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Germany’s “White Elephants In The North Sea”

September 13, 2014

By Paul Homewood 





Breitbart report on the problems affecting Germany’s flagship offshore wind project:


Germany’s flagship Bard 1 offshore wind farm has been described as “a faulty total system” as technical problems continue to plague the project, casting major doubts on the feasibility of large scale offshore projects.

The wind farm was officially turned on in August last year but was shut down again almost immediately due to technical difficulties that have still not been resolved – and now lawyers are getting involved.

The wind farm comprises 80 5MW turbines situated 100 km off the north German coastline. The difficulty facing engineers is how to get the electricity generated back to shore. So far, every attempt to turn on the turbines has resulted in overloaded and “gently smouldering” offshore converter stations.

Built at a cost of hundreds of millions and costing between €1 and €2 million a day to service, the project is estimated to have cost €340 million in lost power generation over the last year alone. And if the problems with the technology are deemed not to be the fault of the operator, German taxpayers will be on the hook for the running and repair costs, thanks to the German Energy Act 2012.

Understandably, the project’s investors are becoming increasingly nervous, which is why lawyers are now scrambling to pin the blame elsewhere. According to the German magazine Speigel “everything has turned to the question of who is responsible for the fiasco – and the costs.”

Inevitably, the fiasco has brought into question the feasibility of the entire green energy industry. The Bard 1 project was designed to be the global leader in offshore wind design: a model for everyone else to follow. That it doesn’t work has already cast doubt on other projects. Energy company Trianel are concerned that their ‘Windpark Borkum’, Germany’s second largest major offshore project, will now not work when it comes online next month. And they have already shelved plans for a further 200MW offshore project until the technology can be proven.



Read the rest here.

Ant, Dec And Scorchio!

September 12, 2014

By Paul Homewood 






I am sure we are all jolly glad about that!!


For those not familiar with Ant and Dec, they are a pair of cretins who are supposedly “entertainers”.


Ant and Dec


The Met Office say they were given TV presenter training for their Saturday Night Takeaway show.



The only question I have is whether they also trained Caroline Aherne.



Autumn Rainfall Trends In The UK

September 12, 2014

By Paul Homewood  


We are warned to expect wetter winters, but what about autumn months? Autumn is, on average, the wettest season of the year, so, as far as flooding is concerned, surely we should be just as concerned about what happens then.




Using the long running England & Wales Precipitation Series, we can chart autumn precipitation back to 1766.



Figure 1


There seems to be little going on as far as the trend is concerned. The extremely wet autumn of 2000 is anomalous, but there has been no indication of anything remotely out of the ordinary since.

We can also look at the distribution of the wettest twenty five autumns, which equates to effectively the 90th Percentile. 




Figure 2


Other than the autumn of 2000, the last such autumn was 1984. The truth is that what is on average a 1 in 10 year event, has only occurred once in the last 30 years.

Prior to 2000, the wettest autumns were 1852, 1960 and 1935.


The Met Office would like us to believe that UK rainfall is increasing, but it appears that things are not quite that black and white.

Curiouser And Curiouser

September 12, 2014

By Paul Homewood




Reader may recall the Telegraph story in August 2013, revealing how Owen Paterson, then Environment Secretary, had commissioned a report to look at how renewables affect the countryside and the rural economy. One major factor they would be investigating was the impact on house prices, and a consultancy company, Frontier Economics had been employed to assess this.


The Telegraph suggested that the report was being blocked by officials at the Dept of Energy & Climate Change.


Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, has commissioned a consultancy to investigate whether renewable technologies – including wind turbines – lower house prices in the countryside.

Coalition sources said the report is being blocked by officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), run by Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat, amid fears it will conclude that turbines harm property prices.

Mr Paterson has made clear that he intends to make the document public as soon as it is completed.

On Tuesday, this newspaper disclosed that a report into renewable energy had been commissioned by Mr Paterson’s Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The decision to order the report is said to have caused anger within Mr Davey’s department, which viewed it as encroachment upon its remit.

It has emerged that a significant focus of the report will be the financial impact of wind farms upon the value of neighbouring properties.

Opponents of wind farms claim it is “highly likely” that the report will reveal that turbines in rural areas will detract from the value of nearby homes.

The consultancy company, Frontier Economics, has been asked by Defra to calculate how house prices will be affected by a series of energy projects across Britain. It has been asked to look at onshore and offshore wind, overhead power lines, shale gas, anaerobic digestion plants and nuclear power plants.

The remit of the report states that it “aims to determine whether [energy projects] have a significant impact on the prices of houses nearby and, if so, compare how that impact differs between different types”.

It will feed into Mr Paterson’s final report on how renewables affect the countryside and the rural economy.


 When, after a couple of months, no report appeared I sent a FOI to DEFRA asking to see the report. Last November, they replied:




They also stated that this was a joint study by DEFRA and DECC, which rather suggested that Ed Davey was looking to suppress any negative findings.



Last month, as I still had seen nothing of the report in the press, I decided to FOI again, guessing that maybe the report had been slipped out with little publicity. I was astonished to receive this reply yesterday:




It is clear that, in good Sir Humphrey fashion, the report has been shelved indefinitely because it is far too inconvenient to DECC’s renewable strategy. There can be little doubt that, if the study had found little impact on house prices, it would have been blazoned across the headlines.


Meanwhile, Owen Paterson is gone, replaced by the less troublesome Liz Truss, so we are unlikely ever to find out the truth.

How Govt Money Corrupts Climate Science

September 12, 2014

By Paul Homewood 






Pat Michaels & Chip Knappenberger have a post up at CATO, questioning what effect reliance on govt grant money has on opinions about climate change.

It is well worth a read, but they use the example a recent Andy Revkin article, in which he interviews four prominent climate researchers.

They find:  


  The level of confidence that each showed in the mainstream (climate model-driven) global warming meme (despite this new research suggesting that something may be rotten in the state of Denmark) appears proportional to how much professional advancement still lies ahead.


 The younger and most grant reliant scientists show most confidence in the mainstream meme, but at the other end of the scale, we get this comment Carl Wunsch, late-career professor emeritus at M.I.T.


The central problem of climate science is to ask what you do and say when your data are, by almost any standard, inadequate? If I spend three years analyzing my data, and the only defensible inference is that “the data are inadequate to answer the question,” how do you publish? How do you get your grant renewed? A common answer is to distort the calculation of the uncertainty, or ignore it all together, and proclaim an exciting story that the New York Times will pick up.

Coming on the heels of the Hanna paper on extreme winters, I would say Wunsch has a point!

Hillary Thinks Droughts Are Getting Worse

September 11, 2014

By Paul Homewood 


Hillary Rodham Clinton



Hillary tells us that “droughts are wreaking havoc” because of global warming. Of course, we have never had droughts before!


NOAA track drought trends, using the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), and they analyse these by the six major agricultural belts.

The results back to 1895 are shown below. (Below the line is drought).


Read more…

Misleading Press Releases, Paywalls & Dodgy Statistics!

September 10, 2014

By Paul Homewood




A few further developments on the “Extreme winter weather” saga!


1) As David points out, the Telegraph article (and probably press release!) have put a spin on the paper, which misrepresents it.

I have tracked down the press release from University of Sheffield, home of author Edward Hanna, and unsurprisingly it says just about everything that is in the Telegraph piece.

(No surprise here, we know that most journalists simple cut and paste these days).


The opening sentences don’t need commenting on:


British winters are becoming increasingly volatile due to extreme variations in pressure over the North Atlantic according to scientists from the University of Sheffield.

The new research, published today (9 September 2014) in the International Journal of Climatology, shows that weather patterns over the UK have become distinctly more unstable, resulting in contrasting conditions from very mild, wet and stormy to extremely cold and snowy.


Unfortunately, it is only too common for press releases on climate change papers to misrepresent the findings. It is, no doubt, a condition of getting the grant funding in the first place.


Read more…

Extreme Winter Claims – Part II

September 10, 2014

By Paul Homewood






Revisiting claims that UK winter weather is growing more extreme, I looked yesterday at extremely cold winters, and found that the data did not support the claims. Indeed, cold extremes recently have been less common than in earlier years. Recall that I measured temperatures against a 30-yr running average, so that “extremes” were relative to current climate norms, and not, say, to 18thC climate.


I have now looked at the other end of the spectrum to consider whether there is any justification for the claim that more wet and mild winters have been occurring in recent years.

First, temperatures. As I did with the first post, I have used CET mean winter temperatures, and calculated anomalies against a 30-yr running average. So, for instance 2014 is measured against a baseline of 1985-2014. (For more detail , see yesterday’s post here.)

Figure 1 plots the years when  this anomaly was more than 2C.



Figure 1


Much warmer than usual winters have been notably absent recently, the last two coming in 1989 and 1990. Notice also, there is a suggestion of clustering at certain times.


And precipitation?


Read more…

Smart Meters Unlikely To Make Much Difference To Energy Usage

September 10, 2014

By Paul Homewood 




The BBC report:


Installing smart meters in every house in the UK will save consumers "only 2%" on their annual bills, a committee of MPs has warned.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that, on average, consumers will save just £26 a year.

MPs also warned that the technology could be out of date by the time the roll-out is complete.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said smart meters will lower bills and make switching easier.

Installing the meters – which begins in earnest next year – will cost £215 per household, or £10.6bn.

Customers will be charged an annual amount on their bills to cover the cost, peaking at £11 a year in 2017.

The £26 annual figure would be the net saving, after the installation costs have been taken into account.

"Despite consumers footing the bill, they can on average make a saving of only 2% on the average annual bill of £1,328 by the time the roll out is complete," said Margaret Hodge, the chair of the PAC.

"Even this is conditional on consumers changing their behaviour and cutting their energy use," she added.


The Committee also said that some of the technology is likely to be out of date by the time it is installed.

At the moment the meters carry an in-house display, which tells consumers how much energy they are using at any given time, and how much it is costing.

The idea is that will encourage consumers to use less electricity and gas.

But the MPs said customers could receive similar information on smart phones.

That could make the in-home displays "redundant," said the committee.

DECC said there would be no up front charge to consumers for having a smart meter installed.

Energy minister Baroness Verma said: "Smart meters put power into the hands of consumers, bringing an end to estimated billing and helping people understand their energy use.

"The nationwide rollout is part of the Government’s complete overhaul of the UK’s energy infrastructure which will revolutionise the market and support the development of smarter electricity grids.

"It will help reduce consumer bills, enable faster, easier switching and give households control at the touch of a button," she said.

The project has already run into delays, and has been criticised elsewhere as a waste of money.


 It does not really take a genius to work out that savings would be minimal – indeed, I doubt whether even 2% savings will be achieved.

Are people really going to turn their TV’s off, when their meter tells them it is using electricity? Or turn down the thermostat on the boiler?

People really are not that stupid. They know these things cost money to run, even if they don’t know exactly how much. So why should their behaviour change at all?

The case for smart meters, to some extent, relies on energy companies saving money by no longer having to send out meter readers. This might have been the case a decade ago, but, in case DECC had not noticed, we are living in a different age now, a digital one. The vast majority of people can now send in meter readings by email or mobile.

None of this should have come as any surprise to MP’s, or for that matter the BBC, who ran this report in 2010.



New Attempt To Claim More Extreme Weather Not Supported By Data

September 9, 2014

By Paul Homewood  




The Telegraph carry a report on the latest piece of work from Phil Jones and co. I have not tracked down the original paper yet, but this is what the Telegraph have to say:


Britons should brace themselves for more extreme winters as weather conditions become more volatile, scientists have warned.

A study of seasonal records dating back to 1899 found that while most seasons have not changed dramatically, winter has become much more unpredictable.

The results suggest the idea of a typical British winter is increasingly becoming a myth, with wide swings from mild but stormy conditions like those which hit the UK this year to extremely cold temperatures and snow in another year becoming more common.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA), University of Sheffield and the Met Office found that seven out of the 10 most extreme winter conditions over the last 115 years have occurred in the last decade.

Professor Phil Jones, from the University of East Anglia’s climatic research unit, said: "This indicates that British winters have become increasingly unsettled.

If this trend continues, we can expect more volatile UK winter weather in decades to come.

Winter conditions are commonly defined using North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) – a system of barometric pressure variations which indicates the strength of westerly winds approaching the UK.

When westerly winds are strong, Britain experiences mild, wet and often stormy weather – like last winter.

Weaker or reverse airflow typically brings cold, snowy weather, such as that experienced in 2009/10 and 2010/11.

The variations were particularly noticeable in early winter.

Mr Jones said: "When we look at the month of December in particular, our data shows that over the last 115 years, three out of five all-time record high NAO values and two out of five record lows took place in the last decade."

Professor Edward Hanna, from the University of Sheffield’s department of geography, said it was too soon to say whether the increased volatility is linked to global warming.

But the study, published in the International Journal Of Climatology, states that it was extreme unlikely the clustering of extreme conditions had happened by chance.

The trend could be due to random fluctuations in the climate system but could equally be due to factors including changing pressure and weather systems over the Arctic, especially Greenland, and changes in energy coming from the sun.

Mr Hanna said: "We cannot use these results directly to predict this winter’s weather but, according to the long-term NAO trend, we can say that the probability of getting extreme winter weather – either mild/stormy or cold/snowy – has significantly increased in the last few decades


The first thing to note is that they are actually trying to define the NAO, rather than looking at actual temperatures, etc. So, let’s see how the NAO has been behaving in winter.

The UK Climate Projection Report , last updated in 2012, includes the following graph of the NAO up to 2006, and comments:


There is considerable interest in possible trends in severe wind storms around the UK, but these are difficult to identify, due to low numbers of such storms, their decadal variability, and by the unreliability and lack of representativity of direct wind speed observations. In UKCIP02, we showed how the frequency of severe gales over the past century, although showing an increase over the past decade or so, did not support any relationship with man-made warming. Alexander et al. (2005) presented an analysis whereby a severe storm event is characterised by a rapid change in (MSLP) (specifically ±10hPa in a 3h period); this is different from the severe gales in UKCIP02. They found a significant increase in the number of severe storms over the UK as a whole since the 1950s. This analysis is being extended back in time using newly-digitised MSLP data from as many as possible long-period observing sites in the UK and Ireland, and some preliminary results are shown in Figure 1.14 (Allan et al. in preparation). It appears that an equally stormy period to those in the most recent full decade (1990s) was experienced in the 1920s. Similar conclusions are drawn in IPCC AR4 (Chapter 3, para and Fig. 3.41).

Whereas it is not our purpose here to discuss detailed links between the NAO and storminess, it will be immediately apparent that the two stormiest periods in Figure 1.14, in the 1920s and 1990s, coincide with decades of sustained positive NAO index, whereas the least stormy decade, the 1960s, is a time when the smoothed NAO index was most negative (see Figure 1.13). Although work by Gillett et al. (2003) has shown that man-made factors have had a detectable influence on sea-level pressure distributions (and hence atmospheric circulation patterns) over the second half of the 20th century, there continues to be little evidence that the recent increase in storminess over the UK is related to man-made climate change.




There is certainly no evidence here that the NAO is becoming more volatile, but what has happened since 2006. We can use NOAA to update the NAO.





The strongly negative NAO of 2010 stands out, but is certainly not unprecedented, and again there is no evidence of any unusual trends.


Read more…