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The Green Delusions Of Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

February 25, 2019
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By Paul Homewood

 

 

 

As we know, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard often writes quite delusional pieces in the Telegraph, about climate and energy policy.

So I thought it would be a good time to review some of his past gems, and see how they have worked out:

 

Let’s start in 2008, when apparently he was still quite sensible.

He interviewed Wulf Bernotat, head of German power giant e.on, who did not seem too keen on the UK’s “romantic” energy policy:

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The UK is in a very bad situation. Roughly 40pc of its power is from coal, and 20pc from nuclear. It all needs to be replaced. But is anybody in the British Government out there making the case for clean coal? I don’t see anybody," he said.

Dr Bernotat praised Downing Street for settling on some sort of energy strategy at long last after years of drift and muddle, but said Labour seemed to have gone overboard all of a sudden with a "romantic" enthusiasm for green power.

"You cannot replace 60pc of the country’s generating capacity just by betting on renewables, which is what the pressure groups are demanding. It will be decades before we reach that point, and until then Britain is going to need coal-fired units. I hope some realism comes through in energy policy," he said…

But green power alone cannot plug the gaping holes in Britain’s grid.

Britain is not alone in its dreamy approach to energy security. Germany is turning its back on nuclear power altogether, and coal is out of fashion. That could one day leave the country almost entirely beholden to Kremlin gas supplies.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/2787891/The-UK-needs-to-rethink-its-romantic-energy-policy-or-face-disaster.html

Prescient indeed, Ambrose. Now, of course, he believes the total opposite, that we can run the country on green power, despite the fact that nothing has changed technologically since.

Fast forward to 2013, and his views still had not changed:

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Germany is committing slow economic suicide. It has staked its future on heavy industry and manufacturing, yet has no energy policy to back this up.

Instead, the country has a ruinously expensive green dream, priced at €700bn (£590bn) from now until the late 2030s by environment minister Peter Altmaier if costs are slashed – and €1 trillion if they are not. The Germans are surely the most romantic nation on earth.

The full implications of this may become clear over the next decade, just as Germany’s ageing crisis hits with maximum force and its engineers retire; and just as German voters discover – what they suspect already – that it costs real money to hold a half-baked euro together.

The likelihood is that Germany will start to lose its economic halo soon, “de-rated” like others before it.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/10303285/Romantic-Germany-risks-economic-decline-as-green-dream-spoils.html

Two years later though, he must have been at the Kool Aid:

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The political noose is tightening on the global fossil fuel industry. It is a fair bet that world leaders will agree this year to impose a draconian “tax” on carbon emissions that entirely changes the financial calculus for coal, oil, and gas, and may ultimately devalue much of their asset base to zero. …

It is becoming clearer that last year’s sweeping deal on climate change between the US and China was an historical inflexion point, the beginning of the end for a century of fossil dominance…

Some countries have been startlingly bold. Mexico has vowed to cut gases by 40pc within fifteen years

https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/delusional-nonsense-from-ambrose-evans-pritchard/

Well, we’re still waiting for that “draconian carbon tax, and far from ending the dominance of fossil fuels, that “sweeping deal” was simply Obama being taken to the cleaners by China.

Fossil fuel consumption continues to rise unabated, and still account for 85% of the world’s energy. By contrast renewables only supply a pitifully dismal 4%.

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BP Energy Review

And Mexico?

Emissions have actually increased by 4% since AEP wrote his article:

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BP Energy Review

By 2016, AEP seems to have totally lost the plot, writing a series of articles about our glorious new green future:

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 https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/the-vast-gamble-on-wind-power/

To be fair, costs of offshore wind at the latest CfD auction have come down more quickly than expected, but are still well above market prices.

However, he utterly fails to explain how the grid can cope with wind’s intermittency without expensive back up from proper dispatchable power sources, or a dangerous reliance on imported electricity.

All he can offer is:

Intermittency remains a curse but claims that anticyclones can halt the offshore wind industry for weeks at a time are a dinner party myth. "Calm conditions persisting for one day are extremely rare. When they do occur, they cover a small fraction of the UK, and there is no evidence to suggest that they persist for long periods of time," says Graham Sinden from Oxford University.

It turns out that this comment is based on an obsolete 2004 study. In fact, it is very common for such calm conditions to last a day or two, and that certainly applies to the UK as a whole. On one day last month, for instance, wind power was contributing just 0.7% of our electricity.

And only last month, we had five days straight when wind power ran at only 10% of capacity.

From a cost point of view, wind power can only justify itself if its TOTAL COST is less than the MARGINAL COST of alternatives such as CCGT. This would mean a price in the region of £40/MWh. This is achievable in the foreseeable future. Even then you would need to account for other system costs, such as extra grid infrastructure and system balancing.

But, perhaps most damning of all, AEP still does not seem to understand that, if you build too much wind capacity, you end up with many occasions when there is surplus generation, which the grid simply cannot absorb. And the more you build, the more extreme this problem becomes.

According to AEP, the solution to all of our intermittency problems lies with battery storage:

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The world’s next energy revolution is probably no more than five or ten years away. Cutting-edge research into cheap and clean forms of electricity storage is moving so fast that we may never again need to build 20th Century power plants in this country, let alone a nuclear white elephant such as Hinkley Point….

Every big decision on energy strategy by the British government or any other government must henceforth be based on the working premise that cheap energy storage will soon be a reality.

This country can achieve total self-sufficiency in power at viable cost from our own sun, wind, and waters within a generation.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/08/10/holy-grail-of-energy-policy-in-sight-as-battery-technology-smash/

Well, maybe, just maybe, some genius will invent a battery that can cheaply store millions of MWh, but in the meantime it would be wise for governments not to rely on that.

What AEP still does not appear to get, is that battery storage is fine for holding a few hours worth of energy, enough say to store solar power during the day, for use at night.

But there simply is no technology which can store enough to last for days and weeks on end, never mind last all winter, as his comments about solar power imply.

Lord Oxburgh made all this perfectly plain, in his Report to Parliament in 2016, just after AEP wrote his fantasy piece:

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Lowest Cost Decarbonisation for the UK: The Critical Role of CCS – P 65

http://www.ccsassociation.org/news-and-events/reports-and-publications/parliamentary-advisory-group-on-ccs-report/

Following his delusions about wind power and storage, AEP capped it all with his dream of carbon capture, again from 2016:

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Renaissance beckons for the once great industrial hubs of northern England and Scotland, and the unexpected catalyst may be stringent global climate controls.

What looks at first sight like an economic threat could instead play elegantly to Britain’s competitive advantage, for almost no other country on earth is so well-placed to combine energy-intensive manufacturing with carbon capture at a viable cost.

The industrial clusters of the Tees Valley and the Humber are linked by a network of pipelines to depleted and well-mapped oil and gas fields in the North Sea, offering rare access to infrastructure for carbon storage deep underground.

Such sites may not be worth much today – with carbon prices in Europe too low to matter at barely $5 a tonne – but the COP21 climate deal agreed in Paris last December transforms the long-term calculus.

It implies a tightening regime of higher carbon penalties for the next half century, ending in net zero CO2 emissions. Once prices approach $50 a tonne the equation changes. Beyond $100 it inverts the pyramid of energy wealth: profits accrue to those with access to the cheapest low carbon power.

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The drastic implications of COP21 are still sinking in. A maximum ‘carbon budget’ of 3,000 gigatonnes – deemed necessary to stop temperatures rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – may mean zero emissions from the power sector by mid-century.

The accord was signed by 195 countries, led by the US and China. It makes no difference whether you accept the hypothesis of man-made global warming. The deal constitutes the political will of the world, and will be legally-binding in the sense that each state transposes its commitments into domestic law.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/08/21/carbon-capture-can-drive-a-21st-century-revival-of-british-indus/

It’s to hard to imagine how somebody could be so wrong about so much!

As already noted, there is no “global carbon price”, and attempts to impose ever rising carbon prices in Europe will simply drive yet more industries abroad.

Indeed, it is hard to see how there will be much “energy-intensive manufacturing” left in Britain in a few years time, to take advantage of this imaginary carbon storage.

The idea that China, India or most other countries will be prepared to see their industries go down the plug hole, as a result of obsession with western ideas about climate change, is patently absurd. Their main objective is to see us commit hari kari first.

The Paris Agreement, (COP21),  never agreed any “maximum carbon budget”, of 3000 gigatonnes or anything else. On the contrary, even the UNFCCC specifically recognised that the pledges made at Paris would drastically increase annual emissions and not cut them.

The whole idea, perpetuated by AEP and others of his ilk, that the rest of the world cares enough about carbon emissions to wreck their economies is ludicrous, and reveals how badly out of touch he is.

As for that deal which constitutes the political will of the world, and will be legally-binding in the sense that each state transposes its commitments into domestic law.

Well, we know about the Paris Agreement, except for dear old Ambrose apparently.

There is in fact nothing legally binding about it at all, and there are certainly no commitments written into anybody’s domestic law.

The whole thing was never more than a combination of western obsession with climate change, and a desire amongst the rest to make as much money and economic advantage out of it as possible.

It is quite astonishing that a journalist as astute as Ambrose Evans-Pritchard could be so taken in by the machinations of western governments, and their creatures, the IMF and IEA, and yet remain blind to what is going on in the real world.

45 Comments
  1. David Ashton permalink
    February 25, 2019 10:52 pm

    Paul, I keep saying this because it is true. Ambrose is too bright to believe in the AGW nonsense. He continually makes these reports so he is not excluded from the “elite” economic circles.

    • Iain Morrison permalink
      February 26, 2019 8:39 pm

      Very astute point!

  2. Bruce of Newcastle permalink
    February 25, 2019 11:05 pm

    I used to always read AEP up until about 10 years ago. But he went nuts with global warming derangement syndrome. There seems to be an especially bad epidemic of GWDS at the moment.

    • Rowland P permalink
      February 26, 2019 9:36 am

      Global Warming Derangement Syndrome! I like that!

      • February 26, 2019 12:19 pm

        It is related to Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) as it has been found to affect the same people. Of course voting for Trump shows you never were susceptible to either malady.

  3. dearieme permalink
    February 25, 2019 11:07 pm

    I’m interested in the pieces I’ve read lately on how the German car industry is doomed because it has invested in developing diesel technology rather than batteries.

    As it happens I think the German car industry deserves a sticky end, but only because it makes cars that are (i) lousy value, selling on a mere memory of the days when they were better put together than the alternatives, and (ii) too small, denying the likes of me headroom and legroom.

    As for batteries: I have an electric bike. I made sure it carries the Li battery at the front so that I can see the first wisp of smoke should it be about to burst into flames.

    • moraymint permalink
      February 26, 2019 11:25 am

      The new Porsche 911 is pretty good though, to be fair …

      • cockneygit permalink
        February 27, 2019 8:58 am

        …not as long as any Aston Martin exists…in comparison.

  4. Gas Geezer permalink
    February 25, 2019 11:39 pm

    I think may have solved the mystery of AEP’s strange damascene conversion. Could a change of Telegraph business editor with the appointment of Ben Wright in July 2014 have anything to do with it ?

    • Iain Morrison permalink
      February 26, 2019 8:47 pm

      No. AEP is effectively non-sanctionable. He would leave rather than aquiesce to the whims of a mere editor. A true man of conviction who says it as he sees it. I’m not saying he is always right but he is almost never wrong in the long term. In 2007 he was banging on about sub-prime mortgages in USA affecting the global finances. In early 2008 I finally gave in and switched my pension into a cash fund. The global crash followed and most financial commentators pretended no-one saw it coming. Thanks AEP!

      • Gas Geezer permalink
        February 27, 2019 2:02 pm

        You mean he knows which side his bread is buttered on , I would agree with that.

  5. HotScot permalink
    February 25, 2019 11:40 pm

    We are approaching ‘peak’ hysteria.

    The ‘tipping point’ of climate delusion.

    Like the ubiquitous light bulb moment, it burns brightest, seconds before it’s extinguished.

    • Richard Taylor permalink
      February 26, 2019 7:22 am

      It’s very odd, AEP writes some highly intelligent and rational articles, especially on the interplay between politics and economics, but he seems to have a blind spot when it comes to climate change… How can someone who makes a living out of dissecting the foibles of others be quite so blinkered when it comes to energy policies?

      • Gamecock permalink
        February 26, 2019 11:43 pm

        Tim Worstall has the same disease.

  6. Broadlands permalink
    February 26, 2019 1:23 am

    “Global warming derangement syndrome.” Green power?

    Leading personalities with this disease: Ms. AOCastro. Ed Markey, John Kerry, Al Gore, Bernie Sanders, Bill McKibben at 350 dot com and a host of others. Pied pipers: James Hansen, IPCC….BBC?

  7. JimW permalink
    February 26, 2019 3:01 am

    AEP along with many others is paid to spin this stuff to promote the ambitions of the ‘disrupters’ lining up to make fortunes out of changing the energy and food supply lines. Its all just about making money, a very very large amount. And there are many other willing fools who believe in Gaia , socialism etc who are the gullible foot soldiers.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      February 26, 2019 1:42 pm

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they or the DT are getting payoffs to spout this crap.

  8. Broadlands permalink
    February 26, 2019 3:09 am

    Please Note: Your comment is awaiting moderation???

    “Global warming derangement syndrome.” Green power?
    Leading personalities with this disease: Ms. AOCastro. Ed Markey, John Kerry, Al Gore, Bernie Sanders, Bill McKibben at 350 dot com and a host of others. Pied pipers: James Hansen, IPCC….BBC?

    • February 26, 2019 10:43 am

      It went to moderation because you used a new email address

      • Broadlands permalink
        February 26, 2019 4:26 pm

        Yes Paul. I still; have to re-login every time. I thought it might be the address so I tried another. Am having to log-in even now.

  9. Ben Vorlich permalink
    February 26, 2019 6:44 am

    Britain’s Massive national gamble on wind power may yet pay off
    Here he tacitly admits that so far the gamble hasn’t paid off. Why should it in future?

  10. Graeme No.3 permalink
    February 26, 2019 8:57 am

    It always amazes me that believers in “The Science” never check reality.
    FACTS:
    The sun is a mainline star so its output can vary.
    Previous periods of lower output from the Sun have been associated with colder times.
    The Sun is showing all the signs of lower output.

    So we are supposed to believe the Earth will get warmer????

    • Broadlands permalink
      February 26, 2019 4:22 pm

      In the distant past, with an early “Dim Sun” the Earth’s climate was still mild…”Goldilocks”. At no time in the history of this planet has the climate gotten so hot that all life was in trouble, even with CO2 more than double what it is today in the late Eocene. We are supposed to ignore that?

  11. Coeur de Lion permalink
    February 26, 2019 9:10 am

    But Booker is a Telegraph man, nicht wahr? I suppose they both ‘work from home ‘ and never meet?

    • Gerry, England permalink
      February 26, 2019 1:38 pm

      They have probably banned the honourable Booker from entering the building for contradicting their Brexit lies.

  12. Harry Passfield permalink
    February 26, 2019 10:02 am

    We often get unremarked-on ‘Indian Summers’ but this year seem to be enjoying an ‘Indian Spring’. It’s a gift to the likes of AEP who need to pile in on AGW right now because of the danger of the coming solar minimum leaving a cold populous asking: ‘What global warming?’

    In other news, the threat that Claire Perry might resign if ‘no-deal’ is not taken off the table can only bring hope to those of us who have had to suffer her stupidity over the years.

  13. Dave Ward permalink
    February 26, 2019 10:07 am

    “When they do occur, they cover a small fraction of the UK”

    Crap! – If he bothered to look at pressure charts he would see that claim is absurd. I have screenshots in which the entire UK is covered by a single isobar. In one of them this extended over a substantial part of the near continent. Suffice to say, wind was producing bugger all at that time…

  14. February 26, 2019 10:22 am

    AEP needs a short tutorial:

    ATMOSPHERIC BLOCKING – by METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
    http://www.theweatherprediction.com/blocking/

    • dave permalink
      February 27, 2019 7:38 am

      An interesting site. Thanks.

      Requires some thinking, though. Therefore, not a resource for AEP.

      Pity there are not examples from the weather in Europe.

  15. Robin Guenier permalink
    February 26, 2019 10:57 am

    The accord was signed by 195 countries, led by the US and China. It makes no difference whether you accept the hypothesis of man-made global warming. The deal constitutes the political will of the world…

    Up to that point he was right about the Paris Agreement. What he missed was that “the political will of the world” was to allow developing countries, including the newly-industrialised economies and all OPEC countries, to continue to emit as much GHG as they wished.

  16. moraymint permalink
    February 26, 2019 11:29 am

    Paul, I read your post and immediately thought of Dr Tim Morgan over at Surplus Energy Economics – so I sent him a link. Keep up the good work. I write occasionally on matters energy, but haven’t done so for a while. Here’s one I wrote earlier, so to speak: http://tinyurl.com/oqqu863

  17. February 26, 2019 11:32 am

    Jeremy Warner is another DT journo who has suspended all scepticism about the inevitable transitions to “green” technologies, such as electric cars. One reason for all this must be that Big Green cultivates the key energy and economics journos such as AEP and Jillian, established technologies don’t bother as they are established for a very good reason, they produce things that people want and need.

    • February 26, 2019 4:47 pm

      ‘Useful idiots’ springs to mind.

  18. johnbillscott permalink
    February 26, 2019 12:21 pm

    Much like ISIL using women and children to stand in front of their brave fighters the, Green Blob is thrusting children to the front of there campaign without shame. These children have been weaponized by the left wing educational system in the Western hemisphere.

  19. Thomas Carr permalink
    February 26, 2019 4:27 pm

    If I was one of the brothers that owns the Daily Telegraph I would ask the editor whether he was concerned about the damage done to the reputation of the paper by AEP’s incoherence when writing on green issues. Some of thus stuff if not all of it must qualify for commitment to the Fake News w.p.b.

    • George Lawson permalink
      February 27, 2019 10:17 am

      Quite. I cancelled my DT recently when the paper chose to use twelve of its pages,(Including the Sunday Telegraph) most front page headlines, to carry out its own vendetta against Sir Philip Green. Whilst Green might have been a bit of a rogue, a hitherto respected paper should have far more important world news to write about, I considered I was wasting my money in getting such rubbish delivered to me every day.

      • February 27, 2019 12:21 pm

        I agree, Tony Blair is a bit iffy, but doesn’t merit the relentless campaigning in the Sunday Telegraph against the ways he makes money.

      • slipknot permalink
        February 28, 2019 3:39 pm

        I also was sickened by the vendetta against Green. It was excessive and, I felt, smacked of anti-Semitism.

  20. Coeur de Lion permalink
    February 26, 2019 7:11 pm

    Right now with demand high at 43GW coal and wind are equal at four per cent! Thank god for gas.

  21. Iain Morrison permalink
    February 26, 2019 8:37 pm

    AEP is a very astute guy. BUT he is not an electrical engineer. I’m not saying you have to be but it’s certainly easier for me! I do know that vast amounts are going into battery technology, battery farms, and dirty diesel back-up farms.
    I worked today at a large company that had 30 visitor bays, 2 were only for electric cars as they had charging points (empty all day). At the rear of the front building, 300 parking spaces for all the workers (jammed!). No that’s right No electric charging facilities. At this point just as well as the extra load on the grid would not cope.
    Conclusion: All public electric charging is window dressing to deflect criticism. (We’ve done our bit!).

  22. bobn permalink
    February 26, 2019 11:42 pm

    Paul,
    Im not a great fan of Tommy Robinson, but I respect his right to be heard. He has just done an expose of BBC faking the news with a takedown of BBC Panorama. I just watched and was impressed – the boy did good. What is very scarey is that though tommy put it out on Facebook and Utube they have both now blocked it, and facebook banned tommy completely (he may also still be blocked from Twetter). This shows the power of the elitist leftwing media cabal. BBC furious at being exposed so gets its MI6 handlers to talk to CIA mates to tell Facebook, utube etc to block free speech again. How coincidental that all the media take Tommy down the moment he turns the tables and exposes the BBC?!? What else are the deep state banning? You can find Tommy’s documentary here if you missed it.

    https://www.therebel.media/tommy-robinson-pandorama-fake-news-bbc-uk-europe-documentary

    Lets pass it far and wide.

    cheers
    Bob

  23. Gamecock permalink
    February 26, 2019 11:49 pm

    “You cannot replace 60pc of the country’s generating capacity just by betting on renewables”

    Well, yeah. Anything over about 30pc penetration with renewables will kill the financial case for backups. Don’t use your coal/gas plant enough, it goes away.

    Renewables can never be more than supplemental. It’s not rocket surgery.

  24. Missing Semicolon permalink
    February 27, 2019 12:01 pm

    As long as you say something climatey, you can literally print anything.

  25. February 27, 2019 12:36 pm

    Here is the latest from AEP, apparently Saudi Aramco thinks that making plastic is more woke than fueling cars, but the paywall prevents a proper comment:

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/02/27/saudi-aramco-bows-peak-petrol-oil-veterans-grapple-climate-backlash/

    • February 27, 2019 1:38 pm

      Pathetic, Saudi Aramco is looking to increase its sales to the rapidly growing Asian petrochemicals industry, and AEP, with the help of someone from Carbon Tracker, spins this into “peak petrol”.

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