WWF – Masters of Spin

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) issued a press release on 3rd January detailing Scottish renewable energy production for 2014. The press release is based on data provided by WeatherEnergy, an organisation whose business I have yet to establish*. Here’s how my local Press and Journal reported the story:

Wind turbines generated enough power to supply more than 100% of Scottish households on 25 out of the 31 days of December. Throughout the year wind provided enough power for the electrical needs of 98% of Scottish households with solar power meeting two-thirds or more of household electricity or hot water needs, it added.

In fact what this should say is:

Our computer model of wind and sunshine distribution suggests that wind turbines may have provided 35% and solar photovoltaics 0.44% of Scotland’s electricity in 2014.

The rest is hype and propaganda designed to deceive and confuse and to advance the objectives of WWF, whatever those might be, with no regard for the welfare of Scotland’s people.

On 2nd January I received an anxious phone call from a lady bothered by wind turbine power stations being erected in the countryside where she lives. I agreed to write a piece on the WWF press release that she sent me by email.

The analysis here is based on the data as presented by WWF and WeatherEnergy. I haven’t a clue where it comes from and how reliable it is. In fact I don’t even know if this is real or synthetic data. The press release says this:

For wind power, live wind energy output data is aggregated from nearly 8 GW of currently running wind farms in the UK, together with data from UKWED which shows the capacity of wind energy installed in each UK region. Government data is used to provide the capacity factor of wind energy in each region. All of this data is combined by WeatherEnergy’s EnergizAIR computer model to produce a realistic estimate of how much energy has been generated by the wind turbines in each region, it then converts this into how many homes could have been provided by energy from wind power.

It seems like we are dealing with a model not reality. What else would you expect from an environmental lobby group? But let’s persevere and interrogate the numbers.


A good starting point is this data on installed renewables capacity in Scotland, Q2 2014 according to Scottish Renewables.

WWF: Looking at data for the whole of 2014 wind turbines provided an estimated 8,958,130MWh of electricity to the National Grid

Taking 5,110 MW installed wind capacity from Scottish Renewables (4920 MW onshore and 190 MW offshore), maximum possible generation from wind in 2014 would be:

5110*24*365 = 44,763,600 MWh

8,958,130 / 44,763,600 = 20.0% capacity factor for the whole of 2014, which seems about right. So far so good!

WWF: Total electricity consumption in Scotland is 25,873GWh

Wind production = 8,958 GWh / 25,873 GWh = 34.6% of all electricity consumed. Not bad? But where does the number of 98% come from? Not content with reporting an honest figure that everyone can relate to, it is spun:

WWF: Total electricity consumption in Scotland is 25,873GWh, of which 41% is domestic and 59% is non-domestic.

WWF chose instead to report data against domestic consumption and not total consumption.

25,873 GWh * 0.41 = 10,608 GWh domestic

8,958 GWh / 10,608 GWh = 84.4% of domestic electricity from wind. So I still can’t get to 98%. One of us can’t do sums.

One of the things WWF forget to say is that following their analytical approach, wind power provided no electricity at all to commerce in 2014.


I live in leafy suburb in one of the most prosperous cities in the UK. There are 30 houses all with their own roof tops. I know of one solar hot water system and no solar PV installations. At this time of year the sun rises around 09:00 and sets at 16:00, barely getting above the horizon. Where is all that solar energy coming from? 

According to the Scottish Renewables chart there is 130 MW of installed solar photovoltaics (PV) in Scotland. How much electricity could this produce? In an earlier post I reckoned that solar PV may have a load factor of about 9% in cloudy Scotland, I will assume 10%.

130 MW * 24 hours * 365 days * 10% = 113,880 MWh

Total consumption = 25,873,000 MWh, hence solar PV could have provided:

113,880 / 25,873,000 = 0.44% of Scotland’s electricity, virtually none of it in winter and none of it at night. As discussed in that earlier post, solar PV may have a role to play in sunny climates but is a complete waste of time and money in Scotland. Let’s remind us of what WWF had to say:

And, in the tens of thousands of Scottish households that have installed solar panels saw them meet two-thirds or more of their electricity or hot water needs from the sun during several months of the year, helping those homes to reduce their reliance on coal, gas, or even oil.”

Which unfortunately gets misreported in the local press as saying:

with solar power meeting two-thirds or more of household electricity or hot water needs

And WeatherEnergy add this:

The data clearly show that there’s plenty of sunshine to meet a significant proportion of an average family’s electricity needs for most months of the year – even during some of the winter months!

The chart shows German electricity production in January 2013 (click it to enlarge). The chart is from Prof. Bruno Burger, Fraunhofer Institute, Germany. Germany is further south and sunnier than Scotland and has vastly more solar PV installed per capita. Click the chart for a large version and get a magnifying glass to observe the barely visible solar contribution. Wondering where all the power is coming from? Well the grey is coal, gas and nuclear. Who are WWF and WeatherEnergy trying to fool and why?


  1. Higher electricity prices for all, paid via feed in tariffs and renewable obligation certificates (consumer paid subsidies), borne for the time being by the whole of the UK.
  2. Wind turbine power stations degrade landscape, cause anxiety to some in affected areas and reportedly kill birds, especially raptors.
  3. Potential losses for tourism industry
  4. Potential destabilisation of power grid as renewable penetration grows
  5. More power lines and inter-connectors
  6. Need for 100% backup meaning that the size of our power generation system is doubled
  7. Wear and tear on conventional generators that need to follow load
  8. Losses for conventional generators as they lose market share and pricing power but whose continued existence is essential as back up and to balance parasitic renewables

Benefits to Scottish people



The question needs to be asked, why are The World Wildlife Fund and WeatherEnergy championing renewables in Scotland? Their press release is biased, vague and ambiguous, and journalists may be forgiven for reaching the wrong conclusions and miss reporting it. It would appear this is the intention.

The Scottish Government and Press would do well to remember in future that the WWF are pedlars of cheap propaganda designed to advance their own objectives (whatever those may be) at the expense of the Scottish people.


The data is provided by WeatherEnergy, part of the European EnergizAIR project, supported by the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme, led by the European Agency for Competiveness and Innovation (EACI). The project currently has partners in ten European countries. Severn Wye Energy Agency is the UK partner.

Added 12:00 5th January:

Andrew Montford at Bishop Hill has an interesting thread including this Tweet:

Without Hot Air p329

This entry was posted in Energy, Political commentary and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

80 Responses to WWF – Masters of Spin

  1. Well SHIT! I reposted the story without interrogating it, thinking (silly me) that WWF wouldn’t lie now, would it? Yeah. How many more “Hope and Change you can Believe in” scams will I fall for before I croak?! Thanks for the corrective. Hopefully truth DOES catch up with lies…

  2. “WWF Scotland’s director Lang Banks said:

    … with wind turbines and solar panels helping to ensure (that) millions of tonnes of climate-wreaking carbon emissions were avoided.”

    Mr. Banks doesn’t say exactly how many million of tons of climate-wreaking carbon emissions were avoided, so let’s do the sums for him. Ignoring the CO2 emitted in constructing and erecting the turbines and and panels, ignoring the extra CO2 generated by the cycling of conventional plants needed to admit the wind and solar power to the grid, and further assuming that this power replaced gas and coal in a 2:1 ratio, we get ~9 billion kW times ~1.5 lbs CO2/kW, which works out to about 13.5 billion pounds or 6.1 million tonnes of CO2. China emits that much in about five and a half hours.

    • Leo Smith says:

      1/. WTF is climate wreaking?
      1. to inflict or execute (punishment, vengeance, etc.):
      They wreaked havoc on the enemy.
      2.to carry out the promptings of (one’s rage, ill humor, will, desire, etc.), as on a victim or object:He wreaked his anger on the office staff.

      2/. It is a well known fact that renewable energy leads to a necessity for more spin in reserve…so is anyone surprised?

      3/. In the last 5 years I – and to judge by most polls, the electorate at large – have lost any confidence I might have had in government, or any organisation who is substantlally funded by public sector money, including the Met office, the Royal Society and most Universities. And nearly all charities.

  3. “The total installed solar capacity may be small when compared to wind energy, but together these solar panels are helping to prevent thousands of tonnes of climate-damaging emissions being emitted every year,” said Lang Banks; director of WWF Scotland.” http://www.energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/scotland-solar-wind-em4629/

    Again we must do Mr. Banks sums for him. 113,880MWh of solar generation (Euan’s estimate) would have prevented about 77,000 tons of climate-damaging CO2 being emitted in 2014. How long does it take China to emit 77,000 tons of CO2? About four minutes.

  4. Graeme No.3 says:

    @ Roger Andrews:
    and how much of those chinese emissions were from factories supplying goods to the UK to take up the shortage created by the shutting down of factories in the UK?

    • Leo Smith says:

      & How much of these Chinesese emissions were created in making the solar panels?

      • Willem Post says:

        Quite a lot, as China uses inefficient, dirty coal plants to make these panels.
        China’s export products have at least 50% more energy content than similar export products made in Japan.
        These coal plants belch 5 to 10 times more particulate per kWh than in Europe and the U.S.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        While we don’t know for sure, its possible that solar PV in Scotland has ERoEI less than 1. That means more energy is used to create the panels than they ever deliver back to society. If this were true, the consequence is that solar PV in Scotland actually increases emissions.

        What we know for sure is that the emissions associated with making the panels are already emitted while we may have to wait 20 years to get all the energy back. Solar PV in a northerly dull climate like we have accelerates emissions.

      • roberto says:

        … good remark, indeed.

        It is rather easy to calculate that with an average 2-year energy pay-back time for PV cell/module production (and 2/3 of the modules/cells being produced in China) at ~ 2/3 of the electricity via coal combustion at 1 tonCO2/MWh, every 1 GWp of PV produced in China gets a initial balance (negative) of 2 x 1.0E+9 x 8766 x 2/3 x 0.15 = 1.75 TWh, with 0.15being the average PV capacity factor.

        That translates into 1.75 million tons CO2/GWp… already emitted before the PV cells/modules have produced the first Wh of electricity.
        One should also add that it is not only the “poison” CO2 which is emitted when coal is burned, but most of all particulate, heavy , arsenic, nitric and sulfuric acids… etc… and that the mortality stemming from this is, in China, much higher than in western/rich countries… of the order of several tens deaths/TWhe… and about 10x as many cronic illnesses.
        A joint study of the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen, CH, in collaboration with Tokyo and Beijing universities and other prestigious institutions as well, as determined that in 2007 coal had produced, in China, 9.8 millions years of life lost… a mind boggling figure.


        • Willem Post says:

          In case of China, it is about 1.25 metric ton /kWh, because many of its plants are inefficient.

  5. Willem Post says:


    Thank you for undressing the WWF so early in the year. I am surprised the wind CF was so low.

    Are there really about 30,000 households in Scotland foolish enough to put PV panels on their roofs? The subsidies must be enormous. My impression is Scots are level-headed. Am I wrong?

    Do you have any numbers on subsidies and costs to put up all that wind and solar, and production subsidies, including any grid costs over the years?

    Providing energy to people is one thing, but at what cost?

    Look at Spain. RE nearly bankrupted the government.

    With 25% unemployment, 50% for people 25 and under, the first thing the Spanish government did to save money and balance the budget was to cut subsidies for new RE systems and even on EXISTING systems, much to the dismay of banks that had financed them. Wind and solar came to a screeching halt in Spain, which has good winds and good solar, unlike Germany.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      “My impression is Scots are level-headed. Am I wrong?”

      We used to be a proud technologically advanced nation. Not only are 30,000 households greedy enough to grab the subsidies, panels are pretty well randomly orientated. I think the “reasoning” is that since we get so little direct sunlight is doesn’t matter which way they face. A lot of this is going on public buildings.


      Figure 1 This solar PV array is mounted on a roof facing due east on a relatively new building in Aberdeen. The picture was taken at 16:00 hrs on 2nd May 2014 on a rare sunny day ;-) Due to the architecture, half of the array is already in the shade and the remainder is so oblique to the Sun it will be capturing barely any direct sunlight. To the left of the picture is a large roof section facing due south. It is inexplicable that any properly educated engineer could construct a system in this way.

  6. John Reid says:

    According to NASA’s new CO2-measuring satellite, OCO-2, vastly more CO2 came out of (yes, out of) the rainforests of South America and Africa than the whole of Europe for the six weeks commencing 1/10/14. Alternatives are starting to look like a complete waste of time. See my post, Mapping Carbon, at http://blackjay.net/?p=103

    • Willem Post says:

      That is due to the deliberate burning of forests near the equator.

    • roberto says:

      Extremely interesting… thanks!… now let’s wait for some sort of “creative” reply counter-analysis of the IPCC sect.


    • Euan Mearns says:

      It’s interesting data that contradicts what Roger persuaded me was true a few months back. Will have a discussion post on this shortly.

    • Yvan Dutil says:

      This is only a snapshot over 6 weeks. There is other maps over a whole years that point power plants.

      • A C Osborn says:

        Can you provide those “other maps” please?
        As the new data only confirms the results found by JAXA.
        Why would anyone expect to see “Anthrogenic CO2” when it makes up such a small percentage of the world’s total CO2 output?

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Hi chaps, can we please keep the comments on topic. This is an interesting subject but could quickly run to 50 comments and swamp everything else. I will have a post on this later this week or next week.

        But Yvan, since this satellite is I gather the first of its kind and is recently operational, I would like to have the source that backs your claim. That would be handy for my post 😉

  7. edhoskins says:

    European nations have already committed massive investments to Renewable Energy, Wind and Solar power. For a review of the costs and effectiveness across Europe see:


    According to Renewable Energy industry sources conservatively in capital costs alone this amounts to at least ~$0.5 trillion to provide ~2.9% of European Generating capacity.

    Renewable Energy costs are about 16 times more than Gas Fired generation and across Europe it has 5.7 times less productive capacity i.e. only about ~17.5%.

    This investment has resulted an installed Nameplate Capacity of ~169Gigawatts which produces in reality a “nominal” ~30Gigawatts of electrical Generating Capacity, that is 17.5% of the its nameplate capacity.

    As is well proven in France, the most effective way of controlling and reducing CO2 emissions, if it were needed, is by the use of Nuclear power for electricity generation. CO2 emissions per head in France are now at 75% of CO2 emissions per head in China.

    At the resulting price $16.87 billion/Gigawatt for Renewable Energy, replacement of the 1024GW European Generating fleet would cost about $17.3trillion, a sum close to the whole annual GDP of the European Union.

    But the “nominal” 30GW of Renewable Energy production is not really as useful as one would wish, because of its production is intermittent and not dispatchable.

    These uneconomic investments have been promoted by government subsidies and other government market manipulation. But the expense of the policies has been loaded mainly on the electrical bills of Electricity customers:
    these policies have already caused very substantial hardship to poorer individuals in European society
    these policies are severely damaging the competitiveness of European industries.

    • roberto says:

      “CO2 emissions per head in France are now at 75% of CO2 emissions per head in China.”

      Sorry, but there must be a typo… you forgot a dot between the 7 and the5 in 75?…since as far as electricity generation is concerned, France has 75% from CO2-free nukes, and more than 15% from CO2-free hydro and intermittent renewables… and therefore has specific emissions of few tens gCO2/kWhe… which is of the order of few percent of China’s, where 2/3 of the electricity is generated by (dirty) chinese coal.


  8. Syndroma says:

    Euan, can you estimate how many people will read your post compared to the number of people who read WWF press releases and their misinterpretations by the press?

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Top selling post on Energy Matters so far is this one


      With 13,800 reads to date. Traffic is quite sensitive to which other blogs pick up the stories and how they do it. Small Dead Animals, a Canadian blog posts teasers and sends a lot of traffic. Bishop Hill on occasions sends a lot of traffic.

      This post


      Has had 7800 reads on Energy Matters but the whole post was posted to The Automatic Earth where it may have had 20,000+ reads and then on to Zero Hedge and over 20 other blogs. I reckon it will have had 100,000+ reads all together.

      Today’s post has had 151 reads so far 🙁 But I guess may hit 2000 by the end of the week. A major problem in the propaganda war is that the Scottish Government will like the WWF message and will likely adopt and propagate the half truths.

      • Syndroma says:

        It’s not only the numbers, but also background and beliefs of your readers. Most of the people who have been reading your posts know that the real life is much more complicated than upbeat press releases of the green lobby. But the general public is rarely interested in fact checking of something that sounds too good. Right now they might be wondering why are we keeping conventional generation at all.

        The power of organizations like WWF and Greenpeace in the West never ceases to amaze me. And I’d understand if they promoted some untruths strengthening the West. But all I can see they’re promoting improves long-term interests of Gazprom.

        • Euan Mearns says:

          I guess that’s a problem blogging, you can end up preaching to the choir. We have to hope that some of the main stream press picks up that the real story is the dishonesty of these public bodies. Though, as already noted this propaganda will suit our government who evidently is paying to have it produced.

        • Euan Mearns says:

          17:00 on Tuesday and the post has had over 3000 reads and yesterday was a record day for Energy Matters with well over 4000 reads thanks to Kate at Small Dead Animals and Andrew at Bishophill.

          • A C Osborn says:

            Great, you guys deserve it.
            Like I said I knew you were doing something right with all the attention that you were getting from Big Green.

  9. Hugh Sharman says:

    Superb piece of reporting! Congratulations. Keep up the good work. Notwithstanding that your readership is somewhat less than that of WWF’s, truth will always win out in the end.

    BTW, Prof. Bruno Burger’s figures for Germany exclude power production from burning trees (biomass) and use of food crops to generate “biogas” for power production which accounted for about 17% of “renewable” power generation.

    I have pointed this most unGerman error out last month but have received no reply yet!

    • roberto says:

      “I have pointed this most unGerman error out last month but have received no reply yet!”

      They must have listened to you…because the biomass production is now shown in their report…


  10. Fritz says:

    We read it , even in France

  11. Joe Public says:

    The fake-charity which is WWF receives about 20% of its income from government funding, so will always be biased towards reiterating propaganda.

    It’s good that you’ve identified their deliberate misinformation about their figures showing wind + solar contributing zero towards industrial & commercial demand.

  12. WWF, Greenpeace, FoE, RenewableUK. What do they have in common? They are all serial liars and propagandists, with their snouts firmly in the public trough.

  13. NeilC says:

    Thanks for the post Euan, keep up the great work of trying to seek truth, Have you considered re-blogging it at WUWT, the more people find out about WWF lies and obsfucation the better.

  14. Frank says:

    Our host wrote: “Losses for conventional generators as they lose market share and pricing power but whose continued existence is essential as back up and to balance parasitic renewables.”

    It is more likely that this will lead to either higher costs for consumers or subsidies for conventional generators. Such loses can’t continue indefinitely, and he government can’t let them go out of business (producing blackouts). One way or another consumers or taxpayers will have to pay for these losses.

  15. roberto says:


    thanks for this excellent post and analysis, well written and clear… WWF is bullshitting the scottish people, that’s clear.

    Just to put things in persepective, two weeks ago the Italian authority for energy has published the 2013 summary of electricity production via renewables… the interesting thing, among others, is that globally only 1/3 of the electricity produced by PV gets self-consumed by those who produce it, the remainder is fed into the grid at the average “grid parity cost” of 29,6 cEuro/kWh (21.6 TWh for 6.4 Billion Euros).
    This dispells one of the urban legends around PV in Italy, i.e. that it “democratizes” the production of electricity…in fact it is exactly the opposite.
    And we are talking here about a country with a lot more sunshine than Scotland (or Germany, for that matters)… 15% average capacity factor.

    Talking about WWF, in fact not all WWF’s, in different countries, are as bad as the scottish one… for instance I always use the monthly report of the Spanish WWF for showing people who are afraid of the “huge amount” of nuclear waste what the real amount of nuclear waste actually is… which is ofthe order of 0.3 MILLIgrams/kWh (long-lived and high-activity waste) and 2.5 cubic MILLIMITERS/kWh (for low and medium activity waste) electric generated by the 8 reactors running in Spain.
    This is the link, for those who may be interested and understand Spanish:

    Cheers, and happy 2015 to all.


    • Willem Post says:

      The subsidies must be high enough to place panels on marginal roofs to get such a low CF in Italy.
      What are these subsidies?

      The Enegiewende RE has an AVERAGE cost of about 20 eurocent/kWh. That energy is sold by utilities at an AVERAGE wholesale price of about 4 eurocent/kWh. The difference is added to electric bills. The solar part of the RE has a legacy cost of about 35 eurocent/kWh. Rich, smug Germans just love to be leaders, show the world how it is done, etc.

      In Spain, the difference was added to the national debt, so the people lived in la la land regarding costs, until Spain’s economy collapsed in 2008, along with many other economies.

      Everything is well, until it is not!

      • roberto says:


        the average CF of Italy is, as I said, 15%… due mainly to the fact that apart from Puglia (the heel of Italy, in front of Albania) which has the highest installed power (in the form, mainly, of large power stations on the ground… with lots of mafia interests and investigations/scandals, I may add…) the 2nd,3rd and 4th regions with the highest power (20 regions in total) are in “sunny” north (Lombardy/Milan, Veneto/Venice, and Emilia-Romagna/Bologna)… if you look at the insolation map on page 7 of the report you’ll understand immediately why the average CF is not as good as it could be (see also page 39 for the FLH map):


        There have been 5 different “Conto Energia”, i.e. 5 different programs for incentivizing PV… at the beginning the incentive was 50 cEuro/kWh, then it came down, but not as fast as to follow the decrease of the cost of modules and panels… in 2011 the incentives were still > 30cEuro/kWh while the cost of the modules had been more than halved wrt the initial cost (let’s say 2007)… making it very profitable… for large installations in the south of Italy the interest over 20 years was in double-digit!…
        This meant that a large fraction of the power was (still is) in the hands of foreign investors, like pension plans in the USA…
        Needless to say that the cost of electricity has skyrocketed, Italy has now the third most expensive kWh after Denmark and Germany (not a coincidence, as you know well).

        It is also interesting to notice that only 11% of the PV power installed is in the hands of households, and this makes so that only ~ 1/6 of the power generated is self-consumed… (self-consumption IS monetarily rewarded too, albeit at a lower rate than the electricity fed-in)… a fact which dispels the greenwash propaganda talking of “democratisation of the production of electricity”. As a matter of fact in Italy the poorest fraction of the populations pays disproportionally more the electricity wrt to the richest part, which often lives in detached houses with PV panels on the roof, while the poorer part lives in high-rise condos in densely-populated areas/towns, where the installation of the panels is often physically impossible (shading, architectural and/or historic value of the building which doesn’t allow for changes on the roofs, etc…).


    • Roberto: I clicked on your Spanish WWF link looking for “spin” but all I found was data. Lots of it, and hard data too. Maybe even good enough to be used as a source of reference. Realmente asombroso. Why can’t the rest of WWF be like the Spaniards?

      • roberto says:

        I agree with you,Roger…in particular why can’t the Italian WWF do the same job?… I have the answer, it was a rethorical question… they can’t because the data are not made public by the public agency which should do it… they are always veeeery late, the 2013 report on PV has been released the week before Christmas!… while theFraunhofer Institute will publish one of these days the 2014 report.


  16. A C Osborn says:

    Euan, can you clarify for me this calculation where you say “How much electricity could this produce?”
    130 MW * 24 hours * 365 days * 10% = 113,880 MWh

    Can you really use 24 hours for Solar?
    Shouldn’t it be more like an average of 8-10 hours per day?

    • Euan Mearns says:

      That is captured by the load factor of 10% (0.1). So the calculation assumes 2.4 hours per day operation averaged throughout the year. None at night, virtually none in winter but we may get 6 to 8 hours reasonable operation on a summer’s day.

  17. Dave Ward says:

    “And further assuming that this power replaced gas and coal in a 2:1 ratio”

    I feel sure I read a couple of years ago that the DECC base their “Tons of CO2 Avoided” calculations on the assumption that coal would be throttled back first. Even If I’m wrong about this, anyone who checks Gridwatch daily will see that coal and nuclear are normally run flat out, with gas doing the load balancing. The only time that coal is wound back is during low demand periods when it’s windy. This surely means that any claim by WWF (or other “green” organisations) about the supposed CO2 reductions due to wind and/or solar are utter tosh!

  18. WWF strikes again:

    New report: Scotland could become renewable ‘powerhouse’ by 2030


    5 January 2015:

    Scotland’s electricity system could be powered almost entirely by renewables by 2030 and without the need for any gas, coal or nuclear power stations in Scotland, according to a new report published today (Monday 5 January) by WWF Scotland.

    Based on independent technical analysis by leading engineering and energy consultancy DNV GL, ‘Pathways to Power: Scotland’s route to clean, renewable, secure electricity by 2030’ tested the Scottish Government’s current policy to decarbonise the country’s electricity generation by 2030. This is separate from the target to provide 100% of electricity demand from renewables by 2020, which still allows for coal and gas to remain on the grid.

    Here’s the WWF report:


    Here’s the DNV report:


  19. Euan, you compared installed PV with total consumption in Scotland and claimed it’s useless at 0.44% of consumption, yet this isn’t what WWF are saying. Your complaint in this instance should be with the P&J for inaccurate reporting, not the WWF.

  20. Selfish Ted says:

    I manage 9.6% capacity factor on my PV system in the Scottish Borders. I have a total benefit of around 50p per kWHr generated thanks to a ludicrous Feed in Tarrif system (despite the electriciy only being worth around 4.6p on the open market). The system will still take about 7-8 years to pay for itself from initial installation.

    if only we could ban fracking worldwide and drive the cost of energy up really, really, really high my investment might pay for itself much faster.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      I have a total benefit of around 50p per kWHr generated thanks to a ludicrous Feed in Tarrif system (despite the electriciy only being worth around 4.6p on the open market).


      • Colin Appleyard says:

        That’s right- in the early days of FiTs the rates were very high, and inflation linked. Here in Sunny Surrey our 3.84kW installation pays for about 90% of our gas and electricity consumption. Installation cost was about £14K in 2011.
        Shortly after our installation was completed, the tariffs were reduced dramatically and guess what- so did the installation costs!

  21. John Williams says:

    I don’t know where WWF are getting their figures — but something seems seriously wrong with them!

    Scottish electricity consumption can be found in the Renewable Energy Statistics for Scotland dated March 2014. The last year for which full figures was available was 2012 and gross consumption was 36.6 TWh.

    This figure has been declining from about 40TWh in 2000 — but not to the level WWF now put forward I am sure!

    In 2013 Renewables as a whole produced about 17TWh, broken down as
    Hydro 4.36
    Solar/tidal/wind 11.22
    Waste 0.6
    Biomass 0.83

    Now that figure will be higher this year with new wind capacity being added all the time. DECC estimate that onshore wind load factor is about 26% (although actual rolling average is slightly higher at 27.9%) — so I have to say your estimate of 20% in a bit low!

    If you start to look at consented wind farms, you will roughly double production and this will mean that the Scottish target of 100% generation equivalent from renewables will be met well before 2020. But not in 2014!!

    So — what conclusion? WWF are way off beam with their figures currently — but the 100% target is going to be hit before long. We are already pointing this out in objections to wind farms, and one Scottish Reporter has accepted that this lowers the assumption that further generation capacity is essential to meet Government Policy. The Executive has put out a hasty riposte already, attempting to downplay the significance that the target will be hit. So sadly I am afraid we have to accept that “100%” will be heard more and more frequently (no doubt in many misleading ways).

    We have produced a couple of summary papers setting out capacity/ production and future predicted outputs for renewables with full sources for the figures. The papers have been given wide circulation to Government, planners and the media (noticed at the fringes, but we don’t have the clout of WWF!).

    Somebody needs to do some serious work on the future costs of all this. Todays FT is talking about consent for the new connector to Norway, by coincidence following your recent excellent post. Cost? Estimated at euro 1.5bn -2bn. Davey estimates this will “save” the British consumer £3bn over 25 years. But then he would, wouldn’t he!

    • Euan Mearns says:

      John, thanks for this informative post. It should be a simple thing to make up to date statistics available to the public. Of course we’re told to leave data interpretation to the experts. It does not surprise me to hear that the WWF numbers are all wrong. Assuming the Scottish Renewables installed capacity numbers are correct then we have to assume that actual wind generation was higher than claimed by WWF to get to your load factors. It actually becomes a waste of time discussing all this with made up data.

      What I see coming is a vast overshoot, where we have chaotic electricity that no one wants to pay for coming out of our ears as Eagle and Osprey carcasses pile up on the moors. I was going to say what are they thinking of. But I dare say those who lead us and those advising them have lost the intellectual capacity to think at all.

  22. clivebest says:


    Yet more WWF funded spin by “giant consultancy” DNV GL !

    Scotland could be fossil fuel-free by 2030, says report
    Planned renewable energy projects combined with energy savings could decarbonise the country’s power sector, claims WWF-back study

    “Our technical analysis shows that a system with an extremely high proportion of renewable electricity generation located in Scotland can be secure and stable,” said Paul Gardner, lead author of the report for DNV GL. “There is no technical reason requiring conventional fossil and nuclear generation in Scotland”.


    • roberto says:

      One of the best BS statements in this piece from the Guardian is the…

      “a renewables-based, efficient, FLEXIBLE, electricity system is perfectly feasible by 2030”

      FLEXIBLE???? I beg your pardon???

      Only if there are flexible people (the whole of Scotland) to follow the intermittent and highly variable wind power, maybe?

      Rating: BS… of the finest quality.


  23. Todd says:

    I’d be curious to know if Scottish wind farms cause some negative export costs, as it does in Ontario, Canada. Listen to this podcast interview of Parker Gallant, he does great work analyzing Ontario electricity generation http://www.zoomerradio.ca/uncategorized/podcast-goldhawk-fights-back/gfb-podcast-parker-gallant-december-29th/ Scott Luft does great analysis of Ontario’s electricity generation as well http://coldair.luftonline.net/2014/12/electricity-in-ontario-as-2014-ends.html

  24. Good piece. What on earth is the Scottish Government doing allowing WWF to become its new Energy Advisory Committee?
    Two or three years ago, under pressure,the SG was forced to start using the word ‘equivalent’ when talking up its targets and renewables achievements.
    And yet here is the SG, in yesterday’s press release, slavishly following the WWF wording: ‘Figures published today showing analysis by WWF Scotland of data provided by Weather Energy found that last year; wind turbines provided enough energy to supply the electrical needs of 98% of Scottish households, or 2.36 million homes.’
    Not an ‘equivalent’ in sight.
    It’s one thing for Weather Energy or the WWF to come out with stuff like this, worded in such a way as to fool the public. They are not answerable to the public. The Government is.

  25. Glen Mcmillian says:

    It seems to be perfectly obvious that pv in Scotland is a waste of effort and money.

    Now if I understand what is going on at present in Scotland and the UK wind power variable output is NOT as a rule load balanced by coal but rather by natural gas plants which are more easily ramped up and down.

    Does anybody have any reliable data as to how much gas is saved over the course of a year by the wind industry ? Obviously enough if no ADDITIONAL SPINNING RESERVE was needed the reduction would be the same as the amount needed to generate the total kWh out put of the wind industry.

    If you generate a a megawatt hour with wind in Scotland how much electricity could have been produced with the gas burnt to maintain the extra hot spinning reserve ?

    I have seen figures ranging from less than none to one hundred percent. My own wild ass guess is that every megawatt hour of wind juice probably saves enough gas to generate abut three quarters of a mega watt hour.

    ANY ENLIGHTENMENT will be greatly appreciated!!

    • roberto says:

      “I have seen figures ranging from less than none to one hundred percent. My own wild ass guess is that every megawatt hour of wind juice probably saves enough gas to generate abut three quarters of a mega watt hour.

      ANY ENLIGHTENMENT will be greatly appreciated!!”

      There certainly exists a paper/study which clarifies this for the Irish wind power sector… and I may have found it linked here, on this blog… will look for a copy and post it if/when I find it.

      As far as I can remember, the amount of emissions increases as the wind penetration increases, and the latter sort of reaches a plateau, it almost stalls even if one installs more turbines… depending on the country though.

      Another similar study I’ve seen for the ERCOT network, in the USA… similar conclusions….they have analysed in detail the increased emissions due to cycling and stand-by of the fossil-fuelled balancing stations… although the whole figures should be changed if fracked gas takes the place of coal, which is more and more the case overseas.


      P.S.: here it is the one for Ireland:


      … almost 1/2 of the emission savings are lost!… your guess was not that far off…

      …to be compared with this:


      … which says, as usual…

      “12) The use of renewables in Ireland in 2011 avoided emissions of 3.6 million tonnes of CO2.”…

  26. Joe Clarkson says:

    It is amusing to see the your disputing the amount of CO2 saved by the energy production from renewables, especially when you don’t think that CO2 is a significant factor for the earth’s climate.

    It reminds me of the story about two dowagers commenting on the food at their vacation resort- the first says, “The food here is horrible, it’s disgusting” and the second chimes in with “Yes, and the portions are so small”.

    • roberto says:

      Fossil-fuel power stations emit a lot more than CO2, so it is legitimate to question the generic “emission” figures, even for thermageddon deniers like us… 🙂

      Try again.


  27. Another hype, this time from Mexico:

    “When a new solar power plant goes online later in 2015, the city of La Paz, Mexico will be entirely powered by solar energy. Aura Solar I, the largest solar power plant in Latin America, went online in La Paz just last year and provides a whopping 64 percent of the power requirements for the city of just over 200,000 people. And in 2015, a second facility called Grupotec I is set to go online, adding the remainder of the city’s power requirements and making La Paz 100 percent solar powered – as well as part of a growing global movement toward solar power.”




    • Euan Mearns says:

      The land where the sun never sets 🙂 I’m sure Roger will have something to say.

      • The new Grupotec I facility will provide 40-42 percent of the power needs of La Paz via 97,000 photovoltaic panels spread over 44 acres, for a 30MW capacity, along with a 11MW of battery storage capacity.

      • The sun may have set last night but it’s yet to rise this morning and its freezing here (upper fifties F).

        Mexico is proud of its 2012 Climate Change act, which attracted a lot of good publicity:

        After three years of debate and revisions, the bill passed in Mexico’s lower house with a vote of 128 for and 10 against, and was later passed unanimously by the Senate. The new law contains many sweeping provisions to mitigate climate change, including a mandate to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 30% below business-as-usual levels by 2020, and by 50% below 2000 levels by 2050.

        But Mexico doesn’t have a plan for meeting this mandate (check the link below to see if you can find one) and its only chance of meeting it will be to come up with a creative definition of “business as usual”:


        In the meantime the govt announces feel-good projects like this. Nothing wrong with it, of course – Southern Baja California is miles from anywhere, blessed with abundant sunshine and electricity (and everything else) there is very expensive. But having 86MW of diesel-fired capacity next door with another 43MW under construction and a new 300MW gas-fired plant being built up the road doesn’t hurt.

      • As an example of how expensive BC is, my wife and I spent three days at a resort hotel in Los Cabos in August last year visiting with my son and his family who had come over from London. At the end of my stay I was presented with a bill for $US2,600, and that didn’t include the room.

      • For you chaps in UK this comes under the heading of “don’t you wish”.

        From the Mexico City News: On Sunday the President of the Senate’s Climate Change Committee asked the government to stop increasing fuel prices because it will have a negative impact on the economy.

  28. Bill P. says:

    You are wonderful at debunking the propaganda – can you please do a similar analysis of the Keystone Pipeline in the USA? The endless propaganda has long ago buried any real data and cost/benefits analysis. Thank you from the USA.

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  30. Vijay Bhopal says:

    Glad to see this post being picked up in the comment sections on several news websites, Euan. I can see only one good use for solar PV in Scotland, and that is to divert feed-in tariff revenues into the hands of local groups, rather than investment funds. This WWF press release is so poor, I have a strong feeling that it was done through incompetence rather than with malicious intent, though. This talk of ‘households’ has to stop!

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