Tag Archives: UK energy policy

Climate Change & UK Energy chaos

JR Max Wheel

4th July 2013

Two irritating items caught my attention on the BBC, particularly appropriate at a time when the Broadcaster has been hauled over the coals for accusations of bias. Firstly, a fatuous piece from science correspondent David Shukman, standing in Death Valley, and delivering an apocalyptic piece about the highest temperature recorded on the planet at 52.5C and the possibility that it might reach 53C, shock horror! The second was a report on the decadal statistics showing that the period of 2001-2010 were the hottest ever, according to the World Meteorological Organization and linking it back to rising sea levels, increased deaths from heat waves and extreme weather events.  The usual subtext is of course it’s all our fault because, like original sin, it’s man-made and hence the other sub text that goes with this type of reporting we should all get behind renewable energy because it is the only hope of reversing or managing this trend.  Contrary views are neither welcome nor encouraged. The truth is that no one actually knows what causes climate change, but without it we would certainly not be here at all.

It is part of the amazing 97.4% of climate scientists are in consensus that global warming is a man-made problem. All your fault then, turn the lights off, unplug the fridge and get back to your cave.

Well-known author Michael Crichton nailed this a decade ago when he pointed out that consensus in science is not a healthy issue at all and that it is precisely the challenges to the status quo that has allowed the most profound insights, so no Galileo, Newton, or Einstein welcome then.

The tissue of fabricated evidence and manipulated figures from the IPCC, not many climate scientists there, and the scandal of Climategate e-mails, pontifical interventions from politicians like Al Gore make for dire reading.

We need some facts because we cannot base any rational policy decisions on the ever-growing pile of selective science and some of it from both sides of the divide.

For the serious review of the literature, it is worth reading the detailed review of SINTEF, a Norwegian think-tank based in Trondheim. Link here: Report A 24071 dated April 2013.

First, here is that famous 97.4% consensus- oh dear only 77 peer reviewed climate scientists, not quite so impressive.

Let us continue the now established practice of selective quotes.

1997/8 was the hottest year on record in the very warm 1990s until the WMO produced its latest figures, (Mann et al) oh no it wasn’t !Go back just a few hundred years more to the period 1000 – 1200 AD and you find that the climate was considerably warmer than now. This era is known as the Medieval Warm Period.” It said, “By 1300 it began to cool, and by 1400 we were well into the Little Ice Age. It is no surprise that temperatures in 1997 were warmer than they were in the Little Ice Age”, and so if “1997 had been compared with the years around 1000 AD, 1997 would have looked like a rather cool year” rather than being the warmest on record. It said that the Medieval Warm Period predated industrial greenhouse gas emissions, and had a natural origin.

Also, measurement is a big problem. A study by Watts et al. (2012) showed that half of the recent warming measured in the US is artificial, caused by measuring problems:

Ah well but it is the dangerous C02 then, – um, no apparently. This paper argues even causality is wrong

Implications of the Secondary Role of Carbon Dioxide and Methane Forcing in Climate Change: Past, Present, and Future (Physical Geography, Volume 28, Number 2, pp. 97-125, March 2007)- Willie H. Soon

The paper argues that: “A review of the recent refereed literature fails to confirm quantitatively that carbon dioxide (CO2) radiative forcing was the prime mover in the changes in temperature, ice sheet volume, and related climatic variables in the glacial and interglacial episodes of the past 650,000 years, even under the “fast-response” framework where the convenient if artificial distinction between forcing and feedback is assumed. Atmospheric CO2 variations generally follow changes in temperature and other climatic variables rather than preceding them.”

If this were not mad or bad enough we have chosen renewable energy, supported by mass subsidies argued by some to be one the largest transfers from poor to rich in history. No objections to sensible renewables, hydro power, tidal and geo-thermal but who seriously would argue that solar is suitable for the latitude of the UK or that wind power is anything less than intermittent, lacks scale, is destructive of the landscape and requires hefty conventional back-up.

The world it is now slowly being realised is swimming in hydrocarbons, conventional and alternative, yet we have closed coal stations at Didcot and we have also embarked on the conversion of the largest power station at Drax from coal to wood biomass. This requires chopping down trees and shipping the feedstock thousands of miles from Canada, the US and Sweden. How green a solution is that? The Electricity Market Reform is so badly drafted as a Bill as to need a complete rewrite to keep the lights on in the UK. Meanwhile Germany racks up new emissions levels and builds more coal-fired stations, albeit not at anything like the rate of China and the pariah state the US has virtually halved emissions by shifting from coal to gas.

The complex science of climate is driven by many factors from ocean temperatures to space weather, so a consensus from the self-interested and doom sayers is no basis for framing policy whatsoever,

Fracking Great! UK Energy & Shale Gas

JR Max Wheel

9th May 2013

The above sign seen in a shop window in Ulster neatly points up one side of the great UK energy debate, or rather debacle. The sheer size of the shale gas deposits in the UK, now estimated by the British Geological Survey as approx 5 trillion cubic feet (TCF) should be considered an extraordinary beneficial windfall at a time of anaemic economic growth, weak tax revenues and positively transformative for our increasingly over-priced energy.  Yet it is not and one should ask why?

In a rare moment of clarity amid a fog of disinformation, Peter Lilley, part of the Parliamentary Advisory Board has fingered the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) , the EU and the Green Lobby as culprits in deliberately talking down the importance of shale gas. By tying us to an energy strategy, which is based on costly renewables will prove extremely expensive for the consumer and utterly short-sighted. Almost unbelievably DECC has sent the Geological Survey back to re-do its figures. It is clear that this Ministry needs to focus on energy supply and dump the other initials.

It is already estimated that energy bills will rise by the end of the decade by £300 p.a. due to “green” policies, whilst energy cost is a vital driver across the spectrum for industry and transport. Cheap coal imports diverted from the US are now having perverse effects as the US benefits from cheap gas and redirects coal to European markets, where it can out-compete our very high natural gas prices. Meanwhile the renewables sector and the Green lobby  is looking increasingly vulnerable, both from challenges to its fundamental premise of man-made climate change, and the immaturity of its technology, especially wind , but also the questionable value of subsidy-fuelled solar installations at these latitudes.  German industry is also increasingly concerned at the cost of energy, the cancellation of any new nuclear capacity in a hysterical over-reaction after Fukushima and the intermittency of renewable capacity, which requires a mass programme of building coal-fired stations! Therefore, whilst the US actually reduces CO2 emissions, the EU is actually increasing them. So distorted has this tangle become that the EU Commission President has urged the EU to focus on competitiveness and security of supply rather than climate change. Despite the falling apart of the European Trading System for carbon credits, the UK is determined to bring in a carbon floor price, demonstrating how politicians are stuck in the rut of 2005 era green arguments, just as the whole agenda is unravelling.

This is another perfect storm as pointed out to Bloomberg by Peter Atherton at Liberum Capital, the UK Government has totally underestimated the costs of decarbonising the economy by switching to a mix of baseload nuclear and renewables in financial, engineering and in economic terms.

Even nuclear looks vulnerable now with withdrawal by all UK companies and leaving only French energy giant EDF in the picture for building Hinkley Point.

How could the Governments get this so wrong, to run the risk of a serious energy squeeze, rolling blackouts and unaffordable bills?  A good deal of this mess is down to climate change alarmism, a policy set determined by EU political and international scientific group think and a refusal to acknowledge the cost and inefficiency of most renewables. The cost to meet artificially constructed targets in Germany alone is a staggering € 300bn, of 400Twh of installed renewables capacity generates on 70TWh of output, barely a sixth.

Against this dismal background of bad or inconclusive science, near theological belief in manmade climate change and wrong-headed policy choices the UK is now seemingly determined to inflict higher bills on its citizens to pay for their mistakes. The botched UK Electricity Market Reform needs a complete rewrite and fracking needs to be actively encouraged. It does not need subsidy, will bring jobs to areas of weak economic activity like Lancashire and raise significant tax revenues. What is not to like and why don’t they bloody get on with it.