Corbyn in La La Land

I have to admit that during the leadership election campaign Jeremy Corbyn impressed me. He swept the Blairite robots aside in a landslide victory that opens a new (or is it an old?) chapter in British politics. And Monday evening I saw an interview with his newly appointed shadow chancellor, the reviled (in New labour) John McDonnell. He too came over as a very intelligent, thinking man. These two, with a single stroke of the brush, appear to have swept aside the catatonic, sound bite based, politically correct, and fundamentally dishonest Blairite era and New Labour with it. For doing that I am grateful. But I was in danger of being seduced.

Then today this link fell into my mail box. Publicly, Corbyn has not been too vocal on energy and environment issues, but this article he published on 7 August shows him to be Squeaky Green and espousing technically and economically unworkable Green energy policies. No real surprise there!

  • Britain providing international leadership on climate change and the socialisation of our energy supply leading an end to the era of fossil fuels

  • A modern, green, resource-efficient economy – creating 1 million new climate jobs

  • Ensuring everyone has access to a decent home that is low-carbon and affordable to keep warm

  • Putting people and planet first – tackling the cost of living and climate crisis together

  • Cleaner air – tackling the air pollution crisis in our big cities and committing to full independent public inquiry into levels of air pollution.

  • Protecting our ecosystems, wildlife habitats and a compassionate approach to animal welfare

  • An international approach – support internationally agreed, universal standards of regulation of emissions and pollution.

  • A healthy, safe, environment, where people and nature thrive together

Now to be clear, I am in favour of energy efficient and comfortable homes, I am in favour clean air (where I stay on the wind swept slopes of Scotland that is never a problem) and I am in favour of protecting ecosystems and wildlife. But ending the era of fossil fuels, creating 1 million climate jobs and tackling the cost of living and climate crisis together – the man is in economic and energy La La Land.

Resiliance carry this quote from the Ecologist:

We need a renewable energy revolution, an end to fracking, no new nuclear power, efficient homes, and the break up of our energy cartels, writes Jeremy Corbyn, All that, and strong protection for wildlife and oceans, no TTIP trade deal with the US, clean air to breathe, and massive investment in public transport. Is there anything not to like?

While Labour under Corbyn only ever had a slim chance of winning power in the 2020 General Election, with an energy policy like this that chance must now have reduced to zero.

Main references linked above:

Resilience: Jeremy Corbyn: the green Britain I want to build

Jeremy Corbyn: Winning with a greener future

Jeremy Corbyn: Protecting Our Planet

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71 Responses to Corbyn in La La Land

  1. Owen says:

    Most of his new backers are from green party so no surprise,

  2. Elvis says:

    The only things I can see in that list that I’d remove are the “creating 1 million new climate jobs” and “tackling the cost of living and climate crisis together”, both of which seem un-provable or unknowable. Only the first item might be seen as in any way controversial, but again since we led into the fossil fuel age it is not unreasonable to lead out of it. And “leading an end to the era of fossil fuels” is going to happen anyway, one way or another.

    All the rest seems unobjectionable and hard to see why anyone would object to.

  3. oldfossil says:

    What would happen if an autocratic government (and the further left they are, speaking as a far lefty myself, invariably the more autocratic they are) banned all private transport? Firstly a surge in urbanisation, a large number of white elephant attempts at decentralisation, the death of the village, a small shift towards working from home, the white-collar workday commencing at the moment you stepped into your public transport and sat down at your temporary workstation, the entire nation grinding to a halt every time a supervisor dared to speak plainly to a recalcitrant underling, a shift by the better-off to more proletarian dress styles at least while travelling in order not to attract unwelcome attention, and a breakdown of social barriers. That’s my guess. The ecomodernists wouldn’t have a problem with most of these outcomes.

  4. mark4asp says:

    OMG, I seem to have turned into an anti-Corbynite after reading Euan Mearns blog. I already knew greens loved Corbyn but I didn’t know he was still an anti-nuke. I was hoping the “urgency” of climate change may have mellowed him. Yesterday I checked the shadow cabinet to find Labour’s new shadow energy minister, Lisa Nandy, was “100% in support of nuclear power”. Today I can’t find that same link I found days ago! There’s no writings by Lisa about either energy or climate change in several dozen of her posts in: Huffington Post, Guardian, Independent, Tribune, Labour List or New Statesman. All I can find in her voting record has her firmly in favour of keeping RE subsidies.

    Three of the new Labour front bench have a long history opposing nuclear power: Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, John McDonnell. Yet Diane Abbott hasn’t been voting against nuclear power for at least 5 years. I can’t find any anti-nuclear power statements from any others in the new Labour front bench. Excluding the recent SNP hiccup, it looks like political anti-nuclearism may be a thing of the past. Today: it just doesn’t seem the ‘done thing’ on left to oppose nuclear power on anything other than cost grounds.

  5. JerryC says:

    He also wants to mine coal in Wales, then burn it in “carbon-neutral” power plants. Whatever. Energy policy is the least of his worries right now.

  6. Frederick Colbourne says:

    Well you may have it right re La La Land. But I think it is closer to screwball comedy. Screwball was a term in both cricket and baseball before applied to the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers.

    How “screwball comedy” applies to the leader of the Labour opposition,

    “In other words, if a screwball comedy is a movie where the asylum inmates imagine creating a whole new, kinder, gentler world, these other movies have been labeled by Andrew Bergman “anarcho-nihilistic laff riots.” They have no desire to fix society; they want to tear it down, rip it to pieces, dance on its grave and, above all, be left alone by it so that they can have a drink and throw things at respectable people in peace ( this is how Duck Soup ends…and the person having things thrown at them is of course Margaret Dumont, the women who is hoodwinked and mocked by Groucho in nearly every Marx Brothers movie).”

  7. A post I can agree with!

  8. Is his 275,000 current UK renewables jobs claim reality? In 2013 it was 18,465 directly according to RenewableUK with 15,908 indirectly, presumably in finance. I’d also be interested in seeing these figures without biomass operations. I think his million refers to manufacturing, where I expect we’ll be worked rather hard to compete with the far east with an established solar and wind production base.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Numbers I dare say plucked from thin air. Where the UK has missed out in the bonanza is in turbine manufacture. But there is an irony here. Best energy sources create the least jobs. If too many people are involved the price goes up and the ERoEI goes down. There is a huge industry in the UK trying to invent new ways of capturing intermittent solar and tidal forms of energy.

      • That is a point always missed. you want less workers per unit of energy, not more. Apologies with my obsession with German data but the annual review from AGEE stat* makes this clear. Take PV in 2014.

        . Electricity production share: PV developed 21.7%, biomass 30.6%.
        . Turnover PV: 1.4 billion, biomass (electricity), 4.3 billion
        . Jobs PV: ~75,000**, biomass (electricity***) 62,500
        . And subsidy?

        Clearly biomass is a winner. Wind would be another interesting comparison.

        **note massive contraction since 2011/2
        *** crude estimate based on revenue proportion with other biomass

      • Willem Post says:


        Ethanol-from-Corn, a Low ERoEI Energy Source:

        Here is an example of a big economic sector that, with help of various government subsidies, uses a very large input of fossil energy (high ERoEI) to produce a little bioenergy. Without the subsidies (that are still affordable by an economy that has a high ERoEI), the sector would not exist, as its product likely would be too expensive.

        The US ethanol industry claims to support over 380,000 jobs in all sectors of the economy. Ethanol production was 13.9 billion gal (= 1.061 quads) in 2013/14, which required 31 of the 90 million acres that were in corn, at 160 bushel/acre and 2.6 gal/bushel. On an ethanol equivalent basis, it took an energy investment EI = (13.9)/(1.2 – 1) = 69.50 b gal, plus biological energy input from the corn, to obtain an energy return ER = 1.2 x 69.50 = 83.40 b gal, for a net gain (ER – EI) = 13.9 b gal as bio-ethanol. Gasoline is 10% ethanol, 90% petroleum.

        How many people would be employed, if 75% of the corn to ethanol sector were set up, operated and maintained with low ERoEI energy sources and 25% with higher ERoEI energy sources, to have gasoline that would be 100% ethanol, 0% petroleum? The US would have a much larger corn to ethanol sector, employ many more people, but would not have enough farm acreage to grow corn and also not enough for other foods!!

        How many people would be employed, if 75% of the US economy were set up, operated and maintained with low ERoEI energy sources and 25% with higher ERoEI energy sources, to produce 100% of our goods and services? The US would no longer be able to support 320 million people living in a modern, high-level economy!

  9. Leroy Essek says:

    Peter Dearman and his Liquid Air engine sounds interesting. I like cryogenic air or nitrogen as a way to store intermittent renewable energy at atmospheric pressure. During peak demand it is easy to generate power by the rapid expansion of cryogenic air up to 700 times. Great for hybrid fuel applications like public buses and refrigeration trucks. Diesel fuel powered refrigeration compressors can be replaced with zero emission using Liquid Air generated by low cost renewable energy. Using off the shelf products these ideas of using Liquid Air can be rapidly deployed. This whole new alternative fuel is estimated to create 22,000 new jobs. Currently Liquid Nitrogen in many cases is wasted by venting the unused gas.

    • Peter Lang says:

      Diesel fuel powered refrigeration compressors can be replaced with zero emission using Liquid Air generated by low cost renewable energy.

      Except that low cost renewable energy doesn’t exist and is never likely to.

      • Leo Smith says:

        Almost by definition the amount of structure to extract from a low energy density source is much higher than the amount needed to extract from a high energy density source. And structure itself is ‘crystallized energy’. And increasingly these days the international currency is in fact energy – stored energy.

        Gale Tverberg makes the point over and again: the cost pof building renewable energy plant using renewable energy to do it makes it ecponentially uneconomic.

      • Willem Post says:


        Low-cost LOW ERoEI renewable energy does not exist.

        Hydro is low-cost, has a high ERoEI, and is renewable; made from rainwater,

        • Peter Lang says:


          Hydro is not low cost for most of the world. For most of the world it’s not even viable. And the proportion of electricity supplied by hydro is decreasing as time progress. There simply is insufficient economically viable sites available world wide.

          However, just to show I do love hydro, if only we could make it viable, here is a concept for an 9 GW, 400 GWh pumped hydro storage plant between two existing large reservoirs in the Australian Snowy Mountains . Unfortunately it is nether technically feasible nor financially viable. Power for pumping would be least cost if it used off-peak power from Victoria’s brown coal power stations (CO2 emissions intensity up to 1.5 t/MWh, c.f. France’s emissions intensity of electricity is 0.069 t/MWh).

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Leroy, I’d need one of my physicist or engineering friends to confirm my reply here. To make liquid N requires the input of quite a lot of energy. A huge amount of low grade waste heat will be created in the process that can’t be used since by definition the grid is chock full of wind power at the time. And to re gas the liquid N requires the input of a lot of energy. I’m afraid this seems like pie in the sky rubbish.

      One of the more sensible ways of storing surplus power is as hot water. Houses need very large underground super insulated hot water tanks. The hot water could be piped through existing wet central heating systems. Resistance heaters (i.e. hot coils) are near 100% efficient.

      • Leo Smith says:

        Spot on Euan. If the desired output of your store is finally low grade heat, then storing medium or high grade heat is very very efficient.

        A 10 ft deep tank of hot water under your house is enough to keep you warm all winter.

        But forget turning it back to electricity.

      • Willem Post says:


        Bermuda is basically a coral reef. The ocean current slowly moves THROUGH the island.

        Houses must have a roof, usually concrete to withstand hurricanes, to collect rain water into a cistern in the basement.

        If Bermuda can have such a requirement for potable water, why should the UK not have such a requirement to store HOT water in a super-insulated tank in the basement.

      • robertok06 says:

        A good starting point:

        “In the early stages of a liquid air economy, therefore, waste nitrogen gas could be liquefied to use in place of liquid air (see chapter 2 section 4). If the entire estimated daily nitrogen surplus was used for this purpose, it could absorb 4.6GWh 2 of ‘wrong time’ wind generation and, at 60% round trip efficiency, deliver 2.8GWh back to the grid, enough to power the equivalent of 310,000 households. 3 Alternatively it could potentially fuel the equivalent of 6.5 million car kilometers daily. 4”

        • Peter Lang says:


          Any such assertions as this are totally meaningless if you don’t provide an estimate of the full cost of electricity from the system when linked into the grid.

          You might iust as well assert we could pipe hydrogen from the Sun.

          • roberto says:

            Ehy!… I DO NOT claim anything!… I’ve simply posted a link that seems to be related to Leroy’s argument/subject.
            The simple fact that to start with there is a 40% loss to pay is, to me, enough to disqualify this storage technology, just to be clear…

    • robertok06 says:

      “using Liquid Air generated by low cost renewable energy. ”

      The only truly low cost renewable energy source is hydroelectricity… and unless I things have changed overnight, UK is not Norway.

  10. Jim Brough says:

    It seems that Jeremy Corbyn has found the eternally renewable Magic Pudding.

    The Magic Pudding: Being The Adventures of Bunyip Bluegum and his friends Bill Barnacle and Sam Sawnoff is an Australian children’s book written and illustrated by Norman Lindsay. It is a comic fantasy, and a classic of Australian children’s literature.

    The story is set in Australia with humans mixing with anthropomorphic animals. It tells of a magic pudding which, no matter how often it is eaten, always reforms in order to be eaten again. It is owned by three companions who must defend it against Pudding Thieves who want it for themselves.

    What he promises to the electorate is a version of a fairy tale and unsustainable.

    I saw an ad for “The first Australian carbon-neutral brick” and sent a polite email to ask how that was achieved and got no answer. La-la land.

    Jim Brough

    • Leo Smith says:

      I have many friends of the Left persuasion, and the key feature they all share is that to them political action is about expressing a desire to do the right thing: to address fundamental problems with society as they see it – to achieve a social justice or an environmental ideal. They support and will vote for anyone who expresses these desires clearly, whether or not the actual proposed solutions are sane or out of cloud cuckoo land

      In this mindset, wars haven’t been eliminated, or poverty eradicated, and renewable energy doesn’t work, not because these are impractical ideals, but because we haven’t spent enough of (someone else’s?) money on them.

      Additionally they all, to a man (or woman) see public money as someone else’s money The rich must be taxed, the corporations must be taxed..and, despite often being fairly affluent, they do not consider that the money so spent is in fact their money.

      If you challenge them they will say ‘we have to start somewhere’.

      If you want to challenge the Left, I think that you need to understand this mindset – I call it being trapped in an emotional narrative, where self worth and a clear conscience are equated with supporting a Cause, even if the cause is arrant nonsense.

      I dont have a solution, but I do think that is where the problem really lies. Not with energy policy, but with a culture that panders to low self esteem, is jealous of success, and compassionate towards failure, emphasises hatred and resentment against those who strive to be better, and paints the world as one of conflict where the only way losers will get to win, is by voting in some deeply unpleasant people who will on their behalf, behead the dragons and tuck them up in bed at night with a glass of warm milk.

      Because what counts is not achievement, but intention.

      Tony Blair and the Iraq war ‘I believed it was the right thing to do’ So that is all right then, Tony.

      Thousands dead, a complete political vacuum,. terrorism moves in with radical Islam, but as long as you believed it was the right thing to do, we cant blame you for any of it can we?

      As I often say, your heart in the right place, your head in the clouds, and your hand in someone else’s pocket…

      • David Harrison says:

        Leo, brilliantly articulated synopsis of so much left wing thinking – “I have made up my mind, please don’t confuse the issue by introducing fact based arguments”. I have given up discussing politics with my left leaning fiends as the intersection of fact and emotion leads to an uncomfortable discussion where their only defence is that you appear to be a nasty/mean person when compared to their idealistic virtue.

      • Elvis says:

        A good friend who is a serious lefty considers the money he or I earn not to be ours but to belong to society in general. It is an odd view but not lightly held.

        Your analysis goes off the rails when you get to Tony Blair, who I doubt many on the left would claim as one of theirs. And Iraq was a war dreamed up and implemented by fools on the right. The left had no part in that from what I remember.

        • Leo Smith says:

          T Bliar wasn’t a lefty for sure BUT he used the morality of the left to slide out of trouble every time.

  11. clivebest says:

    Piers Corbyn (Jeremy’s brother) is a physicist and a climate sceptic. I have met him a couple of times and is an interesting eccentric. He has become a thorn in the side of the UK Met Office and the Climate Science orthodoxy. He is not exactly ‘green’ either! See this quote from 2008:

    Oil companies – check their websites – and governments love Global Warming hysteria because it enables them to profit from rising energy prices, carbon fixing, trading and ‘Green’ taxes. The problem now is that daily brainwashing by media and ‘experts’ on the green gravy train is so much past a tipping point that action from green zealots threatens law and order and energy infrastructure.


    • Bob Peckham says:

      Yes Clive, they are an interesting couple of brothers, and one wonders if they ever talk to each other on some of these issues. Surely they must.
      I was beginning to think that it might be a good thing if Jeremy got elected as it might help to get some input from Piers into UK energy policy debates, and it might even improve the chances of Piers becoming the weather forecaster for the BBC.
      But having read the references cited above by Euan I am not so sure. In the third one on Protecting Our Planet, Jeremy says:

      ‘Without urgent action to get off fossil fuels, the world is on track for at least 4 degrees of warming by the end of the century, ……
      …The science is clear. To have a chance of remaining under the 2 degree ‘tipping point’, 80% of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground. Global emissions must start to decline within the next 5 years – by 2020. ’

      Now surely he did not get that from Piers!
      I can only conclude that Jeremy is ignoring good scientific advice from Piers because he is trying hard to get the green voters on board.

      • Jamie says:

        I” was beginning to think that it might be a good thing if Jeremy got elected as it might help to get some input from Piers into UK energy policy debates, and it might even improve the chances of Piers becoming the weather forecaster for the BBC.”

        Are you serious?

  12. renewstudent says:

    This post risk actually saying new things! How about this bit of contrarian thinking on jobs

    All other things being equal, the number of direct and indirect jobs created in the economy related to energy depends only on the amount of money injected into energy technology development and operation- where else would it go but in wages at some point?

    On this basis, if nuclear power is less expensive than renewables (as you all on this site usually seem to think) it will create less jobs/kWh. If as I think may be the case (and so does IRENA and the IEA) some renewable are now cheaper (even including backup/balancing) then they too create less jobs. And in either case, a system that avoids ever more costly fossil use will save money, so that you need less spending per kWh, so less jobs

    • JerryC says:

      That’s nothing new, just a variation of Bastat’s broken windows fallacy.

      • Leo Smith says:

        Absolutely. the Left seeks to create jobs, but what we really want to create is wealth with as little labour and energy input as possible.

        That leaves a residual problem: How to divvy up the wealth and make people feel part of society, but that is orthogonal to the main point that wealth creation, not job creation, is the way to make a nation richer.

        • A C Osborn says:

          Sorry, I have to disagree with you.
          That was the policy introduced starting with Thatcher.
          The idea being Top Down distribution of wealth.
          Well guess what, the Rich got a damned sight richer (at least 10 fold) and everybody else got poorer

    • Peter Lang says:


      I suspect you are not a student of economics, right?

      Try this for some background:
      “Economics in one lesson”

      There are many studies showing that subsidising high cost renewables destroys many more jobs than it creates. Here’s one example:

      a new study documents that every renewable job created by the Spanish government destroyed an average of 2.2 other jobs. Also, each “green” megawatt installed in Spain destroyed 5.39 jobs in non-energy sectors, the study found.

      Spain’s annual emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by nearly 50 percent since the launch of the subsidized “green jobs” program.

      • Elvis says:

        Peter, the report you quote does not identify one single job that has been “destroyed” by RE. It simply divides of the investment per worker in RE by average capital per worker in the economy in general and gets 2.2. If you conclude from this that 2.2 jobs are “destroyed” per RE job, then you also have to believe that half of all investment in the economy (the half that uses more capital than the average) is “destroying” jobs. That any investment that uses more capital than average is bad. Is it not clear from this that the number 2.2 is probably not what you claim?

        At the very least, if the report authors had been interested in a fair assessment they would have used capital per worker in a comparable industry, not econonmy-wide. If RE investment really is such a bad idea a balanced report using standard analysis methods might show it; your linked report is only a hatchet job. This response by NREL should be companion reading for your link.

        • Peter Lang says:


          Peter, the report you quote does not identify one single job that has been “destroyed” by RE.

          It’s an economic analysis. Of course it doesn’t identify individual jobs. It’s an economy analysis. It’s concerning that people make such ignorant statements.

          Furthermore, it’s not just one analysis showing this. Similar analyses have shown similar results in many other countries.

          It’s basic economics that if you raise the cost of energy in a country, the country becomes less competitive (all else equal). Therefore, jobs are ‘exported’ to the more competitive economies. The standard of living declines in the disadvantaged economy and increases in the economy that become more competitive ( relative to what would have been if the cost of energy had not been increased by market interventions – such as incentivising renewable energy)

          NREL is the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. They are a government funded advocacy agency for renewable energy. What would you expect them to say?

          • Elvis says:

            Peter, of course you can do a similar calculation in other countries and get similar results. RE takes more capital per person employed than the economy average in any country. You could do the same calculation with nuclear which doubtless takes more capital than the average per job for the economy and you’d get a similar result -that nuclear “destroys” jobs. And as I said before you can do the same sum with half of the economy and find that it “destroys” jobs. You’ll also find that if you make any part of the economy more efficient by increasing the capital used per worker it also “destroys” jobs. The number 2.2 you are quoting does not mean what you say it means.

          • Peter Lang says:


            Sorry, but you misunderstand. It is not the capital cost that is relevant. It’s the cost of electricity.

            A comparison of costs between nuclear and renewables at sufficient penetration to make a large difference to CO2 emissions intensity of electricity (e.g. like France has achieved), with all generation and grid costs included, shows that nuclear is about 1/2 the capital cost, 1/3 the cost of electricity and 1/2 the CO2 abatement cost of the renewables system to do the same job. However, the cost of nuclear can come down by one to two orders of magnitude as we move to breeder reactors and get up to 100 times more energy from the fuel. Furthermore, although nuclear is sustainable for milenia, renewables are not even sustainable now. Renewables simply cannot do the job (all covered on previous posts)

  13. Willem Post says:


    On a separate issue, if you would like to post this article about ERoEI on ENERGY MATTERS, please feel free to do so. I have retitled it to better reflect its contents.

    US ENERGY FUTURE – Wind and Solar versus Nuclear versus Energy Efficiency

  14. Green is the new Red, after a sea of Pink

  15. manicbeancounter says:

    Related to the Green question is a YouGov survey of the Labour Leadership vote.
    10% of those who voted in the leadership election voted Green in the General Election and 81% voted Labour.
    The Green voters in May were 92% for Corbyn, against 54% for the Labour voters.
    Does it mean that the Labour Party has gone more Green? I would propose something different. The Green Party have on non-Green issues been to the left of Labour. With the Corbyn ascendancy the Green vote will fall. Wait for the Opinion Polls.

  16. renewnatta says:

    A study by the Fraunhofer Institute, Ecofys and EEG, Employment and growth effects
    of sustainable energies in the European Union concluded that, in 2050, employment in
    the Business as Usual scenario reaches 1.6 million, whereas in the policy scenarios, with renewables accelerated, it rises to 2.2 -2.3 million. But there will also be jobs lost in conventional energy, and a complex interaction with the economy as a whole- renewables may be more expensive, but using them means less spending on fossil fuel, including nearly €250bn in imports. The final results show that renewable policies will lead to moderate but positive net employment effects: employment will on average rise between 0.28% and 0.64% compared to BAU. This is equivalent to an average increase of jobs in the EU between 600,000 and 1,400,000. And many additional jobs would be generated by spending on energy saving.

    • Willem Post says:


      If one throws enough money at a sector employment will increase in that sector, but if that sector produces expensive, variable energy, then it will decrease employment in other sectors to levels lower than they would have been without the expensive, variable intermittent energy, per Economic 101.

      With increased wind energy on the grid there would be reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, but to a significant extent they would be offset by:

      – The increased inefficient, part-load operation of the traditional generators.
      – The increased inefficient ramping operation, while at part load, of the balancing generators, such as CCGTs and OCGTs.
      – The increased hot, synchronous spinning requirements of the traditional generators.
      – The increased less-efficient scheduling of the traditional generators.

      Ireland had an island grid with a minor connection with the UK grid until October 2012. Eirgrid, the operator of the grid, publishes ¼-hour data regarding CO2 emissions, wind energy production, fuel consumption and energy generation. Drs. Udo and Wheatley made several analyses based on 2011 and earlier Irish grid operations data that offer clear evidence of the effectiveness of CO2 emission reduction decreasing with increasing annual wind energy percentages.

      The Wheatley study of the Irish grid shows: Wind energy CO2 reduction effectiveness = (CO2 intensity, metric ton/MWh, with wind)/(CO2 intensity with no wind) = (0.279, @ 17% wind)/(0.53, @ no wind) = 0.526, based on SEMO data.

      If 17% wind energy, wind energy promoters typically claim a 17% reduction in CO2, i.e., 83% is left over.

      If 17% wind energy, actual performance data of the Irish grid shows, 0.526 x 17% is reduced = 8.94%, i.e., 91.06% is left over.

      What applied to the Irish grid would apply to the New England grid as well, unless the balancing is done with hydro, a la Denmark.

      Europe is facing the same problem, but it is stuck with mostly gas turbine balancing, as it does not have nearly enough hydro capacity for balancing.

      • renewstudent says:

        That’s what you may get with small isolated grids using one main renewable. Hence the need for multiple green inputs (solar, wind, wave, tidal, geothermal, biomass, hydro) at various scales and locations, with smart grid DSM, power to gas surplus conversion and supergrid interconnectors for balancing.

        • Peter Lang says:

          Renew student,

          Inventivising renewable energy distorts markets and raises the cost of energy. Renewable energy is several times higher cost than nuclear energy to meet electricity system requirements and to reduce GHG emissions (all costs included and properly attributed).

          I’d urge you to read the link I gave you to “Economics in one lesson”.

          • renewstudent says:

            Thanks for ‘inventivising. A great new word, as far as I am aware, which I may try to use in the various energy policy and energy technology innovation masters courses I teach at Oxford and elsewhere. Can I suggest you look at IRENA’s economic study which clearly shows that wind , even with backup/grid balancing, is cheaper than nuclear in the UK. See p42:

          • Peter Lang says:


            “Thanks for ‘inventivising.” My typo. I meant to say “incentivising”

            Note that IRENA is an advocacy group for the renewable energy industry.

            The IRENA costs do not include:

            1. Grid costs –at 50% penetration see list below
            2. Storage – so renewables have the same availability and dispatchability as nuclear
            3. Decommissioning – three times higher per MWh than for nuclear)
            4. Monetary value of the risk that renewables cannot meet requirements at sufficiently high penetration by 2050 to cut global GHG emissions from electricity by 80% or more – nuclear has already proved it can do it.

            Grid-level system cost ($/MWh)s at differing penetration levels for a range of electricity generation technologies (Summarised from Table ES2 and extrapolated to 50% penetration)

            Nuclear 1.8
            Coal 0.9
            Gas 0.5
            Onshore Wind 45.2
            Offshore Wind 45.3
            Solar PV 74.8

          • renewstudent says:

            The old Nuclear Energy Agency report you cite had some vary dubious estimates for nuclear back up cost. For example, in its 2010 study of the cost of maintaining adequate frequency response via the grid Balancing Services Incentive Scheme (BSUoS), UK National Grid estimated that ‘the risk imposed by six additional 1800 MW [nuclear] power stations on the system could increase from £160m to £319m’. That works out at about $3.2 /MWh, assuming an 80% load factor. Not $0.53-0.88 as NEA claims.
            Moving up to date, there are few now (the government and EDF apart) who support the proposed Hinkley EPR project. Even the small band of pro nuclear greens have abandoned it. Just about everyone accepts that It would cost much more/kWh than on shore wind, even with balancing costs added, and even assuming 2-3x capital cost escalations, as in France and Finland, are avoided.

        • Willem Post says:


          Significantly increased wind energy on the grid would require:

          – Back-up generating capacity adequacy, MW, to provide energy when wind energy are insufficient.
          – Back-up flexible generating capacity adequacy, MW, for inefficiently ramping up and down, at part load, to balance the variable energy.
          – Transmission and distribution systems adequacy.
          – Energy storage systems adequacy.

          As wind energy becomes a greater percent, say 30%, the energy of the traditional generators become a smaller percent.

          The more wind turbines, the greater the energy quantities to be balanced. One can readily see why Denmark and Germany ran out of balancing capacity.

          Balancing may involve many units, quick- and slower ramping, depending on the energy quantities to be balanced.

          Interconnection does not help, because all countries within 500 miles see the same winds.

          For stability, generators rarely are operated below 50% of rated output.

          In balancing mode, they need to operate at about 75%, so they can ramp up 25% and ramp down 25%.

          At 30% wind, to handle the ramps of several thousand MW/h, quite a few generators would be in balancing mode.

          Demand side management is an alternative approach to deal with ramps.

          If one adds up all the various changes to the electric system and its operation, and the impact of that on the community, such as due to DSM, to accommodate wind energy to the grid, the cost of wind energy, about 10 c/kWh onshore (with subsidies and various regulatory “accommodations”, higher without), would easily double.

          • renewstudent says:

            As far as I can see DSM might actually save money, by avoiding the need to have (and/or use) fossil capacity to meet peaks, while (EU-UK) interconnectors could earn their keep by selling surplus electricity (and avoiding wasteful wind curtailment ). Our 2013 Pugwash study found that, in a hypothetical 80% renewables UK scenario (using DECC’s 2050 Pathway software), these exports could earn up to £15bn p.a.

  17. Elvis says:

    Peter, if the electricity cost is key, why is the 2.2 jobs lost per RE job you quote not derived from that instead of being calculated from capital costs (p28 of your report). Never mind, I have a feeling that you still won’t acknowledge that each RE job does not destroy 2.2 jobs elsewhere.

    Electricity costs doubtless have an effect on the economy, but they are one cost among many. Putting a reliable figure on that effect is probably not possible.

    As for nuclear being cheaper, you might well be right. To get 2 orders of magnitude reduction in price of reactors means mass production. There’s a long way to go to get there.
    Regards, Elvis

    • Peter Lang says:


      You dead right that I don’t accept that inventivising renewable energy creates more jobs than it kills across the whole economy. Of course it kills more than it creates. As I said, there are many authoritative reports showing that. And that is a general principle, not just applicable to renewables. Any government interventions that distort the markets cause net job losses over time across the economy. That’s basic economics. Read “Economics in one lesson” for a really simple, basic, explanation of some of the long standing basics.

      Your comment that electricity doubtless has an effect on the economy, is one of those silly, dismissive irrelevant comments. So does everything. So what? Electricity is every important and increasingly important input to business and to the whole economy. Such statements do not suggest intellectual honesty.

      “To get 2 orders of magnitude reduction in price of reactors means mass production. There’s a long way to go to get there.”
      Of course we are all well aware of that. I’ve said it repeatedly. But the important point you seem to miss is that it is physically achievable and virtually inevitable because it is the only sustainable source of energy. Renewables certainly cannot provide a large proportion of the world’s energy requirements, and probably never will be able to.

      I’d suggest you to do some reading if you are not aware of these facts – and you wont find the facts on the renewable energy advocacy and propaganda outlets.

      If you didn’t follow this thread, and the 24 others linked, and also follow the comments, it might be a good place to start:

      This comment explains how to get to nuclear cheaper than fossil fuels:

      • Elvis says:

        Peter, I suppose that you can, as one of the site authors, accuse people of dishonesty without censure. But such an accusation would be stronger if you didn’t continue to evade admitting the weakness of your explicit (2.2) job loss argument. And claiming market fundamentalist dogma (“Any government interventions that distort the markets cause net job losses over time across the economy”) as “basic economics” is, at best, uninformed.

        • Peter Lang says:


          I am not a site author. And your comment is simply an unsupported statement of your beliefs. It’s irrelevant. I haven’t ” evade admitting the weakness of your explicit (2.2) job loss argument. ” You simply didn’t raise any valid criticism of the report and clearly don’t understand even the most basic economics. However, for others who may be following this thread and being confused by your assertions. I’ll copy some of the relevant text from the report (that you either didn’t read, didn’t understand, or selectively decided to not mention). I’ll post it in a separate comment at a higher level so comments can follow.

  18. Peter Lang says:

    This comment comprises extracts from the report: “Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources

    Subsidy ( Table 3, p25):

    Wind = M€1.10/job
    Mini-hydro = M€0.54/job
    PV = M€0.67/job


    Public investment in renewable energy has job creation as one of its explicit goals, which, given the current economic crisis, suggests an intention of seeding a future recovery with “green job” subsidies. The problem with this plan is that the resources used to create “green jobs” must be obtained from elsewhere in the economy. Therefore, this type of policy tends to create not just a crowding-out effect but also a net destruction of capital insofar as the investment necessary must be subsidized to a great extent and this is carried out by absorbing or destroying capital from the rest of the economy.

    The money spent by the government cannot, once committed to “green jobs”, be consumed or invested by private parties and therefore the jobs that would depend on such consumption and investment will disappear or not be created.

    Investment in green jobs will only prove convenient if the expense by the public sector is more efficient at generating wealth than the private sector. This would only be possible if public investment were able to be self-financing without having to resort to subsidies, i.e., without needing to absorb wealth generated by the rest of the economy in order to support a production that cannot be justified through the incurred incomes and costs. We have calculated that the total public subsidy in Spain, both spent and committed, totals 28,671 million Euros (€28.7 billion or appx. $37 billion USD), and sustains 50,200 jobs. In order to know how many net jobs are destroyed by a green job program for each one that it is intended to create, we use two different methods: with the first, we compare the average amount of capital destruction (the subsidized part of the investment) necessary to create a green job against the average amount of capital that a job requires in the private sector; with the second, we compare the average annual productivity that the subsidy to each green job would have contributed to the economy had it not been consumed in such a way, with the average productivity of labor in the private sector that allows workers to remain employed.

    III. . The annual productivity of the expense (p28)

    In this section, we shall compare the average annual productivity that the green job subsidy would have contributed to the economy had it not been consumed in public financing, with the average productivity in the private sector that allows them to keep their job, the latter being ultimately the measure which justifies the creation or preservation of that job.

    In order to obtain the annual public consumption of resources devoted to renewable energy we calculate the average annuity value during the next 25 years of subsidies. Now, what should be the rate at which we discount the annuities? In a private enterprise, the adequate rate would be the ROA (return on assets) because this is the rate of additional return that we would have obtained over a year if we had allocated, in the private sector, the annual cost of renewables.

    For an entire economy, the closest thing we have to an ROA is the relationship between the annual income of capital and the stock of capital in the economy, that is, a ratio of the annual return on that stock of capital.

    In Spain, annual capital profitability has slowed in recent years and thus we will take the lowest rate available: 8.53% in 2005. With this discount, the average annuity for the end of 2008 is €55,946 per worker.

    Consequently, through the use of both methods we have reached a similar conclusion: for every green job, we can be highly confident that 2.2 jobs are destroyed elsewhere in the economy, to which we have to add those jobs that the non-subsidized investment would have created.

    • Elvis says:

      You missed out the calculation of the 2.2, which simply divides of the investment per worker in RE by average capital per worker in the economy in general (not in comparable industries) and gets 2.2. If you conclude from this that 2.2 jobs are “destroyed” per RE job, then you also have to believe that half of all investment in the economy (the half that uses more capital than the average) is “destroying” jobs – that any investment that uses more capital than average is bad.

      All the wind farms need to do is make their operations more efficient (use fewer workers) and they can “destroy” even more jobs in the rest of the economy; that is how the equation works. If you cannot see that to be nonsense, I can’t help you.

      • Peter Lang says:


        If you think this and the many other similar analyses for the job losses caused by incentivising renewables, are wrong, then perhaps you should explain your beliefs to the economists. You could start by reading and trying to understand “Economics in one lesson”. I posted the link above. There’s nothing more we can discuss on this, because you don’tr have sufficient understanding of economics at its most basic level.

        Fir example: The Australian Government’s 2014 review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) found:

        The effect of the RET on economy-wide employment … was considered in modelling by Deloitte … which found that an average of 5,000 full-time jobs would be created to 2030 if the RET was abolished

        The Deloitte Access Economics modelling report says (p2):

        … abolishing the RET results in an increase in GDP over 2014 and 2030 of $28.8 billion in NPV terms. The effective cost of carbon abatement to GDP due to the RET is estimated to be $103 per tonne of CO2-e — more than four times the carbon tax.

        • The rise in industry output also leads to an increase in labour demand, with an average of 5,000 full-time jobs created over the modelling period if the RET is completely abolished. Over the same time horizon, household consumption is estimated to rise by $20.5 billion should the RET be completely removed.

        • Elvis says:

          Peter, you argue like a troll. You claim a report shows a very specific loss of jobs caused by RE. When I point out that varying the inputs to the equation used by that paper predicts utter nonsense, instead of addressing that, you introduce all sorts of other sources that you think support your case better. If I were to read and dispute those you’d just move on to other sources. If you want to be taken seriously here you should have the intellectual honesty to address the criticism of your initial evidence. Without that you are just trolling.

          • Peter Lang says:


            I’d suggest you are projecting. Your criticisms are not worth arguing about because they are extremely simplistic and your early responses showed you were cherry picking bits out fot the report without having understood it. You haven’t shown any understanding of economics, so I am not going to waste time arguing with you about points you raise that are based on your lack of understanding. I pointed out other examples becaue the general principle is that when governments distort markets for idelogical reasons – renewable energy subsidies is a good example – the result is net damage to the economy. You clearly don’t even understand that basic fact (made very simple for your benefit, and of course there are excelptions, but incentivising renewabl energy is certainly not one of them. You’re a complete waste of time,

            Some one else pointed to the “broken window”. I doubt you read it oir understood it. But try this:
            “Economics in one lesson”

          • Elvis says:

            Peter, I have generally found that people who like to point others at Econ 101 or the like usually have no knowledge of economics beyond 101. It would surprise me if that did not apply to you too. You might think you understand the “broken window” fallacy but it goes much deeper than the intuitive response.

  19. John Stumbles says:

    What no-one seems to have mentioned is that whatever Corbyn’s grasp (or lack thereof) of energy realities, he does seem to have kept Bryony Worthington on as shadow spokesperson on energy and climate change. Corbyn does seem to make a point of listening to people so hopefully he’ll learn from her.

  20. Jim says:

    To add to Corbyn’s list of wishes that you posted, I think one should add 1) abolish gravity 2) abolish the need to work for a living and 3) provide all energy at no cost. Since electricity comes from a socket in the wall, this should be easy.

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