Category Archives: Political commentary

Can the UK meet the fifth carbon budget?

The UK’s fifth carbon budget calls for a 57% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to 1990 levels by 2028-2032. This post evaluates whether this goal is achievable and concludes that at best it will be difficult to meet. It also reviews the reasons behind the UK’s apparent success in reducing its GHG emissions (down by 36% in 2014 relative to 1990) and concludes that this reduction is largely a result of market forces and that renewable energy has played only a minor part. The post also highlights the fact that only about a quarter of UK GHG emissions come from the electricity sector, meaning that success can be achieved only by reducing emissions from the other energy-consuming sectors, which is a much tougher proposition. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , | 40 Comments

Brexit and The Simple Solution

With a very high turnout of 72% the Brits took the Brexit vote very seriously and exercised their democratic right to speak on this issue while they still had it. Shame on all those politicians and commentators who do not respect our courage to speak out. Any hint of retribution smacks of dictatorship. Continue reading

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Did Portugal run for four days on renewables alone?

Recently there has been much rejoicing in the green media that the entire country of Portugal succeeded in powering itself with 100% renewables for four straight days from May 7 through May 10, 2016. Here we look into the question of whether this is true (it is) and second the question of what caused it (the weather). Over the period in question Portugal was able to make maximum use of its hydro and wind capacity because of unusually heavy rains (inset) and strong winds, a combination of renewables-favorable weather conditions that has been described as “fantastic”, although the tourism industry may take a different view. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , | 59 Comments

The Energy Return of Solar PV – a response from Ferroni and Hopkirk

Last week’s post on The Energy return of Solar PV caused quite a stir. Yesterday I received a response to some of the comments from Ferroccio Ferroni and Robert Hopkirk answering some of the queries raised by readers. There response is given below the fold. But first I have a few comments to add.

Let’s kick off with the unshakeable enthusiasm for renewables of every flavour from the Scottish National Party. Member of the Scottish Parliament Callum McCaig:

I think Scotland is very much leading the way…. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 65 Comments

Net metering and the death of US rooftop solar

“Net metering” allows anyone with a solar installation to sell surplus solar power to the grid when the sun is shining and to purchase power back from the grid when it isn’t. Net metering has been described as the lifeblood of solar in America, and it’s probably true to state that without it there would be few, if any domestic rooftop solar installations anywhere in the country. However, the program is now coming under attack, with Hawaii and Nevada recently rolling back net metering benefits and with a number of other states also considering changes. What happens if enough states impose similar rollbacks, or maybe do away with net metering altogether? This post reviews this question and concludes that domestic solar in the US will slowly wither and die. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , | 69 Comments

Drought, El Niño, Blackouts and Venezuela

It’s fashionable these days to blame everything that goes wrong with anything on human interference with the climate, and we had yet another example last week when President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela fingered drought, El Niño and global warming as the reasons Venezuela’s lights keep going out. In this post I show that his Excellency has not a leg to stand on when he makes these claims, but that because no one ever looks at the data everyone believes him. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , | 35 Comments

Is large-scale energy storage dead?

Many countries have committed to filling large percentages of their future electricity demand with intermittent renewable energy, and to do so they will need long-term energy storage in the terawatt-hours range. But the modules they are now installing store only megawatt-hours of energy. Why are they doing this? This post concludes that they are either conveniently ignoring the long-term energy storage problem or are unaware of its magnitude and the near-impossibility of solving it. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , | 124 Comments

EU to Introduce Two New Time Zones

Earlier today Mr Donald Trunk, EU Commissioner for Social Adjustments, launched an initiative that will see two new time zones introduced before the end of 2017. Mr Trunk explained that spreading electricity demand more evenly across the continent will help integrate the new electricity market and reduce peak demand. What better way to achieve integration than to divide the continent into 5 time zones? Continue reading

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Estimating life-time costs for Renewable Energy in Europe

To compare the cost of new renewables (wind and solar PV) with other forms of generation the costs need to be adjusted for capacity factor, length of plant life and running costs. For example, nuclear may run for 60 years with a capacity over 80% while solar PV may last 20 years and have capacity of 10%. Making these adjustments suggests that onshore wind may cost 10 times as much as a gas fired plant while offshore wind and solar PV are 40 times more expensive than gas. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , | 108 Comments

One Step Closer to Blackouts

On Thursday 24th March, Longannet Power Station in Scotland closed down. This post examines the policy and politics that led to this event and goes on to consider the social and economic consequences of a nation-wide blackout that power engineers now believe is far more likely than before. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , | 107 Comments

The looming Nordic energy crisis

Nuclear power in Sweden has become uneconomical. Wholesale prices of electricity in Sweden have been much lower than the breakeven price for nuclear generation. Electricity has been sold at a record low price of €20 per megawatt hour (MWh), while the cost of generating nuclear power has been in the same ballpark, or even slightly higher. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , | 86 Comments

Is Global Warming Quickening?

On Monday 14th March, Channel 4 News (UK terrestrial news channel) carried a report on catastrophic February warming and involved two distinguished UK climate scientists. What was said was so far away from the physical reality that I experience here on Earth that I was left wondering if they were talking about the same planet. So I have done a little digging. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , | 56 Comments

Going green – the Ofgem vision

“…. when there isn’t enough supply to match demand, we generate more and build more cables to carry it. As we decarbonise, simply building more power stations and cables to meet demand when the wind isn’t blowing, or the sun isn’t shining, is neither sustainable nor efficient.” Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , | 119 Comments

The origins of the 2008 UK Climate Change Act

The UK Climate Change Act was at bottom a product of the “green revolution” that gained momentum during the 1960s and 1970s, and it’s difficult to say exactly who initiated the chain of events that led to it. As good a candidate as any, however, is Sir Crispin Tickell. Sir Crispin, a dedicated environmentalist…… Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Global Warming and the Irrelevance of Science

Guest essay by Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences (Emeritus) Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This is the text of a lecture delivered on August 20, 2015 to the 48th Session: Erice International Seminars on Planetary Emergencies

In many fields, governments have a monopoly on the support of scientific research. Ideally, they support the science because they believe objective research to be valuable. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , | 93 Comments

An Energy Plan for France and the UK

Environmental activist group Bellona report that President Hollande wishes to reduce France’s dependency on nuclear power. It suddenly struck me that France will have nuclear power stations that it no longer needs and the UK needs nuclear power stations that it cannot afford to build. The solution is absurdly simple. The UK can simply contract to buy 20 GW of nuclear power from France while France presses on to modernise its infrastructure by deploying more bio-energy, wind and solar power. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , | 92 Comments

UK Blackout Risk – Amber Warning

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

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 150 Comments

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

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

Posted in Climate change, Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , | 59 Comments

2015: record hot or not?

In this post I update summary charts of lower troposphere temperatures with the recently released 2015 data. Surface thermometers are compared with satellite data and claims that 2015 set a new record for surface temperatures are examined. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 75 Comments

Unprecedented Weather: is Climate Change Happening Now?

Scotland, and in particular NE Scotland where I live, has been battered by winter storms during December 2015 and January 2016 leading to widespread flooding, destruction of property and misery for thousands of people. The Met Office warns that wide-spread frosts are now on the way.

Are these conditions unusual? If they are, what is the cause? Are snow clad mountains and freezing flood waters the stuff of global warming? Or could it all be linked to The Sun’s activity declining to levels not seen since the 18th and 19th centuries when conditions experienced today seemed to be the norm. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 68 Comments