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Harrabin’s Indian Howler

January 6, 2017
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By Paul Homewood




Roger Harrabin’s Trump Card broadcast the other day included an account of his recent visit to India, which included a visit to the Kamuthi solar plant, said to be the largest in the world.


His visit was reported on 3rd January, per the above.


A few comments, but let’s start with this claim he makes:


Prime Minister Modi is offering subsidies for a plan to power 60 million homes with solar by 2022 and aims for 40% of its energy from renewables by 2030.


I don’t know where he gets his information from, or whether he just makes it up as he goes along.

However, Modi has not promised anything of the sort. This is what India have specifically pledged in their INDC for Paris:





So, note the differences:

1) The pledge relates to electricity, and not energy.

2) It refers to all non fossil fuels, and not just renewables. Notably, of course, nuclear power.

3) It also refers to capacity, and not actual generation.


The INDC is even more specific, promising to raise capacity of wind and solar to 100GW each by 2030.

However, all these may sound large numbers, they actually don’t amount to much at all. This is what their output is likely to look like:


Wind 100 20 175
Solar 100 19 166
Hydro 46 31 124
Total Renewable 246   465
IN 2030
% Share of Renewables     19



1) Capacity loading is based on 2015 actual data

2) Electricity demand for 2030 is taken from the INDC here.


Given that hydro electricity has already been around for years in India, the extra due to come from wind and solar is hardly impressive.

And in terms of overall energy, their share will be much less still.

As such, Harrabin’s claim that 40% of India’s energy will come from renewables by 2030 is grossly misleading.

(Needless to say, a complaint has been submitted to the BBC!)





The world's largest solar farm

The world’s largest solar farm at Kamuthi in southern India


Let’s now turn our attention to the solar farm he visited.

According to the IBT, it has a capacity of 648MW, covers 4 square miles and cost $679 million to build.

Based on current experience, solar plants in India run at around 19% of capacity, naturally more efficiently than in the UK. This would yield about 1.1  TWh a year, or about 0.08% of India’s current demand for electricity.

In comparison, a modern CCGT plant of 1000MW would be capable of producing about 7 TWh a year.

Then , of course, we have the added problem of intermittency. Even in a sunny climate like India’s there is something called night time! 

But more seriously, what will Kamuthi’s output be like during the monsoon season? Output won’t go to zero, but under thick clouds and heavy rain it will surely be severely limited. And remember the monsoon will go on for months on end.


To be fair to Harrabin, he does touch on the issue of intermittency:


For large-scale projects, the cost of new solar power in India is now cheaper than coal. But solar doesn’t generate 24/7 on an industrial scale, so India has adopted a "more of everything" approach to energy.

The firm behind the solar plant, Adani, is also looking to create Australia’s biggest coal mine, which it says will provide power for up to 100 million people in India. Renewables, it says, can’t answer India’s vast appetite for power to lift people out of poverty.


It is something I have actually been arguing for some time now. Both India and China are so absolutely desperate for extra generation, that they will use every avenue open to them. There is a limit to how much extra coal, oil and gas they can get their hands on.

Also there will be cases where it may make sense to utilise solar or wind, for instance in remote areas where there is little existing grid infrastructure.

But there is a world of difference between this and Harrabin’s idyllic vision of India running its entire economy on sunbeams.


Harrabin concludes:

At the recent Marrakech climate conference, China, the EU and many developing countries pledged to forge ahead with emissions-cutting plans regardless of US involvement. But India offered no such guarantee.

Some environmentalists are not too worried: they think economics may drive India’s clean energy revolution.


Economics, and not environmentalism, will certainly rule India’s energy revolution, but, I suspect, not in the way Harrabin wishes for.

  1. January 6, 2017 2:52 pm

    Even if he retracted, the effect has already been won in the broadcast. Busy people can be very suggestible when they get a moment to watch a glossy presentation delivered with the resources of the National Broadcaster

  2. January 6, 2017 3:01 pm

    That’s a good example of Harrabin’s incompetence and carelessness (at best).

    He has a similar article in the Grauniad.
    In a way it’s more honest of him to write in the Guardian than to pretend to be neutral as required by the BBC.

    • January 6, 2017 3:07 pm

      Another example of his sheer incompetence is this tweet. It suggests he might have done an interview with Judith Curry, but there’s no link, and he didn’t answer when Clive Best asked him about it. Or maybe he’s referring to the E&E News interview.

  3. Vernon E permalink
    January 6, 2017 3:04 pm

    Harrabin’s distortions are trumped (no pun) by Little Emily’s report in today’s Telegraph that last year in the UK wind produced more power than coal. Really?

    • January 6, 2017 3:13 pm

      Little Emily’s making it up, again, just like Harrabin.

      • NeilC permalink
        January 6, 2017 4:04 pm

        I have been collecting random screen shots of gridwatch for the last couple of years. In 2016 100 random readings show coal produced 3.94GW/day and wind 1.64GW/day.

        So, how does Emily work out her method, bearing in mind wind also has priority over coal.

    • January 6, 2017 3:16 pm

      Probably correct, metered wind (as seen on Gridwatch) is around 3 GW on average, embedded wind adds around 50% more, the former King Coal varies between 0 in summer and 8 GW in winter.

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        January 7, 2017 2:11 pm

        I downloaded the Gridwatch data for 01/01/2015 00:00 to 31/12/2015 12:55.

        As it is logged every 5 minutes I multiplied the numbers by (1/12) then summed to give GWh for the year, I thought errors would even out.

        Using that very rough calculation for the whole of 2015 coal generated over three times as much electricity than wind. Comparing the individual data for wind and coal coal produced more electricity for 93% of the records.

    • A C Osborn permalink
      January 6, 2017 3:17 pm

      Probably, Wind has been given complete priority over Coal and many of the Coal powered stations have been closed or taken off line.
      Looking at the Annual graph on Gridwatch Coal was severely curtailed last March, dropping from around 7.5Gw down to around 2.5Gw. At the end of the year it did lift up a bit to around 4.5GW for a couple of months.
      Of course Wind goes up and down like a yoyo.

    • January 6, 2017 5:48 pm

      The scary view of the issue from green zombie land (aka UK “Higher” education):

  4. January 6, 2017 3:44 pm

    You wouldn’t expect a graduate in English like Cardinal Horrorbin to understand the difference between electricity, energy and power. Not that it matters to him as getting the propaganda out is all he cares about. On the other hand, James Delingpole, who is also a graduate in English, does take the trouble to educate himself and get his facts correct:

    • Dung permalink
      January 6, 2017 7:37 pm


      The spotty teenager who wrote the climate change act was also an English graduate ^.^

      • Ava permalink
        January 8, 2017 9:18 am

        Could they have been mistaking it for a play ?

  5. January 6, 2017 3:53 pm

    ‘To be fair to Harrabin’ …say what? 😉

  6. NeilC permalink
    January 6, 2017 3:53 pm

    “To be fair to Harrabin, … ” Nope sorry he is an eco-terrorist, why should I be fair to him, lying, misleading b*****rd.

    Paul, good luck with the complaint.

    • Nigel permalink
      January 7, 2017 9:51 am

      ‘Thank you for contacting us about the weather …’ will be about the best you can hope for even if you can be bothered to escalate it after the first brush off.

  7. dennisambler permalink
    January 6, 2017 4:26 pm

    Good for employment though….. think of the panel cleaning contract!

  8. January 6, 2017 5:29 pm

    The odd thing about solar panels is that they mimic the CO2 effect, in that they are designed to trap solar energy, covert it into heat via electricity and thus reducing its dissipation into space. The eco-logic escapes me; for if you want to warm the planet then plaster it with solar panels.

  9. Curious George permalink
    January 6, 2017 6:27 pm

    He should vote with his feet: Don’t just visit India. Live there.

  10. Mick J permalink
    January 6, 2017 6:52 pm

    Perhaps Harrabin needs to book himself a ticket for the forthcoming Andy Parsons UK tour.

    Andy Parsons – Peak Bullsh*t

    Worried about your job? Worried about your family? Worried about yourself? Worried about the health service? Education? Climate change? World War 3? Worried about worrying? Sod it! Come and have a laugh about it. It’s one of the things we do best. Or is it? Was it something we did best but like everything else has now gone West. Or South. Or East. Ah – go on. Take a risk. Put on your lucky pants and your party shoes – and get yourself on a night out. Or maybe come out dressed in a binbag, top hat and clogs. We could all use a laugh.

  11. Brad permalink
    January 6, 2017 7:27 pm

    I came across this story. One would think by the headline that Wind overtook Coal. But, it didn’t.

    • Ava permalink
      January 6, 2017 8:30 pm

      As that graph shows wind plateaued by end of 2014 & it’s the rapid replacement of coal by FF burning Gas that has brought coal to where it remains now while wind hasn’t advanced at all.

  12. Ex-expat Colin permalink
    January 7, 2017 8:19 am

    Do many people listen to BBC R4 really? Because most of it is Feminista production likely of North London origin..where they often sit round a table and babble noisily. Oh, and they broadcast that table babble regularly. The tagged on World Service is similar…last night was a discussion with young Afghan women talking about shaving eyebrows and how they meet in the middle? Often dished up with a side mention of Climate Change, only eyebrows haven’t been impacted by CC just yet. Aid wasted on girl bands isn’t the only waste area to review.

    • January 7, 2017 8:56 am

      Try LBC, much more fun, several “right-wing shock-jocks” as well as the usual remoaners, but scores partly because it falls into the anything-but-the-bbc category.

      • Ex-expat Colin permalink
        January 7, 2017 11:10 am

        My son works for the BBC in Londonistan and LBC is his choice. I’m not that interested in LBC but now Farage has a spot…I’ll be there.

    • January 7, 2017 9:01 am

      Agreed. Titillation dressed up as Woman’s Hour. Radio 4 has become something embarrassing to listen with your mother to. It should not be so.

  13. Athelstan permalink
    January 7, 2017 8:54 am

    I can’t make my mind up, whether Harrabin is a stoat or a weasel, whatever he is a whining, whinging social pest who knows bu77er all about the price of anything.

    Yet, Harrabin is regaled, indeed lauded at the beeb and in some ways it just about sums up why the country is hurtling, plummeting towards third world status. Scoff you may still do, and laugh at the parlous failed state of Pakistan, but mainly all thanks to people like Roger and his Socialist cohorts and very soon, Pakistan will have a northern province.

  14. Ex-expat Colin permalink
    January 7, 2017 11:27 am

    Simon Reeves vids were on Spike/Yesterday (rolling repeat) TV channels yesterday. Tropic of Cancer. He’s good for an injection or two of Climate Crap (handwringing – itis). It was Burma yesterday and India the day before that. Where he went in outback India showed nothing other than pure poverty with a mix of rebels and soldiers. Nothing new there and going nowhere with or without Modi. Burma…thats another place largely missed by the do-gooders various. Its sort of worth a watch…just need his narrative knocked off.

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