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Greenest Year?

December 29, 2017

By Paul Homewood



A carefully co-ordinated story  has been doing the media rounds today. The Mail, for instance, has almost exactly the same wording as the BBC:




The UK has achieved its greenest year ever in terms of how the nation’s electricity is generated, National Grid figures reveal.

The rise of renewable energy helped break 13 clean energy records in 2017.


In June, for the first time, wind, nuclear and solar power generated more UK power than gas and coal combined.

Britain has halved carbon emissions in the electricity sector since 2012 to provide the fourth cleanest power system in Europe and seventh worldwide.

In April, the UK had its first 24-hour period without using any coal power since the Industrial Revolution.

The government is committed to phasing out unabated coal by 2025 as part of efforts to cut the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions in line with legal obligations.

Separate findings from power research group MyGridGB show that renewable energy sources provided more power than coal for 90% of 2017, figures up to 12 December show.

British wind farms produced more electricity than coal plants on more than 75% of days this year.

This changing landscape saw the cost of offshore wind power fall below the price of nuclear for the first time.

‘Dangerously exposed’

But despite the successes, groups warned the UK must now tackle its reliance on gas if it is to meet its emission targets.

The daily output of gas was outstripped by wind on just two days of the year.

Image caption The UK must reduce its gas use to reach its emission targets

Renewables overall – including wind, solar, biomass and hydropower – beat fossil fuels for only 23 days of the year.

Dr Andrew Crossland from MyGridGB and the Durham Energy Institute said: “The government has focused on reducing coal use which now supplies less than 7% of our electricity.

“However, if we continue to use gas at the rate that we do, then Britain will miss carbon targets and be dangerously exposed to supply and price risks in the international gas markets.”

He added that “refreshed government support for low carbon alternatives” is now needed to “avoid price and supply shocks for our heat and electricity supplies”.

Emma Pinchbeck, executive director of Industry body RenewableUK, called for “more boldness” from the government.

She urged onshore wind to be developed across the UK in an “ambitious sector deal with the off shore wind industry” that could help secure a “golden age for renewables” in 2018.

An Energy Department spokesman said the UK was reducing emissions faster than any other G7 country – which includes the US, Japan, Germany, Italy, France and Canada.

He said the government plans to reduce carbon emissions throughout the 2020s, while supporting the creation of well-paid jobs in the low carbon sector.

“The UK is a world leader in clean growth,” he said.



The National Grid do not appear to have actually published any data for the full year yet (hardly surprising, as there are still three days to go).

Most of the information appears to come from the MyGridGB website, which a quick looks reveals to be an ardent campaigner for renewables. We can therefore expect much cherry picking, omission of inconvenient data and spin.

It is run by Dr Andrew Crossland, and shows this graph for the last 12 months, ending 30th Nov 2017.


There is an immediate problem here, because his figures simply don’t agree with official BEIS data.

He gives this monthly analysis for instance:


But if we take his figures for nuclear in Q1, for example, he gets 16.4 TWh, yet the official DUKES figures from BEIS say 17.64 TWh. Other categories are also wildly out, like gas at 33.3 Twh compared to the BEIS figure of 36.82 TWh.

There may be genuine reasons for these discrepancies, but it seems to be wildly irresponsible of the media to be regurgitating claims from Crossland’s website without any checks as to their accuracy.

As for the “greenest year” claims, we can use the official data from October 2016 to Sep 2017 as a proxy. (DUKES data for Q4 won’t be available until next March, but there will be little difference between this period and 2017 as a full year).




The headline figure for “low carbon” would be 50%, but whether this could be labelled “green” is another matter entirely.

1) For a start, it includes 21% from nuclear, which has been around for decades.

Green activists have been campaigning against nuclear power for years, so it seems hypocritical in the extreme to now claim that it is saving the planet.

2) Another 9% comes from biomass, which certainly is neither clean nor green, and arguably is not even low carbon.

3) Quite disgracefully, our neglect of our own generators has led to imports increasing from 1.7% in 2011 to 4.2% now.


As for wind and solar, they are still only generating 15% of our electricity, despite the billions of subsidies handed out to them each year.

Meanwhile rent-a-quote Emma Pinchbeck wants an ambitious sector deal with the off shore wind industry, (translation  – yet more subsidies).


Quite ludicrously, Dr Crossland now demands that we do away with natural gas as well, despite the fact that he admits renewables overall – including wind, solar, biomass and hydropower – beat fossil fuels for only 23 days of the year.

Yet his own graphs show the utter folly of this.



During winter months, when demand is greatest, solar is an irrelevance, and wind power unreliable at best.


Why do the media continually fall for this propaganda?

  1. Jack Broughton permalink
    December 29, 2017 1:38 pm

    Similar article in the “I” as you say well co-ordinated by the totally irresponsible media.

    It is certainly a problem to get any proper balance in the debate: I met a few young relatives and their friends over xmas: all degrees and Ph.D.s….., certainly not socialists! They were miserably declaiming Trump and the looming climate disaster. I tried to put the arguments against the hype, but was regarded as the devil incarnate and (if I had not being paying for them), would have been burned at the stake.

    The Big Brother brainwashing has led to an irrational religio-fanaticism among the intelligentsia. Fortunately, the man on the street is far less impressed and worries about cost rather than a possible future problem. In the US today’s outcry is that petrol has passed $2.00 / US gallon!

    • quaesoveritas permalink
      December 29, 2017 2:52 pm

      “British polar explorer Ben Saunders has been forced to abandon his quest to cross Antarctica unassisted after ‘ferocious’ conditions left him without enough food to complete his journey.”

      The BBC only mentioned the food and not the conditions in the very short report which I saw.
      I wondered how he had managed to run out of food.

  2. December 29, 2017 2:49 pm

    Only a fool would believe any data coming from the renewable energy “industry”.

  3. December 29, 2017 2:57 pm

    Headline news: UK ‘enjoyed’ highest electricity charges ever in 2017. How long before we’re ‘enjoying’ power shortages?

  4. Ian permalink
    December 29, 2017 3:14 pm

    “… it seems to be wildly irresponsible of the media to be regurgitating claims from Crossland’s website without any checks as to their accuracy.”

    These headlines are just, in modern parlance, “clickbait”. Don’t forget that the newspapers are all about making a profit. Who cares whether the story has any value beyond that?

    Mr Broughton’s experience is far from rare. I hope I live long enough to see the impact of the solar changes and associated climatic impact. I’ll be writing to my MP to ask how HMG is planning to deal with this AND get rid of coal and gas.

    • AZ1971 permalink
      December 29, 2017 4:18 pm

      There may be genuine reasons for these discrepancies, but it seems to be wildly irresponsible of the media to be regurgitating claims from Crossland’s website without any checks as to their accuracy.

      Fact checking is beyond the pay grade for what “journalists” are expected to do these days. They are lazy, disingenuous mouthpieces with no integrity because they assume if something has been written by more than one outlet then it must be true.

      I get tired of the tosspots on various websites who utterly dismiss what they refer to as ‘denier blogs’ on the basis of them being (a) unofficial sources of information (b) purveyors of disinformation (c) paid shills of the Koch Bros. or (d) outright charlatans intent on “confusing” the public. Quite often, however, these ‘denier blogs’ are the only ones who shine the light on the murky conclusions being promoted by climate ‘scientists’.

      Journalistic integrity used to be an integral part of the collegiate education for those going into the profession. It has now become a politicized front for a progressive movement who doesn’t think twice about lying to the public, as long as it serves their purpose.

      • December 29, 2017 5:18 pm

        “Journalistic integrity used to be an integral part of the collegiate education …”

        Maybe so, but soon cast aside when having to survive in the real world.

        Witness this pre-1940s comment:

        You cannot hope to bribe or twist (Thank God!) the British journalist.
        But, seeing what the man will do, unbribed, there is no reason to.

  5. Ian permalink
    December 29, 2017 3:26 pm

    I forgot to mention (reminded by an earlier post by Paul). Note the nuance on cost of wind, now “cheaper than nuclear”. Is that existing nuclear, the combination of new and old, or just new nuclear?

    • December 29, 2017 5:05 pm

      Good point

      It is only in comparison with Hinkley

    • Joe Public permalink
      December 29, 2017 5:46 pm

      “Note the nuance on cost of wind, now “cheaper than nuclear””

      The Green Machine continually highlights result of last auction, where wind operators submitted bids to harvest subsidies of ‘only’ £50-£60 but with no commitment to build even one windmill, versus Hinkley C’s £92.50.

      They never respond to requests to explain why consumers are actually paying £161 to windmill owners:

  6. Green Sand permalink
    December 29, 2017 3:41 pm

    Anybody got any readt to hand data on transmission losses? I have a sneaking feeling they will be on the rise. Have familyholiday commitments so can’t go digging

  7. Curious George permalink
    December 29, 2017 4:00 pm

    The greenest electricity ever. The electricity will puke soon.

  8. December 29, 2017 4:18 pm

    I doubt I’m alone in wanting to see some exposition of that careful coordination of these repeated stories in our media.

    You really don’t need an aluminium foil enhanced conspiracy reception amplifier to see that there is some serious propagandising going on emanating from sources that magically bypass the vestigial critical faculties of the MSM.

  9. December 29, 2017 4:25 pm

    So, the day before yesterday NALOPKT ran a story that in ENGLAND only 2% of electricity was generated by wind last year. England is the biggest and most populous country in the UK. The two figures are irreconcilable, I would guess that today’s story confuses actual and potential output which is a common trick to justify the unjustifiable.

    • Joe Public permalink
      December 29, 2017 6:00 pm

      Since when has population size related to generation capacity by source?

      Now compare Scotland’s populations of humans vs windmills. And windspeeds, Scotland vs England.

    • December 29, 2017 11:29 pm

      Yes @andrewmharding is claasified Paul’s title as spin
      cos UK wind mainly comes from Scotland
      To most of us here it was a bit of laugh to think about England and its wind production

  10. December 29, 2017 4:59 pm

    Anyone with the interest and time can download National Grid data from Leo Smith’s excellent trove of multi-year data at If I can find the time from my day job I will check out Crossland’s claim myself.

    I find his stacked bar chart for TWh generation Sept 2016 to Dec 2017, showing a sudden and significant rise of average demand between April 2017 and July 2017 highly improbable, and possibly timed for publication in the quiet week after Christmas. But I will check it out first.

    May I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year?

  11. December 29, 2017 5:02 pm

    ‘2017 Highest Ever subsidies paid out to rich people who run Green gimmick electricity projects’
    .. Subsidies paid not by unicorns but by granny & all in higher costs for everything she pays for whether direct or thru gov/charities.
    .. eg Every hospital has lower than otherwise spending power cos green subsidies add to their costs.

    • Ian permalink
      December 29, 2017 5:26 pm

      Don’t forget that we’re all £290/year better if because we’re all “smart”.

  12. December 29, 2017 5:05 pm

    Where did the Greenest year ever story originate ?
    Times article has a clue
    “According to WWF, the environmental group, last summer was the cleanest one on record with more than half of all electricity coming from low-carbon sources between June and September.”

  13. December 29, 2017 7:42 pm

    Put the comment below on the BBC News facebook piece on this article – but it just keeps getting wiped off. Wonder how your supposed to get your views aired on the BBC if you’re anti-renewables/pro-nuclear?

    “…This changing landscape saw the cost of offshore wind power fall below the price of nuclear for the first time…”

    Ah yes! The £57.50/MWh CfD rate wallpapered all over Westminster Station by Greenpeace and Peter Capaldi and their pranks covered extensively all day long on BBC News 24.

    But a simple analysis shows that the most expensive nuclear power plant ever, Hinkley Point C, is by far a better investment than the very latest offshore wind technology – even at £57.50/MWh.

    Instead, the Government of the time settled on 92.50/MWh, which seemed a good deal when offshore wind was at £140.00/MWh:

  14. December 29, 2017 10:50 pm

    PR hyperbole over precision and truth
    BBC Photo label
    – “Wind farms helped the UK experience its first coal-free day since the Industrial Revolution”
    BS The Steel Works would have used coal to make iron and it provides the heat aswell
    Maybe some other UK industries use coal. Concrete ?
    I’m guessing that in April some people still had coal fires and coal hot water
    From Gov dataset total UK coal consumption in 2016 18million T
    Total used for leccy 12mnT : so Industry homes use 6mnT
    4 mnT Coke ovens etc
    2 …. Industry
    1 … Domestic
    Yeh I know that adds up to 7 ..must be a rounding error

    – “In April, the UK had its first 24-hour period without using any coal power since the Industrial Revolution.”
    Ah ‘coal power’ ..they mean to move machines
    .. probably a steam railway was running
    .. and don’t forget much of our leccy came from countries using coal *

  15. December 29, 2017 11:01 pm

    They TURNED UP THE GAS (& imports) for that Earth Day PR stunt
    The foreign leccy consciousnessofsheep helps us
    “it turns out that 8.3 percent of the UK’s electricity on the coal-free day was imported from states that use coal in their energy mix – National Grid has confirmed the countries (France, Netherlands and Eire) but not the fuels. Second, to allow for increased demand, some power stations may have still been burning coal despite not actually generating electricity.”

    It was an Earth Day clever PR stunt
    “The timing of the “coal-free day” on the eve of Earth Day suggests some manipulation of the UK’s energy mix and a large dose of PR spin may have been involved.
    Whether this is true or not, it appears that Britain quickly increased its coal use again the day after… and we have seen little sign of coal free days since.”

    They simply TURNED UP THE GAS for that PR stunt
    “..more than half of the electricity generated (50.3%) was from gas.
    Nuclear 21.2%; imports 8.3%.
    Green energy was 22.5%
    (from Semi-renewable biomass 6.7%; + wind/solar 15.8%.)
    Got that ?
    – For Electricity coal was some portion of 8.3%, and Green was 22.5%
    – For Fuel only the 2/3 that provides electricity was missong the other 1/3 domestic/industry was being used

  16. December 29, 2017 11:10 pm

    Tip : BBC guys predict 2018
    Direct to 44:30 James Robbins : “I predict a substantial tipping point in energy
    – 2018 is decisively the year for renewables ..waffle waffle”
    – “Tide for Fracking is running out”
    – “skids under Hinckley point”

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