Great alliteration, wrong conclusion


I’ve always been an admirer of alliteration (as regular readers of my blog will be painfully aware).  I’m a great fan of Anglo Saxon poetry with its emphasis on alliteration rather than rhyme, though I regret to say that I have to read it in modern translations.

So I was immediately struck by Ambrose Evans Pritchard’s splendid headline “Policy Paradox pulls plug on wind power”.  Having however heaped praise on Ambrose for his alliteration, I find that the headline on the web version of this story (see link) doesn’t alliterate at all, so perhaps the hard-copy alliteration was down to a sharp sub-editor, not to AEP.

The essence of AEP’s piece is that on-shore wind has recently achieved “grid parity”, with its output now priced competitively with main-stream technologies like gas.  This, according to the turbine company Vestas, whom he quotes, is the result of rapid technological advances, and increases in the size and scale of turbines.

But he goes on to lament the fact that in the UK, we have planning guidance that militates against very large turbines (140m to the tip, or larger), and the government, in the person of Energy Secretary Amber Rudd,  is withdrawing subsidy support (though why the wind industry can on the one hand claim grid parity, and on the other hand demand continuing subsidies, is a mystery).

But AEP makes no mention of the downsides of wind economics.  The industry loves to look at the cost of its output at the base of the tower, and it chooses to ignore the very large additional associated costs.  These include the economic lifetime (i.e. the cost of maintaining turbines in good working order as they age, and replacing in due course); the proven decline in load factor as turbines age; the massively expensive adjustments needed to the Grid to cope with intermittent and small-scale distributed generation; the direct costs of intermittency, and of running conventional back-up; the indirect costs of the inefficiency of running the back-up intermittently; the “capacity payments” to compensate the operators of back-up plant for the inevitable down-time, which would otherwise make them uneconomic; and the costs and inefficiencies of the nascent power storage technologies which may come on-stream in the future.

But there is another way of looking at it.  Suppose (as I do not for a moment believe) that we are moving into a new golden age of competitive wind power based on new technology, even after financing all the extra costs I have outlined.  Then the existing fleet of on-shore wind in the UK will stand as a serious reproach to policy-makers.  If wind becomes competitive in 2016 (or more likely 2025), how will they justify the enormous sunk costs of existing old-fashioned wind farms, which will be a drag on our economy for years?

We should stop all new subsidies for wind right now, and let the industry compete on a level playing field as and when it is able to do so.

If only we’d waited until wind became competitive.  If only we’d chosen to spend millions on technical development, rather than billions on wide-scale deployment.  Renewables may or may not come good in the future.  But right now, they have given Europe the highest energy costs of any major economic area (apart maybe from Japan).  As I have said so often, they are closing energy-intensive industries and sending businesses and jobs and investment off-shore.  They are a significant factor in the recent steel closures.

In the Gadarene rush to “save the planet”, we’ve ignored economic reality, and done huge damage to European economies, and to our children’s future prosperity.


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12 Responses to Great alliteration, wrong conclusion

  1. ian wragg says:

    When AEP says that wind costs are on a par with other generation he alludes to the so called hidden subsidies of fossil fuel supplied power.
    These are imaginary subsidies based on a ficticious tax liablility to mitigate pollution costs.
    The green blob hqas conjured up this nonesense to give the impression that renewables are competitive. Soon they will increase the imaginary tax liability and declare renewables are cheaper.
    This is the level of stupidity we have to cope with from the eco religeous fanatics.
    Aided and abetted by the likes of Rudd, Osborne asnd Call me Dave.

    • catweazle666 says:

      “These are imaginary subsidies based on a ficticious tax liablility to mitigate pollution costs.”

      And of course entirely ignoring any social, humanitarian or economic benefits that have accrued to the population since the Industrial Revolution, not to mention the massive harm done to the population of the states that supply the neodymium and other hard-to-extract – hence ecologically immensely harmful – elements required for the construction of the bird and bat massacring monstrosities.

      Rare-earth mining in China comes at a heavy cost for local villages

      Pollution is poisoning the farms and villages of the region that processes the precious minerals

      But hey, why should “Progressive” virtue signallers care about a few million foreign peasants when they’re ‘Saving the World™’?

  2. AEP always likes to use misleading graphs and big numbers to make it seem wind and solar are taking over the world, or that China is going to be sourcing all its energy from renewables in a few years time.

    In fact, on his own numbers, wind power will only supply 11% of China’s electricity by 2030 (based on current total demand), the same as we already had last year here. (By 2030, of course, China elecricity generation will have shot up, making it much less than 11% by then)

    Then we get his graph showing wind capacity rising exponentially. What he forgets to tell us is that globally wind still only supplies 1% of total energy consumption, and that total is rising much faster than the rise in wind power.

    Check out my graphs here.

  3. Ex-expat Colin says:

    “In the Gadarene rush to “save the planet”, we’ve ignored economic reality, and done huge damage to European economies, and to our children’s future prosperity”.

    Sort of World War end game, only the bombs and bullets are absent…oh wait, maybe not?

    Christopher Monckton saying it as it is..latest monthly update: (with RSS/HAD/GISS/NCDC/UAH data)

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      Christopher did mention that this needs to be repeated. Its a comment to the link above. And kicks off with this statement:

      “In just 1 year the GLOBAL average temperature rose by 0.7C equivalent to 70C per century”.

      No. In just 1 year the GLOBAL average temperature ANOMALY rose by 0.7°C.

      In each year the GLOBAL average temperature rises by 3.8°C during 6 months (January to June) and falls by 3.8°C during the other 6 months (June to January).

      And global temperature is highest when the Earth is most distant from the Sun during each year.

      The seasonal effect is because water is a better heat sink than land so oceans vary temperature less than land with the seasons. There is more land in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) than the Southern Hemisphere (SH)

      Therefore, NH summer average temperatures are hotter than SH summer average temperatures.
      NH winter average temperatures are colder than SH winter average temperatures.
      But global temperature is the average of NH and SH average temperatures.

      Use of anomalies hides much information.
      For example, alarmists often say ‘global temperature rise must be kept below 2.0°C’ and they are shocked to discover that global temperature rises by nearly double that during each year while nobody notices.

      • catweazle666 says:

        Not to mention that the theoretical increase in temperature is proportional to the logarithm of the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration – hence tending to the asymptote, whereas the thermal emission increases to the fourth power of the difference in absolute temperature.

        Strange how few climate “scientists” seem aware of the implications of that.

        Mind you, I had to spend twenty minutes reminding a very highly qualified engineer that according to Archimedes’ principle if all the ice floating on the surface of the sea melted it would have no effect on sea level, because he’d heard on the BBC that it would cause catastrophic flooding of coastal areas…and even then I’m not convinced he was convinced…


      • Ex-expat Colin says:

        I remember that BBC scare…melting and flooding the whole place. So be scared… fools!

        BBC had a long piece the other night including waves in the stratosphere with the friendly weather boy in a full North Face outfit. In fact they threw a few technical stories about in that programme with Slingo studying Indonesian floods as causal. Female interviewer nodding in the right places(?). I suppose it was an effort to impress having failed at all points elsewhere.

  4. Allow me to add a religious note here please. I know several Greenies and to them saving the planet and stopping global warming (caused by the wickedness of humanity in the face of Gaia) is apocalyptically important.
    If you debunk God, you are left without God.
    You therefore have only yourself and things.
    And as in all worship, when things – and yourself – take the place of God, disaster happens.
    See? It is simple when you make it theological!

  5. Anyoldiron says:


    Imposing in there hundreds,
    Such an army on display,
    Those alien grey metal monsters
    I saw while on my way.
    Aliens on our shores have landed,
    So tall, backs straight and true,
    At night they watch through flashing eyes
    Of red, at me and you.

    Some have scaled the mountains,
    Others near schools and homes,
    Of one thing I am certain,
    Those aliens have no souls.
    No “whispering” from their ranks at all,
    An unearthly sound they make,
    It envelops each and everyone,
    No more can humans take.

    Three giant arms revolving,
    Enveloping all around,
    They’re here to ‘save the planet’,
    The biggest “con” I have found.
    Such hideous tall grey monsters,
    Invade green and pleasant lands,
    To stay for generations,
    Unless the people make a stand.

    These aliens feed on power and wind,
    Without either, they will die,
    They’re NOT environmental friendly,
    They’re for profit, (at a cost), that’s WHY.

  6. Pingback: A contest of externalities | Roger Helmer MEP

  7. Alan Wheatley says:

    Helpful Helmer highlights hapless happening
    Roger runs rings round wrong reasoning.

    Please can I be allowed a “w” given that it is silent?

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