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Good Drax/ Bad Drax

August 18, 2017

By Paul Homewood



Just a bit of fun, but I took this photo of Drax a couple of months ago, while out on my bike:





Guess which half is emitting nasty CO2 from coal, and which half is nice CO2 from trees?

Either way, we needed all the power Drax could produce because the wind was not blowing!





Later that afternoon, I cycled through the climate ravaged countryside:



Somehow I made it back to civilisation, through floods, droughts, storms, rising sea levels and everything else Mann Made Warming could throw at me!

Drax power station biomass emissions ‘dangerous’, worse than coal claim environmentalists

August 18, 2017

By Paul Homewood


h/t Stewgreen


The local BBC Yorkshire news team have picked up this story about Drax. I wonder why Harrabin has not reported on it?




A UK power station is producing “dangerous” levels of air pollution, an environmental group has claimed.

Campaigners Biofuelwatch said emissions of dust particles from Drax’s plant near Selby, in North Yorkshire, had increased by 135%.

It said emissions of particulates from the site were 897 tonnes last year compared to 382 tonnes in 2008.

Drax, which switched from coal to biomass in 2013, said its emissions were “well within statutory limits”.

The environmental organisation said it carried out an investigation, in which it found Drax was releasing particulates – a mixture of tiny solid and liquid particles – “equivalent to adding three million diesel cars to the roads each year”.

In its report, Biofuelwatch said particulates were “an especially dangerous form of air pollution” and linked it to a number of health problems including cancers, heart disease and stroke.

“The smaller the particle, the deeper it can penetrate into the lungs and particles of PM2.5 [a diameter less than 2.5 micrometres] and below can even enter the bloodstream and travel to other organs, causing inflammation, DNA and tissue damage and restriction of blood vessels.”

Claire Robertson, author of the report at Biofuelwatch, criticised Selby District Council for the lack in air quality monitoring, saying it was “appalling” and called to end biomass subsidies.

The council said it had “no statutory duty to monitor emissions from the power station”.

‘Currently compliant’

In a statement, Drax Power CEO Andy Koss insisted emissions were in line with guidelines set out by the government.

“We manage all our emissions to the atmosphere and have invested heavily to make sure that we comply with all air emission limits. For example, last year we reduced our NOx emissions by 53%.”

The Environment Agency confirmed Drax was “currently compliant with its permit” and was within its emissions limits.

The power station uses about seven million tonnes of biomass or wood pellets a year, much of it imported, particularly from the US


Whatever we think about the dangers of air pollution, the comparison with diesel cars is particularly relevant. The report states that Drax’s emissions are equivalent to 3 million diesel cars, which is a quarter of the 12 million on UK roads.



Currently there is no mention of this story by Harrabin or McGrath on the BBC’s national news site:



Last year, Drax received subsidies of £558 million for its biomass operation, a figure that is expected to rise to around £800 million this year as the third biomass unit comes on stream.

Follow Up To Air Pollution Scare Story

August 17, 2017

By Paul Homewood




A few follow-ups on the air pollution story.



Read more…

2016 Record Warm Surface Temperatures: The Party’s Over!

August 17, 2017

By Paul Homewood



Pat Michaels writes:




As expected, and thanks to the big 2015-6 El Niño, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced that 2016 is the warmest year in their 150-year long global surface temperature record. They didn’t mention that there are signs that global average temperatures are headed back to pre-El Niño values, which may put them near the range of the long “pause” in warming beginning in 1997 that ended with the recent El Niño.

There are several sources showing this. Here’s the satellite data from the University of Alabama-Huntsville through last month:

Temperatures have fallen to within approximately 0.15⁰C of the average since the end of the last (1998) big El Niño and the beginning of the recent one. These are “bulk” data for the lower atmosphere.

You can see similar behavior in the surface record from the University of East Anglia:

In this record, the “pause” from mid-1997 through 2013 is obvious. It will be interesting to see where this record settles out, as the early 2017 data look very “pause-y”.

We are also suffering from the problem that NOAA’s (the folks who made today’s announcement) record is the “pause-buster” version that used a new record of sea-surface temperatures (designated ERSSTv4) that became progressively warmer, beginning in 1998, compared to its predecessor (ERSSTv3).  It also raised very good buoy temperatures to match very bad ship intake tube temperatures. Just inside a large hunk of conductive metal sitting in the sun isn’t a good place to take the water temperature.  

One increasingly popular recent surface temperature history is “reanalysis” data in which temperatures are transformed onto a tight latitude/longitude grid that provides a spatially “level playing field”, bypassing the problems that occur as weather stations move, or go off or on-online. You can also see the temperature peak here, and that we are approaching pre-El Niño values.

It looks like the warm party is breaking up.

Fast, Dirty Natural Gas Plants Get Boost From Electric Cars

August 17, 2017

By Paul Homewood



From Bloomberg:




Britain’s goodbye to fossil-fuel cars by 2040 could boost the need for dirtier natural gas-powered stations.

The government’s goal to replace gasoline and diesel cars with those powered by electricity could see the construction of so-called open-cycle gas stations, said Carsten Poppinga, senior vice president of trading and origination at Statkraft AS, the Norwegian utility that operates hydro power plants and wind farms across the U.K.

Such units can keep the grid from buckling from the strain of people charging cars in peak demand periods. The catch? While the plants can start generating power almost instantly, they don’t recycle waste heat, making them emit more greenhouse gases per megawatt than the combined-cycle stations that comprise the largest share of the U.K.’s daily power output.

Britain may have no choice but to use the less environmentally friendly option, though. With little spare generation capacity, the nation is vulnerable to power shortages, particularly on cold, winter days when wind and solar energy may be in short supply.

“Fundamentally there isn’t as much overcapacity on the British market as in Germany,” Poppinga said by phone from Dusseldorf. “You could think about building open-cycle gas power plants to increase the flexibility in the system.”

Open-cycle gas generators cost less to build but have higher emissions per megawatt-hour produced than combined-cycle gas turbines. OCGTs convert about 33 percent of their fuel into power, while CCGTs manage as much as 60 percent, according to the fossil-fuel industry environment group IPIECA in London. That’s still less dirty than oil, diesel or coal-fired stations, which can emit double what a gas-fired station does.



Meanwhile a research note from consultants, Wood Mackenzie, takes a closer look at the impact of the UK government’s proposal to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040:

Alan Gelder, Wood Mackenzie’s senior vice president, refining and chemicals research, said: “If auto manufacturers can deliver this, then oil demand will peak and then decline swiftly. Judging by Mr Gove’s comments, this will have a massive impact on the refining sector and the oil markets.”

He added: “According to our base case analysis, we expect there to be over 34 million passenger cars on UK roads by 2035, of which over 4 million are battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

“Sales of BEVs are expected to ramp up quite considerably after 2025, with one in three cars sold in the UK by 2035 expected to be fully electric (with typical new car sales over 2 million vehicles per year). “

Wood Mackenzie expects electricity demand from both these types of vehicles will reach 12 TWh or 3% of total electricity demand in the UK at this time, requiring over 400,000 new public charging points at an investment cost of over £30 billion.

Alan added: “By 2035, we expect the remaining internal combustion engine (ICE) passenger fleet will continue to consume over 6 million tonnes of gasoline and 7 million tonnes of diesel per year.  This amounts to a 40% reduction compared to the amount of fuel consumed by cars today.  However, UK total oil demand decline is projected to be only 20%, due to demand growth from airlines and commercial vehicles. “

The UK currently has over 8000 retail stations. These are  closing at a rate of approximately 100 per year. By 2035, we expect only 6000 sites to remain.

If the government’s proposal permits only BEVs to be sold post 2040, then the situation changes.

Alan said: “It could take almost 20 years for the ICE fleet to fully convert unless incentives are put in place to accelerate scrappage of such vehicles.”

Johannes Wetzel,  research analyst, cross-commodity analytics, EMEARC, said: “Assuming that all ICE passenger cars were to switch to BEVs by 2035, electricity demand would increase by 55 TWH to 16% of overall demand, which would be a challenge for power grid stability, so massive investment in flexible power generation, electricity storage and the grid itself will be necessary.

“Currently peak load on the UK power grid is roughly 53 GW in winter. The introduction of fast charging technology means that EV charging load will rise as well.

“If, in 2035, 5% of the EV fleet were to charge at the same time, the load on the grid could soar by up to 40 GW. Massive investment in flexible power generation, electricity storage and the grid itself will be necessary to keep the lights on.”

Alan added: “The sustainability of the UK refining industry is threatened, as gasoline typically represents one third of the refined products supplied from UK refineries (though currently 20% of UK gasoline production is exported).

“Retail sites could close at a much faster rate than our base case, outlined earlier, and will need to change business models to survive the transition to a battery-led car fleet. On top of this, the impact of government fuel duty revenue lost – currently  around £27.5 billion per year – will be significant. “

The impact on the oil, refining and electricity sectors extends beyond the UK, as if this change is delivered here, it is likely to be replicated across many other parts of the world.



Just read this piece again:

If, in 2035, 5% of the EV fleet were to charge at the same time, the load on the grid could soar by up to 40 GW. Massive investment in flexible power generation, electricity storage and the grid itself will be necessary to keep the lights on

5% may well turn out to be an optimistic assessment.

Hurricane Gert To Bring Weather To UK–But Met Office Don’t Know What!

August 17, 2017

By Paul Homewood



From Sky News:




The aftermath of Hurricane Gert is expected to hit the UK, splitting the North and South with very different weather.

The storm, currently north of Bermuda, is expected to bring strong winds and rain in the North as it travels across the Atlantic and hits the UK on Sunday.

However, the South is set to bask in sunshine, with temperatures forecast to reach up to 27C on Monday as the low pressure system draws warm air up from Europe.

The storm is the second hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean this season. Pic: NOAA/NASA Goddard Rapid Response Team© Other The storm is the second hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean this season. Pic: NOAA/NASA Goddard Rapid Response Team


Met Office forecaster Greg Dewhurst said there was still a “little bit of uncertainty” when it comes to what the weather will bring.

“If the hurricane tracks a little bit further south, that rain will be a bit further south,” he said.

“At the same time, if it tracks further north then the drier, warmer air will be a bit further north too.”

The National Hurricane Centre said on Tuesday that Gert, the Atlantic Ocean’s second hurricane of the season, would be generating winds of up to 80mph before becoming calmer as it moves over colder Atlantic water on Thursday.

A tropical depression in the Atlantic Ocean formed the storm on Sunday, but it did not make landfall


Encouraging that the Met Office don’t even know whether it’s going to hot and sunny, or wet and windy in just three days time!

John Constable Savages Tulloch Op-Ed

August 16, 2017

By Paul Homewood


A good follow up from John Constable on that fatuous article by Maurice Tulloch in the Telegraph the other day:




The Daily Telegraph recently published a claim by Aviva that subsidies to fossil fuels in the United Kingdom amounted to $6.5 billion dollars a year. Examination of the source behind this claim, data from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), reveals that it consists of $1 billion of tax relief and $5.5 billion of public finance to international aid projects. Neither of these are “subsidies” in any meaningful sense.

In a recent op. ed. for the Daily Telegraph (11 August 2017), Maurice Tulloch, the chief executive of international insurance at Aviva, demanded that subsidies to fossil fuels be brought to an end, terming them “a relic of the past”.

As a general rule, subsidies are undesirable, so Mr Tulloch would seem to be making an entirely reasonable suggestion, except that on closer examination the things he refers to as “subsidies” are only so on an extremely questionable definition.

In his reference to the United Kingdom and such subsidies he writes:

Just recently, the Health and Environment Alliance launched a report that laid out the costs of the health impacts that come from fossil fuel subsidies. In the UK, health costs arising from fossil fuel driven air pollution are almost five times higher than the subsidies paid. Over $6bn of public money is spent on the industry, and the health costs from premature deaths linked to air pollution run to over $30bn.

Six billion dollars per year is a lot of money, and very surprising in the UK context. That alone should have set off an alarm bell somewhere in Mr Tulloch’s office. As we shall see, it was not wise to rely on the HEAL study for information, and one wonders if Aviva made any inquiries into the methodology and criteria behind that striking number.

Investigation would have revealed that the data in the Health and Environment Alliance paper, Hidden Price Tags: How ending fossil fuel subsidies would benefit our health was not generated by HEAL itself, but was instead drawn from work by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in London. The ODI’s main publication on this subject, Empty promises: G20 subsidies to oil, gas and coal production is the source for many of the principles used in the ODI’s work, and there is an important page on the UK (p. 80), but the data actually cited by HEAL seems to come from the ODI website: “G20 subsidies to oil, gas and coal production: United Kingdom”.

Putting this all together, it would not have taken Mr Tulloch’s researchers long to find out that the rather striking claim of $6.5bn subsidy to fossil fuels in the UK consists of $1bn of tax relief, mostly for the decommissioning of oil rigs, and $5.5 bn of public finance for overseas development of fossil fuel related projects, in other words development aid to extend energy access to the world’s poor. Neither of these are subsidies.

Tax relief is a perfectly justified business related exemption of a general kind extended not only to the fossil fuel industry, but to all sorts of companies, including, one imagines, international insurance companies. To call it a “subsidy” is to stretch the definition beyond breaking point.

Bad though that is, it is still more absurd to classify as a subsidy the public finance provided as overseas aid to support energy access projects. This aid happens to be spent on fossil fuels, because they are fundamentally economic, and bring the vast welfare benefits of low cost energy to as many people as possible. Judging from other parts of the ODI’s study, they would irrationally prefer such money to be spent on renewable energy that is uneconomic (and unaffordable even in the developed world), and would benefit far fewer people and probably benefit them much less.

The Overseas Development Institute approach to fossil fuel subsidy is childish and tendentious, not to say plain silly. Neither the Health and Environment Alliance, nor Mr Tulloch and Aviva, should have touched it with a barge pole.


Readers may recall I covered the ODI report last year here.

In particular, I addressed the tax break issues. In all cases, North Sea oil producers are still paying full corporation tax.

I also covered the overseas finance projects, which are all on a commercial basis, rather than aid. Furthermore, the ODI even include our “share” of loans via the World Bank etc:

The UK also contributed an annual average of $53.7 million to fossil-fuel exploration projects from 2010 to 2013 through its shares in the World Bank Group, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, and the Asian Development Bank

Pen Hadow Sets Off

August 16, 2017

By Paul Homewood



Pen Hadow is now finally on his way to the North Pole:




Pen Hadow sets sail for North Pole as Arctic ice melts

British explorer Pen Hadow and his crew have set sail from Alaska, in an attempt to become the first people ever to sail to the North Pole.

With Arctic ice melting at an unprecedented rate, previously inaccessible waters are opening up, creating the potential for their planned 5,500 km (3,500 mile) journey for the first time in human history.



NSIDC show the unprecedented rate at which the ice has melted in the last ten years!


It also seems to be getting thicker as well:




According to the BBC:

With Arctic ice melting at an unprecedented rate, previously inaccessible waters are opening up, creating the potential for their planned 5,500 km (3,500 mile) journey for the first time in human history.

Maybe the fact that the expedition is equipped with two boats specially built to sail through ice, and with all the latest technology, might have something to do with it, as the Pen Hadow website reveals:

Our two 50 foot yachts, Bagheera and Snow Dragon II, are specially built to sail in waters with sea ice, and the four skippers, two on each boat, are exceptionally experienced in polar seas, and with navigation and safety procedures in sea ice.



Maybe next year Mr Hadow and his friends might like to try the same voyage in a replica Viking vessel, and see just how far they get.

Claims Of 40000 Deaths From Air Pollution Debunked By Death Statistics

August 15, 2017

By Paul Homewood






We are familiar with claims that air pollution (cue pictures of diesel cars!) is killing thousands of people every year in the UK.

I have been trying to get hold of the actual mortality statistics, but fortunately came across a study carried out by the British Lung Foundation.

Finished last year, it analyses death rates between 2008 and 2012.

This is the key table:



Read more…

Today’s Eco BS From The Telegraph

August 14, 2017

By Paul Homewood



Part II from the Telegraph’s woeful weekend!

It is written by Maurice Tulloch, who is chief executive of international insurance at Aviva:




The insurance industry exists to manage risk; as far as possible we aim to prevent or minimise the impact of losses before they happen. Burning fossil fuels gives rise to short, medium and long-term risks for insurers, investors, and our customers and society alike. And yet governments continue to promote the production of oil, gas and coal with subsidies.

The OECD estimates that $160bn to $200bn (£123bn to £154bn) a year goes towards supporting fossil fuel production and consumption in OECD countries and key emerging economies. This actively contributes to air pollution, health problems and premature deaths, as well as the increase in extreme weather events that comes with climate change. This policy costs taxpayers twice – firstly for the subsidies, and then again as public funds are needed to deal with health costs and climate change.


Read more…