By Paul Homewood
Hottest year update!
From the BBC:
Seventy-three patches of snow have survived on Scotland’s hills from last winter – the most for 21 years, according to a man who counts them.
Iain Cameron writes about, photographs and measures snow.
His records of the white stuff are published by the Royal Meteorological Society.
The total of 73 is the most since 1994. They have lingered through to this winter because of the cool spring and frequent snow showers until June.
Patches were recorded on mountains such as Creag Meagaidh, Ben Macdui and Ben Nevis.
Mr Cameron said snow had survived this in areas where the phenomenon was unusual.
He said: "This includes, also for the first time since 1994, mountains in the north west Highlands, where 12 patches survived.
"The reason so many patches survived is undoubtedly to do with the very cool spring, which saw frequent and heavy snow showers right through May and even into June.
"In fact, there are good grounds to believe that the maximum depth of snow recorded in the gullies of Ben Nevis was achieved in early June.
"Also because of the cool and overcast summer months. For example, the summit of Aonach Mor – 4,000ft – recorded only four days where the temperature exceeded 10C.
"July and August were also cool, and taken together this meant that melting rates were diminished."
Lasting snow – snow that has fallen recently and expected to linger – came about 10 days ago, Mr Cameron said.
It means many of the 73 patches could survive into next summer.
By Paul Homewood
Stranded assets, Mr Carney?
El Pais report:
Spanish renewable energy company Abengoa on Thursday applied for preliminary protection from creditors and called in lenders to start negotiating the terms of an agreement that would prevent a definitive suspension of payments.
In accordance with Spanish insolvency laws, the company has four months to reach an out-of-court agreement with its creditors.
Abengoa is on its way to becoming the biggest bankruptcy case in Spanish business history – even bigger than the fall of real estate giant Martinsa-Fadesa.
While the Seville-based firm desperately seeks a new deal with its creditors or a new investor to shoulder part of its €8.9 billion of gross financial debt, it is also asking bondholders to group together into a committee to renegotiate the debt.
“The committee is necessary in order to manage our commitments in an efficient manner,” said a company spokesperson.
Meanwhile, shares in the renewable energy and engineering giant continued to plunge, registering losses of up to 25 percent on Thursday – its last day of trading after the Ibex 35’s technical committee decided to take Abengoa out of the blue-chip index.
“Many bondholders are now selling,” confirmed Stuart Stanley, of Invesco Asset Management. “If nobody is willing to intensify their positions, then who’s going to help Abengoa? Right now, the company needs a white knight.”
On Wednesday, the company informed the United States stockmarket watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), that Javier Garoz, head of the US unit, was leaving the group.
Abengoa, which is made up of around 650 businesses, did not explain the reasons for Garoz’s departure.
Meanwhile, Spanish Industry Minister José Manuel Soria said on Thursday that he hoped Abengoa would be able to save itself, but noted that it is a private company.
“The government is closely following all steps being taken, but the case affects a company from the private sector, since the government is not in the position of the National Industry Institute, in which the state could inject capital into this and that company,” said Soria in an interview with state broadcaster TVE.
Soria called Abengoa “a business of reference in Spain” in the field of renewable energy. The company has a workforce of 27,000 employees and three quarters of its business is conducted outside Spain.
Employment Minister Fátima Báñez on Thursday guaranteed that the government would help seek a solution “with a future” for Abengoa and called on all parties involved to “negotiate and dialogue to the point of exhaustion.”
Báñez said that the government “wants to help with that dialogue” and called Abengoa a “very important company, not just because of the number of workers but also because it is one of the most innovative businesses in our territory.”
The Washington Times also picks up the story:
If you were wondering what the Spanish word for “Solyndra” is, this week provided the answer: “Abengoa.”
Abengoa is a Spanish company that was another of President Obama’s personally picked green energy projects, and it’s now on the verge of bankruptcy too, potentially saddling taxpayers with a multibillion-dollar tab and fueling the notion that the administration repeatedly gambles on losers in the energy sector.
The renewable energy firm, which is constructing several large-scale solar power projects in the U.S. and has received at least $2.7 billion in federal loan guarantees since 2010, said Wednesday it will begin insolvency proceedings, a technical first step toward a possible bankruptcy.
The news comes at an especially awkward time for Mr. Obama. On Sunday he’ll travel to Paris for a historic climate change summit and is expected to call on world leaders to reject fossil fuels and spend heavily on renewable energy, including solar power.
Abengoa’s looming demise is eerily reminiscent of the fall of solar power firm Solyndra in 2011, a colossal failure of government investment that left taxpayers on the hook for more than $530 million.
A potential Abengoa bankruptcy could be much worse for taxpayers, although it’s unclear how much of the guaranteed loans the company has paid back. Neither the White House nor the Energy Department responded to requests for comment Wednesday seeking information on how much the company still owes on the loans, for which the federal government might be left on the hook.
Critics say Abengoa is yet another reminder that the administration’s meddling in the energy sector — and its insistence that, with enough government financial backing, ambitious renewable projects can compete in the free market — leads to disaster for taxpayers.
“When you have a company that is based on subsidies, it is no surprise they run into financial trouble because their business model isn’t based on economics; it’s based on politics,” said Daniel Simmons, vice president for policy at the conservative Institute for Energy Research, a leading critic of the administration’s spending on renewable fuels and of the president’s energy policy more broadly.
“The government money fueled Abengoa’s growth. They fueled their desire to take on more debt. It’s now obvious they have a very serious debt problem,” Mr. Simmons added. “What is troubling is that if there are large projects that private-sector people think they’ll be able to make money on, there’s no need to take those projects to a government. That’s where these projects go wrong: thinking governments will necessarily make good investment decisions.”
Wednesday’s news sent Abengoa’s stock price falling by about 60 percent. International banks’ total exposure to a full Abengoa bankruptcy stands at about $21.4 billion, according to Reuters news agency, meaning the company’s downfall would end up being the largest bankruptcy in Spanish history.
The announcement came after private Spanish backers said they were bailing on plans to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the company.
Company officials say they’re continuing to work with creditors in the hopes of staving off a full-on bankruptcy filing.
“The company will begin the negotiating process with its creditors with the aim to reach an accord to guarantee the financial viability under Article 5 of the Bankruptcy Act, which the company intends to request as soon as possible,” Abengoa said in a statement.
The company has received loans from governments around the world. In the U.S. the administration awarded the company about $2.7 billion for two majors projects — the Solana Generating Station in Arizona and the Mojave Solar Project in California.
Mr. Obama personally touted the company in 2010 in an attempt to justify to taxpayers why he was committing nearly $1.5 billion to the Solana project.
“In the short-term, construction will create approximately 1,600 jobs in Arizona. What’s more, over 70 percent of the components and products used in construction will be manufactured in the USA, boosting jobs and communities in states up and down the supply chain,” the president said on July 3, 2010. “Once completed, this plant will be the first large-scale solar plant in the U.S. to actually store the energy it generates for later use — even at night. And it will generate enough clean, renewable energy to power 70,000 homes.”
But the Solana project has run into a multitude of hurdles. The Arizona Republic reported earlier this year that the plant has fallen far short of its targets, generating about 603,567 megawatt hours of electricity in 2014 as opposed to the projected 900,000 megawatt hours. The project came online in 2013.
Throughout the construction process, subcontractors also alleged that Abengoa routinely changed plans on the fly and sometimes failed to make payments, creating a frustrating and confusing situation on the ground in Arizona. More than a half-dozen subcontractors have been involved in payment disputes with the company, according to the Arizona Republic.
Abengoa and its public relations representatives have maintained that, with a project the size of Solana, such disputes are inevitable, and the company has worked hard to resolve them as soon as possible.
Moving forward, critics such as Mr. Simmons believe the administration may, for public relations purposes, back away from further renewable energy investment in the short-term.
Eventually, however, he argues Mr. Obama and his deputies will continue to put taxpayer money on the line in the name of fighting climate change.
“There might be a pause, but the administration believes it is smarter than private investors,” Mr. Simmons said. “They will continue to make these sorts of investments, subsidies, because they think they know best.”
Remember those words – When you have a company that is based on subsidies, it is no surprise they run into financial trouble because their business model isn’t based on economics; it’s based on politics.
We keep being assured that solar technology can compete against fossil fuels. But if it could, Abengoa would not be on the verge of bankruptcy.
By Paul Homewood
This is the sort of article that the Met Office were getting squeamish about earlier.
The Star reports (but please avert your eyes from the rugby!):
Clodagh is expected to linger for TWO WEEKS, with Atlantic systems bringing gales and snow until December 9 or even later.
Charities are warning that temperatures over Christmas and New Year could plummet to -14C, which could see as many as 50,000 Brits killed by cold weather.
Scottish mountains could be coated in half a metre of snow at the weekend, while gusts will buffet Black Friday shoppers tomorrow as the frenzy to grab bargains gets into full glow.
Colder air will start flooding south on Saturday, the Met Office says.
Winds will reach 50mph in the west on Friday, 60mph from tomorrow, 65mph in the south on Saturday and up to 100mph in Scotland on Sunday.
Snow of between 30 and 50cm will fall in the Scottish Highlands, while a Met Office forecaster said snow was "likely on northern hills".
MeteoGroup forecaster Laura Caldwell said: "With indications of stormy weather, keep an eye out for Clodagh, the next named storm."
The Met Office said: "Storm Clodagh will become the third storm named by the Met Office when a storm is next forecast to have an impact on the UK.
"From Friday, it will be very windy, with gales possible, especially on Sunday.
"Monday looks like hill snow in the North and a windy day, with a risk of gales.
"From Tuesday to December 9, a succession of Atlantic weather systems are likely to spread across the UK.
"Northern areas are likely to bear the brunt, with the strongest winds, heaviest rain as well as sleet or hill snow.
"Temperatures will feel colder due to the strength of the wind."
The Met Office’s forecast to the end of January said El Nino means a greater risk of New Year freezes due to the bitter easterlies that helped cause December 2010’s -21.3C Big Freeze and January 2013’s -13.6C chill.
Energy Bill Revolution director Ed Matthew said: "This winter’s toll could be far worse, thousands higher than 43,900 deaths in last years mild winter, due to freezing weather forecast this winter."
The Met Office 5-day outlook is rather more muted:
Expect a wet and windy weekend, but, as the Met Office told us in their blog, nothing unusual for this time of year.
Time to take the dog for a walk, I think!
By Paul Homewood
The whole business of giving gales cute little names has now become an utter farce, just as much else about the Met Office nowadays. It looks as if the they have been stung by criticism of their abject overhyping of Abigail and Barney.
From their blog yesterday:
This weekend the UK will see some unsettled, windy weather but at this stage the Met Office has not issued any National Severe Weather Warnings for wind. We have not named the next storm despite some articles in the press suggesting this is the case.
There are a series of low pressure systems affecting the UK this weekend and currently there is not a clear signal for exactly how they will affect the UK. We’ll continue to keep an eye on the developing weather systems and you can keep up to date with the latest on our forecast pages.
The next few days are looking unsettled:
Friday: windy with a band of heavy rain moving southeastwards, clearing to sunshine and showers. Turning cold following the rain with wintry showers over hills in the north, but with snow reaching increasingly to lower levels in the north overnight.
Saturday: chilly to start with some frost and a risk of icy patches, then an unsettled, windy day with showers or longer spells of rain, the showers wintry over the higher ground of Scotland. Gales will develop, particularly near southern and western coasts where they may reach severe gales, which is not unusual for this time of year.
Sunday: it will remain windy and further showers are expected, then a spell of rain looks likely to push across northern parts during the day. Gales are likely with a risk of severe gales in the north and west. Temperatures around average in the south, a little below in the north and feeling cold in the wind.
Next week looks to bring further unsettled weather, as low pressure continues to control the UK’s weather. It will continue to be quite mild for the time of year with any colder spells quite short-lived between bands of rain.
This will she/won’t she business is ludicrous, and it was always going to be guaranteed that the media would jump on the bandwagon, with their sensationalist headlines.
One might ask where Clodagh happens to be hiding at the moment, if she’s not coming out this weekend.
It is time that the Met Office got back to proper weather forecasting and forgot about exaggerating every bit of bad weather that comes along.
Meanwhile, there was only one Clodagh!
By Paul Homewood
h/t AC Osborn
More overhyped nonsense from Jeff Masters.
We have already had the damp squib of Hurricane Patricia, now it’s Sandra’s turn.
Claims that it reached Category 4 strength have not been supported by any physical evidence, and are simply the result of models.
Indeed, as NOAA show below, the claimed wind speeds of 145 mph (125 Kt) were only ever derived from the Best Track Warning Intensity. The actual Dvorak readings only support speeds of just over 100 Kt, or about 120 mph, making Sandra a run of the mill Category 3.
In any event, estimates of windspeeds are notoriously inaccurate, as Chris Landsea has pointed out:
By Paul Homewood
There are only ten GHCN stations currently operating in South Africa, and only one of these, Calvinia, is classified by GISS as rural. It has a population of 9000, and is situated inland in the Northern Cape province.
|Airport Y/N?||Pop K|
This is the actual temperature trend at Calvinia, based on GHCN V2 raw data in 2011.
There has been no warming since the start of the record. Yet the current version of GISS, which is based on adjusted GHCN data, has miraculously morphed into a sharply rising trend.
Temperatures prior to 1989 have been marked down by around 0.7C, and those 1940’s ones by even more.
So, what about the other nine sites? We have three with long, and pretty much continuous, records back to the 19thC.
By Paul Homewood
There has been some discussion about the fuel to be used in the biomass heating plant being developed by St Andrews University.
The business case laid down the various options:
The comments about straw are particularly relevant, given the proposal by the UEA to force a straw burning plant on the people of Norwich.
By Paul Homewood
The “Independent” reports:
We should hear plenty about infrastructure investment in George Osborne’s Spending Review and Autumn Statement, with the High Speed 2 railway, “Northern Powerhouse” and a fleet of new nuclear stations all likely to be name-checked.
But one notable omission in the Chancellor’s speech a could be the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon. This £1bn project is the brainchild of Gloucester-based Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP) and is backed by around £200m of equity cheques from the Prudential and InfraRed Capital Partners.
The first of its type in the world, a man-made breakwater would create power from tidal movement, with hydro-turbines generating electricity when water flows through the blades. Once operational, TLP executives hope to roll out another five of these plants along the west coast of England and Wales and generate around 8 per cent of the UK’s electricity.
The idea is unique and therefore unproven, so, unsurprisingly, it has been hit by difficulties. Planning permission was obtained in June, but the start of construction has been delayed from spring next year to 2017.
There have been protracted talks with officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), and these could be slowed still further by the cull of 200 civil servants – one in eight of the department’s staff – as part of the settlement that Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has negotiated with the Treasury.
Although the project would replace dated carbon-based power plants and so help the Government meet renewable energy targets, the DECC is nevertheless vetting some of TLP’s claims. Officials want to make sure that dumping construction materials into Swansea Bay will not have too many ill-effects on fish and the broader ecosystem, and also want to verify the private investment case for a project whose price tag has nearly doubled from the initial estimates.
Most important, they are unsure about suggestions that this technology could be Britain’s next great export, and need to be convinced that overseas governments really are interested in snapping up TLP’s intellectual property once Swansea Bay is operational and proven to work.
TLP and the Government would liked to have confirmed some advances in the project as part of the announcements, which also come in the week before the Paris climate change talks. Billed as one of the most important environmental summits in history, showcasing the turbines would have been a boon for the Government’s green credentials.
In many ways this feels a bit of a fantasy project, but behind the scenes the lagoon is starting to make progress. For example, the Crown Estate, which owns the seabed, and the Welsh government are both thought to be close to granting the licences needed for work to start, with confirmation likely in the new year.
Just as important, well over 30 banks have expressed an interest in providing the £800m of debt needed to fund Swansea Bay, meaning TLP will be able to spread the debt among several institutions, so lessening their risk and the interest repayments.
Apparently this is what passes for “Business journalism” at the Independent these days!
Just as a reminder for those who may have forgotten, the Tidal Lagoon project is looking for something in the region of a guaranteed price of £168/MWh, for every unit of electricity they produce, indexed linked for the next 35 years.
This compares to a current market price of under £50/MWh.
And for what? The lagoon will produce about 429 GWh a year. In comparison, the new 880 MW gas-fired plant, currently being built at Carrington, is capable of generating 14 times as much.
Furthermore, the lagoon cannot even generate power all the time when we need it.
As for the idea that anybody else in the world would want to buy our “intellectual property” in how to produce electricity at three times the normal cost, the mind boggles!
So we will end up paying a guaranteed subsidy of £50 million a year to a project which will actually generate little more than a pittance in terms of electricity.
It is hardly surprising the banks are hovering like flies around a jam jar!
Fortunately, we no longer have Ed Davey in charge of the asylum. I predict that this time next year the scheme will have been dumped once and for all, no doubt much to the anguish of our friends at the Guardian and the “Independent”.
By Paul Homewood
Not immediately apparent from the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement today is the fact that he has withdrawn the £1bn budget for the CCS competition.
This is from edie.net:
The announcement was made by posting a regulatory announcement to the London stock exchange.
The statement read: “Today, following the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, HM Government confirms that the £1 billion ring-fenced capital budget for the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Competition is no longer available.
“This decision means that the CCS Competition cannot proceed on its current basis. We will engage closely with the bidders on the implications of this decision for them.”
The £1bn fund was intended to be allocated via a competition to support the development and deployment of CCS projects in the UK.
The muted announcement comes just hours after the Chancellor George Osborne announced during the Autumn Statement that DECC’s budget will be reduced by 22% over the next four years, delivered through efficiencies in corporate services and reducing the cost of contracts.
This doesn’t take into account DECC’s innovation programme, which will double to £500m over the next five years, ideally to strengthen the future security of supply, reduce the costs of decarbonisation and boost industrial and research capabilities.
The article goes on:
Commenting on the CCS cancellation Claire Jakobsson, head of climate & environment policy at EEF said: “The cuts to the UK’s CCS funding are extremely disappointing, whilst we understand that government has had to make some extremely tough decisions, this one is not in the long term interests of the UK economy or energy consumers
CCS has the potential to halve the costs of decarbonising the UK economy by 2050, which amounts to £32 billion a year by 2050. In choosing to save a relatively small sum of tax payer money in 2015, government is unnecessarily committing vast amount of future energy consumers’ money.
£32 billion? Politicians from all parties, not to mention the obnoxious Gummer and his cronies at the Committee on Climate Change, have been doing their best to hide numbers like this.
The CCS competition was launched by Ed Davey in 2012, when he announced “we have £1bn available to support the upfront costs of early projects along with a commitment to further funding through low carbon Contracts for Difference”.
Today, following the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, HM Government confirmed that the £1 billion ring-fenced capital budget for the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Competition is no longer available.
Commenting on the news that the budget for the CCS competition is no longer available, Leigh Hackett, CEO of Capture Power, said: “We are surprised and very disappointed by the Government’s decision to cancel the £1bn CCS Commercialisation Programme more than three years into the competition.
“It is too early to make any definitive decisions about the future of the White Rose CCS Project, however, it is difficult to imagine its continuation in the absence of crucial Government support.”
The other project, at Shell’s Peterhead site, don’t appear to have formally responded yet.
The decision by the Chancellor seems to be a recognition that, with the current state of technology, CCS is a dead duck.
Significantly, DECC’s press release on the Autumn Statement reveals extra spending on more promising technologies:
The government’s doubling of investment in DECC’s innovation programme will help position the UK as an international leader in small modular nuclear reactors, and deliver commitments on seed funding for promising new renewable energy technologies and smart grids.
By Paul Homewood
Con artist, Stephan Lewandowsky, is at it again!
There is no substantive evidence for a ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’ in global warming and the use of those terms is therefore inaccurate, new research from the University of Bristol, UK has found.
The researchers, led by Professor Stephan Lewandowsky of Bristol’s School of Experimental Psychology and the Cabot Institute, examined 40 peer-reviewed scientific articles published between 2009 and 2014 that specifically addressed the presumed ‘hiatus’ and found no consistent or agreed definition of such a ‘hiatus’, when it began and how long it lasted.
The researchers then compared the distribution of decadal warming trends during the ‘hiatus’ – as defined by the same scientific articles – against other trends of equivalent length in the entire record of modern global warming. The analysis showed that all definitions of the ‘hiatus’ in the literature were found to be unexceptional in the context of other trends.
The researchers also found that, if sample size is small, the ‘hiatus’ will always appear to be present. For example, anyone making a claim for a ‘hiatus’ of 12 years or below (a claim made by a third of the articles studied) will find one, not because something new and different is happening, but because small sample sizes provide insufficient statistical power for the detection of trends.
Professor Lewandowsky said: "Our study raises the question: why has so much research been framed around the concept of a ‘hiatus’ when it does not exist? The notion of a ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’ demonstrably originated outside the scientific community, and it likely found entry into the scientific discourse because of the constant challenge by contrarian voices that are known to affect scientific communication and conduct."
Discussing climate change using the terms ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’ creates hazards for the public and the scientific community, the study concludes.
Professor Lewandowsky said: "Scientists may argue that when they use the terms ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’ they know – and their colleagues understand – that they do not mean to imply global warming has stopped.
"But while scientists might tacitly understand that global warming continues notwithstanding the alleged ‘hiatus’, or they may intend the ‘pause’ to refer to differences between observed temperatures and expectations from theory or models, the public is not privy to that tacit understanding.
"Therefore, scientists should avoid the use of ‘pause’ or hiatus’ when referring to fluctuations of global mean surface temperature around the longer-term warming trend. There is no evidence for a pause in global warming."
Scientists may well argue whether a 12-year pause is “significant” or not, but it does not alter the fact that it is real.
Lewandowsky then attempts to deflect attention from the fact that temperatures have stalled:
But while scientists might tacitly understand that global warming continues notwithstanding the alleged ‘hiatus’, or they may intend the ‘pause’ to refer to differences between observed temperatures and expectations from theory or models, the public is not privy to that tacit understanding.
Differences between actual observations and models of course go straight to the heart of the debate. But to pretend that temperatures are still going up, but just not as fast as the models suggest, is dishonest.
For instance, this is what the Met Office had to say two years ago, prior to the current El Nino:
It is a symptom of the current state of climate science that we need a bunch of PR charlatans (Naomi Oreskes is in on this study) to tell us what the scientists really meant.
And in case the aforesaid scientists don’t get the message:
Therefore, scientists should avoid the use of ‘pause’ or hiatus’ when referring to fluctuations of global mean surface temperature around the longer-term warming trend. There is no evidence for a pause in global warming.
Do as you’re told, you naughty scientists. We don’t the public to find out the truth!