one estimate that suggested the overall effect of a hundred thousand tons of iron filings would have us back in an ice age if CO2 were the thermostat of the planet.
        Phytoplankton as you will know contribute 70% of the world’s oxygen far more than mere trees. Everyone seems to forget that they also bind carbon. When the phytoplankton die or are eaten by krill they become an instant carbon sink of massive proportions. In addition they cause the rapid expansion of the krill population and all those myriad of creatures that depend on krill would have themselves a real bonanza, all the way from whales down to sardines.

        So windmills and impoverishing a nation which contributes just 1% of the worlds carbon is not a serious answer. When the world’s governments get together and put a stop to industrial deforestation, when they get together and start large scale ferrous dumping in the oceans, I will then question again whether or not carbon in all its myriad forms, is a problem.

        Lastly, I am more influenced by solar astronomy than the new and untried science of climatology. It seems little more than guesswork that is going on given the predictions made are never met. Solar astronomy on the other hand provides us with verifiable and direct correlation of global temperatures with solar minimums and maximums puts the climatologists amateurish computer models to shame. Solar astronomy is an empiric science and although any prediction is just that, their predictions appear to have a greater correlation with observed reality.

      • catalanbrian says:

        You seem to suggest that only one nation, that produces only 1% of the world’s CO2, is being impoverished.by carbonreduction measures. Which nation is that?

      • Me_Again says:

        You assume wrongly. I don’t really give a fig what other countries are doing or whether they are barmy enough to do what Mr Cameron has done, that’s up to them and their electorates if they have them.

      • catalanbrian says:

        Ah, I thought so. So it’s the Little Englander thing really isn’t it?

      • Me_Again says:

        Little Englander? You expect everyone to worry about each others government as well as their own? I ‘spend’ my bother and agitation where I can make a difference, I certainly can’t make one iota of difference in the great and glorious €U.
        Secondly it is my citizens duty to care about my governments’ actions and activities, it would be a betrayal of and a dereliction of my duty to my forebears if I were to sit idly by and watch while the nation they created is dismantled by some mousey bureaucrat in Brussels.

        If however you mean the term as being one who prefers England to remain a trading partner, a concerned and helpful neighbour, then I gladly accept your accolade and thank you.

        PS I suspect you reside in the heartland of intellectual nationalistic fervour, I remember in the early 60’s holidaying there before it became ‘chav’ land. Marvelous. I still remember the discussions with Catalonian boys who saw themselves as separatists, theirs is a long fight for freedom from the Spanish yoke. Well now they have two fights, freedom from Spain and then freedom from the €U.

      • Martin Lack says:

        @MeAgain. Respect for doing the study (shame about the possibly pre-determined outcome).

        Sadly, neither your beliefs nor mine will change the nature of reality. Just because you believe that humans are not impacting the Earth’s climate does not alter the extremely high probability that they are (and the extremely low probability that it is all an enormous ‘red-herring’).

        Sea Level Rise at Alkborough Flats may not yet be happening fast enough for you to observe it but, even Tony Robinson accepts that when large amounts of terrestrial ice melts very significant sea level rise occurs.

        It is an undisputable fact that very significant amounts of terrestrial ice have melted in the last 100 years (mostly in the last 40 years).
        http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/glacier-in-retreat-will-denialists-follow/

      • Me_Again says:

        No, no pre-determined outcome when I retired from pharmacy I dallied for a while in environmental science. I did find it dreadfully depressing. In those days it wasn’t about global warming, but the hypothesis was being hyped quite strongly as faculties in search of funding went sniffing. No, when I studied ecosystems, micro-ecosystems and macro-ecosystems it became apparent that there is only one system to which all others feed in and receive output -the planet itself. I studied these systems and was totally awed by the vast range of disciplines required to understand a tiny fraction of what was before me -the grand beauty of the natural world. I was horrified [still am] at what we do to it in the name of money grubbing The destruction wrought in order to procure the most worthless substance on the planet -money. I spent hours trying to persuade farmers to use open field systems, you know 5 fields, 1 fallow, 3 crop bearing and one grazing, all rotating, but they just wanted to shove as many pigs in a shed as possible, close the door for 156 days and get bacon out the other end. I railed against idiots that fucked up entire water systems because they dumped the remains of their shit spray tanks in the nearest burn thereby causing wildlife genocide for the next 3 miles of tributaries and brooks. I lived in Arbroath and studied in Montrose basin where Tony filmed, I’ve seen the sand layer in the clay he points to and examined it microscopically, even had a hilarious attempt at counting the pink footed geese in the basin.
        But I am a scientist at heart and little has changed in scientific methodology except the advent of the personal computer. What has apparently changed an awful lot is the scientist -many of them- nowadays prefer to fit data [if they have any, because that requires you to go out usually] into complex algorithms which plainly do not factor in all of the elements of the climate -because we don’t know them- or they attach a particular weighting to one aspect, one criteria and assign that the ‘supreme’ control over the rest; the end result is a computer model of something that I’m sure happens somewhere in the universe but sadly not on planet earth. People, scientists seem to forget that computers are just posh calculators.
        If we are at the end of or nearing the end of a natural warming phase, then there is expected to be a period of uncertainty, a wavering where the climate wanders in both directions, before settling. This will be because of the various dynamic equilibria shifting and adjusting, the various feedback mechanisms having their input and the result determining which way things are going, but at the top of those factors is the sun. The sheer measurable intensity of the sunlight touching earth is the single most important factor and in all likelihood drives all the others. It is the one that ‘climatologists’ seem most frequently to ignore, Perhaps because it is too difficult to factor these sort of variables into the posh calculator, I don’t know.

      • Martin Lack says:

        If you want to believe that the majority of climate scientists are wrong (for whatever reason), despite the fact that the handful of their colleagues who say they are wrong are primarily funded by the fossil fuel lobby… I suspect that no amount of scientific evidence will convince you otherwise.

        Unfortunately, as I think I may have said already, that is not scepticism – it is conspiracy theory and/or ideological blindness. However, if, on the other hand, you are not a conspiracy theorist and you are not refusing to follow the evidence wherever it leads, then please take a look at this evidence regarding hockey-stick-type graphs:
        Yet more hockey sticks to get rid of (20 July 2012) and
        The mother of all hockey sticks (4 May 2013).

      • Me_Again says:

        Martin there is no such thing as a climate scientist. There are scientists who study and specialise in various aspects of climate science but there is no climate science degree/PHD.

        Consequently you can have astro-physicists, biologists, geologists, bio-chemists, meteorologists and a dozen other -ists.

        Now I have worked with scientists of one stripe or another for about half my life and the one thing that they are unanimous on is that they seldom agree. It is a standing joke in the science world. Ask any 6 scientists a question with a yes/no answer and you will get 4 yeses, 4 no’s and 3 maybe’s.

        The people you call climate scientists 97% say that they THINK human activity MAY be responsible for SOME planetary warming. Now if you give a politician that kind of iffy,butty maybe than what comes out of things is what is best fro them not the planet.

        You never replied to any of my scientific points about CO2, deforestation, the ferric effect or any of the other things I said. You are just a believer. I am just a sceptic because science is my background and none of these people have come up with compelling evidence which is verifiable and not mis-interpretable, which comes from empiric observation and not a posh calculator, and factors in the sun.

      • Martin Lack says:

        Sorry if I missed some of the stuff you said. I have a scientific background too. You are ignoring most of the points I am making as well. I recommend you read this:
        http://scholarsandrogues.com/2013/06/03/introducing-climate-illogic-galileo-weak-analogy/

      • Me_Again says:

        Martin, you have made no scientific points.
        To go with the sheep when you feel you have a better idea is not logical and you have what you believe is empirical evidence to prove your case. when was the last year in which there was a temperature rise? Galileo is not relevant to this argument whereas empiricism is. The IPCC climate papers were put out by 52 scientists, over 20 times that number have signed a petition debunking them.

        Stomach ulcers are caused by stress. So said the scientific consensus for generations.
        Not so said a certain antipodean. They are caused he said by a bacterial infection. The laughter was heard from one end of the world to the other. He was mocked, scorned peer demolished. But he proved them wrong. Helicobacter pylorii is as real as the earth’s natural cycles and as large as life as man’s arrogance, and the cause of stomach ulcers. Marvelous, a bacterium that thrives in molar hydrochloric acid.

        I repeat if the co2 molecule is such a problem then why aren’t governments tackling it instead of putting up stupid windmills which make one side of the planet look environmentally friendly whilst destroying the other side wholesale? Why aren’t Brazil and Indonesia under UN sanctions to stop them from destroying the greatest terrestrial carbon sinks?

        Why aren’t tankers being hired to seed the atlantic and the pacific with iron?
        Where are the sea levels rising that are not caused by tectonic activity?

      • Martin Lack says:

        I think my points about the inevitability of SLR are entirely scientific. Suggesting that it isn’t happening (or going to happen) simply because you cannot see it happening is anti-scientific and illogical.

        It is also illogical to criticise me for pointing out to you that those who say ACD is unproven are not like Galileo, and then trot out a whole litany of arguments seeking to make the point that consensuses can sometimes be wrong.

        The IPCC do not do research or write reports, they compile summaries of what the research tells us. Out of nearly 14k pieces of research only 24 disputed the reality of ACD. However, I really don’t want to play your games anymore. When it suits you, you will just revert to saying you don’t accept arguments from authority. No, wait, you have already done that.

        Bad news: You cant dismiss the scientific consensus for ACD as an argument from authority and then say you think that the number of signatures on a petition is significant and/or invoke your own preferred authority (such as Richard Lindzen).

        CO2 is the most important GHG. This can be deduced from basic principles: WV may be a potentially stronger GHG but it is very impersistent (whereas CO2 stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years). Methane may be a stronger GHG but it is many times less abundant than CO2 (although it looks set to become a serious problem in its own right).

        You are absolutely right to identify deforestation as a global problem but – by far our biggest problem remains the rejection of science by people who want to perpetuate the burning of fossil fuels for as long as possible. Even the oil companies themselves now admit that burning their product is the primary cause of ongoing change. Sadly, they are not free to reinvent themselves as renewable energy companies, because their share prices are based on the presumption that they will find and sell all the Earth’s fossil fuels. I say this is ‘sad’ because both Earth scientists and economists now agree that there are at least 5 times more fossil fuel on the planet than it would be safe to burn. This therefore makes doing just, based on the assumption that CCS can be made to work and rolled out sufficiently fast, a massive gamble. It would be far more sensible and cost effective to decarbonise our power generation systems ASAP, which means not building any more fossil fuel burning infrastructure (even the International Energy Agency agrees with this).

      • Me_Again says:

        I’ll just take one of your points because as you say debating with you is pointless and only time will tell..
        I do not want to burn any fossil fuels, at all, never.

        They are the most valuable resource on this planet, the sheer astronomical number of potential compounds accessible through them and fabricatable by them is staggering. To burn them is the most ‘fuckwittable’ offence we can commit, because one day we may need them desperately.

      • Martin Lack says:

        It may come as a shock but, I must say I agree with you 100% on that. Despite this, I am sure that you would still disapprove of using them to manufacture wind turbines and solar panels. However, I am happy to acknowledge your greater expertise in making intellectually-incoherent and circular arguments.😉

      • Me_Again says:

        Acknowledgement accepted…..At least we can agree on something.
        However the wind turbine thing wouldn’t be so bad if they were not rendering large chunks of Mongolia uninhabitable by the mining, refining and fabrication of the neodymium and failure to dispose of the toxic and radioactive by products of the process. There is currently a lake of this stuff 7 by 12 miles near a place beginning with B who’s unpronounceable name eludes me. Still if we ever get Thorium reactors the process [neodymium fabrication] will be even more productive since it results in an enriched Thorium isotope presence.

        The lake of waste is there because the money grubbers who buy cheap neodymium from the Chinese -who give not a shit about their environment- instead the more expensive but ‘planet friendly’ methods used by the Canadians. So the money grubbers, in addition to stealing taxpayers money at the rate of £1 for every £ generated, also cause massive pollution and dreadful hardship to the inhabitants of somewhere on the other side of the planet. How green and carbon free is that? Do you suppose there is no carbon footprint and massive polluter footprint for that process? How does that balance against the supposed benefits on this side? Do we hack out one of Cameron’s eyes so he can turn a blind eye to the devastation, the asthma, the pancreatic cancer and the general misery his fcuking windmills?

        Doing it that way is so utterly pointless it’s frightening. In principal I have no objection to solar and wind, FOR domestic use providing the materials are obtained in a sustainable manner without the huge negativity of China.

        Domestic solar can save 66% or more of someone’s domestic bills -without the feed in tariffs- but the systems tend to be cost prohibitive unless you rent your roof, and then that is only possible with the FITs.

        ps Was that linear enough?

  9. DougS says:

    catalanbrian says: “…I do already have wind turbines in my “yard”, within a kilometer of my house. Perhaps I don’t object to them because I have become psychotic as a result of their proximity!”

    I think you’re on to something there brian!

  10. catalanbrian says:

    DougS. Picking on a single example (the ineffeciency of Blyth, which may perhaps be true, I don’t know) to make a general point takes us nowhere. It does not follow that other sites are as inefficient. What you are doing is akin to making an observation that all cats are ginger based on the sighting of one ginger cat.

    • DougS says:

      brian: You mentioned Blyth! Clearly I wasn’t generalising as you suggest otherwise I wouldn’t have pointed out that Blyth was THE most inefficient wind farm.

      I know that the overall average output is around 25% to 30% of installed capacity – pretty pathetic really!

    • catalanbrian says:

      A bit too early for your triumphalism, I fear. Yes there are many photographs of burning and burnt wind turbines, how many are duplicates just included to bulk the numbers out in just the same way as the pictures of the non burning/burnt turbines and the other photographs such as the plane with the burning engine have been used. I did not deny that they did occasionally catch fire but just asked for numbers. It does seem rather difficult to obtain global figures for wind turbine fires but it is possible to obtain figures for the NEM network (i.e. excluding Western Australia and Northern Territory) in Australia where some 1200 wind turbines are installed. I assume that Australian wind turbines are no different to others, so the figures relating to them can be considered as beinf representative of all wind turbines. Since 2006 these turbines have collectively been operating for some 44.5 million hours and there have been just 3 fires since then to date. It has been extrapolated that if you were to stand under a randomly chosen wind turbine you would have to wait 1693 years before it burst into flames!

      OK, so you don’t like them, although I really don’t understand why, but please don’t base your thinking on hysterical reporting by others who have a particular agenda against windfarms.

      • I have tried and you have tried my patience too, so get real and read all about these infernal machines which costs me as a UK Tax Payer a bundle of money, just like the EU Contributions, and see how many have been abandoned in the USA and Canada. Rain in Spain falls mainly on the Plains, or should that be Pains?

  11. And see the following also.

  12. I believe that I have made my point, so for me the file is now closed.

    • catalanbrian says:

      Not so sure about that.

    • catalanbrian says:

      In your above statement you say that I have tried your patience. That is a pity, I have indeed read about these “infernal machines” and if I cut out the hyperbole wrtten by those with an anti wind farm agenda and read only those studies that have been independently produced and properly peer reviewed I come to the conclusion that my viewpoint is closer to reality than yours, Eric. For example, you state that this costs you as a UK tax payer “a bundle of money”.. This is just not true. The “subsidies” to renewable energy suppliers are mainly raised from the power consumers by a levy on electricity bills and are not paid out of taxes. Furthermore you should be aware that subsidies have also been given to conventional generators over the years. (Indeed I understand that the subsidies given to coal generators are greater than those given to wind gernerators – see Badcock, J, Lenzen, M. 2010. Subsidies for electricity-generating technologies: A review. Energy Policy. 38: 5038-4047) And let us not forget the hidden subsidies to the conventional generators that are not accounted for in their costs (including pollution, accidents, spills, clean up costs, and health costs) all effectively subsidised by the taxpayer. And I have not mentioned the costs of global warming which could add more to these costs, although I suspect that you will poo poo the matter of global warming.

      As for the number of abandoned wind farms I presume that you have read the oft repeated number of 14,000 abandoned turbines in the USA. That figure is based on no facts whatsoever (check it) although it has been seized upon by the anti wind lobby to try to prove a point.

      • Are you an Ex-Pat? Who deserted your Country of birth to head for the Sun? But, who wishes to dictate through utter diatribe your own opinion, festered though it may be, upon those of us who still live in England, not only being swamped by illegal migration, but also dictated to by some unelected beings? I much favour the Tidal Energy proposal, and the Bristol Channel would be ideal for us to generate CLEAN Electricity, but, then again the Bird Watchers are worries about the birds habitat being destroyed. My final point to you, is, if you don’t live here in the UK, then butt out of the conversation, because you have forsaken any rights to say what should or should not take place here! Having served in HM Forces for over twenty years and in the Home Office for a further twenty years, all I can say is push off!

      • John Kemp says:

        Ernest, th tidal turbine concept should not affect birdlife in any way I can think of [someone correct me if I’m wrong] There are estuaries all around the coast that could house batteries of tidal turbines. It is possible that since it is tidal energy alone that causes the turbines to rotate, there would be as little disturbance as if a large boulder had fallen into the river or the bank collapsed. The rivers then create new eddies and erosion occurs in a slightly different place.

        I suppose fish might be a problem but it might be possible to ‘box out’ fish since the turbines will need some sort of barrier against objects striking the turbine blades themselves.

        Anyway as my co-villager was telling me they are utterly predictable and a damn sight more efficient.

        What we do need to look at is ways of mitigating the rare earths mining and fabrication. I know the Canadians do it properly but that puts the cost up.

        What if our idiot government were to pay for clean Neodymium [Canadian] as a one-off subsidy to encourage development and discourage pollution of a dreadful nature and scale on the otherside of the planet? The turbines themselves would not need taxpayer subsidy for generated electricity because of their efficiency.

      • “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

        — Mahatma Gandhi

        http://www.windtaskforce.org/photo/burning-wind-turbine-blades

        So, how much evidence do you need to convince you that these Commercial Gambles are to make someone money and are not a Green Item? Wind Turbines still require backup from Power Stations, so a double issue you may say?

      • You have a point Catalanbrian! The costs are largely met by electricity consumers, not tax-payers. Show me a taxpayer who is not also an electricity consumer, and I’ll agree with your point. And you haven’t even started to think about the “capacity payments” to those utility companies operating the fossil fuel back-up supply to make it worth their while to run intermittently to complement intermittent wind.

      • 1957chev says:

        It is the filthy rich pro-wind lobbyists that are lying and trying to scare people into going along with ridiculous scheme. WAKE UP!!

  13. tallbloke says:

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    Roger Helmer MEP UKIP’s energy spokesman picks up the story on the fledgeling EU ‘green’ energy revolt…

  14. Joe Public says:

    No need to mince your words:

    “And at the same time, it is leaving millions of households and pensioners in fuel poverty …….”

    Some of whom have died unnecessarily because they’ve been unable to afford heating.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/oct/19/fuel-poverty-2700-victims-winter

  15. Richard111 says:

    Given all the complaints about windmills and solar panels I suggest a good look at Tidal Energy Ltd which presses all the buttons.

    • Richard,
      Tidal Energy delivers energy at predictable times of tidal flows BUT it is VERY, VERY expensive and you would still require a similar level of back-up plant, so capital costs more than doubling and increased power transmission costs.

      I was involved with a project to design and evaluate the cost implications of tidal power turbines and to promote the development for DTI, in conjunction with Southampton University and Alsthom. The main drawback with tidal power turbines was cost. The subsidy levels required would have been at least 2 ROCS = 12p/kWh which is the same subsidy as ‘off-shore’ wind-turbines receive.

      The combination of nuclear power and combined cycle gas-turbines would give the lowest cost and lowest carbon dioxide emissions robust electricity supply.

      This means an urgent requirement for the development and production world-wide of, high volume shale gas production, possibly coal to gasification, and fast tracking rapid developments for new nuclear power stations with urgent research into Thorium nuclear reactors. You cannot harness wind and tidal power for free and they both result in electricity supply costs of at least doubling.

      The EU have insisted that all coal-fired power stations have to reduce their SO2 and CO2 emissions that are generated through coal-burning but allowances are given for wood-chip burning which is less efficient. This means the majority of coal-fired power stations will have to be closed within the next three years. The only possible way that energy security can be provided cost effectively is by rapinew combined cycle gas-turbines.

      The other initiative that DECC are backing is the application of ‘smart electricity meters’ whereby we the household consumers and industry ‘switches-off’ their demand through price driven controls. This will cost the country £20-billion pounds to deliver which is hardly cost effective to say the least. It is like the HS2 of electricity supply. However, this is again being forced upon us because in the end it will be incorporated in your standing charges of electricity supply, i.e. if you dont have the smart meter installed you will pay a higher standing charge and even if you do have the smart meter, you will again be charged a higher tariff if you dont agree to have your appliances, such as refrigerators and freezers switched-off automatically through price driven controls, “damned if you do and damned if you dont” dictatorship.

      We are all being forced into demands by central office departments such as the ‘Ed Davey led DECC’ and dictated to by Generating Companies that are all in it to make huge profits. Its another form of ‘Bankers madness’ from an industry that is driven on subsidies and huge profits.

      • Richard111 says:

        georgy, I agree with a lot of what you say. The expense of tidal turbines will improve as more are used. What I like is the fact there is no foundation required on the sea bed. Also the turbines are physically smaller and can be fairly easily moved to maintenance areas and reused. The chance of fire is small. No permenant access roads needed and the site is invisible. I am one of the most sceptic people you would meet,
        see here.
        But I do think, until common sense returns to this world, that this is one of the better ways forward. John Kemp, below, brings up a couple of valid points.

      • Martin Lack says:

        georgyporgie – You and I would probably agree that the privatised nature of the power generation business is part of the problem. We would clearly also agree that nuclear power may have to be part of the solution. Given your pragmatic (as opposed to ideological) attitude to these things, I would like to think that you accept that anthropogenic climate disruption is not a scientific or political conspiracy, nor a hoax, nor a false alarm: It is just a consequence of the second law of thermodynamics and the concept of entropy (that and a sevenfold increase in the human population since the Industrial Revolution)….?

    • John Kemp says:

      There’s a bloke in our village who’s an engineer with a company developing tidal turbines.
      He said the mock up they made, no more than a ‘Blue Peter’ special, was twice as efficient as the very best wind turbine.
      He added that of course one of the greatest advantages was the tide’s utter and complete predictability and that it was only ever ‘out’ in one small part of the country at any one time. grid managers would love to have tidal turbines on the net because they had a greater reliability in terms of production than any other source.

      • “Efficient” is an easy word to use. What does it cost per Kw? How long does the kit last? Maybe it’s predictable, but it’s still intermittent. What is its physical footprint? How many sites are suitable (is it like hydro — limited by appropriate locations?). There may be a case for tidal, but it’s not made yet. And the Severn Barage can’t compete on cost terms with nuclear.

      • John Kemp says:

        Roger there is no reply to your posts so I’m replying here.
        I do not know the specifics of costings but suggest that it is worth enquiring of the company that Richard111 mentions, I’m sure they have a bucket of answers.

        TIdal is not in ANY way intermittant and it is utterly predictable 100’s of years in advance.
        I am against wind for the obvious reason of its intermittency, but to have a non polluting form of energy production is no bad thing -if it proves possible/economical.
        I am not talking about barrages either just tidal turbines.
        Instead of windmills they should look at these for investing money if the government want what they call a renewable energy form. They could make a good start by taking down all the windmills and using the neodymium in them for the tidal turbines. I am very pro nuclear too just so you don’t think I’m some sort of environmental activist.

  16. I think this is a generational thing actually. To people who went to university in the 90s, greenery is the next best thing to a religion. If you even try to discuss it, you are seen as an oil man who is totally corrupt. Scientists are right. Everyone else is wrong. People who oppose the Green agenda are like Homophobes, or Paedophiles – not worth the trouble of listening to.
    I suspect that this religion will pass with their generation.
    And not much before……..

    • John Kemp says:

      It’s taught in school. The socialist engineering of our children takes place in the classroom where the curriculum has no doubts about human induced climate change. I objected to both the primary and secondary schools that my boys attended. This of course made me a swivel eyed loon and radical. They are all brainwashed

      • 1957chev says:

        Parents today need to discuss with their children, what they are being taught in schools. We need to explain “political agendas” and how they are opinions, not facts, and we are then free to give our kids the TRUE facts. Schools are no longer non-partisan.

      • Me_Again says:

        Absolutely. I was horrified. My youngest children were from a later part of my life where I’d done most of what I’m probably going to do. That gave me the benefit of experience as well as maturity. I try to get them to seek out the information and draw their own conclusions. Initially I was leery of opposing the idea of AGW, particularly because of my scientific background and my own experience in environmental science. I was quite prepared to believe the great corporations were doing their level best to deceive us into thinking all was well, since I’d seen them do it in the pharmaceutical industry to rival drugs and in the chemical industry when they assassinated DDT.
        However anomalies kept popping up -and were glossed over and not properly answered, theories were piled on top of theories without a shred of empirical data.
        So I explained the flip side of the arguments to my sons in fairly simple terms. I even had to go to school and remonstrate with the biology teacher when one lad was marked down for including an alternative viewpoint in a well reasoned essay. I took in facts and figures to support his written contention. I argued the case to say that there was serious room for doubt and that scientific consensus is something that occurs only in newspapers. I won my case. A scientific mind should always look at all available evidence, consider all pertinent theories before reaching a considered conclusion which really in cases like these can only give a balance of probabilities. When I studied haematology 37 years ago there were two theories on how blood coagulates, we had to learn both just in case. That argument is now settled and proven with empirical evidence and so too will this argument be settled IF good scientific method is the only allowable means and funding is not something designed to provide the ‘RIGHT’ result instead of the right answers.

    • manicbeancounter says:

      This might be true. In the early 1980s when I did my economics degree it was largely the opposite. We were thought to compare and contrast different perspectives. The collapse of the Keynesian consensus had lead to a questioning of every area, including the very foundations of the subject.

    • 1957chev says:

      There are alot in well-respected intelligent, free-thinking scientists, who are well-aware that the AGW scare is overblown precisely to promote an agenda. To say that all scientists follow the AGW train of thought, would be a discredit to the individuals who have been willing to use their own brains.

  17. Kon Dealer says:

    Catalanbrian, by all means have solar panels on your roof and the rest of your energy needs supplied by windmills. Just don’t expect non-renewable backup in this brave green world of yours.
    Think about that when you sit freezing when the wind don’t blow and the sun don’t shine.
    As it is these “renewables”, in case you haven’t noticed, require coal/gas/nuclear backup to ensure regular supply. Needless to say little CO2 is saved and arguably much more is produced because the high energy costs have resulted in many industries voting with their feet and moving to countries (China) where environmental laws are considerably less onerous.
    Now I’ll let you join the dots🙂

  18. Pingback: A letter to UKIP MEP Roger Helmer | Lack of Environment

  19. catalanbrian says:

    Ernest Hartland. Yes I am an expat, and yes I do live in Spain but this is because when I was made redundant at the age of 59 years I decided to leave the UK to live on my farm in Spain. At he time it was going to be extremely difficult to fine a job, especially given my age but also I worked in the City in the shrinking insurance sector, so had I stayed in the UK I would have ended up needing to claim UK state benefits. Moving here therefore also saved the UK taxpayer a substantial amount Additionally you should be aware that on my small private pension I pay taxes in the UK, as I have done throughout my working life so I have every right to comment on UK issues as have you, but at least I attempt to establish the facts and I do not find it necessary to get abusive as you have when it has become clear to you that you are just plain wrong. I would also mention that your comment about being swamped by immigration shows exactly your xenophobic viewpoint, which I am sure many people will find unsatisfactory, as do I. I will make no more postings on this matter as It is clearly not possible to have an intelligent adult discussion with you.

  20. Xenophobic? Relate that to what happened on the streets of London yesterday. And as a seventy going on eighty pensioner, I can’t afford to migrate as I paid so much in commissions to insurance brokers who ripped me and others off with Endowment Insurance!

  21. Earlier I did say File Closed, but, you persisted in answering back. Just think yourself lucky that you are where you are, Ole?

  22. manicbeancounter says:

    On the subject of China, are you aware that whilst China is ploughing ahead with wind turbines alongside coal-fired power stations, they are also turning coal to liquid fuel? The process for doing so requires huge quantities of oxygen, with CO2 a by-product. I do not want to blame China for doing this, as they are merely creating cheap and secure sources of energy to fuel the engine of economic growth.
    http://manicbeancounter.com/2013/04/30/chinas-renewable-policy-in-context-the-ningxia-example/

  23. I suggest that the threat to the World is nearer the mark, instead of worrying about Climate Change, take a look at the following link, and also view the 2007 update link.
    http://www.jeffhead.com/redseadragon/

    • John Kemp says:

      I think they are at least 20 years away from a significant challenge to the USN BUT, in ability to create a local or littoral superiority they would have a good chance of success. For instance the re-taking of Taiwan -note the numbers of LST type vessels.
      Still whatever plans are underway, knowing the Chinese they will be 20 or 30 years plans not like our feeble money grubbers with the next election being the only horizon they recognise.

  24. Pingback: The elephant in the room with Lewandowsky | Lack of Environment

  25. John of Redlands says:

    I would like to make a comment about the use of solar power. I live on the coast near Brisbane Australia, and appreciate that the energy available from the sun is a great deal more than typically available in Britain or Europe. Nevertheless my experience may be useful. My installed solar power is 5 kWp. This month (October) the system starts at about 5:30 am and stops about 12 hours later. On average, allowing for overcast or cloudy days it generates about 28 kWh per day, of which we use about 4.5 kWh. The rest currently goes to the grid. There are moves afoot in Australia, driven I suspect by the fossil fuel lobby and income-hungry governments, to penalise solar uses for allegedly causing a cost to other non-solar users, and this is presently a significant deterrent to persons considering installing solar.

    It is my earnest hope that within a few years battery systems will be available at an economic price to enable me to install battery backup and completely go off grid. My solar array provides enough power to run my household over 24 hours (typical consumption about 12 kWh), and additionally run reverse cycle air-conditioning for heating and cooling – although not much heating is needed! Once the battery backup is economically worth installing, I will be able to cease relying on fossil fuel backup energy for night-time use and more than supply my energy needs for the whole 24 hours. For those used to England’s overcast skies, I would like to tell you that even on a dreadfully gloomy overcast day I have never obtained less than 6 kWh from my system, and usually on an average cloudy day, generate more than 12 kWh. My best generation this month was 32.8 kWh.. Therefore, even the worst of overcast skies, even if they are monsoon-like over weeks, will not mean I have insufficient energy. If anything, on average using battery backup, I would have a glut of energy. This system cost me A$6,990 to install and my calculations, based on current tariffs and my usage profile, indicate the system will be paid for within four years (NPV calculation). Those in this column who talk about overcast skies as though no power is developed and solar therefore is impractical are simply wrong..

    My quick calculation is that my system avoids the production of more than 10 tonne of CO2 per annum. This meets our primary purpose for installing this system – to make a positive contribution to mitigating climate change. The fact that it is also economically viable is simply a plus.

    • catalanbrian says:

      John of Redlands. You are wasting your time trying to convince these people. They are all so entrenched in their view that any form of renewable energy is a pointless money wasting exercise forced upon the innocent citizen by malevolent left wing governments that even when the evidence is right in front of them they will still ignore it. You only have to see the pejorative terms used to refer to anyone who disagrees with their position, or who is not exactly as they are – white, middle aged UK citizens – no foreigners, or even worse, expatriate Brits, welcome here, mate!

      • John of Redlands says:

        Hi catalabrian, The information I provided in my post was intended to assist those considering solar by informing them that it can be both environmentally and economically beneficial. Unfortunately even in Australia there are many who deny solar is beneficial or climate change is real.
        If you are correct about a xenophobic attitude amongst contributors to this column, I can only say that is rather sad. I treat everyone on their merits and strive to listen to them with an open mind, and would appreciate others doing likewise. Now I must condemn myself by informing that although I am white, older than middle -aged and a UK citizen (born in Long Eaton), I choose to live in Australia. This should not mean that I cannot have a valid opinion.

      • catalanbrian says:

        My point exactly, John of Redlands. I live off grid in Catalunya, which, as far as most of the contributors to this column are concerned does seem to prevent me from having any valid views on renewable energy. And like you I am white, older than middle aged, a UK citizen and not living in the UK. It just seems very sad that some people can be so ideologically opposed to something (in this case renewable energy) that they will argue against it, regardless of the evidence presented to them.

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