Ed Davey in Wonderland

On 6th November, UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, delivered his Annual Energy Statement to the House of Commons. Ed Davey is part of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition government that came to power in 2010 and belongs to the Liberal Democrat branch of that coalition. The achievements laid out in the Energy Statement need to be shared with his predecessor, Chris Huhne, who had to stand down in 2012 when he was sent to prison for perverting the course of justice.

Ed Davey:

Record investments of £45 billion in electricity generation and networks since 2010 have put us on target to meet our future low carbon power requirements.


Record investments of £45 billion in electricity generation and networks since 2010 has seen UK electricity consumption fall from 361 to 337 TWh (6.7%) while electricity imports have risen from 2.7 to 14.4 TWh (5.3 fold).

Ed Davey:

We now have more installed offshore wind capacity than the rest of the world.


…. This is the most expensive and least reliable form of electricity supply we could find.

Ed Davey:

Indeed, in the first quarter of 2014, 19% of UK electricity was being provided by renewable resources.


This turns out to be true 🙂 The winter storms of 2014 resulted in high wind power and hydro electric production that the UK Met Office would like to attribute to climate change. This windfall may be one of the first benefits of climate change to be enjoyed by the UK* </sarc>.

[* With apologies to those flooded by the winter storms. The flooding, of course, was down to government neglecting flood defences and the storms were down to the active polar vortex and cold stratosphere over N America at that time.]

Ed Davey:

Over £40 billion in the North Sea – a doubling of private investment on the UK’s continental shelf since 2010, and development capital expenditure higher in 2013 than at any point in the last decade.


…. At the same time North Sea oil and gas production fell from 128 million tonnes oil equivalent in 2010 to 92 Mtoe in 2013 (down 28%).

Ed Davey:

Then we have £2.5bn in gas-fired power plants. Over £3.8bn in gas transmission and distribution networks.


Gas consumption has fallen and coal consumption, not mentioned by Mr Davey in his speech, has risen. This is the exact opposite of government strategy.

And the UK has spent billions on LNG import facilities to see LNG imports plunge as prices rose in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear incident.

Ed Davey:

Before I leave energy security, Mr Speaker, there is one international aspect I should raise with the House which has domestic implications – namely the response by the G7 and EU to Russian aggression against the Ukraine, and the increasing threats by Russia to use energy supplies as a weapon.


Mr Speaker, earlier this year, the USA and our European allies supported the destabilisation of the elected government of Ukraine. Russia reacted by repatriating the strategically important Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine to Russia following a hastily convened referendum. The region around Crimea has since descended into civil war.

Ukraine, our new best friend in the East, has been stealing gas from Russian pipelines that cross their territory for many years. Russia estimates they are owed $5.4 billion from Ukraine and have demanded that $3.1 billion is paid by the end of 2014. If not, gas supplies to Ukraine may be cut with the consequence that gas supplies to Europe may be cut too.

Russia has been a stable supplier of energy to Europe for decades. I regret to inform The House that we have succeeded in antagonising Russia to the point where she is now negotiating energy deals to supply China and former President Gorbachev has warned that we may provoke a new Cold War.**

** This is based in part upon this comment by Willem Post. The remainder is a fictional dialogue based upon an interpretation of recent events that Mr Davey appears not to agree with.

Disclaimer: In this post I have simply plotted energy statistics for 2010 to 2013 which spans the duration of the current UK parliament. Ed Davey may justifiably take the view that he is not responsible for all that has happened in that period and cherry picking these 4 years does indeed simplify a complex picture. For example, it is hardly fair to blame North Sea oil and gas production decline on Ed Davey. But it is fair to ask why so little has been done in the course of the parliament to help assure a prosperous future for the oil and gas industry? And why action aimed at destroying it was taken early in the parliament. Similarly, declining electricity consumption is due to a number of factors such as on-going recession, improved energy efficiency, that the government can take some credit for, but also higher prices suppressing demand where the government seems totally blind. Ed Davey seems proud of all the money (other people’s money) that he has seen spent on new energy infrastructure and his speech was devoid of information detailing how little we have got for our money, if anything at all.

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59 Responses to Ed Davey in Wonderland

  1. edhoskins says:

    Some simple comparative numbers, trivial to calculate, for Renewable energy costs and effectiveness in the USA Germany and the UK.



    Overall in the UK Combined renewables have to date cost 13 times more and given 4.3 times less capacity than equivalent Gas fired power generation.

    UK Solar energy PV costs ~55 times more and is ~14 times less effective, it produces 7% of its nameplate capacity. Whereas wind power investment, assuming that only 20% is at sea, costs ~10 times more and produces ~3.5 time less i.e. 28% of it nameplate capacity.

  2. Graeme No.3 says:

    One of the problems we have in Australia is the belief by politicians that wind is cheap, and that it reduces CO2 emissions. You obviously have the same type of gullibility in the UK.

    The first delusion is merely disinformation and based on ignoring the law of supply and demand. Since the electricity grid is balanced at all times, when there is a sudden burst from the wind farms, that power has to go somewhere. The grid authorities have little flexibility beyond pumped storage and shutting down existing reliable plants (which causes difficulties when the wind dies down). The preferred option is to ‘export’ the electricity or to refuse to take it. The first moves the problem, the second doesn’t work because the wind ‘farmers’ have priority, so the price is dropped to make it attractive to ‘foreigners’. Thus Denmark tries to export to hydro (pumped storage) in Norway and Sweden, and less likely Germany. (Germany is trying to get rid of electricity around the same time) and they can offer even a negative price and get that accepted.

    Regardless of what price is paid the wind ‘farms’ have to recover their cost; the spot price doesn’t matter that much to the wind ‘farmers’ because they get subsidies for what they produce (and sometimes for what they don’t produce). But the gullible only look at the spot price, because the subsidies are often partly hidden.

    The second is what I call The Big Pond fallacy; it is thought that so long as the wind turbines produce some electricity, it will be stored somehow and be available some time in the future. It doesn’t work that way, indeed because it is dumped at a lower price, it drives lower emission but higher priced methods out of the market. Thus in Germany CCGT and pumped storage are unprofitable and shutting down (or moving to another country) so the times of no wind (& solar) are filled by cheap but higher emissions brown coal.

    The net result in Germany is rising electricity prices and higher emissions, and a less stable grid.

    The more wind turbines the UK installs the higher the electricity bills will be (and the chances of blackouts higher) and the emission reductions will be very small.

    In South Australia they are dependent most of the time on supply from Victoria. When the wind blows the first thing is to stop importing, then if there is still a surplus to ‘export’ that to Victoria. So the wind electricity costing $110 per MWh is sold to the Victorians at $30, and in times of shortage bought back at $45-60. It will not surprise readers to know that SA has the highest electricity prices of all 6 States. Despite this the Premier (an animal of very little brain) wants more wind turbines because “it is cheap” yet doesn’t want the $65 subsidy (from the Renewable Energy Target) cancelled; because mostly it would be paid by those in the other States.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      The same template has been used everywhere and will continue to be used until policy makers awake and see a king with no clothes.

    • Hugh Sharman says:

      Correction: there is no pumped storage in Scandinavia. It is not necessary in a hydro-based system. When Denmark exports wind power, the hydro plants in Scandinavia are turned down and vice versa.

  3. Joe Public says:

    Another great post, Euan.

    Two minor points:

    1. “[* With apologies to those flooded by the winter storms. The flooding, of course, was down to government neglecting flood defences ….]

    It’s now apparent that some of the flooding in the SW was man-made ………..


    2. The graphs of Oil / Gas, & Gas / Coal use Mtoe units, the LNG imports uses BCM. This makes visual/mental comparisons difficult.

  4. bobski2014 says:

    Dear Euan,
    Mr Davey is a politician. Little more need be said, but just for the sake of it here’s a transmutation of Carl Sagan’s B–S detector observations.

    What politicians do. (My words, not Sagan’s)

    1. Make statements of the most general nature they can, and attempt to divert independent review.
    2. Do everything possible to not engage in substantive debate with anyone appearing knowledgeable on the subject at hand.
    3. Always attempt to argue from “authority”. When this is not possible then quote from others whom they imply “have authority” – for example by quoting people who have been given a monetary prize by the Royal Bank of Sweden in honour of Alfred Nobel; or by constantly referring to “Knights of the Realm” / “Lords” / and anyone else given some kind of recognition (justified or not) and mostly by themselves or their cronies.
    4. Never offer any alternative hypothesis.
    5. Deny that there could ever be a reason for rejecting ( or even questioning ) the hypothesis they are propounding.
    6. Wherever possible offer no real-life data. Minimise the use of any quantifiable numbers. Only mention any numbers which support their argument and never acknowledge any others exist.
    7. Frequently develop arguments based on false premises, and shift the focus of attention to detailed points which make retaining awareness of the basic premise difficult for listeners.
    8. When alternative hypotheses are available, always choose the more complex one, thereby allowing maximum wriggle room and deniability.
    9. Whenever possible, make propositions which are untestable, and unfalsifiable. Such propositions are worthless.

    In addition, they attack the individual not the argument; they appeal to ignorance; they beg the questions; and they persist in special case pleading.

    All of the above promote falsehood.

    It is noticeable that the above techniques are also employed by the “greens”, and every other group of special pleaders, such as Greenpeace, Centre for Alternative Technology, “Friends of the Earth” (who’s very name deliberately commits most of the above sins). Etc.

    And they wonder why politics in Britain today, (as they themselves are putting it) is “fractured”. It is small wonder to me that ever fewer voters trust any one of them. The “fracturing” is a manifestation of voters casting about in the forlorn hope of happening-upon someone honest who will grasp the requisite nettle. Chance would be a fine thing.

  5. clivebest says:

    Indeed, in the first quarter of 2014, 19% of UK electricity was being provided by renewable resources.

    This statement needs careful qualification since it is dominated by ‘biomass’ power stations like DRAX and Ironbridge plus several other biomass and waste/sewage power plants. The actual figures can be gleaned from DECC’s DUKES report for 2013

    see in particular Chart 6.1

    This shows that in 2013 Wind was actually only 22% of the “renewables” total. If we remove the components like biofuel for transport and solar for heating, then this rises to 25%.

    So Wind Power alone represents only 5-6% of generated electrical power. This agrees with my long term analysis over 13 months that shows that Wind Power generation averages out at about 5.7% of electricity demand.
    See Wind power results – 2013/14

    Is that good value for money?

    • Euan Mearns says:

      This is a real dogs dinner of energy stats 🙁 They have transport fuels, solar hot water and wood burning stoves on there. But its true that renewables stats are always biased with the inclusion of burning virgin forest and hydro.

      In the 2/4 of 2014, renewables fell back to 16% of reduced demand.

      • clivebest says:

        I think I have found the correct figures for renewable electricity generation in 2013 from Table 6.4

        Wind = 28433 GWh load capacity 29%
        Bio = 18494 GWh load capacity = 53%

        So that implies that Wind contributed 11.5% of total generated energy in the 1st quarter. However, because wind is stochastic a high % is biased by low total night-time demand figures.

        As a percentage of peak demand Wind averages 6%

  6. Glen Mcmillian says:

    How is the imported electricity generated and where does it originate?

    • Euan Mearns says:

      There are two inter connectors to Europe. 2GW to France and 1 GW to The Netherlands. So we import nuclear power from France and probably French nuclear via Holland.


      • A C Osborn says:

        Yes and the Inter Connectors are far more reliable (24/7) than either Wind or Solar and quite often producing more power than Wind.

        • Not totally reliable. Simultaneous failure of the two 1GW inter-connectors to France is supposed to be an incredible event (because our grid is not designed to cope with the loss of 2GW), but to my knowledge, simultaneous failure of both inter-connecters has happened on three occasions . It may be just the French doing it on purpose though.

          • Hugh Sharman says:

            The HV DC Inter-connectors between Denmark and Norway/Sweden have been subject to repeated and extended failures, mostly caused by the land-based transformers. But also by ships anchors.

        • Leo Smith says:

          ICTs dont PRODUCE any electricity. They transmit it.

          Mostly from French nuclear power stations.

      • roberto says:

        mmm… via Holland?… difficult to say, as NL does not border FR… but NL imports BIG TIME from DE…whose coal/lignite power station do not load-follow when wind/solar peak… they simply export to neighbour countries, NL is one of the major importers.

        Magical Energiewende! 🙂


      • Lars Evensen says:

        You have the East-West Interconnector to the Irish Republic also (0,5 GW) but the flow seems to go westwards most of the time. I have no idea how much capacity the Irish have to help Britain out in a tight power situation. At least wind will not help much with the strong correlation between the two nations.

  7. Raff says:

    Euan, is that really your view of the situation in Ukraine? I know you report it as being from someone else and an ‘interpretation’. If that is your view, please justify it. If it is not, why give it page space and lend it your credibility?

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Raff, well yes that happens to be my take on events, a view shared by many bloggers. Which bit do you disagree with?

      I’m not aware of Russia ever using energy supplies as a weapon – are you? Russia is sick and tired of Ukraine not paying for gas supplied. The Nordstream pipeline has been completed to partly circumvent the Ukraine problem. And Gazprom have near completed the South Stream pipeline that would circumvent the problem altogether – but the EU has halted its construction for reasons known only to them. According to Willem Post the EU has also restricted use of Nordstream – they seem to want to assure that all gas has to come via Ukraine to create a major international incident. Its totally crazy!

      East Ukraine is predominantly Russian and West Ukraine is Ukrainian. The country should be allowed to peacefully divide like Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and so on. At end of cold war Russia was given assurances about the westward expansion of NATO that NATO has broken.

      And Russia is signing gas deals with China. If Europe is not careful it is going to find itself in a super critical situation when it comes to nat gas supplies – I have a big post on this hopefully for Monday.

      • Raff says:

        Euan, the “reality” you state – the West destabilizing the government and Putin “repatriating” the Crimea – and what I read in the Economist and FT etc. have little common ground. I know little of Ukraine but you are asking me to think that everything I have read is false and instead to believe the Kremlin version of events. From what I know (or think I know) about Putin and his Russia, I would need a lot of evidence to believe this. That various bloggers believe Putin is of little reassurance.

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Raff, I don’t expect you to believe me. But on this one, western propaganda has been powerful. My views on this are formed by retaining knowledge of events as and when they actually unfolded. It comes with following international news 24/7. I don’t know where the journalists at the Economist and FT get their information from or what freedoms they have.

          I have followed the Ukraine – Russia gas supply issue for years along with the construction of nord stream and south stream. The bi annual gas spat has always boiled down to Ukraine not paying for Russian gas. Russia would have turned the taps off to Ukraine long ago if it were not for the supply obligations to W Europe. Russia of course appreciates the income. It has been a mutually beneficial trade arrangement.

          If S stream were completed then Russia would turn the taps off to Ukraine. The country is already a TOTAL BASKET CASE and was so before the current crisis.


          The morons in Brussels talk about arranging alternative gas supplies to Ukraine – Europe is the most energy poor continent on the planet!

          Anyway Raff, I don’t expect you to believe me but if you wanted to you could check out individual elements of what I said.

          • Raff says:

            If Russia was so hacked off at Ukraine not paying for gas why did it respond to the drift of Ukraine towards the EU (quoting Willem Post below) “with a loan package of about $15 billion, a lower gas price and bought $3 billion of Ukraine gold bonds”? Does that make sense?

      • Lars Evensen says:


        I am totally with you on this. The aggressors are the Western powers, not Russia. I am amazed at all the one-sidedness in most of our media about this question.

        For hundreds of years the Russian bear has feared the major Western European powers and vice versa, and with good reason. Napoleon and Hitler are two major examples. Russia has no natural boundaries towards Western Europe and has instead relied on a number of buffer states as a first line of defence. After the cold war ended Gorbatchev/Russia were given assurances that only Eastern Germany would be incorporated in Nato as part of a reunited Germany, but a few years later all the outer buffer states nevertheless became members. This is disputed by the West (of course) but nevertheless how the Russians feel about it.

        Now we are trying to win some of the inner buffer states like the Ukraine and Georgia in the Caucasus over on our side also. It seems this is a red line for Russia and I fear what a big bear frightened into a corner is capable of doing.

        If EU-citizens will freeze this winter or the next or other consequences they should start to look at how their insane leadership in Brussels are behaving. Like you say, it`s totally crazy.

        • Raff says:

          Is Ukraine an independent country or not? Does Russia have the right to control its politics and invade its territory indefinitely because of … Napoleon and Hitler? What about the Baltic states, they probably have similar ethnic divisions. Does Russia have the right to invade them too?

          And what sort of threat is Russia under now from the EU? With the level of disarray with the EU just over the question of trying to stop Russia invading Ukraine, can you see EU battalions invading any time soon?

          • Euan Mearns says:

            Is Ukraine an independent country or not?

            The west supported, some say instigated, an illegal coup d’etat that over threw the elected government in Kiev. Since then the country has been in a state of civil war.

            Historically, Crimea was a part of Russia until it was gifted to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian.

            Crimea is of vital strategic importance to Russia, the home of the Black Sea fleet. So it was rather naive of the morons in Brussels to think they could play games with Ukraine’s sovereignty and have no response. Russia did not need to invade Crimea since it already had about 10,000 troops stationed there for the specific purpose of defending Russian interests.

            It’s interesting you should use Napoleon and Hitler as examples of aggressors since as you know both were W Europeans who invaded Russia. Alexander The Great and Stalin may be better examples to use.

            Finland has a long border with Russia and has as far as I am aware never been threatened since WWII. Finland is not a member of NATO. I think NATO expansion into E Europe has been a huge mistake. There is a vast difference between economic alliance within the EU and a military alliance with NATO.

            It actually devalues the whole concept of NATO. A close alliance of countries who will fight alongside each other if one member is attacked. Lets imagine that Estonia’s borders are breached by Russia – do you really think that would warrant all out war between NATO and Russia?

          • Lars Evensen says:

            There was a coup d`etat by fascists backed by Western governments, but of course the Ukraine is an independent country. Now governed by forces belligerent to the Russian minoroty btw.
            But that is rather uninteresting in the big picture. The interesting thing is how a big power/superpower like Russia feels about it. It`s “Realpolitik”. The big powers have never cared much for the smaller ones when big things are at stake. As a history interested citizien of a small country having been pushed between the big powers for centuries I know this.

            Russia is not interested in invading the Baltic countries. Firstly because they are part of Nato now obviously. Secondly because behind them you have the Baltic Sea as a bufferzone (natural barrier), and behind that again Scandinavia which is not a threat. On the European continent on the other hand it`s different. If the Ukraine should become part of Nato there will only be 300 kms of flat terrain between it`s Eastern border and Moscow. Totally intolerable, why doesn`t the EU realise such a simple fact?

            Threat? Well it seems the EU wants the Ukraine and it`s amazing black soil in it`s sphere of influcence among other things. This is “Lebensraum” (living space) Raff, nothing has really changed. Noone is saying the EU is capable of rolling into Russia now with thousands of tanks, but the Russians have not forgotten how quickly the Germans rearmed in the 30s, you bet.
            This is not about the situation now, but how it potentially could be in the future.

          • Aslangeo says:

            I am of Russian Origin with distant relatives in Eastern Ukraine – I came to Britain as a child and I am a fluent speaker of both Russian and English – so I can see both points of view

            Ukraine is an independent country – with an unstable society – If a country pursues a war against a minority with numerous atrocities against a civilian population then others have a right to intervene- e.g former Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Kosovo.

            The Russians are paranoid about the west – and genuinely believe that NATO is going to attack them. This is a deeply ingrained folk memory which makes no sense to outsiders. After all the Russians have been invaded by :

            The Teutonic Knights (12 th century – Alexander Nevski)
            Lithuanians (15th Century)
            Poles (16-17 centuries< Time of Troubles)
            Swedes (18 Century)
            British and French (Crimean war)
            The Kaiser
            The allied Intervention in the Russian civil war
            The Poles (again)

            Russia feels that it was menaced by NATO for 40 years and NATO had active plans to bomb Russia with Nuclear weapons. The Soviet paranoia was extremely dangerous and totally not understood by the west. please read about exercise Able Archer, Operation RYAN or Stanislav Petrov the man who literally saved the world

            The Baltic states also have ethnic divisions where ethnic Russians are discriminated against in a form of apartheid (as non citizens), something the EU seems to ignore. However they are not (yet?) being cluster bombed, shelled rocketed and murdered before being buried in mass graves. – Should any of this happen then an intervention would be justified.

            What should the west do?

            I think that we should reach out to the Russian people and try to convince them that they are not about to be invaded. Obama bracketing Russia with Ebola and ISIS sound to Russian ears like a declaration of war. Maggie Thatcher and Ronald Reagan realised what their rhetoric meant and started talking to Gorbachev. I don't think that the current generation of western politicians are that capable

          • Roberto says:

            ‘A close alliance of countries who will fight alongside each other if one member is attacked.’

            NATO has a very aggressive stance since the bombing of Yugoslavia, nothing new here.

            The expansion of NATO eastwards is driven by the big bucks that the big corporations linked to weapons production would make.


    • The West has been prodding the Russian Bear with sticks since the breakup of the Soviet Union over twenty years ago. It’s not surprising the Bear has started to growl.

      And how does the West propose to calm the Bear down? Prod him some more.

  8. Aslangeo says:

    UK gas report from UK ERC – http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/support/tiki-index.php

    On a side note I am of Russian parentage with relatives in eastern Ukraine – The Kiev government is widely hated by the locals my relatives tell me – They have committed multiple atrocities , bombing and shelling civilians, murders of civilians, torture, destruction of dwellings, use of white phosphorus, cluster munitions etc which have not been widely reported in the western press, but have been widely noted in the Russophone press. there has been a refugee crisis with nearly 1 million people displaced. The rebels may not be saints but in any war the side with the most hatred and means to inflict will behave the worst.

    The uprising is a local phenomenon aided by Russia, but not controlled by them. It would have been possible to have a federal solution (i.e. like Belgium) before the violence was started by the Kiev mob, but I cannot see many locals agreeing to rule by Kiev after the violence. Before the war it would have been desirable to have a pluralistic Ukraine with respect for all cultures I don’t think that this is possible any longer.

    The situation in the Kiev ruled areas is pretty dire, Young men are being forcibly conscripted and their families threatened with violence. heating has been turned off and the economy is heading towards disaster. The Kiev government is dominated by rabid nationalists who do not wish to have any type of reconciliation with the people of the East.

    The western press seems to view the Russian and Russophone Ukrainians as sub- human untermensch

    • peter2108 says:

      The Dnieper makes a tidy boundary?

      • Aslangeo says:

        Tragically it is not that simple

        What is going on in Ukraine is a true civil war with all the atrocities associated with this type of conflict

        Ukraine consisted of several communities:

        1. Ethnic Ukrainians who speak Ukrainian, and are of the orthodox religion – mostly in the centre of the country – tend to vote for more moderate nationalist parties
        2. Ethnic Ukrainians who speak Russian and are of the orthodox religion, concentrated in the south and East but present in urban areas everywhere; tend to vote for the party of the regions
        3. Ethnic Russians – The identities of groups 2 & 3 are quiet fluid and they tend to intermarry, less so with group 1 (but mixed marriages do exist) – also tend to vote for the party of the regions
        4. Ethic Ukrainians who speak Ukrainian and are Catholic these people are concentrated in the West of the country (former Austro-Hungarian provinces around Lwow) – tend to vote for ultra nationalist parties and do not really like any of the other communities
        5. Ruthenians – This minority is concentrated in Zakarpatie Oblast – formerly part of Hungary – They really do not like community 4 – this area also includes a significant Magyar minority
        6. Other minorities – this includes Romanians, Tatars, Other incomers from the rest of the former Soviet Union – they are mostly Russophone
        7. Poles and Jews – very few of those left now – most were massacred by the Nazis ably assisted by community no4

        A south and East vs Centre and West split was evident during the 2010 elections and may form a boundary – but this is not at all simple

        In terms of Energy for Ukraine

        all the coal is in the Donbass
        90% of the gas (according to an industry database is in the East ( about 30% in the Donetsk and Kharkov areas and 60% in the nationalist Poltava and Sumy areas) 5% was in the Crimea and 5% in the old fields around Lwow
        There is some uranium in the Centre but the Ukrainian powerstations rely on Russian processed fuel rods ( interesting report from Woodmac on this topic)

        • Willem Post says:

          Thank you for all these explanations.

          To say Ukraine is a country is an overstatement, a statement made by Brussels and the US to justify their geopolitical policies and their actions.

          It is a collection of ethnic groups who generally do not see eye to eye, have different cultures and religions.

          At present, a group of oligarchs are backing rightists in Kiev, as well as fielding their own armies of extremist mercenaries, who have been raping women in the East, murdering them and burying them in mass graves, which are just now being uncovered.

  9. Here’s a plot of average weekly UK electric power imports/exports since June 1, 2011 Gridwatch data). Bit of an upward trend in imports there.

    The sharp dip around week 37, when the vagaries of the international marketplace resulted in the UK having to export up to 2,000 MW, occurred during the freeze of February 2012.

  10. Raff says:

    Euan, I worry that you have accepted a version of events that is pushed by the Kremlin. What is your personal experience of Ukraine and its troubles that allows you to be so certain? Do you have any direct evidence that “the west supported, some say instigated, an illegal coup d’etat” – evidence that doesn’t come via the Kremlin or its supporters? Your view seems to support the idea that Russian news and propaganda is a reliable source. I’m not saying western news is without fault, but the contrast between the two is stark. Do you not see that? Do you also believe that Russian supported people did not shoot down a commercial ariline over the region or that Russia has no troops or equipment helping the separatists? The basis of your views on this are a mystery to me.

    Whatever the history of Crimea or Ukraine, what threat was Ukraine’s desire to associate with the EU to anyone? What real threat is there to Russia (as opposed to imagined ones)? (note that I mentioned Hitler and Napoleon only because they were invoked by Lars Evensen, to whom I had replied, to defend the Kremlin’s actions).

    Lars, you probably know more than I could ever know about the region. But after you begin with an unequivocal statement like, “There was a coup d`etat by fascists backed by Western governments…”, I have to view whatever you say thereafter as partisan and therefore treat it with scepticism. Ukraine is not likely to join the EU for decades, nor NATO. It’s most likely reason for wanting to join the EU is the prospect of EU law, aid and investment. What does Russia offer? Ukraine’s most likely reason for wanting to join NATO would be a perceived (and apparently real) threat of invasion by Russia. The EU and most particularly Germany are a threat to no country.

    Aslangeo, does Russia have a “right to intervene” and at the same time to maintain that it is not doing so? And what should I make of apparent Russian fomenting of trouble in the region in order to have a pretext to intervene? If (IF) it has any such a right, it should exercise it openly and preferably via the UN or European security arrangements, not in the shady and dishonest way it appears to have done.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Raff, I think its time for you to say a little bit about yourself. At first I thought you were a Brit, offended at someone taking a different view of events than the “BBC”. But your sympathy for Ukraine seems to run a little deeper. Its OK either way, we always try and have civil discourse here. Aslangeo has declared his Russian bias, Lars I think is Norwegian or Swedish, I’m a Brit listening to the wind whistling round my house in Aberdeen.

      Yulia Tyoshenko: former Prime Minister of Ukraine: Wikipedia says:

      Tymoshenko finished second in the Ukrainian presidential election of 2010 runoff with a 3.5% loss to the winner, Viktor Yanukovych.[12] After the election, a number of criminal cases were brought against her. On 11 October 2011 she was convicted of embezzlement and abuse of power, and sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay the state $188 million.

      The BBC on 23 May this year:

      A heroine of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, Yulia Tymoshenko is one of the country’s most high-profile political figures and a key candidate in its presidential election.

      Two days before the vote, she called for a national vote on joining Nato, what she termed a second referendum on Ukraine’s independence.

      She was freed in February after spending three years in jail for criminally exceeding her powers, charges that she says were politically motivated.

      The glamorous, fiery orator helped lead Ukraine’s revolt against a corrupt election in 2004, gaining international recognition.

      But in 2011 she was convicted over a 2009 gas deal agreed with Russia and given a seven-year sentence.

      She always argued the charges of abuse of power against her were a tissue of lies, inspired by the man she helped oust in 2004, Viktor Yanukovych – who returned to defeat her in the 2010 presidential election.


      Merkel personally intervened to have her released from prison. I’m not drawing any judgements here, but Ukrainian politics is extremely murky.

      Shortly after the ousting of Yanukovych there was a delegation from Brussels in Kiev. Moronic clowns. I don’t need to read Russian press or listen to Putin to see that moronic clowns from Brussels were in Kiev offering support to those who had just over thrown the elected leader. The hypocrisy of our european dictators seems to know no end.

      I don’t read any Russian press apart from the articles on energy that Syndroma posts here from time to time. I form my opinions based on BBC, FT, Telegraph etc news items – its just that I have a good memory for certain things and at joining dots between them.

      In a speech to the House of Commons last week, Ed Davey said:

      and the increasing threats by Russia to use energy supplies as a weapon.

      Now I am not aware of Russia ever threatening to use energy as a weapon. I could be wrong here, but can anyone post a link to a speech by Putin where he threatens Europe with energy supplies? I think the threat is in the imagination of European politicians. If Russia has not threatened Europe using energy supplies then Davey has mislead the House of Commons.

      • Raff says:

        Euan, I am originally British, although I no longer live in Europe. I have no sympathy for Ukraine. It seems like a den of corruption and not the sort of place that neither the EU nor NATO should be considering as a member in the short term.

        Tymoshenko seems irrelevant as recent elections have shown. I don’t know why you refer to her. She had a chance to change her country and blew it (I can make no judgement on that).

        Visits from Brussels bureaucrats to Kiev prove what exactly? Protests in Kiev and elsewhere lasted months and by the end of it many people had died and the government had flown. Do you claim to know the rights and wrongs of what happened, who instigated violence or exactly who shot whom and why? At the end of it Yanukovych was in Russia and a new ‘government’ was in charge. That is what typically happens in revolutions. What should the EU have done if visiting is considered conspiratorial or hypocritical?

        I still don’t see what it is that causes you to reject the view of what happened in Ukraine in favour of the Kremlin view. Does the shooting down of the airliner or the Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine (amongst other events) not give you pause?

        • Nador says:

          Raff, you might remember Victoria Nuland’s leaked “fuck the eu” conversation.
          It shows the Americans were dissatisfied with the cautious meddling of the EU, as they preferred a more activist approach. Also, the west has poured a few billion dollars into the previous orange revolutions and certain liberal civil organisations and NGOs. These NGOs are obviously anything but non-governmental. It is probably not a coincidence that the west considered the expulsion of certain NGOs from Russia as a rather direct attack by Russia (against civil liberties of course…)
          Now, I would not like to sound like someone on the Russian side – they do meddle as much at least. Nevertheless Ukraine used to belong to the Russian sphere of influence, hence it is the west that is encroaching. One could say that Ukraine should be free to choose sides, that spheres of influence are just arbitrary, dated things, but I do not see the US giving up the Monroe doctrine either (even if Kerry says so). [Also, to further complicate things, Ukraine itself is very divided about where it should belong.]

          As for the press. The Russian one does propaganda on behalf of the Kremlin, but that is business as usual. What is new is, that the Western media proved to be equally unreliable lately. Especially in topics that are politically sensitive. I suspect Euan brought up Tymoshenko and the energy as weapon to illustrate that in this issue the Western media does not shy away from bending the truth or even from lying. I have encountered this tendency of the western media elsewhere. [I do not speak Russian, so I cant really check the sources about news regarding the conflict in Ukraine.] For example it is common in western media to find racism, anti-Semitism or homophobia in certain parts of the world where some political pressure is needed. E.g. I have read an article in the Spiegel (english version) about a prominent member of the governing party of Hungary writing an article in which he urges the extermination of gypsies. They even included the the translation of the incriminating sentence. The only problem: the person in question was not a party member for quite some time, and he did not promote extermination. The translated “sentence” consisted of two half sentences taken from the original Hungarian version, alas, the two halves were a few paragraphs apart in the original…

          • Raff says:

            Ukraine was once controlled by the Soviet Union – therefore Russia now has the right to do what it wants in Ukraine. Sorry I don’t buy that.

            Is the western press as useless as the Russian press? No I don’t buy that either. Der Spiegel is not renowned for factual reporting – Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung would be a more reliable source. Or the FT in the UK.

          • Nador says:

            Raff, I do not think it is simply a question of abstract rights. In this case I think Russia acts as the US is wont to do. If we allow the western backed parts of Ukraine to take over the government forcibly should we allow other parts backed by Russia to do the same? Or to secede? How would you feel about political organisations and media paid by China in the UK? Do the US have a right to dispose of inconvenient leaders in other countries like Libya, Iraq etc.?
            It is clash for controlling a country by two external powers. Ideals about rights are certainly not much of a consideration for Russia and probably neither for the US. No, I do not think Russia should be able to do as it pleases, but I can not see a huge difference in the two sides in this case. Also, I do not think the status quo should be irrelevant.

            As for the FAZ, you might want to look at udo Ulfkotte

            I do not read FT, so I can’t really comment on that. Generally I think the Western press is still better than the Russian (which i do not read), but in certain politically sensitive topics the western media is indeed unreliable.

  11. Hugh Sharman says:

    An excellent post! I wish I could vote Euan Mearns as the UK’s next energy minister.

    However, by the sound of the “Today” programme last Friday, 7th November, another problem that the UK faces is also one of lamentable public ignorance and technical understanding. What can one say to a “true PV enthusiast” who is able to be taken seriously on a national rado broadcast, who sincerely believes that the capacity shortage during the winter peaks at 5 – 6 pm can be overcome by subsidizing and building more photo voltaic capacity?

    Things are certainly bad ahead of winter 2014/2015. The capacity auction that will be held next month, is designed to deliver new capacity for 2018.

    It seems that the present Government, National Grid, OFGEM and DECC have all forgotten that before 2018, the UK needs to get through the winters of 2015, 2016 and 2017 during which time only ESB’s new roughly 650 MW CCGT at Carrington will be commissioned while maybe up to 10 GW of fossil capacitry is likely to be decommissioned.

    At the same time wind capacity will grow. No matter how much will get built, no power will flow from these when the wind does not blow. It does not blow during the coldest weather when demand is highest. And then there is the small matter of a lack of suitable balancing capacity, as per my paper in July at http://euanmearns.com/the-balancing-capacity-issue-a-ticking-time-bomb-under-the-uks-energiewende/

    • Raff says:

      Hugh, in your link, why do you refer to wind everywhere as “stochastic”? Is wind normally stochastic (by which I assume you mean random)? If it is too windy to go out for a walk, do you say, “I’ll wait until the wind dies down” or do you say, “well it is random so I might as well go out now” or “well wind is random so it will never be safe to go for a walk”? Clearly you would wait – wind is not usually random. If it is not random, it can be forecast, just like demand is forecast. Doesn’t that rather spoil your theory?

      • Roberto says:

        ‘If it is not random, it can be forecast, just like demand is forecast.’

        The precision of the forecasting is very poor, in spite of the gazillion of models and their sophistication, not to mention the number-crunching power of today’s computer clusters…
        But don’t believe my words… go check out yourself the data on the Fraunhofer Institut’s web site, there’s a nice plot showing the scatter between forecast and produced wind electricity.


      • Hugh Sharman says:

        Thanks Raff!

        Be assured that I rather enjoy walking out when it blows and sometimes even seize on its stochastic availability to choose my moment of fresh air!

        Despite massive efforts and huge investments into forecasting wind, actual wind output remains weakly stochastic in reality. So the system grid operator needs to hold up to 50% of forecasted wind power in reserve for disparities.

        Disparities between forecasted and actual wind output can be best described graphically which I am unable to do in this forum, although Euan may be able to help me here.

        You can view such disparities at any time you choose, by visiting (for example) http://www.eirgrid.com/operations/ and clicking on “wind generation”. Or open http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/bsp_home.htm and scroll down to “wind forecast out-turn”. Today (Friday 14th Nov 2014) is a rather fine illustration where actual wind is a GW below National Grid’s latest forecast as I write at 0915 h CET.

        • Raff says:

          What does “weakly stochastic” mean, if anything?

          I looked at the Eire graphs and although some days are bad others are good and I imagine they will only get better. I don’t see whether the graphs are day-ahead (or hour, etc). Presumably a shorter ahead interval would be more accurate. Is there a great advantage to longer forecasts?

          The BM graph says there is no data to display (in fact all its graphs do).

          • Hugh Sharman says:


            By “weakly” stochastic I mean that you simply cannot rely on the forecast, even when this is 4 hours ahead. This is the typical start-up time for one of the UK’s CCGTs.

            Of course, as the forecast period approaches zero minutes, it edges towards being 100% accurate which is pretty useless for a TSO reliant, as in UK and Ireland, on thermal balancing generation but OK for us here in Denmark where there is a sizeable market at 15 minutes.

            I am aware that some people have trouble with the BM data. For me, it works in Firefox but not Explorer. No idea why! Try another platform and good luck.

            As regards the Irish data, I will shortly send Roger a chart for 2013. I am requesting him here to insert this below this text!

            Added! Hugh also asks me to mention that wind capacity in Ireland was around 1,900 MW last year – RA

          • Leo Smith says:

            BM reports tends to use flash as a way to get its data to you.

            Check that flash is working…

          • Raff says:

            Hugh, when you say “you simply cannot rely on the forecast, even when this is 4 hours ahead” are you saying that the Eire forecast graphs are 4 hours ahead? I didn’t see that written on the graphs.

          • Raff says:

            I have the BM reports in Firefox now and am surprised that the system demand forecast and outcome can be one or two GW apart. If differences between wind forecast and outcome are a big deal why aren’t these system demand forecast errors as big an issue? Or have I misinterpreted the System Demand graph.

    • Lars Evensen says:

      “An excellent post! I wish I could vote Euan Mearns as the UK’s next energy minister.”

      Unfortunately impossible! He is too politically incorrect. He doesn`t love wind power nor solar. He obviously loves trees and doesn`t want them to be burnt in Drax. He wants to build new nuclear power stations. He probably wants some coal too. He doesn`t believe in man-made global warming or is at least very sceptical. How can a madman like that ever be nominated to such an important position?

  12. Raff

    the Wikipedia article on Ukraine states:

    “The Euromaidan (Ukrainian: Євромайдан, literally “Eurosquare”) protests started in November 2013 after the president, Viktor Yanukovych, began shying away from an association agreement that had been in the works with the European Union and instead chose to establish closer ties with Russian Federation.”

    So it seems that the democartically elected government of Ukraine was making overtures towards Russia. This obviously piqued NATO interest and I would not discount that there was a push to destabilise the government or pressurise it back into the arms of the EU.

    • Willem Post says:

      The reason he shied away is because of the demands of the IMF to give loans to Ukraine.

      Putin responded with a loan package of about $15 billion, a lower gas price and bought $3 billion of Ukraine gold bonds.

      That is when the rightists took over and did their coup d’état. The rightists accepted the IMF demands, but it will not save them, as the country will go bankrupt in 2015, AND will still have a civil war.

      • Raff says:

        Did he really shy away because the IMF wanted to give Ukraine money or because the IMF conditions would have interfered with his and his clan’s ability to milk state funds? Would the Russians have objected to him stealing from the state or would they just have insisted that Ukraine should remain under Russian influence? I don’t know the answers, but the very certainty with which you state your case makes me doubt it.

        • sooner or later, Raff, you will have to make your own mind up based on the opinions here or by doing some reading. ..snip..

          • Raff says:

            It is more usual to make up one’s mind using facts, not opinions. If you let yourself be decided only on the basis on the self selected opinions of others, your decision is worthless. In the absence of sufficient facts (and I think few are on offer on this thread) then it is better to keep an open mind.

  13. Syndroma says:

    Discussions about Ukraine is the most popular pastime on Russian-speaking forums and blogs since the Internet came to the post-soviet space. There is even a word for it, roughly translated as “Ukrainian shitstorm”. A post about Ukraine on a popular blog could generate a thousand comments in a few hours even in peacetime. And every participant of such discussions is left with dissatisfaction and anger. There’s no truth to be found there, only extreme emotions. I’d strongly advise against participating in such mindless gut-wrenching activities.

    The situation in Ukraine is extremely complex with a thousand years old roots. Heated debates about who’s right and who’s wrong will lead nowhere. I stated my position once (although messed up some names):
    and I’m not a bit happy that the events follow my predictions so soon.

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