Blowout Week 139

This week we return to the shaky state of UK energy security, with Barclays projecting that an investment of £215bn by 2030, which presently is nowhere to be seen, will be needed to decarbonize the electricity sector while keeping the lights on.


Utility Week: UK needs to invest £215bn in energy by 2030

The UK will need to invest an “eye-watering” £215 billion in its energy system by 2030 in order to replace aging assets and decarbonise, analysis by Barclays Research has found. “With electricity security of supply already on a knife edge, the UK faces the obsolescence of approximately 40 per cent of its current combined cycle gas turbine fleet by around 2020 and approximately 70 per cent of all reliable generation capacity by 2030,” the report said.

In addition to losing 15GW of unabated coal capacity by 2025 due to pledged phase out, the report said by 2030 the UK is also expected to lose: 7.7GW of the current 8.9GW of operational nuclear capacity; 22GW of gas generation capacity, 13GW of it by 2020; and 2.3GW of biomass conversion capacity due to the ending of government subsidies in 2027. “Shoring up the UK’s current tenuous electricity security of supply in the face of this mass obsolescence of baseload generation capacity, combined with government policy to achieve a 57 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2032, will require an eye-watering level of investment over coming years,” it said. The report’s estimates are based on an average of National Grid’s four ‘Future Energy Scenarios’ published in July. This average scenario sees a 5 per cent (16TWh) increase in annual energy demand, as a 42TWh increase in demand from electric vehicles and the electrification of heating more than offsets a 25TWh reduction due to energy efficiency measures. To meet this demand, it envisions a 45GW increase in overall capacity, most of it coming from intermittent renewables. Securing sufficient investment will require “transparent, stable and supportive policies”, especially as the wholesale pricing mechanism is “effectively permanently broken as a signal to develop new generation capacity, undermined by the introduction of significant levels of subsidised low/zero dispatch cost renewables.The wholesale price and load factor uncertainty resulting from further renewables capacity growth mean the vast majority of the UK’s required new generation capacity investment will not materialise without a subsidy or other high confidence revenue stream,” the report added.

Elsewhere in this week’s Blowout: Iran / OPEC deal on the cards; China accused of nuclear espionage; UK government looks for ways to torpedo Hinkley Point; Fessenheim nuclear power plant in France to close; coking coal price on the rise; £200 million pumped storage hydro scheme on Lewis; National grid clutching at straw batteries; Telegraph living in the real world; Tesla cramming in more electrons; Human caused climate change started in 1830; Air Africa to run on Woodbines; France opts for tree wind power over nuclear power.

Fortune:  Iran Sets Out Terms to Cooperate with OPEC

Iran will help other oil producers stabilize the world market so long as fellow OPEC members recognize its right to regain lost market share, the country’s oil minister said on Friday in remarks made ahead of next month’s meeting of the oil exporters group. ran, OPEC’s third-largest producer, boosted output after Western sanctions were lifted in January, and had refused to join OPEC and some non-members in an accord earlier this year to freeze production levels. “Iran will cooperate with OPEC to help the oil market recover, but expects others to respect its rights to regain its lost share of the market,” Bijan Namdar Zanganeh was quoted as saying by the oil ministry’s news agency SHANA. Tehran insists it will be ready for joint action only once it regains pre-sanctions output of 4 million barrels per day (bpd). It pumped 3.6 million bpd in July, OPEC figures show. Zanganeh said Iran had no role in instability of the oil market, as the crisis happened when Tehran’s exports were less than 1 million bpd. Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will meet on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum (IEF), which groups producers and consumers, in Algeria on Sept. 26-28.

ABC:  Is the slide in US shale oil and gas production about to bottom out?

While the rig count tumbles and bankruptcies mount, research from the US Energy Information Agency indicates that the industry may now have troughed and production will again start growing again. Around 2010, US shale oil and gas production was turned from a marginal outlier to a mainstream energy supplier by a combination of rising oil prices and technological improvements in hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – that saw drill costs fall between 25 and 30 per cent in the past three years alone. That success prompted a none-too-subtle response from the giant producers in the Gulf States – particularly the Saudis – to pump the nascent sector out business.The flood of oil has created a massive glut, crushing prices in both the oil and gas markets, making the economics of the higher-cost US industry marginal at best. The oil and gas rig count tumbled along with the industry’s creditworthiness with more than 80 US oilfield service suppliers being declared bankrupt since the start of 2015. Late in 2014 there were around 1,600 oil and almost 400 gas rigs plying their trade above the shale beds dotted throughout the US. By May this year the combined total was 404. Firmer prices recently have seen the rig count on the rise again with another 100 back in action, although still down around 400 from the same time last year, according to industry analysts Baker Hughes.

CBS Denver:  Groups Challenge Federal Oil, Gas Leasing On Climate Grounds

The federal government needs to consider greenhouse emissions and the potential contribution to climate change before allowing oil and gas development on public land, two environmental groups asserted Thursday in a lawsuit over drilling in Western states. The lawsuit filed by WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility in federal court in Washington, D.C., challenges 397 oil and gas leases the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has issued since early 2015 in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. Almost 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions trace back to publicly owned oil and gas reserves, an amount more than the total greenhouse emissions of Central America, the groups claim. The Interior Department in January announced a three-year moratorium on federal coal leasing in Wyoming and elsewhere to analyze whether the government is getting a fair return on those leases and the environmental effects of burning that coal to produce electricity. WildEarth Guardians asked for similar action for the federal oil and gas leasing program but hasn’t heard back from the government, the lawsuit says. “President Obama seems to get climate change, but he has an unexplainable blind spot when it comes to leasing public lands to oil and gas companies,” said Tim Ream, WildEarth Guardians climate and energy campaign director, in a release.

ABC:  Record Low Lease Bidding for Gulf Oil

The federal government’s annual sale of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico attracted hardly any interest on Wednesday, reflecting a dismal outlook for offshore drilling. Only three oil companies bid, on just 24 of the nearly 4,400 tracts offered for drilling and exploration in the Gulf of Mexico off the Texas coast. None competed against each other. Between them, BP Exploration and Production Inc., BHP Billiton Petroleum Inc., and Exxon Mobil Corp. offered a total of $18 million, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said. For perspective, that’s about 32 millionths of the combined market capital of the bidders’ parent companies, which totals more than half a trillion dollars. It represents the least revenue offered by the smallest number of companies making the fewest bids yet on leases in the central or western Gulf of Mexico, said Michael Celata, the agency’s regional director. Last year, five companies made 33 bids, totaling $22.7 million. That’s a far cry from November 2012, when oil was selling at $91.20 and 13 companies offered $133.8 million in high bids on 116 tracts in the same area.

Financial Post:  Canada — and particularly Alberta’s oil industry — paying higher price for climate change policy than U.S.

The two trading partners are focusing on different areas for GHG reductions and are using different policy tools because of their unique resource endowments, geography, climate, history and politics, according to the study by IHS Energy, led by Kevin Birn. In the U.S., the front line is power generation from coal, because that is its largest source of emissions. In Canada, the bull’s eye is on oil and gas, and particularly the oilsands. The upshot is that the policies go easy on and even benefit the U.S. oilpatch because of the key role played by shale gas, and come down hard on the Canadian oilpatch, heavily concentrated in a single province, Alberta. “This is a concern for Canada’s large oil and gas sector, which competes globally for investment and export markets,” says the newly released report. “Unilateral climate policy adds cost that could move investment, activity, and associated emissions from Canada to regions with less-stringent policies, with little or no net reduction in global emissions.” The exodus of capital is already well under way. The Alberta government’s fiscal update this week said energy investment is forecast to be about half 2014 levels, and non-energy investment is also in decline as the oilpatch recession that started with the drop in oil prices spread to housing, retail activity, labour markets and manufacturing.

Oil Price:  Gazprom Partners in Nord Stream Quit Merger Talks

Gazprom’s partners in the Nord Stream-2 pipeline project have given up the merger plan that would have seen Gazprom, Shell, OMV, French Engie, and German Uniper and Wintershall combine into a consortium to build a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea. The change of plans was prompted by opposition from the Polish anti-monopoly regulator, which said earlier this year that such a consortium would unduly increase Gazprom’s already substantial influence over the Central European energy market and create an environment that could stimulate unfair competition. According to some Russian media, Gazprom’s partners pulled out of the consortium due to worries about their business in Poland. It was precisely this existing business that necessitated the approval of UOKiK, the Polish regulator: Gazprom, Shell, Wintershall, and Uniper have a significant presence on that market. The partners said in a statement they still consider Nord Stream-2 an important one for the European energy system and each of them will individually seek other ways to take part in it. Nord Stream-2 consists of twin pipelines running from Russia’s Baltic coast to Germany, bypassing Ukraine, which is currently the umbilical cord between Russian gas fields and European markets.

South China Morning Post:   US accuses China General Nuclear Power Corp of pushing American experts for nuclear secrets

A state-owned Chinese power company under indictment in the US pressed American nuclear consultants for years to hand over secret technologies and documents they weren’t supposed to disclose — and in some cases it got them, several of the consultants have told the FBI. Summaries of the consultants’ interviews with agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were filed this month in a federal court where the company, China General Nuclear Power Corp. (CGN), has been charged with conspiring to steal nuclear technology. One of the consultants said CGN employees asked for off-limits operational manuals to nuclear equipment and software, according to the interview summaries. Another said he was asked to provide proprietary temperature settings for material used to contain nuclear fuel. After he refused, he wasn’t offered more consulting jobs, he told the FBI. Employees of CGN “frequently asked for documents which were proprietary or limited to restricted access,” according to a summary of one interview. In several instances, the company got what it wanted, according to the FBI documents. In a statement, CGN said it “attaches high importance” to the US case. “The company always sticks to the principle of following laws and regulations,” it said in the Chinese-language statement translated by Bloomberg. “The company will continue to stick to such a principle moving forward.” While the US court case doesn’t address the UK plant, the FBI interviews could add to concerns expressed by British officials like Nick Timothy, a close adviser to the new prime minister, Theresa May. Timothy warned last year that China’s involvement in nuclear projects there might allow it to “shut down Britain’s energy production at will.”

Independent:  Whitehall officials exploring ways UK could pull out of Hinkley deal

Westminster sources told The Independent civil servants are looking to see if there is any loophole, clause or issue in contracts yet to be signed that allow the Government to pull back without huge loss and while also saving face. Ministers are acutely aware of the potential damage a withdrawal could do to relations with China, which is committed to pouring billions of pounds into the controversial project. A Whitehall source said: “There is a working assumption of people in government that the civil service is looking for a way out, a legal loophole, a clause. “They are looking for anything that will allow the Government to withdraw and also allow the Chinese to withdraw while also saving face.” It was expected last month when the board of French energy company EDF voted to go ahead with Hinkley C power station that the British Government would give its approval. Instead new Business Secretary Greg Clark announced he needed more time to make a decision. It followed claims that the price promised for Hinkley’s electricity at £92.50 per MWh, more than double the wholesale price, was too expensive. The two new reactors that would be built at Hinkley are also of unproven design, with the two being constructing elsewhere beset by budget overruns and delays. There have also been concerns over whether China’s involvement is a security risk.

Ecowatch:  New Study Casts Doubt on the Future of Nuclear Power

While it’s been touted by some energy experts as a so-called “bridge” to help slash carbon emissions, a new study suggests that a commitment to nuclear power may in fact be a path towards climate failure. For their study, researchers at the University of Sussex and the Vienna School of International Studies grouped European countries by levels of nuclear energy usage and plans, and compared their progress with part of the European Union’s 2020 Strategy. The researchers found that “progress in both carbon emissions reduction and in adoption of renewables appears to be inversely related to the strength of continuing nuclear commitments.” For the study, the authors looked at three groupings. First is those with no nuclear energy. Group 1 includes Denmark, Ireland and Portugal. Group 2, which counts Germany and Sweden among its members, includes those with some continuing nuclear commitments, but also with plans to decommission existing nuclear plants. The third group, meanwhile, includes countries like Hungary and the UK which have plans to maintain current nuclear units or even expand nuclear capacity. For non-nuclear Group 1 countries, the average percentage of reduced emissions was 6 percent and they had an average of a 26 percent increase in renewable energy consumption. Group 2 had the highest average percentage of reduced emissions at 11 percent and they also boosted renewable energy to 19 percent. Pro-nuclear Group 3, meanwhile, had their emissions on average go up 3 percent and they had the smallest increase in renewable shares—16 percent.

Nuclear Street:  French Government, EDF, Strike Deal To Close Fessenheim

The French Ministry of Energy announced Wednesday that the government had agreed to compensate state-owned utility Electricite de France (EDF) for the closure of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant, which is the country’s oldest and has been under political and pressure aimed at shutting the plant down. Construction of the two pressurized water reactors at Fessenheim was begun in 1970 with the plant commissioned seven years later, in 1977. But there have been recent calls for operators to re-evaluate and upgrade the plant based on higher seismic standards, which were raised by a local Oversight Commission in the wake of the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear generating station in Japan. It was originally built to withstand seismic activity at magnitude of 6.7. New standards call for the plant to withstand a 7.2 magnitude seismic disturbance. In addition, the Fessenheim plant is situated in northeastern France, less than a mile from the border with Germany and about 25 miles from the Swiss border. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is running for a return to office, has said he would not seek to close the Fessenheim plant, but current President Francois Holland, in office since 2012, has taken the opposite position. In the post-Fukushima Daiichi era, France has re-evaluated its stance on nuclear power and is aiming to reduce its share of the country’s energy generation mix from the current level of 70 percent to 50 percent.

Oil Price:  Brexit Gives A Lifeline To British Coal

Britain’s recent decision to leave the European Union may hinder its 15-year plan to shut down coal-fired power stations and decommission all but one of its ageing nuclear plants. The nation, which would lose 23 gigawatts (GW) of power-generating capacity with such measures, would then have to rely more than ever on imports of natural gas and electricity… or not. According to Alex Harrison, counsel at Hogan Lovells in London, who specializes in electricity markets and utilities, coal-fired generation may remain a key part of Britain’s energy supply for longer than planned. Speaking to Bloomberg, Harrison said Britain’s planned exit from the EU will make access to cleaner sources of fuel challenging, which in turn may mean the country will have to keep coal-fired generation past its self-imposed 2025 deadline. With this, the nation would also fail to meet its obligation under the 2008 Climate Change Act to reduce greenhouse gases to 80 percent below their 1990 level by 2050. Former Energy Secretary Amber Rudd had said that if coal power plants were able to install carbon capture and storage (CCS) before 2025, they would not have to close. That approach has led to a boom of investments in heavily subsidized low carbon technologies in recent months, but as Jonathan Ford wrote for Financial Times (subs. required), “it has not added a single megawatt to Britain’s overall capacity.” On the contrary, it has actually been shrinking. The UK’s main transmission company, National Grid, has just warned that the nation’s margin of supply might shrink to 0.1 percent this winter — down from 17 percent five years ago.

Hot Air:  Oregon is replacing coal power with wind. Let’s see what happens

If you live in Oregon and rely on certain fancy, high tech features of the industrial revolution such as having lights in your home and refrigerated food, you might want to start stocking up on candles and non-perishable goods. The green energy warriors have pretty much taken over the state legislature in the Beaver State for more than the past decade and they’ve managed to pass all sorts of interesting laws. One of them was a rule which says that all coal fired power will be eliminated by 2020… a deadline which is pretty much right around the corner. The Boardman Coal Plant is scheduled to shut down completely in the next few years and at that point there will be little besides wind turbines in terms of in-state power generation. What could possibly go wrong? The first thing the residents can prepare to do is tighten their purse strings. Energy generation remains in the realm of the free market and in order to comply with these state mandates, energy is going to cost more. The utility companies don’t simply suck up those increased costs, so they get passed on to the consumer. But what will be more interesting to observe is not the bottom line people are paying, but if the lights will stay on at all. Coal currently provides more than a third of Oregon’s energy needs. The total energy provided by wind turbines accounts for… eight percent. And it’s a highly unreliable eight percent because that production drops to nearly zero every time the wind stops blowing. There are nowhere near the number of new wind turbine projects under construction right now to make up that gap even if you could ensure steady breezes blowing all year long.

Business Insider:  Coking coal prices are going bonkers

Coking coal prices are going absolutely bonkers right now, surging higher yet again after climbing by the most in five years last week. According to the Commonwealth Bank, spot premium coking coal rose 3.7% to $US127 a tonne (FOB, Australia) on Thursday, extending the rally seen in August to 24%. From the multi-year lows struck in February, prices have now surged by a staggering 73%. Vivek Dhar, a mining and energy commodities analyst at the Commonwealth Bank, says prices are being driven by supply shortages in China. “A coking coal shortage in China has emerged as highways in the coal-producing province of Shanxi were closed for repairs following heavy rainfall last month,” he wrote in a research note released on Friday. “While transport conditions are reportedly improving, steel mills are still anxious to secure coking coal.” Despite the breakneck rally, Dhar believes that prices are likely to remain well supported in the short-term. “Coking coal prices could continue to increase in the short term so long as Chinese steel mill margins remain positive,” he says. Given strength in coal and iron ore prices recently, it goes a long way to explaining recent strength in the Australian dollar.

South China Morning Post:  China and US to ratify landmark Paris climate deal ahead of G20 summit

China and the United States are set to jointly announce their ratification of a landmark climate change pact before the G20 summit early next month, the South China Morning Post has learned. Senior climate officials from both countries worked late into the night in Beijing on Tuesday to finalise details, and a bilateral announcement is likely to be made on September 2, according to sources familiar with the issue. President Xi Jinping will meet his US counterpart Barack Obama for the G20 summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, two days later on September 4. “There are still some uncertainties from the US side due to the complicated US system in ratifying such a treaty, but the announcement is still quite likely to be ready by Sept 2,” said a source, who declined to be named. If both sides announce the ratification on the day, it would be the last major joint statement between the two leaders before Obama leaves office. China and the US account for about 38 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Resources Institute. By ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change, Beijing and Washington could generate momentum for the accord to come into effect as a binding international treaty.

Sola Power Portal:  European energy M&A market likely to be hit by Brexit impact

The European investment market for power generation assets is likely to be severely hit by the continuing impacts of the UK’s Brexit vote, ‘Big Four’ consultancy EY has warned. However clean energy assets backed by long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) will remain of particular interest due to their ability to provide stable, long-term returns. The sentiments were raised in EY’s latest power transactions and trends report, updated for Q2 2016.Within it, the consultancy has warned that until the UK’s energy policy and position in the EU energy market becomes clearer, investors could be put off acquiring utility-scale energy generation assets, particularly those in the UK. Since the British public voted to leave the European Union on 23 June there has been substantial uncertainty over how the country will engage with continental Europe and the wider European energy market. Various reports published prior to the vote discussed the possibility of tariffs being added to any imported energy, a practice which economics consultancy Oxera warned would add £140 million to household bills. EY also warned of the “mixed” regulatory support renewables had been afforded across Europe. While France and Italy have backed solar and other clean generators with fresh targets and support frameworks, Germany and the UK in particular had withdrawn support. The UK has tumbled down EY’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI) in successive quarters and at the last update occupied 11th position.

Financial Times:  Offshore UK wind farms hit by subsidy deal delay

An auction for billions of pounds worth of offshore wind farm subsidy contracts has been delayed until next year. The previous energy secretary, Amber Rudd, had said she intended to hold the auction before the end of 2016 but this will not happen now until early 2017, people close to the process have told the Financial Times. The delay follows the decision by Theresa May to abolish the energy department and fold it into a new Business Energy and Industrial Strategy department after she became prime minister following the Brexit vote. This bureaucratic reshuffling, combined with the August summer holiday break, was causing the delay, said one person with knowledge of the auction timetable, rather than any change of renewable energy policy under the new government. The move comes just weeks after the energy industry was jolted by the government’s unexpected decision to review the £18bn Hinkley Point nuclear power plant hours after EDF, the project’s French developer, gave it the go-ahead. Gordon Edge, for economics and regulation policy director at the wind industry trade body, RenewableUK, said news of the delay in the auction for subsidy contracts was not a concern at present. “Nobody is panicking,” he said. “We feel pretty confident about government support. A bit of a delay is not terrible but obviously we don’t want it to drag on.”

Edie:  Scottish energy production boosted by £200m hydro scheme

The £200m PSH electricity storage facility on the Isle of Lewis will significantly increase (from 40% to 80%) the use of the Western Isles cable being installed by the National Grid to export and import electricity generated from renewable energy sources on the islands. Generating enough electricity to power more than 200,000 homes, the innovative Eishken Limited-operated scheme will utilise the sea as the lower reservoir from which water will be pumped uphill to a second reservoir at a higher reservoir. Eishken expects that this method will create a much lower environmental impact than would be caused by creating a second reservoir. The company’s owner Nick Oppenheim said: “There are very few PSH schemes throughout the UK and what we are proposing is particularly innovative given the use of the sea as the lower reservoir. “This scheme will not only materially enhance the benefits to be derived from the Western Isles link but will make a material difference in the supply of energy to the mainland. It will also be a key element in the Scotland’s renewable energy armoury.”

Bloomberg:  Britain Is About to Take a Great (Battery) Leap Forward

Grid-scale electricity storage will move closer to commercial reality on Friday when the U.K.’s grid operator offers contracts to companies to help balance the network, a key measure needed to help balance increasing supply from renewables. National Grid Plc will announce the winners of a bidding round for as much as 200 megawatts of storage capacity, which is about the size of a small power plant. It’s likely to be the storage industry’s biggest award this year in global market expected to install $5.1 billion of equipment in 2020, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Storage plays a key role in the greening of utilities’ networks by allowing grid managers to handle higher volumes of intermittent power from the wind and sun. Any winning bidder of National Grid’s tender must be able to supply power within 1 second and deliver 100 percent of the capacity it offered for at least 15 minutes. Even though the tender is relatively small, and is essentially a pilot, it could pave the way for future rounds and greater investment. For the moment, the vessel of choice for investors and National Grid is a battery. Most of those units are based on lithium — a bigger version of the power packs found in the back of mobile phones and electric cars.

Common Space Scotland:  Scottish parties call for a “national plan” for renewable energy storage

Callum McCaig, SNP MP and spokesperson for energy and climate at Westminster, said: “For the potential of renewable energy to be fully realised we will continue to need newer and better storage technologies; mastering that is the solution to making renewables as attractive financially as they are environmentally. The impressive levels of electricity generated from wind turbines last weekend are evidence that we should be investing in Scotland’s enviable potential for a clean and reliable source of energy for our future.” The SNP states that energy storage facilities for renewables would allow the country to overcome what is termed as the ‘design flaw’ of wind power turbines, which is the argument that they are wasted when the wind doesn’t blow. McCaig claimed that either if there is too little wind or too much wind the companies operating wind turbines are sometimes paid to shut down by the grid for over-producing or under-producing. The storage of any energy from wind, solar or hydro would, he said, put an end to this energy waste and increase financial viability for the future.

Telegraph:  Theresa May can reduce carbon emissions or protect British jobs – not both

In her Birmingham speech Mrs May said she wanted an energy policy that “emphasises the reliability of supply and lower costs for users”, and she voiced her commitment to greater prosperity in which everyone shares. The problem is that job creation, raising productivity and encouraging higher wages are not compatible with carbon reduction. After the 2008 Climate change Act, the Government’s climate-change policies have added to the cost of electricity and destroyed thousands of high-paid jobs. Between 2010 and 2015, two British aluminium smelters closed because of the Government’s energy policy, leaving only a small factory in Scotland that uses hydro-electric power. The steel industry has suffered closures and job losses because of the cost of energy and remains under threat. A proper industrial strategy will need to end policies that add significantly to the cost of production. Until 2008 the policy was to be among the cheapest three energy producing nations, but our own energy department has reported that electricity costs for manufacturers are about twice as high as in Germany. The Government could start by scrapping the carbon price floor, a UK scheme that deliberately increases the cost of energy above the market price under the EU emissions trading system. And it should press on with fracking to increase home-produced energy. Economic self-harm does not make any difference to global warming. UK emissions are less than 2 per cent of the world total. Whether we think that carbon emissions are a serious problem or that global warming concerns are alarmist, closing down our aluminium industry has not reduced total emissions. They just happen elsewhere.

Fortune:  Tesla’s New Battery Pack

According to Tesla, the new Model S P100D—thanks to the new battery pack—is the third fastest accelerating production car ever produced (including traditional gas-powered cars). And at 315 miles, it has the longest range ever for a production electric vehicle. Thanks to Tesla’s engineers, the company has now crammed even more energy into the same size pack, using the same battery cells. Tesla’s battery packs contain thousands of lithium-ion battery cells that discharge energy to power the car. This milestone isn’t just another notch on Tesla’s belt. It shows how as Tesla continues to innovate, how it’s leading the auto industry, and how far it is ahead of competitors when it comes to developing electric car battery technology. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk said during a call with reporters on Tuesday that the 100-kilowatt battery pack is coming close to reaching the theoretical limit of how much energy density the company can pack into that size and shape battery pack using those specific batteries. For Tesla to achieve a higher energy density for future battery packs, it would need to improve the battery chemistry itself by adding new materials or tweaking the battery cell design.

Quartz:  Bill Nye explains that the flooding in Louisiana is the result of climate change

“The Science Guy,” the science educator best known for his beloved 1990s educational videos, appeared on CNN yesterday (Aug. 23) to discuss the recent flooding in Louisiana that killed 13 people, damaged 60,000 homes, and forced the evacuation of thousands of others. Nye was clear about what’s to blame for the disaster. “This is the result of climate change,” he said. “It’s only going to get worse.” Last week, a slow-moving, low-pressure storm hit parts of coastal Louisiana, creating torrential downpours that resulted in as much as 31 inches of rainfall over a two-day period. The Red Cross is calling the consequent flooding the worst natural disaster in the US since Hurricane Sandy, which killed over 200 people across the country’s eastern seaboard in 2012. “As the ocean gets warmer, which it is getting, it expands,” Nye explained. “Molecules spread apart, and then as the sea surface is warmer, more water evaporates, and so it’s very reasonable that these storms are connected to these big effects.” Scientists from around the world have concurred with Nye that this is exactly what the effects of climate change look like, and that disasters like the Louisiana floods are going to happen more and more. According to a National Academy of Sciences report published earlier this year, extreme flooding can be traced directly to human-induced global warming. As the atmosphere warms, it retains more moisture, leading to bouts of sustained, heavy precipitation that can cause floods.

Washington Post:  Human-caused climate change has been happening for a lot longer than we thought, scientists say

A new paper is challenging our understanding of how long human-caused climate change has been at work on Earth. And the authors say their findings may question existing ideas about how sensitive the planet is to greenhouse gas emissions — with potentially big implications for our global climate policy. The new study, just out on Wednesday in the journal Nature, suggests human-caused, or anthropogenic, climate change has been going on for decades longer than existing temperature records indicate. Using paleoclimate records from the past 500 years, the researchers show that sustained warming began to occur in both the tropical oceans and the Northern Hemisphere land masses as far back as the 1830s — and they’re saying industrial-era greenhouse gas emissions were the cause, even back then. The new research involved 25 scientists from around the world, including more than a dozen researchers from the PAGES 2k (or Past Global Change 2000 year) Consortium, a group supporting research into Earth’s past in order to gain a better understanding of its climate future. The team’s reconstructions indicated that significant and sustained warming began in the tropical oceans around the 1830s, about the same time it began over the continental land masses in the Northern Hemisphere. Warming in the Southern Hemisphere was delayed until about 50 years later, the reconstructions suggested — this likely has to do with differences in oceanic and atmospheric circulation there.

Guardian:  Climate change is thawing deadly diseases

Earlier this month, an outbreak of anthrax in northern Russia caused the death of a 12-year-old boy and his grandmother and put 90 people in the hospital. These deadly spores – which had not been seen in the Arctic since 1941 – also spread to 2,300 caribou. Russian troops trained in biological warfare were dispatched to the Yamalo-Nenets region to evacuate hundreds of the indigenous, nomadic people and quarantine the disease. Americans are likely to associate anthrax with the mysterious white powder that was mailed to news media and US Senate offices in the weeks following 11 September 2001. The bacteria – usually sequestered in biological weapons labs – killed five people and infected 17 others in the most devastating bioterrorism attack in US history. But in Russia, the spread of illness was not the result of bioterrorism; it was a result of global warming. Record-high temperatures melted Arctic permafrost and released deadly anthrax spores from a thawing carcass of a caribou that had been infected 75 years ago and had stayed frozen in limbo until now. It is not just animal carcasses that are thawing. Indigenous groups living in the tundra do not bury their dead deep underground, opting instead for wooden coffins arranged in above-ground cemeteries. This raises the potential for infections to spread from this source as well.

Sydney Morning Herald:  Solar powered apartment block rises in Melbourne

A landmark high-rise apartment tower in Southbank whose glass exterior is wrapped in solar cells will provide its residents with “off-the-grid” power stored in Tesla-like batteries, its designers say. The 60-level building will be the first skyscraper in Australia environmentally engineered to include solar cells in the facade, creating a far greater surface area for catching the sun’s rays. To do that, high-tech solar materials will be sourced from China, wind turbines will be fitted on the roof, glass will be double-glazed, a battery storage system will service the 520 apartments and it will have low-energy LED lighting throughout. The Sol Invictus tower has been designed to capture the sun’s movement from east to west. ICR Property Group’s Raff De Luise, who represents the landowner behind the project, said it will be known as the Sol Invictus Tower – Sol Invictus meaning “the invincible sun”, after a Roman sun god.

South Africa:  Africa’s first biofuel flights take off

History was made in mid-July. Africa’s first sustainable biofuel powered flights successfully flew between Johannesburg and Cape Town. The South African Airways (SAA) and Mango Boeing 737-800s used biofuel to power their engines on 15 July 2016. The fuel is made from a tobacco plant cultivated in Limpopo. Under Project Solaris, the plant, also named Solaris, produces small leaves, flowers and seeds which are crushed to extract a vegetable crude oil. It is a nicotine-free, hybridised tobacco plant. Growing the crops locally had contributed to the country’s National Development Plan of economic and rural development, said Musa Zwane, SAA’s acting CEO. He also noted that the project had established a regional bio jet fuel supply chain, something of which we could be proud. Nico Bezuidenhout, Mango CEO, echoed Zwane’s pride. “The project also shows how, when various role players come together and collaborate, success is imminent,” he said.

Quartz:  Man-made “wind trees” will finally make it possible to power homes

Last December, two “wind trees”—or arbres à vent—quietly churned in a plaza in Paris, as world leaders met for the historic climate talks at the Le Bourget conference center nearby. Developed by a French company called New Wind, the “trees” had plastic “leaves” painted green, with curves that held dozens of tiny blades soundlessly harnessing the wind no matter which way it blew. Unlike larger industrial turbines, which need winds of over 22 miles per hour to function, the leaves captured energy from wind speeds of less than five mph. The latest design is just under 30 feet tall and 23 feet wide, sporting a total of 54 leaf-turbines that can capture up to 5.4 kilowatts of energy at a time and produce around 2,400 kWh annually, said New Wind spokesperson Marine Bieliaeff. The startup estimates this would meet half of the average French household’s annual energy needs; run a small, low-consumption office for 12 months; or charge an electric car for 10,000 miles each year. That’s the equivalent of about 160 gallons of fuel.

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99 Responses to Blowout Week 139

  1. Jan Ebenholtz says:

    I am looking forward to the comments on Ecowatch and the Windtree

  2. Euan Mearns says:

    Roger, it strikes me from your lead story that £215 billion over 14 years is nothing. Its £15 billion a year. Our GDP is something like £1.5 trillion per year. And its true that old worn out generating kit needs to be replaced. Its what you replace it with that matters.

    And the Bloomberg article… 200 MW of storage. Units are wrong! Its like saying a car goes at 20 Kg per hour. The main news sources really, really need to up their standards.

    • Euan: I agree that £15 billion a year isn’t a prohibitive sum relative to UK GDP. The problem is lack of investor confidence. Will private investors fork out this much money given the uncertainties generated by Brexit, the Hinkley Point nuclear fiasco, the lack of financial incentives to build new CCGT plants, the rollback in renewables subsidies and the fact that until the new government gets its ducks in a row the UK effectively no longer has an energy policy? There’s a good summary of all this here:

    • Greg Kaan says:

      Euan, both generation and energy storage capacity are relevant for storing electricity – without one, the other is meaningless.

      The Bloomberg article does state that the battery will be required to “supply power within 1 second and deliver 100 percent of the capacity it offered for at least 15 minutes” so the energy storage is “at least” 50 MWh. This will make it reasonably useful for smoothing wind farm output and, if implemented properly, for providing grid stabilization as artificial synchronous inertia. As such, it should be categorised as a frequency control ancillary service provider rather than a generator.

      Of course it means nothing in terms of the real issue of intermittency from wind turbine and solar PV farms but the distinction is not within the grasp of most media (and politicians).

  3. Joe Public says:

    Guardian: Climate change is thawing deadly diseases

    Earlier this month, an outbreak of anthrax in northern Russia caused the death of a 12-year-old boy and his grandmother and put 90 people in the hospital. These deadly spores – which had not been seen in the Arctic since 1941 – also spread to 2,300 caribou.

    In other news, Guardian fails to explain how ‘climate change’ caused the pre-1941 thaw and subsequent post-1941 re-freeze.

  4. Euan Mearns says:

    “Using paleoclimate records from the past 500 years, the researchers show that sustained warming began to occur in both the tropical oceans and the Northern Hemisphere land masses as far back as the 1830s — and they’re saying industrial-era greenhouse gas emissions were the cause, even back then.”

    This from Nature is key to understanding why this journal has now become a comic book and why AGW alarmism is so much BS. When you attribute natural warming to Man you simply abandon science all together.

    • Peter Lang says:

      I’d be interested in yours and other readers comments on Figures 15, 12 and 13 here and my interpretation of them.

      Figure 15:
      Figure 12:
      Figure 13:

      In particular, I’d like to know if Figure 13 average tropical temperatures during the Phanerozoic” is approximately correct (generally accepted). It seems to me this is vary significant.

      My interpretation of the significance of these three charts (taken together) is they do not support the contention that a 3C rise in global average temperature is a significantthreat.

      Figure 15 shows the global mean surface temperature (GMST) over the past 540 million years. We can infer that if GMST increased by 3C (i.e. from ~14.5C to ~17.5 C), it would be similar to what it was about 35 million years ago. Is this a threat? See Scotese’s Figures 12 and 13.

      Figure 12 shows that, if the global average temperature increases by 3C from the current ~15C to ~18C, the temperature at the poles would increase from -36C to -7C, and the temperature gradient from tropics to poles would decrease from 0.82C to 0.44C per degree latitude. That’s likely to be a significant benefit for the mid and higher latitudes. But, what about the tropics? (see Figure 13).

      Figure 13 shows that the average temperature in the tropics 35 Ma ago (i.e. when GMST was about 3 C higher than now) was about 1C higher than now.

      Also note in Figure 15, the planet is currently in only the second deep geological ice age (i.e. when there is permanent ice sheets at one or both poles) in the past 540 Ma, and near the coldest it has been in this time. Since life thrived when the planet was warmer than now, what is the evidence that 3C warming is a significant threat?

      These three charts, taken together, suggests a 3C rise in GMST means a small (~1C) increase in average temperature of the tropics and a beneficial warming of the mid and higher latitudes.

      This does not support the contention that global warming or GHG emissions are a serious threat.

      • Greg Kaan says:

        For Peter, Euan, Andrew and other geologists.

        What do you make of the claim by Mike Sandiford (Chair of Geology, University of Melbourne / Director, “Melbourne Energy Institute”) that borehole temperature profiles offer empirical evidence of man made global warming?

        • Peter Lang says:

          In the 1980’s I was involved in borehole temperature measurement in in the Canadian Shield, so I have some awareness of the data collection, analysis and interpretation. I doubt the AGW signal can be identified.

          I have no confidence in Sandiford. He is an extremist advocate for CAGW. See his article in the thirteen articles by Australia’s climate alarmist professors; this was instigated and coordinated by Stephan Lewandoswki (I assume everyone here has heard of Lewandowski, and if not look him up and look at his connections with John Cook the lead of the 87% consensus nonsense (want more about that – ask me)). The list of and links to the 13 articles and the ~140 signatories (many of Australia’s top academics with an interest in climate matters) is in the first article. Sandiford’s is the fourth. It’s all emotive and mostly irrelevant hype about the evilness of humanity, plastic bags, mining, etc. The picture at the top of the article is an atomic bomb explosion. That’s Sandiford for you.

          The false, the confused and the mendacious: how the media gets it wrong on climate change

          The 13 articles are:

          Part One: Climate change is real: an open letter from the scientific community.

          Part Two: The greenhouse effect is real: here’s why.

          Part Three: Speaking science to climate policy.

          Part Four: Our effect on the earth is real: how we’re geo-engineering the planet

          Part Five: Who’s your expert? The difference between peer review and rhetoric

          Part Six: Climate change denial and the abuse of peer review

          Part Seven: When scientists take to the streets it’s time to listen up.

          Part Eight: Australia’s contribution matters: why we can’t ignore our climate responsibilities

          Part Nine: A journey into the weird and wacky world of climate change denial

          Part Ten: The chief troupier: the follies of Mr Monckton

          Part Eleven: Rogues or respectable? How climate change sceptics spread doubt and denial

          Part Twelve: Bob Carter’s climate counter-consensus is an alternate reality

          Part thirteen: The false, the confused and the mendacious: how the media gets it wrong on climate change

          The authors are listed on the last article (beside the burning CO2 picture): . Look at the picture they used at the head of this article. It‘ll give you some idea of where the ~140 influential Australian academics sit on CAGW. Sandiford is amongst the leading pack of CAGW alarmists in Australian academia.

          • robertok06 says:

            “John Cook the lead of the 87% consensus nonsense ”

            I’ve seen him by chance last night on frrrrench tv… a 1-hour show about Australia’s gloomy fate… “the sea level is rising!”… “the climate change will CERTAINLY make extreme event more likely!”… usual scare-mongering stuff… at one point they have asked the opinion of Johan Cook… with his funny look and a sort of smile on the face… while he was predicting doom for the entire planet… he reminded me “The Jocker” in the Batman saga…
            On screen he has been titled as “Environmental Expert”, or something like that… which flies in the face of his real curriculum vitae: John Cook has been a self-employed cartoonist before becoming a “green” star with the infamous 97% consensus paper (BS of the finest kind, demonstrably…) … in reality he has some low-level degree in physical sciences, nothing more nothing less…

          • Greg Kaan says:

            Thanks for the response, Peter. I am naturally suspicious of Mike Sandiford’s statements on global warming because of his misleading articles on electricity supply as part of his role in the “Melbourne Energy Institute” (which somehow has no representation from the nearby engineering department where I studied).

            My question was really about the applicability of borehole temperature profiles which Mike Sandiford claims are consistent worldwide across “many thousands of boreholes from all around the world”. His modelling of the temperature profile produces a mean with a “hockey stick” type acceleration in temperature rise over the last century. His interpretation, of course, is that this provide emprical evidence for CAGW.

            Is this an accepted position amongst geologists is my question?

          • Peter Lang says:


            Thank you for that comment. It’s spot on, but just a tiny snippet of the whole.

            John Cook’s PhD was in “Communications” (I think). In other words, he’s trained at propaganda. from his bio:

            John Cook is the Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland and the course leader for Denial101x. He is currently completing a doctorate in cognitive psychology, researching the psychology of climate change and the efficacy of inoculation against misinformation.

            In 2007, he created, a website that refutes climate misinformation with peer-reviewed science.

            He’s been running an on line course through edX and promoted by the top universities (Harvard, etc) called: “Making Sense of Climate Science Denial“.

            What you’ll learn:
            How to recognise the social and psychological drivers of climate science denial
            How to better understand climate change: the evidence that it is happening, that humans are causing it and the potential impacts
            How to identify the techniques and fallacies that climate myths employ to distort climate science
            How to effectively debunk climate misinformation

            Here’s the truth about the 97% consensus. It’s actually only 0.5% consensus:

            0.5% of 12,000 abstracts reviewed had “explicit endorsement with quantification”. Description: “Explicitly states that humans are responsible for most of the recent warming.”
            (see Table 1 here

          • Peter Lang says:

            Greg Khan,

            I’ve read snippets about the bore hole temp measurements and the assertions about relevance to climate change but never put much time into it (My work in the 1980s was not related to climate science). The results may show the warming over the past century, but it is an entirely different matter to attribute all or part of it to human caused GHG emissions. Attribution of cause is an area of enormous uncertainty. If you want more on this try Climate Etc. select “Attribution” in the Category box on the right side of the web page then scan the articles for those that might interest you: Scan pages to find what you are interested in.

          • Greg Kaan says:

            Thanks again, Peter. I do understand the difference between correlation and causation plus I read occasionally on the Judith Curry site (but I don’t comment as I generally feel unqualified for the subjects there).

            You’ve basically confirmed my suspicion that the bore hole temperature profile is not generally accepted amongst geologists as directly correlating with temperature history. Mike Sandiford states it as a fact which I find disingenuous and further deepens my scepticism (not denial) over the CAGW hypothesis.

            Thanks again for your time over this

          • Peter Lang says:

            Hi Greg Kaan,

            You’ve basically confirmed my suspicion that the bore hole temperature profile is not generally accepted amongst geologists as directly correlating with temperature history.

            That’s not what I meant. Borehole termperature measurements do give information about the past temperature history. However, what I am saying is 1) this is not my area of expertise so I cannot answer your question about “the bore hole temperature profile is not generally accepted amongst geologists” (although I can say geologists tend to be more sceptical about CAGW than other disciplines), 2) I doubt that the AGW component of the warming that happened over the past 100 years could be distinguished from natural causes of the warming. I am not speaking for geologists, just for myself.

          • Greg Kaan says:

            Point taken.

            I’ll see what publications I can find on the subject, based on Roger’s lead.

            Thanks again

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Greg, I scanned the Conversation article. Its difficult to pin down what and where this borehole is. The interesting bit is between 15 and 30 m where there is a temperature inversion.

          I don’t know what deep Earth cooling is meant to mean. Can’t really comment on any of this. The surface seems to be out of equilibrium with the rest of the gradient. I’ll let others comment first before sharing any more thoughts.

          • Greg Kaan says:

            Thanks Euan. Tynong is a small town on the edge of Gippsland, Victoria (about 80km from where I live). I don’t think there is anything special about the borehole – it would have been drilled as part of the following study and I think Mike Sandiford used it as a example purely due to having figures on hand.
   (see Gippsland Basin on the bottom right / South West of Australian mainland)

            As I said to Peter, what I was really wondering if the temperature inversion profile was characteristic as claimed by Mike Sandiford (“present in all the boreholes we have explored, and has been reported in many thousands of boreholes from all around the world”)?

            His modelling of the implied temperature history produces a mean with accelerating temperature rise. Do you feel this is an accurate interpretation?

          • Euan Mearns says:

            Greg, I see disequilibrium. I would project the main trend (-40 to -70) to surface to get a cool Ice Age temperature. The curves towards the top reflecting post-glaciation warming. The most recent trend at the very top, cooling following the Holocene optimum. But here I’m pushing the boat way out.

          • Greg Kaan says:

            Thankyou Euan.

            As an aside, I think the deep earth cooling section is just where Mike Sandiford is stating that the heat flow from the mantle (core?) dominates the temperature profile and the temperature drops towards the surface temperature as depth decreases according to Fourier’s heat flow law. I have no idea what the deep earth heat flow bar is supposed to signify.

        • Boreholes in conductive subsurface environments will show increasing temperature with depth. To construct a paleotemperature record the conductive gradient must therefore be separated from the impacts of surface air temperature going back hundreds of years. A computer algorithm that can do this with any semblance of accuracy must be a wonderful algorithm indeed.

          Borehole temperature reconstructions are also suspect. A reconstruction that tracks the discredited Mann “hockey stick” can’t be taken seriously:

          • Greg Kaan says:

            Thanks for this Roger. I’ll do a bit of digging on the Huang et al 2008 study.

            It’s starting to look like cherry picked tree rings again.

      • Peter: Interesting stuff.

        The graphics below compare the Phanerozoic temperature plot with a Phanerozoic CO2 plot. There seems to be a rough correlation between the two:

        Something else to think about.

        • Peter Lang says:

          Hi Roger,

          Thank you. Yes, there are many plots comparing CO2 and GMST over the Phanerozoic. Scotese has been showing such plots for at least 20 years. Here’s the IPCC AR4 WG1 Chapter 6, Figure 6.1 Note the times when the polar ice caps existed and the latitude they extended to. Also note that the continuous glaciation of Antarctica began about 10 MA ago; this coincides with when North and South America joined up blocking warm ocean currents from circulating around the low latitudes. Opening of gap between South America and Antarctica also allowed circulation of cold waters around Antarctica which was important in the cooling of Antarctica.

          Also of much interest is the correlation of tectonic plate locations with GMST. Plate tectonics and climate change See pp 6-8 here:

          Here is one of Scotese’s animation of the location of the tectonic plates over the past 750 Ma:

          It seems we are probably stuck in an ice age until North and South America separate and circumpolar circulation of cold waters is blocked again. Don’t wait up. 🙂

        • robertok06 says:

          “Something else to think about.”

          CO2 follows the temperature change, as usual.
          The few paper which have stated otherwise are rigged, to say the least….

    • Jan Ebenholtz says:

      They must mean that the same type of greenhousegsses caused the warming. By volcanos maybe?

      • halken says:

        No. It is the first time co2 came before climate change eg global temperature change. Usually co2 levels in the atmosphere trails temperature with 800 years lack – what Mr Gore (and IPCC) forgot to mention in his movie.

        Now, that is an inconvenient truth.

  5. When it omesto factson climate change please consider postingDr Franks video on why cabon dioxide has little to do with climate change and or so called global warming.

  6. robertok06 says:

    “The UK will need to invest an “eye-watering” £215 billion in its energy system by 2030 in order to replace aging assets and decarbonise, analysis by Barclays Research has found. “”

    Well… I don’t find the 215 billion pounds by 2030 too shocking… the Barclay’s Research guys need to look no further than Italy… which is spending 134 billions between 2013 and 2033 just to “incentivize” the decarbonisation of 7.5% of it’s electricity, via PV. So 215 Bpounds… 250 BEuros these days, is gonna be a piece of cake… 🙂

  7. robertok06 says:

    “This from Nature is key to understanding why this journal has now become a comic book and why AGW alarmism is so much BS. When you attribute natural warming to Man you simply abandon science all together.”

    Agree with you, Euan.
    The real reasons behind modern climate research is well depicted in this funny cartoon… which I’ve just spotted on Judith Curry’s Climate Etc… blog:

  8. robertok06 says:

    @Marine Bieliaeff

    “sporting a total of 54 leaf-turbines that can capture up to 5.4 kilowatts of energy at a time and produce around 2,400 kWh annually, said New Wind spokesperson Marine Bieliaeff.”

    Well… Marine… how about studying some basic physics and learn that 5.4 kilowatts is not “energy”, but eventually power?

    This is the CV of Marine… quite amusing… sales department for lingerie????… I beg your pardon?

  9. robertok06 says:

    “The two new reactors that would be built at Hinkley are also of unproven design, with the two being constructing elsewhere beset by budget overruns and delays.”
    The green cheerleaders at The Independent “forgot” to mention the two more EPRs which are going to start producing electricity in less than one year’s time… in China!… almost on time and on budget.

  10. Peter Lang says:

    The study is fatally flawed. New Study Casts Doubt on the Future of Nuclear Power

    Pro-nuclear Group 3, meanwhile, had their emissions on average go up 3 percent and they had the smallest increase in renewable shares—16 percent.</blockquote.

    The reason is that nuclear deployment has been effectively stalled for decades by the push for renewables and the impediments imposed on nuclear power.

    • robertok06 says:

      “New Study Casts Doubt on the Future of Nuclear Power”

      This “study” is not worth the cost of the paper on which it could be printed… like most of the anti-nuclear stuff coming out of the pen/keyboard of Benjamin Sovacool (and co-authors).
      The study calculates the percentage of reduction of each country irrespective of the amount of electricity, or reductions, of the country itself… so each percent of reduction of a country of 8 million people like Denmark is worth, in their ridiculous opinion, the same % as France, which is 8 times more populated and has a much higher electricity consumption.
      Denmark has emitted on average 280 gCO2/kWh, in 2014… while France is at 40… so, according to these geniuses DK would be “much better” than FR???

      • Roger Andrews says:

        If you look at the emissions numbers you find that the main controlling factor was the amount by which emissions deceased during and after the 2008-9 recession, which hit countries like Portugal harder than countries like Germany. Renewables didn’t make that much difference.

  11. Peter Lang says:

    Scottish energy production boosted by £200m hydro scheme

    £200m hydro scheme for 300 MW = £6,600/kW. That is on top of the capital cost of the renewables generators. Say roughly £15,000/kW total to get a reliable 300 MW (very roughly). This is more than double the cost of nuclear to supply reliable baseload power.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      That hydro scheme is on the Island of Lewis.

      • Peter Lang says:

        Your point is?

        The article says the purpose is to make better use of the transmission line. Transmissions lines conduct power in either direction.

    • gweberbv says:


      I think you are off by a factor 10. And with small O&M costs, this plant can work for 100 years and more (assuming that the salt water is not too agressive). So, it can serve many generations of RE generators. And with interest rates near zero …

      • Peter Lang says:

        Why do you think I am off by a factor of 10? Please show your basis of estimate. The important point is, if you want sufficient wind and solar generating capacity to supply a reliable 300 MW power (or say 80% of that), you need sufficient installed RE generation capacity and storage capacity. You’ll need an enormous amount of overbuild of generating capacity and large energy storage capacity. Please do the numbers before making unsupported assertions. Here’s an example of how to do it: . Replace solar with wind capacity. Don’t guess, crunch the numbers, show your assumptions and explain your workings.

        • gweberbv says:


          my abacus tells me: 300 MW capacity, 200 millions £ costs -> 667 £ costs/1 kWh capacitiy.

          • Peter Lang says:

            Turn on your brain before you turn on your abacus!

          • gweberbv says:


            hopefully you can help my brain and my abacus by telling me how you estimated the 6600 bucks/kW for this PSH project.

          • Peter Lang says:


            My mistake. I had a 10x mistake in the division of “300 MW capacity, 200 millions £ costs -> 667 £ costs/1 kWh capacity”.

            However, two points:

            1. the capital cost of the pumped hydro is almost certainly incorrect. DECC report says average cost of hydro (not pumped hydro) is £3,400/kW (5 times higher) see Table 20: Pumped hydro costs more than hydro and sea water costs more than fresh water but save on the cost of lower reservoir.

            2. To achieve a reliable 85% CF (equivalent to nuclear), would require at least a 5x over build of the wind farm capacity or enormous energy storage capacity (assuming the pumped hydro has about 10 h of storage -e.g. equivalent to Dinorwig which is about normal for pumped hydro schemes). Therefore, to compare the costs of nuclear versus wind plus pumped hydro storage to provide a reliable 85% capacity factor, the cost can be roughly estimated as follows:
            Wind = 1,600/kW x5 = 8,000/kW (average delivered usable power)
            Pumped hydro storage (10 h storage capacity) = 3,455/kW
            Total = 11,455
            Nuclear = 4,310/kW
            Therefore, based on these assumptions and unit costs, the wind and pumped hydro option is about 2.7 times higher cost than the nuclear option.

          • Peter Lang says:

            CORRECTION: No amount of overbuild of wind generation capacity will supply reliable power, because sometimes the turbines generate little or no power over long periods. Sufficient storage is needed to supply 300 MW on demand and average 80% through the low wind season in the worst case years.

            Rough calculation of storage capacity required:

            300 MW x 100 days x 24 h = 720 GWh

            The 100 days allows for long low wind seasons in worst case years. It may be high, but actual historical wind farm generation data for worst case low wind seasons is needed together with extreme event statistical analysis of worst case scenario.

  12. Peter Lang says:

    the “trees” had plastic “leaves” painted green

    Thank God for that. They must be a really goods then. I guess that means they are “sustainable” and “ethical”.

  13. Greg Kaan says:

    The cost of apartments at this “Sol Invictus Tower” should be interesting.

    From the full article

    The building’s current design would provide more than 50 per cent of the tower’s base load power. Technological advances were expected to significantly boost that figure before it was built

    However, a representative from the architecture firm, Peddle Thorp, states

    The objective will be to have a complete off-grid building. That’s probably somewhat over-ambitious

    So they have given themselves a nice out clause from their typically vague goals.

    The impressions given for the view the tower do not show any wind turbines on the roof. You have to wonder how much capacity they can fit on top of a skyscraper and what will be the additional structural cost of making the roof of the tower strong enough for the turbine mountings.

    The same Peddle Thorp representative also states

    Some of the formats of the projects we do overseas have been far more adventurous than what we are able to do here

    I would love to know details for these other “far more adventurous” projects.

    environmentally engineered to include solar cells in the facade

    So far the word “facade” seems most appropriate for this proposal.

  14. John F. Hultquist says:

    Regarding Oregon:
    The first closing (2020) is coal-power in Oregon. However, imports are allowed until 2035.
    At the moment there is much hydro-power in the region. As Washington and Idaho go similarly green there is a slow-motion wreck in progress — not an abrupt crash.
    The Oregon goal is to cut carbon emissions 75 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.

    I’ll go out on a limb and suggest things won’t work out the way the State’s activists now think.

  15. Leo Smith says:

    And so the big green propaganda machine rolls on…

    and on..

    and on..

    Its all rubbish, we know its all rubbish, we can even prove it’s all rubbish, but does that make any difference?

    • Jan Ebenholtz says:

      Ok why do you not put togheter a scientific paper proving that CO2 has nothing to do with global warming and global warming is or is not happening, cannot figure out what you think, and publish it in Nature. The world is waiting for your expertise. Your facts seems to be without any doubts. After that we can start burning the rest of the fossil fuels without any regrets exept maybe some health concerns. Nobody shall tell me what to do especially these greenies attitude is not convincing. Why do you not have this dicussion with the climate researchers to clear out were they went wrong instead of keeping it to yourself. Are any of you an expert in this field? I think the other topics regarding energy types is worth listening to but climate no.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        There ya go Leo. Keep it civil, keep it scientific and explain where Jan and the Greenies and the so called science community has it it wrong. Roberto, Roger and I will join in! Jan does not seem to have grasped the concept that Nature has become a comic book.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Jan, I will open with:

        Ok why do you not put togheter a scientific paper proving that CO2 has nothing to do with global warming and global warming is or is not happening

        This I’m afraid is a statement made by a fanatic. No one here is claiming that CO2 is not a GHG and that global warming is not happening. It all comes down to the distributions of probabilities and attribution of causes. Nothing is black and white in this field of science. You just disqualified yourself from the discussion based on a demonstrated lack of understanding of the nature of the debate.

        • When the blog comments are littered with the language of denial, it’s no wonder that Jan got confused and thought that’s what was happening instead of the well informed, objective and constructive contributions to climate science that the blog provides.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            So give me a few examples of denial. Denial of what? And in what context? Jan may be confused, but it has nothing to do with what he has read here.

          • Roberto says:

            ‘When the blog comments are littered with the language of denial’

            There’s no denial here, we only point out the heavy, marked inconsistencies of the warmists’ positions.
            Free minds ALWAYS enquire, there’s no status quo in science.

        • stone100 says:

          There seems to be a lot of respect here for the late David Mackay (deserved IMO). But David Mackay was fully with the “alarmist” message about CO2 that seems to be scorned somewhat on here. It would be great to see a rebuttal by you guys of I don’t know if there is a video of that talk too out there rather than just the slideshow.

          • Greg Kaan says:

            He also did not emphasize the absurdity of renewables + storage for replacement of fossil fuel. A shame as proper reading of his articles makes it clear he knew that renewables + storage could never work to replicate what we have (had in some cases).

            But his technical analysis of renewables + storage was first rate and enough for many of us to respect him for this alone.

            There are many more GHG alarmists still alive and posting/publishing to spend any time or worry about attacking the dead.

          • stone100 says:

            Greg, if seemingly compelling arguments are on the record, then they are going to lead people (eg me 🙂 ) “astray” irrespective of whether the person who made them is deceased. It seems to me Mackay addresses the criticisms of “alarmism” head on in that presentation and I’ve seen no adequate rebuttal. After all, I guess you wouldn’t have much respect for someone who said that there was no point in dealing with Mackay’s criticisms of the Energiewende approach simply because Mackay has died.

          • Peter Lang says:


            Appeal to authority is not a valid argument. There are many authorities. You pick one. Someone else picks another. David Mackay was not a climate scientist, not an economist. Instead of using “appeal to authority” argument, I’d urge you to make your arguments yourself. I’ve explained the reasons I am not persuaded GHG emissions are a significant threat to the global economy, let alone to human civilisation or life on Earth. See my comments on this thread. Also see this simple, clear summary of the relvant climate science:

          • Greg Kaan says:

            OK, just for the sake of the exercise, if you examine the presentation, the GHG CAGW hypothesis all hinges on the 2012 paper by Shakun et al Global warming preceded by increasing carbon dioxide concentrations during the last deglaciation on the page headed by “The last deglaciation”


            Beyond that, everything from there is based on the IPCC models (which seem to spectacularly fail each time a projected milestone is reached) and GISS temperature sets (which seem to be adjusted according to the whim of the New York administration – eg UHI allowance appears to be reversed).

            Mackay was taking these sources as being authoritative while others will dispute their validity. The upshot is to always examine the underlying assumptions.

          • stone100 says:

            Greg, my impression of David Mackay’s presentation was that it wasn’t mostly based on Shakun et al 2012 but rather Mackay’s point ” wouldn’t it be handy if we could look at the results of a mega-carbon-release experiment” and so the links to the Norris and Rohl paper about the Palaeocene/Eocene transition.

          • Alex says:

            MacKay’s position was that he was not a climate scientist, and deferred to the experts on that subject.

            Although a physicist, he had an engineering mind set: “OK, the climate scientists say this is the problem, let’s look at the solutions”.

      • Peter Lang says:


        Ok why do you not put togheter a scientific paper proving that CO2 has nothing to do with global warming and global warming is or is not happening

        I don’t know what Leo’s position on CAGW is but I doubt he is saying what you have presumed. From my perspective the main points of contention are:

        1. The climate models are running too hot. Climate sensitivity is much lower than the models are assuming / estimating.

        2. We are unable to distinguish the human caused warming from the natural variability. There is nothing unusual about the warming last century and the current warming was right on schedule (see a previous post by Euan on Bond Cycles).

        3. The climate changes abruptly. Always has always will. If not for our GHG emissions the next abrupt change would be to cooling. Therefore, inadvertently, our GHG emissions have been good mitigation against severe climate damages from the next abrupt cooling event. The models are far too simplistic. They cannot do stochastic analyses of climate variability. We need PDFs of time to next abrupt change, sign of the next change (to cooling or warming), rate of change, duration of change, total temperature change over the period, etc. We don’t have any of this.

        4. The commonly assumed worst case emissions scenario (RCP8.5) for this century is too high (unrealistic).

        5. There is little evidence to support the damage function. That is, there is little evidence that warming would do more harm than good. This is the most important issue. it means there is no valid basis for the alarmists’ beliefs.

        • Greg Kaan says:

          Peter, aren’t portions of your points 2 and 3 mutually exclusive?

          If we cannot discern the effect of human caused warming from the natural variability, then how can we know that our GHG emissions have been good mitigation against severe climate damages from the next abrupt cooling event?

          Or are you saying IF there is human caused warming from our GHG emissions then that WOULD BE good mitigation against severe climate damages from the next abrupt cooling event?
          ie That any global warming effect would be positive (even though we cannot conclusively discern it).

        • Peter Lang says:


          No, 2 and 3 are not mutually exclusive. They are both correct. But it would take far too much time to write it all here. Best to follow Climate Etc. if you want more in-depth discussion on matters like this. Don’t be afraid to post. The blog owner welcomes all opinions (except threats, abusive language, etc., so you will be welcome), and she never makes dismissive or disrespectful comments to contributors.

  16. gweberbv says:

    The proposed PSH scheme with the sea as the lower reservoir is interesting. To my knowledge only Japan has a single PSH plant with this configuration. I thought that the sea water makes the thing impractical (corrosion of all surfaces AND the huge environmental risk if you have a leak in your upper reservoir).

    But if it flies, you have a vast amount of new locations for PSH schemes. At the moment, the requirement of an upper and lower reservori not too far away from each other plus having a certain difference in height leaves us with very few possibilities.

    • OpenSourceElectricity says:

      The topic is leakage, not corrosion, since cooling of nuclear power with sea water also works with the right materials.
      Naturally materials which are used for this construction will ilely be more expensive to some degree.
      In desert where sea water has already penetrated ground water, theis kind of sorage could be very useful for diurnal storage.

      • Roberto says:

        ‘In desert where sea water has already penetrated ground water, theis kind of sorage could be very useful for diurnal storage.’

        You need to look up/google ‘evaporation’ as soon as possible, pal!…. Deserts are desert just because of that.
        Amazing how native people can be.

      • Alex says:

        This is an interesting scheme:

        Especially using the 215m high point as store. Given Egypt has good solar power resource, sea water could be pumped up to 215m during the day, and dropped to the Qattara depression when needed.

        It could also knock 3mm off Ocean sea levels.

    • Greg Kaan says:

      I’m rather surprised that the environmental impact is expected to be less for creating a saltwater reservoir rather than 2 freshwater ones. Is there any indication of the intended location for the reservoir?

      I agree with OSE that corrosion should not pose any issues aside from slightly raising the costs for pumping station components and maintenance vs a freshwater PSH scheme

    • But if it flies, you have a vast amount of new locations for PSH schemes.

      No you don’t. The capacity of the system will always be limited by the size of the upper reservoir, which as discussed in numerous previous posts will almost always be far too small to make any difference.

      • gweberbv says:


        in regard of the challenge to secure peak demand PSH would be of great help. Equipped with a typical storage capacity of about 10 hours of full load, they allow you to produce the electricity for the 10 hours of highest demand during the 10 hours of lowest demand each day.

        • And if the wind hasn’t blown and/or the sun hasn’t shone for a week or more and your upper storage reservoir is empty, what do you do then?

          • gweberbv says:

            Burning gas and coal – of course.

            But you need less plants that can operate at a higher CF and efficiency, when you have a lot of PSH.

          • donoughshanahan says:

            @ Roger

            It is not even that. Even if you have generation, you may have none spare to store any great amount.

            In Figure 1 of Euan’s post A big lull, you could see such a period forming from point 2 to point 6. Not brilliant production so probably little to spare (or even low to mid level usage of the storage facilities).

          • Alex says:

            You burn gas or fossil fuels.

            It also seems that storage does not reduce the need for capacity. When the storage is empty, you still need full capacity.

            You can reduce capacity somewhat by running your gas plants in order to pump water uphill, but that increases the amount of gas you need.

            There is a slight tradeoff between storage amounts and over production on a renewables model, but both these are expensive, so the UK would end up with at least 14% gas power.

          • gweberbv says:


            when you consider a modern CCGT, then running it at the reference capacity leads to an efficiency near to or even above 50%. In contrast, if it has to ramp up and down, efficiency may drop well below 40% plus you have increased wear and tear. A few month ago this was discussed here for the example of Ireland.

            When you take into account the loss of 15% to 20% in a modern PSH scheme, it is still bettet to use your FF fleet to fill the reservoir during low demand times than to ramp up and down to follow demand. But more important, you just do not need to have a good portion of your peaker plants available once you have enough PSH to flatten the demand curve.

            But very few countries have enough locations for conventional PSH plants. If it was possible you use the sea as the lowe reservoir, you would find much more sire. Because you just have to look for the upper reservoir combined with a few hundred meter height difference to the sea level.

          • Alex says:

            Any electricity grid system can benefit from hydro or pumped storage to manage rapid changes in demand and supply. So yes, we need enough pumped storage in place to allow the CCGTs to run at optimum output for a a decent length of time.

            I’m not sure what level is needed if we have renewables fluctuations on top of demand fluctuations. Obviously, more than Ireland has and I might guess a few GW-days for the UK. That is a feasible amount.

            It is however orders of magnitude less storage than is needed as a seasonal store. Renewables would still need the CCGT backup at about 90% of capacity, until storage reaches about 30TWh, which is not feasible for the UK. (It might be for Norway, but they’d have to supply all of Northern Europe, which might need a few times 30TWh).

            Incidentally, the recent article on Tasmania indicated that Tasmania can store 8TWh, which might, if correctly managed, be enough for Australia.

          • Greg Kaan says:

            You made that musing in the recent Tasmanian thread so I’ll reproduce my response

            In theory it is possible, peak mainland demand would be in the order of 40 GW so let’s assume could demand shed the peak by 20% on cloudy, windless days and that only 80% of the renewables generation would be affected since the sun is always shining and the wind is always blowing “somewhere”. This leads to an interconnector capacity from Tasmania to the mainlaind in the order of 25 GW as well as that much hydro generation capacity.

            BassLink’s capacity is 500 MW and the total generation capacity of Tasmania is around 2.2 GW. So for Tasmania to be Australia’s “battery” we just need 49 more BassLinks and additional hydro generation equal to 11 x existing installations.

            Oh, and enough pumping capacity at the low rivers before they reach the tidal mouths to recycle all the water back up to the mountain reservoirs when the wind is blowing and/or sun is shining.

          • Alex says:

            I’ve only done figures for the UK – which show unrealistic storage requirements. For Australia, you’d run the system differently.

            Intra day variability is controlled by local storage and DSR. (Might be tricky as Aussie homes are built with limited thermal mass, so can’t store heat or cold very well). Tasmania is used as second tier storage (low GWh cost, high GW cost).

            Very rough figures:
            – Current Australian average demand: 23GW
            – Add in growth and transport and industry electrification, subtract efficiency for 2050: 30GW
            – Design a renewables infrastructure to average 36GW (20% over supply)

            What is the long run minimum? I’ve run this through 4 years of UK weather and capacity factors, but don’t have this for Australia. However, it’s easier for Aus, since solar power doesn’t go “AWOL” for as long as wind.

            You might have to cater for spells at 30% production, = 10GW.

            So Tasmania would have to supply an average of 30GW demand minus 10GW = 20GW.

            With 9000GWh of storage, that can be maintained for 450 hours, or 3 weeks.

            Without historical Aussie capacity factors for wind and solar, I can’t say whether this is sufficient.

            On an average day, production exceeds demand by 6GW, so this can allow Tasmania to pump up hill. But given the limited lower reservoir capacity, most of the replenishment is done by rainfall. Rainfall averages about 1GW in Tasmania, so the capacity factor of the hydro will be somewhere about 5%.

          • Greg Kaan says:

            The averages only come into play for the energy storage requirement. Transmission and generation capacity must meet the peak requirements. The additional buildout required for these is farcical.

            Tasmania invested in BassLink to increase the capacity factor of their hydro and the cost has been far from trivial. Attempting to use Tasmania as a battery for an Australian renewables scheme means capacity factor goes down the toilet with attendant cost increases (as it does for all renewables schemes).

          • Alex says:

            “The averages only come into play for the energy storage requirement. Transmission and generation capacity must meet the peak requirements.”

            No, if it’s used as tier 2 storage, it only has to cope with daily average flows. Tier 1 storage is on the mainland and DSR is effectively used as tier 0.

            “Attempting to use Tasmania as a battery for an Australian renewables scheme means capacity factor goes down the toilet with attendant cost increases”


            It is expensive per GW (batteries would be much cheaper). But it’s cheap per GWh of storage.

            If Australia wants to decarbonise and not using nuclear, then someone would have to run some real numbers on this. For the UK, those same numbers say “Long term storage is infeasible, therefore you need to get about 15% of your electricity from gas and diesel.”

  17. Rob says:

    Did anyone read the ECIU report proposing to replace Hinkley Point with renweables Gas
    and 11GW of Demand Side Response

    Was widely quoted by press

    • I just read it. It’s déjà vu all over again:

      Our conclusion is that Hinkley is not essential for solving the trilemma. Alternatives include:
      • We could bring as much electricity into the grid as Hinkley would generate by building as few as four big offshore wind farms (additional to those we will build anyway), or building three additional interconnecting cables
      • We could negate the need for at least two-fifths of Hinkley’s electricity by cutting waste – using electricity more efficiently and productively
      • We could supply Hinkley’s 3.2GW of peak demand through additional interconnectors, or additional gas-fired units generating only at peak times – or switch usage away from peak times through demand-side response (additional to that we will introduce anyway)
      • All of these alternatives on their own work out cheaper than Hinkley. For example:
      o replacing all Hinkley electricity with additional offshore wind farms would cut the average household bill by £10-20 per year
      o replacing all Hinkley’s peak-time availability with gas-fired units would save £16bn in infrastructure costs
      o enhancing energy efficiency and demand-side response would save energy and therefore reduce bills.
      • We calculate that a scenario incorporating sensible amounts of “all of the above” could save the UK around £1 billion per year
      • Under all these scenarios, and with a few additional caveats, carbon emissions are not increased compared with a future that includes Hinkley.


      Our analysis is ultra-conservative.

      • Alex says:

        There’s also a lot of emphasis being placed on the these Dutch auctions:

        “It is likely, however, that the auction will come in under this limit. A recent offshore project in the Dutch North Sea – in comparable conditions to UK waters – has been agreed at €72.70 per MWh, around £60 per MWh at current exchange rates.39”

        However, it appears that the Dutch strike price is a Feed in tariff: states:

        “Under the SDE/SDE+, generators of renewable energy must sell all generated electricity to the grid at market prices. On top of these prices, producers also receive a subsidy or “bonus” payment, up to a maximum predetermined strike price per kWh,”

        That point seems to have been lost in the UK press.

        Add in transmission charges, and it would make the “UK-equivalent” strike price about £100/MWh, still excluding the cost of the gas back up.

        Of course cutting demand is cheaper than nuclear, but we can use that argument against any form of generation, and at the end of the day, electricity demand is going to increase significantly.

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