Blowout Week 135

The big news this week is Hinkley Point, but since this has already been discussed at length in Euan’s recent post it doesn’t qualify as news any more. Accordingly, this week’s abbreviated Blowout features a little-known ~3.4 GWh pumped hydro plant in the Czech republic (inset) which has many similarities to the plant at Gorona del Viento in the Canaries and which, like GdV, suggests that the ultimate highest and best use of these plants may be as tourist destinations:

Spectator:  Czech hydro plant atop hill becomes top tourist attraction

Climb a peak at the heart of the Jeseniky mountain range in northeastern Czech Republic and there’s an unexpected reward…..

As well as a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains, there is a 15-hectare artificial lake that neatly fits the flat top. With another man-made reservoir more than 500 metres below it, it forms a pumped storage power plant — and more recently it has become a major tourist attraction. The Dlouhe Strane plant’s original function was to balance up electricity demands between day and night, but as renewable sources of energy have taken an increasing share of electricity generation, it now contributes to the stabilization of the power grid, which has to cope with the unpredictable output from renewables. The plant, conceived in the communist era, was originally fenced in. But after it began operations in 1996 following an 18-year construction period, its owner — the CEZ power company — opened it to visitors. Today, some 80,000 people a year come to see it, and the millionth visitor is expected this summer. In its standard working cycle, 2.5 million cubic meters of water are pumped from the lower to the upper lake at night, when energy production exceeds demand. During the day, when demand increases, the water flows down through underground tunnels to spin the blades of two 325-megawatt Francis turbines, the biggest in Europe, generating additional electricity. The turbines are able to generate the maximum output for 5 hours and 15 minutes. In the reverse mode, it takes 7 hours and 15 minutes to pump the water back up to the upper lake. Due to its ability to react quickly, the plant uses its turbines to keep the grid stable despite the numerous renewable power sources.

Guardian:  Oil and gas industry events ‘polluting’ Democratic convention, say activists

A series of events sponsored by the oil and gas industry are “polluting” the Democratic national convention with climate denialism and should be boycotted by leading Democrats, according to environmentalists. The American Petroleum Institute (API) has underwritten five events hosted in Philadelphia during the convention by media organizations Politico and the Atlantic. The events, which promote API’s Vote4Energy campaign, provide delegates and other attendees with literature and signage extolling the benefits of oil and gas drilling. While both Politico and the Atlantic said that API, the US’s leading fossil fuel lobby group, does not hold any sway over the content of the panel discussions, green groups claimed the events have allowed the denial of climate science to seep into the Democratic gathering. “These polluting events have a complete disrespect for the scientific facts and we are very concerned about the influence that fossil fuels have here,” said Brad Johnson, executive director of Climate Hawks Vote, a political action group which has a 10,000-strong petition urging Democrats to boycott the events. The group said it was disappointed the Atlantic and Politico had accepted the lobby group’s money. “API deliberately disseminate misinformation and journalists should have ethical and professional qualms about that,” Johnson said.

Hellenic Shipping News:   Britain offers new oil and gas licenses amid exploration drought

Britain has cut rental fees by up to 90 percent in its latest tender for oil and gas licenses in the North Sea launched on Wednesday in a bid to attract companies to find new fields in the mature basin. Companies will now be able to apply for cheaper and more flexible licenses to gain access to 1,261 blocks by Oct. 26, followed by license awards to be issued by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) at a later date. The hunt for new oil and gas fields in the British part of the North Sea is expected to fall to the lowest in 45 years this year as energy companies have scaled back exploration budgets due to weak oil prices. Despite being an old basin, Britain’s North Sea is estimated to have billions of barrels left for extraction, worth around 200 billion pounds ($262.56 billion) to British government coffers. The latest licensing round, the 29th, offers access to new areas in the Rockall Trough, the mid-North Sea High and East Shetland, which were subject to a government-funded seismic testing campaign earlier this year. “We recognise that market conditions are currently very difficult but nevertheless we have a shared goal of making the basin as attractive as possible for exploration,” Andy Samuel, chief executive of the OGA, said.

Offshore Post:  Oil & Gas Companies Show “Strong Survival Reflex”

According to Wood Mackenzie’s latest report on second quarter results across the oil and gas industry, companies are showing “a strong survival reflex”, with a tight management of their cash flow. Most of the 56 companies reviewed have used deep cuts on their capital in-vestment to survive, which has also produced a strong impact on their growth prospects. “Balance sheet management is front of mind across the industry – cost containment and capital discipline are still the strident messages emanating from all companies. But strategies will need to shift away from survival mode and look to the future”, says Tom Ellacott, Senior Vice President of Corporate Research at Wood Mackenzie. According to the research, these 56 companies will achieve cash flow neutrality at an average oil price of around $50 a barrel of Brent over this year. “This is some achievement given the majority needed over US$90 a barrel in 2014,” Ellacott stated. He explained that the companies have cut their exploration and production spending for the year by 49% on average, or US$230 billion (£175.34 billion), compared to 2014 levels. Aditionally, the research states that the annual growth rate has fallen and US independents were the most affected group, with the most severe cutbacks.

Wall Street Journal:  How Much Oil Is in Storage Globally? Take a Guess

The historic fall in oil prices has created a pileup of inventories, much of it stashed in tanks in the U.S. and other industrialized countries that are committed to disclosing the latest tally, but millions of barrels of oil are flowing to locations outside the scope of industry trackers Some countries, such as Russia and China, choose not to report their oil-storage levels. And traders and oil companies that park supertankers have no obligation to make public their supply. This makes for more cryptic and volatile oil markets. How much crude is in these locations, and how quickly it can be resold into the market, can affect oil prices. “The data itself is so inconsistent,” said Harish Sundaresh, portfolio manager and commodities strategist for Loomis, Sayles & Co., which manages $240 billion. “In countries like Nigeria, Brazil, Angola, it’s not trustable.” Keeping track of inventories has become more complicated as developing countries store and consume more oil. Singapore, home to one of the world’s busiest ports and the Asian headquarters of many big oil-trading firms, is one country befuddling analysts. The waterways surrounding the island nation have become home to one of the world’s biggest oil-storage sites. But it is unclear how much oil is in the tankers anchored there.

Oil Price:  Middle East Still Not Ready For Nuclear Power

The Middle East’s affair with nuclear power has been complicated. Iran brought on itself serious sanctions because of its nuclear program that it claimed was completely peaceful. Iraq has been the object of long-term suspicions about trying to make its own bomb. The rest of the region has been historically over-dependent on oil and gas. Yet, things are starting to change. At the start of 2016, there were seven countries in the Middle East and North Africa region working on nuclear programs for peaceful purposes – the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria. A few years ago there were 11 of them, but after the Fukushima disaster, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait put their nuclear plans on hold for an unspecified period. However, since 2014, cash has dwindled, thanks to the oil price rout, and nuclear power projects need quite a lot of upfront investment. The Middle East is experiencing fast-growing demand for electricity that’s closely linked to demographic trends, as Saudi Gazette notes. But thanks to falling oil revenues, these countries’ capability to fund such expensive projects has sharply fallen. Even Saudi Arabia has had to dig into its reserves in order to meet a budget deficit. Financial constraints are a major issue, according to research conducted by Apicorp, the Arab Petroleum Investment Corporation.

See News:   Offshore wind could be cheaper than UK’s new nuclear plant – Greenpeace

Offshore wind turbines can generate power cheaper than that from the planned Hinkley Point nuclear power plant (NPP) in the UK, even when transmission and balancing costs are included, Greenpeace’s Energydesk says. Danish state-owned utility Dong Energy earlier in July won the concession to build the Borssele I and II wind farms in Dutch waters, each of 350 MW, offering to sell the power at just EUR 72.7 (USD 80) per MWh. An analysis by Energydesk shows that this translates into GBP 60/MWh at current exchange rates. When transmission costs are added to the calculation, the price per MWh for Dong’s projects arrives at GBP 85. It then climbs to a maximum of GBP 92/MWh with balancing costs. Meanwhile, Hinkley has been awarded a strike price of GBP 92.5/MWh in 2012 prices, so it is closer to GBP 100/MWh, according to Greenpeace. In a report focused on nuclear energy in the UK, published in July, the National Audit Office said: “Supporting early new nuclear projects could lead to higher costs in the short term than continuing to support wind and solar. The cost competitiveness of nuclear power is weakening as wind and solar become more established.”

Forbes:  America’s Heat Wave No Sweat For Nuclear Power

This week, like much of July, a heat wave is cooking America with extreme temperatures, affecting energy production as well as causing fires and water shortages, sucking electricity like crazy to power the cooling necessary to avoid discomfort and even death. According to the National Weather Service, 122 million Americans are under heat alerts. Fortunately, nuclear power hasn’t minded, scoring record capacity factors of 96% and up with no increase in price. Other energy sources do not fare so well. Just like during the polar vortex, when nuclear stepped up to relieve natural gas and coal when they failed to deliver on the demand, nuclear also performs wonderfully during extreme weather at the other end of the thermometer. This kind of constant baseload power during the hottest part of the day is essential to keep our air conditioning going and for stabilizing the grid against blackouts. Nuclear plants are the backbone of the electricity grid, operating all the time even under the most extreme weather conditions.

USA Today:  Heat is on, but the power grid is holding

The retirement of coal and nuclear power plants in the U.S. over the last few years has raised concerns that the electric power industry might fail to deliver when demand for power heightens — such as during a blistering heat wave. But for the most part, that’s not the case this week as a so-called “heat dome” leaves the eastern and central parts of the U.S. sweltering with temperatures of 95 degrees or more and feeling as though it’s much hotter. “So far, so good,” said Michael Bryson, the vice president for systems operations at PJM Interconnection, the operator of the largest electric grid in the U.S. The story is similar across other regions to the north, south and west of PJM’s market where the massive heat wave has lingered, Bryson said in an interview. “They’re all in a similar position as us,” Bryson said of the other grid operators. “We’re kind of stressing the system a little bit, but all of us are in pretty good shape.” This comes as electric power generators continue to close coal and nuclear plants that cannot compete with low-price natural gas and government-supported solar and wind power. More such shutdowns are anticipated under the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which would reduce carbon emissions from the U.S. power sector by 30% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.

Sydney Morning Herald:  Poland resists global shift away from coal

Poland may not be as economically developed as Britain, Germany, or France, but the country still has roughly 40 million people putting it in the top ranks of largest European countries. And Poland loves coal. The country produces 90 percent of its electricity from coal, and the government there is doubling down looking to build still more. “Building more efficient coal power plants will get us better results in cutting CO2 emissions than building renewable energy sources like wind or solar,” says Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski, a member of the Law and Justice party, came to power in October with union backing after it pledged to preserve mining jobs. All of this coal power is a double-edged sword. Coal has helped preserve more than 100,000 mining jobs across Poland, and the country’s economy is holding up about average for the EU as a whole. On the other hand, the use of coal is clearly having a detrimental effect on some aspects of Polish quality of life. For instance, the World Health Organization estimates that two-thirds of the EU’s most polluted cities are in Poland especially in the mining region of Upper Silesia.

Australian:  Latest studies show reality check is needed on renewables

Case studies of the consequences of force-feeding higher-priced energy sources into energy markets have been piling up for some time. Just a few months ago, US think tank the Manhattan Institute released a report titled Energy Policies and Electricity Prices: Cautionary Tales from the EU, authored by senior energy fellow Robert Bryce. Bryce found that the European nations that intervened the most in their energy markets — Germany, Spain, and Britain — had seen their electricity costs increase the fastest. “According to Eurostat, during 2005-14 residential electricity prices in the EU increased by an average of 63 per cent. In Germany, those rates grew by 78 per cent; in Spain, they increased by 111 per cent; and in the UK they rose 133 per cent. Over the same period, residential rates in the US rose by 32 per cent.” The Bryce study also cited a report by Swiss consulting firm Finadvice, which examined renewable energy policies in Europe and their effect on consumers. The Finadvice report concluded that “a correlation exists between the amount of variable renewable energy capacity that a country has (PV and wind) and its household electricity prices including taxes, levies and value-added tax”. The BP Statistical Review 2016 released last month highlights the indispensable role being played by fossil fuels in the provision of primary energy. The analysis showed that the share of fossil fuels in the provision of primary energy (electricity and transport) has barely changed in a decade. It has “slumped” from 87 per cent in 2005 to 86 per cent last year. The renewables share last year was just 2.8 per cent.

Greentechmdia:  Denmark May Hold the Key to Integrating Large Amounts of Intermittent Renewables

Denmark now produces over 40 percent of its electricity from wind. The country wants to get 50 percent of its electricity from wind by 2020 and 100 percent renewables by 2050. Despite this high wind supply, Denmark’s grid is more reliable than countries with lower percentages of renewables. So what’s Denmark’s secret to integrating high intermittent generation? The key, according to analysts, is steady policy commitment to clean energy that’s created a flexible grid of distributed energy resources interconnected across Europe. “The system operator and the whole energy system are constantly being developed to accommodate the fact that we are going away from fossil centralized production capacity to renewables,” said Troels Gregersen, Nordics energy expert at PA Consulting Group. National energy planning was central to this transition, according to Gerdes. In 1976, Denmark established a nationwide natural-gas system, required local heating, and shifted from oil to coal generation. In 1981, it added efficiency mandates. In 1985, Denmark targeted 100 megawatts of wind capacity with a grant program to support installation, followed by a 450-megawatt combined heat and power generation target in 1986. Denmark added an emissions reduction target of 20 percent by 2005 in 1990, and in 2012 established its 2050 fossil-free goal. As a result, Denmark became a global wind energy leader, installing nearly twice as much wind capacity per capita as any other nation, setting international records by producing 140 percent of its electricity demand on July 9 and 10 of this year, and generating 42 percent of its annual electricity supply in 2015. But surprisingly, integrating all this wind energy has been a breeze. “The grid operators are finding it hasn’t been as difficult as they thought it would have been,” said Gerdes. “Denmark with a much higher share of renewables…has much less downtime on the grids than we do.”

Newsweek:  Climate Change Sparks Huge Human Rights Violation Case Against Carbon Companies

The world’s largest oil, coal, cement and mining companies have been given 45 days to respond to a complaint that their greenhouse gas emissions have violated the human rights of millions of people living in the Philippines. In a potential landmark legal case, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR), a constitutional body with the power to investigate human rights violations, has sent 47 “carbon majors” including Shell, BP, Chevron, BHP Billiton and Anglo American, a 60-page document accusing them of breaching people’s fundamental rights to “life, food, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and to self determination.” The move is the first step in what is expected to be an official investigation of the companies by the CHR, and the first of its kind in the world to be launched by a government body. The complaint argues that the 47 companies should be held accountable for the effects of their greenhouse gas emissions in the Philippines and demands that they explain how human rights violations resulting from climate change will be “eliminated, remedied and prevented.” It calls for an official investigation into the human rights implications of climate change and ocean acidification and whether the investor-owned “carbon majors” are in breach of their responsibilities.

Scientific American:   Climate Change Fingerprints Are All over California Wildfires

Reports this week from the front lines of the Sand Fire in Southern California painted the scene as apocalyptic. The drought-fueled blaze was explosive, fast-moving and devastating, burning through 38,000 acres in the Santa Clarita Valley and forcing the evacuation of more than 10,000 homes. If the state’s wildfire season holds true to forecasts, the Sand Fire will be one of many catastrophic wildfires to scorch drought-stricken forests and shrublands across California this year. So far, only one wildfire has been larger — the 48,019-acre Erskine Fire, which started in June in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and destroyed 250 homes and buildings. None of the fires have been among the worst or largest wildfires the state has seen in recent years, but they’re part of a dire global warming-fueled trend toward larger, more frequent and intense wildfires. The number of blazes on public lands across the West has increased 500 percent since the late 1970s, said LeRoy Westerling, a professor studying climate and wildfire at the University of California-Merced. The outlook this summer is sobering: Wildland fire potential for most of coastal California and the Sierra Nevada Mountains is above normal and is expected to remain that way through October, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The wildfire forecast follows a major heat wave in California, where the temperatures soared above 120°F (48.9°C) in some parts of Southern California. The region is seeing a significant warming trend. Each decade since 1970, average summer temperatures have warmed about 0.45°F (0.25°C).

Nature:  Brexit looms large over EU climate agenda

The European Union’s climate-change agenda could lose momentum as a result of the bloc’s split with the United Kingdom, policy experts say. Wrangling over the terms of Brexit seems likely to delay the EU’s ratification of the Paris climate agreement, which aims to stabilize greenhouse-gas emissions, says Oliver Geden, head of the EU Research Division at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. “Brexit might be an excuse for some EU countries to withhold their signature,” he says. And because the United Kingdom has long been a proponent of strong climate policies within the EU bloc, the departure could strengthen the posi-tion of European countries that are reluctant to take forceful climate action. “The UK not being part of the negotiating mix means there is likely to be less pressure for ambitious targets and ensuring that the EU delivers on its Paris agreement commitments,” says Martin Nesbit, a policy expert at the Institute for European Environmental Policy in London.

National Interest:  Poland, Not Brexit, Is the Real Threat to Europe’s Unity

Poland is now sidelined in the EU, subject to its rule-of-law mechanism following the ruling party’s assault on the Constitutional Tribunal. Polish leaders have soured relations with their hugely important neighbor, Germany, by railing against perceived German bullying of Polish interests. Poland’s reputation as a reliable European partner is tarnished after its leaders refused to cooperate on migration and climate change. Even President Obama, speaking at a press conference alongside Poland’s President Andrzej Duda during the recent NATO summit, called on Poland not to erode its democratic achievements. Once hailed as a success story of European expansion, the success and vitality of Poland’s democracy are being called into serious question for the first time since its emergence from the Cold War. Today EU watchers’ attention is focused on the fallout of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, so Polish democratic backsliding has fallen off the radar. But the EU is far less likely to survive the degradation of its norms by member states that were admitted a decade ago at great risk and expense for the union. The EU’s success depends not only on open trade and free movement, but on a common conviction that Europe cannot be divided along the lines of rule of law. Many observers fear that the UK’s departure from the union will inspire nativist parties in other countries to seek their own independence referenda. While this is a risk, the financial and political chaos surrounding the mechanics of Brexit—together with what could be a final agreement granting the UK access to the common market only in exchange for open borders and payments to the EU, à la Norway—will probably dissuade some imitators from following suit.

Telegraph:  Sturgeon says independence could offer Scotland ‘certainty and stability’ after Brexit

Nicola Sturgeon has claimed that independence may offer Scotland the greatest certainty and stability, and the maximum control over its own destiny, following the Brexit vote. The First Minister insisted another vote on breaking-up Britain was not her “starting point” and promised to explore all options to secure Scotland’s position in the EU. But she also said in a speech in Edinburgh that the outlook for the UK appeared to be uncertainty, upheaval and unpredictability while launching a blistering attack on the role of UK politicians in the vote last month. Setting out her next steps in protecting Scotland’s position, after it voted to remain, Ms Sturgeon said she would pursue a bespoke deal and claimed it was still possible to remain part of the EU and part of a Brexiting UK. But she also admitted that achieving such a deal would not be easy and said that even if it could be agreed at a UK level, the EU would then have to be persuaded to accept it. She told the Institute for Public Policy Research think-tank: “I am equally clear about this, if we find that our interest can’t be protected in a UK context, independence must be one of those options and Scotland must have the right to consider that option.”

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50 Responses to Blowout Week 135

  1. Greg Kaan says:

    So what’s Denmark’s secret to integrating high intermittent generation? The key, according to analysts, is steady policy commitment to clean energy that’s created a flexible grid of distributed energy resources interconnected across Europe.

    In other words, the secret is to offload the issues to other grids with the storage and/or excess generation capacity to cover intermittent shortfalls and over-production.

    Not exactly a “sustainable” model.

    And “The grid operators are finding it hasn’t been as difficult as they thought it would have been,” said Gerdes.

    Justin Gerdes – Northern Arizona University, B.S., Environmental Science/Political Science
    Not the qualifications I would be trusting for evaluating an electrical grid.

    • robertok06 says:

      They also “forgot” to mention that all this wonderful export/import scheme results in the HIGHEST electricity price of the continent!

    • Large-scale, continent-sized grids are implicit in a system with large amounts of renewables. .

      Intermittency is a very solvable problem even without large-scale storage – although research into storage technologies will no doubt provide further options in the near future.

      • robertok06 says:

        “Intermittency is a very solvable problem even without large-scale storage”

        Extraordinary claims need extraordinary proofs.

        So it is YOUR turn to show at least ONE example of the successful solution of this “very solvable problem”, otherwise it is just a public relation thing.
        Youir bellacaledonia web site is what?… a joke for the faint of mind?
        Scotland connected with Yemen? In which science fiction movie?
        C’mon, this blog is not populated by apes on trees.
        Try again.

        • Euan Mearns says:

          I second that Roberto. Noel, can you please tell us how long the Scotland terrorist ridden Yemen inter-connector is, how many GW does it need to carry to make a meaningful contribution, how many TWh of electricity is required to construct it, and what will all this simple minded Green BS cost?

          • Although it is not constant, the distance between Scotland and Yemen does not vary significantly (on human time scales) and can easily be observed on a map. I’d need to know what point you wish to make in order to answer that in a less literal sense 😉

            Of course Yemen would not connect to Scotland directly but to a middle-eastern node on the network.

            A connector would not be built in the first place without a plan to invest in significant renewables capacity in the host country. Price controls could be used to create a financial environment which encourages individual countries to contribute to the system by investing in additional capacity, if required.

            I’ve no idea how much electricity would be required to construct a smart supergrid on this scale. Again, I’m not sure what your point is.

            It will certainly be expensive to build but, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, cost is not the issue. In an emergency you have to quickly assess the available options and then act decisively according to the best choice at the time. If you have a better solution to cut carbon emissions let’s hear it.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            I’ve no idea how much electricity would be required to construct a smart supergrid on this scale. Again, I’m not sure what your point is.

            Which is why you are on comment moderation. You are lucky to have caught me in a good mood. With our current grid and power station configuration the mean transmission distance from power station to point of use is likely 100 miles or less. And yet when we pay our electricity bill about 50% is transmission charges. It is very f*cking expensive to move electricity about both in economic terms and energy terms. It is 4000 miles from Scotland to Yemen. Go figure.

            Your plan would crash the economy, the planet and the human race in a oner. This is all just Green blabber. Come back when you have some numbers.

          • I thought there was some technical problem with the site – but you have put me on comment moderation!

            If you are genuinely interested in rational discussion we have to agree to one simple rule: the limits of what one may reasonably claim about matters of science are defiined by the set of published papers which have not yet been refuted. I’m sure Roberto at least would agree with that since, if he works at CERN, he’s probably got his name on a few.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            Noel, this is my blog and I control it. I have about 50 green trolls on comment moderation. Without it the blog would not be able to function. You have posted about 10 comments since you came here (not all approved) and what have my readers learned? Absolutely nothing of any relevance or interest.

          • robertok06 says:

            @noel darlow

            “If you are genuinely interested in –>rational<– discussion"

            … after having written…

            "cost is not the issue"

            Cherchez l'erreur.

          • robertok06 says:

            @noel darlow

            “In an emergency you have to quickly assess the available options and then act decisively according to the best choice at the time.”

            I concur 100%, noel.
            How about this assessment from the god of global warming scaremongering, James Hansen?… I’m sure you know who he is:

            … last three slides– in particular the 3rd from the end, titled “Can emissions be decreased rapidly?”– it shows what a rational country, France, did after the oil crisis of the 70’s vs what the IRRATIONAL germany has been doing (in the footstep of the delirium tremens you are hoping for)…

            Have a nice rational reading.


          • gweberbv says:

            China already has a lot of multi-GW transmission lines with lengths up to 2000 km. Under construction is a 12 GW line with a length of 3400 km. This equals the distance from Scotland to Istanbul.

            Compared to the costs for electricity distribution on the last miles these huge long-distance transmission line are not such expensive. But even if you would get them for free, it would take decades to build such lines through ten or more countries with European regulation standards. Germany now fights since nearly a decade for a few 2 GW north-south transmission lines (absolutely puny compared to what is build in China within a few years) and it looks like it will take another decade before these lines are finished.

        • I made no claim that Bellacaledonia is a reliable source on energy policy or indeed anything and attacking the site as a whole doesn’t really help us to assess the ideas presented in Magnus Jamieson’s specific article. Since we’re not “apes in trees” we should probably move quickly on to the article itself.

          Smart, supergrids might be new to you but they would not seem at all extraordinary to people who work in the field. This has been studied in Europe and in the US. In order to accommodate a large percentage of intermittent renewables, you need large-scale storage or a very large grid (or both).

          The west has been trading successfully with the middle east for some time despite occasional problems with political instability, terrorism and armed conflict. Fleets of tankers have delivered an ocean of oil to our ports over the decades. Suppose, hypothetically, we could transport the energy in new ship designs with giant batteries in their holds: would that allay your fears?

          A cable might be a simpler option, however.

          We should also note that networks are intrinsically very resilient to failures in individual nodes. Of course that depends on the precise topology. Simpler network forms may be more vulnerable to node failures.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            Smart, supergrids might be new to you but they would not seem at all extraordinary to people who work in the field.

            Noel, you are talking to Roberto, a physicist who works at CERN. Smart supergrids is simply Green blabber which is why I put you to comment moderation.

            The pan MENA supergrid is a very old idea:


            Why would any sane person want to build a supergrid to the desert to get electricity maybe 12 hours a day when we can build GEN 3 nuclear reactors at home and have electricity 24/7 365 for 90% of the time.

            And there’s this:


            None of the regular readers and commenters on this site are interested in Green fantasy that is not backed up by sound engineering, costs and a realistic appreciation of security.

          • robertok06 says:

            @noel darlow

            “This has been studied in Europe and in the US.”

            Correct: in the US there is a very nice document/research by MIT, edited by a very knowledgeable researcher title “The (not so) smart grid”… I let you imagine the conclusions… 🙂

            Try harder.

            Read this:


            “It’s still not clear when a full-fledged smart grid will appear, or even that many more places will adopt dynamic pricing schemes. Ultimately, the U.S. Department of Energy aims to have a fully functioning smart grid in place by 2035 to help cut carbon emissions.”

            The DoE is the same DoE which promised decades ago to build a permanent repository for nuclear waste under Yucca Montain, failing miserably and squandering in the meantime more than 20 billion dollars, getting close to nothing…

  2. Joe Public says:

    “Offshore wind could be cheaper than UK’s new nuclear plant – Greenpeace”

    “Danish state-owned utility Dong Energy earlier in July won the concession to build the Borssele I and II wind farms in Dutch waters, each of 350 MW, offering to sell the power at just EUR 72.7 (USD 80) per MWh. An analysis by (Greenpeace’s) Energydesk shows that this translates into GBP 60/MWh at current exchange rates. When transmission costs are added to the calculation, the price per MWh for Dong’s projects arrives at GBP 85. It then climbs to a maximum of GBP 92/MWh with balancing costs.”

    Yet as Paul Homewood points out, the contract price agreed at the latest CfD auction for
    Dudgeon offshore wind farm is £158.61/MWh.

    • robertok06 says:

      Lying is a common practice at GP’s headquarters.

      • burnsider says:

        I was a bit suspicious of the 72.7euro/MWh too. According to Wikipedia (, offshore wind power cost $208/MWh in 2012, so getting the costs down to the extent that the power could be sold profitably at $80/MWh in 2016 would be a remarkable achievement by any standards. I suspect that if the $80 price is correct, there is a back story which we have not been told yet

        The price may be an indication of the *value* of the power, of course, which is not the same as price by any stretch of the imagination

    • Euan Mearns says:

      The price paid for offshore wind production is a far cry from the cost of that production. I don’t know if it includes transmission to shore. But it certainly does not include the cost of back up and converting to dispatchable power.

      • gweberbv says:


        UK was an earl adopter with respect to offshore wind. It was unclear how long the turbines would survive in the sea until O&M costs to keep them running would become prohibitive. That’s why the tarif was designed to allow recovering the investment and making a profit within just 8 years. Today, there is a lot of experience and great confidence that the offshore farms installed today will still produce electricity in 15 or 20 years from now. Therefore, prices can be adjusted to a longer operation period. This is what happened for the Dutch wind farm.

      • Rob says:

        They are clamming it only costs £7.6/MWh

  3. A C Osborn says:

    One iitem not covered here is the Methane Hydrate find in the Bay of Bengal, it is big and does not need much in the way of specialised equipment to bring it up.

    • ristvan says:

      Japex did a technically successful 6 day production test at the Nankai trough deposit in 2013. Depressurization method. A second production test is planned for 2017, with a development decision planned for 2019. My guess is nogo, as price of LNG has fallen with Australian and US LNG capacity coming on line. At the time of 2013 test, Japan LNG was $15/mbtu. Is now about $8.
      Indian deposit is in sand, so technically feasible also. Doubt will be economic for many decades.

    • Given that we can’t burn the fossil fuel reserves which we already know about it doesn’t seem to make much sense to look for new stores of carbon-based fuel to exploit.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Can you please define who “we” are and why “we” can’t burn them.

        • “We” means everyone alive today and everyone who will be born in the future until the last person to walk the Earth. It is not widely appreciated but some of the impacts of climate change will last that long.

          I would guess that is exactly what you thought I meant?

          We should probably agree to a simple rule before proceeding: the limits of what one may reasonably claim about matters of science are defined by the set of published papers which have not yet been refuted. It’s not possible to have a rational discussion without that.

        • Noel says:

          I could walk into any school, workplace or a gathering of any kind and everyone would know exactly what I was talking about. What exactly are you looking for?

          Given that everyone alive today is on a single planet, it would make no sense to try to define who will and will not be affected by climate change.

          You could ask how many people will be affected in future? The warming pulse which we have unleashed will last for over 100,000 years (albeit with a long, low tail). I would guess that the worst impact from a human perspective – disruption to the global food supply – will mostly be at the front of that curve.

          Some impacts will in effect be permanent because they will endure for longer than the likely lifetime of our own species. It takes many millions of years for biodiversity to recover following a mass extinction (Kirchner & Weil 2000) and therefore everyone who comes after us will exist in a relatively denuded world stripped of much of the rich variety of life which we know today. Corals for example are already suffering.

          There won’t be a thing we can do to fix it. New species can evolve relatively quickly but it takes a very long time for the complex relationships in a rich, mature ecosystem to develop.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            I could walk into any school, workplace or a gathering of any kind and everyone would know exactly what I was talking about.

            If true, that is extremely worrying to know that Mankind has been totally brainwashed. But if you were truly concerned about the welfare of humanity and global ecosystems then you would strongly advocate the use of nuclear power and not advocating the construction of thousands of GW of useless HVDC cables.

            Where I live I can detect no discernible change in climate over my lifetime (58 years). The weather is basically crap all the time. The main measurable change to Earth eco systems resulting from increased CO2 is enhanced plant growth. Sure, this is interference, but it is hardly catastrophic.

          • robertok06 says:

            @noel darlow

            “I would guess that the worst impact from a human perspective – disruption to the global food supply – will mostly be at the front of that curve”

            The increased concentration of CO2 in the last few decades has rendered greener (like in “more plants”) the surface of the earth, increasing the productivity of farmers.
            The disruption of global food supply is only in the mind of the feebles, those who take GreenPiss’s news as reality.

            Wake up Noel!

            How about this one?


            “From a quarter to half of Earth’s vegetated lands has shown significant greening over the last 35 years largely due to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change on April 25.

            The greening represents an increase in leaves on plants and trees equivalent in area to two times the continental United States.”

            How about the official data on cereal production and demand?


            See the tiny graph, noel? Is it STEADILY, since decades, going up or down? Where’s the disruption?
            Answer, please.

  4. gweberbv says:

    You cannot compare simply the value of the guaranteed prices for offshore wind production or any other energy source without taking into account the duration of this fixed income (and if is adjusted according to inflation or not).
    I did not do a detailed research but to my knowledge UK offshore prices are fixed for 8 years and then a much lower rate (comparable to wholesale prices) is set for the next 12 years. In contrast, Dutch offshore wind farms get the high prices for the first 15 years. Germany has the high price for 12 years.

    • gah789 says:

      The UK CFD contracts for renewable generation guarantee prices for 15 years (not 8) and the prices are indexed. In addition, they allow a considerable degree of flexibility to adjust the committed capacity. I doubt that their conditions are less favourable than the Dutch contracts. However, the strike prices for the offshore contracts in the first round of bidding were £115-120 per MWh for projects to be delivered in 2016/17 and 2017/18.

      Comparisons across countries are almost meaningless without a detailed knowledge of the relevant tax system. For example, people claiming grid parity in the US almost invariably neglect the value and structure of the production tax credit.

      The primary advantage for Dutch offshore wind is that the turbines are located in relatively shallow waters and expected weather conditions are less severe than for northern areas of the North Sea. Sites are more accessible from nearby ports, which reduces construction and maintenance costs.

      Finally, the risk is rather different from what has been stated. One issue is whether the generator is committed to deliver some level of output for 8, 10 .. 15+ years. That is rarely the case. Based on actual experience there is no chance that offshore turbines will continue to achieve the same level of performance at age 10 or 15 years as at the beginning. No sane developer or financier builds its financial models on this expectation. On the other hand, with a guaranteed price they may be willing to accept a payback period of 8 or 10 years rather than 5 to 8 years which is the normal hurdle applied when prices are not guaranteed.

  5. Greg Kaan says:

    California’s environmental groups are now trying to reserve as much desert as possible from development to prevent them being built out by solar PV, solar thermal and wind farms. The local utilities are on board with the plan, too.

    The solar developers are less than pleased with the areas allocated for them

  6. The latest from Tesla

    Tesla and SolarCity agree to combine in a $2.6-billion deal

    Customers would be able to buy a single system to generate solar power from Tesla rooftop installations, store the energy in Tesla batteries and transfer the energy into their Tesla electric cars. It would also be possible to buy pieces separately. Analysts said SolarCity could benefit from the strong Tesla brand, making Tesla showrooms a one-stop shop for energy storage and electric car sales and giving increased visibility to the solar firm. “The longer-term opportunity is to sell people a home energy management system,” said Jeff Osborne, managing director at Cowen and Co.

    • Greg Kaan says:

      Watch the stock crash once the combined debt soars with the sagging sales vs marginal decrease in admin costs. The “synergy” lies in the capacity of the 2 companies to lose money.

  7. Rob says:

    Roger the Green Peace article claims load balancing costs negliable for wind power

    By removing 1 GW of nuclear and adding 2.1 GW of offshore wind capacity (needed to maintain the same level of low-carbon output) leads to an increase in system costs of £7.6/MWh (i.e. £7.6 for each MWh of wind generation absorbed), provided that carbon emissions are maintained at 100 g/kWh.”

    Any comments

    • robertok06 says:

      More in detail:

      Any “study”, by the Imperial College or other… claiming that for the UK… it is even only conceivable a…

      “50 g/kWh scenario in 2030, solar PV dominated”

      … 50 g/kWh IN THE UK based on PV?????

      Is there a limit to the nonsense some people can claim?

      • Rob says:

        Roberto is it possible to calculate intermittency costs

        Lots of articles claiming wind now cheaper than nuclear

        I’m thinking the main costs are

        Smart Grid
        Capacity Payments
        Grid Payments to power stations
        Loss of market share too power stations

      • Roberto

        I agree that it is a very poor study.

        In the executive summary they state that up to 50GW of intermittent sources can be accommodated (page 2) but the Table. E.2 not long after has all scenarios with already more than this.

        Their study is mainly based on “flexibility”. In the foreword we have alarm bells; surely the quote below runs intuitively contrary to their other claims of high renewables costing less and needing less/no inter connectors?
        “For example, the system integration cost of additional renewables will be higher in systems with significant penetration of renewables when compared to systems with low volumes of renewable generation, as the result of (among other factors) increase in system balancing requirements.”

        Also Figure F.1 I think is pretty astounding. We essentially get rid of nuclear but increase gas capacity along with the others and head towards doubling our capacity. Indeed going from mid flex to high flex actually involves a reduction in the amount of flexible generators on the grid. Huh?

        This leads nicely onto the opening of Section 1.3
        “A 2012 study carried out for the Department of Energy and Climate Change concluded that if there were no alternative balancing technologies available to the GB electricity system”
        Now their assumptions lead to over 9 GW of demand side response away from peak (shifting ~9% of our current grid), increased but less system flexibility (“In our system studies, we assume that all new build CCGT and OCGT plant required by 2030 has more flexible characteristics than the current fleet” amounting to 44GW of new gas generation (about 44% of our current grid), inter connectors (“it was assumed that the adequate generation capacity would be located within the UK system”), storage (assumption after assumption after assumption; seasonal not modeled in the core options), reduced frequency control (no idea if this is valid),


  8. GeoffM says:

    How come those Austrian officials who are taking the UK govt. to court for state aid to new nuclear are not doing the same for state aid to wind power?

    Also, The System in the UK tells us repeatedly that AGW is real and happening. One frequently claimed problem of AGW is rising sea levels. So how come they’re giving planning permission to new nuclear plants right next to the shore?

    • David McCrindle says:

      I don’t know the answer to your first question, but it may be that the only benefit of Brexit is that these Austrian officials will now be able to devote there energies to opposing the effluent from the German lignite burning stations drifting over their green and pleasant land.

      We build our nuclear plants near the sea because that is the cheapest way of cooling the turbine condensers and because our existing sites are near the sea for this reason (in the current political environment it is almost impossible to propose building one on a completely new site). However the power stations are not at sea level, but some height above it. The predictions for sea level rise from AGW are not very high and easy to take into account when producing a detailed design (and I guess that the EA/ONR are ensuring that any new plants take this into consideration, bless their little cotton socks).

  9. Blackburn's with Darwin says:

    …..”3.4 GWh pumped hydro plant in the Czech republic (inset) which has many similarities to the plant at Gorona del Viento in the Canaries and which, like GdV, suggests that the ultimate highest and best use of these plants may be as tourist destinations.”

    Why the sly dig at a project which is serving a perfectly useful purpose in helping to regulate a power grid?

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