UK Blackout Risk – Amber Warning

In recent months, three companies have announced closure of 4 large coal-fired power stations in the UK representing a total loss of 6.671 GW base load capacity*. Combined with closure of 1 nuclear station and the pending closure of two CCGTs, total capacity loss in 2016 will amount to 8.726 GW. If there was a blackout risk this winter, then things will obviously be much worse next winter.

In effect traditional generators are throwing in the towel confronted with a neo-Marxist system of production quotas, targets, subsidies, levies and regulation that places their superior technology at an impossible disadvantage to inferior wind and solar power, both of which are useless in averting a blackout risk when it is highest during a calm winter evening. UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, needs to re-discover her Tory credentials and sort this situation out.

[* Note that this is a fluid situation with other announcements made since I wrote these words]

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Surface versus satellite; the temperature data set controversy

This post follows on from Euan Mearns’ recent posts on record heat and the Ratpac data set. Its goals are:

  • To clarify some points regarding what the satellite and “surface” temperature records are really telling us.
  • To see if we can define which temperature sets are reliable and which aren’t.
  • To draw appropriate conclusions.

Figure 1 compares the HadCRUT4 global “surface temperature” series with the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) global “lower troposphere” series. This comparison is the one we’re used to seeing and indeed about the only one we ever see. It’s the basis of the dispute over which year was really the warmest on record, whether the Earth has warmed by 0.59°C since 1979, as indicated by the HadCRUT4 trend line, or by 0.41°C as indicated by the UAH trend line, and over the length of the post-1998 warming “pause” or “hiatus”, although I’m not going to get into that here:

Figure 1: HadCRUT4 “global surface” versus UAH “lower troposphere” series since the beginning of the satellite record in 1979.

This comparison, however, ignores a number of complications.

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The record of recent Man-made CO2 emissions: 1965 -2014

Guest post by Ed Hoskins. A short bio is given at the end of the post.

Summary

This post, using BP statistical review (2015) data, presents CO2 trends on an absolute and per capita basis for the main global economies.  They add in the effect of recent Chinese under-reporting of CO2 emissions.  They compare CO2 emissions / head as a representation of the level of development of national groups.  In particular China overtook the EU (28) in 2012 and France has the lowest CO2 emissions / head of the developed world.  It is even less that the whole worldwide average.

If Greens wants to save the world from CO2 emissions this data wholly vindicates the use of Nuclear power for electricity generation.  Their preference for Renewable Energy, with the closure of fossil fuel generation, may destroy the progress and benefits of western civilization.

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Blowout week 110

This week’s lead story features job cuts – but not in oil and gas. Australia has decided that since the science of climate change is now settled it doesn’t need as many climate scientists:

Sydney Morning Herald:  Climate science to be gutted as CSIRO swings jobs axe

Fears that some of Australia’s most important climate research institutions will be gutted under a Turnbull government have been realised with deep job cuts for scientists. The cuts were flagged in November, just a week before the Paris climate summit began, with key divisions told to prepare lists of job cuts or to find new ways to raise revenue. “Climate will be all gone, basically,” one senior scientist said before the announcement. In the email sent out to staff on Thursday morning, CSIRO’s chief executive Larry Marshall indicated that, since climate change had been established, further work in the area would be a reduced priority. “CSIRO pioneered climate research,” Dr Marshall said. “Our climate models are among the best in the world and our measurements honed those models to prove global climate change,” he said. “That question has been answered, and the new question is what do we do about it, and how can we find solutions for the climate we will be living with?”

Stories below the fold include the trials and tribulations of Saudi Arabia and OPEC, US O&G company ratings cut, Obama proposes $10/bbl tax on US O&G companies, Spain presses EC to save its coal industry, UK and German emissions fall, Hinkley financing concerns spread to Wylfa, Fiddler’s Ferry closure, the world’s largest wind farm, energy storage finally poised for a breakthrough, the warmest January on record in the lower troposphere, a solar/wind powered street light that sends out disaster warnings, charges your cell phone and kills mosquitos all at the same time and how climate change causes depressed dogs.
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Oil Production Vital Statistics January 2016

Market fundamentals point to chronic over-supply of crude oil throughout 2016. The technicals point to the makings of an oil price rally. A strong price rally from current levels may extend the situation of chronic over-supply that may have a debilitating impact on the oil price and the oil industry for years to come.

Figure 1 The oil price has seen a lot of action since the last report. As anticipated, support in the vicinity of $40 did not hold and the price moved sharply lower in January. WTI hit $26.68 and Brent $26.01 on January 20th. Since then there has been a cyclical rally. More on the future direction of the oil price at the end of this report.

This article first appeared on Energy Matters.
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El Hierro – 16 hours of 100% renewables generation

Between 0540 and 2140 hours on January 31 2016 the Gorona del Viento (GdV) wind-hydro plant supplied the island of El Hierro with 100% of its electricity from renewables. This short post provides plots of the REE grid data for that day and adds a few provisional observations.

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RATPAC – an initial look at the Global Balloon Radiosonde Temperature Series

My last post on Record Hot or Not stimulated some good discussion with the conformist warmists bringing some useful information to the debate. In particular, they drew attention  to RATPAC and how this data, in their opinion, verified the surface thermometers, confirming 2015 as the warmest year since records began. So I decided to take a look. It is indeed another great data set that I’ve heard very little about and it certainly should not be ignored.

RATPAC stands for Radiosonde Atmospheric Temperature Products for Assessing Climate – are you any the wiser? It is in fact a global temperature model based on measurements made from weather balloons. RATPAC therefore provides vertical temperature gradients through the atmosphere and offers the opportunity to compare with the surface thermometer and satellite based analyses. There are 85 recording stations with good global cover (Figure 1) and data begins in 1958.

This post is a first look at the data intended to raise questions and issues for discussion. Part 1 is simple data description and presentation with a few key (and very interesting) observations. The second part (that will hopefully follow later in the week) compares RATPAC with surface thermometers and satellites.

Figure 1 Map showing the distribution of 85 RATPAC monitoring stations. A curious thing, I could not find a copy of a RATPAC map on the web. There was however this list of stations with lat lon and my friend Luis de Sousa kindly made this map.
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Blowout week 109

Back to the harsh realities this week. The UK is going to freeze in the dark after all:

Institution of Mechanical Engineers:  Closure of UK coal and nuclear plants to create electricity supply gap of up to 55% by 2025

UK Government’s policy to close all coal-fired power stations by 2025, combined with the retirement of the majority of the UK’s ageing nuclear fleet and growing electricity demand will leave the UK facing a 40-55% electricity supply gap, according to a new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

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2015: record hot or not?

With the 2015 lower troposphere temperatures in, NASA and NOAA have declared without any caveats or doubts, that 2015 was the warmest year since records began. This short post updates my charts that compare satellite with surface thermometers temperatures. The differences between the two methodologies are in fact tiny and subtle. According to satellites, 2015 was the third warmest year, lagging 1999 by a fair margin. The main material difference, therefore, is that the satellite record would deprive the scaremongers at NASA and NOAA of their eye popping headlines.

Figure 1 Surface thermometer (GISS LOTI and HadCrut4) and satellite (UAH and RSS) records compared. It is plain to see that surface thermometers set a new record in 2015 while the satellites did not.
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Low oil prices, budget deficits and OPEC

In November 2014 the OPEC countries met in Vienna and agreed to keep pumping oil to maintain their market share rather than cut production to support the oil price. In a post written a month later I addressed the question of how these countries were positioned to withstand an extended period of low oil prices and high budget deficits. More than a year has now passed, so it’s time to take a look at how they have done so far and to see what their actions presage for the future.

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Blowout Week 108

This week’s lead story speculates that climate change killed off all the aliens. It is an award-winner even by climate change standards, but I’m not sure what the award should be. Suggestions are solicited. Below the fold more on OPEC and the Middle East, oil industry job losses, Obama concerned about methane emissions, wind overwhelms Merkel, Hinkley doubts and the Greens want to shut down the North Sea.

Discovery:  Why Can’t We Find Aliens? Climate Change Killed Them

As we look deeper into our galaxy for signs of extraterrestrial life, we keep drawing a blank. Does this mean life on Earth is unique and we’re the only ones out here? Or could it just mean that all the aliens are dead? Fresh on the heels of the recent news surrounding the increasingly dire climate forecast for our planet, comes a possible warning from the cosmos: climate change in extraterrestrial environments is inevitable and, should life on hypothetically habitable worlds not act as a stabilizer for their environments, it serves as a “sell-by” date for all burgeoning lifeforms. The universe is probably filled with habitable planets, so many scientists think it should be teeming with aliens. To produce a habitable planet, life forms need to regulate greenhouse gases such as water and carbon dioxide to keep surface temperatures stable.

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The myth of US self-sufficiency in crude oil

Guest post by Matt Mushalik who runs the Australian Crude Oil Peak web site where The myth of US self-sufficiency in crude oil was first published. There is a wealth of information and brilliant charts below the fold.

Google for “US energy independence” and you will get 134k results, “US self sufficiency” yields 10k results. Here are some examples of what the media reports:

In Aljazeera’s Inside Story, 10/1/2016, titled “How much support will Saudi Arabia win against Iran?” the delicate relationship between the US, Saudi Arabia and Iran is discussed with 3 panellists. The moderator wanted answers in the context of “the US is almost at a tipping point, is almost energy independent..”
http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2016/01/saudi-arabia-iran-160110170443000.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xvjeUKpkP8 (18:45)

In the State of the Union Address 2014 Obama proudly announced: “Today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades”. In the latest SOUA on 12th January 2016, we hear: “Meanwhile, we’ve cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly sixty percent”

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Oil Price Crash: How low will the oil price go?

I have been following the oil price crash since it began in late 2014, providing annual forecast scenarios and monthly vital statistics updates. There has recently been an acceleration in activity and news, and as the oil price has continued its fall to below $30, investors and speculators wrestle with the main question: “how low will the oil price go?”

In August 2015 I gave a crude answer to that question based on history in a post called The Oil Price: how low is low? where I observed:

To get straight to the point. Brent will need to fall below $30 to match the lows seen in 1986 and to below $20 to match the lows seen in 1998.

This observation was based on deflated annual average price from BP ($2014). The notion of $20 oil has since caught on and some commentators are now speculating that $10 is possible. It is time to have a closer look at what history tells us.

This article was originally published on the Energy Matters blog.

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Is UK precipitation really becoming more extreme?

In recent posts here and here we looked into the question of whether the UK’s recent wet weather was unprecedented and concluded that it wasn’t. But is it symptomatic of an upward trend in the intensity and frequency of extreme rainfall events caused by climate change, as some have claimed?

This post addresses this question in two sections. The first summarizes how different organizations define “extreme weather” (or “climate”). The second applies four of these definitions to the UK Met Office’s monthly England & Wales rainfall record to determine a) which months qualify as “extreme” and b) whether there has been an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall months since 1766, when the record begins. The conclusions are:

• There is no accepted definition of “extreme weather”. Extreme weather is whatever one wants it to be.

• There has been no statistically significant increase in extreme monthly rainfall in England and Wales for at least the last 250 years regardless of how “extreme” is defined.

• Since England and Wales make up 62% of the surface area of the UK it is likely that this conclusion applies to the UK as a whole, although this can’t be confirmed.

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Blowout Week 107

This week’s Blowout features one of the few projected benefits of anthropogenic global warming – it will postpone the onset of the next ice age “by at least 100,000 years”. One assumes our descendants will be duly grateful. Thirty-four more informative stories below the fold, this week shuffled into no particular order. Read on and enjoy:

Guardian: Fossil fuel burning ‘postponing next ice age’

Humanity’s burning of fossil fuels is postponing the next global ice age for at least 100,000 years, according to new research that has discovered the tipping point which plunges the planet into deep freezes. Showing that human activity, via climate change, can alter global processes like ice ages is compelling evidence that the planet has entered a new geological epoch, dubbed the Anthropocene, according to the scientists. The new research also shows that a major ice age was narrowly missed just before the industrial revolution, probably because the development of agriculture had nudged the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere just above the tipping point. “The bottom line is we are basically skipping a whole glacial cycle, which is unprecedented,” said Andrey Ganopolski, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany and who led the research. “It is mind-boggling that humankind is able to interfere with a mechanism that shaped the world as we know it.”

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Unprecedented Weather: is Climate Change Happening Now?

  • Scotland, and in particular NE Scotland where I live, has been battered by winter storms during December 2015 and January 2016 leading to widespread flooding, destruction of property and misery for thousands of people. The Met Office warns that wide-spread frosts are now on the way.
  • Government officials, while recognising a range of causes, seek to blame these events on climate change. For example Prof Jenkins, deputy Director of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology writing in the FT:

“We are absolutely convinced that there is weighty scientific evidence that the recent extreme rainfall has been impacted by climate change.”


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How unprecedented was the UK’s recent wet weather?

Euan asked me to put together a short post on UK precipitation during December 2015 to supplement his forthcoming “unprecedented weather” post, so here is a brief graphical summation:

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Hinkley Point C or solar; which is cheaper?

Blowout week 105 linked to a recently-completed study from the Solar Trade Association which reached the following conclusion:

…. solar together with storage and flexibility would cost roughly half that of (Hinkley Point Unit C) over the 35 year lifetime.

And a comment posted by robertok06 had this to say about the Solar Trade Association study:

I have hardly read more BS in one single document…

Here we take a closer look at these contrasting viewpoints.

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Blowout week 106

We kick off with “Climate Change” and the recent UK floods. Below the fold: Saudi Arabia considers privatizing Aramco, earthquakes in Oklahoma, a natural gas leak in California, TransCanada sues Obama over Keystone, North Sea oil & gas production up, EU investigates Drax subsidy payments, Ed Davey knighted, military intervention to forestall ISIS in Libya, uranium outlook brightens, Greenland wants out of the Paris Agreement, more battery storage in UK, more renewables in Scotland, the 2015 El Niño ties for strongest on record and the new geologic epoch – the Anthropocene.

Abergeldie Castle near Balmoral teeters on the brink. (Image credit Press & Journal)

Financial Times:  Climate change strongly linked to UK flooding

December’s record flow rates in northern England’s rivers — and similar records being broken in the east of Scotland this week — emphasise the exceptional nature of the winter rainfall and flooding, say scientists at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the leading flood research body in the UK. In December, Britain’s wettest month since Met Office records began in 1910, rain fell so heavily over such a wide area that serious flooding was inevitable, said Professor Alan Jenkins, CEH deputy director.

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Technical and Economic Analysis of the European Electricity System with 60% RES – A Review

Guest post by Dr Phillip Bratby who reviews the EDF R&D Paper ‘Technical and Economic Analysis of the European Electricity System with 60% RES, by Alain Burtin and Vera Silva, 17 June 2015’

Dr Phillip Bratby BSc, PhD, ARCS, MNucI has spent most of his career in the civil nuclear industry, working in the areas of the safety and operation of water reactors.  Before retirement he was an in independent energy consultant.

Download the EDF report Technical and Economic Analysis of the European Electricity System with 60% RES from Energy Post.

Introduction

The EU has a strategy to increase the amount of electricity that will be generated from renewable energy sources (RES) to 55% by 2050. About 57% of the RES in Europe is currently hydro and there is little opportunity to expand hydro. Thus most of the projected increase in RES, which constitutes about 10% of electricity generation in 2014, will be from wind and solar PV, reaching 20% in 2020 and 30% in 2030. The EDF paper examined the future impacts, challenges and changes to the power system of increased wind and solar PV renewable energy sources (variable RES) on the European electricity grid…..

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