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Madness On Stilts!

November 4, 2015

By Paul Homewood





From the GWPF:





Analysis of publicly available figures shows that companies have registered to build a total of about 1.5 gigawatts of diesel power under a government scheme to encourage back-up energy for the grid. The figures have been analysed by the Financial Times and experts at both the Institute of Public Policy Research and Sandbag, an environmental think-tank.

If all of those registered are successful in their bids — which analysts believe is likely — it could cost the taxpayer £436m, provide enough energy to power more than 1m homes and emit several million tonnes of carbon a year.

The subsidies on offer are so appealing that even solar-power developers, which have recently had their own subsidies cut, are building diesel generation on their sites as a way of maximising their returns. Lark Energy, a solar-power developer, is bidding for subsidies to build 18MW of diesel generation on its Ellough project in Suffolk, for example.

The UK is facing serious energy-supply difficulties over the next few years as old coal plants are taken offline without new power plants being built to replace them. National Grid, which runs the country’s power network, has predicted that the gap between electricity supply and demand this winter could get as close as 5 per cent — the tightest in a decade.

As part of the solution to that problem, ministers last year decided to start paying electricity providers extra money to make additional capacity available at short notice should the need arise.

They did so by holding an auction where companies bid for those subsidies, which they hoped would encourage gas plants to be built. Instead, it was more successful in giving incentives to other forms of generation such as nuclear power.

This year diesel looks to be one of the main beneficiaries of the process, with 1.5GW of generation having successfully registered for the bidding process.

The collapse in the oil price over the past year has driven down the price of electricity supply, making it uneconomic for companies to build capacity with high capital costs, such as new gas plant.

Dave Jones, power sector expert at Sandbag, said: “All diesel operators have to do is buy in diesel units in shipping containers from China and plug them into a grid connection.

“The low capital cost means that they can undercut things like gas.”

If all of those schemes secure government funding at the same level as last year, it would cost the taxpayer £436m.

According to the International Energy Agency, diesel electricity production emits only slightly less carbon than burning coal, and if the power plants were to run full-time for a year, they would emit 10m tonnes of carbon. They will avoid having to pay for their carbon pollution under the European emissions trading scheme, however, because they are too small to do so.

  1. Graeme No.3 permalink
    November 4, 2015 5:35 pm

    “They will avoid having to pay for their carbon pollution under the European emissions trading scheme, however, because they are too small to do so”
    There’s the answer to everything. The government DOES have a coherent plan.

    Buy lots of chinese diesel generators.
    You don’t have to pay subsidies for their carbon “pollution” because they don’t get charged, so the cost of subsidies reduces.
    Contact VW and get them to test the diesels and you can claim they don’t pollute, so you meet your (previously impossible) emission targets.
    You have a very flexible generating system which can accommodate wind turbines, solar, and is virtually proof against mad politicians who want to “take charge”.
    Reverse the wind turbines and use them as fans to blow away all those particulates and nitrogen oxides.
    The cost of electricity will go up again, but may not be as high as some of the alternative ideas.

    • Ian Magness permalink
      November 4, 2015 5:53 pm

      Excellent analysis Graeme!

  2. November 4, 2015 6:01 pm

    What do you make of this?

    “This is part of our standard toolkit for balancing supply and demand,” the company said.

    “[It] is not an indication there is an immediate risk of disruption to supply or blackouts.

    “It indicates that we would like our power held in reserve to be higher.”

    But only between 16:30 and 18:30 on Wednesday?

    And winter hasn’t started yet.

    I suspect it is more serious than they say it is.

  3. Ellyssen permalink
    November 4, 2015 6:34 pm

    Sounds very short sighted to me. Subsidizing old technology and over subsidizing new technology leads to economic shortfalls

  4. BLACK PEARL permalink
    November 4, 2015 7:43 pm

    I get charged £500 a year VED for my diesel and these guys are going to get remunerated for running theirs … can I get some jump leads to connect mine to the grid and get some pay back ?

  5. Bloke down the pub permalink
    November 4, 2015 8:36 pm

    I’d be happier with the wind power scammers if they had to provide their own back-up for when the wind doesn’t blow.

  6. Morph permalink
    November 4, 2015 9:46 pm

    I presume the Gridwatch website would include this in the “Oil” section ?

  7. November 4, 2015 9:57 pm

    Firstly I totally agree that the UK’s energy policy is madness. Having got that out of the way some of this article is complete bollocks. And what’s more its is just as bad as much of the nonsense we try to point out about weather and climate and other climate change propaganda.

    Firstly you can not put into service a non regulated diesel engine in the UK. The limits as of now are very strict and Non Road diesels are fast catching up with on road diesel which are effectively now zero emissions. For the lay person that means the regulators can not measure any further reduction in NOx, unburnt hydrocarbons (HC) Carbon Monoxide (CO) and particulates. Calling the modern diesel dirty is wrong and demonstrates a lack of knowledge, something we accuse the environmentalists of all the time. We must not fall into the same trap.

    There is no such thing as getting cheep Chinese Engines that are not regulated. Its not allowed. Some companies are manufacturing in China in the high volume smaller generator range, but if you want sensible Generators at say 1MW continuous each then you are looking at a 50 Litre V12 or V16 engine at 2000hp. Only Cummins, Cat and MTU do these in any volume. As someone who has overseen and maintained many Power plants through out the Middle East I can tell you will get into all sort of trouble connecting to the grid with low tension Generators designed for site backup. Even a continuous 500KW requires a substantial engine well out of the high volume market. You have to go down to 250KW continuous to get into the greater choice area, and then you have all sorts of cost issues with switch boards.

    As for fuel efficiency, this is another area where you get what you pay for, but generally Diesels are approaching 50% efficiency. Diesel is not a high cost option for “power shaving”, which is what the rest of the developed world calls this type of operation. I can’t say that the UK Government is going about it in the UK in the best or most economically efficient way, mainly because of our brain dead civil service, but neither is it a completely bonkers thing to do.

    This is not the time to explain how it should be done, but don’t confuse our incoherent energy policy with what is a common and on the face of it clean and economic way of topping up the grid when demand is high.

  8. Bitter&twisted permalink
    November 4, 2015 10:34 pm

    And will the environMENTALists and Greenpi$$ activists be demanding independent pollution tests for these diesel generators?
    My backside they will.

  9. Max Stavros permalink
    November 5, 2015 6:41 am

    Its even madder than that.

    According to “Triads, A revenue Earning Opportunity”, by David Andrews, in order to secure the best price operators must ensure they are running during the 3 half-hour triad periods of maximum demand. These always occur around 5.30 pm in winter, so this involves hiring a triad prediction service then starting the sets at 5.00 pm and running for a hour some 30 times a year to ensure the triad periods are captured.

    At other times, the units can be contracted out for balancing purposes, and, this is the mad bit, they may even contract to be unavailable for general demand during the triads.

  10. Ben Vorlich permalink
    November 5, 2015 10:51 am

    Philippe Verdier has talked about his dismissal on French TV. He says that he is not a Climate Sceptic.

    Philippe Verdier also ensures not be “climate-skeptic.” “To all the journalists who have not read my book, all the work demonstrates that global warming is here and due to man,” he insists. “My book is just very critical of the United Nations and COP21. But I am not skeptical climato.”

    Original in French here

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